Saturday, December 20, 2008

2008 - College Bowl Preview - Part 1

Hey, it’s Saturday, what the hell am I doing putting up a post. Well I am stuck at work, only have a couple of things to do in the next 6 hours, so figured, why not procrastinate and do a bowl game preview instead.

This will be your typical Brickinthebox look at college football, we are looking for NFL talent, and where you can see it for yourself, so you don’t have to sound like an idiot quoting Mel Kiper.

This will be a long one, even for me, so lets get right into it.

December 20, 2008

EagleBank: Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Navy (8-4)

We start off with a bang for you draft junkies, as the best LB in college football, Aaron Curry, takes the field. Watch him play, if you can get past the fact he doesn’t play for USC, its pretty easy to see why I say he is the best LB this year. Other than that, Wake has a great corner in Alphonso Smith who could go in the 1st, and a safety with 2nd day potential in Chip Vaughn.

Brick’s recommendation: TiVo it, and just watch when Wake’s D is on the field.

New Mexico Bowl: Colorado St. (6-6) vs. Fresno State (7-5)

Meh, Bear Pascoe, TE, and Tom Branstater, QB, neither excite me.

Brick’s recommendation: There are other things to do on a Saturday afternoon.

magicJack St. Petersburg : Memphis (6-6) vs. South Florida (7-5)

The star here is George Selvie, DE, South Florida. But you should also keep an eye on Tyrone McKenzie, LB, SF and Memphis’s DE Clinton McDonald.

Brick’s recommendation: Tune in for Selvie, and take a nap.

Pioneer Las Vegas: 17 BYU (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)

3/5ths of BYU’s offensive line should be drafted, they all look alike to me (6’5”, 330lbs) and Arizona has a WR in Mike Thomas who could go on the 2nd day.

Brick’s recommendation: Watch BYU’s lineplay, expand your football knowledge past the QB and RB.

December 21, 2008

R+L Carriers New Orleans: Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Troy (8-4)

Who am I kidding, your watching the NFL. Your not missing much anyway.

Brick’s recommendation: Skip it.

December 23, 2008

SDCCU Poinsettia: 9 Boise State (12-0) vs. 11 TCU (10-2)

This could be the best non-BCS match-up out there. So you should be watching anyway. If Ian Johnson can run on TCU his draft stock will move up.

Brick’s recommendation: Watch the RB’s on both sides, and TCU linebacker Jason Philips.

December 24, 2008

Sheraton Hawaii: Hawaii (7-6) vs. Notre Dame (6-6)

Remember when their was talk of ND getting a New Years bowl game, then they fell flat on their faces to end the season, good times. Hawaii has a pair of stud LB’s who should go sometime on Day 2. Some ND player will be overhyped and drafted.

Brick’s recommendation: Wait for a full body shot of Weis, and pause the screen, cut out a Santa suit from construction paper and play dress up. Then read Twas the Night Before Christmas, fun for the whole family.

December 26, 2008

Motor City: Fla. Atlantic (6-6) vs. Central Mich. (8-4)

Not even going to bother.

Brick’s recommendation: Skip it.

December 27, 2008

Meineke Car Care: WVU (8-4) vs. North Carolina (8-4)

Three good WR prospects to watch in North Carolina’s Tate and Foster, and WV’s Pat White. To bad Pat is playing QB, so you won’t get a feel for what he can do as a pro.

Brick’s recommendation: Enjoy this one, should be good football.

Champs Sports: Wisconsin (7-5) vs. Florida State (8-4)

Wisconsin is loaded with 2nd and 3rd round talent on both sides of the ball. Florida has Myron Rolle. Pay particular attention to Wisconsin’s LB’s and DE’s.

Brick’s recommendation: Watch it, most draft prospects to date in one game.

Emerald: Miami (Fla.) (7-5) vs. California (8-4)

Watch Alex Mack (C, Cal) and appreciate great center play, I know its hard but it is worth it. Additionally Cal should have at least 4 players from their defensive front seven drafted, so that is a good place to look when Miami has the ball (since you won’t want to watch Miami’s offense). Miami’s defense has some mid to late round prospects as well.

Brick’s recommendation: Alex Mack, nothing more needs to be said.

December 28, 2008

Independence: Northern Illinois (6-6) vs. La. Tech (7-5)

You can watch Northern Illinois LB, Larry English, or you can find something else to do, I will choose the latter.

Brick’s recommendation: Skip it.

December 29, 2008 NC State (6-6) vs. Rutgers (7-5)

Some mid to late round prospects here, nothing that excites me, it’s the last day of Hanukkah so:

Brick’s recommendation: Expand your awareness of other cultures, play with a draydle (and learn how to spell).

Valero Alamo: 25 Missouri (9-4) vs. 22 N'Western (9-3)

Jeremy Maclin, William Moore, Chase Coffman, Evander Hood, Chase Daniel; yeah you should be watching Missouri if you are interested in NFL pro prospects.

Brick’s recommendation: Must see TV.

December 30, 2008

Roady's Humanitarian: Maryland (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5)

The best player to watch is Darrius Heyward-Bey, other than that it’s a forgettable match-up of forgettable teams.

Brick’s recommendation: Never mind.

Texas: Western Michigan (9-3) vs. Rice (9-3)

You probably don’t get NFLN anyway.

Brick’s recommendation: Never mind

Pacific Life Holiday: 13 OK State (9-3) vs. 15 Oregon (9-3)

Best TE in the country vs. one of the better S’s. Pettigrew vs. Chung could be a great match-up. Throw in a little Max Unger, Fenuki Tupou and Jeremiah Johnson and there is plenty to watch when Oregon has the ball as well.

Brick’s recommendation: Get the to thine couch.

That takes us up to the New Year’s Eve bowls. And since a development here at work is going to allow me to leave early, you’ll just have to wait for the rest. And with games like the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl still on the docket, you will definitely want to check back.

Monday, December 15, 2008

7 Things are better than 10 - Walt Coleman as the Grinch

Well, look at that, I have some time to waste, and a blank word document in front of me. Might as well type out a couple pages and see if we get to me having Seven things, because Seven is better than Ten, but something is better than nothing.

1 – How the Fuck is Walt Coleman still employed by the NFL

Walt proved once again yesterday that he has no clue what the words “indisputable visual evidence” mean. IMO, to be an NFL official, you should have a firm grasp on those three words, as at some time you will be required to put your head into the replay booth and make a call that will determine the end of a game.

As a Raider fan, I have been here before with Walt. It seems like ages ago that I froze my ass off in a blizzard and saw the Raiders lose a game to the Patriots. It wasn’t until I sobered up the next day and checked my voicemail that I had any clue as to the call and subsequent reversal. Sure I knew it looked like Brady fumbled, and that the call was overturned. But I could not hear the words “tuck rule” in the stadium, and had no clue that the Raiders had been hosed.

That day, much like yesterday, Walt Coleman was the head official, who poked his head into the replay booth and made an egregious error.

Was the Tuck rule the right call? Who the fuck knows, but there is ample room for debate, it sure as hell looks like Brady touched the ball with his free hand in one angle, thus “tucking” the ball. But it is up for debate.

Was the touchdown for the Steelers the right call, well as an impartial witness, I can’t say for sure that the ball was or wasn’t touching the goal line when Holmes secured it. Once again there is room for debate.

And that is where “indisputable visual evidence” come into play. If there is room for debate, there is no way the call on the field should be overturned. But every week, some NFL official goes into the replay booth, and comes away changing a play that is very much in dispute. The thing is, Coleman has become notorious for this, and just being an overall poor official.

If he has not learned the meaning of “indisputable visual evidence” in the seven years since the Snow Job, than he is unfit to be an official, and should be handed his walking papers.

2 – More on NFL officiating

Maybe I am becoming more aware of it as I grow older, but the NFL officiating seems to be getting worse every year. Maybe the game is just getting faster, and these guys just can’t keep up, but I think it has more to do with a lack of accountability from the league.

Example #1 from yesterday is obviously the Walt Coleman debacle, but he was hardly alone.

Late in the 4th quarter the lowly 49ers were driving on the Dolphins. Facing 4th down, and needing a touchdown the Niners went for it. Joey Porter blew past the RT and sacked the QB, game over… and then in an incredible display of stupidity Porter jumped up and tossed his helmet across the field. This should have been a 15-yard unsportsmanlike, and perhaps a 1st down for the Niners. Instead there was no call. How the fuck do you miss that one?

Needless to say, I could go on and on, but why bother. You can scream about this stuff until your voice gets horse, and Ed Ferera will just go on NFL Network and claim all is well.

3 – D-IA (or whatever you want to call it) Gets it right
Did you check out the Playoff Subdivision playoffs this weekend. If you didn’t please turn in you football fan card on your way out. The gameplay and officiating may not have been spectacular, but the tension and atmosphere blew away the majority of Bowl games, as it does every year.

The results are inconsequential, since average Joe football fan doesn’t seem to care. I can’t wait to watch the number 5 seed take on the number 7 seed next weekend. And I wish that more football fans would follow my lead. Because one thing that would impress the powers that be in big time college football would be huge rating numbers for the lesser division’s championship game.

If Montana vs. East Bumfuck could garnish a huge rating (I.E. huge money) those money grubbing bastards who steadfastly refuse to dump the antiquated bowl system may have a change of heart.

