Wednesday, September 2, 2009

2009 Season

The drought is about to end. Seven months and no live football. Lot of football talk but no spirals, no hard hits. The NFL season is just around the corner and I am ready with my three point stance. Bring it on!!!

No one should read too much into the preseason. Preseason is well, preseason. The worst team could look like a Superbowl contender in preseason. Most teams play vanilla offense and defense, especially good teams coz they want to save their starters for the regular season and playoffs. Preseason works so differently than regular season.

Coaches want to check some players (rookies mostly) to see how they can adjust to NFL speed and if they can handle the assignments well. A person watching the game might think that they rookie linebacker made a great play but it's only coach who would know if the linebacker stuck to the assignment or was undisciplined. One spectacular play which might be the result of the linebacker freelancing, forgetting his assignment and ended up at the right position in right time does not mean anything to the coaches. You can't freelance till you have mastered the playbook and it won't happen till 2nd or 3d year playing in the same system.

Rookie QBs have a very high learning curve especially in a west coast offense system. The QB not only needs to learn the playbook but he should be able to visualize the play when he gets on the field and this does not happen till he is in his 3rd year under the same system. Change of system means learning a new system with new coaches and it is not easy even when terminology is similar. A rookie QB might show some flashes but we all know that rookie would make major mistakes and come game time, his reads and throws would be hurried. Great QBs will continue to show improvement as the season progresses and slowly but surely the game speed would slow down.

Therefore hold on before you anoint a team with winning record in preseason the next champs. Wait for the regular season Sundays from Sept to Dec.

Monday, July 13, 2009

America's Game

July 4th came and went. Stuck in the hot weather of Arizona, there was no way I would have sat outside and enjoyed some hot dogs and beer and celebrate birth of Amrika. Instead I saluted America with a marathon run of America's Game, all 48 episodes.

Even though I had the time and the courage to watch all 48 episodes but I ended up watching and recording only few episodes. The episodes were packers' two superbowl runs (I, II), Packers' 3rd superbowl (XXXI), Rams' only superbowl win(XXXV), Tampa Bay's well deserved victory run in superbowl XXXVI, my beloved Colts epic win in superbowl XLI and Eli finally becoming the second Manning to kill the dreams of the Darth Vader aka Bill Belichick in superbowl XLII.

Now I think about it, I should have also recorded Giants superbowl win in 1990. Bill Parcells, LT and Phill Simms did an amazing job. If someone has not watched America's Game, they are definitely missing something. It has converted skeptics into believers. Even if you are not a football fan; I can bet that you would enjoy an episode or two.

The premise of the show is taking three guys from the superbowl winning team and let them talk about their personal experience during the team's run to the superbowl, accompanied with a narration from a celebrity. Watching the narration by the players and coaches plus the game footage with NFL Films music playing in the background makes each episode a unique experience.

If you have a sense of history regarding football, you would know about the famous Packers sweep which was designed by Lomabardi and he made the players practice it over and over again. All other teams knew that the play was coming and they still could not stop the Packers from perfect execution.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience watching America' game episodes. I would recommend it anyone who has even a slight interest in football would love the series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Off Season: A portal to Indian Soap Opera.

It has been a while since I last posted anything on the blog. The playing season is done but the business season which we call off season is on for sure. This NFL off season has been full of drama, just like an Indian soap opera about mother and daughter in-laws. The saga started with firing of Mike Shanahan which I have mentioned in previous posts. The owner of broncos bring Josh McDaniels, a 32 year old QA guru. Soon there are rumors that he tried to trade Jay Cutler, the franchise QB. It does not work out, Jay gets mad and we end up with 30 plus day of soap opera. Tons of finger pointing. The end result is not that suddenly Jay relazies that Josh is his lost long brother but it all ends in a bitter divorce with Jay Cutler getting shipped to the Bears and hailed as the savior of Chi town. Why did it have to end like this? why????

Personally, I disliked the trade as it gives Chicago Bears a real QB. Now they are serious threat to win the NFC North Division (packers bias). All in all, this story was the headline of the offseason. We also had Kellen Winslow Jr. going to Tampa, Redskins trying to trade Jason Campbell for Jay Cutler, Albert Haynsworth ending up in the Skins land and Jason Talyer realzing that teams don't care if you shake your pomp pomp on TV.

Draft is lurking around and I just can't wait to see the drama unflod and the J E T S fan act like bunch of overweight, rude, idiots and Philly fans booing their draft pick even though the pick will be a borderline hall of famer. That is a tradition for sure.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oh...the SuperBowl

The Superbowl came, we saw and now it's history. Dubbed by many sportswriter as one of the best Superbowl ever. It was a great game but only in 4th quarter. I just can't call it the greatest game because other than the Harrison's INT return, there was nothing exciting in the first half. Fourth quarter was a completely different story though. In words of a football fan, it was beautiful.

For me, the Harrison INT and TD sealed the victory for Steelers. Had that play not happened, AZ would have gone into the halftime with 4 point lead which would have been enough to block the steelers from grabbing their 6th Vince Lombardi trophy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It came to me as an epiphany. The reason T.O. is such a selfish, pain in the ass player is because he is truly a basketball player who happens to be playing the ultimate team sport (football). Let me explain you my hypothesis.

