Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Spartan Safety: Nehemiah Warrick

RealFootball365 waxes eloquent about junior college transfer Nehemiah Warrick boosting the Michigan State Spartan defense. Lord knows they could use the help. The Spartans possess offensive talent, especially at quarterback with Dean Stanton. But that saying "the best defense is a good offense" was put to the test with the 2005 Spartans. The offense often needed to outscore the other guys who the defense couldn't stop. Warrick is said to be a beast who will start at safety. That helps the coverage, but not the pass rush nor game management by the coaching staff.

Unapologetically skeptical though I am, I do want to see the team and Coach Smith do well this year. Sounds like Warrick is part of the solution.

Other posts related to this article:
Michigan State Ranked 33rd in Football Recruiting
Penn State at Michigan State Football

Bitter By Boyd's Exhaustive Guide to Spartan Football 2006

B.A., Michigan State University, 19-noneyabusiness

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Cowboys Scout the Redskins

Dallascowboys.com -- yes, dallascowboys.com -- wrote an even-handed assessment of the 2006 Redskins. Scribed by Cowboys staff writer Nick Eatman, the article covers the additions to Redskins offensive firepower (his words, not mine.) Eatman wrote assessments of all of the NFC East teams. His Redskins article can be found here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Redskins Minicamp Report

Comcast Sportsnet has a series of mini-clips of interviews of Redskins players during minicamp. (You will need Windows Media Player to view.) Check out the interview with offensive coordinator Al Saunders; the fist I've seen of him since he joined the coaching staff. He implies a wide open offense -- no surprise there. Even with all the weapons on the roster, Saunders is saying that no one will be a decoy. Every player interviewed is enthusiastic about what they are seeing in this year's playbook.

Anticipation and expectation on this team is very high!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

And the division winner is . . . !

USA TODAY published an article reporting that the major preseason football magazines went on record with their predictions of NFL 2006 division champions. The Carolina Panthers are the mag's consensus pick to win the NFC. (See Out Of Bounds preview of the Panthers here.) Of course, the article rightly points out that none of these rag sheets picked Pittsburgh to make it to the Super Bowl last season, much less to win it all.

Three of these publications bought into the hype that Terrell Owens makes the Cowboys the instant division winner. They picked Dallas to take the NFC East. The other two split the vote between Washington and Philadelphia (Philadelphia?). All of them ignored the boost to New York's defense. None picked the Giants to defend its division title. Hmmm!!! All of the magazines picked the Bears to win the NFC Central and the Seahawks to win the West.

The shortcoming of early-predictions-in-print is timeliness. Information is perishable. Things change during the preseason, but these vehicles go to press in the off-season, making it impossible to for them to take notice and evaluate changing situations. Team info is out of date before the magazines hit the shelves. (The problem is even worse for fantasy predictions! I don't buy fantasy magazine forecasts anymore. Instead, I prefer online offerings that are updated daily from preseason through the last game.)

Still, just for fun, here is USA Today's compilation of the magazine's NFL forecasts:

Division winners:

Athlon— NFC East (Dallas Cowboys), NFC North (Chicago Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (New England Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

Lindy's— NFC East (Eagles), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (New England Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

Pro Football Weekly— NFC East (Washington Redskins), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

Sporting News— NFC East (Cowboys), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

Street & Smith's— NFC East (Cowboys), NFC North (Bears), NFC South (Panthers), NFC West (Seahawks). AFC East (Patriots), AFC North (Steelers), AFC South (Colts), AFC West (Broncos).

The article was written by Skip Wood and published in the USA Today Friday, June 23, 2006, edition on page 2C.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

DC to Daniel Snyder: We Want You Back!

Say what you will about the DC government, but they have no shortage of gall. An article in the back pages of the Washington Business Journal suggests that District leaders will approach Daniel Snyder about moving Redskins games back inside city limits, replacing still new FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The article offers only one plausible reason why Snyder should consider such a move: land value under FedEx Field. Rich Danker, the author, posits that Snyder could sell the stadium and use the proceeds to build a domed stadium on the grounds of RFK Stadium on the off chance of hosting a future Super Bowl. Biggest pipe dream you will read this year!

The best ideas are the simple ones, but this sounds too simplistic. There are a host of issues to be overcome before this thought becomes reality.

