Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tale of the Tapes: Scouting Combine Numbers

A great many fans of the Steelers have an interest in the raw numbers of the combine -- e.g. who did the most reps in the bench press (Jake Long and Vernon Gholston tied at 37 each), who had the best time in the three cone drill (WR Harry Douglas), who had the best vertical jump (RB Carl Stewart), etc. etc.

Thankfully the NFL has posted the "top performers" in each drill, and you can access that information by clicking here.

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Yoi and Double Yoi :
We Love You Myron

The legend of Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope will never die but the man behind the Terrible Towel, and enough malaprops to give Yogi Berra and Jerry Coleman a run for their money died at age 79.

God bless.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting Draft Ready: PFW's Top Ten

The good folks at Pro Football Weekly have come up with a list of who they project will go at draft spots one through ten, and there are a couple of points that it raises that should be of interest to Steelers fans.

Most immediate is the report that Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards is enamored with offensive tackle Jeff Otah. Mr. Otah has been widely projected as being someone in whom the Steelers may have interest. If Mr. Otah is really a top five player then, even of the Chiefs pass on him, he is certain to be chosen prior to the #23 slot where the Steelers reside.

The second point of interest is with the two divisional opponents -- Baltimore (#8) and Cincinnati (#9) -- who choose in the top ten. The belief is that would love to choose a quarterback, but is more likely to go with a cornerback -- specifically Brandon Flowers . . . or Leodis McKelvin. Meanwhile,PFW indicates that Cincinnati is looking for a defensive end to replace Justin Smith, who is expected to leave via free agency. According to this report the Bengals are interested in either Derrick Harvey (a player at least one mock draft had the Steelers choosing) or Phillip Merling.

Finally, the plummeting prospects of Darren McFadden, despite a very solid performance at the NFL Combine, may present the Steelers' brain trust with a situation that is equal parts quandary and opportunity. Namely if Mr. McFadden is available at #23 would the Steelers be willing to forego drafting a player at a "need" position? An article in Monday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- which incorrectly states that the Steelers are selecting twenty-second in round one of the draft -- quotes head coach Mike Tomlin as saying that "I . . . think this is an awesome draft and we have an opportunity to look at guys at some different positions and look at the best guy available if you will. I think we can take that approach as we push through the draft" (emphasis added).

Time will tell just how committed the Steelers are to that philosophy.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kevin Colbert Loves Chris Long has a brief article about Steelers' General Manager Kevin Colbert and the NFL Combine; and amongst other things Mr. Colbert reveals that Virginia defensive lineman Chris Long is "as NFL ready as you can find for the 3-4 [defensive scheme]."

There's also some tidbits are who will be leading the questioning of players during the interview phase of the combine (Thursday evening), and the team's use of a psychologist.

Meanwhile, at Pro Football Weekly, the suddenly loquacious Mr. Colbert confirmed what everyone has known for about . . . four months -- Alan Faneca is on his way out of town:
"We’ve talked to Alan previous to the season, we’ve talked to Alan recently, and the natural question, I think, would be, ‘Well, why didn’t you tag Alan, and you tagged Max Starks?’ . . . [i]n talking with Alan and talking with Alan’s representatives, he’s probably going to get significant money on the open market, and it’s probably money that we’re not going to be able to absorb. And if we did absorb it, (it) might limit what else we can do in free agency.”

Before anyone gets too excited, the amount of cap space being saved calculates out to just under $600,000.

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The War has Begun

According to the National Football League Player's Association (NFLPA)website the players have "filed the first collusion case ever against the NFL owners for their recent agreement to reduce by 20% the debt limitations that apply to individual NFL Clubs."

In other words, the amount of debt any individual club may now incur has been reduced by twenty percent.

Why does the player's union care? From the NFLPA's perspective this is all tied to the so-called "uncapped" year that is looming off in the distance (i.e. 2010): "[T]he agreement to reduce the debt limit is part of a broader scheme in which the owners are colluding to reduce spending on player salaries during what could be an Uncapped [sic] year."

Until now we've heard words from Gene Upshaw, and responses from Roger Goodell that could be perceived as dismissive.

Now we have lawyers.

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney will be in Indianapolis during the combine to host a "diversity dinner," and Gene Upshaw is expected to attend. Whether any discussions about the collective bargaining agreement remains to be seen, but here's hoping that Mr. Rooney can start something approximating a constructive dialogue.

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Getting Draft Ready:
Gosden Cherilus Up Close

Nolan Nawrocki at Pro Football Weekly offers up his assessment on Boston College offensive tackle Gosden Cherilus.

