Tag Archives: nfl

Hot Stove Jets Rant

In a very odd turn of events the ex-General Manager of the New York Jets is a guest analyst on the NFL network. Mike Tannenbaum wasn’t the worst GM, but he drew the short straw at the end of the 2012 season and is out of a job. Meanwhile, Rex Ryan still has the head coaching job. That’s a real shame. Tannenbaum made some really good moves, but he also took the heat for some lazy teambuilding. Hell, he may have masterminded the lazy teambuilding. But I doubt he acted alone.

I just saw him discussing the trade with the Browns that landed them Mark Sanchez in the 2009 draft. They had a decent team, with a good mix of talent at both the rookie and veteran level. They have Nick Mangold, and they had some good linemen with him. They patched their linebacker corps with Bart Scott, one of Rex’s players from Baltimore. They had a good but undersized safety in Jim Leonhard. Again, an ex-Raven. And they had a combination of size and speed at Wide Receiver. They also had one of the best special-teamers in the league in Leon Washington.

What has happened to the Jets since 2010, where they had been to two straight AFC Championship games, and 2013 where they are at the bottom of the league, is both easy to diagram and difficult to explain. They have lost a lot of talent, and failed to replace that talent. That is the easy part. Why they have continued to overrate bad players and undervalue good ones is the real mystery. Instead of looking at film of their loss to Tim Tebow and the Broncos in 2011 and seeing safety Eric Smith out of position, again, and unable to make the play, again, and then deciding to upgrade Eric Smith…. they trade for Tim Tebow. Classic Jets move. Overrate the competition. Instead of continuing to improve their offensive line and receivers, giving their franchise quarterback better tools to facilitate his progression… they release his best possession receiver, Jericho Cotchery, fail to replace him. They compound that by failing to replace a pro-bowler Damien Woddy, and sticking with a scout-team guy at right tackle. That guy was Wayne Hunter, and I am sure he is a good man and a good team mate. However, he couldn’t block a grocery cart, and as a result of him feeding Mark Sanchez to the wolves about twelve times a game his QB may have caught a permanent case of the “yips”.

When I see clips of Mark Sanchez I keep thinking of another talented kid, David Carr, who got was hit more times in a single season than any QB ever and has been on clipboard duty ever since. So the Jets can’t block, can’t catch, and can’t stop anyone from scoring… Do they upgrade their offensive line? No. They bring in a lightning rod in Tim Tebow, and talk about what a great asset he will be to the team, and don’t have the sack to play him. So while he was worth trading for he wasn’t worth playing. He also can’t block, catch, or run while he sits on the bench and watches his career spiral down the shitter. By the way, Tebow’s game was on display all over the NFL in 2012, where the playoffs were thick with eager, mobile QBs with a head for the game. The problem was that Tebow wasn’t one of them. I’m not a huge Tebow fan, but I have become so sympathetic to his plight, another good player rotting on a dysfunctional trainwreck of a team, that I am now in his corner.

Meanwhile Rex Ryan has proven himself to be something worse than incompetent: he is a pathological liar. He told the public that Wayne Hunter was “the guy” when everyone knew he was not able to protect the franchise (huge understatement). He has talked up players like receiver Stephen Hill, who have produced nothing. And I won’t belabor the point, but if it makes the fans seasick I can only imagine what it does to morale on the team. Imagine being a talented professional in any field and watching the boss tell the press that some guy who is on the brink of being fired is “all world”. It is a horrible way to act in any organization. It crushes morale and breaks the chain of command.

So while I know it won’t happen I can hope that someone on NFL Network has the balls to ask “Mr. T” what the hell is going on with the Jets. Because he is one of the few people who actually knows the answer.

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YAPP – Yet Another PED Post…

I have written a few posts about Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) here on the blog, and I am pretty sure this won’t be my last. I find it fascinating that major media outlets like ESPN seem to completely miss the reality of the story despite the constant attempts of the story to explain it to them.

The fundamental premise I work under is that PED use is ALL about recovery (with an asterisk for endurance sports). The prevailing theme is that it is all about MUSCLES, like some deranged Popeye comic strip. But little by little the inescapable thrust of PED news is all about recovery from injury. A-Rod, or as uber-mensch Steve Somers would say, A-Roid, gets identified as a possible user of Deer Antler Extract! Fucking “deer antler extract” is where these people are willing to go to enhance their ability to recover from injury and surgery. Alex Rodriguez is, in my opinion incredibly gifted as an athlete, and a complete tool in his interaction with the public. He is also enduring the derailing of his top-flight, top-paying career by injury. He isn’t getting body slammed by linebackers, or enduring the physical grind of hockey. He plays third base for the New York Yankees. Not exactly the decathlon, but they play a 162 game regular season. As I previously opinionated with respect to Barry Bonds, these players have the physical tools, but they have to be able to recover from the constant onslaught of games, batting practice, and conditioning work.