4 – If there is a personnel Hell for everyone, I know what mine will be

I got dragged to the Mall this weekend, not once, but twice. Both Friday night and Saturday afternoon I found myself in a Mall. I hate the Mall. Not just at Christmas time, but all year long. However that hate grows ten-fold in the weeks following Thanksgiving.

If I were the kind of person who believed in Heaven and Hell, I know for sure what my personal Hades would look like. There would be no fire and brimstone; it would be my own groundhog day, where I spent eternity wandering a Mall during Christmas season.

5 – Read a book

How do I know when I am really enjoying a book? I read it at times other when I am hanging a root. Well I picked up a book this weekend that grabbed me immediately, and other than watching football, I haven’t put down.

“I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” by Tucker Max is fucking awesome. So many of the stories remind me of those lost college and early professional years when my entire life revolved around getting drunk and laid. If you can read this and not relate to some of the stories, well then you have lead a boring life, and I feel sorry for you.

6 – The Raiders Suck

Once again I faithfully turned my TV to the Raider game at 4:15 Sunday. Once again the team lowered my expectations.

A coach once said that the Raiders “must be the stupidest team in the NFL” this remark lead him to become a pariah amongst the fans, and hastened his exit from the team. Too bad that looking back on the last 6 years, he looks more like a prophet than an imbecile.

7 – I got nothing

No Seventh thing, I need to get back to work.

Monday, November 24, 2008

7 Things are better than 10 - A Raider Win

Its been a while since I have done a 7 things column, some of that has been how busy real life has had me, and part of it is that I just haven’t felt like it. So here are some random thoughts from the past weekend, if I hit 7 I may call the column 7 things, if not, well who cares.

1 – Raiders Win

Holy Shit, I am still in a state of mild disbelief. I have really come to the point that I expect the Raiders to defecate all over themselves each and every game. Putting together a complete game plan and executing it was the furthest thing from my mind as I sat down to watch the game Sunday afternoon.

But execute a competent game plan they did, and the results were astounding. The Broncos are not a good team, but the Raiders are nowhere near as good as they looked in the second half Sunday. Dare I say that Cable out coached the Rat? What a great surprise that was.

2 – Chinese Democracy

A new Guns N Roses album, what is this 1990? Well I sure acted that way, by heading to a local Best Buy and plunking down $12 for a copy. It has been years since I actually bought a CD, and I knew that I could have gotten it cheaper through other means, but what the fuck, GNR only releases a CD every 18 years.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the purchase. I knew that it could never live up to my hopes for a GNR album. It has been too long, and the band is now Rose and whomever he can pull off the street. Back in the day, Appetite for Destruction blew my young mind, and the Use Your Illusion albums were my bible for a couple years.

Chinese Democracy pales in comparison, but then again any comparison would be unfair. The 1st 3 tracks rock, after that the album loses steam and I can’t say that I am surprised.

But for what will most likely be the last CD I ever buy, at least it is GNR, and not some other garbage that pretends to be music, like so much else that is out there.

3 – JaMarcus Russell

In what was a very solid performance for the young QB, he put up a passer rating of 149.1, lets all jump for joy. Or not, why does the media insist on jamming one game passer ratings down our throats. They have to relies that the passer rating was devised as a tool to evaluate a QB’s performance over the course of a season, not of a game.

A game does not present enough data to formulate a passer rating worth a damn. That is why there are multiple instances of QB’s putting up perfect passer ratings. Has any QB ever had a perfect game, anyone with any sense will tell you no, but the media doesn’t possess much sense, so they will trot out those perfect passer ratings and act like they mean something.

4 – Back Pain sucks

Through my football days I dealt with plenty of injuries, ankles swelled to the size of grapefruit, knees that to this day become painful when the weather changes, a shoulder that will never be right again.

But they all pale to how debilitating a back injury can be. The 1st time I hurt my back was weightlifting in college. Thankfully I healed faster then. For the 2nd time this year I have fucked up my lower back, and there is no position I can put myself in that stops the throbbing pain. Just typing this, I feel like I have hot knives being jabbed into my lower back. And I have a 5 ½ hour drive to look forward to tonight. Awesome,

5 – Michigan

Yep, the Wolverines sucked this season, I expected this, but not for it to be this bad. I figured 6 or 7 wins and some shitty bowl game. The level of sucktitude exhibited by Michigan put them in the Detroit Lions class of football. Which is fitting since they both hail from the same state.

I didn’t see the Ohio St. Michigan game for only the 2nd time that I can remember as I had to work, and I am glad. For me Michigan’s season ended when they at least made it close at Penn St. while I was in attendance. I think I will try to erase my memory of all but the 1st half of that game as far as this season of Michigan football is concerned.

6 – One Day workweeks rock

That’s right, I am at work today, and then I head off to Upstate NY for the rest of the week. Nothing like half-assing a Monday and not having to come back for the rest of the week. Instead I will be hunting, drinking and eating too much. Life is looking good, well at least until next Monday when I have a stack of shit piled on my desk.

7 – I agreed with Simmons

Not sure when the column came out, but when checking one of my Fantasy Football teams this weekend, I saw a Bill Simmons column, and forgetting my boycott I actually clicked the link. And you know what, he was on point. The new NFL stadiums do suck for fans. I have been to a couple of the new stadium, and while the bells and whistles are nice. The game day experience for the average fan has been completely ignored.

I am much happier now to just do my own thing at the house. BarBQ, or put together a pot of Chili or Gumbo, and drink beer from my fridge. No lines at the john, no dealing with other drunks. Even the lovely Mrs. Brick has learned that when the Raiders are on, I am not to be bothered.

The Raiders come to Pittsburgh next season, if work hasn’t relocated me by then, it would be a quick trip in to the game. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I decide to just say fuck it, and watch the way I watch most games, and relax at home. No dealing with ferries (yes I take a ferry across the river from parking when I go to Steelers games) drunken Yintzers, or bathrooms designed for 20 with 200 in them.

Look at that, a Raider win, and Seven things. Who knew one had anything to do with another.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fixing the Defense...Again

Well we have passed the mid-way point of another season of NFL football, so as Raider fans its time to look to next year…

God that sucks.

But then again, so does this team. From top to bottom this team needs and enema. Or at least I know trying to digest the garbage on the field every week gives me the shits.

So where to start? It was about this time last season I advocated finally letting Rob Ryan do what he was brought here to do, and implement the 3-4/4-3 hybrid defense. Watching the Raiders futile attempts to stop the most basic of run games lets start with the defense, what is wrong, and how GM brick would start to fix it.

1st things 1st, this defense is such a huge mess, in order to fix the problem; we must try to figure out how we got to this point. During the three straight AFC West Championship years the defense was at least above average. Since then things have gone downhill, and while Ryan deserves his share of the blame, I don’t believe that it is entirely his fault.

Ryan was brought on board to run the 3-4/4-3 hybrid defense that N.E. was running with great success, as they utilized a great mix of young guns, over the hill vets and journeymen to dominate the AFC (sound familiar). Things were looking pretty good that off-season as 3-4 vets Ted Washington and Bobby Hamilton were brought on board to shore up the line, along with a number of journeymen LB’s. Then Al Davis stepped in, and in a classic Davis move signed “premier” free agent in Warren Sapp.

Sapp was a horrible fit at DE in the 3-4, and that along with a multitude of injuries among the linebacker core resulted in a horrible season defensively for the Raiders. There were bright spots, including the emergence of an undrafted DE named Tommy Kelly.

The 3-4 was subsequently jettisoned the following season. However, to this day, the personnel remain a miss match to the scheme.

Since this is GM brick’s take, we will work from the inside out, since that is how GM brick thinks you build a defense.

At DT the line-up currently features:

Tommy Kelly, Gerald Warren, Terdell Sands and Fred Wakefield.

Kelly is not a true under (or 3 technique) tackle, his skill set is better suited to a 3-4 end.

Warren is an under tackle, but he is being asked to 2 gap.

Sands cannot seem to 2 gap, but when asked to simply push his guy back 2-3 yards he can be a force.

Wakefield, well this jack of all trades cannot master any.

This is a huge problem for the Raiders right there. Say what you will about the talent level of the defense. There is no depth to this rotation, and the only two players who should be starting are at the wrong position. There are huge holes for the running game as there are two players single gapping (and being handled one on one) and with no depth there are constant breakdowns by the 4th quarter.

Oh, and before I forget, William Joseph has been added back to the mix, once again with the same skill set as Warren and Kelly, just less of it, so maybe I was better to forget this.

Moving to defensive end, things get no better.

The line-up of Derrick Burgess, Jay Richardson, Kalimba Edwards and Trevor Scott strike fear into, well it should strike fear into the Raiders secondary.

Derrick Burgess should be a pass rush specialist, come in on 2nd and long and 3rd down, he should be nowhere near the field on run downs. This is not because of his heart, but physically he cannot handle the pounding of lining up against right tackles all day. His two healthy seasons are proving to be an aberration to his injury marked career. Throw in that I for one feel he is overrated as a pass rusher, as he is a complete hit or miss player, and well, time to move on.

Jay Richardson shows a lot of promise as a base defensive end, however with the Raiders desperate to find any sort of pass rush, he is being asked to fill the void from the injured Burgess, once again here is a player who’s skill set does not match what he is being asked to do.