Mr. Nawrocki sums up Mr. Cherilus thusly: "Has all the physical ability to play left tackle if he can figure it out but likely will be moved back to the right side as a rookie."

A project pick in the first round? We think not.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Getting Draft Ready:
Ourlads' Ratings

We've made no secret that Ourlads Scouting Services is one of our favorite sources for quality information on draft eligible college football players. Sure they still deliver their reports through the U.S. mail, but despite their rejection of a more modern delivery system it's tough to find fault in the work they do.

So as we look forward to the NFL combine we'll share some of what Ourlads has to say about the players available at the positions the Steelers are most likely looking at.

Offensive Tackles
Overall this group is rated as "average," with Jake Long (Michigan) identified as the best available prospect. As for players who might be available to the Steelers, Ourlads says of Gosder Cherilus (Boston College) that he is "more of a natural right tackle on the next level." And Oulads indicates that Jeff Otah (Pittsburgh) is "a work in progress."

Based upon those assessments it would seem unlikely that other would be a starter in 2008, much less an impact player.

Offensive Guard
While this group also has an overall rating of "average," the top two prosects -- Roy Schuening (Oregon State) and Drew Radovich (USC) -- both get high marks. Ourlads describes Mr. Schuening as "physical and explosive," while Mr. radovich is "aggressive and does a good job using his hands to control a defender."

With Alan Faneca all but out of town, and the drop-off from the #1 offensive tackle to those that follow rather steep, this might be a better option for Pittsburgh on draft day.

We have always called on the Steelers to choose more offensive linemen in the early rounds, so it is somewhat ironic that we now suggest that cornerback might be the best position for the Steelers in round one.

According to Ourlads #1 corner Antoine Cason (Arizona) "has always been matched up on the opponent's best receiver," #2 corner Terrell Thomas (USC) "is a big cover two type corner," and #3 corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State) "is a lean cover corner."

Anyone of these players seems capable of challenging for playing time in 2008, and would likely be a special teams contributor immediately.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Franchise Tag

Pro Football Weekly has come out with a list of all the players who will be contractually bound to their teams next season as the result of being designated as franchise players.

All three of them.

According to the article teams have until February 21, 2008 to designate a potential free agent as an "exclusive" free agent -- thereby purchasing their services for one season "by committing to a minimum offer of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of the end of the restricted free-agent signing period on April 20, or a 20 percent increase over his 2007 salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position as of the end of last season — whichever of the three is greater."

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Getting Draft Ready: Mike Mayock Speaks

Those of you with the NFL Network are, no doubt, familiar with Mike Mayock. For those of you separated from the NFL Network by the unenlightened management of some cable company, think Mel Kiper without the pompadour.

Anyway, here are Mr. Mayock's top twenty players, irrespective of position, as released at
  1. Matt Ryan - QB, Boston College

  2. Sedrick Ellis - DT, USC

  3. Chris Long - DE, Virginia

  4. Glenn Dorsey - DT, LSU

  5. Vernon Gholston - DE, Ohio State

  6. Jake Long - OL, Michigan

  7. Ryan Clady - OL, Boise State

  8. Keith Rivers - LB, USC

  9. Phillip Merling - DE, Clemson

  10. Leodis McKelvin - CB, Troy

  11. Brandon Flowers - CB, Virginia Tech

  12. Rashard Mendenhall - RB, Illinois

  13. Jeff Otah - OL, Pittsburgh

  14. Derrick Harvey - DE, Florida

  15. Kentwan Balmer - DT, North Carolina

  16. Aqib Talib - CB, Kansas

  17. Chris Williams - OL, Vanderbilt

  18. Mario Manningham - WR, Michigan

  19. Limas Sweed - WR, Texas

  20. Branden Albert - OL, Virginia

The surprise here is that the highest rated running back is Rashard Mendenhall not Darren McFadden of Arkansas. According to Mr. Mayock Rashard Mendenhall's superior strength "translates better to the NFL game."

Finally, if Jeff Otah is really the 13th best player available it's unlikely that the Steelers will get a crack at choosing him.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting Draft Ready: A Needs Assessment

We've seen a lot of mock drafts (mostly one round), but no overview of just what the Steelers will/should be looking for in the upcoming draft. Though we have a general idea of what the team's needs are it's nice to see Scouts Inc. (via ESPN -- subscription required) turn their attention to our favorite NFL team. Here's a recap of the article, with some brief quotes:
  • Center: "Sean Mahan was Pittsburgh's only free-agent signing of note last year, and he was a disaster."

