The Electric Commentary

Monday, September 27, 2004

Winning Without Scoring, Scoring Without Winning.

Paulitis

I'm starting to think that my predictions actually have some influence on the NFL. I have a long history of injuring people by drafting them onto my fantasy team, and I have been more proficient than usual this season. I've drafted Kellen Winslow (twice) Todd Heap, Deuce McAllister, Stephen Davis, Kevin Jones, and Garrison Hearst. I've also single-handedly torpedoed the Dolphins as I have owned all of there skill players within the last 365 days. Perhaps the strongest argument that I exert some unholy influence on the NFL is the fact that Jeremy Shockey is not hurt for the first time in his career, and I just so happen to not own him. You're welcome Jeremy.

In non-me related injury news...

So, what happened this week. Rich Gannon got a brutal helmet to helmet from Derrick Brooks, and they X-Ray his back. His back? How does that work? Shouldn't they look at his head? Was the hit so hard that it transferred force all the way through his spine? Why stop there, why not X-Ray his pinky toe? And all that did was allow the Raiders to put in a better QB anyway.

The Bucs on the other hand my have eclipsed the Dolphins and 49ers as worst offense ever. It's impressive that the three worst offenses ever are all playing at the same time (maybe four if you count the undefeated Jaguars). The Bucs had very few skill players on offense going in to last nigh, and then Charlie Garner blows out his knee. No Keenan, no Thomas Jones, no Meshawn. Just Billy Schroeder, Charles Lee, Josh Bidwell (Go Packers!) and Tim Brown, who managed to get in his 100th TD catch just before his scheduled daily prune juice.

This is how messed up and chaotic the NFL is. These two teams were just in the Super Bowl. One traded away all of their best players, acquired all of the other team's over-the-hill players, and is now one of the worst teams in the league. The other is totally revamped, with few familiar faces (other than Woodson and a few RBs, and for the moment, Gannon), and they have a good shot at winning their division again. The only conclusion: No one knows what they are doing.

And by the way, how many skill players are you allowed to have? The Raiders played Gannon, Collins, Rice, Curry (Hmmm, Rice Curry), Gabriel, some dude named Courtney, Jolley, Fargas, Wheatley, Crockett, Zereoue, Redmond and Whitted. And that's off the top of my head. Is that everyone? Is there some lonely guy who never got off of the bench? Is it not incredible that none of those players has distinguished themselves enough to grab a firm starting job? What a fantasy nightmare. Speaking of nightmares,

Bob Slowick isn't sleeping well...

Say everyone, I've got an idea. Since we are playing against perhaps the smartest QB in the league, and certainly the best at picking up and exploiting blitzes (note: as long as Willy McGuinest isn't involved) why don't we blitz every down.

This Packer defense is now officially a disaster. They need a fat guy and another corner, STAT. And it is increasingly clear the Slowick doesn't know what he is doing. Blitzing works when it is unpredictable, and it works better early in the season. It can be a powerful tool used to create turnovers. Carolina was obviously unprepared, but no one else will be fooled. This is reminiscent of the Bears old "46" defense, but not many teams can pull it off. The Bills ran it last year, not exactly a successful model. Meanwhile, Ed Donatell seems to have Atlanta clicking nicely.

4th and 26 was not Ed's fault, and I've felt that he was a scapegoat for a long time. Reactionary moves can often spell trouble and this looks bad. The Packers do not have the personnel to run a blitzing defense, as you need good, shutdown cover corners for that. They need to generate a pass rush with 4, or they will lose a lot.

And what a waste! Brett was great. Javon was great until he was stripped. You can not get outmuscled in that situation. It ruined a great day. But still, if the defense shows up at all, that play does not matter.

I'm worried about next week too. Warner has looked good, and the Giant line has been coming together nicely. Brett is definitely going to be gimpy, and Michael Strahan may be able to get a real one this time. I'm predicting doom until I see a change in the defensive scheme.

Celibacy

Meanwhile, the Jaguars, traditionalists always, have decided to be winners without scoring. They almost never allow any offensive penetration.

Enough of that. They are quite simply atrocious on offense, but there defense has kept them in every game, and they have been able to do just enough in the end to win 3 games. They are now being anointed as the new "Panthers." I don't know about that, but defense is clearly still the way to go. It has been the story of the last several Super Bowls, and, well, just look at the Chiefs.

What got in to Thomas Jones?

Seriously. Was it the same thing that got into Barry Bonds? If the Bears didn't have massive injury problems of their own, I think they would be pretty good. Granted saying "if Gurlacher wasn't injured" is like saying "if Ken Griffey wasn't injured," or "if Fred Taylor..." but still, they look to have found a pretty formidable offense.

Fortunately, they are the Bears, and they still have DT (TD backwards), and they are seriously banged up, so no threat yet, but be wary. They're out there. Waiting...

Outrage!

I was watching one of those list shows last week, top 10 QBs of the 90s (how soon before we get the "list show channel" by the way?) and I was outraged. Number 4 was Steve Young. Fair enough. Now I already had Brett penciled in at 2 and Elway at 1 (Not my opinion, but conventional wisdom) and Brett pops up at #3. Now I'm trying to figure out, "who could be #2?" Montana? No way, he was way past his prime. Same with Marino and Kelly. Who else could it be? Finally, it was revealed to be:

Troy Frickin' Aikman.

I almost fell out of my chair. Here is what I don't get. Emmitt Smith is often denigrated when ranking the RBs because he ran behind a truly great offensive line. Why then, does Troy Aikman get a pass on this? The O-line is at least as important for QB as it is for RB. After all, Troy wasn't exactly mobile out there. A little slower than Bernie Kosar in his prime. Having time to sit in the pocket was crucial to Troy, and when his line started to deteriorate at the end of his career, so did Troy's brain.

Troy Aikman is certainly a good QB, but would anyone, starting a team from scratch, take Aikman over Favre? No way. Aikman is a nice pocket passer, but he is basically Kurt Warner (think about it) or Drew Bledsoe. They were both good, accurate passers that played in Super Bowls, but both needed a lot of time to be able to function effectively. Without that line (and Irvin, and Novacek) he's nothing.

More tomorrow.

Thanks to Mitch for the cool graphic at the (groan) Big O web site.

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