Kalimba should also be a pass rush specialist, and prior to the Burgess injury, that looked like what the Raiders had planned, but he is a liability anytime the offense runs the ball, as he has no concept of backside contain, and cannot stand up to run blocking.

Trevor Scott…see Kalimba Edwards.

There it is, up and down the defensive line players are being asked to do things they just cannot do. Which leads us to the linebacker core.

The law firm of Howard and Morrison has many Raider fans thinking that greatness is just around the corner. Throw in solid play from the likes of Ricky Brown, Robert Thomas, Jon Alston and the occasional missed tackle from Sam Williams and this unit would seem to have a lot of potential.

Here is the thing, the way these guys are currently playing, that potential is being wasted.

Kirk Morrison is constantly overrated by Raiders fans, in my not so humble opinion, he cannot shed blocks, constantly runs himself out of position, and seems to have put on some weight this season, leaving him a step behind in pass coverage.

Thomas Howard is a beast, and could start for almost any team in the league, but with the limitations of the players around him, he is constantly getting lost in the wash.

The rest of the linebackers are serviceable vets, they all bring limited skill sets to the table, which in the right system could flourish.

The secondary isn’t broken, so I won’t say much, except that to expect anything more than what you are getting without any semblance of a pass rush, or any ability to slow the run is foolhardy.

So how do you fix the front seven? I’m not one to complain without offering a solution. That is why my posts tend to be so long. So lets get right into it.

1st things 1st, pick a scheme and stick to it, and get rid of the players who do not fit what you are trying to do.

If you want to stick with the 4-3, rotate Kelly and Warren at the under tackle. Find a big body to compliment Sands and rotate the two of them. Find a DE to compliment Edwards and rotate Scott, Edwards, Richardson and the DE to be named later.

The linebacker core should be improved just from the moves at the DT position. Howard and Morrison need room to move. And upgrade at SAM would be nice, but there are only so many moves you can make in one off-season. Sounds easy, but the Raiders have struggled to find a DT or DE worth a damn since Howie Long retired, let alone 2 starting quality players in one off-season. Then you throw in that chances are Burgess and Warren most likely will be gone next season, and it’s not so easy.

Or you can work to the majority of you current player’s strengths and move to a 3-4 base.

Kelly and Richardson would be your base ends. Which works out well as this plays to both players’ strengths. Sands would be your NT, lined up head on the center with the green light to try and penetrate and wreak havoc, he might even begin to earn his salary. You no longer need to find players who can win pass-rush match-ups one on one, so the rest of the depth chart can be filled with journeymen.

At LB, you have plenty of flexibility with the current players. Howard and Williams have the speed to rush or drop back. Putting both of these players on the ends at the same time could be a real match-up nightmare. Morrison has the look of a WMLB in the 3-4, free to flow to the play, with no backside responsibility he could look much like Ed Hartwell did in Baltimore. The question becomes can the Raiders find someone to man the SMBL, can Brown, or Thomas step up here? Or is this a position you find through free agency or the draft. Depth is also a problem, as you would need one or two journeymen to fill some voids.

In the end, there is more work to do to get a 3-4 up and running than a 4-3, however I feel the 3-4 is more attainable than the 4-3 given the limitations of the current personnel and what I feel is the pending departure of Warren and Burgess.

So there you go. GM brick would bring in 3-4 personnel and give Rob Ryan one season of free reign to work his magic. Lets see if the apple has fallen that far from the tree, or, if release of the shackles of the current scheme restrictions, Ryan can produce similar results to his father and brother.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Losing Lane, Part 2 - The Aftermath (AKA Sick of it All)

So it has been almost 48 hours now since the Raiders fired yet another coach. Things seem to have settled down on the Raider boards and in the media. The expected has happened, the majority of sports writers and talking heads have crucified Al Davis. Lane Kiffin has wisely shut his mouth and is now doing household chores for his wife. And reigning Brickinthebox man of the year Tom Cable now sits on the hot seat as Raiders head coach.

If you have followed the Raiders for any length of time, you knew that Davis was in a no win situation here. Fire Lane and say nothing, and the media simply runs the same rumors that they have for the last year and a half, showing how dysfunctional Al is and praises Lane for lasting so long. Have the press conference and address the rumors that have come out, and Al is a vindictive old man.

Few, if any, writers or talking head will stick up for Davis in any manner. Davis has burned too many bridges in the media community. Davis didn’t help things any by referring to Mort as a professional liar in the press conference. Davis’s bunker mentality has allowed the media to run wild for years with disinformation when it comes to the Raiders. So when Al does emerge from his self imposed exiles to address issues, he ends up painting the reporters as liars and rumor mongers. Its no wonder that the media doesn’t like him.

That said, the media response is often comical. Mort went on Mike and Mike to address the Lane Kiffin firing and tried to strike back at Al. In trying to show that Lane wasn’t his source for his information, Mort claimed that he learned that Cable was the next head coach before the announcement. Congratulations Mort, we all did thanks to Adam Schefter. But that is typical ESPN, if someone else breaks a story, than ESPN just plugs in the standard phrase “ESPN has learned” rather than credit any other organization.

Mort went on to defend Lane in the same bumbling manner. He brought up Lane’s attempt to bring his father Monte as the new Raiders defensive coordinator. Mort questioned why the Raiders wouldn’t want perhaps the best defensive coordinator of the last 10+ years as their new DC. Lets keep it simple; Monte was under contract with the Bucs. Any attempt by any member of the Raiders organization to recruit Monte would be considered tampering. That tampering could result in the Raiders forfeiting draft picks. However Mort is willing to overlook this to defend his source in Lane, and his honor as a media member.

It doesn’t stop there with the media. Normally fair minded outlets like Pat Kirwan decided to blast Al and defend Lane. Dismissing the possibility that Lane did anything wrong in this matter, using the same old rumors and innuendo that have circulated around the Raiders for years and miss citing the letter sent to Lane after the Denver game. Why, because Lane is a family fried who regularly appears on his program.

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t this has become the story of Al’s later years.

Lane predictably has gone strangely quite now. He rewarded his media outlet of choice, ESPN, with an interview where he squirmed under softball questions and a fluff piece with Sirius NFL radio and his friend Pat Kirwan. After months of leaking information and blatantly calling out the organization in press conferences, Lane decided to choose the high road. You could smell the bullshit through the TV screen and over the radio. Lane publicly undermined the team for months, and now that he was called out he hid behind his boyish smirk.

There is no doubt in my mind that had Al not dressed Lane down in his press conference Lane would have gone forward with his planned press conference Wednesday and put his spin out there on the issues. Al beat him to the punch. Lane didn’t take the high road, he had the rug pulled out from under him by an old man. If Lane ever found himself on the high road he would be telling some balding hunter how he must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Then there is the final dance partner in this strange threesome. Brickinthebox’s 2007 man of the year; Tom Cable. Obviously I have allot of respect for Cable if I have plastered his face on every page of my website. So how will he fair as the interim head coach of the Raiders, well that is anybody’s guess, lets bore you with mine.

Cable is an ex-offensive lineman, and offensive line coach. Sure he has some experience as a head coach at Northwestern Idaho or something like that (no we don’t have a fact checker here) but the history of ex-offensive lineman dealing with Davis is promising. Offensive linemen generally are not ones to seek out attention and praise. It is a product of the position. If you are getting attention, chances are you fucked up. Working the thankless jobs becomes a way of life.

John Madden was an offensive lineman in his playing days, he may have been linebacker coach prior to taking over as the head coach of the Raiders, but doing the thankless jobs prepared him for working in Al’s shadow. Art Shell was a hall of famer, and say what you will about his last year as the Raider’s HC, his 1st tour of Duty was generally successful, even if he never guided the team to a ring. The key is for Cable to surround himself with coaches who can handle the X’s and O’s, and allow him to work with his lineman, and just take care of the head coach responsibilities of oversight, and clock management. Oh, and living in Al’s shadow.

If Cable can translate his ability to get the most out of offensive lineman, into the ability to get the most out of an entire team, the Raiders should be fine for this season. I’m not seeing playoffs, but respectable play. Will this mean he is retained at head coach at the end of the year, I don’t know. But I think it makes the most sense, as it gives the Raiders their best chance of retaining the offensive staff that has been working with JRuss to date. Which, since it makes the most sense, means it is the least likely outcome.

And finally, how has this affected me. Well we broke all of our traffic records here at Brickinthebox over the last 2 days. Which really excited me, who knows, the Raiders plight could lead to this site taking off. Until I took a closer look at the numbers, it seems that 90% of my hits came from people looking for pictures of Tom Cable, and most of them didn’t stick around long enough to get through one of my diatribes. Oh well, I guess it is back to the grind for me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Losing Lane, Part 2 - The Press Conference

I won’t lie to you, heading into yesterday’s press conference I was ready to damn Al. I am sick and tired of the revolving door of Raider head coaches. I wish my team had a clear vision for what they are trying to do. Would set a plan and stick to it. I had seen enough of Kiffin so far to say “lets give the kid a little more time and see if he can develop.”

Then I listen to Al as I drove home from work as he laid it all out there. Almost every rumor that we have been subjected to over the past year and a half was addressed. Now I may not take everything Al said at face value, but what he said struck me as being closer to the truth than the reports that we have gotten. I have to face it, when Al speaks, I listen.

So lets break it down.

Al confirmed that there was dissention over the #1 pick in the 2007 draft. This is no surprise, there should be a healthy amount of debate over any pick, let alone one that will receive that much money. As long as both parties agree to disagree and move on this shouldn’t be a problem.

