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A Reason To Not Care


Every July and August is the same. That’s the time of year I’m really getting wound up about college football, but it’s also the time of year I look to northeast Ohio with glimmer of hope … that the Cleveland Browns might be better this year.

I felt that way this summer as well. The team’s owner not only hasn’t been charged with any felonies, but he’s bent over backwards to make right the things that his company did to its customers. The team actually had assembled some veteran talent on defense to go with the usual stream of youngsters. And on the other side of the ball, there was what appeared to be a respectable second-year quarterback and what should have been a very good second-year running back behind him. OK, so the playoffs would have been a stretch, but on paper the 2013 Browns looked to be a team that could have pushed for a .500 record.

And now, two weeks into the season, the team’s management has pulled the plug. Read more…

Rumors of Peyton Manning to the Redskins


As Washington D.C. wakes up to rumors of Peyton Manning possibly coming to play for the Redskins, the Beltway comes to a screeching halt.

Fine, the Beltway is always like that (damn D.C. traffic) but people around here are talking, and they are amped up.

Going totally apeshit is probably a better way to put it.

Read more…

Thank God Tom Brady Doesn’t Have A Brother, Eli

Allow me to apologize in advance to the Manning family for everything I am about to say. But in my defense, I lost my fantasy football game because of Eli Manning, and I’m the kind of manager who takes decisive action and doesn’t mince words. This is business, and business has no place for hurt feelings (as I’m sure everyone in the NFL will agree). 

The repercussions to Eli are far-reaching, starting with his instant removal from my team. From there, the domino effect could seep into every aspect of his life. But I can’t think about that. I have a job to do. Matt Hasselbeck, Kyle Orton or maybe even Jason Campbell will now be backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. Congratulations, boys. Try-outs are at seven. Bring your swords. There can be only one.

I’m sure when Eli hears the news he’ll be crushed, but I’m now taking off the Manning-colored glasses and accepting Eli for what he is. The good news is that the Hasselbeck, Campbell and Orton families will be celebrating today. They’re nice people. That should make you happy.

Controlling the helm of my football team doesn’t pay as much, but the glory is far greater. It’s also not as forgiving, because when you seemingly can’t hit any receiver in almost any situation, stand there as the pocket crumbles while repeating your progressions seven times until a slow wave descends on you like the blob, make every receiver perform some kind of circus catch in order for you to make forward progress, and lastly, score 10 points fewer than Ryan Fitzpatrick, then you have just lost your job, buddy.

Here’s what else I don’t understand. Eli is still talked about as if he just entered the league. The battle on Monday night was described as “two young quarterbacks, both expected to get better.” That’s certainly how I saw it. One hasn’t played an entire season, the other has been in the league since 2004 and has a Super Bowl under his belt (for which he has a circus catch to thank).

On Monday Night, the first touchdown pass to Nicks from the 1 yard line was thrown directly at the defender. Nicks had to adjust, contort his body, reach back awkwardly and snag a ball that was described by Ron Jaworski as “a great pass.” What? I guess. If the objective was to make the defender pee blood for a week.

The second to Hixon was a jump ball (like many of Eli’s greatest passes), which was bobbled several times in the air and cradled by one hand just before hitting the ground. Eli did throw one perfect pass to a wide open Mario Manningham streaking down the sidelines, but Manningham bobbled it anyway and made it look super fancy before making the catch and injuring himself. I think the Giants wide receivers are so used to doing acrobatics that a Pavlovian response is triggered when they see a ball coming their way. “Here it comes! Leap! Twist! Swing wildly at double coverage! Close Eyes! Pray!”

Last year, Eli had over 4,000 yards, 31 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Why? Because he throws the ball with reckless abandon and his receivers make monstrous plays. If I had a nickel for every time I saw a NY Giants receiver do something that defied gravity, I would have $4.30. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of money, that’s 86 times. (I probably should have negotiated for more. Dammit.)

And I find it funny that Eli is still given rookie status and slack despite his veteran experience. I’ll have to look this up, but I’m not going to, isn’t he high on the list of most consecutive starts? Ughhh… I’ll look it up. I can’t wait for you people. I have to know. Be right back. Go grab a smoke or something.

Okay, I’m back. #6 All-time in consecutive starts! Come on! Why are we still expecting Eli to get better? Because his older brother is awesome? I had an awesome friend who could build anything. His dad was a great architect. His younger brother liked to lick batteries and burn off his arm hair. Do you see what I’m trying to say here?