  • Offensive Tackle: "Marvel Smith is still playing at a high level, but he is up for free agency a year from now and is battling a chronic back issue."

  • Defensive End: "When Aaron Smith tore his biceps last season, Pittsburgh's run defense completely fell apart."

  • Running Back: "The offense struggled running the ball near the goal line and was more of a finesse group overall last season. That isn't the Steelers' style."

  • Offensive Guard: "The Steelers are going to make one more effort to re-sign Alan Faneca, but assuming he takes his services elsewhere, Pittsburgh is thin at guard."


Monday, February 11, 2008

Is Alan Faneca Worth $7,455,000?

Amongst the Steelers' faithful the general sentiment is that Alan Faneca should be re-signed. We've even heard it suggested that the All-Pro guard should be slapped with the franchise tag (something, by our recollection, that the Steelers have never done).

Such a move would have immediate economic consequences for the team -- specifically, $7,455,000. The numbers for franchise tags and transition tags are calculated off the top ten salaries at each position (though for the offensive line centers, guards, and tackles are all lumped together).

If you would like to see those numbers the NFLPA has posted them on their website.


Well, It's Out in the Open Now

We've been ringing the alarm bells for a while -- a couple of times actually -- and now comes out in the open confirmation that the National Football League and its player's union are preparing for a good, old-fashioned labor battle.

An article in the most recent issue of Sports Business Journal includes a quote from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicating that the current collective bargaining agreement "is just not working" for the league's owners.

According to the article by Daniel Kaplan, both sides have until November 8, 2008 to opt out of the current agreement, though such a move can occur any time before that.

Meanwhile the players union continues to escalate their rhetoric, with union chief Gene Upshaw being quoted (via email) as saying "we are not giving [the owners] anything back. I put my Santa Claus suit away on Dec. 26 after we opened gifts. There were no presents for owners in my bag. Quote me on that please. I’m at the Pro Bowl, and the players understand exactly what is going on.”

According to the article the players will explore available options including "decertifying the union so the players could sue the league under antitrust laws."

A challenge of the NFL's antitrust exemption -- something that allows owners to limit the movement of franchises, and negotiate television deals -- would (to say the least) complicate matters tremendously.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Law of Unintended Consequences

"Spygate" -- the taping of the New York Jets' defensive signals by the New England Patriots -- has, arguably, been the #1 story in the National Football League this past season (sure, the Patriots' undefeated season was big but how many times did you hear about the undefeated season without hearing about the videotaping? And since the Patriots' loss in the Super Bowl we're still hearing about the videotaping).

Now comes word from the Washington Post that the entire controversy may result in the owners supporting "a proposal that would allow one defensive player per team to be connected to a coach on the sideline during games via a wireless communication device."

As the article points out such a communication device, like the one quarterbacks already use, would mean that defensive signals would no longer have to be signaled in. However, as the article also points out, the question would become which defensive player to give the device to? With defensive players shuttling in-and-out of the game quite regularly, finding one defensive player who plays every play in a game might be difficult.

The proposal, which came up two votes short of being approved during last offseason, is expected to be considered at the owner's meeting at the end of March.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Where Have We Heard This Before?

"I don't think any of those claims are backed up by scientific . . . facts . . . I don't think any of has an answer to that, and we would like to get that answer, but we'd like to get it on a factual basis, rather than making a lot of charges that can't be supported."

Is this quote from:
  1. A tobacco company executive (circa 1970) calling into question claims that smoking causes cancer

  2. An oil company executive (circa 1999) calling into question claims that man-made activities are causing global warming

  3. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (February 1, 2008) calling into question claims that concussions accumulated over the course of a professional football career can have a profound effect on the brain function of players

  4. All of the above

If you answered "d," then you are correct!

Before going on, in the interest of fairness, we offer both the question asked of Mr. Goodell and his complete answer (as contained in a transcript, provided by the NFL, of Mr. Goodell's press conference on February 1, 2008):

As you may know, in a forthcoming book,[here's a link to Amazon] a forensic pathologist, who did brain autopsies on Mike Webster, Terry Long and Andre Waters, suggests that there is a syndrome that some football players suffer from that is similar to the syndrome that some boxers suffer from, in terms of brain damage from repeated head trauma. He urges that the league and the union pay for continued medical follow-up for all retired NFL players to determine just how serious of a problem this is. My question is: do you acknowledge that this is an issue, and would you support that sort of comprehensive follow-up for all retired players?