Al confirmed that there was interest in Lane from Arkansas. Now I will leave it up for debate whether or not Lane was interested in them, and if he was upset that he didn’t get the job. Someone at Arkansas contacting Al, does not mean that Lane put his hat into the ring.

Al corrected the whole resignation letter issue from this past off-season. I never put much stock into Mort’s report that Al tried to have Lane resign, the story didn’t pass the smell test. Al and Lane’s lawyers coming up with language to terminate Lane’s contract in the case that Lane wanted to take another job, that jives with me.

Al confirmed that Lane wanted to fire Rob Ryan. Once again, the way Al claims this went down makes perfect sense to me. Lane wanted to bring in his father and the Tampa-2. Not making this move makes sense from a player personnel and contract standpoint. This should have been back burnered until this coming off-season when the elder Kiffin would have been out of his contract.

Al read his letter to Lane. I have written many letters of default, I recognize one when I see it. This was a bad example of writing one, but there is no doubt about what Al was trying to do. This was Lane’s last warning. Frankly too much has been put into this letter by Raider fans. This is not “proof” of any wrong doing by Lane, it is not proof that Lane wanted any of the players mentioned in the letter. A well-written letter of default would have sited chapter and verse the clauses in the contract violated, and how they were violated. This was an emotional warning letter from Al. If I ever sent out a letter like this I would have some serious questions to answer from my superiors.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I supported Kiffin fully this off-season until he called out Ryan in the media. At that point I felt that he had gone too far. I hoped that everything could still be mended, for the good of the team, but apparently that was the last straw for Al. Sure Al’s letter said that Lane could have rectified the situation, but any misstep, no matter how small would have meant the end of the Kiffin era.

Here is the thing, when Al laid it all out on the table, I came to agree that it was time to fire Kiffin. It was clear that the working environment had deteriorated beyond repair. Why, through the actions of Lane Kiffin. The constant blabbing and leaking of information to the media could only have come from one source, Lane Kiffin.

All day I have heard about what a piece of garbage Al is for handling the press conference the way that he did. For airing the Raider’s dirty laundry in the media. The laundry was already out there, it had been hung by young Lane over the course of the last year. All Al did was put the Raider’s spin on it. For Lane to go on Sirius NFL radio and say he wouldn’t stoop to Al’s level was laughable, Lane dragged him down into the mud, Al just finally slung back.

There are times that I hate what the Raiders have become. I hate how they cannot put a competent team on the field the last 5 years. I hate how there is seemingly no coherent plan to build this team back up. I hate the lack of consistency in coaching. I hate how my team has become a laughing stock. And in the end all of these things trace back to the actions of one person, Al Davis. But for one day yesterday, I was back in Al’s camp. The old man still has it.

Losing Lane, Part 1 - Lane the Coach

First things first, happy Eid to everyone, hopefully the end of Ramadan will mean that I get back to feeling like a normal human being, and for my lucky readers, I get back to a semi-regular schedule of posting.

Now it seems like there is a 300lb elephant in the room, something that I should be writing about. Did something big happen? Wall Street Bailout, presidential debates, no, you don’t come here for any of that. Oh, Lane Kiffin got fired, I almost forgot about that.

My faith in Lane has waned since the start of the season. Calling out Rob Ryan did not sit well with me. The KC game did little for me, because, well it was KC. It was the Buffalo game and the San Diego game that really got me wondering if this guy had what it takes to be a successful head coach.

In Buffalo the offense was putrid. The Rob Ryan bashers loved to point out this as yet another case of Rob calling a prevent D and surrendering a big lead. 1st things 1st, if you believe that Ryan called a prevent D, do yourself a favor. Go learn what a prevent defense is, then watch the tape. Soft zones, go watch the tape, the players are in man the vast majority of the game. That cushion that Hall gives up, that is how he plays man, get used to it.

That game was lost for 2 reasons. One being that the offense failed to have a drive longer than 6 plays the entire game. The other being that the Raiders dressed only 6 defensive linemen for the game. You are going to let your defensive front go up against one of the biggest Offensive lines for almost 40 minutes, with 2 subs. completely asinine.

We then witnessed almost a play for play repeat performance the following week against San Diego. The Defense was brilliant, up until the time the wheels fell off since the Offense could not put together a drive of more than 3 plays.

Time and time again I have said that I don’t put the personnel problems on Lane, now according to Al, maybe I should. But truth be told, until I am hired by the Raiders and have 1st hand experience, you will never be able to tell me that anyone other than Al has the final say on personnel matters. So I will let Lane slide on the only having 6 defensive lineman.

It is the complete lack of anything resembling a competent offense that makes me question Lane. I understand the limitations of the Raider’s personnel. The wide receivers cannot get open. The tackles are suspect in pass blocking. The quarterback is basically a rookie. As a result opposing defenses are free to load up the box to shut down the run game.

However there are ways to overcome these limitations. Motion your receivers; give them some space coming off the ball. Run two tight end sets; chip the defensive ends before going out in pass patterns. Run some screens, not just on 3rd and long, but on normal downs as well. The play calling was so pathetically vanilla that a high school linebacker could read the tendencies.

So while I liked the way that Lane was seemingly a straight shooter (more on this later), how he seemed to have all the players on the same page, and how he seemed to finally bringing back some accountability to the players that had been missing since Gannon and Gruden. I was becoming disenchanted with the way Kiffin called a game, and the way he managed the clock and down and distance.

In the end, at this time Lane did not have what it takes to be a successful head coach at the NFL level. So I am not heartbroken that he is no longer the coach of the Oakland Raiders. There is something to be said for letting a coach grow with his team for continuities sake, but now we have to look at underling factors. Of course this is the Raiders we are talking about, so there is allot to look at. Meaning this column is long enough, and we will split this into two parts, because I need to get some real work done.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Brick's Picks Week 3

Little slow around here this week, seems every time that I think I have some time to type another column something comes up. But that shouldn’t be a problem as I drew the short straw and have to work the night shift tonight. That means no phone calls, nobody stopping into my office and hopefully no emergencies. So lets get right into it.

Didn’t do all that bad last week with the picks, as I went 4 for 5, yes I am counting the everyone looses in the Denver vs. San Diego game, as there has been a weeks worth of controversy and we are all dumber for it.

As for the San Diego fans who are crying over the missed call and the replay equipment malfunction. WHHAAAAAAAAA, cry me a fucking river you front running fucks. Chances are none of you could name a player on the team 5 years ago when you were fighting for 3rd place every year. Now you bandwagoners got a taste of what Raider fans have been complaining about for years. The officials suck.

Did bodybuilder Ed fuck up the call. Sure did, but there are missed calls every game. They don’t always come at such a critical time, but great teams with great coaches don’t get put in the position that the call costs them the game, and have the ability to over come the bad call.

I’m reminded of the snow job that the Raiders were the victims of in New England. Was the call bullshit, if you aren’t a complete hater or a delusional Patriots fan you can admit that it was. But the Raiders had ample chance to salt that game away later and didn’t come through. The Raiders were a better team talent wise than that Patriots squad, but they were not a good enough team to over come that call.

That is where the Chargers stand right now. Talent wise the team is stacked. But with Turner at the helm and a lack of leaders on the field the team is not good enough to overcome a bad call or two. A.J. Smith is a great talent evaluator, but seems to put talent over character and leadership. Say what you will about the Rat, but he consistently gets the most out of his offensive talent on game day. That is why the Broncos are tough, and the Chargers have tough luck.

On to the picks:

As always, these are the games that I will be making a point to check out at some point of the day, not necessarily the best match-up, just the ones I am the most interested in.

Oakland +9.5 at Buffalo

I like just about everything about these Bills except the coaching. Dick Jauron just doesn’t seem to have the balls to make the tough choice when necessary. Instead he calls the game by the book. Jauron would never have gone for 2 the way the Rat did against the Chargers. This will cost the Bills when they reach a big game. This week however the Bills seem to be a little better than the Raiders at just about all phases of the game, and should win a close one, but not by enough to cover the spread:
The Pick – Oakland with the points.

Dallas at Green Bay +3

This to me is a great match-up, Dallas’s offense looks like it could be a Juggernaut, but Green Bay will give them their stiffest test to date. The over/under is 51, which is the easy pick (over), the game itself is much tougher, which is why I will be paying attention. I think in the end Dallas’s 3-4 will be too tough of a nut for Aaron Rogers to crack.

The Pick – Dallas

Jacksonville +5 at Indianapolis

Well my preseason Super Bowl pick of Jacksonville is looking pretty bad right now. Injuries have decimated the squad, but in the Colts they face another team with huge problems. No Bob Sanders should open up the run game for Jax, and lead them to a win…I hope.

The Pick – Jacksonville

Pittsburgh +3.5 at Philadelphia

The local Yintzers are going crazy as their Steelers have opened up the season 2-0. Color me less than completely impressed. The opening day blowout of the Texans was nice, but Houston is still a year away from being able to compete with the best. If you read the site you know that I was down on Cleveland from the start, and I was more surprised by how close they managed to keep things that by Pittsburgh’s win. Philly will give them their 1st real test, and the fire zone defense will utterly confuse Pittsburgh’s line. This will be a physical low scoring game with Philly coming out on top.

