Monday, October 17, 2011 @ 9:23am
If you've been reading my blogs the last few years, you've
probably figured out that Charles Dickens is not very
nervous I will soon be to his level as a writer.
Unfortunately for both of us, I must plagiarize in order
to write a summary to ASU/Oregon.
This game really was the best of times and the worst of
In the grand scheme of things, this game meant very
In the grand scheme of things, this game meant everything.
I bet Dennis Erickson told his players at the end of the
game how proud he was of them because they never stopped
fighting all the way to the end.
Knowing Dennis like I do, I could see him asking his
players if they wanted another shot at Oregon. The
players, of course, would respond "YES."
After he pumped them up, he'd tell them they won't get it
if they don't quit making stupid penalties. Then he'd
say, "If you cut out the penalties, catch the football and
start playing good Sun Devil football over the next 5
games, you'll get your shot."
He'd be exactly right.
This loss makes going to the Rose Bowl harder because ASU
will probably have to come back to Autzen or go to
Stanford on the way to Pasadena. Although that's still a
daunting task, there's nothing that stands in ASU's way to
get to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The next 5 opponents are vastly weaker than ASU. The Sun
Devils completely control their destiny. If someone else
wants a piece of the Pac-12 South Championship, they've
got to go through Tempe to get it. Unless ASU plays to
the level of the competition, the Sun Devils are in the
Pac-12's first championship game.
There's nothing to be ashamed of coming to Autzen stadium
and losing by 14 points. Only three teams since Chip
Kelly moved to Eugene have beaten him in his house.
So in the grand scheme of things, this game meant very
The problem is this game should have been a win. In the
grand scheme it was another ASU missed opportunity. I
don't mean should have been a win because blaming refs or
acting like the world's unfair to ASU. I mean "should
have won" because of the opportunity. If you can't beat
Oregon at Autzen Stadium with the Ducks back-up running
back and back-up quarterback playing, when are you going
to win in Autzen Stadium?
When is ASU going to get that breakout nationally
When is ASU going to stop making stupid penalties?
When are the receivers going to make big plays in back-to-
back games instead of showing hints of greatness?
ASU had the chance to show the nation the Pac-12 is theirs
but personal fouls, dropped balls and poor execution cost
This game was the best of times if you watched Cameron
Marshall get stone-walled in the first 20-minutes yet
never stop fighting. He eventually made it to 97 yards.
Marshall was a brick house in blitz pick-up.
This game was the worst of times if you're wondering why
Dennis Erickson took two time outs with him to the locker
room at the end of the first half when Oregon was marching
right down the Devils throat against a confused and
scattered defense. One timeout could have caused a
regrouping and settling of nervous minds.
This game was the best of times if you saw the growth and
leadership of Brock Osweiler. He led the team's offensive
meeting Saturday morning with the projector and laser
pointer. He demanded his receivers stay alive when he's
scrambling. He didn't tell Coach Erickson and Coach
Mazzone what he was seeing and then wait for instruction.
He told them what he wanted and expected. Osweiler was
the victim of dropped passes and bad route-running and
still threw for 291 yards.
This game was the worst of times if you found great joy in
the performances of Mike Willie in the Utah game. The
Utes couldn't handle Willie's strength and route running.
Willie brought back the frustration of all knowledgeable
fans with his broken route that led Osweiler to throw an
interception right to the spot Willie was supposed to be.
The best of times because a young kicker hasn't missed on
the road in the last two games.
The worst of times because Burfict still doesn't get it.
In the past, there were many times ASU fans weren't
patient enough. They really didn't know how much needed
to change at ASU and how long the process would take.
Close losses like Wisconsin and USC last year were blamed
on Erickson instead of seeing how close Coach Erickson was
to getting this team to contender status. Those losses of
the past were necessary to get ASU to the point of being
able to legitimately talk of BCS bids.
This wasn't one of those games. The rebuilding is
complete. The team is here and now. ASU can't chalk this
up to "learning to be great." This was the game to show
the nation the Sun Devils have arrived.
It is the worst of times because they didn't get it done.
It is the best of times because they will get a second
Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 8:47am
Money America - Best jobs in America
AZ v MIN
AZ ball -20…15:00…0-0
Fitz drop…that's not a good sign for the rest of the day…0
Wells behind Colledge…good seal from Sendlein…+6
Empty…tipped…INC…3 & out
Punt…big return…+55 punt…-22y ret
MIN ball -42…0-0…13:57 1st q
Peterson…right at Williams…+4
Playfake…good rush from Dockett…INC
Acho tip/drop…INC…fight after…no flag
Punt…perfect placement and bounce…+51
AZ ball -3…0-0…13:04 1st q
Wells from the I…good block from Sherman…small push elsewhere…+4
Wells for a loss…Sendlein missed MLB…Wells forced backside into Abdullah blitz…-3
Trips right… delay…--2
King in as FB…shows you what they think of Wells in pass protect…King saved a safety in the A gap blitz from Henderson…forced throw away
Punt…bad punt but no chance to step into it…ret to 18
MIN ball +18…0-0…10:53 1st Q
INC…dropped INT…would have been a TD…must make that play
Peterson around right side…what a terrible defense…Dockett gets blown up going inside and there was no one on the outside…either Dockett with a terribly selfish play or the LBs had no idea what their responsibility was
Wasn't watching…2nd down
Peterson off RT…no backside help…Peterson versus OPP…Porter got destroyed…what a waste of time…why is Joey Porter still on this team?...TD
MIN 7-0…9:18 1st
AZ ball -20…MIN 7-0…9:12 1st Q
Tipped ball…INT…Roberts didn't bother to touch him
MIN ball +24…MIN 7-0…9:05 1st Q
Peterson through a huge hole…TD…MIN running right at Dockett and Dockett is getting thrown around…didn't see this until replay but A-Dub got man-handled by a WR
MIN 14-0…8:55 1st Q
AZ ball -20…MIN 14-0…8:55 1st Q
Kolb to King square out…+9
Bridges beat around the end…FF…Allen recovered
MIN ball +25…MIN 14-0…8:15 1st Q
Peterson around LT…good penetration from Campbell…+1
Playfake roll-out…Dockett controlled…Haggans out-of-position...+16
Peterson middle…great play from Kerry Rhodes…David Carter plugged up the whole middle…+1
Hey Dockett did something…tipped pass…INC
McNabb on an undersigned draw…Dockett playing patty-cake…supposed to spy but got turned around…no one at all on the right side…TD
MIN KO…LSH return to 18
AZ ball -18…MIN 21-0…6:24 1st Q
Wells…+2…Wells fumbled OOB
Wells…+1…Hadnot at RG got man-handled and pushed into Wells…forced a cutback into nothing
Punt…fair catch…+57 I think…Chris Myers is so bad at PBP
MIN ball -27…MIN 21-0…4:42 1st Q
Playfake…no pressure…PI on OPP…+36
Gerhart behind LG…+4…Harvin hurt
McNabb flushed…good pressure from Porter…finds Aromashodu in front of Jefferson…+21
Peterson through right side…great read from Wilson…-2
Peterson runs over entire team…TD…Talley pushed to the side…the left side of AZ defense is atrocious…Williams sealed off …Dockett didn't get burnt that time because he's getting a drink…Cards want to complain about holding instead of tackling…OPP with terrible technique gets run over
MIN 28-0…2:41 1st Q
MIN KO…LSH 30y ret
AZ ball -26…MIN 28-0…2:33 1st Q
Playfake…Roberts middle…good RAC…+11
I-back…playfake…Fitz middle…had to dive…didn't have camera angle to see if it was a good throw to get him down or missed a chance at RAC…+17
Wells left side…Sherman gets thrown away by Allen…+1
Kolb to King…good protection…Allen in coverage to get big hit…+4
Bridges hurt by spin move…Kolb forced roll…INC…desperately need a second receiver
End of 1st Q
Punt…great coverage…Adams catches punt at 2
MIN ball -2…MIN 28-0…14:52
McNabb and Peterson missed…+2 since there was no penetration to take advantage
McNabb to Aromashodu…dropped…INC…good penetration by Williams
Blitz…terrible pass from McNabb…had TE behind Washington who got turned around…INC
Punt…FC by OPP…+48y…0 on ret
AZ ball -47…MIN 28-0…13:54 2nd Q
Wells…good push from Colledge…+4
Kolb to Housler…took what defense gave him…+5
Kolb to Housler…little scat route…+4
Wells through left side…good kick out from King…hit Roberts in the back of the legs…+4
Kolb to King…tipped pass…good hands from King to turn it into a 5y gain
3rd & 1 becomes 3rd & 6… FS Colledge…-5
Shotgun…good protection…terrible pass from Kolb…Doucett had no chance
AZ KO…ret to 22
MIN ball -22…MIN 28-3…10:23 2nd Q
Harvin on a carry…slips through on misdirection…+12
INC…McNabb had wide open receiver on roll-out and threw it into the ground
Huge hit from Rashad Johnson…Saw Peterson hand-off and came up from safety…+1
Peterson good block…McNabb INC…Aromashodu couldn't shake Jefferson…drove to the ball…top 5 play of the year for Jefferson
AZ ball -18…MIN 28-3…8:45 2nd Q
Wells behind Bridges…+3
Kolb…INC…tried to force it to Fitz even though Wells was open underneath the Fitz double team
Kolb to Doucett…perfect play…good protection…good patience from Kolb…+14
Wells over LT…great pull from Colledge…WOW…Wells destroyed Griffin…broke Griffin's helmet…+9
I-back…Sherman and Bridges pushed into hole…0
Sherman good block…Wells jumped over pile…+1
I-back…Kolb panicked…threw behind WR…INC
Playfake…drop…OUCH…Housler on a LB right up the seam…dropped…INC
Empty…massive rush from the ends…tackles are worthless…Kolb forced to dump early to King…great open field tackle…+7
4th down…shotgun…Kolb buys time…Housler found a soft spot…+7
Wells…Oh my…-1…Sendlein went down the field but Hadnot didn't hold block
Kolb…INC…thrown behind Doucett…Doucett drop
Empty…Roberts little Z into middle…+14
Playfake…had Housler wide open and Kolb wasn't anywhere near him with the throw…missed him by a foot and a half…should have been TD…INC
Wells…huge hole on the cut-back…shoestring tackle from Greenway…good block from Brown for once
3rd & 8…Levi bull rushed and pushed aside by Allen…-11
Punt…again caught by Adams to pin MIN inside 5
MIN ball -4…MIN 28-3…1:52
Peterson middle…good stuff from Williams…+3
Peterson nothing in the middle…bounce right…Wilson missed tackle…Marshall saved TD…+11
McNabb to Harvin…big cushion from OPP…+12
Peterson…nothing right…cut-back left…Campbell got pancaked…+14
Playfake…McNabb to Jenkens…soft spot in zone…+11
A gap blitz…D-Wash avoided RB pick-up…-9
End of Half
AZ KO 9y deep
MIN ball -20…MIN 28-3…15:00 3rd Q
Peterson left…Williams great slide to his right…not pushed off the ball…+1
2TEs…reverse…Booker…Haggans couldn't seal his edge v Kleinsasser…+23
Peterson…through middle…A-dub is worthless…+5
Haggans lost on playfake roll-out…Marshall knocked ball out but ref had blown his whistle…ref said Carolina is challenging the ruling…good challenge
AZ ball -41…MIN 28-3…12:04 3rd Q
Kolb to doucett…quick out…+7
Wells behind Bridges but bridges didn't go anywhere…+2
Shotgun…Doucett lined off RT..flare route…+7
Shotgun…kolb behind King…that pass is either going to be intercepted or get King killed…what is Kolb seeing?
Kolb gets crunched…Bridges gets away with huge hold…Levi stops blocking half-way through the play…amazing play for Kolb to hang in there…doucett picks up 1st down
Wells behind Hadnot…good push…+4
Trips right…Fitz sail route…heavy pressure…great catch from Fitz…Kolb gets drilled…wells thinks pass protection is two-hand touch…Hadnot misses a twist…+22
1st & goal…Wells inside hand-off…TD…Hadnot slips out with good lick on LB…Bridges good kick out
MIN 28-10…8:23 3rd Q
AZ KO…+17y ret…Sherman all over Booker…bad decision
MIN ball -10…MIN 28-10…8:17 3rd Q
Just said Colledge out for the game (head)
McNabb to Jenkins…square out…easy throw…+12
Off-set I…Peterson around RT…Jefferson saved the play…great tackle…+1
Shotgun…draw…Haggans couldn't get off block…+5
Great pass rush from Lenon…blew up RB…McNabb INC… PI…Marshall…+7
End around Harvin…+7… MIN hold…-10…if that was on Kleinsasser that's terrible
Playfake…McNabb to Aromashodu…square in ate up Johnson…+63
Peterson…misdirection…Williams and Campbell clogged up every lane…Peterson tried to cut back…-1
I-back…Peterson…Campbell pushed LT and FB into hole…D-Wash flew into hole…-1
No pressure…McNabb with all day…great coverage…Booker sail route…Lenon trailing…+8
FGA…26y…good…I think someone actually tipped it
MIN 31-10…3:35…3rd Q
MIN KO…LSH 7y deep…hit at 15 and thrown back
AZ ball -14…MIN 31-10…3:29 3rd Q
Shotgun…King underneath Fitz…+12
Wells behind Sendlein…+2
Hurry up…Wells good in pass protect…Kolb to Fitz…back hip throw…+7
Kolb QB sneak…+2…defense looks lost
Empty…Kolb held it too long…good protection but took too long…-19
3rd & 12…Doucett one-handed catch…Kolb hung in during tough pressure…+11
4th & 1…Wells…inside hand-off…tripped hard…fell early…typical Chris Myers- "what did you think of the call"
END of 3rd
MIN ball +47…MIN 31-10…15:00 4th Q
Peterson…off R/T…I wasn't watching…getting bored…OPP went down
Screen to Booker…ate up defense…good hustle from Dockett to get down the field…+38
Peterson…+1…Campbell shut down the hole…Marshall shoestring tackle before cut-back
Dockett spin to nowhere…McNabb just shot-putted a show…INC
McNabb to Jenkins…+2…excellent coverage from Jefferson…don't know when I've ever said that
AZ ball -33…MIN 31-10…12:18 4th Q
Shotgun…Wells good pass protect…Doucett deep slant…+18
Kolb behind Fitz…INC
Empty…good pocket…Kolb waits too long…INC
Trips left…over threw Roberts who had a step…too hard…no touch…Fitz was singled up on the outside
4th & 10…trips left…pocket broke down…Kolb a little calmer…Fitz square out underneath Doucett 9 route…good throw…+14
Wells inside draw…+7
Kolb rifle to Doucett…TD…pass went right through double coverage… Bridges hold…bad call…kind of…should have been hands to the face…-10
Kolb…sluggo…Levi eaten alive by Allen…sack…-9
Bad looking screen…INC
4th & 22…AZ TO…don't you think you should be saving those?
Lob to Fitz down the middle…good throw…Fitz mugged but refs aren't going to bail anyone out
MIN ball -30…MIN 31-10…8:55
Campbell came completely across the formation hitting Peterson…-1
McNabb underthrows WR but went to score update too soon…INC
Peterson…through hole…Dockett no penetration…no read of ball…happy to have a uniform…+5
Punt…OPP FC…+43…0 ret
AZ ball -33…MIN 31-10…7:04 4th Q
Kolb…where was that pass…what was that route? Doucett and Fitz in same area and Kolb couldn't get either
Kolb…INT…good tackle though…Batiste hold…Kolb over threw Doucett by 4 feet
MIN ball +47…MIN 31-10…6:43 4th Q
Peterson leaves a trail of Cardinals…destroyed Rashad Johnson…+6
Peterson…good tackle from Jefferson…Jefferson has played much better today…+2
I-back…run blitz…ran right through Holliday…+4
Run blitz…Peterson right through it…+4
Peterson…Campbell again…he's been unbelievable…+1
Peterson gets eaten alive by Williams…+2…small fight after the fact…glad to see the Cards can fight when it's 31-10…Like to see them try to do the same thing when it's 0-0
Sunday, October 9, 2011 @ 5:41pm
ASU is now 5-1. I think a lot of people predicted a fast start for ASU, but to be half-way home and achieve that success means a little more than pre-season prognostications.