“Two points: I think we’ve been very clear about concussions and the importance of dealing with concussions as a medical issue, making sure that we take a very conservative approach that would make sure that we are doing everything to benefit the players’ health and safety. I don’t think any of those claims are backed up by scientific or medical facts. That’s what we’re trying to deal with. We have a committee that has been dealing with concussions for 12 or 13 years now, which has done ground-breaking research. Certainly, I think we will continue to do this and focus on this. In fact, they are doing a study on former players to make sure they understand, from a scientific and medical standpoint, what is the long-term effect of concussions. I don’t think any of us has an answer to that, and we would like to get that answer, but we’d like to get it on a factual basis, rather than making a lot of charges that can’t be supported medically.”

We would never be so cynical as to question the authenticity of the commissioner's doubts as to the validity of so-called "gridiron dementia" -- clearly he has yet to be convinced, and points to the work of the league's own committee -- the Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (an oxymoron if ever there was one) -- as buttressing that doubt.

However, in a 2003 article in ESPN the Magazine, experts in the field are highly critical of the committee's work, with one going so far as to say "[The committee is] basically trying to prepare a defense for when one of these players sues . . . [t]hey are trying to say that what's done in the NFL is okay because in their studies, it doesn't look like bad things are happening from concussions. But the studies are flawed beyond belief."

Putting methodology aside, the most recent literature from the committee we could find ("Concussions in professional football, Neurosurgical Focus, 21(4), 2006) focuses on the causes of concussions (e.g. helmet design, spearing, "impact velocity"), which players are more at risk for concussions (quarterbacks and wide receivers), and the ability of players to return to the field after having suffered a concussion.

(We feel to compelled to note that the bibliography for this article lists sixteen articles that the authors used to support their claims. Of those, Dr. Pellman was the lead author, or co-author, of 15; and the one he did not work on was written by Paul Tagliabue. Though it is not unheard of for an author to cite himself, the lack of a thorough literature review contravenes a basic tenet of research and academic writing)

However in one section of this article/report the authors explicitly acknowledge the controversy that is swirls throughout this field of study:
"Another often-expressed concern underlying the development of mild TBI [traumatic brain injury] guidelines is the occurrence of chronic brain damage as a result of multiple head injuries . . . [c]hronic traumatic encephalopathy [also known as Dementia Pugilistica] in boxers is a well-accepted and documented clinical and pathological syndrome . . . [t]here was no sign of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in this group of active, contemporary football players [emphasis added]."

Did anyone expect to find this condition, which in boxers "develops over a period of years, with the average time of onset being about 12–16 years after the start of a career" (Wikipedia), in current players?

In answering the question at the press conference Mr. Goodell relied on the work of a committee that didn't study the cohort that some believe is suffering a profound ill-effect of playing professional football. Moreover, the work that the committee has done has a significant number of detractors; so it would seem that the basis for Mr. Goodell's answer is shaky at best.

But is Mr. Goodell's claim that there is no science to support claims of "gridiron dementia" correct? We'll have a review of some of the relevant literature next week soon.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Getting Draft Ready: More Mock Drafts

Look, we're the first to admit that we don't know anything about scouting players or, in the parlance of draftknicks, "projecting how these young men will perform at the next level."

What we do know is how to use Google, so here are more thoughts from other websites in our continuing efforts to get you up to speed as we approach the draft.
  • Well known as a reliable source on college recruiting, the folks at Rivals also prepare a NFL mock draft, and their draft has the Steelers selecting Jeff Otah.

  • Draft King: This is a new entry, at least for us, in the mock draft wars; and they do a nice job (from their mouths to God's ear, please) in projecting Sam Baker as the Steelers' selection.

  • The Football Expert: We love mock drafts that go out on a limb and predict two, or more, rounds. This one is projecting Chris Williams, an offensive tackle from Vanderbilt as the first round choice for Pittsburgh; while in the second round they have Branden Albert, an offensive guard from Virginia, as the Steelers' man.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Getting Draft Ready:
The Western Refining Bowl

We tuned into a college football all-star game over the weekend. Maybe you've heard of it: The "Western Refining Texas v. The Nation" game.

No? Don't feel badly, we'd never heard of it, watched it, and we're still not sure it's an actual game. To give you some idea of who played in this game, Scott Wright made an appearance at halftime (via telephone) and his estimation is that the #1 prospect who played in the game was Xavier Omon, a running back out of Northwest Missouri State.

Mr. Wright believes that Mr. Omon "could go as high as the fifth round."