I’m not saying that Eli is a battery licker, but I am saying that he is a veteran quarterback and at this stage of his career can not be lumped in with the new batch of quarterbacks like Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and others who came out of the gate kicking ass, taking names and are just getting started. Eli was drafted in the same year as Roethlisberger and Rivers, two elite quarterbacks now considered cagey veterans in this league. No one is saying of these two men, “They are going to be good one day when they learn more stuff.”

I’m just wondering if it’s time to become a realist about our expectations regarding Eli. He has started 111 consecutive games, been in multiple playoff situations (including the biggest stage on the planet), and still makes poor decision after poor decision. All while the commentators make excuse after excuse for his poor play, either citing his youth or inexperience. Why? I have an idea.

I propose we change his last name to Shuman. Eli Shuman. Not that he isn’t deserving of the Manning name, just that we can’t see past it to objectively rate his performance.  We’re all looking at Eli through Manning-colored glasses, and I’m sure he’d prefer that not be the case. I’m sure he’d rather not be constantly compared to his older brother, nor have to live up to those expectations.

Many of us get that Eli will never be Peyton (including Eli), but we seem to forget how long it is that Eli has actually played and can’t help but compare it to how long his brother has played. Maybe that’s why we still see him as relatively new quarterback in this league, but in his eighth season, Peyton Manning was arguably the best quarterback then and regarded as maybe the best ever. It’s time to get realistic about Eli and begin to taper our own expectations.

Shades of 2004 in Columbus

Take a look at this week’s AP Top 25 list, as clipped from espn.com just a day ago.

Notice anything missing? No? Here’s a hint:

Yep, the Buckeyes — my Buckeyes — have dropped out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since November 2004.

Saturday night’s dismal effort against Miami earned the latest banishment from the AP poll (they dropped out of the coaches’ poll too). The unranked Hurricanes made Ohio State look as bad as the Akron team that lost in the season opener in Columbus a couple weeks ago.

Against the Zips? OSU rolled up 517 yards of total offense. Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller combined for 20 completions on 28 attempts, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Most of the folks in Columbus wrote off a scary game against Toledo pass as a combination of looking ahead to Miami and playing a top-tier MAC team that’s pretty good.

Turns out that wasn’t the case, and Ohio State was exposed on Saturday night. The same two quarterbacks were a combined 4 of 18, which was good for 35 yards.

Thirty. Five. Yards.

And now we get to the point in the post where we mention the obvious: investigations and suspensions. The Miami game was the season’s first for three players — including guys projected to be starters at tailback and corner — for accepting envelopes with a little spending money at an offseason charity event. And then there are the Tat Five; a reserve player missed just one game, but three more — the team’s best tailback, its best receiver and its starting left tackle — don’t get to see the field for another three weeks.

And the departure of that fifth guy — the one whose name shall not be written but is now an Oakland Raider — has left a bigger hole at quarterback than I had feared. After the Akron game, I had hopes that Bauserman would be respectable started until Miller, a true freshman who will eventually remind everyone of last year’s starter, was ready to take over. But in the last two weeks, Bauserman has looked awful and Miller is played like a freshman. And given that the team opens the conference in two weeks — with games against Michigan State and at Nebraska and Illinois — I’m thinking this season is going to remind Ohio State fans of 2004 in more ways than dropping from the AP poll.

It’s a little hard to remember 2004 — after all, the team was 56-11 since the last time it fell from the AP rankings late that season (68-11, if you count the 2010 season, which most in Columbus still do). Let me remind you:

The Buckeyes were 8-4 in 2004. A string of three-straight losses in October weren’t quite enough to move them out of the Top 25, but a loss at Purdue did the trick. They finished strong, upsetting Michigan and thumping Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl — even with new starter Troy Smith sitting out because of his own NCAA suspension — but that was a rough year.

In Columbus, it’s looking like this one could be too.

Shocker Of The Day: Titans To Cut Vince Young

Are you sitting down? Good. This one is going to be a real shocker. I don’t want you to hurt yourself when you pass out from the shock and awe. So please, for your own safety, take a seat.

I don’t know how to tell you this. Aw, screw it. I’ll just come out with it. The truth is always the best. And sometimes, the truth hurts.

The Titans plan on releasing Vince Young.

There. I said it.

Are you okay? Please don’t cry. Everything will be just fine. I promise.

Anyway, back here on planet Earth, does anyone really still care about Vince Young? I don’t know many Tennessee Titan fans, but I am assuming this is actually good news for them. So, what do you think? Do you think Young’s career is done with? Will some other team pick him up or even give him a shot for a starting job? What say you, internets?