What a performance by the ASU defense. Again.
Utah needed a fake punt to keep a drive alive and a flea flicker to get the ball in the red zone. The defense gained five turnovers while only allowing 14 points.
The tackling was terrible a few weeks ago against Mizzou and the Devils still won. Other than that game, there has been zero opponents who have scored more than two touchdowns. Think about the strength of a team that is 5-1 and opponents can only manage to score two TDs.
Coach Bray has lost Omar Bolden, Brandon Magee and Junior Onyeali. Osahon Irabor missed the last 35 minutes against Utah. Will Sutton was cramping during the game. Despite these injuries and issues, Bray is coaching one of the top 20 defenses in the country. If healthy, this defense would be in the top five in the nation.
The coaching against Utah was phenomenal on the offensive side too. Mazzone realized that Utah was selling out to stop the run and everything was open behind the linebackers. Mike Willie and Gerrell Robinson had a field day on posts, square-ins and quick slants. How many times do you see an offensive coordinator continually knock his head against a wall thinking something will break? Mazzone reacted, adjusted and dominated.
I also loved watching Mike Willie and Gerrell Robinson for their accomplishments when compared to their production this season. Robinson has been an excellent blocking receiver in the Mazzone offense but he's never been a consistent possession receiver; many a game Robinson has put good passes on the ground. Not Saturday.
Willie hasn't been solid on his route running. You can tell when Osweiler has been just a hair off on his throws to him because Willie isn't quite in the right spot, but not on Saturday. From my sideline vantage point, I saw one bad route from Willie the whole game. He was a force against Utah. I love seeing players who struggle show what they can do.
The negatives for ASU against Utah were the same as the week before. Slow starts. ASU still needs to learn that champions don't "rise" to the occasion. A champion is up for every occasion. Oregon State and Utah are completely inferior teams to ASU, yet the beginning of each game wouldn't make you so sure of that. The only thing holding down ASU is themselves. At 5-1, it's not that big of a problem.
Worry about Oregon later, boys and celebrate the journey so far.
Sunday, October 2, 2011 @ 8:43pm
Saturday was a great day for ASU.
No matter what you saw on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium, remember one thing. The only team from the Pac-12 South eligible to win the division and won was ASU.
Arizona, Utah, Colorado and UCLA all lost.
When the competition is as putrid as Oregon State, the expectation is complete destruction by the better team. Judging by the score, the fact that Oregon State had a lead and the number of Sun Devil turnovers, it's easy to come to the decision that ASU had a massive let down. Although the facts are on your side, I would disagree.
Sometimes the judgment of a team can't be made because one person does not make a team. ASU played excellent football on Saturday. Brock Osweiler played terrible. The Devils should be applauded for their performance in overcoming their opponent and their quarterback.
Don't read a deeper meaning into this blog. Brock Osweiler should not be benched. His ability to lead this team to a Pac-12 Championship shouldn't begin to waiver. The kid just had a bad game.
He had four turnovers. None of his three interceptions were tipped balls or thrown under tremendous pressure that forced a bad decision. His fumble wasn't on a blindside hit. He was forced to scramble on the play but he had plenty of time to secure the football. Osweiler tried to force some things that weren't there or telegraphed his intentions on plays that were there.
This is not a terrible negative because ASU got the win. ASU gained more experience for their quarterback. ASU has an excellent offensive coordinator (Noel Mazzone) who will show Osweiler his errors in an easily digestible way. Osweiler has the desire to get better so he will listen and get improve.
Obviously, this is a strange introduction to a positive blog on the Devils win against Oregon State. There isn't a bus being aimed at Osweiler but if you take the rest of the game in the context of Osweiler's struggles, what else would you have a problem with?
Oregon State only had 47 yards rushing. This is a team with a young quarterback who had a first quarter lead. The scenario screams for an eat the clock running attack that keeps the defense on the field. Despite the Beavers attempts at running the football, they were continually thwarted.
Oregon State had excellent field position most of the game due to the turnovers. Oregon State had 16 drives and only 6 of them started inside their own 25. Two of those drives started in the red zone and one was at midfield. Despite short rest between series and their own uprights stabbing them in the back at the beginning of each drive, the defense allowed only 2 TD's. Every time the defense earned a stop, the offense turned the ball over. It could have demoralized a weaker-minded team. The defense just kept coming.
The penalties killed Oregon State but these were penalties that must be credited to the defense. Jamaar Jarret had 2 sacks and 14 million pressures. He was lined up against an all-conference senior offensive tackle (Mike Remmers) but didn't stay lined-up against him very long. QB Sean Mannion had Jarrett in his face all game. Remmers was forced to hold, grab, tackle and maul Jarrett to keep him off the QB. The vast majority of Beaver penalties was caused by the relentlessness of the ASU defense.
Vontaze Burfict showed leadership on the field and on the sidelines. Alden Darby was magnificent in the secondary. Collin Parker played his customary "do whatever it takes to win" style. Coleman spent some time in the offensive backfield. Although Elder is the worst pass-catcher of all-time, he was in on every pass play.
Cameron Marshall was a beast. 5.7 yards a carry on a bad ankle. The offense lost their center and just plugged in another with only one bad snap. The receivers didn't have 15 dropped passes. There is nothing else in the game of football that you could have asked Jamal Miles to do that he didn't do against Oregon State.
Special teams did miss a field goal. I'll take that when the punt cover team holds one of the best punt returners in college football to 20 yards below his average and earns a takeaway. Punt return scored a back breaking TD. KO cover was above average.
When you combine everything that happened that was negative from the Osweiler turnovers and compare it to what should have happened, ASU wasn't lucky to win this game. They were mentally superior and isn't that what we've been looking towards for the last three years?
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 @ 1:08pm
It's clear. Other than Oregon, whoever lines up against ASU is irrelevant. ASU's competition is ASU.
ASU is 3-1. Full disclosure: I'm 2-2. I thought ASU would beat Illinois but they'd lose to USC. After the ASU win I realized how much all four games have been more about ASU than the competition.
The Illinois game was terribly played by ASU. Through film study and talking to people within the program, a lot of the mistakes were made by players trying to do things they can't do at the college level.
I'm not saying the players aren't talented enough. It's more of a case where it takes time for some players to learn the things they could do in high school, they can't do in college. You can coach a kid all you want but sometimes they just have to do it wrong on the field to get the message. That's exactly what happened against Illinois.
Sunday, September 18, 2011 @ 5:30pm
I thought Arizona State football was done with these tough losses. No, I didn't think they'd go 14-0 and compete for a national championship, but did think they had the leadership to pull out close games.
One loss at Illinois doesn't erase a potentially great Sun Devil season. Someone else in the Pac-12 South -- not named USC -- has to prove to be better than ASU to in order to ruin 2011.
This loss is crushing though for an unexpected reason. The offensive line was supposed to be a strength. Instead, it was a disaster.
Before I continue, I must back up. I had no idea the defensive line for Illinois was that good. There are so many positive things to be said regarding ASU in this game. The problem is the accumulative praise can't possibly equal the unflattering comments earned by the offensive line.
ASU dominated defensively allowing only short field touchdowns. Holding an electric quarterback to only 17 points on those short fields is a masterful performance, when compared to the poor tackling show ASU put on against Missouri. The defense must be praised for its great rebound this week. To accomplish all this despite not having Junior Onyeali for most of the game -- he left in the first quarter with a sprained left knee -- was stunning.
Special teams broke even or was a hair below average. A crushing missed field goal from an easy distance would have changed the game. Return yards average was not as impressive as you'd like to see against a slower opponent and there was one terrible punt early in the game. Yet great coverage and hustle led to the recovery of the muffed punt. Sure, a punt should never be caught with a helmet but Illinois had the same chance to recover the fumble.
The stats say Osweiler had a poor game. The stats are wrong. The interceptions were tipped balls. The fumble was backside pressure. Several of the incompletions were drops. He was running for his life.
Cameron Marshall played on complete heart as his ankles were screaming at him. He ended up with 69 yards. It doesn't sound like much, but when you realize he missed a quarter and a half, it's a little more impressive.
That brings us to the offensive line. If it wasn't a false start, it was holding. If it wasn't holding it was illegal hands to the face. If it wasn't illegal hands to the face it was missing a twist. If it wasn't missing a twist it was missing a stunt. If it wasn't missing a stunt it was just getting physically manhandled.
Normally, I would go after coaching in this situation. However, I've been to far too many ASU practices. I was on the sideline listening to Coach Smith. I know ASU worked on it all week. There were times Illinois rushed four and ASU kept seven to block and Osweiler was still sacked. What else can a coach do?
Sure there were other issues. Coach Erickson really muffed his clock management on the last drive by wasting 30 seconds -- just to get four yards -- then calling a time-out after the first down. It didn't matter because ASU couldn't get the next first down anyway. The ball was turned over with time remaining.
The pass catching, again, was an issue. Dropped passes have plagued ASU ever since I moved here. It is unbelievable to me how long this has been an issue for the Sun Devils. Stats are going to show Gerelle Robinson had a great game. Film will say it should have been better -- fight for the ball when it's in the air, make a play on a poorly thrown ball. All too often ASU receivers make the easy play. It's time for ASU receivers to make tough plays.
I could go on with other small things but none of them matter. I was wrong on this game for one reason: I completely underestimated the Illinois D-line. They played a phenomenal game. Obviously, in order for the Illinois D-line to receive praise, the O-line has to take it on the chin. No other negative aspect of this game had a more profound effect on the outcome than the play of the ASU O-line.
I'm not panicked for the season because I've seen this line keep getting better over the course of the last three years. That's somewhat of a back-handed compliment because it was so bad three years ago that even the slightest improvement isn't much of an accomplishment.
The quarterback two years ago, Danny Sullivan was a smart player that was immobile and needed protection and receivers who can catch. He didn't have either and he had a bad year. The quarterback last year, Steven Threet, now stands on the sidelines signaling in plays due to concussions suffered last year so severe he struggles to watch a 3D movie without suffering headaches. Osweiler wasn't given a chance versus Illinois.
If the defense plays this year like it did against Illinois, and the offense plays like it did against Missouri, ASU is going to the first Pac-12 Championship Game.
Monday, September 12, 2011 @ 9:14am
K/O to CAR…ret to 20…holding
CAR ball -7
Williams middle run...Lennon blew it up…+3
Playfake…deep out to Smith +14
Williams…Campbell shed block to make tackle…+2
Dockett collapsed outside…Newton stepped into D-Wash…-12
3rd & 14…INC…loud crowd…A-Dub in coverage
Punt…OPP to -46
AZ ball 12:27 0-0 1st Q
Wells middle…Hadnot trap block to open hole…+9
Heap underneath after clear out…+20
Sack…what was Colledge doing? He knocked Johnson into Kolb and away from Levi
Playfake…Wells picked up blitz with a great block…perfectly timed throw to Doucett…+16
Wells explosion through middle of the line…Colledge blocked a DL & slid off block to knock off a LB…Wells ran hard…TD
7-0 8:45 1st Q
Williams left side…Callais held ground vs block but driven back by Williams…+4
A-Dub blitz…read the run after he got into backfield…-1
Steve Smith TD…completely alone down left sideline…Rhodes standing by himself…OPP blitzed…looked like A-Dub had over-the-top responsibility
7-7 7:11 1st Q
Wells…Ooh, bad hold on Sendlein…-10
INC…terrible pass…Kolb stared down Sampson…almost INT
Sack…Levi destroyed again…fumble…Colledge saved Levi's bacon
Delay…bad series…never mind…T/O AZ
Flip to Wells…just gave punt room
Punt…great hang time…+49… CAR block in back v RJ
CAR ball -30…7-7…4:59 1st Q
Dockett called FS on TE…nice play…-5
Roll-out to Smith…+5
Newton…keeper…Schofield all over it…-5
Dockett near sack…wobbly pass and drop to Olson…dropped…INC
AZ ball -25…7-7…3:27 1st Q
Wells…0…Sherman & Levi pushed into running lane
Wells middle…Sherman & Sendlein great seal…+11
Wells…0…Sherman pushed right into Wells…Sherman's 1/3
Sherman in the flat…+6
INC…threw it behind Fitz…PBP Rosen called him Larry Johnson…Keith not on line of scrimmage
Punt…+42…LSH amazing coverage…0 ret
CAR ball -17…7-7…:48 1st Q
Playfake…Naanee deep slant…no coverage
Playfake…loads of time…forced draw…+3
End of 1
Forced roll-out…excellent patience from Newton…OPP gave way too much room…Lafell wide open…+24
Newton…INC…dropped by LaFell…still all day to throw
Stewart…right side B gap…A-Dub scared to get in on hit…+12
Stewart…great play by A-Dub…came on blitz and wheeled back after diagnosing run…-1
Coverage sack…Rhodes on delay…-6
INC…Newton over threw covered receiver
Punt…great fake by OPP to call fair catch at 15 as ball bounced into end zone
AZ ball -20…7-7…12:10 2nd Q
Playfake…Heap up the seam v cover 2…+20
Wells…off RT…good gain but game is going too fast Sherman…+6
Wells left A gap…Hadnot pulls through hole…+6…excellent seal from Sendlein & Colledge
Playfake…gobs of time…Roberts…perfect patience to come underneath…+17
Wells off RT…Hadnot around Keith for kick-out…great Hadnot block…+6
LSH…nothing…Heap got completely blown up
Shotgun…flare's underneath 2 WR's…great pattern and play…+19
LSH gets stuffed after catch…+2
Wells drops pitch…CAR ball…perfect pitch…perfect play call…the entire left side was totally walled off and Wells looked up to check the blockers
CAR ball -12…7-7…7:08
Stewart…Wash thru 2 blocks
Stewart…huge gain…never mind… holding…thought Campbell got destroyed but ref thought it was a hold…AZ got lucky…-10
Newton little roll…got the penalty back…+6…LaFell…good tackle from Jefferson
Newton forced roll out…couldn't get away…small gain
AZ ball…7-7…-39…4:19 2nd Q
Misdirection Wells…King good push…Wells looks so good when he doesn't fumble…+5
Roberts underneath…Johnson dropped back in coverage and got Roberts before he turned upfield…+2
Wells toss right…Keith and Fitz with blocks…+22
LSH…off LT but Keith blown up so bad his man made tckl…+2
Playfake…Kolb time…perfect post corner…+22
2 min warning
Kolb under pressure…threw it away…INC
Wells…play happened so fast I couldn't see where the tacklers even came from… PF Roberts crack-back…-15
5 yd out to Fitz
Wells screen…Beason completely read play and blew it up
FG…35 yd…miss…hooked it
CAR ball -35…7-7…1:03 2nd Q
Newton forced roll-out…+10
Dump to Williams…+7
Newton got crunched by Marshall…INT by D-Wash… roughing the passer…nice league if that's roughing…I don't want to watch much football
Good dump to Stewart for 15
TD perfect throw on out & go route to Smith…Peterson slow to react
INC…Fitz didn't slant?...hate to say he ran a bad route but that's what it looked like
Wells off RT…good block from Sherman but King was blown up…+2
Kolb pressured off both DE's…CAR only brought 3 and got pressure from 2…Brown and Keith were major problems…forced to check down to Wells…+2
Punt…+52…10 yd ret
CAR ball -34…CAR 14-7…13:30 3rd Q
Campbell shot through the middle…Stewart around left side…no one's there…+12
Playfake…good pressure on Newton…deep pass INC…what the hell…called a catch even though ref had his back to the play…AZ challenges…it is INC
Williams middle…Dockett shed block well…+2
Blitz picked up…Newton destroyed Porter to find TE…+12
Stewart right B gap…Dockett got tackled…good hit from Rhodes stepping in… ref saw the hold…-10
INT…D-Wash again…cut inside of Smith…Newton with the tackle
AZ ball +48…CAR 14-7…10:52 3rd Q
Playfake…Keith absolutely destroyed…Kolb forced roll…WOW…King TD…how did he get that open?