My point here: is it really fair to keep upping the ante in team sports, and not give players tools to recover? Equipment gets more specialized, playing surfaces become more specialized, training diets become honed to a razor edge… but when a player takes a ligament strain, repetitive motion injury, contusion, bone break, etc… we basically tell them to use 1968 technology for recovery. I am well aware of the need for continuity in the record books, but that doesn’t mean that Jacoby Ellsbury has to play in 1940’s footwear. Nobody is telling Vince Wilfork to strap on the leather helmet.

While it may seem like I am promoting the opening of the PED floodgates, I am actually saying the opposite. I believe that the floodgates are open NOW, and that many athletes know what and when and how to dope, and most do not get caught. They use facilities like anti-aging clinics and overseas blood-therapy clinics, and they are not going to stop. They have too much riding on it. IT WORKS, for one thing. They have to negotiate ridiculously short recovery times after surgery or injury in order to stay on the field. And if you can take something to prevent injury, well that is just a whole lot easier and any sane person would go that route.

Back to the centerline of the sports-media depiction of PED’s: They are not looking for better controls on use, or better research, or better testing. The real story is the interaction of sports culture, sports technology, and sports medicine, and the disconnects in that network. As the sports fan (and media) becomes more accustomed to the television revenue, salary cap and team payroll issues, the entertainment factor, and the business factor, should they not also acclimate themselves to the medical realities of sport?

One of the biggest sports stories of 2012 was the recognition by the NFL that brain injuries were becoming a factor in both current players, as well as retired players. Several high profile suicides, and a general easing of a taboo on talking about mental health and brain function issues by NFL players, brought the issue to the fore. Simultaneously there was an eruption of PED-related news, including the spectre of PED’s influencing baseball Hall of Fame voting to Lance Armstrong confessing to Oprah about PED use. (Egad! is that what it comes to? Oprah as Confessor? No wonder the sports media are so thoroughly screwed.) The facts were there for anyone who was interested. Yes, Lance Armstrong is an endurance athlete (asterisk mentioned above), and his PEDs were more in line with oxygen management drugs, but I feel reasonably sure that enhancing recovery from both daily stages, races, and training was part of his regimen as well. I think an honest assessment would indicate that recovery in multi-day events was Job One.

Just like A-Rod and Bonds, and most of the NFL from what I can tell, Lance has some amazing natural abilities when it comes to human strength and endurance (if only I could endure him as well… he has become the Ray Lewis of the bike, simply unwatchable). But as you might expect, so are many of his competitors. Pro-level athletes are both self-selecting and benefit from sport-specific training. Anyone who thinks that a doughy, pot-smoking couch potato is dropping some HGH and running a 4.2sec 40 yard dash should stick to comic books. But if you are watching a 325pound NFL lineman run a 4.6 40, consider that he might be able to handle that kind of exertion, plus the exertion of four months-plus of benchpressing his opponents if he has a pharmaceutical tailwind. You should be OK with that, within reason and out in the open.

As I have already gasbagged it enough here, I’ll just say that i think it is time for the sports fan, the sports media, the sports industry, et. al. to grow up and realize that their ravenous demand for more, bigger, faster, stronger, ouchier sports is not fed by faceless laborers on some distant planet. Real doctors working within a real testing program can keep those highly paid athletes healthy longer, both on the field and and beyond their playing days. You just need to stop pretending that Tinkerbell is the ideal sports league commissioner.

 

Jets Corner – 2 December 2012

The NY Jets  won in the most depressing way possible: with a combination of false hope and a slab of raw meat for the New York media.

First, Congrats to Greg McElroy for a successful relief appearance.  Mark Sanchez wasn’t the problem and McElroy isn’t the solution, but it was a better outcome than having the kid melt down.  The Jets have major structural problems and it isn’t out of the question that putting a fresh set of eyes in the backfield will yield short term results.  It is likely that Sanchez is just plain burnt out on the crapola play-calling and the sub-par offensive talent he has been subjected to for two years now.  OTOH, McElroy is not much more than pancake makeup on a nasty bruise… the damage is still there.

The deal with the Media Frenzy that started immediately upon McElroy walking onto the field is this: If you wished that the brain-dead chatter of the “fiscal cliff” had a sports-based doppelganger, you are in luck!  Prepare to hear the same dopes who couldn’t be bothered to do any actual reporting on the NFL get a free pass and not bother to do any actual reporting on this mess.  Right about the time that fans started to connect the dots between Woody Johnson‘s massive IRS debt and the regression in the quality of his NFL team’s personnel, you now have a shiny new distraction to blind you.

In short, this is a great example of how nothing important can happen, but the news media gets to turn it into miles of junk-news.