Coincidence? What now, University of Michigan?

Last winter, I applied for the open University of Michigan football head coaching position. I was rejected. What happened next? “Coach Rich Rodriguez … guided the Michigan football team to its worst season in its 129-year history in his first year.” (Source). The wife claims my rejection and Michigan’s awful season aren’t related, but she’s just a girl and doesn’t know anything about football (except what I taught her). I’m putting all you big football schools on notice – next time I apply for your open head coaching position, you might want to hire me.

Romo still sucks in December

After last year’s NFL playoffs, I mentioned that Tony Romo is a miserable quarterback after December 1st. No one else seems to notice this. But today, he’s doing it again (Against a great defense, to be fair). At the end of the first half, he’s completed 11 of 21 for 91 yards, two interceptions, and a lost fumble. His rating is about 20. This looks remarkably like every other game he’s played in December, and should be terrifying to Dallas fans. Pittsburgh’s utter lack of offense today is keeping the Cowboys in the game, but Romo can’t give up the ball three times a half and expect to win games. Edit to add: Maybe I spoke too soon. He completed two of three, including a touchdown to Owens, on the first drive of the second half. Edit again to gleefully add: I had given up on this game, watching Encino Man instead, when a friend IMed me to let me know that Romo had thrown a pick-six with the game tied, his third interception and fourth turnover of the game. Nice game, Romo.

I hate the Cowboys

Originally uploaded by thetejon

What a disappointing game. Fantastic seats, though. The picture from my phone kind of sucks, but I didn’t feel like bringing the cool camera and I forgot to steal the wife’s point and shoot. Have you ever been to FedEx Field to watch the Redskins? It is the worst stadium I’ve ever been to in terms of getting home. There don’t seem to be signs to get back to the Metro (Probably because it’s a mile away) and getting out of the parking lot takes hours. I met my friend at New Carrollton because he was coming from Annapolis, and I rode with him to the parking lot. On the way out, he was going to drop me off at the Metro again, but I had to leave him and walk. When I got to the Morgan Boulevard station, he still hadn’t moved from his spot, and I caught the second to last train of the night. It’s too bad, because I like the stadium, but I’m not sure they could have made it less accessible.

Nine points has never looked so bad

As promised, I have a few things to say about the Redskins’ opening day loss to the Giants. In some sense I’m still in shock. You know how some teams have a great game plan, but just don’t have the personnel to pull it off? And some teams have all the talent in the world, and just keep banging their collective head into the wall? Last night, the Redskins displayed the worst of both worlds. They had neither the talent nor the plan, and the result was much worse than the score indicated. The two things that top my list of inexcusable faults are the tackling and the punting on fourth and short. The Redskins didn’t tackle. At all. Nearly every guy on the team managed at some point to get bowled over by Brandon Jacobs. Eli Manning made the linebacking crew look silly on his touchdown run. The punting was ridiculous. Not the performance of our rookie punter – he was fine. But the decisions to punt. I’m not a big fan of the punt in general. Sure, it has its place. But with less than three to go, I’d like to see coaches go for it more often than not. So what did Jim Zorn do? I lost track of how many times he punted on fourth and one or two. When the Redskins needed a change in momentum and they had the ball near midfield, did he challenge them to win the game? No, he gave it back to the Giants. Punting on fourth and one from your own 40 while down two scores in the fourth quarter is putting a big sign on your forehead that says, “I’m trying to keep this game close because I’ve given up on winning”. The only thing that saved this game from getting completely out of hand was Eli Manning’s lack of talent and Tom Coughlin’s stubborn refusal to run the ball. When your running back is averaging over five yards a carry and you have a lead, why would you even consider passing the ball? As a team, the Giants averaged 4.8 per carry, and that’s including Eli, credited with -1 yards on two rushes. If your average two rushes result in a first down, you never trail in the game, and you still call 35 passes, you’re a moron. The Redskins’ lesser sins were in abundance, as well. I’m not sure why no one except me has ever noticed that Randle El is a terrible punt returner, but someone should really tell Zorn that. Watch every punt returned for a touchdown in the last 20 years. If more than one in ten involved as many changes in direction as the typical Randle El return, I’ll eat my hat. And it’s not like he doesn’t have a role model – Rock Cartwright is one of the most consistent kick returners I’ve ever seen because he gets the ball, finds a hole, and RUNS FORWARD. I don’t know why we didn’t cover Plaxico in the first half. A miserable throw from Eli when he was wide open probably cost him a touchdown in the first quarter. He consistently had no defenders anywhere near him as he caught pass after pass. I know Shawn Springs is out, and we lost Fred Smoot late in the game, but no one playing for an NFL team should get beaten that badly, every time. Now, the good news – the season has to go up from here! Also, we can look forward to the Giants returning to Earth after their Super Bowl win – if they had played a real team today, they would have lost. Badly. Jacobs will not continue to rush like that. And most offenses are not nearly that ineffective. So there’s still hope. And we still have the Tony Romo December meltdown to look forward to. The NFC East is still wide open.