14-14…10:40 3rd Q
Williams…nothing…Dan Williams stood up 2 blockers
Williams…Dan Williams again…where has that been?...-2
Newton read the blitz…LaFell caught high throw…great route
Stewart…Holliday textbook…shed blocker…+2
Newton…deep slant…TE split wide... great throw from Newton…+22
Newton…deep drop…looked left and pumped then came back to Olsen on right side…big time QB play…Rhodes eaten alive
Newton fake the sweep…middle 1 yd…
Shotgun Newton over the top…TD…CAR 21-14…5:49 3rd Q
LSH 33 yd ret
AZ ball -41…CAR 21-14…5:41 3rd Q
Playfake boot…too much pressure on Kolb from Davis…INC
Wells middle…where's the facemask?...+4
Kolb forced to roll because of Keith…INC… illegal contact…+5
Wells misdirection…LBs filled behind initial push…+1
Roll-out…Kolb wanted to go deep and over-looked an open Wells…INC
INC…Fitz quick slant…should have been PI
Punt…LSH…great tackle…looks like he hurt his shoulder…+37
CAR ball -20…CAR 21-14…3:25 3rd Q
Stewart…Carter all over it…-3
Blitz picked up…Shockey deep out…PP's hips looked slow…+11
Newton…Olsen deep out…TEs killing the defense…Newton's torching them…+12
Williams through left side…no LBs…unbalanced…+8
Williams…Lenon and D-Wash read play well…+1
Williams around RT…Dockett completely destroyed…+5
End of 3rd
Stewart…D-line getting pushed back…unbalanced line…+6
Stewart left…Porter beat TE and forced play inside to D-Wash…-1
Blitz…Smith hot read on slant…over-thrown…INC
Coverage sack…D-Wash & Schofield…great OPP coverage on Smith
AZ ball -10…CAR 21-14…13:01 4th Q
Wells around RT…G pulls around…not blocked great but good enough…+4
Underneath to King…+13
Playfake boot…Wells stopped a sack…bad throw to Fitz…never saw D-Lineman in coverage…almost INT…INC
Near sack…forced roll-out…dump to Wells…+3
Empty…blitz…Doucett hot read…TD…great recognition from Kolb
21-21…10:48 4th Q
CAR ball -26…10:41
Delayed blitz…Newton reads it to Smith…+16
WR screen to Smith…D-Wash great hustle to get back from blitz…+8…Wash hurt on the play
Williams…no D-line penetration…+5
INC…tipped pass…where's the flag?...Haggans had a hand under his facemask from the the RT
Shotgun…quick out to Smith v OPP…+5
Blitz…forced scramble…Marshall sack
Punt…HA…ARE YOU DOWN WITH OPP!!! TD…don't celebrate until you get in…no more high stepping
AZ 28-21…CAR ball -20…7:15 4th Q
Newton…playfake…Porter not tough enough to get him down…INC
Playfake…plenty of time…Shockey square out pattern
INC…Campbell forced Newton roll-out…pass behind Olsen…INC
Brought 4…Dockett missed screen…bad tackle…Campbell saved his bacon…-1
Blitz…Newton steps up to run and tripped by Eason…+2
AZ ball -11…AZ 28-21…5:01 4th Q
Wells around left side…Hadnot very slow on the pull and screwed up the whole play…+1
Wells counter trey…Keith tripped up and gets in the way…+3
Fitz in single coverage…perfect 9 route…excellent throw before safety can get there…big 3rd down conversion…+33
Wells…dancing again like last year instead of hitting hole…+2
Wells…forced to cut back away from blocks…smart move to go down and not go out-of-bounds…+2
CAR TO…it's amazing…Rivera is the first coach to figure out to use your time-outs on defense before the 2-minute warning
Kolb forced out of pocket because Levi is happy to get a pay-check…INC
CAR ball -17…AZ 28-21…2:20 4TH q
Newton underneath to Olsen…+11
LaFell beyond CB but in front of S…bad coverage…+27
Forced roll-out…Newton out-of-bounds…+1
Blitz picked up…Smith…easily open in front of safeties… Haggans PF…supposed to not call that
Great pass on wheel route…dropped…INC
Had Naanee in the end zone and over threw him
Marshall all over Naanee…great coverage…INC
Porter offsides…pass out-of-bounds
LENON…perfect tackle…how did Lennon find his man through the confusion
Friday, September 9, 2011 @ 8:13am
Welcome to the entire future of Arizona State football.
The past, present and future all meet Friday. It is impossible to over-hype this game. There is so much on the line that this is one of the biggest games in the history of the program.
I can easily understand any old school fans that think the 1958 shut-out of UofA after Tucson's work to block Arizona State College from achieving university status meant much more.
Since the win over UofA in 1968 led directly to the creation of what has now become a BCS bowl game, hard to argue with the significance of that game. The catch is (in hindsight) the game has ended up having a deeper significance nationally than it has within ASU.
I, of course, grant you playing in a Rose Bowl makes both of those appearances more valuable to the past and future of Arizona State Football.
I'm continually reminded by fans how huge the win against Nebraska was that almost led to a national championship.
Let me try to sell you why I think Friday's game means almost as much as the great games in the history of the school.
1) Attendance: It's no secret that Phoenix is a huge bandwagon town. No one wants to admit they're not a good fan but it's obvious. The Diamondbacks don't sell out playoff games. The Coyotes don't seem to exist until April no matter how good they are. With Friday being close to a sell-out, ASU needs a win to entice those fans to come back.
2) BCS: ASU players chant "BCS" at the end of practice. ASU and the Pac-12 is not a strong enough conference to compete for a national championship with a loss so going undefeated is a pre-requisite if you want to be in the conversation. However, if ASU wins 12 games and loses the Pac-12 championship game, they have a great shot at a BCS at-large invite.
3) Dennis Erickson: Seems pretty simple. If Dennis Erickson has a stellar season and gets the team to an Alamo Bowl, he gets a contract extension. Sun Bowl or less and ASU might begin a coaching search. This team is built to win now.
4) ESPN: U of A lost the 1st quarter 21-0 Thursday night on ESPN. Fair or not, the rest of the nation thinks they stink. Losing on national television when you're the only game on TV hurts worse than your average loss.
5) Conference realignment: This is my wild card reason. I completely believe Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will be in the "Pac-12" next year. There's a chance more could be coming, including Texas. If Oklahoma and Texas are both members of the conference next year, how many times will ASU compete for the BCS?
Look at the history of the Big 12 Championship game. Oklahoma or Texas was in every game except two. Oklahoma State has been 8-4 three times and 10-2 once, yet that was never good enough to get in to the Big 12 Championship game.
If ASU doesn't have a season for the ages this year, when do you expect it to happen? Do you think the near future is brighter with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas on the schedule every year?
I'm not trying to sell you that Missouri is the best visiting opponent to come into Sun Devil Stadium. There have been more talented and more prestigious teams in here before. ASU has played in bigger games in the past, but not many.
The weight of Friday's game has less to do with the past and more to do with the program's future.
Monday, August 15, 2011 @ 12:30pm
ASU has had the worst off-season in college football for any team who hasn't done anything wrong.
I was in a small training room underneath Arizona Stadium following the blocked extra point that won the Duel last December. Lisa Love and Dennis Erickson exchanged an embrace that seemed to include years of frustration being released in one moment.
As I watched the winning locker room celebrate, I thought I was watching the beginning of a journey and not the end. At that moment, I believed this team would compete in the Rose Bowl in 2012. I didn't say compete for a Rose Bowl, I meant ASU would be in the Rose Bowl.
Imagine how the future looked to ASU after that game. It wasn't a stretch to think the off-season would see:
1) Jim Harbaugh leave Stanford
2) Andrew Luck leave Stanford
3) Oregon forced to declare LaMichael James ineligible and possibly face other sanctions
4) Threet getting a whole spring and second season to learn the Mazzone offense
5) A defense that would return almost every starter
Only one of those assumptions didn't prove what happens when you assume. The incorrect middle 2 assumptions keep the Stanford/Oregon winner on pace to reach the Rose Bowl. Andrew Luck decided to return to Stanford and is already tabbed as 2012's first pick in the draft. Oregon is still under investigation but the NCAA is nowhere near making a ruling.
ASU seemed to go from potential Rose Bowl winner to Pac-12 Championship game loser.
There was a ray of hope when Omar Bolden announced he would return to ASU. It would have been a mistake from a draft status stand point to go pro, but it was a major blessing that he listened to sound advice. Unfortunately, that was the end of the good news, because then the Spring came.
In late February, ASU announced that Stephen Threet was retiring from the game. His career was cut short by too many concussions. Sure, Threet made lots of mistakes, but there was a general feeling he would really grow with another spring under Noel Mazzone.
Spring football started with all eyes on Brock Osweiler. It ended with all eyes on the vacancy left by the knee injury to Bolden. With Bolden's loss the defense took a major hit. How scary could the ASU LB's be if one big play receiver was taken away from the QB at the start of every play? Now that fear was gone.
There wasn't a reason to panic, however, because USC was still under sanctions and banned from post-season play. Scared of the possibility of USC winning the Pac-12, the conference announced USC could win the division but not advance to the championship game. Even without Bolden, ASU was still the second best team in the division.
Now it's time for fall camp. Osweiler has had an entire spring to gain control of the offense. The vaunted defense should take center stage and carry the team to a division title. Any chance of something positive coming out of this off-season ended Saturday with the latest scrimmage.
The rough performance of the offense was the least of concerns for ASU. Brandon Magee made it through 7 plays of the 2011 season. He ruptured his Achilles. Magee was an excellent football player but also had a high football IQ. His ability to always be at the right place at the right time allowed others on the defense to take risks. Even if someone else was making the play, it was Magee who read the QB and took away options forcing the opponent into the mistake in the first place.
The Magee news would have been devastating no matter what happened between December 2, 2010 and today. When you combine everything else that's occurred, this is a terrible off-season for ASU and there's no blame to hand out. Arizona and Utah are immediate contenders for a division title.
This season could start 4-0 and the off-season immediately moves into the rear-view mirror. 2-2 would probably bring little attention and a lack of commitment from the fans. 1-3 would mean immediate questions regarding the future of ASU football and maybe even the entire athletic department.
As we prepare for the start of the 2011 college football season, it's strange to think Dennis Erickson could win coach of the year for handling tremendous adversity or win a "vote of confidence" half-way through the year.
The only two certainties in the Pac-12 are Washington State and Colorado will finish last. I think USC wins the South, but I have no idea who wins the prize to play in the Pac-12 championship game. Maybe ASU will have it better when "OFF" is removed and it's time for the SEASON.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 @ 12:39pm
Day #9 (8/8/11)
SHOW: Had Kevin Spenser on and Calais Campell.
Coach Spenser is the special teams coach and he's going to have a real interesting camp. There are 90 guys here. In a very short time he's got to figure out who he wants on his special teams units. It's a very interesting dynamic on who's going to make the team. What if Ray Horton doesn't really believe in a certain LB but Coach Spenser really wants him for special teams? What if Mike Miller completely believes in having TE's but Spenser doesn't think number 4 can really contribute on special teams?
Kevin Spenser's endorsement is very important to make the team and after the first pre-season game the cuts will go from 90 to 75 so his voice will be instrumental as to who makes the first cuts and who is still with the team after the last pre-season game.
Calais is just a joy to talk to. He's the first player I've ever had the experience of watching grow up as a professional athlete. I've been a talk show host for over 20 years but I worked my way up through small markets so my experience was with minor league athletes before I moved to KC. Carl Peterson in KC was so bad at the draft that I never got to watch a young man go through the draft and mature while still being a productive player in the NFL.
Wolf and I had Calais on the show during the 2008 training camp. It's hard for me to believe he's in his 4th year. He sounds like a vet now. It's really cool to watch someone fight just to make a team, have a stud second season, stink up the joint at the beginning of last year and then come back with a solid finish. He gives so much back that you really root for guys like that which is why we try to have him on so much.
Enough with my waxing poetic. Here's what happened at practice today.
The first thing I did was just laugh at the number of people. There were 15K people or so on Saturday. Today, maybe 55. Kyndra counted 60 without including the dogs. The 60 did include the construction workers that needed a break because it was already 9a. 20 minutes into practice a day care showed up so that added about 15 people. All in all, there were more players than fans. Just about anyone who wanted it got an autograph.
Kevin Spenser worked on on-side kicks. Fitz & Doucett were both on the hands team.
Offense worked on a cool play that could easily be turned into a double pass trick play. Don't want to get into specifics. It's not that I don't trust you but what if someone from another team actually read my blog? I would hate to find out that I put out information that led to a Cardinals loss. I'll tell you if you see me out at Dan's one night for a beer.
1st time all camp I've seen a QB leave the huddle and check with OC Mike Miller. More shocking it wasn't Kolb. It was Skelton.
G & T Cliff Lweis and Erick Mensin both getting an earful. Russ Grimm yelled, "Guys, C'mon. Get your head out of your ass." Then Mike Miller followed up with: "I sense a real feeling of looseness that stops now before Oakland."
Not much else happened after that. Talked to Fitz for a few minutes. Asked CKW what he thought about Coach Spenser's lid. He said the bucket hat was a good look for him because it covered most of his mug and made winner's out of us all.
Walked out of the car and forgot my pen. Didn't know how I was going to do my blog without a pen to write down notes.
Went up to Yoda and Mike Helm of the Cardinals to ask for a pen. Neither could come through in the clutch.
Asked Kyndra for a pen. Wanted to avoid that because I've borrowed a pen from her just about every year for 3 years and this was the first time I seemed to avoid it. She didn't have one so I might be able to break the streak.
Angela from Peoria who was in the crowd heard me ask Kyndra and offered me a pen from her bag so the PM PRACTICE portion of the blog is brought to you by Angela.
No drops at all during passing drills which is impressive.
Went to punt coverage on special teams. Isiah Williams gets yelled at by Spenser for not being on the field. Kind of cool that he's advancing so fast that he was supposed to be on the field so early in the special teams portion of practice.
Had a bad angle to see punt coverage/return but I didn't see any returner drop a punt
OPP looked really good as a gunner. He's very aggressive and physical. You could tell whoever was supposed to stop him wasn't interested in practicing as hard as OPP.
RUN PLAYS—defense using cards
Wells nothing left but a perfect cut back—looked like a zone block where he let the wave pass by and found space around RT after the flow went by…good patience
Wells behind big Colledge block
LSH following Sherman…everytime I see Sherman he's doing something good…this time he blocked a LB so fast I couldn't see who it was and then he got to the next level and picked off SS Ware to create more space for LSH
Ryan Williams going half speed. Mike Miller: "I got to have more Ryan. That's not enough to accomplish anything."
Next play: Mike Miller brings praise after hard run off RT: "That's better, Ryan. That's how you play football."
CKW getting on more and more people for lack of tempo
Don't know if guys are ready for Oakland but they're ready to be done with camp…not much energy
OFFENSE USING CARDS
Grimm must like Bateste because after almost every play he's in with the 2's, Grimm yells "D'Anthony…yadda yadda yadda." Seems to be spending a lot of time with him.
Mis-direction pitch to LSH for a big gain
Second big LSH gain through the right side
Ryan Williams supposed to go right…over-penetration by defense to their right left a hole for Williams but before he could hit the hole Stewart Bradley shed two blocks and back tracked from "O's" backfield and made tackle completely surprising Williams from behind. Total hustle play by Bradley.
11 ON 11
Fitz 5-yar out…Kolb comfortable avoiding blitz and solid dropping arm angle to get pass around leaping Calais Campbell
Paris Lenon on blitz forced Kolb into an over-throw
Skelton two straight overthrown on touch passes with no pressure…1st to Roberts should have been caught but tough pass…2nd terrible over-throw of LSH on a wheel route
Another INC pass…Stephen Williams ran inside curl while Skelton threw the curl to the boundary
Isiah Williams strong push off to make catch
Perfect pass from Bartel over CB along sideline but short of on-coming safety…Sampson with a leaping catch kept feet and cut inside safety for big gain
Isiah Williams deep curl tough catch behind him
Missed 2 plays talking to a Cards staffer about Wells
Toler excellent coverage of Fitz and knocked down the pass…I think going against Fitz is really going to help Toler
1 ON 1 PASS PROTECT
Why is Dan Williams here? Just so lazy
Dockett spin move and a sack
Keith perfect work, buried him so bad I couldn't see DE's number
David Carter forced guard right afraid of spin
move…Carter then bull rushed for sack
Williams pushed Sendlein back but could never could shed block
David Carter great spin forced illegal hands to the face
Didn't see a lot of the pass drills…did too much socializing
Drills ended so I walked to watch end of 7 on 7
Max Hall perfect pass to Skelton over LB's
Saw 2 plays and 7 on 7 ended and 11 on 11 started…defense using cards
Wells behind Maui'a…both FB's look so good
Play fake Wells, Heap with catch up the seam
Kolb rifle through Spach's hands…Spach gets an earful for the drop from Freddie Kitchens
2's take over
LSH through middle and then bounce outside…Dray's great seal on the edge opens up sideline…important for Dray since there's good competition at TE and he hasn't looked great.
