Saturday, September 20, 2014

The NFL Puppet Show

Let's start with this - when TMZ can make the NFL Commissioner look and sound like a complete buffoon you know things are bad. I mean.....TMZ?? Really?

With Goodell's loooong overdue press conference, the most important of his career mind you, you'd think he would have his facts sorted and his story straight. On the contrary. Goodell seemed to approach this press conference like someone who has been procrastinating yard work for weeks, and when they finally get to it, they take half assing it to whole new levels. All in all, I would say that this press conference led to far more questions than answers.

I won't rehash the countless recaps and sound bites, but I will say this: Roger Goodell may be the most incompetent and spineless commissioner in the history of professional sports. What I feel very sure about on this fine Saturday morning is this: Goodell damn well saw the video; The Ravens damn well saw the video; and both (in their own way) damn well did everything they could to keep it under wraps. As far as I'm concerned, the Ravens and the Commissioner are clear pieces of shit. And make no mistake, firings, fines, and possibly even the stripping of ownership in Baltimore are coming. Ozzie Newsome - congratulations as you're likely to be the first casualty.

I can't wait to see what happens here because trust me on this - this ain't over. And hiring a few women to help "shape your policy" does nothing but show how incompetent you really are Commissioner.

Now on to real football...

Licking the Longhorn Wounds
That loss STILL stings. Not because I thought they would win, but because they were in a position to and SHOULD have won. I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I (and many MANY fans) have grossly overestimated this team's chances this year. The good news is now we know so we can accept it - something Texas fans are no good at by the way. As we head into the most needed bye week in the history of sports, let's examine the good, the bad and the ugly of this team after one quarter of the season.

The Good - Believe it or not, there are some good points we can look at with this team. Number one, they actually came out pumped up, aggressive and ready to play against UCLA. That was great to see. Also, NO TURNOVERS. That was great to see. And finally, Swoopes is looking better and better each week - and starting both games completing his first 8-10 passes is a great way to build his confidence.  I'm looking forward to see how he develops throughout the rest of the season.

The Bad - Mental errors, mental errors, mental errors. Losing containment in that long punt return against UCLA, running into the punter on consecutive Bruin punts, kicking the kickoff out of bounds and of course, the great coin toss incident of '14. Another thing that's concerning to me is the consistency of the defense. While they have some really great moments, there are times when they seem to have lapses, giving up 10-12 play drives - the kind that demoralizes the defense and of course keeps the offense off the field.

The Ugly - Between the New York Giants and the Texas Longhorns, we're looking at some record-breaking injury bugs. Between injuries and suspensions, this Texas team is THIN. This will not bode well against the Baylors and OUs of the world. I don't necessarily blame the team/coaches for this, but the injury report each week is starting to look ugly. One other thing that deserves to be in the ugly bucket was the offensive series immediately following UCLA's turnover. 5+ minutes to go, Texas has the lead and just forced the only turnover of the game. First play was a Malcolm Brown run up the middle for 6 yards. At this point, Texas coaches decided we need to get into hurry up offense. On the next play, the ball was snapped with 18 seconds on the play clock and went for no gain, and the next play was snapped with 24 seconds on the clock and was an incomplete pass, stopping the clock. All in all, the Horns ran off a mind blowing 40 seconds, gained 6 yards and punted giving UCLA PLENTY of time to go down to take the lead (by the way, it only took 1 play). The coaches and players grossly mishandled that series and that, to me, was the game.

We'll see what Strong and company can do with this bye week, followed by a trip to Lawrence, KS (another bye week of sorts). After that it's Baylor and OU back-to-back. Shit's going to get real starting in 3 weeks.

Random Thoughts
  • Looks as if Florida State administrators and the Tallahassee PD have been reading the NFL Book on Handling Troubled Players. Here's a quick hint guys: If you continue to allow Winston to get away with this kind of crap, he'll continue to do this kind of crap. I'm sorry, going from one half of a game to one game is a joke. 
  • The FSU/Clemson game just got a little more interesting...
  • We are going to learn a hell of a lot more about Oklahoma tonight than we will about W. Virginia. I think the Mountaineers can make it interesting, at least for 2-3 quarters. 
  • While I don't think Seattle is going to beat Denver like they did in the Super Bowl, I do think they just have too much, especially at home. Until I see someone take them down at home, I have to go Seahawks. 
  • Demarcus Ware is looking like a good signing for Denver. He's having a nice season thus far. 
  • I realize Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are big stars, but where the NFL really missed the boat was not being decisive and severe with those guys - had they done that, the good will feeling towards the NFL, and thus the opportunity to create more loyal fans, would have been measurable. 
  • Adrian Peterson is a f'ng coward and I hope he never plays another down again. I used to like him (even though he was a Sooner), but after hearing the details of his ordeal. F'k that guy. I would love to see someone do that same shit to him. 
  • Still makes me laugh though when he spurned Texas for OU because, as he said, "I want to win a national title and that's just not in the cards at Texas". Hmm.....who won a title while you were in college, Texas or OU? Dumbass. 
  • Roger Goodell makes $44 million per year. Let that sink in. 
That's what I got gang - enjoy the weekend. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Your Prodigal Ranter

Has returned! Well well well my friends, if my math is right, it's been 7 months and 12 days since my last post. The excuses are aplenty, but I will spare you so we can get right to it.