The Pick – Philly

NY Jets +8.5 at San Diego

Thank god for the mute button, I don’t think I would be able to watch the Monday night crew verbally fellate Favre without it. San Diego will come together this week and stomp the Jets, not much more needs to be said.

The Pick – San Diego

Thats it, I'm having connection problems now, so just watch the interior line play of the LSU vs. Auburn match-up. Pro tallent on both sides when LSU has the ball.

Monday, September 15, 2008

7 Things From a Football Packed Weekend

Another week another Seven things, this is starting to become a habit. This weekend was pretty boring, other than football anyway, so lets just get right into it.

1 – Fat equals Funny

Tom Brady blowing out his knee was funny because it hurt so many stupid people. Charlie the Whale blowing out his knee was god damn hilarious. I mean look at this video:

I can’t stop laughing, can you? If you can than go fuck yourself that is some funny shit there. It was even better in HD as I replayed it over and over again. Go ahead and watch it one more time, TIMBER!!!!!!!!!

2 – An Open Letter to Sweater vest

Dear Sweater vest, if you aren’t going to play Terrell Pryor, why the fuck did you recruit him. He was by far the best offensive player on the field for THEO this weekend. Fuck the senior, he isn’t going to amount to shit anyway, or he would have by now. If you want to stop loosing to top teams, you are going to have to embrace Pryor. Ehh, forget it, I like it better when you get embarrassed every time you play a top 10 team not from the Big-Televen.

3 – Vince Young is Fuckin Crazy

You want to quit you fucking pussy, you run up against the 1st adversity that you have experience in your young life and you are ready to throw in the towel. You know what, go ahead, commit suicide you dumb motherfucker. Just don’t try slitting your wrists, you will probably cut short of the vein. And don’t try to kill yourself with your car, you’ll miss the tree wide right. And don’t try to overdose on pills, you’ll just one hop them all off your chin.

That’s right Vince, you suck so bad, I bet you couldn’t even commit suicide right.

Look I understand there is allot of pressure in being an NFL quarterback, but I can’t relate, see I’m not paid Millions of dollars to play a kids game. A little bit of getting boo’ed as a trade off, I guess I can see how that would break you down, you fucking vag.

4 – Hurricanes are awesome.

Killer floods, windows blowing out, tornadoes, fucking up NFL passing attacks, its like a real life Michael Bay movie, except entertaining. Plus you get to see news people make complete asses of themselves. I think it was on CNN that I saw a monster truck being used to help rescue people. To which the anchor expressed how bizarre it was to see a monster truck out on the streets.

Do even know where you are? You overly primped microphone jockey. You are in Texas you queer, there is a monster truck on every block. Fuck if you are a Texas born male, and don’t own a monster truck at some time, chances are you are a Faggot, sort of like your average newscaster.

Hmmm, Monster Trucks, maybe Michael Bay did direct Hurricane Ike, it was his best work yet, just needed more boobies.

5 – Overrated, Underrated, time for new ratings

I saw a ranking of the top 50 NFL players this off-season that had Antonio Cromartie listed as the 2nd best CB in the NFL. Well if that is the case, Brandon Marshall is superman. Look, I admit that Cromartie is a physical freak, whom had quite a breakout year last year. But if you look at his game he is far from a polished product, and now that NFL team have had a chance to see him on tape, he is going to struggle until he raises his game.

But this is just the way things are. For some reason there is a race to be the 1st to either label a player a super star, or a bust. Some Raider fans wanted to label Michael Huff a bust after two solid seasons playing out of position, why? because he didn’t put up INT numbers.

So get all caught up in the hype if you want, I mean based on this last week Darren McFadden is the NFL’s best running back, Cromartie is the worst CB and the Jets still can’t beat the Pats, even with Favre. But try to remember, a season is 16 games, and if a guy is worth rating, wait at least until their 3rd season so you get a true feel for what they are going to be.

6 – Fantasy Football is fucking with me

Have I told you I am in 5 leagues, pretty pathetic right. Not as pathetic as what is going on right now in those leagues. In the no-money involved, I could give a flying fuck leagues I am a combined 5-1, with my loss coming in a week 1 134-131 shootout (no other team broke 90). In my two money leagues I am winless and yet to break 65 points.

So whom do I blame, David Garrard and Carson Palmer.

Get your fucking heads out of your Asses. I know you both have WR problems, and Carson I know you had to deal with a stiff breeze this weekend. But there is no excuse for the numbers you are putting up.

Oh, and don’t think I forgot about you Colston, owe I hurt my thumb, get out on the field and catch the ball one handed you cunt.

MJD, oh my entire offensive line has fallen apart, Justin Fargas, my groin hurts, Nate Burleson, I only think knee injuries are funny when they happen to people I don’t have on my fantasy team.


7 – Raiders

I am hesitant to write about how encouraged I am about the team’s play, because it looks like Al is dead set on sending the team back 2 years again. I know I have said that I didn’t believe the media’s reports of how bad it was in Raider Land, and that I supported Lane’s questioning of the talent acquisition. But I think he went a step to far last week.

Essentially Lane tried to pass the buck for the play on the field. Sorry coach, once the games start, you are responsible. We all know that you have no control over the defense, but what you did will do more to foster a defense vs. offense mentality in the locker room, than to gain any real headway in working with Al.

Face it, Lane pretty much called Ryan a puppet, and said that it was Al calling the defense, and calling it poorly.

What we have here are two men who are acting like idiots. Al refuses to admit that some parts of the game may have passed him by. Lane refuses to work within the system, a system that he claims that he knew about when signing his deal with Al.

All of which serves to overshadow a dominant in division performance by the team. Sure the Chiefs are the new Cardinals, but division rivals usually put up more of a fight than that, regardless of how shitty they are.

So yay, the Raiders won, Bush and McFadden looked good, the QB’s went down, and the coverage was decent. Hell Warren looked like the DT he was drafted to be eight seasons ago. But if this Kiffin / Al relationship has progressed to the point where it cannot be salvaged, I fear that the progress of JaMarcus, that which is most important to the franchise right now, is about to get tossed out the window.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brick's Picks Week 2

It is already Thursday; goddamn this week is flying by. Since I don’t know if I will have time to write anything tomorrow I decided to flip a coin and either write an NFL preview, or One Game to Watch. Then I decided that everyone is going to be watching USC destroy THEO anyway, so why bother, every player on USC is a future All-Pro, and the Buckeye are sure to have a bunch of assholes. So that made the decision easy. NFL preview it is.

1st things 1st, there is something I need to get off my chest; this whole Tom Brady thing has really been getting to me. I admitted that I reacted with Glee when I saw the Golden Boy go down on Sunday. Then time and time again I heard how terrible it is that people cheer because Tom Terrific got injured, how it is a sign of our downfall as a society, and it really made me think, it made me think:


Oh, so you have never taken joy in the misfortune of others. Bullshit. We all do it, all for our own reasons. See the brand new Mercedes driven by some prick back into a telephone pole, hilarious, see the red neck get busted on cops, laugh out loud, see the pretty boy get broken, funny as shit.

Now think about it, why are each of these funny, and worth watching time and time again. If you own a Mercedes chances are you are a pretentious fuck, and need to be taken down a peg, we all hate you and its fun to watch you suffer. Do I really need to explain how funny it is to watch trailer trash get busted for meth? And then there is dear old Tom.

When I cheer, I am not so much cheering for Tom’s injury, I am cheering for the shattered dreams of Millions of New England band wagoners. The insufferable lot that has become worse than Yankee fans the past 7 years. It wasn’t bad after the 1st Super Bowl win, everyone knew it was a joke and they had been handed the game by the refs, deep down I’m pretty sure that the Pats fans did too. But then things snowballed, the Pats won again and again, the Sox won twice, hell I hear that the basketball team did well also.

The level of hubris is New England became staggering. Talking to a Red Sox fan became the same as talking to a Yankee fan when they were on their run. The Pats fans constant claims that no one respected them were pathetic. Did they really feel that they were entitled to at least a full hour of SportsCenter devoted to their team; yes the sense of entitlement really had gotten that out of control.

So seeing one of the key players on their team go down, and potentially throw their whole season into turmoil was worthy of being cheered. I have nothing against Brady, I will still marvel at the way he picks apart defenses while his line holds away, and it could have been any one of a number of Pats getting injured that would have caused me delight. Not due to the physical pain inflicted on the player, but for the mental anguish inflicted on the Fans.

On to the Picks:

Remember these are the games that I plan on watching a good portion of, so they may not be the best match-up, but they are the ones I care about.

Raiders + 3.5 at Chiefs

As good as I felt about the Brady injury, a Pats fan actually made a great point to me this week. As bad as the Matt Cassel era may turn out to be, he would actually rather watch that than the product the Raiders have put out on the field the last 5 years. And I couldn’t disagree. So is this the week that the defense gets its collective heads out of their Asses? Chances are no, but I am a homer so:

The Pick – Raiders

New England +1.5 at NY Jets

A week ago I would have done anything to avoid watching this game, I am so sick of Attention Whore Theater staring #4. But now, with Matt Cassel at the helm, I am going to delight in rubbing it in to Favre fans when the Patriots, without their franchise QB, still beat the hugely overrated Jets.

The Pick – New England

Pittsburgh at Cleveland +6

The Steelers have a Great week 1 victory against the Texans, and Brady gets hurt and now they are Super Bowl favorites? Really, has anyone looked at their schedule and their O-line? Now I don’t expect them to have much trouble with Cleveland this week, but reality is going to hit the Steel City hard in a couple weeks.