Sampson and Isiah Williams in ahead of Stephen Williams and Komar
Sampson boundary curl…perfect pass from Skelton
Ryan Williams middle running much harder ever since Mike Miller got on him
Bartel to NAU kid on a 5 yd sit down
Pitch left to Alphonso Smith…good block by DJ Young, Russ Grimm yelled compliments
1's back in
Play fake to Wells…Kolb to Fitz…10 yrd dig
Roberts didn't know he's supposed to be in motion, Kolb signaled to him twice…Wells takes it through the middle
Deep post to Roberts…perfect throw from Kolb
OFFENSE USING CARDS
Hey! Dan Williams is here! Strung out OL to his left to set-up easy gang tackle
Wells running the Wild Cat!! I would have tweeted that out but the offense is using cards
Just got a call from a good friend with some sad Vontaze Burfict news
While I was talking on the phone, 3 dropped passes…Stucky, Skelton, and one WR I didn't see…coach's are going crazy
1 MINUTE DRILL
Kolb forced to dump to Wells over middle lost a lot of time
:22 INC pass
Gave up after terrible start and started over
2nd try by the 1's
Kolb to Doucet middle…much faster to the ball
Fitz breaks open deep corner splitting double team but Kolb missed him…threw it underneath the Fitz route to Doucet…Richard Marshal ate up Doucet turning in front and made the pick…Haggans came over yelling, "You're the $#!*, 31!"
CKW yell lets go2's, 1's couldn't get it done
Bartel in at QB
Quick out to Isiah Williams for 15
Sack for Mashay Green on CB blitz
Bartel middle to Heap…leaping catch in traffic
Heap broke open in end zone…Bartel missed him and went to another WR that I couldn't see over threw him
Offense completely shut out in 1 minute drill
Day #8 (8/7/11)
Very lazy day
Went to 10:30 mass with a very boring priest as the regular priest I meet with on a regular basis that serves the Neuman Center in Flagstaff is in Europe with other students celebrating World Youth Day.
I worked all day until about 5p and then went out to dinner with Kyndra.
Came back to the hotel around 8 and was asleep by 8:30
That was about it.
Day #7 (8/6/11)
THE RED & WHITE SCRIMMAGE
Nice to sleep in. Got to the field at about 11:10a.
Actually a hot day for Flagstaff but a consistent breeze makes it easy to take…of course it's nothing like home
The crowd is unbelieveable. Easily over 10,000 people. Pretty great state we live in with an NFL scrimmage, a Rattlers conference championship game and a huge DBacks series all going on in one day.
Simple passing drills to start like normal and Stephen Williams dropst that one
OPP dropped a punt just a day after CKW said he's in the mix
Few minutes later OPP makes a nice cut in punt return to get up field…problem judging that though because punt and kick returns are never live
Early for 11-on-11
Hand-off Wells…Paris Lenon pushed blocker all the way into Wells to blow-up play
Fitz with great hands using his body to shield off Richard Marshall
Heap deep out after Roberts cleared space with a 9 route…perfect pass from Kolb easy to turn up field…crowd goes crazy
Just noticed there's no A-Dub…Wilson is between both fields bent over…I have no idea what's wrong
LSH hand-off…blown-up on weakside…didn't see who did it but Wells was on the weakside with a solid block…never thought I'd see LSH & Wells in same backfield and certainly didn't think Wells would ever stand up a LB
D-Washington with a sack…just too quick for the G
Again I'm shocked…Kolb made a change at the line and Wells pointed out the change of the two LB's…Wells is running tough and now he's blocking and locked in to what the defense is trying to do…It's only August but he certainly got the message from Mike Miller during his exit interviews…BTW, nice route by Doucett on a skinny post but I was more shocked by Wells on the play
Playing situations so it's 4th & 1 and the defense does a lot talking in the huddle…Calais controlled both his gaps, shed his blocker and brought down Wells
Dray ran his route a little short, Skelton with a pass behind him
LSH around right edge…FB Anthony Sherman is the real thing…great block
Stephen Williams with a very clean post pattern…Skelton with a good throw…Stephen Williams really needs to step it up with the way Sampson and Isiah Williams has been performing
Skelton pump & go well covered to LSH on the wheel route…Skelton then wanted Isiah Williams but Williams sat down in the zone behind a LB and didn't keep floating to a better position…Skelton forced to ground it at Dray's feet
Sampson with a drop as OPP was right in his face
3's in now…interesting that Ryan Williams is included here…didn't think about it when LSH was with the 2's…Bartel is the #3 QB
Ryan Williams takes hand-off to his right…runs right at the line-of-scrimmage and sees nothing…lightening quick bounce to the outside and takes off down the sideline…there's a lot to like from him
WR Sean Jeffcoat not able to come up with a big play…Bartel under heavy pressure but he got rid of it without much accuracy…would have been a tough catch but NFL players make that catch
Isiah Williams amazing catch on a deep ball to the front corner of the end zone…does it right in front of crowd
Max Hall in
End around to Jeffcoat…small gain
Max threw it behind Isiah Williams in Skinny post…INT dropped by Toler
Charles Ali out in the flat catches a Hall pass over his head and behind him with one hand
Dan Williams just stands up with no leverage…he doesn't stay down and drive anybody…there's no penetration…he looks more and more like the Alan Branch before last year
Max nice roll-out…Rob Hauser came back to his QB to get open
Isiah Williams again…the guy is everywhere
Isiah Williams with a catch but then OPP stripped him…since it was a quick whistle to signify a tackle the play stays…would have been a fumble on Sundays
Max Hall led Aaron Nichols way too far…missed TD…last year Hall couldn't miss in practice…this year he looks like an Arena League QB
Jared Campbell with a nice read to slip in the hole and blow up the RB
Hall to Houser post pattern…TD…excellent route and use of body by Houser
-=back to the 1's=-
Play fake Wells…pass to Fitz in triple coverage…over the deep LB, covered by the CB and under S help over the top…perfect pass and great catch in traffic
Incredible play by Dockett…came in on a twist to the O-line's right…Keith didn't find him until it was too late…tracked down Kolb…Dockett had one hand on QB, Kolb threw it anyway and Dockett tipped it with his other hand and then made the INT
Wells hand-off…Haggans destroyed King and strung Wells out…Rhodes went into the hole created by Haggans penetration and made the tackle
Kolb amazing lob to Fitz…35 yd TD…Willie Mays type of catch…stands in front of crowd and flips the ball to a group of kids
Lenon stepped up into hole…Wells knocked him completely on his back and kept going…never seen Wells do that
Wells cut-back and caught Porter off guard and drove him back for 3 yards before he went down…this is not the same Beanie
Calais & Dockett standing up…pure pressure forced bad pass from Kolb behind and open Roberts
Ryan Williams…A gap…hurt his ankle and limped back to huddle…stays in
Stephen Williams good feet…bodied up OPP along sideline and toe-tapped to get "3" feet in
Skelton drops sidearm to get pass around pass rush…hits Komar in stride
Skelton play fake right, roll-out left…15 yard touch pass over Richard Marshal to Jeffcoat on sideline
Skelton middle to Stephen Williams blown dead for a sack but I followed ball after the pass and didn't see who got the sack
Skelton forced roll-out then ran…crowd always go crazy when that happens
Toler break up of deep fade to Fitz…slightly over-thrown
Rashad Johnson very controlled blitz to get Wells right at hand-off
Kolb couldn't find anyone but there was no spy so he gets a big gain up the middle…crowd goes wild
AJ Jefferson!! Who is this kid! Unbelievable play…read the Fitz skinny post and jumped the route…ball got trapped between both of them and Jefferson ripped it away for the INT
Stephen Williams outside the numbers on a come back route…very smooth
Horton forced to call time-out during 2-minute drill…yelling at his defense…don't know what was wrong but he kept yelling "nickel, no-lock"…looked like he had 6 DB's in and that might have been the problem
Wells power run in A gap…Rashad Johnson amazing slide into the hole…RJ has had a great practice…still don't know what happened to A-Dub
Doucett quick pass on line of scrimmage for 3y
Forced roll for Kolb…threw a bullet to Heap who was only 4y away…INC
Kolb bad INT…first real bad mistake I've seen Kolb make…Washington perfect step-for-step with Heap…there was no where to throw the ball to him…Kolb locked on and let it fly anyway…Wells was going to be open against Lenon and Kolb never checked to see if middle was open
Skelton to Ryan Williams…quick cut in the hole
No wide outs open…Skelton too cute to Ryan Williams…didn't just throw the ball…tried to politely guide it in and threw it behind him
Pitch play to Ryan Williams…no room to the outside and another plant and go…he's so good out of his cut
Ryan Williams play designed to go left…cuts back against the flow of the defense to find huge hole
Stephen Williams back corner of end zone…he was juggling the ball and came down with complete possession after he couldn't get his feet in…CKW gives him TD anyway…defense goes crazy but Williams needed that
LIVE GOAL LINE…1 PLAY FOR EACH UNIT
Wells busts through…Reagan with a great block
Hamza right through the hole giving LSH no chance
John Skelton naked boot leg…whole defense followed play fake to Ryan Williams…TD
DAY #6 (8/5/11)
SHOW: Terribly miss the family but it's so much easier to get up in the morning when I can turn lights on and play a little music. Forgot my Mountain Dew which is vital for me. Hit the jackpot when I bought one from a vending machine and two came out.
Ray Horton has a great level of confidence and concern. Really like his attitude. Obviously we can't judge him on one pre-season interview at the start of his first opportunity to be a DC but carries himself well. First coach that concentrated on charts during the breaks and nothing else.
He focused on the positive for this year's defense. Interesting since there wasn't many positives last year. Forgot to ask him about A-Dub. That was a complete screw-up by me. A-Dub was awful last year and they still expect great things from him. I want to see before I believe.
AM PRACTICE: I failed, just like so many times when I had an 8 o'clock class. The sales department needed me to do a lot of work after the show and I didn't get done until 9:45a. After that I just went back to the hotel.
PM PRACTICE: very low intensity today…CKW has been yelling right at the beginning.
7-on-7 from the 12
Toler drops pick v Kolb
Excellent pass from Kolb…Roberts with a step on post pattern…good catch
Drop Stephen Williams…would have been tough catch but got hands on it…threw it high to get over coverage
LSH in flat…Marshall stopped it at 2 yard line
Heap easily in front of end zone and waltz in
CKW yelling again about lack of practice intensity
Skelton pass tipped
Stucky perfect route…quick out…Skelton good pass
Skelton over throw wide open Heap in back corner of the end zone
Pick play with Max…back corner of the end zone…drops high throw
Bartel…perfect lead to Houser but Rob didn't get head around
Bartel over-throw open Jeffcoat in back of end zone
Bartel not as sharp as he has been through most of camp
Max perfect lob back corner to Skelton…Reggie Walker gets an earful from Horton
INC pass but pass interference Michael Adams
Kolb to Roberts…gr8 catch in traffic
Kolb to Roberts perfect curl route…Miller praises Roberts
Lots of confusion during the dime…Doucett easy TD
Dockett tips pass…Doucett can't comedown w/ wobbler
Fitz perfect route…fakes outside comes back across middle
Paris Lennon tweeked something….talking to CKW
Crowd goes crazy on Kolb forced roll-out ran for 1st down but would have been clobbered in a game
Pick play Skelton to Dray…tough catch
Watching Stephen Williams v Michael Adams missed play because I started yapping to some weird Flagstaff media guy
Skelton strike to Isiah Williams
Fumbled snap…Mike Miller all over the exchange
Bartel to Isiah Williams…2 good routes from the "new" Williams
Hall to Sampson…deep curl…Sampson drops nothing
Kolb to Roberts…good catch but would have been a sack if going live…Dockett blew up Keith with a bull rush
Kolb led Larry too far…timing isn't there when going over-the-middle
Kolb quick check to Fitz at line…one hand signal led to post/corner route…Larry takes corner for big play
Skelton with a laser to Sampson…his 1st drop in a week…heard footsteps
False start Batiste…will be shocked if he makes the team
Sampson had it for a second but stripped out by OPP before he showed complete possession…OPP has amazing confidence in his knowledge of the defense
Stephen Williams with a bad drop…he's just not the same
Bullet throw on a deep out from Skelton to Houser…perfection
Spach over the middle…haven't heard from him at all during camp
Spach again…quick out in the flat underneath the WR 9 route
Hall incomplete to Jefferson…hitch & go…thrown a hair short but Jeffcoat poor job getting around defender to fight for the ball
Doucett easy catch on the flood
Kolb pump to Larry across middle, comes back to last read Heap in back corner of end zone…incomplete, thrown with no touch, too hard for Heap to go up an get
LSH perfect bounce down line…burst through hole
Wells ran over Rashad Johnson…the man is running so much tougher
Stuckey underneath…defense didn't react…TD
Stuckey quick turn in front of Rashad Johnson…TD from Skelton…Skelton looks good…definitely has a future
2 min drill
LB twist…Kolb read and dumped to Wells…good run for 1st down
INC to Fitz…Toler great coverage
Roberts perfect sit down in front of Rhodes in the 2-deep…Kolb started yelling "down clock" as soon as he threw it over the middle and O-line went with him
Kolb perfect pass over OPP's head and dropped into Larry's arms right on sideline
Kolb behind Fitz on slant…hit hands but tough catch
Kolb wanted Roberts underneath…Dockett with the bat down of the pass
Roberts WR screen…cover 0 blitz but defense still got back with screen over their head…no score for the 1's
Dray on the square out
Dray again but this time made a move and got out-of-bounds
Sampson dig route…good catch but turned it up field…CKW all over him for not getting out-of-bounds
Skelton to Sampson on a perfect deep curl…Sampson immediately out-of-bounds…fast learner
OPP just destroyed Stuckey
OPP broke up slant to Sampson by just barely reaching around to knock it down…could have been PI but NFL back judge was there and didn't wave flag
Stuckey bad route…too many steps to get out of his break and the ball went by him before he turned around
DAY #5 (8/4/11)
SHOW: Mike Miller was solid. Said there was still a QB competition for the #1 spot. I believe him in his own mind. Catch is there's no way an OC is going to make the decision to start anyone the HC and GM have traded for.
KEVIN KOLB: He's not a real self-promoter. Strong leader to his players but doesn't feel the need to show that outwardly to the media. There's a clear difference between him on air and how he acts around other players.
BREAKFAST: went to this wonderful place…Mike and Ronda's. It's McKenna's 7th birthday. I hate that I haven't been home for her birthday since she turned 2. She handles it so well. We ate breakfast together and watched her open her present from Jennifer and me. We got her a scooter.
God Bless our troops and their families. I'm already missing mine and they're sitting at the table with me.
Amazingly different intensity level to practice. The newly signed guys have been bottled up so long they're getting after it. At the same time, the younger players are trying to hold on to their jobs now that they see the big dogs on the porch.
Wells is turning heads. Looks very fast.
Dan Williams is on again off again.