Since we were last together in this forum, a lot of shit has gone down - rather than spend countless words and pages recounting it, let's just do a quick snapshot. Since last year....

Texas football (yet again) underachieved, culminating in a much anticipated blowout to the hands of Oregon in some bowl I can no longer recall (Holiday?). 
Texas basketball OVERACHIEVED saving Rick Barnes his job and giving Texas bball fans (all 17 of us) reason to have hope. By the way, last year was Rick Barnes greatest coaching performance of his career. 
Texas whiffed on recruits, hired a new AD no one saw coming, fired their coach, made everyone believe Nick Satan was coming in when in reality he probably never was, and now we are fully entrenched in the Charlie Strong era (and I for one could not be happier). Does just about cover it???

Now that we're caught up, let's jump into present day. I'll start at a high level looking at this Texas program and where it is, and then drill down into positions and games.

THE Texas Longhorn Football Program
Think about where this program was one year ago today. In some ways, so much the same, but in other ways so very different. I would like to think that most fans would appreciate not only the fact that Charlie Strong is bringing a culture and mentality of hard work, accountability and family to this program, but also how difficult it is to instill such a culture when it's blatantly clear these things HAVE NOT existed in quite some time. This brings me to the word that Texas fans fear most: patience. If you can't handle patience, go root for a new team. Period. Embracing (much needed) change, means you embrace the process and time it takes to implement said change. As Vance Bedford said early in spring practice, "The train is coming, get on board or get out d'way."

The good news is you could see a change in game 1. Granted, it wasn't a world beater in North Texas, but you could see the difference in execution, especially on defense - swarming the ball, NOT missing tackles, playing with intensity, forcing turnovers. You could see it first hand. Then came the third quarter in the BYU game...and....well....we know how that worked out. Remember that P-word above? The BYU game was a stinging reminder of just how much of it we need.

One thing I took away from the BYU game was as excited as I am about having Charlie Strong here, I also realized I a) over estimated the mindset change that is occurring, and b) over estimated how talented this team is. Let's also be fair about one thing - this team has been DECIMATED by injuries on the offensive side of the ball and lack of depth is killing them. It's tough to be effective with that 2-headed monster at running back when you're playing with backups (and even backups to backups) everywhere else. Call it an excuse, I call it like it is.

So what about this weekend....and the "mighty" bruins.

UCLA at Texas
When I look at this match up, 3 key things stand out to me:
1. I truly believe Texas matches up much better with UCLA than they did with BYU. 
2. I have no idea where or how this team (Texas) is going to manufacture points.
3. Although UCAL hasn't put a full game together yet either, I have far more confidence in the Bruins being able to put it all together and play a complete game than I do in Texas' ability to do that - they have more experience and many areas, better players (especially at quarterback).

There is one silver lining in this game that will anchor any chances Texas may have at pulling an upset here and that's on the defensive line. UCLA's offensive line is mediocre at best. And I still contend that when it's all said and done, this Texas front 7 is and will be one of the best in the country. Say what you will about every other position group, the line and linebackers are top notch and many of them will be playing on Sundays. If they can get consistent pressure on Hundley and keep him from getting comfortable in the pocket, that will be where the chances will come from. BUT, they absolutely, positively cannot break containment. If I'm Hundley, I'm looking at what Hill from BYU did running the ball and I'm salivating. Hundley is a great runner and you'll see him make some plays, but Texas has to keep tabs on him. None of this 30-yard runs for TDs kind of bullshit.

Offensively? Rrriiiight. I don't know what to think about this UCLA defense: Against Virginia they scored 3 defensive touchdowns. Against Memphis (at home), they gave up 469 total yards and the second half was a draw. But again, let's not forget, this is college and getting 18-22 year olds pumped up for games against Memphis NOT on television is tough to do. Getting them pumped up for Jerry World games on prime time....not so much.

At the end of the day, for Texas, this game comes down to playing 4 complete quarters, playing with pride and intensity, and never giving up. I'd like to think we will see a vast improvement from last week, including opening up the play book a little bit more for Tyrone Swoopes. Let him loose - what's the worst that can happen?

I do believe UCLA fans are quite worried about this game and the potential of dashing their playoff hopes (which is not true, even if Texas wins). AND, I believe Texas has a chance to pull the upset...I just don't think they will. At the end of the day, until I see this team manufacture some points and sustain drives, I won't believe they can be effective at it.