So this is a second-tier game, and for that you might want to give some second-tier coaches some exposure, right?

No, what you'd want to do is get Gene Stallings (who's last coaching job was with Alabama in 1996) and Buddy Ryan (who's last coaching job was with the Arizona Cardinals in 1995). But Buddy Ryan provided what was the highlight of the game (we've been scouring the internet for video, and could find none): coming off the field at halftime, in response to a reporter's question summarized his team's performance this way:
"We gotta' quit dropping the ball, we gotta' catch something . . . We had a couple of guys mixed up on coverage . . . they turned a guy loose with nobody on him . . . we gotta' get the ball back and give our offense a chance. The first quarterback we had was a goddamned disaster."

We didn't censor that because CSTV, which was broadcasting the game, didn't censor that.

The young man of whom the crusty, old coach referred was Blake Mitchell of South Carolina. To be honest, we're not sure that Mr. Mitchell was any worse than any other quarterback who played in the game, but he sure did get under the skin of Rex and Ryan's dad.

And to show that it may not have been anything personal about Mr. Mitchell, here is a "highlight" from last season's "Western Refining" game.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mike Florio, You're Breaking Our Hearts

We had the pleasure of hearing our friend (metaphorically speaking) Mike Florio, of Pro Football Talk, on The Dan Patrick Show Tuesday morning; and during the conversation between Mike and Dan there came a point during which Mr. Florio (which is what all his "friends" call him) stated that he believes that Eli Manning is a better quarterback -- today, right now -- than Ben Roethlisberger.

Our immediate reaction was to wonder if Mr. Florio had taken to drinking before lunch. Eli Manning over Ben Roethliseberger?!? Oh no he didn't.

But yes, he did. So, as we so often do, we decided to take a look at the numbers of these two Super Bowl winning QBs certain that Mr. Roethlisberger were be revealed as the superior signal caller.

It's funny how things work out some times.

We'll take this season-by-season, separating the regular seasons from the postseasons, and finishing up with *gulp* a comparison of their respective Super Bowl performances.

First, here are the numbers each compiled in 2004, their rookie seasons:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger2951962,621171198.2
Eli Manning197951,0436955.5

The early season injury to Tommy Maddox thrust Ben Roethlisberger into the starting position, while Eli Manning shared duties with Kurt Warner. The Steelers used a dominant running game to alleviate pressure on their young quarterback, while Mr. Manning, to put it kindly, struggled.

Now here are the numbers for the 2005 regular season:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger2681682,38517998.6
Eli Manning5572943,762241775.9

For Mr. Roethlisberger 2005 was more of the same, while Mr. Manning assumed the role of starter for the first time (and did a reasonably good job).

Here's the 2006 regular season:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger4692803,513182375.4
Eli Manning5223013,244241877.0

The post-accident season was something of a disaster for Ben Roethlisberger; however his numbers are still comparable to those of Mr. Manning -- except where it matters most, touchdowns and interceptions. In that regard Mr. Manning's season was clearly superior. At this point in their careers Mr. Manning had already become an adequate passer while Mr. Roethlisberger struggled mightily once he had to throw more than 300 passes in a season.

And now, here are the numbers for the 2007 regular season:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger4042643,1543211104.1
Eli Manning5292973,336232073.9

It would never happen of course, but Ben Roethlisberger really deserved some consideration for Comeback Player of the Year. His numbers are simply superior to Eli Manning's.

Before getting into playoff numbers, it is important to give Eli Manning credit in one area -- he has led his team to the playoffs each season in which he has been the starting quarterback. While Mr. Roethlisberger has done so in three out of four seasons, his abysmal performance during most of the 2006 season resulted in missing out on postseason play. With that in mind, here are the per game average postseason numbers (Mr. Roehtlisberger has played in seven postseason games in his career, Mr. Manning six) for both quarterbacks (to calculate the QB rating, decimals were rounded to the nearest whole number):

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger2716.862211.711.5782.47
Eli Manning27.3316.331881.330.8377.39

On the whole Ben Roethlisberger's numbers are slightly better -- again.