LSH tried to get through C gap…Stew Bradley smothered the whole
Wells again…running with power
Calais just ran right through Colledge
FB Reagan Maui'a made the block of training camp. The block was so crushing I couldn't even make out the number of the defender
D-Line looks ahead of O-line
OL Batiste huge trap block…RB Williams right through the hole
Kolb over-threw Larry who was in single coverage against Adams…assuming that won't happen much
Kolb avoids rush…immediately looks for Larry
Practice seems to keep getting more & more physical
Kolb on forced roll out…never takes eyes off of Fitz…starting to get worried about the inability to look for someone else (but I wouldn't look for someone else either)
OPP lined up with the 1's as the nickel CB
Dray didn't break off route to help Skelton with the blitz…good decision by John
Stew Bradley causing major problems to the second team…standing up in the A gap
DC Horton keeps yelling "Get to the ball." Every defender has to run down the ball carrier
Sampson drops nothing…7th round pick just looks better with each practice
Doucett smooth across the middle
Komar bad drop…he's got a lot of ground to make up
Kolb now looks more patient…eyes staying downfield…not staring down Fitz
---1-on-1 pass protect---
Brandon Keith very solid
Curtis Gatewood with an amazing spin move
Colledge handled Campbell this time…different than early in practice during run drills
Sendlein stands up Williams…again Dan going through the motions
Hadnot completely controls Dockett
Watching pass drills between lineman reps…just saw Kolb with a perfect throw over the middle right when the safety turned his back the ball went behind him
Floyd Womack looks like he has something left
Stewart Bradley…don't know why I wrote this…after I wrote Bradley's name I got interrupted by Brian Gibberman
Sampson with a leaping catch…the guy drops nothing
Max Hall INT…crossing pattern…led 1 receiver too far or under threw another one…couldn't tell who he was looking for
Kolb smooth but again staring down Fitz
Will Davis missed tackle
Ryan Williams left his FB but made a great cut and was gone
Colledge false starts
Kolb looked off safety then back to Roberts
Anthony Sherman with a crunching block…this kid doesn't screw up very much…have no idea what he can do on special teams but I like him
Stephen Williams with a great block on WR screen…haven't seen much of Stephen…not standing out like last year
Sampson again…this is getting silly
After the Sampson catch, new DL Carter mixes it up with Pestock…good shoves but media went into a frenzy over nothing…some TV guy runs over to me, "WHO WAS IN THAT?"…I was dying to say, "Pay attention.
Bad read by LSH…didn't stay with play to outside…tried cut-back and got drilled by Bradley
Bartel over the middle to Doucett…Bartel continues to look good
Kolb completely sold screen…Wells with blockers…would have been a 50 yrd TD
Max stares down first read until forced from pocket…may have been a sack at full speed…dumps off to Heap
Wells falls down losing his cleat…he actually gets up without limping…a completely different player
Kolb amazing throw over LB's turned head and just short of the safety…Heap drops it
Stephen Williams alligator arms a pass from Kolb…Stephen struggling
---time for live goal line---
Kolb/Wells fumble handoff
Flood right…King back across middle against the flow…great Kolb play-action…TD
Rex Hadnot crushing trap block and no one saw it…players will go crazy if they show the practice film…TD Wells…Wells is just hitting hole too soon for defense
---2's come in---
Ryan Williams runs through two for TD
Reggie Walker went low…Ryan Williams fakes going low and jumps over him for his 2nd TD
Williams easily around RT…TD
Alphonso Smith stopped at 2 and got help…drove to TD
Never seen the O look like this so early…the defense had looked good up until this point but they were just dominated
DAY #4 (8/3/11)
SHOW: The DBacks are amazing. We got to talk more DBacks than we have all season.
MARK SCHLERETH: great conversation. He was really impressed with the moves the Cards made. Completely in favor of the DRC trade. Said Orton can't make plays down the field on third down when his team is counting on him.
STEWART BRADLEY: very cerebral guy. Kind of mocked Phoenix media for how tame we are. It was funny because you could tell he loves the environment.
MORNING PRACTICE: don't know how much more of these I can take. Nothing happens I need to see but I'm afraid the one I miss will be the one that something happens. The new CBA is a good thing to keep players on the field but it makes 2-a-days so pointless.
AFTERNOON PRACTICE: I wanted to see the DBacks game but I napped through it. Jason Marquis' debut was the talk amongst all the media.
Here's the practice notes:
DJ Young held up nicely against Campbell
DB Dunn destroyed by Fitz. Kid was a nervous wreck
CKW: "C'mon Rob." Houser didn't get head around when he was the hot read. CKW and Mike Miller both talked to him after the play.
Sampson quick out on Toler. Boxed him out and made the catch. Sampson's had one bad practice and other than that he's been nails. Stephen Williams should be very worried.
OL Cliff Louis 2 false starts in three plays
Bartel sidestepped blitz and found his read down field. He's starting to blow away Hall for #3 job.
Dan Williams very lazy in 1-on-1 drill
Schofield b-2-b sacks in 1-on-1…every practice I'm writing about something else he's doing
DJ Young another stand-up…who is this kid?
---moved to middle to watch 7-on-7 1-on-1s---
2 good Houser routes
OL Jake Vermilgo doesn't look athletic enough for OT but I like him anyway
Dan Williams better aggression v Sendlein
Leaping catch by Sampson…showed some attitude after the catch
Cliff Louis destroyed by docket…tough day
Andre Roberts drops easy out route
Rashad Johnson came in on blitz out-of-control…LSH with one move blew by him
Screen to hyphen…Bartel dropped to sidearm (just like Gannon) to get it around pass rush…Pestock cleared the whole sidewalk
Dockett exploded in on Ryan Williams…1st time Williams couldn't go anywhere
Alphonso Smith sold inside move to OPP and he bought it
Wells looks fast and powerful
L B Kendall Smith missed his gap…got caught up in the trash…Wells exploded through C gap
Great sell job by Skelton on opposite side screen…noticing a lot more screen passes
Skelton late to pull trigger
An A-Dub sack…that ‘s good to see…DC Horton has A-Dub playing much closer to the line…looks good
Last dinner with the family…they leave tomorrow
It's so tough being up here because when the family's here I feel pressure to be with them but I'm too busy. Our hotel room isn't big enough for the four of us and I hate having to step around them in the morning with no lights on. Then when they leave I'm miserable without them.
Can't wait to talk to Mike Miller tomorrow. I have a lot of faith in him.
DAY #3 (8/2/11)
SHOW: How could not love Patrick Peterson? I completely don't believe the Wonderlick score. The kid's smart, articulate and quick-witted. Watching him during practice you can tell he's picking up things quickly.
Wolf and Paul was hilarious arguing whether or not proving people wrong is the same as proving yourself right.
No morning practice so I went home (hotel) and worked on notes and returning tweets
Here's my notes from practice. If you're going to read this, understand the O-line is very weak. Also know that these are observations of each play. It takes a series of plays before clear patterns are formed.
Max dominates trash can drill but practice is inside so there's no crowd reaction.
Hadnot @ RT couldn't hold edge on Wells run through the B gap
Rob Houlser looks like a football player but he's playing too fast. Instead of finding assignment and running to block him, he runs to space and then looks for assignment that he just blew by.
Ryan Williams is a very smooth runner once he gets going but stutter steps around blocks instead of hitting hole. Wonderful runner inside but doesn't understand the LB will kill him as he reads the kick out block. Plant your foot and go.
Calais amazingly powerful in 1-on-1 drills
Jim Dray is a false start machine
Dan Williams getting deep penetration. Coaches don't care. D-Line coach keeps yelling, "Let's see it NINE-TWO."
Ryan Williams has to learn to run downhill
O'Brien Schofield very quick around the edge. Good chance the investment in him pays off
John Skelton threw helmet down in frustration. It bounced up and hit CKW. Whiz not happy.
Another false start on Jim Dray.
Peterson is amazingly quick out of his back pedal. Made a great read out of the nickel to jump on slot receiver.
Stephen Skelton slow to get down on low pass. Game seems too fast for him.
David Carter…wow…this guy is amazing. How did he slip through the draft? Just made a great swim move from the DT spot
D-Wash eaten up in coverage on TE…couldn't find the ball and Dray beat him over the top
Fitz with an actual drop
Sam Acho got out of his back pedal like a CB and jumped route to TE…not bad for a LB
Rashad Johnson was barking at OPP…OPP just gave thumb…didn't need more instruction and went into press coverage…seems to know defense much more than a rookie should in 2nd professional practice
Drop by Jim Dray…not a good practice for him
Newbie DJ Young destroyed by Calais in pass rush
Max Hall frustrated with a drop from the NAU rookie yells, "Gosh dang it." Draws a laugh from some teammates for perceived vulgarity
Bartel with back-to-back great out routes. There's a serious battle for the #3 QB.
Stephen Williams looks very smooth. Unfortunately he gets no credit. Anything he does falls into "been there, done that" at training camp. Must prove himself in games.
Dockett held in order to keep off the QB
Pestock slow pulling around
Pestock came right back with solid trap block
OPP right with Sampson. Stepped up in press coverage. Sampson couldn't go anywhere. Play went to other side and OPP ran clear across the field to be in on tackle
CC & Dockett both standing up. Calais shoots A gap. Dockett in B gap. Completely unstoppable
D-Wash amazing contain and pursuit on Wells
Calais through a double team and knocked off a pulling guard on way to hyphen
Bartel a victim of a drop. He looks really good
WR Aaron Nichols with a great move along the sideline
Max Hall with a stare down on a receiver who dropped a pass…couldn't see who the receiver was
Day 2 (8/1/11)
SHOW: Loved Larry Bowa saying D-backs had staying power because Giants can't run away with division.
Coach Whisenhunt stressed "attention to detail." In talking to him on and off air, I get the feeling assumptions are out. He's never said this but I think CKW believes he trusted too many veterans to correct mistakes on their own without a higher level of accountability from the coaches. Sure the coaches told them what was wrong, but I think there will be more benchings or even more veteran cuts if things aren't fixed sooner.
Brutal…not from a production standpoint but from a fan's standpoint.
Simple walk through with a lot of special teams work.
New CBA rules on practice time are good for the fans who want to see their favorite players play longer but bad for the training camp fan who sees far fewer action in the morning practice.
Talked with Clark Haggans. He loves the new defense. However, I've been doing a talk show for 20 years and I've never heard a player say they didn't like the new system. If a player ever says the old system was better than they are admitting the problem was them.
Long talk with Calais Campbell. Loves the defense too. He sounds like an old veteran. It's weird to watch a rookie grow into a man. He was talking about the young guys' learning curve needing to be so steep because of no OTAs or minicamps. The problem is the veterans aren't as much help because they're learning the system too since they didn't have an off-season either.
Tracked down Kevin Spencer. He said it's just crazy right now. So many players in camp and he's worried sick he won't fight for a kid that could be a special teamer just because he doesn't get to really spend enough time with each one when you've got 90 guys in camp. So much of the last 10 spots on a roster have to do with the positional numbers crunch and each individual's ability to play special teams.
Huge media scrum around Fitz to ask about contract status in light of Rod Graves' statement that if Fitz wants to stay the Cards will make it happen before the opener.
Stephen Williams and Rich Bartel last to leave practice.
Was walking through the parking lot and Fitz came by on his segway. He took the hat off my head as he went by and without saying anything he put on the roof of a car about 7 cars down. Didn't know if that meant I was the geeky kid in high school being picked on by the athlete or if I'm now in the Fitz circle of trust. Assuming the former but maybe it's a step towards the latter.
Nice day turned crappy…have to move practice inside to the dome.
Weird to practice in a construction zone. I had to sign a waiver saying I won't sue if I die (I think that's what I signed anyway). NAU removing seats and putting in new press box and suites. Looks really nice. Too bad they put so much time into that and no time into fixing the door to our broadcast room.
The rules for the year are so odd. In normal years, players who can't practice are off doing work with the trainers to speed healing and recovery. Kolb is not practicing. He's not wearing a jersey and looks like a young GA in the college game learning to be a coach. He stands next to Mike Miller and gets the play call while another QB runs to the huddle. After the play he talks to the receivers about the route, then goes back to Miller. He's very involved without being involved.
Love watching Patrick Peterson. Even when he's not in the play (I don't mean the play is run to the other side, I mean when he's supposed to be on the sideline and another CB is playing), he doesn't sit on the sideline. He stands about 20/30 yards behind the play and gets the defensive assignment for his position. He then covers a make-believe receiver who just happens to do whatever it is that the actual receiver is doing to the CB that's truly in the play. After he "goes through the motions" (said in a positive manner for once), he shouts out a question to his position coach or Ray Horton and then lines up again. He gives new meaning to "never takes a play off" because he doesn't take one off even when he's supposed to.
This just in…Larry's really good. He attacks every route. If you're a coach or a parent with a football kid that needs molded, get to Flagstaff and just watch Larry practice. Sure your kid has only a 0.05% chance of playing like him, but he could sure learn to practice like him.
Andre Roberts catches punts at about a 50% rate. Where's OPP?
There's actually a guy from the NFL walking around making sure the CBA rules are followed. I guess you have to because of the Belichiks of the world but it's just weird to see the "free agent police" here. Is he really going to run on the field and stop Kolb from throwing the football to someone?
Talked to Patrick Peterson for a few minutes to set-up a talk with him on tomorrow's show. Seems like a great kid for what you can find out in a 4 minute conversation.
Really wanted to talk with Mike Miller but I missed out while talking to Patrick.
Went to dinner at Busters and was there for 4 hours. My hotel room doesn't have FSNAZ so I needed to go to a bar to watch the game. After 4 and ½ years together, it was the first time Wolf and I sat in a bar together with no one else and watched a sporting event. It was very strange.
Hopefully tomorrow I catch up with Mike Miller. We've got Kevin Towers live from SF tomorrow and Patrick Peterson. A buddy just called me with a weird Braylon Edwards story that might make tomorrow interesting.
Day 1 (7/31/11)
My first day is slightly different than the players. I didn't come up until Sunday night. Players had already practiced twice. I'm a slacker because I only missed one practice last year and now I'm already 0-for-2 to start camp.
Stayed home to start the football weekend with a Rattlers victory on Friday night. Went to Mass Sunday night and then took the priest out to dinner after Mass. He asked if he could chip in for the meal. I said no. Seconds later, the father and grandfather at a table of 13 stood up and told all at the table that "Preacher John" was buying everyone's dinner. I don't know if our priest felt pressure or not.
Very difficult night preparing for show. Girls trying to sleep behind me in the hotel room while fighting my desk light. I can't stand being away from my family but it's nearly impossible to create the working environment I need when they are here.
I had to go outside the hotel to make phone calls concerning baseball trade deadline. I hated trying to cover NFL free agency signings and MLB trade deadline deals at the same time. Felt like I could never get a handle on either.
The show and speak to Coach Whiz
Morning practice and catch up with Kevin Spencer
PM practice: watch Patrick Peterson and catch up with Mike Miller
Thursday, July 21, 2011 @ 6:33am
I hate doing this.
I want to win like everyone else. I would love to see the Arizona Diamondbacks make a fantastic run to the World Series just like the Rockies did in 2007.
There's just one problem with that dream: REALITY.
The trade deadline is approaching. After Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks should officially declare themselves as sellers.
The Giants are off today (7/21) and the D-backs have Ian Kennedy on the mound against Milwaukee. It's very plausible Arizona picks up a game today and the D-backs are 4 games out when you're putting the kids to bed tonight.
No matter what happens today, Kevin Towers' job is to improve the 2012 club. 2011 is over.
I know everyone will hate me for a month. Someone will say I'm giving up on the team. I'll get an e-mail with a list of great second half comebacks. After I tweet out the link to this blog a man who claims to be a big D-Backs fan will say he'll never listen again and I should move back to Ohio.
Here's the reality of the 2011 D-Backs. They are a team building to be special but they can't hit with runners in scoring position, they only have Micah Owings to bridge the gap between starter and closer and the fans don't care if the team wins or not.
In a huge homestand coming off of the buzz of a great All-Star game, the D-backs drew 17 thousand, 17 thousand and 19 thousand in their last three games. With that lack of support, a team can't possibly take on a major contract so you have to look at small stuff.
In order to make a serious run the D-backs need 2 new pitchers in the bullpen with at least one being a lefty, a No. 3 starter, Josh Collmenter to make a run at rookie of the year, a third baseman with power (that doesn't strike out 200x a season) and now a clutch-hitting shortstop.
It is impossible to fill all those holes with affordable talent at the trade deadline.
Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson have been incredible this year. This team has exceeded every expectation. Whether a division championship is in reach or not, the team is still worth the price of admission because of the refuse to lose drive instilled by Kirk Gibson. The team shouldn't give up on any game they play but the GM has to look ahead.
The talent in the minors is too good to trade for a futile attempt at the division. Kevin Towers has seen too many unrealistic GM's lie to themselves and buy his best players while he was building the Padres with other team's best prospects.
He needs to do it again and field the desperate phone calls instead of make them.
Monday, July 18, 2011 @ 9:25am
I think the women's World Cup run was wonderful to watch.
I think the women's World Cup team showed an incredible force of will to advance to the finals with powerhouse teams like Brazil and Germany blocking their path.
