Formerly an email newsletter about all things NFL, it's now a blog about all things NFL, but mostly all things Dallas Cowboys. Probably with a dose of politics, food, and college football.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Oh yeahhhh! This Kool-Aid tastes funny

I was going to review the last preseason column of TMQ, but it’s not interesting enough to comment on. Dude gives his “predictions” for each team in haiku.

Thirty-two freaking haikus. And that’s only about one-fourth of the column. He drones on and on about Star Trek or Star Wars or something. Ponderous.

He also agreed with a reader about something that happened in the Syracuse game. The reader says there was a reverse and the announcers called it a “double reverse.” Except, it really was a double reverse, if memory serves. It was one of several dozen plays that didn’t work for the Orange.

Instead I’m going to admit that I’m optimistic about the Cowboys. I’ve been pretty hard on the OL. But I keep going over the roster and thinking about what I’ve seen from the team in the preseason, and the OL ends up the only question mark, and they finished pretty well.

Bledsoe is probably the next biggest question mark. But it’s not like he’s never done anything. He’s durable, so taking a lot of sacks doesn’t worry me as far as his health. If he’s bad, he’ll probably still be functional, especially against lesser opponents. If he’s good, he could be really good.

And he’s got a lot of weapons. Julius Jones is the real deal. A fast, powerful, every down back. TE Jason Witten caught 87 passes last year. Keyshawn Johnson is a solid player. Terry Glenn, a spectacular, if fragile, deep threat. Peerless Price caught 92 balls from Bledsoe three years ago. Patrick Crayton might be as good a 4th WR any team has this year.

Those aren’t just competent players, there’s a couple stars and a couple more near-stars in there. Even the backup RB’s look good.

On defense, the biggest question is the LBs. Dat Nguyen is over rated. Bradie James looks like a stiff. Al Singleton is JAG (just a guy). But rookie OLBs DeMarcus Ware and Kevin Burnett flashed playmaking ability in the preseason. If they can learn to be in the right place and play the run and pass, they should be OK.

The line is the best it’s been in a decade. Jason Ferguson only played a handful of plays, but I’ve seen him play for the Jets so I’m not worried. LaRoi Glover is serviceable as his backup at NT. Greg Ellis is limited, but has a good motor. Ken Coleman is JAG. But the rookies, four of them, all showed ability in the preseason.

Chris Canty, Jay Ratliff, Thomas Johnson, and Marcus Spears all played well. It’s obviously hard to say in the preseason, but none were overmatched and all consistently won their individual battles with opposing OL. Spears missed most of the preseason except for the last game against Jacksonville, but was outstanding in that game. Even though he was a first round pick, he’s kind of a sleeper because he’s been out.

The corners are also as good as they’ve been in several years. Finally, SS Roy Williams is playing where he should, and FS Keith Davis looks better than A Tony Dixon or A Lynn Scott or whoever Dallas has tried back there recently.

So I see all this improvement, and what am I supposed to think? What, 7-9? I don’t think so. 10-6 is probably a reasonable guess. Nine wins wouldn’t be disappointing considering the youth in some places and the age of Bledsoe. Eleven wins would be a surprise.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Peter King is a big fat idiot: Preseason

If you don't read's Peter King every Monday (and mailbag on Tuesday), I highly recommend you don't start. I can't stop, so every week I'll bring you some of his best hypocrisy and superficial analysis. Feel free to add your own.

I am going to go ahead -- foolishly, I know -- and predict the order of finish for NFL teams this year, but not for a few paragraphs. I mean, to focus on football at a time like this feels almost sinful, sort of Sodom-and-Gomorrahesque.

Sodom and Gomorrahesque? What? How the…? Right, nevermind, it’s just like Sodom and Gomorrah. I think Pete wants a re-write here, because I can see the New Orleans-as-Sodom angle, but not the writing about football being like Sodom or Gomorrah.

But really, it’s not foolish to write about football. I probably couldn’t word it without sounding like an insensitive jackass, but I’ve been going to my job every day, why shouldn’t Pete?

See? Insensitive jackass.

Pete goes on to talk about how he talked to a Saints PR guy, and Patriots owner Bob Kraft. Mundane, and surprisingly un-weepy, coming from Capt. Bleeding Heart. I’m not minimizing the tragedy, but Pete gets choked up when football players retire. So for him to just report what a couple NFL people think about it and move on is surprising.

I struggle to know if focusing on football is the right thing to do right now. The other day, I heard a debate on ESPN Radio in New York about whether the Giants were getting an unfair advantage in the schedule by playing a ninth home game at the expense of the Saints, with the league moving the Week Two game to the Meadowlands. My blood boiled. Are you kidding? What kind of idiot would think of that at a time like this? Thousands lay dying and someone would think about the advantage of playing nine home games instead of eight in a freakin' football league?