The Pick – Pittsburgh

San Diego at Denver +1.5

Is Denver for real, or is Oakland really that bad. What a shitty reason for watching a game. Fuck I hate how my team sucks.

The Pick – We all loose

Philadelphia +7 at Dallas

Is it just me, or does the Eagles offense have some incredible week 1 performance every other year? Well I for one hope it continues this week, if only because it is fun to listen to Cowboys fans make excuses, and Eagles fan is so miserable that you kind of have to pity them. Sort of the way it used to be with Yankees and Red Sox fans. So for that reason I hope the City of Philadelphia never wins a Championship again, we can’t afford any more fan bases going the way of Boston’s.

The Pick – Philly with the points

Enjoy your weekend, am root along with me for the following things:

Randy Moss to return his head to up his ass
Another Seahawk receiver to get a season ending injury
Ben Roethlisberger to choke to death at Primantis
The accidental dropping of a Bomb at Invesco

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

7 Things are better than 10 - Kick Off Weekend

7 things is a day late this week for two reasons, 1 the Raiders played Monday night so the new week didn’t officially start until today, and 2 this was an incredibly shitty week, and yesterday I had no internet for most of the day. Anyway, I’m not going to bitch about my life here, at least not for another paragraph or two, so on with the show.

1 – I suck at picking games

Or at least you think I do. I picked 7 games in my last column, and of those I got right 2 (at least I think New Orleans covered, I’m not checking right now). But there were mitigating factors:

- Those weren’t my locks; those were the games I went into the weekend planning to watch. For my locks of the week I was a perfect 9 for 9, at least as far as you know.
- Never, and I mean NEVER, pick your favorite teams game. I obviously had some rose colored glasses on when I picked the Raiders to beat Denver.
- Its week 1, everyone’s picks suck week 1.

2 – I am a Hater

You know I have continued to lie to myself and to you, my reader, about how I respect the Patriots, I enjoy watching them play football at the highest level. I admit rooting for the underdog, but its not the team I cannot stand, it is the Fans.

I was wrong. I shouted for joy when Andrew Siciliano cut to the Pats game for breaking news and it was Tom Brady lying on his back in pain. Then they showed the replay and I jumped again. It had finally happened, the Pats streak of incredible luck since the Snow Job had ended. Andrew Siciliano, in his gravest, most serious voice, a voice reserved for the assassination of presidents, said “Tom Brady Limped off the Field”.

I joyfully grabbed my laptop, logged on to the fantasy football sire where I was playing a Pats fan that had Brady as his QB and typed in my new team name:

“Tom Brady Limped off the Field”.

I am a Hater after all.

3 – Hey Assholes it is only week 1

I am so fucking sick of listening to fucking retards go on an on about how their team is either going to the Super Bowl, or will be on the clock in January based on their week 1 performance.

Dear Dipshits, there are 15 games left, plenty of ACL’s will be blown out as they are played over the course of the next 4 months. So as we remember that the Super Bowl winners from last season were blown out, lets also remember the following.
- Beating the hapless Dolphins does not mean that the Jets are any better for trading for Favre. They are still a 7-9 to 9-7 team, just like with Pennington. The only difference is now that Brady is down they may be able to slip into a wild card spot with an extra win.

- Michael Turner is not going to set a new NFL rushing record, he played the Lions.

- Kansas City staying within 7 of New England does not mean that they are an improved team. It means that Brady blew out his ACL. (Ok I admit, I just wanted to type that again).

- The Bears are not back, the Colts are not falling apart, and the Titans, well hold up with Vince Young hurt and having emotional issues, maybe the Titans could win some games. Maybe you can learn something from week 1.

4 – Even when the Games suck, college football fuckin rocks

I didn’t post a 1 game to watch column last week, as there were time constraints, and there really wasn’t a match-up that was that great from a looking at NFL talent standpoint. So I skipped it. And I also agreed to go with my wife to the new outlet mall Saturday Morning. Which meant I got the following call from my neighbor.

Auburn - “DUDE, why aren’t you over here watching football”

Brick - “I’m at the new outlets with my wife”

Auburn - “DO you know what the score of the Ohio St. Ohio game is.”?

Brick - “I’m guessing that Ohio St. is losing if you called me”

Auburn - “Fuck yeah, how did you get roped into going to the outlet Mall”

Brick - “I didn’t want to go tomorrow when the NFL kicks off”

Auburn - “Ummmm…. My wife wants to know if the Mall is any good, she wants us to go there tomorrow, I hate you”

That is what he gets for calling me to gloat that he is watching football when I obviously am not. He can see my driveway from the chair he watches the game in, so he knows damn well that I am being tortured in some way if my truck is not there on a College or Pro Football game day.

So I missed the Ohio vs. Ohio St match up until I got into my car as Ohio St returned a kickoff or punt, what ever. But I still got home in time to see San Diego St. almost nock off ND, and Florida get all they could handle from a rebuilding Miami squad for a half, plus a little hand job action in Texas. Not bad for starting the day at an outlet mall.

5 – Some People do not have the Red Zone Channel

You stupid fucks, that is what you get for settling for cable. Every time I get a call from a cable company offering some great deal to sign up with them I ask them 1 question.

Do you have Sunday Ticket?

I have had a number of different responses, never an outright no. There have been offers to check into that, to put me through to an advisor, and an outright lie of “yes, Verizon Fios comes with Sunday Ticket, should I sign you up?”

And being the incredibly friendly guy that I am, I usually tell them not to call back until the cable company gets Sunday Ticket, and for my lying friend, I wasted his time for at least 15 minutes asking if I would get certain match-ups with Verizon’s Sunday Ticket, since I knew I would get them with Direct TV.

But the best part of the Sunday Ticket, with Free Super Fan Package just for logging a random complaint and asking for the cancellation department when my incredibly unreasonable demand wasn’t met, is the Red Zone Channel. I didn’t have to wait for a break in the action for the CBS to break into the Steelers game to show me Tom Brady going down (yep forced it in again), The Red Zone channel switch me over in time to see him still lying on the field. Matt Ryan’s 1st NFL completion for TD, saw it before it posted on ESPN’s Fantasy tracker.

Yeah, if you don’t have the NFL Sunday Ticket with Super Fan package, you pretty much suck at life.

6 – Yeah, the Raiders

I think I just vomited in my mouth; well that is what went through my mind a number of times last night.

I put this one off as long as possible, because they sucked out loud last night. I could make some excuses, because the officiating was horseshit, but even if the game had been called well, the Bronco’s still would have won handily. So lets just get some quick hits out of the way, and maybe I’ll break down a player later.

RunDMC, you know how I questioned his vision; yeah that is why he is running into the backs of his blockers all the time. I have no doubt if he were to ever get the ball out in space he might be special, but right now he is Reggie Bush part 2, which isn’t that bad, it just isn’t worth a top 5 pick. If you are lucky, in a few years he turns into Brian Westbrook, but that will be incredibly lucky.

Me Angelo Hall, put another one on the board for good old brick, too bad this is one that I hate getting right.

D-Russ, not bad rook, too bad you wasted last season so you could take the same contract that was on the table in April after missing training camp. Because I can’t wait to see how you look after two training camps.

Ehh, enough negativity, lets move on to some thing more fun.

7 – Solomon Wilcots has a job for what reason?

Anyone else catch at least part of the Titans vs. Jags match-up? Anyone else notice the constant excuses made for Vince Young by Solomon? There is one of two things going on here. Either these two are sucking each other off, or Solomon likes Vince because he is black.

Because no white hetero sexual QB will ever get the kind of ball washing despite a horrid performance that Young got from Wilcots last weekend.

That’s right, I am pulling the race card. Its time that white boys pull it with reckless abandon. There is a 50% chance of a black man being president. So that means everything must finally be equal. So race card, come to PAPA.

Solomon Wilcots, you are a racist. If Vince Young was not a black man who enjoyed giving you blow jobs during the pregame interviews you would not be lavishing such praise upon his pathetic ass…

Hmm rereading that, maybe Solomon Wilcots is just gay, and there is nothing wrong with that, so long as you don’t allow it to interfere with your work.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Week 1 NFL Picks by Brick

Maybe I am just a little over excited for the start of the NFL season, but damn, there are some match-ups that look great on paper this weekend. Looking over these match-up reminds me why I prefer the NFL game to the college game.

The NFL just does it right, it truly is an “Any Given Sunday” proposition. There is not one match-up this weekend where I cannot make an argument for how the underdog could pull out a victory. Sure College Football has Appalachian St. vs. Michigan, or USC vs. Stanford, but there are far too many ND vs. Sister Mary’s School of the Blind for my taste.

The NFL also is just a better product than college football. Say what you will about the emotion or the passion of college football, but the NFL game is so much more complex in terms of schemes, College is checkers to the NFL’s chess. There is just no argument there, if you think differently you are clueless, get out of my blog.

So that brings us to the point of this column, lets make some picks. If you have read this far, you might as well keep reading, its not like its going to get any dumber. I'm just going to look at the games where I think there is a strong chance that I'll be putting this game on my TV for at least a quarter. If you want someone to pick ever game, and get most of them wrong, go read Simmons.