I think the U. S. women's World Cup team completely choked in the championship game of 2011 Women's World Cup.
I think the U. S. women's World Cup will force all of us to re-evaluate our opinions of women's sports and all of sports in general.
The United States, Brazil and Germany were all worthy champions. Congratulations to Japan. They were not even close to the best team in World Cup yet they found a way to win. Whenever you win a competition as by far the fourth-most inferior combatant, you have superior coaching and superior heart.
Japan earned the World Cup Championship and nothing I say is an attempt to take away their victory. They beat a team far superior to themselves and they deserve every accolade for their effort.
If the U. S. had lost to Germany or Brazil in the final I don't think I would have written a blog. When a group of women lose to an inferior opponent, we are all forced to decide where women's sports rank.
The United States dominated the game but couldn't capitalize on their domination. They missed three easy scoring chances and another four challenged scoring chances that a championship player would have converted.
When the U. S. had the lead they did a poor job of making decisions. Possession is more important than long passes. Sure, aggression was the key to their success, but not reckless abandon. As I tell my kids that I coach at the 6th grade level: only the ball can score a goal so possess the ball.
In the final of the championship of the world the U. S. had one bad substitution, terrible possession with the lead and poor goaltending play in the clutch. There's a problem with what I just said though: I criticized women.
Both sides of the debate on coverage of women's sports have a tough decision to make the day after the loss. Twitter was bombarded with messages from fans supportive of the efforts of the U. S. Women's team. Why? The U. S. choked Sunday against Japan. They were the superior opponent and lost due mostly to sloppy decision making, un-clutch performance and a very small coaching mistake.
If women's sports are the equal to men's that so many women want it to be then those groups should be embarrassed. No human being at the World Cup championship level should ever send a penalty kick over the goal. No team ranked number one in the world should ever miss their first three penalty kicks. So why should I congratulate these women for a hard fought loss? Choking is choking no matter how it is dissected.
If women's sports are just cute little events to keep our daughters occupied, then this was wonderful. The U. S. deserves a ton of respect for trying their best and everyone should get a medal for their effort. However, I shouldn't receive any e-mails explaining why I didn't give enough time to the U. S. women's team on the show this week. If they didn't choke then it's not a real competition in which the athletes should be respected.
If women are equal, the U. S. should be judged as chokers. If women's sports are just a cute pastime, than we should be thrilled with how well they represented our country.
I choose to look at the money as my determination. With women's rights groups pushing different tennis tournaments to give equal payments to men's and women's champions, then women lose the right of chivalric protection. If you demanded American attention and loved the focus you earned through winning then accept the scrutiny of losing.
I could easily be wrong. It reminds me of UConn's decision to allow Nykesha Sales to become the all-time leading scorer in UConn Women's Basketball.
Sales had injured her knee and was out for the year. Head Coach Geno Auriemma felt terrible that he had taken her out of so many blowouts and, effectively, cost her the chance at breaking the record. He setup a free lay-up with Villanova to allow her to score a layup to start the game so she could take the record by one point while not defending the in-bounds pass so the game "started" 2-to-2.
It brings up a struggle to all men and sports fans in general. Do women actually get sports better than men? Women see no fault in what Auriemma did. Since it didn't affect the outcome of the game, men should let it go. As a man, I would never let anyone score an open layup; I would have blocked her shot or fouled Sales whether she was using crutches or not.
So who's right? Do women have a heartfelt view of sports by not allowing the outcome to determine their pride? Or are women hypocrites for expecting equal coverage and attention as their male counterparts during their events while rejecting the scrutiny that comes with the increased attention.
It's one or the other. Either men look at their own games the wrong the way and should appreciate the competition over the outcome like women, or women should not ask for equality if they aren't willing to accept the criticism that comes from failing to reach expectations.
I don't know if I'm right in the way I watched the Women's World Cup but I think they do deserve equal attention and adulation in victory. Therefore, the United States Women World Cup team deserves immense credit and appreciation for making the finals.
From that stand point, our women choked.
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 9:07am
FIFA does more to hurt soccer in this country than the sport does.
The U.S. women have had an amazing World Cup. The goals of Abby Wambach should fall in the legendary moments of American sport and instead they fall into two unpopular categories: soccer and women's sports.
Soon you will be bombarded with why you should care about soccer as we approach Sunday's final. I wish you did, but I won't tell you should because FIFA and soccer snobs are the problem, not you.
I have an intense passion and love for the sport. I wish most Americans did too. Although there are clear differences in soccer versus "our" sports that make it not an American favorite, FIFA (soccer's world governing body) clearly doesn't care to make the sport American fan-friendly.
If you don't use the terms of soccer correctly, soccer fans immediately question your intelligence. It's not a field, it's the pitch. No one is fast, they have great pace. In hockey you shoot on goal, in soccer you shoot on frame. It's not the sideline, it's a touchline.
Time to change the game to bring in more Americans without terribly affecting the sport.
1) Soccer snobs need to quit saying soccer haters just don't understand the game. Either educate or accept the opinion, but don't attack potential fans.
2) Get rid of injury time. Put 45 minutes on the clock and count the clock down. When play is stopped, stop the clock.
3) If you're "hurt" and the ref stops the game, you must stay out for 5 minutes before you can return. This will eliminate the ridiculous fake injuries that happen in the men's game (wonderfully the woman's game doesn't include this).
4) The hockey "blue line" or whatever color you want will be added to the field. The offense can't be offside until they pass the blue line instead of mid-field. This would double the scoring, create more space on the FIELD and lead to FASTER play.
5) Quit extra time. It's a sudden-death overtime. Put 45 minutes on the clock and play till there's a goal. You get one extra sub per period.
6) Get rid of penalty kicks. Obviously I mean at the end of games, but also throughout the whole game. Hand balls in the box and any foul on a breakaway scoring chance leads to a hockey-style penalty shot. Any other foul leads to a free kick no matter where it happens.
FIFA will never institute any of these changes because they think you are the problem. Maybe, for once, a sport trailing behind other sports will admit their game isn't perfect and make it better.
Friday, July 8, 2011 @ 5:13pm
I don't want to hear it (and I know I'm going to).
When I was on vacation, people would look at my license plate and say how lucky I was to get out before the heat.
When I left for work this morning it was 91 degrees.
When I left the station after the show it was 101.
When I got back into the car after my Friday golf game tradition it was 109. Other than the fact my golf game has improved to the point I can shoot under the temperature, I don't care about the temperature. The summer heat of Phoenix is not a topic of intelligent conversation.
You can't shovel heat. You don't have to rake heat. I'll take my heat in July and August for the lack of snow on my driveway and 8 bags of leaves on my lawn from October-April that I would have to deal with elsewhere.
The greatness of Arizona weather will not be on display for the next week and we are going to have to hear about it. The national media will begin to descend on Phoenix starting this weekend and they will report on is how hot it is.
Three words national media: SUCK IT UP!
Every time anywhere in the country gets to triple digits the media goes crazy like it's a front page story. When we get it, it's not news-worthy. Wonder why? It's because we're either tougher, used to it, or maybe we just don't complain because we know why we live here in the first place.
To the baseball fans that have never come to Arizona in July: WELCOME. We are thrilled you're here. If you wear a hat and sunscreen while drinking water you'll be fine. A/C and ice cream are great inventions and they'll serve you well.
To all the national media that's coming to Arizona in July: please don't waste your readers/listeners/viewers time complaining about the heat.
Talk to all the visitors to Arizona for this great event and ask them if they're enjoying themselves. Tell us what outside fans think of our ability to host huge events in Maricopa County. Tell us how our All-Star Game committee performed versus those of other cities. Most importantly, tell us about the game.
Please national media, if you think the air is hot in Arizona, then don't make it worse by providing some of your own.
Monday, June 20, 2011 @ 4:46pm
What is the definition of a true fan?
Watch every game on TV or listen on the radio?
Just a sucker?
The Diamondbacks had their largest weekend of the season this last weekend in terms of attendance. Almost 99,000 fans came to see the Dbacks and White Sox. The next highest attended series was the previous interleague series against Minnesota. Is this something to celebrate or cause for concern?
Is Phoenix finally a baseball city? Did the fans wake up and see the Dbacks close to 1st place and decide to show support?
Maybe it's the documented proof of the success of interleague play? For the record, I'm against interleague play but I also accept I'm wrong. Fans have proven me wrong, however, showing through their ticket purchases they want interleague play.
I don't think the ticket sales against Chicago and Minnesota prove either of those two things. I think it's the age old problem in Phoenix. The White Sox fans who have moved to Phoenix bought enough tickets to make this the highest attended series this year. The Twins fans who have moved to Phoenix bought enough tickets to make that series the second highest attended series of the season.
Ted Miller, who blogs about the Pac-12 for ESPN.com, pointed out ASU football plays in front of more empty seats than any other conference team. He connects those empty seats as the main reason why major prospects from the state don't stay in the state.
If you're 17 years old and you go to a game at Auburn, Nebraska, USC and ASU, where are you going to go to school? Without actually saying this, I believe Miller is saying the lack of passion from ASU fans directly leads to mediocre results on the field.
Fans love honesty unless it is negative towards them or their team. I was a rogue voice and a maverick when I called the signing of Eric Byrnes bad for the money. Fans thought I was rebellious when I ripped the hiring of AJ Hinch as manager and went crazy on Suns owner Robert Sarver for not retaining Steve Kerr. I was also told I'm a homer because I don't think Dennis Erickson or Ken Whisenhunt should be fired for their previous seasons. Truth is I just say what I think whether it benefits or stings one of our local teams.
Interestingly enough, if my opinion is anti-fan, I get ripped the most. I can't thank you enough for listening to my show. The more people read my blog the stronger my job security. I wish I could make everyone happy with every opinion I have but that wish is not based in reality. I don't say this to offend but state the reality: your expectations of the DBacks and Sun Devils will never be achieved unless you change.
Your support of the Arizona Cardinals puts instant pressure on them in a positive way. The Cardinals should expect to compete for Super Bowls every year because you are filling the building. They owe you the opportunity to compete for a championship. When the Cardinals struggle your voice should be heard because you are giving them the financial support to succeed.
Although Suns attendance has been down over the last two years, you're undying love of that team makes them an underachiever. You have supported them and there should be more than one trip to the finals every 20 years.
The Diamondbacks, Coyotes and Sun Devils are completely different. Why would a free agent/recruit want to play in front of empty seats or a wealthy individual buy a team that can't sell a winner?
The DBacks have won more division championships in a shorter amount of time than any other franchise in MLB history. Fans, however, say they don't buy tickets because of color changes and one 100-loss season. The DBacks are a ½ game out of first place. The GM\manager have put a product on the field that wins. The ownership group charges in the bottom 5 in all of MLB for ticket prices but attendance ranks in the bottom third.
The Sun Devils are picked by almost every national magazine to compete for a division championship. With USC not eligible to win the division, the ASU/UofA game could be for the right to play in the first ever Pac-12 championship game. There is significant hype over this year's ASU football team but have you bought season tickets yet? Have you looked into going to a home game?
The Coyotes were in an amazingly fierce battle for any seed, #1-#8 in the Western Conference and ticket sales didn't go up until the last month of the season. Shane Doan is one of the classiest athletes in Phoenix history yet he hasn't swayed 15K people to buy a ticket consistently.
I am in no way telling you where to spend your money. I think you have every right to not buy tickets to local sports teams. I don't think you owe a measly talk-show host an explanation on what you're doing with your money or why you don't go to games. However, by not going, I think you lose the right to complain.
Why yell and scream at Ken Kendrick for not spending the money to get a big contract at the trade deadline when you're not going to the games anyway? If you don't want to hear someone tell you how to spend your money, why demand Kendrick lose money on a big signing?
If local kids like Prince Amukamara go to Nebraska because ASU doesn't draw fans, why blame Dennis Erickson for not having talented kids? He would have the talented kids if you created an impassioned environment.
Judging by the recent history of the Coyotes, do you really blame Jerry Moyes for bailing on Glendale? Don Maloney has pulled off a miracle and the seats are still empty. If Jerry Moyes said he was selling the franchise to a market that cared about the product, explain to me a logical rebuttal.
I might be the sucker here. Growing up in the Midwest where sports is life is probably pretty sick. If I look at it logically, the West Coast attitude of laid-back non-support is smarter and definitely cheaper. I know I'm the one with the problem getting so bent out-of-shape when someone doesn't hit the cut-off man. I'm the one who needs therapy when I question a 1st Quarter play call.
I know you're more grounded in reality than I am. I also know it's no fun to be that way. I think you missed an amazing Coyotes season which makes Maple Leaf fans want to throw-up. I think you're missing a great Diamondbacks season that Twins fans would kill to have. I think you're about to miss a fun ASU season that 20 schools in the SEC and Big 10 would die to have.
Fans have absolutely no responsibility to the teams they support, yet look at the most successful teams: Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Auburn, Alabama, Florida Gators, the Yankees. If you want to win like that, show ownership by showing up. If you can't, I get it, times are tough but times are tough in every American city and other American cities win.
Expectations are directly proportional to attendance and ratings. If you want a Stanley Cup, World Series or Rose Bowl, I'll see you at the game.
Thursday, June 9, 2011 @ 12:54pm
I realize we would all take LeBron's paycheck if it meant we had to deal with his "pressure." I think it's insulting to ask people to categorize the pressure James is dealing with versus our military or the firefighters in northeast Arizona. Anyone with a clue understands the point and it's OK to be left unsaid.
Accepting the fact that few of us go through the same pressure as first responders and the military experience, how's it going at work today? Is it a normal day or do you feel a lot more pressure than normal?
If every single person you interact with at work has been looking at you wondering if you're going to do your job, LeBron James knows how you feel. The same thing happened to him Tuesday.
The bigger issue is his Thursday. It's time for him to let Tuesday go. Thursday night LeBron James has the highest challenge of his career. Is he one of the greatest players of all time or is he a mentally weak man?
For thousands of professional athletes, this is an unfair question. Rarely do athletes fail due to mental weakness. Most of them fail just because they weren't the better player that day. Some fail because it takes every ounce of their talent just to make that level of sports and they're just not good enough to succeed at the highest level. Their success is just being there.
It is fair to ask the question when the subject is LeBron. It is a fact that he is one of the most talented basketball players in the history of the game. It is my opinion that he is the most talented player in the history of the game. With that title comes a high level of expectations. It is undeniable he was completely unfocused in Game 4. If he's great, we'll see it Thursday night.
What if we don't see it in Game 5? This is bigger than a talk show host writing a blog. It's bigger than just a good player having a bad series. This is about how history and his co-workers will look at him. Thursday night has short-term and long-term ramifications. If he struggles Thursday night, Miami's title will always be Wade's title. He could only recover by dominating an NBA Finals with an injured Wade sitting out. Mike Miller can score 8 points in an NBA Finals game, James can't get away with those numbers.
As you work, do your co-workers believe in you? Right now, James' do. If Tuesday night happens again in Game 5, they won't. Thursday night will forever forge the opinion his teammates have of him. This is so much more than coming off a bad game. This is James answering the question to his teammates whether he's even in the foxhole with them.
I think James is going to be incredible in Game 5. I think Miami will be incredible. There are hundreds of journalists and talk show hosts questioning James' ego. So many think James' performance is inversely proportional to the success of Wade. I don't see how you come up with that assessment. If James cared to shine on his own at the expense of Wade, he wouldn't be in Miami in the first place.
James could have stayed in Cleveland if he wanted to be a one-man band. If he wanted a little more help but still wanted the entire spotlight, he would have chosen New York after Amare was signed. He said no to both. LeBron James wants to win an NBA Championship with Dwyane Wade, not in spite of him.
There were things on James' mind in Game 4 that we may never learn. His own legacy in the face of Wade wasn't one of them. LeBron James will close out Games 5 and 6 in legendary fashion. LeBron James will win his first NBA Championship.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 @ 10:24pm
Indianapolis, we have a problem.
No, I'm not in favor of moving NASA.
College football is broken. The people that are the cause of the problem are also the ones in charge of fixing the problem…thus the problem.
Is John Junker the only bowl President to host massive parties of self-indulgence?
Is Jim Tressel the only college football head coach to receive information about players violating NCAA rules and try to cover it up?
If the answer to these questions is yes, college football has just purged itself of two men who were pariah in the sport and the future of the game looks great.