UCLA - 26
Texas - 12

Other Notables Around the College Football Landscape
  • I'm not the smartest guy in the world of college football, but I know enough to know not to touch the S. Carolina/Georgia game. Given everything we know about both teams this year and in past years, isn't this the type of game that the Gamecocks would win....and Bulldogs would lose? If I'm Vegas this weekend (pay attention Yukon Cornelius), and I've got a couple of greyhounds in me, I'm laying $100 or so on the money line and taking the Old Ball Coach.
  • I know SEC fans are tired of Bob Stoops (I, for one, am not), but this Tennessee game will not be close. Don't be scared by the line - OU will win this game by 30+ points and continue their dominance over the SEC (and in turn, continue his jabs). 
  • I'm sorry, but if the Big 5 conferences are going to get to "set their own rules", I would hope that they would grow a pair of balls and set some standards in scheduling. Lamar, Kent State, Nichol State, College of Charleston, Citadel, Northwestern State, McNeese State...these are all teams that NO ONE in one of the Big 5 should be playing. 
  • My insistence on Michigan State upsetting Oregon looked great for about 3 quarters. I was SHOCKED to see MSU get taken to the woodshed in the fourth quarter - a quarter they typically own. Oregon is a good team. 
  • UPSET ALERT: East Carolina over Va Tech in Blacksburg. 
Those of you that listen to the podcast and generally know me know how much I LOOOOVE the NFL and everything about it. I cannot express how happy it makes me to have the NFL playing on Sunday afternoons. Every year I love it more and more and we're going on about 4 years now where my enjoyment for the pros has exceeded that of college. Mainly because every game is good. Well, almost every game. With that said....

Goodell has to go....
I'm not going to rehash the whole Ray Rice thing because Lord knows you've been inundated with it, but can you recall a bigger circus? This single event has exposed a disturbing level of arrogance, inconsistency, and dare I say incompetence. Now we wait for the sponsors (who are scared as hell too by the way...who WANTS to leave the NFL? No one) to start coming out one by one. We're going to see critical mass start to build here folks. I think what's most disturbing about this is clearly how little the NFL, Roger Goodell, anyone, seems to care or worry about domestic violence. I mean, it's ridiculous. If I'm one of those groups that helped Goodell and the League draft the "Domestic Violence Policy" just a few weeks ago, I'm looking at him like he's a lying, incompetent buffoon.

And now we have the Adrian Peterson issue that just broke late Friday where he allegedly beat his son with a "switch". On one hand, I say, and.... But on the other hand, I am hearing there are some disturbing pictures that show MUCH more than just a spanking. Then you throw in the Greg Hardy situation and you've got a shit storm on your hands. 30 days....Goodell is forced to step down within 30 days. That's my take. Now, on to the games.
  • Don't worry Packers fans - you'll be fine. 
  • I'm predicting a pretty bad fantasy year for Andre's Johnson this year (sigh). 
  • Speaking of fantasy, between Ray Rice and what I'm sure will be Adrian Peterson's suspensions - that's going to throw a wrench into some teams this year. Glad I have neither. 
  • One more thing on Ray Rice and Goodell - this idiot's botching of this is all of a sudden making Rice (in some demented ways) look like a f'ng victim. My gosh. And someone needs to get his wife away from him (faaaar away) so she can understand this shit isn't normal, nor is it typically a one-time incident. (heavier sigh). 
  • It's way early, injuries haven't started to mount and we don't know what a lot of these teams are made of....but I feel safe saying Seattle has to be a top pick to go to the Super Bowl again. 
  • 2 Teams that will improve the most from last year: Atlanta and Houston.
  • 2 Teams that will decline the most from last year: Kansas City and St. Louis.
  • 2 Surprise playoff teams this year: Houston and Miami.  
  • For you Dallas fans out there - what in the world do you have to look forward to in the coming 1-3 years?
Non-Sports Thoughts for the Week
  • I wonder if we will have another President anytime soon that will not be a complete train wreck. 
  • I'm not sure if these stupid political ads a reflection on the ignorance and arrogance of the candidates, or on the people who vote them in. (Really heavy sigh). 
  • Dear People who have a hard on for "going to war to wipe out ISIS": what exactly do you think is going to happen? Based on everything you know about the decade-long extravaganza in Iraq, what would you say we do? Lob bombs and missiles? Ok, where? I think these assholes WANT to pull us into another ground war because they know, above all else, the last 2-front, decade-long war so grossly depleted our resources (and economy) that it's a real issue - and getting the US pulled into another long, drawn-out battle will only further deplete those resources (which by the way is one of our greatest advantages over most other nations). I don't like those assholes anymore than anyone else - but hear and understand this: THERE IS NO WAR TO BE WON IN THE MIDDLE EAST. THERE IS NO VISION OR REALITY OF "VICTORY". 
  •   You people and your love affair with your new iphones is funny....
Enjoy the "fall-like" weekend folks. It's a great day for chili, beer, football and maybe some illegal gambling.