Naturally, all of this talk about how good Eli Manning is, or may be, is the result of his MVP performance (and, as a side note -- wasn't the defensive front of the Giants really the MVP?) in Super Bowl XLII. While the aggregated numbers above include the Super Bowl performances of both players, it seems relevant to look at those individually (i.e. Ben Roethliberger's numbers from Super Bowl XL, and Mr. Manning's from XLII). For Steelers' fans the comparison isn't pretty:

Pass Att.Comp.Passing YdsTdsINTsQB Rating
Ben Roethlisberger22101580232.01
Eli Manning34192552187.25

Does the phrase "no comparison" mean anything to you? It is fair to note that Mr. Roethlisberger's big moment came at the end of his second season in the league while Mr. Manning's came in his fourth; but putrid is putrid. All Steelers fans can recollect that sick feeling of watching their QB flail about, and that the only touchdown pass came from a wide receiver.

So what's it all mean? Frankly (and this is a testament to the myopic way we follow the Steelers, at the exclusion of all others) we were surprised that Mr. Manning's numbers were as good as they are. Given that most media reports involve Mr. Manning's name being linked to phrases like "hot seat" or "disappointment" we expected something much different.

Ultimately, these two contemporaries have produced similar results; so if you think that Ben Roethlisberger is better than Eli Manning there isn't necessarily anything that will challenge that assumption -- and the same holds true if you, like Mike Florio -- believe that Eli is the superior quarterback.

One thing is for certain: the discussion is sure to heat-up next season when the Giants and Steelers meet in Pittsburgh

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Our Two Cents

For the fourth time in their last four Super Bowls the New England Patriots have led or been tied at half time of the game.

Here's a recap:

Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 3 v. New England Patriots 7

Super Bowl XXXIX: New England Patriots 7 v. Philadelphia Eagles 7

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Carolina Panthers 10 v. New England Patriots 14

Super Bowl XXXVI: St, Louis 3 v. New England 14

Original Post
There's this game being played today . . . and while we generally do not pay much attention to very many games that don't involve the Steelers, it seems as though this one might be worth offering an opinion on.

With that in mind, in the previous forty-one Super Bowls the winning teams have averaged 30.51 points (with the median at 30) while the losing teams have averaged 15.17 points (with the median at 16). The average point differential in the forty-one previous Super Bowls has been 15.34 points (with the median at 14). So it's a little surprising when looking at the three Super Bowl victories of the New England Patriots:
  • Super Bowl XXXVI: St. Louis 17 v. New England 20

  • Super Bowl XXXVIII: Carolina 29 v. New England 32

  • Super Bowl XXXIX: New England 24 v. Philadelphia 21
There seems to be a pattern there.

Having said that, this Patriots team is coming off the greatest offensive regular season in NFL history, and has continued to perform at a high level in the playoffs. Furthermore, while some have made mention of the fact that the Giants played well against New England in their earlier meeting this year, the belief here is that the Patriots' defensive brain trust (i.e. Brian Belichick and Dean Press) will be more prepared, and more creative, than the Giants' offensive brain trust (i.e. Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride).

Final Score: New York Giants 13 v. New England Patriots 27


Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Drumbeat Continues

We alerted you to the possibility of discord between the National Football League and the NFL Player's Association, and now comes further indication that the players are ratcheting things up.

According to a report from the Associated Press (via the NFLPA website) union chief Gene Upshaw "said he expects the NFL's owners to opt out of the current agreement later this year. If that happens, the players' union is ready for a strike or the decertification tactics it used to get free agency after the 1987 walkout, although nothing major would happen until 2010, which would be a year without a salary cap."

At the heart of the current collective bargaining agreement is the fact that the players receive sixty percent of league revenues (though what goes in to that equation is also a matter of contention), and Mr. Upshaw insisted that the players "will not accept anything lower than that figure. And he said if the two sides get to an uncapped year, there would be no turning back."

So, enjoy the 2009 season because by this time in 2010 we may . . . just may . . . be looking at the NFL version of armageddon.


Michael Vick Got Off Easy

In Saturday's New York Times there is an article about the wreckage aftermath of the dog fighting ring in which Michael Vick was a central figure. Here's a glimpse:
"But there is one haunting sign that Georgia [one of the rescued dogs] might have endured the most abuse of any of the 47 surviving pit bulls seized last April from the property of the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in connection with an illegal dogfighting ring.

Georgia has no teeth. All 42 of them were pried from her mouth, most likely to make certain she could not harm male dogs during forced breeding."

It is, at turns, a very unpleasant article to read and also one that offers hope for the animals. Additionally, there's word that that a television show about several of the dogs is in production.


Friday, February 01, 2008

There are Some Things
We Don't Need to Know

Since the playoff loss to Jacksonville head coach Mike Tomlin has been getting a fair amount of heat, especially over play calling.

Now comes word that Mr. Tomlin is making a different group of fans hot under the collar, for an entirely different reason.