Pete’s blood is boiling? Of course ESPN Radio IN NEW YORK, should be all tragedy all the time until all the dying are dead or alive as all hell.

I’ve broken this up with my comments, but if you didn’t read it, know that what follows comes right after Pete’s boiling blood.

God give me the strength to have some perspective over the next six months. Please. And so I guess the best thing to do is to do what I do -- make bad predictions and comment on the state of affairs in the NFL.

Ow! Ow! My blood! Hot! Hot! Hot!

Pete’s picks aren’t really interesting, just like anyone else’s. I used to think I knew a lot about the whole league, and my picks weren’t real hot. Now that I probably couldn’t name all 31 teams on a bet(that was a joke, and so was that), I won’t be making picks, nor making fun of anyone else’s, unless they use faulty logic, or I have some knowledge of the team involved.

Now for this week’s Somethingest Something:

NFC East: Philadelphia, Dallas, New York Giants, Washington. The Eagles have to be the deepest team of our time,

Just what is “our time?”

Drew Bledsoe's going to be better than people think -- good enough to get the Cowboys to the playoffs.

Eh. Shrug.

Offensive Rookie
2. Cadillac Williams, RB, Tampa Bay. I've got to think he'll gain the most yards of the three top backs.

Small, reminds me of Blair Thomas. Could be a Warrick Dunn-type – fast, playmaking, but not a 25-carry a week guy. But I think he’ll be even less than a poor man's Warwick Dunn.

Defensive Rookie
1. Derrick Johnson, LB, Kansas City. I've seen him practice twice and he has the best speed for a linebacker I've seen since Lawrence Taylor. I think he's going to be not good, but great.

I don’t think he’s physical enough. At Texas, his speed made up for being a guy who just chased plays. In the NFL, he’ll be expected to be in position. He has the physical ability, but I’m dubious.

Pete had several paragraphs about pass routes in a play call:

I asked Jedd Fisch, the precocious young offensive assistant working at the right hand of Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, to go through the numbering system for me. What each number means:
1. Flat route out of the backfield.
2. Five-yard slant.
3. Ten- to 12-yard square-out.
4. Fifteen-yard in-cut.
5. Eighteen-yard comeback.
6. Twelve-yard curl.
7. Twelve-yard corner (receiver breaks at 12 yards and heads for goal-line pylon).
8. Twelve-yard post (receiver breaks at 12 yards and heads for goalpost).
9. Go.

Let's say there's a standard two-wide, one-tight-end formation on the field, with one wideout spread left, the tight end next to the right tackle and the other wideout spread right. If the quarterback calls a play that includes "329,'' it means the wieout split left runs a 10- to-12-yard squareout, the tight end runs a five-yard slant back across the formation and the wideout split right tries to jiggle then speed past coverage by sprinting straight downfield.

I found this interesting. Not useful, because we don’t hear the play calls, but interesting, and shocking to find in a Pete King column.

1. I think the Dallas defense is going to be good enough to put a scare into the Eagles.

That’s nice. I’m hopeful too.

7. But when Rice decided he'd accept any role so he could play one more year of the game he loved, Shanahan aggressively pursued him. "He's right,'' Rice said. "I'm not saying I'm complacent now, because I'm not. I'm still competitive. But I don't have to catch 12 balls a game to feel I'm doing my part. This is the right time to be here. I want to play whatever role Mike has for me, teach these guys what I can, and pass the torch to the next generation.'' If he plays, it tells me he meant what he said during camp.

Jerry Rice has always been about Jerry Rice. And now I have to read for a week how great – and classy – he was. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the ball, my gripe is how some of these guys, like Rice and Cris Carter, are portrayed as “classy” and “team” players, when really… they just want the ball.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I still can't fathom how, with that pitching staff, the Red Sox are four up on the Yanks in the loss column with four weeks to go.

Ow! Ow! His first non-football thought is not about New Orleans?! That coldhearted sonofabitch!

b. Saw The Constant Gardener. Really, really good. Taut. Exciting. Mysterious. Just what a movie should be.

Never… Ow! My blood! Ow! OOOWWWW! Never heard of it!

d. Coffeenerdness: Just a question for you at the Mobil stations along the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut: Do you really sell that sick-smelling Pumpkin Spice coffee? I mean, who buys it?

Oh man, you should see the death vein in the middle of my forehead. How dare Pete put in regular features like Coffeenerdness when people are dead and dying?