I don't believe the answer to those questions is yes.
John Junker was in the business of self-preservation. Where did coaches and the dignitaries of college football get the idea to see skin and party? I don't believe these college football superiors went to Miami, New Orleans, Nashville and San Diego as great pillars of integrity and the lure of Phoenix women was too much to bear. I believe the Fiesta Bowl did what they thought they had to do to stay on top.
I see Jim Tressel in the exact same light. Tressel said he didn't go to compliance because he didn't know where to go with the information that was to be kept confidential. LIE! If he didn't know where to go why did he forward the information to Pryor's Pennsylvania mentor? He obviously knew where to go. He did it for self-preservation.
Let's move on from attacking Junker and Tressel's character. Is it deserved? Absolutely!...but it is also a waste of time. Junker and Tressel decided that winning was above any cost. It's up to you whether or not you want to attack their character for it. All attacks need to be focused on the college presidents that make up the NCAA.
The actions of Junker go on at almost every bowl game. The actions of Tressel go on at almost every university. When you create a billion-dollar system with gutless checks and balances, the Fiesta Bowl scandal and Ink-for-gear is exactly what you'll get. You can keep blaming the Junker's and the Tressel's of the world but the system will just produce more of them. Until the NCAA decides to get serious and fix college football, nothing will change.
The NCAA is not some pie in the sky group. The NCAA made up of college presidents too scared to take on the sacred cow of college football. These are some of the most spineless men and women in the country. Any penalty short of the death penalty for OSU shows the NCAA isn't serious about fixing the problem. The NCAA won't do it because Ohio State is doing what almost every college football team is doing. If you go after OSU, you have to do it to the next program. College presidents don't want OSU to get the hammer because they're afraid the cat will get out of the bag and their school will be in front of the same committee.
Ohio State was already under probation for the men's basketball coach paying a player with his own money. Tressel has a series of events at Youngstown State that are very similar. He already had used the ignorance card in his dealings with Maurice Clarett. He then lied to NCAA investigators on this subject. We're not talking about the fifth string LB exchanging memorabilia for tattoos. We're talking about the head coach's hand-picked QB exchanging the head coach's autograph and other memorabilia for merchandise. Please don't waste time arguing a head coach who spends his whole life noticing every change an opposing defense makes doesn't notice a change in car and appearance of his own QB.
Don't fall for the argument "it was just a couple of tattoos." As soon as you do that you're announcing at the top of your lungs, "I'm an ignorant fool when it comes to college football."
AJ Green got a lot of attention before the draft because he was a great college receiver. He got a lot of attention during his college career because he violated an NCAA rule soon after its passing. The NCAA realized there was a major loophole in the rule book. Players were selling game-worn merchandise or championship rings to boosters for big bucks. The NCAA warned all member institutions to be on the look-out for this violation. Players on every campus were warned that selling merchandise is a violation. Soon after, AJ Green sold his Independence Bowl jersey to a drug dealer.
If the NCAA just issued a reminder that selling merchandise for cash and gifts is a violation and AJ Green just lost 4 games due to the violation, then I think it's a joke to justify the actions of the OSU players as simply "just tattoos." What the players received in return for the merchandise doesn't matter. It isn't just "tattoos" when the NCAA just announced this is a major focal point of compliance and one school within months has players commit the exact infraction.
I also reject the argument that Coach Tressel couldn't possibly keep 150 kids in-line. The man has a track history of these "incidents" occurring without his knowledge. At what point should he be held accountable for his ignorance? If you think Tressel is a great guy that doesn't deserve this attention, let me ask when does he? How many times should a coach be allowed to play the ignorance card before someone tells him that his job security is determined by his effort to keep the program compliant? If you have a glaring weakness in your managerial ability, does your employer give you 10 years to fix it? They do if you bring in 100's of millions of dollars to the company and your boss doesn't care about breaking regulations to get that money.
The death penalty is made for transgressions like this: a program on probation which clearly lacks institutional control and failed to monitor the team after numerous signs pointed to problems within the football program. How does Sports Illustrated learn more in 2 months of investigating than OSU did in over a year? This isn't a school hell-bent on compliance and integrity.
Some Ohio State fan will take this as if I'm rooting for Ohio State to receive the death penalty. I'm not. I don't want to see kids who didn't do anything wrong lose out on their dream of playing football for Ohio State. There's a difference between rooting for a penalty and being educated by it.
I don't care whether or not OSU gets nailed or how hard they get nailed. I do know what the penalty says. The penalty the NCAA gives to Ohio State shows whether or not they really want to change the culture of college football at the division one level. Ohio State's "crimes" are far beyond the actions of USC and Alabama. Those schools recently received 2-year post-season bans.
If Ohio State is not given the death penalty, the NCAA is saying they hope the corruption ends. If OSU is given the death penalty, it shows the NCAA is saying the corruption must stop.
I am not asking anyone to forgive and forget the transgressions of Junker and Tressel. I think both men should be without a job today. I think both men violated everything that they pretended their institutions represented. I just think the people that hand them the power are just as guilty.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 @ 11:08am
You can copy Nike and say, "Just Do It." Steal from the Larry "The Cable Guy," "Git er done." It's never wrong to quote from Caddyshack, "Let's go while we're young."
Baseball needs to strike a deal with the players association in the next 40 days.
It is a rare opportunity when MLB gets to be the progressive league. MLB gets to be a trendsetter if it moves now. Without an appearance of trying to show up other sports, MLB would be slapping Goodell, Smith, Stern & Hunter right across the face.
The NFL can't find a way to divide 9.4 billion dollars. The NBA just asked the NBAPA to accept a hard cap and a 40% salary rollback. The NFLPA is tying up the progress towards a deal in the courts while the NBAPA has just filed unfair labor practice charges against the league to the National Labor Relations Board. It wasn't that long ago that the NHL shut down for an entire season. The irritability of fans could never be higher.
The All-Star Game is coming to Arizona. Use that platform to make the Earth-shattering announcement. Too much attention will be placed on the legal fight of SB 1070. Steal the media's thunder by giving them a much bigger story. Instead of, "Do you, Mr. Player, believe Arizona should be hosting an All-Star Game while deporting illegal aliens?" you would get, "Why, Mr. Player, do you think the MLB and MLBPA care more about their fans than football and basketball care about theirs?" MLB could tap into the rage of fans right now by saying, "Don't worry, we've got your game."
Maybe MLB should not let the media in on the scoop. Imagine if Bud Selig and Michael Weiner (MLBPA President) walked to a PA microphone behind home plate at Chase Field. The backdrop is all of the All-Stars surrounding the Commissioner with their union leader. The stadium PA announcer says, "Ladies and Gentlemen: Commissioner Bud Selig and MLBPA President Michael Weiner."
Ladies and Gentlemen: I have an announcement for baseball fans everywhere. The owners of Major League Baseball would like to thank the Major League Baseball Players Association for their devotion to keep the game going. Through conscientious and difficult talks though never derogatory, MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to a new 5-year collective bargaining agreement. There will be no strike. There will be no lock-out in Major League Baseball. For the next 5 ½ years, you will hear (insert cute kid to yell in the mic) "PLAY BALL!"
The shock to fans and media would be amazing. The players would all gather around and start shaking the commissioner's hand. Fans would immediately see the irony of the moment. On the deadest sports day of the year, (the day after the MLB All-Star Game) the sports world would be abuzz with stories about the labor agreement. Everyone would talk about the owners and players' understanding of the economic plight of fans.
Goodell and Stern would be in the middle of lockouts. For the first time in his tenure, Goodell would be asked, "Why can't the NFL be more like Major League Baseball?"
Fans disgusted with the NBA and NFL would spend money on MLB. Why save up for NBA season tickets when you're not sure if they're going to play? Why keep making payments to hold your NFL season tickets when you can spend that money on baseball's pennant races?
I know it would be tough to get a deal done in the next month. Neither side would want to risk a terrible mistake that creates an uneven balance just to say the deal is done. The urgency, however, needs to be created now. MLB can't wait until near the end of the season or rely on pressure from the upcoming 2012 season to negotiate with the intent to deal. The MLBPA can't be threatening strikes to wipe out the end of the season.
Selig needs to meet with the owners immediately and find their breaking point. Not what they want but what they will accept. Weiner needs to know what the players can give up and what they demand. Both men need to come to the table with the idea they are working on a deal and not posturing for future negotiations.
This can't wait. Show a side MLB has never shown. Take advantage of the most incredible time in sports. No sports league has ever announced an agreement while two other major sports are in a lock-out. It's time for MLB to be the first.
Git ‘er done, Bud.
Thursday, May 19, 2011 @ 10:20am
There is nothing more subjective than lists. Who's the greatest player of all-time (Babe Ruth, Jim Brown, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky)? Who's the greatest Super Hero of all-time (Batman)? The real tough one: who is the greatest American of all-time?
It's too difficult to say "any man or woman who died protecting our freedom" is number one but that group would be my choice. If I'm forced to go with individuals, I'm taking: 1) George Washington, 2) Abe Lincoln, 3) Ben Franklin, 4) Jackie Robinson.
Washington had the courage to fight for his nation and lead his nation as first President, yet the lack of ego to accept the title "King" or "Emperor." Lincoln kept a nation together while being attacked equally from Southerners and Northerners to the point his own general ran against him for office. Franklin was a brilliant inventor, writer and brilliant diplomat that secured French intervention into the Revolutionary War.
Jackie had the pride in his country to fight for America when our country was right and never shy from doing the right thing even if it went against laws that made our country wrong. If you ever want to know the greatness of what an American can accomplish, learn about Jackie Robinson.
In 1946, Jackie was assigned to the Montreal Royals spring training camp, the triple-A affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Montreal was managed by Clay Hopper, a plantation owner from Mississippi. During the spring, Jackie made an astounding play at third base, Dodgers GM Branch Rickey said, "Did you see that Clay? No other human being alive could have made that play!" Hopper retorted, "Do you really think a n****r is a human being?"
I was thinking of this amazing and horrifying story all day Sunday and Monday.
Thursday, May 12, 2011 @ 12:02pm
The Thunder need Steve Nash even more than the Suns do.
Yes, I know that statement seems unreal. We've seen for years what it does to the Suns when Nash just sits on the bench. The idea of not having Steve Nash at all is even more disturbing.
Before we get to the Suns, let's look at the Thunder. Russell Westbrook must be stopped. The problem is that statement goes for the Thunder opponents and the Thunder themselves.
Westbrook is simply not a point guard. Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury types of point guards can not win championships. When your point guard takes the most shots, the rest of your offense stands still. When your offense stands still, so does your defense.
NBA players have massive egos. They have to. Personal stats equal playing time for bench players and money for starters. If your point guard is taking shots with no passes to even start the offense —- Westbrook has done this over 30 times in the OKC/MEM series -— other players look at that as a direct attack on personal income to raise a family.
Don't believe the high-fives and chest bumps. Russell Westbrook can't last as the point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder and keep all Thunder on the floor happy. They need Steve Nash.
Ibaka immediately becomes a top 3 center in the league with Steve Nash. Durant might become an MVP. Since Westbrook is a great scorer, now he doesn't have the burden of bringing the ball up and leading the offense.
There's no way a great free agent point guard would ever want to live in Oklahoma City so the only way the Thunder can get one is through the draft or a trade.
Since they are only a great point guard away from being a championship contender, they can afford to part with future draft picks. The Thunder need to make it happen.
Obviously, that brings up the second part of the equation, the Suns trading Steve Nash. I must have picks to make the move. It's not too much to ask for two first round draft picks. Granted, these picks will be late first-rounders but it gives the Suns the flexibility to possibly move up in the draft by packaging the picks together. I'm not done though. The Suns would need an NBA ready guard right now. The Thunder have one, or numerous ones.
The easy choice is Westbrook himself.
At first you'll hesitate and assume the Thunder would never give up Russell Westbrook, but why not? If you believe Westbrook will develop into a pass-first point guard, then I disagree with you but it does blow my argument. If we can agree that he will always be a shoot-first point guard then OKC will never win a title with Kevin Durant and Westbrook. You can't have a potential MVP going 9 minutes in the fourth quarter without a shot attempt and that's exactly what happened in Game 4 of the OKC/MEM series. It has to be Westbrook at the point or Kevin Durant on the team. It won't work with both for very long as egos and seasons go by. Once you accept Durant needs a pass-first point guard then you either need to move Westbrook to the two-guard or move Westbrook altogether.
The other option: bring James Harden home.
Watch the OKC offense when Harden starts the possession. The ball moves. Every player is moving with their hands up because they know Harden might feed them at any moment. When Harden shoots it's only because the defense gave him the shot. Although Westbrook is a better overall basketball player than Harden, James is developing faster as a point guard.
If you're reading this and saying, "The Thunder would never trade Westbrook or Harden for Nash," then I'm saying the Thunder will break apart before winning a championship.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 @ 11:48am
It happens every year.
The NFL draft takes place. Experts give grades. If the NFL team likes the grades, they promote their good grades through their media relations arm. If they don't, they rip the grades saying it takes 3 years to evaluate a draft. If the player fails, the team says the draft is a crap shoot.
I would like to see one team stand up and say, "Kiper was right. We deserved a bad grade in 20??."
Since I just took a shot at teams, let's be fair. I think it's a cop out when "experts" rip or support a draft without saying what should have been done. Holding the Cardinals and me accountable at the same time, here's what they did and what I would have done. Now you can give me a grade on what I'm writing and everyone's happy and accountable.
CARDINALS: Patrick Peterson
ME: Patrick Peterson
Reports have surfaced the Lions offered a swap of 2011 1st rounders, a 2nd and a 4th in this year's draft. I agree with the decision to say no. If DET would have given up a 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 2012 on top of the offer, I'm in. I would have traded down and selected Mike Pouncey. Admittedly, I think I would have been proven wrong by that choice because Peterson is so good.
Since Detroit didn't want to go higher, I completely agree with the pick. I think Patrick Peterson will be a fixture in Honolulu.
GRADE: A+ (only because I can't go higher than A+)
CARDINALS: Ryan Williams
ME: Akeem Ayers
Obviously the Titans agree with me that Ayers can play since he was the very next pick after the Cardinals chose Williams.
Much has been made by some media members who claim CKW has quietly admitted it was a mistake to take Levi Brown (based on need) and not Adrian Peterson (based on best available). With that lesson in hand, he wasn't going to pass on Williams with a need pick still on the board.
There's no way I'm going to argue this logical point and hard lesson. I disagree, however, with using the Peterson/Brown decision as an example. Brown was a huge reach at 5. Very few insiders thought he was worthy of a #5 selection overall (granted, very few insiders considered him to be any worse than a #15 pick so let's not act like the Cardinals took someone with their first pick that wasn't going to be drafted soon anyway).
Ayers is not a reach at 39. I'm not going to say there's great value because he graded out as a high 2nd round pick, which is where he went. There's no way the Cardinals can be happy with their RB production. If Williams is truly the 15th best player in this draft — the rumored spot of Williams on AZ's big board — I see the value. It doesn't change the fact for me that this team needs serious upgrades at LB and they had one fall in their lap and didn't take him.
Obviously, I'll be comparing these two players for years.
CARDINALS: Robert Housler
ME: Martez Wilson
I admit. I do have a problem with people getting stabbed. I'm not a big fan of guys with character questions but I truly believe there's good chemistry on the defense between the players. Wilson is a great teammate so I think he'd respond to the team's leadership.
He either gets caught in the wrong place at times in his personal life or he's an idiot. I don't know the answer and I'm not privy to interviews with him that may have affected the Cards desire to take him. I do know he can play.
I wanted the Cardinals to take Kyle Rudolph in the second round if Ayers wasn't there so I'm completely on board with taking a TE. I'm just not sure about Housler. If you're a 6-5 TE with blazing speed playing in the Sun Belt, why do you only average about 3 receptions a game? Housler isn't a great run-blocker so don't tell me he was selling out to help the run game. With the assets he has playing in low division one, I want more domination to make him my TE.
Granted, it's not my money and I've taken a character risk for my pick over a married man who is said to be a good teammate with a strong work ethic. I think TE's turn playoff teams into championship teams. LB's turn 5-11 teams into playoff teams. I don't think the Cards were in a position to pick a TE who's not a guaranteed product. I would have shouted to the hills if the TE pick was Rudolph but I'm not board here.