Washington Redskins + 3.5 at NY Giants

Of course I’ll be watching this one, it is only the fucking 1st game of the season. As for the winner, There is a reason I didn’t pick the Giants to make it back to the playoffs, one is that they have regressed from last season, while the rest of the Division at least maintained, while others improved, and this was a tight division to begin with. So with the Giants regressing, and the Redskins standing firm, the Redskins have move ahead of the Giants.

The pick – Redskins

Seattle +1 at Buffalo

I’ll be checking this game out more due to the fact that it features two teams that I think could make playoff runs that any real feel that it will be an exciting game. As for the spread, I think this is more due to the general public’s reluctance to accept the Seahawks as a good team, than any real indicator of how good or bad either team is. The Hawks have some questions at both WR and RB, but the rest of the team is better than anything Buffalo has to offer.

The Pick – Seattle

Jacksonville +3 at Tennessee

I’ll be watching this since I have MJD and D. Garrard on a couple fantasy teams, and because I love being right about what a shitty NFL QB Vince Young has turned into. As for the pick, I don’t care if Jacksonville doesn’t have any WR’s, they didn’t last year either and they kicked ass.

The Pick – Jaguars

Tampa Bay +3 at New Orleans

Here is a great example of how the NFL just does it right. Division match-up, week 1, two teams with Super Bowl aspirations. Right here is the game of the week. I don’t care about either team, but I’ll be watching due to the match-up. I don’t care who wins, but since I’m writing a pick column I guess I’ll take:

The Pick - Saints

Chicago +9.5 at Indy

Here is a great one to make some money on, IMO. Peyton hasn’t ever played with his starting center this week. Chicago’s defense is still very good. Indy will win, but it will be closer than the spread. So as you end your Sunday football orgy, enjoy a game that is going to be easy to fall asleep to.

The pick – Chicago plus the points

Minnesota at Green Bay +2.5

Monday nights appetizer for the Main course of the Raiders. I’ll have this game on as I try to pass the time until kick-off at 10:15 (oh yeah there is a major rant coming about that BS). So in a battle of two outstanding defenses with offenses having major question marks, I’m going with the team that should do a better job of shutting down the run due to superior DT’s.

The pick – Minnesota

Denver at Oakland +3

That’s right, the icing on the cake that is NFL kickoff weekend. The Raiders take on the Broncos. I am constantly amazed by how confident that Bronco’s fans are that Shanahan has this team on the right track. I cannot believe how many places pick the Broncos to be a playoff team. What am I missing, they can’t stop the run, they have moved away from their dominant run game, and they have nothing at WR other than Brandon “I hate my TV” Marshall. Look, I don’t claim that the Raiders are world beaters, but they match-up extremely well with the Bronco’s, I am taking the Raiders outright, the points are just gravy.

The pick - The Raiders

Seven games out of 16, that right there is a good goal. And thanks to the red zone channel I’ll be sure to catch parts of just about every game out there. These are just the games that I will definitely tune into for at least a drive or two, depending on how good they actually are.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

2008 - NFL Season Preview - Part 3 Part 2 The rest of the Playoffs

Finally, we have reached the final chapter of our NFL season preview. Which may actually mark the 1st time since high school that I have stayed with something this long. Yeah, that is both impressive and depressing. Anyway, we gave you the preview so far in terms of draft order. But I think the playoff teams deserve a little more attention, well that or I figure I can kill two birds with one stone and give you who will the Super Bowl at the same time.

What, you mean that you have read that opening paragraph before; well here have some Ice Cream:

I knew that would get you back, anyway on with the Divisional Round

AFC Game 1

Indianapolis (Wild Card)


New England Patriots (projected record 12 – 4, Division Winner)

Is there really any question which team will win the AFC East? Look at who the Pats get to play twice a year. Through in the fact they get the NFC West this year and it tells you how much I think this team has slipped that I haven’t predicted them to go undefeated again. Duct tape and Belichick’s unused sleeves are holding the Secondary together. The D-Line is arguably the best in the league, when Seymore is healthy. Brady is Brady, but I have huge questions about that O-line, and Moss is due for a breakdown. Still I only see 4 losses on the schedule, until this one:

Winner Indianapolis Colts

AFC Game 2

Baltimore Ravens (Wild Card)


Jacksonville Jaguars (projected record 14-2, Division Winner)

Ok, this is way to high a win total for Jacksonville, I actually expect them to be around 12 wins, but I don’t look at the record until I am done going through the schedule, and I was surprised that Jax came out this high. I like everything about this team, except the wide receivers. Face it, if Jerry Porter is the answer, you got problems. But everything else here is solid, and this team is built to win playoff games so that is what I expect them to do.

Winner – Jacksonville Jaguars

NFC Game 1

Minnesota Vikings (Division Winner)


Dallas Cowboys (projected record 12-4, Division Winner)

Look, I think that this team might implode this season, all the ingredients are there for a nuclear meltdown, but somehow they have held it together this long, and I think they will for most of the season. The biggest weakness on the team, #2 WR, but with T.O. and Whitten who cares who #2 is. And if Pac Man can stay out of trouble, that just adding a top 10 defensive player to an already good defense (yes Pac Man was that good two seasons ago). I think the Cowboys will do a better job covering up Roy Williams this season and will go deep in the playoffs, so we have:

Winner – Dallas Cowboys

NFC Game 2

New Orleans Saints (Division Winner)


Seattle Seahawks (projected record 13-3)

I don’t think the Seahawks are that good, they are just better than anyone else they play. With 2 games each against the Niners, Rams and Cardinals, plus one each vs. the Bills, Jets and Dolphins the Seahawks should be 9-0 without even trying. So I have them going 4-3 against real competition, yep they should be a little over 500 team, but thanks to their division they have home field advantage in the playoffs. Too bad you have to play top teams in the playoffs.

Winner – New Orleans Saints.

You know what, I have given you a capsule for each team, you now know who the final 4 will be so for the Sake of brevity (ha, there is a word that should never be associated with this blog) your Super Bowl will be.




With Jacksonville announcing during the ceremony to award the Lombardi that the team is moving to LA since the team didn’t sell out a single playoff game.

Have fun in Vegas with your newfound knowledge.

2008 - NFL Season Preview - Part 3 Wild Card Round

Finally, we have reached the final chapter of our NFL season preview. Which may actually mark the 1st time since high school that I have stayed with something this long. Yeah, that is both impressive and depressing. Anyway, we gave you the preview so far in terms of draft order. But I think the playoff teams deserve a little more attention, well that or I figure I can kill two birds with one stone and give you who will the Super Bowl at the same time.

Wild Card Round:


Indianapolis Colts (projected record 12-4, Wild Card)

This prediction for the Colts is completely dependant on Manning being able to play from week 2 on. Though that is in greater doubt due to Jeff Saturday’s injury. This team could go either way this season, Super Bowl or top 10 pick, which is completely nuts, but shows just how important Manning is to this team.


Pittsburgh Steelers (projected record 9-7, Division Winner)

The Steelers are a good team, not a great team, but their schedule is absolutely brutal, and I have serious questions about their offensive line. I have them winning the division, but that isn’t saying much with a 9-7 record. Now I must fear for my life walking the streets of Pittsburgh.

Winner – Colts

AFC Wild Card Game 2

Baltimore (projected record 8-8, Wild Card)

I know most people are down on Baltimore this season, but I see a mini resurgence. The schedule, much like the Steelers, is brutal, but here is the thing, the Defense will be back on top this season. The injury problems from last season should be mitigated by a few key off season pickups. And the combination of McGahee and Rice at RB will be more than enough to give the Defense some time to rest. I know they have a shitty QB, but how many times in the last 10 years have the Ravens made the playoffs despite a shitty QB?


San Diego Chargers (projected record 10-6, Division Winner)

I may not like San Diego, but they will be on top in the AFC West once again this season due to an incredible collection of talent. But I don’t have them going much further, as I believe that this is the year that LT breaks down, and Philip Rivers just doesn’t seem like he can handle the pressure of the offense running through him. They may win the west but injuries and age of key players will lead to an early playoff exit.

Winner – Baltimore Ravens

NFC Wild Card Game 1

Tampa Bay (projected record 12-4, Wild Card)

Lost in all the hype of New Orleans now having the greatest show on turf, is that Tampa Bay has quietly reloaded their defense, the offense is looking better than it has in years, and Jeff Garcia is definitely not gay…OK chances are his playmate wife is a beard, but whatever. This team is poised to make a Super Bowl run this year, unfortunately they play:


Minnesota Vikings (projected record 12-4, Division Winner)

Yeah, I know Tavaris Jackson is the starting QB, that isn’t a good thing, and there are questions as to whether or not Allen will play in the scheme, or if he will continue to just go for sacks. But I think the WR’s are better than last season, and Tavaris will be able to do just enough to keep Defenses honest and allow Peterson and Taylor to run wild. Against Tampa the run game for Minnesota is the difference allowing them to advance.

Winner – Minnesota Vikings

NFC Wild Card Game 2

Philadelphia Eagles (projected record 10-6, Wild Card)

It is amazing to me how much of an afterthough the Eagles seem to have become in the NFC East, but I believe they will be a playoff team this season. They have reloaded both the offensive and defensive lines the last couple drafts, and that is where the game is won or lost. I am not a fan of Samuals, I don’t think he will perform up to that contract in Philly’s system. And that is why I don’t think they will make any noise in the playoffs, the D isn’t as good as it once was, and there is still a lack of a consistent threat at WR.