What to do when your team isn’t local

So my little brother is heading to Arizona State for law school in the fall. I’m both happy for him and this opportunity, and a little sad that he’ll be across the country. But I’ll get used to it – the wife deals with siblings on both coasts and in between, so I can manage. But in his list of things to do, he mentions “Become an Arizona Cardinals fan”. This is where it’s clear that he needs some guidance from his older and wiser brother. I’m in a sort of similar situation. My football team is local (Well, sort of – they’d be local if the Washington Redskins actually played in Washington, but whatever), but my baseball team is not. The Orioles are far enough away that I can’t get to an evening game without leaving work early. But we have the Nationals. There are two important things about the Nationals that I think are nearly mirrored by the Cardinals. One, they’re terrible. They’ve pretty much been at the bottom of the standings since they were the Expos. And two, they have a beautiful stadium. What does this mean? Empty seats and a great place to watch the visiting team. The wife and I went to RFK before the Nats moved to watch the Nats play the Oakland A’s (As a baseball fan, I’ve of course read Moneyball, so of course I have a soft spot for the A’s. Plus they were my team in ’88 before McGwire was a cheater and when Eck and Stewart and Rickey were awesome). We saw Barry Zito before his arm fell off. A friend and I went to a game at RFK and watched Tom Glavine pitch for the Mets. Now, the Cardinals don’t really play anyone cool at home next year – they play the Redskins in Washington, they play in New England – with one exception. On October 12th, the Dallas Cowboys come to Tempe. This is a perfect opportunity. By attending the game as a Cowboys hater, you in effect become a Cardinals fan without disgracing your DC Metro Area roots by actually becoming a Cardinals fan. You’re free to root for the Cardinals, exchange high-fives with Cardinals fans, and generally have a good time rooting for the home team. But you get to keep your football soul. Everyone wins. Except the Cardinals. They never win.

The dumbest thing I’ve read today

Like ‘O7’s No. 1, Ryan has a lot of questions to answer

Brilliant thought, Andrew. Really smart. I agree totally. Entering the combine, Rice was in the late-second-round realm, and I think he moved up some because he ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, which was about a tenth of a second faster than scouts thought he’d run. The criticism of him was that he wasn’t fast enough to run past corners, but I think he addressed that at the combine.

I don’t know why I read Peter King – I disagree with him on nearly everything. But I was reading this, and wow, am I glad I did. First, King goes on to say that Matt Ryan will be a good quarterback. I saw him play a few times, and I’ll tell you he’s a mediocre quarterback who played for an overrated BC team in a conference where nearly all the traditionally good teams had off years. I expect he’ll be a tolerable NFL quarterback if he gets on a team with a decent line. Anyway, what’s really ridiculous is how King thinks that Rutgers’ Ray Rice has silenced all critics by running the 40 a tenth of a second faster than everyone thought he would. Does he really think that an extra tenth of a second of speed is going to make that much difference? What’s the margin of error on the timekeeping at the combine? I didn’t see Rice play, although people have told me he’s absurd. Successful college running backs are not nearly as hit-or-miss as quarterbacks, and I expect Rice will do well in the NFL. Of course, that’s all ignoring the strategy that I’d take in the NFL draft, which is to trade away my first round (And maybe second round) pick unless I could get a game-changing player, pick up a dozen offensive and defensive linemen in the third round, and go from there.