CARDINALS: Sam Acho
ME: Luke Stocker
This one is impossible to grade. The Cards can't take a TE one round after taking a TE. However, there is no way you're going to get me to believe they would have taken Housler in the 3rd round if they knew ahead of time that Stocker would be there in the 4th round. He is the perfect "Ken Whisenhunt guy." I think Tampa Bay got a steal taking Stocker with the very next pick.
This is why this pick is impossible for me to grade. Since the Cards have already taken a TE earlier in the draft, I think Acho is the right pick here. I love his attitude. He's a tough guy who doesn't take any crap but he doesn't take himself too seriously at the same time. He cares deeply about community and his fellow man. Cardinal fans will be very happy with Acho.
Acho is a good pick. There's no way in the 3rd round I would have known Stocker would be available so I'm not presenting myself as smarter than the Cardinals, but I would have hit a HR with the combo of Wilson/Stocker versus Housler/Acho.
GRADE: B+ for the actual pick but D for draft management
CARDINALS: Anthony Sherman
ME: Marcus Cannon
I think this is the only pick in the whole draft where you could really say the Cardinals screwed up.
Sherman is a high-quality person. The Cardinals are in no way thinking Sherman is going to be an every down player. They drafted him for special teams and short yardage and that's exactly where he will excel. If Cannon was off the board, I would completely support this pick—but he wasn't.
Marcus Cannon redshirted as a freshman and still played the full four years so he's very experienced. He started at right tackle as a junior and left tackle as a senior so he can go to either spot on the line. He played in two BCS games so he's used to a spotlight despite coming from TCU.
I don't think anyone would deny the Cardinals have O-Line problems. I think this is an actual 5th round pick that could have made difference right now. The Patriots grabbed Cannon 2 picks later.
Sherman will make the team and be a solid contributor for years. Years later, Patriot fans will marvel at how well a 5th round pick has played and helped keep Brady around for a few extra years.
CARDINALS: Quan Sturdivant
ME: failed trade
This is a complete HR by the Cardinals. Yes there are character issues here but it doesn't matter. When you get a player of Sturdivant's caliber, in a position of need and do it in the 6th round, the pick cannot be improved upon.
Sturdivant has the perfect balance of patient aggression needed to be a good ILB. He stays strong waiting for his read and has a wonderful burst to explode in the hole. The fact that he played in a pro-style 3-4 (Butch Davis) is another bonus.
The reason why I wrote "failed trade" is because I would have choked with this choice. I like Sturdivant so much I would have tried to trade back into the late 5th round just to get Sturdivant. The Cardinals deserve a ton of credit for their patience. Obviously they believe Sturdivant's issues are in his past and so do I.
CARDINALS: David Carter
ME: Rick Elmore
This is a toss-up. I saw both players play quite a few times. I think Elmore will be a better special teams player so I'm going with him. I like his wheels but he's going to be moved to OLB and I have no idea if he can cover.
Carter is an undersized DT which means he'll have to play DE in the Cards 3-4. He showed me some quickness but he can easily get engulfed if he can't get his hands on you. He might be strong against a tired tackle late in the game and add depth to the D-Line. It's just I'm taking a special teamer this late and I think he'd be better than Carter.
CARDINALS: DeMarco Sampson
ME: Bill Nagy
I'm being completely biased on this pick. The Cardinals need O-lineman and Wisconsin makes good ones so I want Nagy.
Sampson is a 5th round pick when healthy but he's rarely healthy. Either the Cards wasted a pick on a guy who will always be hurt or got a steal with a guy that has great tangibles.
I'd trust the Cardinals on this pick over my bias.
GRADE: I HAVE NO IDEA
OVERALL GRADE FOR 2011 DRAFT: B+ because it's a weighted scale since I'm down with OPP!!!
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 9:21am
Why should I stop dreaming? Hit a home run in Round 2.
You'd be worried about my family life if you knew how much college football I watch. Despite traveling with ASU, I use two DVR's and a VCR to record almost every nationally televised college football game so I can watch it when I return from each ASU football game.
Every time I saw Patrick Peterson he just jumped off the TV in my house, and I'm not ready for 3D. I never thought during the college football season that the Arizona Cardinals would be so bad and Peterson would slip so that the two would eventually be married.
Some people try to take credit away from the Cardinals because Peterson just fell to them; I've always rejected that kind of thinking. Getting your guy in your slot means you didn't panic. The Cardinals correctly guessed the Bengals couldn't get a deal done for someone to move ahead of them to number four and steal Peterson away. If you were going to rip the Cardinals for not trading up if Peterson had been ripped away by a rogue team trading up, you must praise them profusely for staying at five.
I love the selection and I think every member of the Cardinals organization is better this morning than they were yesterday — secretaries included. Teams are not made, however, with the first round alone. It's time to look at what's coming Friday and Saturday.
There's going to be massive changes to the Cardinals LB core. I would love to add Akeem Ayers OLB from UCLA. He played OLB at UCLA but I'd like to move him inside in the Cards 3-4 alignment. He's tall but plays low. He's already very strong but can still add good weight, and has a quick burst. He doesn't have top-end speed but he's fine in the short porch of inside LB. Since he played on the strong side in the Bruins 4-3 it should be an easy transition.
If Ayers isn't there in the 2nd round, I'm doing something a little risky. I want the best acne medication available in the second round. I want Kyle Rudolph, the Notre Dame tight end.
Keep in mind, a ton of people who know more football than I do hate that idea. I think it's a bias against the tight end position. Maybe I'm spoiled living in Kansas City and seeing Tony Gonzalez for four seasons. A good tight end makes everyone else more open. More importantly, a good tight end can turn an 8-yard loss on a sack into a 4-yard gain on a dump off.
Remember how great the early 90s Cowboys were? When did they fall apart? It was when Jay Novacek got hurt.
Suddenly more people were in the box to stop Emmitt. It was easier to double Irvin. More defenders attacked Aikman because he couldn't throw it over the top to Novacek.
Whether the Cardinals are starting a young QB or a new one, he'll need that safety valve. Rudolph will help a horrible offensive line because there will always be someone open in the flat or down the seam.
The Cardinals have more pressing needs than a TE, but Rudolph covers a lot of zits.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 @ 12:00pm
I'm fully aware the Arizona Cardinals do not care whether I support their first pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Insultingly enough, they have never once asked my opinion (although they should have since I didn't like the Levi Brown pick).
Having said that, there are only two scenarios that I can see happening between now and 5:45 P.M. (when the Cardinals will be on the clock) on draft day that would lend my support to trading down.
1) Mike Ditka has been hired by one of the teams selecting 6-32 as their new GM and he would be willing to trade his entire slew of draft picks and picks for next year for the #5 spot in this year's draft.
2) Patrick Peterson and Von Miller are off the board.
To this day, no one remembers the worst decision in draft history. Everyone thinks the worst decision is a pick like Ryan Leaf or Tony Mandarich. No. The worst decision in draft history isn't even the fact that Mike Ditka traded his whole draft to move up to select Ricky Williams. The worst decision in draft history happened by a team that answered Ditka's phone call.
The worst decision in draft history is when Mike Ditka called the Cincinnati Bengals and the Bengals said, "No." The Saints offered every pick they had in the 1999 draft, a first and third rounder in 2000 and a first round pick in 2001 for the #3 pick overall. The Bengals said no and drafted AKILI SMITH, QB, OREGON. Who says no to that trade to draft Akili Smith? Only the Bengals.
The Saints weren't able to get to #3 but they offered the same deal without the 2001 first round pick to Washington and moved up to number #5. Since that is the precedent set for the number 5 pick, if the Cardinals can get Ditka on the phone, make the trade!
If we've established that option one, the ridiculous trade offer, isn't on the table, the only way the Cards should trade out of the #5 spot is if Peterson and Miller are both selected in the first four picks.
It's impossible for me to sit here and say what the Cards should get to trade down because it all depends on just how far the Cardinals are trading down. I would need to know what four guys are gone at the time of the trade, where the Cards are drafting after the trade and what's the position of the other picks attained.
I can say I don't like trading down if either are on the board unless I'm getting a Ditka deal. Peterson and Miller do one thing immediately: they make everyone in the organization instantaneously better.
If it's Peterson, the front seven has more time to rush the passer, DRC has a challenge to live up to, Greg Toler is now the 3rd CB while Andre Roberts and Steve Breaston can focus on being better receivers. If Miller is a Cardinal, Toler has less time he needs to cover, Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell see less double teams and it makes releasing some veteran LB's easier for cap space.
Both players improve the defense dramatically. With a better defense, the offense can play more ground control and stop trying to win the game in the 1st quarter. A bad or new QB doesn't need to play catch-up most of the game and throw the ball all over the place. Coach Whisenhunt and Mike Miller can take more calculated chances since the defense will be there if it doesn't work versus calling plays out of wishful thinking that the offense does something since you know the defense won't.
Then there's the Horton factor. You can't get a better fit into the zone-blitz scheme than a do-everything outside LB or a shut-down corner. If Coach Whiz is tired of going through DC's, there's nothing better than giving the new DC a toy with 4.3 speed.
I'm fine with staying at number 5 as long as I'm not getting a QB. I'm fine with trading down from number 5. What I won't be able to stomach is trading from number 5 with Miller or Peterson on the board. I'm down with OPP. I hope the Cardinals are too.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 @ 11:40am
Mr. Shane Doan
Captain Phoenix Coyotes
6751 North Sunset Boulevard
Glendale, AZ 85305
Dear Mr. Doan:
As you prepare to play your last game ever as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, would you mind if I ask you for a favor?
On your way out of Phoenix, please don't tell anyone of your stay. I think our region would look much better in the eyes of the nation if you just keep your years as a Coyote our little secret. I don't want the country to know we're not a major league city.
You have been a role model to every professional athlete in this city as well as every kid. You accept every media request. You tirelessly work to promote your team and sport. Every ounce of your heart has been put on display as you've tried to carry the Coyotes in the playoffs. You kept working to come back to the ice last year despite a shoulder that wouldn't allow you to tie your own skates. None of it matters.
I don't want other local athletes to hold you up as an example. "Why should I do that interview or that charity promotion? Shane Doan did it and how did it work out for him? He got shipped out to Canada?"
I don't want the rest of the country to know that Phoenix sports fans have the biggest gap between team expectations and what teams can do with poor support from the very fans placing the expectations. You are a winner that went unsupported.
I can't stand reading the Canadian press that mocks your inability to lead a team deep into the playoffs. If they know so much about hockey, can't they see your career was handcuffed by Wayne Gretzky, a destroyed shoulder, and a goalkeeper who can't handle the playoffs? You've done your job while never letting anyone else even take the bus out of the garage, let alone running over someone with it.
I can't imagine your pain now that it seems to be over. Do you retire when you still have good hockey left in you? Do you move your family to the city of your employer when all they know is Phoenix as home? Do you miss every one of your kids' games, plays and "Donuts with Dad" event at their school while you keep playing in another city feeling like you've selfishly moved away from your family as they stay in Phoenix?
All of these decisions must be made because Coyotes ownership, the NHL, the Goldwater Institute, Wayne Gretzky and Phoenix sports fans didn't support you as much as you supported them.
You are the most under-appreciated athlete I've ever had the privilege of covering, watching and enjoying. You deserved better.
Co-host Doug and Wolf
Thursday, April 7, 2011 @ 11:05am
Last night's game (Wed 4/6) is a sign towards the future. Unfortunately it's a future no one wants to admit could be close.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are the future Phoenix Suns in positive and negative ways.
Steve Nash must be traded during this off-season for a package of players that makes the Suns closer to winning a championship in the long run. The problem is there are 0 teams in the NBA who will move a package for Nash.
For years now Minnesota has been looked at as a poor organization or an easy win or both. How quickly we forget that the Wolves were a one-seed in the West just a few years ago. At the end of the 2007 season, there were fans and media in Minnesota demanding Garnett be traded because it was time to rebuild. Have those fans continued to buy tickets to see the product the Wolves are putting on the court? Has the media been patient during the process or are they just shifting their ire to something else?
For anyone who screams at the Suns to trade Nash and rebuild, I present to you the T'Wolves. For anyone who screams that Nash is one of the greatest Suns ever and should never be traded, I present to you the Celtics from 1993-2007.
A quick history lesson: Boston was great but allowed their 3 stars (Bird, McHale and Parish) to fade away or leave for nothing. Granted their exit strategy included high hopes for two players who died young (Bias and Lewis), but Boston wanted to treat their aging stars with great dignity and allow them to retire as Celtics (Parish kept playing elsewhere for a short time). By giving this special treat, they gave their fans 14 years of misery. The misery ended for Boston only because the T'Wolves wanted to rebuild.
Two decades ago Boston chose not to rebuild and they were terrible. One half decade ago Minnesota chose to rebuild and they've been terrible ever since.
It's easy to sit in a studio and say: "The Suns must trade Steve Nash." It's easy to be a fan and scream: "If you trade Steve Nash I'm not buying tickets." Take your pick. Do you want to be Minnesota and rebuild? Would you go the way of the Celtics and allow Nash to play out his career and retire?
The answer is, he must be shopped but the trade has to be right. I realize you might read that and think it didn't take much creativity to come up with that revelation. The problem is doing nothing isn't creative either.
Allowing Nash to retire as a Sun sounds like a beautiful sentiment and if the Suns let it happen they will not win a championship in the next 10 years. The quandary for Lon Babby and Lance Blanks is trading him for the wrong deal alienates fans immediately and would bury the team for years until they can draft multiple better players.
Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have been phenomenal for their teams this year. The Clippers and T'Wolves will still be deep in the lottery puddle this year. There are only two ways to rebuild successfully. Tear your team down, become terrible for multiple seasons and draft perfectly for three years, winning the lottery at least once in those three years is the first option. Possibly get lucky that some team is looking to rebuild and sell their star while you have over-rated young talent that you can dupe a team into taking off your hands (Boston and the Lakers are the most recent examples of this method).
Trading Steve Nash is only step one in a 3 year process to rebuild. If the Suns trade Nash, they would be terrible next year. Would you still buy tickets to see a terrible team?
Jerry Colangelo banked on Phoenix as a great sports city when he mortgaged the future of the D-backs for a World Series. He figured if they won the Series you would be more forgiving of lean years and keep buying tickets. He planned on using that money to pay off the debt of deferred payments. When the D-backs went south, so did you. With little fan support the team was buried in a mountain of debt the other owners didn't want to pay and they forced Colangelo out. Jerry gambled on the fans of Phoenix and lost.
Robert Sarver is dealing with a similar scenario yet he doesn't have a World Championship to use as leverage for fan loyalty. He knows if he trades Steve Nash, fans won't buy tickets. He knows if he doesn't trade Steve Nash, the Suns will fight for two more years to make the playoffs just to lose in the first round.
Although the path to a championship includes some years like the T'Wolves are going through now, keeping Steve Nash almost guarantees no championship. Shopping Steve Nash for a great deal and then making the move is the solution. However, this isn't a blog that's just demanding the Suns trade Steve Nash. You don't trade one of your best players just because he's old. You trade him because you're getting the proper bricks in return.
I think the Suns are going into this season looking at the CBA scrap heap. By keeping Nash, they're banking on good veterans being cut loose right before the season starts as part of a CBA agreement into helping owners get out bad contracts. Nash is the best piece to use as a recruiting tool to bring in veterans for one last championship run. The Suns have to think trading him is a mistake since they don't even know the future state of the NBA.
I support this plan as long as they try to execute the exact opposite plan at the same time. Use Steve Nash to sign veterans for the abbreviated season that will occur next year. However, while the Suns talk to agents about possibly bringing in their client, talk to GM's about the price they're willing to pay for Nash. If the Suns can't get real championship pieces to play in Phoenix at the beginning of free agency, BAIL. ABANDON SHIP. Shop Steve Nash immediately. Instead of looking for pieces to surround Nash, look for teams to give you picks and players. If the Suns aren't able to pull off a major coup like Boston did in pulling in their big three, then Nash should be apart of someone else's big three.
Don't trade Steve Nash just to get something because he's too valuable now. Don't keep Steve Nash because you want to delay the inevitable. It's an easy decision. Shop Steve Nash and decide if the bid from the highest bidder will lead to a championship.