According to T.O., his first love is basketball; football he just plays. On the basketball field, one super star can win the game single handedly e.g Jordan, Lebron, Kobe to name few of the greatest one man show on this planet. T.O. is a super star on football field and he thinks he can win it all by himself. Therefore, all this cry about "give me ball, give me ball".

Till T.O. is with cowboys, they are not winning anything. He is Kobe on football field, and there is no Shaq to tell him "hey Kobe, How my ass tastes?"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Draft

In my two recent posts, I talked about how to build a successful by drafting players. I think it's time now to explain what a draft is, how it works and even though lot of resources are dedicated to get great players in the draft, most of them disappoint the teams and the fans. If a player drafted high in the first round of the draft is a bust, it kills the team, the best example I can think of is San Diego Chargers drafting Ryan Leaf as QB with their 2nd pick in the first round of 1998 draft. He is considered one of the biggest bust in NFL history. On the other hand, Indianapolis Colts drafted Peyton Manning as the overall no. 1 pick in the same draft and he has turned around the franchise. Just imagine what could have happened if the the teams would have picked the players in reverse order.

Let's start with how the draft works. Every year, during the last weekend of April, all 32 teams in NFL gather in NY radio city hall to select players who have been projected to be starters in NFL. NFL draft has 7 rounds. Two rounds on Saturday and remaining five rounds on Sunday. The team with the weakest record gets to select first and the team with the best record picks last. This goes on for seven rounds. Each team is given 15 minutes in first rounds, 10 in second and 5 for the remaining five rounds to select a players. The players who are projected to be selected as top 10 picks are invited to NY. The Commissioner starts the proceedings by announcing that the team is on clock, the front office-head coach, call the perspective player and invite him to come and play for him. The players accepts the offer, grab the cap and jersey and accepts the congratulations from commissioner on the stage. This honor is only given to top ten picks. Tons of sports fan are there to cheer or jeer the picks made by their teams.

The first round is considered the round of the stars. Players selected in first round are thought to be the next superstars in the NFL. Teams select players in first round with extra caution, there has lot of history of most first round picks being busts or nothing special. Teams employ background checks, interviews, IQ tests in addition to the scouting of physical skills of the players. Still there are certain positions in NFL which have high risk of failure, the biggest risk a team can take is to invest big money in their first round pick and see the money and pick go to utter waste. QB happens to be the position which has the highest failure rate among the first round picks. For every Manning and Elway there are Leafs, Couches and many more junk QBs.

Each teams assigns a value to the player they like. If the player is no longer available, they go to the next player in their list. There is lot of "moneyball" knowledge behind assigning the value on the player. Lately, teams that have won big have shown that they have used all their picks in the draft wisely. It would be interesting to see how they use the statistics in college plus the combine* numbers to select players.

* Combine is an annual event where players are invited to do workouts for the teams head coaches and GMs.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Season of change

The 2008-09 season is about to end very soon. We will have a Superbowl winner within next 3 weeks. After every season, the teams that have failed to reach postseason try to make some changes. Players get cut, coaches get booted, GMs get fired. The firing of coaches and GMs of the losing team has happened this season just like any other season with one major difference.

The major difference is the firing of Superbowl winning coaches. Who would have thought that Mike Shanhan would get the boot from Denver Broncos. After Elway, he was the face of franchise, the QB guru. It shook the NFL world by surprise. Second firing that rocked the NFL was of John Gruden. He brought the Vince Lombardi trophy to Bucs in 02' but that seemed so far away, Bucs' owners paid a hefty sum in draft picks and cash to get Gruden from the raiders (2 1st round and 2nd round picks in the draft and 8 million dollars in cash). He took them to the promise land instantly but seems like in this crazy world, it does not buy you job security for long.

Along with these two really surprising firings, we had the normal firing scene too. Mike Nolan got the boot from 49rs in mid season, Rams got rid of Soctt Linehan earlier in the season. Rod Merinilli was let go after Lions had the worst season of any team in the NFL history (0-16) and how can we forget the man who brought the Lions to a new low, Matt Millen, probably the worst executive in NFL history. Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herm Edward might be a dead man walking as they have a new GM. Jets are still looking for a head coaching after cutting Eric Mangini. How can one forget the Browns saga, the season went down the drains and so did GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Carnell. Hall of famers Mike Holmgren and Tongy Dungy left the sidelines to pursue other interests. This is an end of era, four Superbowl winning coaches are not part of the NFL.

The next season would be very interesting. I think, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren will make a comeback, Shanahan might coach again with Cowboys and Holmgren might be given the keys of a franchise just like Dolphins gave all the control of football operations to Bill Parcells. Coach Cowher might move from his comfortable chair in CBS studios to the gridiron

Friday, January 2, 2009


Peyton Manning has won the MVP award for the 3rd time, thus tying with Brett Favre. Manning won this time with a landslide as he took his team to a a 12-4 record and hopefully to another Vince Lombardi trophy.