  1. Show me the money! The Redskins are the world's most valuable sports franchise and a large part of that value is driven by FedEx. While it's not the fan-friendly setting of old RFK, corporate suites and the plaza level are money machines. The NFL gave tours of FedEx to team owners and GMs as an example of state-of-the-art, revenue generating stadiums. Finances drive teams to build new stadiums. There's no apparent financial reason for this move.
  2. Let Danny do it! The article suggests that developers would pay big money to remake FedEx as a retail entertainment complex, a la Tysons Corner. Think Snyder doesn't know that? Why wouldn't he develop the environs of FedEx and the stadium itself into a year round megaplex? That prospect would be less aggravating and less costly than to wade through a DC morass.
  3. I owe you a debt! Snyder may own the wealthiest franchise, but he's also carrying the biggest debt. It's not certain that he could clear enough from the sale of the land to build even an adequate replacement for FedEx - without financial commitment from the District.
  4. No Super Bowl! Building a domed stadium in DC will not guarantee that Snyder hosts a Super Bowl. First, the NFL's biggest event has become a corporate wining & dining platform. It requires warm, sunny weather for golf, outdoor cocktail parties, deep sea fishing, outdoor pre- and post- game tailgating. You see, the Super Bowl is more than the game. It's as much about the NFL's fourteen day, corporate revenue orgy of outdoor activities leading up to the game. The NFL wants parties in shirt sleeves; not a home in a dome. Geography inhibits a DC Super Bowl Bid. Every two decades or so, the NFL tolerates a Super Bowl in a dome as a sop to cold weather owners whom they like. Snyder is not one of those owners. While I like Daniel Snyder now, I don't think he could win the votes for a DC Super Bowl.
  5. No place like dome! Football is meant to be played outdoors. Domed teams lose playoffs. Seattle got nowhere when they played in the Kingdome. The Colts haven't won a championship since they moved to the RCA Dome (but, that could be the curse of Bob Irsay). No one ever picks Detroit for the Super Bowl. The Vikings haven't been to the Super Bowl since the 1970s. A covered stadium here might be nice in December, but who'd want to see a Redskins game indoors in September or October when the weather is glorious? Retractable roofs are all the rage now, as in Houston and future stadiums in Arizona, Indianapolis and Minnesota. So, add the cost of a retractable roof to the list of hurdles. (Interesting that warm weather teams are going for retractable roofs!)
  6. No so fast there! Think Prince Georges County will sit on their thumbs and just watch the District lure the Redskins back? Here's PG County's strongest case: land value. The very thing the article suggests as a reason to move is the biggest reason to stay. Where's the logic of selling valuable land in Maryland only to acquire even more expensive land in the District? And the Redskins need lots of land to replace the NFL's largest stadium and adjacent parking. More than is available at RFK. Think Snyder doesn't know that?
  7. The gall of it all! That gets us back to the gall thing. The Redskins late owner Jack Kent Cooke tried four times to work with the District on a new stadium -- that he was going to pay for! Four times he was rebuffed. And that was when he was working with a mayor the citizens sorta liked. The idea that "the Redskins belong in DC" didn't carry the day then, when it should have. After the soap opera saga of the Nationals' stadium, does the City think it has credibility? After tortuously committing $500 million stadium money to the baseball monopoly, does the city really think they can entice Snyder to build on his own? Are they on crack? Wealthy people don't get wealthy investing their money. They get wealthy investing other people's money. District money.

I don't know who will win the mayors race. I do know that every candidate running is touting their opposition to the baseball deal. That's the leadership that's going to sit down with perhaps the region's wealthiest resident and negotiate an incentive package? And sell it to District voters? Puh-leeze! Tony Williams may not have been a popular mayor, but he was astute enough to know that the District's dependence on federal financing is a path of dimishing returns. DC must invest in and encourage business development on a large scale, the way real States do, to create jobs and fund its programs. Williams had the courage, if not the skill, to push for that. I don't see that the current crop (no pun intended) of DC leaders get it.

This topic makes sense if the timeline runs to the year 2036 when a lot of these hurdles can be managed, if the Redskins stay popular enough to need a 125,000 seat stadium; if football remains a larger TV market than futbol; if District leaders and citizens see value in mega-business developments; if the city council focuses more on problem-solving than on posturing. Too many "ifs" for my lifetime. And yours.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sean Taylor Gets a Hoot, Too

Speaking of plea bargains (as with the Fred Smoot case), the sharp eyed folks at The Warpath shout "Yes" to the deal Sean Taylor cut with the Dade County prosecutors. The Washington Post reports that Taylor won't miss any training camp time. Taylor and his fans can move on to the aggressive defensive backfield Gregg Williams is developing with Taylor and Adam Archuleta as safeties.

As in the Virginia case, the Dade County charges were squirrelly from the get. Taylor was charged with very serious aggravated assault charges that are dropped completely. Taylor pleads no contest to misdemeanor battery charges and gets 18 months probation, a fine and court costs. The battery charge will be expunged from his record if there are no other incidents.

So, how did that go again? Taylor drives through a rough neighborhood with some of his running buddies -- wise move when you are driving a Cadillac Escalade in a risky area --and spied his missing all-terrain vehicles sitting on someone else's yard. No crime in that. He goes to recover them. No crime in that either, as long as it's really his property; but it's risky. This is when rich guys call the cops. There's a confrontation. The details are murky, except that it was Taylor, not the victim, who at one point ends up on his butt. (That must be a real rough neighborhood!) Later, Taylor's Cadillac is shot up in a drive by. Yet it's Taylor who got arrested. Hmmmm.

Changing the subject, the blog at Out of Bounds forecasts a 10-6 record and a wildcard for the Skins in 2006. I think the number is more like 11-5.