New Orleans Saints (projected record 12-4, Division Winner)

This is a team that should be fun to watch this season. They have all the tools on offense to score at will, and they have all the holes on defense to allow the other team to pass at will. This team will fair well against teams with lesser offensive lines, as the pass rush should be good, but they will loose to the better lines in the league. Philly’s lack of playmakers at WR leaves them unable to take advantage of New Orleans’ holes.

Winner – New Orleans Saints

Holly Shit, we are at 3 pages, and we have only done the Wild Card round. This is regoddamndicules. Fuck it, I’ll finish this later today, I do have to work some.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

7 Things are better than 10 - Labor Day

I need more 3 day weekends, not so much because I make better use of my time, (although sleeping on the couch all day Sunday isn’t as bad when you have Monday to make up for lost time), but so that I can look forward to only going to work four days each week.

But there is a downfall to 4-day weeks. How am I going to get all of my regular Brickinthebox columns out, along with finishing my NFL season preview prior to the season starting. I’ll tell you how, by doing less work at work and more blogging, and by starting right now with 7 things you already knew, but I’m going to tell you again anyway:

1 – Sex Sells

At least I hope it does. I keep looking at these other successful blog sites and asking myself “why is this site successful” and the answer comes down to two things, tits. Yep both the left and the right one, that’s two things.

Sure I’m not as funny as some sites, my analysis is usually off base and incredibly bias, but that can’t be why I am not getting as many hits. It has to be the lack of pictures of random hot chicks in varius stages of undress. So from here on out we will be adding random pictures of barely dressed women to random posts, starting with this one.

You’re welcome.

2 – Brett Keisel is a god damn star.

OK, if you aren’t a Steeler fan you might not even know who this guy is. I was vaguely aware of him heading into this season. But he is a 3-4 DE, his job isn’t to collect eye catching stats, it is to collect blocks to allow the LB’s to reign havoc upon the offense. This is something that Keisel does well, but it isn’t anything that will get a stadium to go nuts at the mention of your name.

So Thursday night when I was at the Preseason crap fest between the Steelers and Panthers I was shocked to hear the Steelers Faithful go nuts when Keisel was introduced. I thought to myself, wow I know this is a good city for football knowledge, but I figure this kind of response would be saved for the Jersey sellers, and Polamalu’s response did blow Keisel’s out of the water, as did Bettis just being on the sideline.

Then the truth hit me. Pittsburgh is no more appreciative of their blue collar players than any other team. Brett Keisel is a star in Pittsburgh for a reason completely unrelated to his play on the field. Brett Keisel is a dancer. Yeah, you heard that right, a dancer. When the Steelers play their pump up the crowd music leading up to the opening kickoff (the OH OH OHOH OH song) the image of Brett jumping back and forth dancing to the music fills the high def jumbotron.

Some days I love the city of Pittsburgh, others, I wonder if there is anyone home.

3 – College Football is Back

Well if you watched my 1 game to watch this week, you saw that there definitely is some young talent on that Alabama squad, and Clemson is incredibly overrated. And if you watched the game that I told you that if you weren’t watching you shouldn’t even read this site, well you know what happened, since you are reading this site. Great Game, right, no it was sloppy, as fuck and Fulmer should be fired today.

Anyway, along with the aforementioned games, I also caught bits and pieces of a number of games, and watched the Michigan game in its entirety. Look, I don’t expect much from Michigan this year, but that O-line was offensive, the defense was put into so many bad situations by the offense that I was impressed that they kept it as close as they did. Michigan will get it somewhat together this season and make a bowl game, but it will be some piece of shit, congrats on winning 6 games bowl.

Much more shocking to me that Michigan’s loss to Utah, was VT’s loss to Eastern Carolina. That is pathetic. Once again VT’s offense looks completely out of sorts. I swear that this team is under the curse of Mike Vick. Have they had a decent QB since Vick? And, 80% of the time, the better QB wins college football games. VT wins with D and ST’s, if they ever get a QB who can move the chains they will be scary.

4 – Raider Stuff

The Raiders signed a punter to the practice squad…WHAT THE FUCK, the practice squad is for getting players who are a little rough around the edges a little more work with the team so that they can potentially develop into an NFL player. A punter needs an open field and a bag of balls to practice.

Now some may say that the practice squad is for giving the 1st teams some looks in practice. So what is the purpose of keeping a punter on the squad? If you need to get some extra works fielding kicks, use a juggs machine, every team has two or three of them hanging around.

No the only reason that is at all reasonable for the Raiders to have kept Glenn Pakulak on the squad is if they are extremely concerned with Lechler’s health, and want someone at the ready should Shane be unable to answer the bell. However you look at it, a punter on the practice squad is not a good thing.

5 – More Raider Stuff

Ashley Lelie, Chad Jackson, this is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket, and that basket happens to be Javon Walker. The Raiders could have spent the money in the off-season that they spent on Javon to bring in 2-3 other receivers with better talent/heads than either Lelie or Jackson and had them on the roster all off season. Instead the Raiders are now picking up other teams trash again, desperately trying to field a competent roster of WR’s.

I’ll tell you the truth; I would rather that the Raiders just went with the youngsters already on the squad. I would much rather try to develop one of the unknowns already on the Raider’s squad, than sign some guy who is already a known turd.

6 – What is the point of the beach if there is nothing to look at?

Look, there aren’t a lot of beaches here in Pittsburgh. We have a shortage of ocean around here. And have you looked at the three rivers lately? Not exactly the kind of water you want to dip your toes in.

But go to the beach is what the lovely Mrs. Brick wanted to do for Memorial Day. Fortunately there is a state park nearby with a little man made stretch of sand where you can lay out and take a dip in some relatively fresh water. Plus since it is a State Park there were plenty of trails to hike before we went to the beach, so at least I wouldn’t be bored out of my mind the whole day.

But there was a huge problem when we got to the beach. There wasn’t one decent piece of ass to be seen. What the fuck am I going to do at the beach if I can’t spend my time staring at some strange. I may not be able to touch, but there better be something to look at if I am going to go to a beach.

There was one girl on the whole beach that caught my attention, and she never got off of her blanket, there was no way to properly assess her assets. What a waste of an afternoon, I was forced to pay attention to my wife. (Its probably a good thing my wife never reads this blog anymore, between random hottie pictures, and this post I could be in trouble).

7 – NASCAR and Baseball, good-bye losers.

Both of these Sports have a major problem; they both start to get interesting (well relatively so) right about this time of year. And you know what else happens this time of year, that’s right, FOOTBALL MOTHERFUCKERS.

NASCAR has this stupid chase for the championship that they have tried to force on us the last couple years, in some wasted attempt to add the thrill of playoffs to their last 10 races. Sorry it isn’t working. I like NASCAR, going to races is great, turning on a race on a Sunday afternoon and sleeping through it, is one of the great things to do after a busy weekend, or to get rid of a hang over. But NASCAR needs to face the facts; they have nothing else to offer me as of next week. The rest of the season is meaningless, as nobody will be watching.

Baseball is even sadder. It used to be the pennant chase was the lead story. Hell, baseball ruled into October. But baseball is now worthless. Every year it is the same 5 contenders, and then 3 random teams who have managed to overcome the inequities of the system to actually contend for one season before being dismantled because the team cannot afford the salaries.

So here we are, the time of the year when Baseball should be King, and you know if Brett Favre stubs his toe on Tuesday, baseball will be relegated to the 3rd or 4th story mid week, let alone on the weekend when there is actual football being played. It has been quite a fall from America’s pastime to America’s past.

Friday, August 29, 2008

2008 - NFL Season Preview - Part 2

It’s time for part two of our NFL record predictions. Today we will finish up the non-playoff teams. As we described in our last post, the teams are being listed in the order that they will be drafting next April. Just to recap, picks 1-10 look like this:

1 – Atlanta Falcons
2 – St. Louis Rams
3 – Cincinnati Bengals *
4 – Miami Dolphins *
5 – Kansas City Chiefs *
6 – Chicago Bears *
7 – Arizona Cardinals *
8 – San Francisco 49ers *
9 – Cleveland Browns **
10 – Tennessee Titans **

* Subject to tie breakers (4-12 teams)
** Subject to tie breakers (6-10 teams)

And now without further ado:

11 – Oakland Raiders (projected record 6-10)

I hope I am wrong on this one, in the past I have found myself to be way to optimistic when putting these projections together and picking Oakland to win all the close ones, hopefully I have swung too far in the other direction this year. Oakland has three glaring weaknesses, the WR’s, the pass blocking, and the ability to stop the run, in that order. Those weaknesses combined with a rookie QB make anything more than 6-8 wins a real long shot, but the rest of the team is solid enough that anything less would be a real letdown.

12 – Detroit Lions (projected record 6-10)

Here is the thing; I like the kind of team that Rod Marinelli is putting together (no I do not give Millen much credit, these are Marinelli players coming in). The Lions are becoming a team of blue collar, lunch pail bringing mutherfuckers. But I still believe they are one more year from truly being able to contend for the playoffs. Unfortunately if they do not contend this year it could mean Marinelli’s head, as Millen will be feeling the heat and need a scapegoat.

13 – Buffalo Bills (projected record 7-9)

There were a couple Bills games that I came real close to picking them on, but ended up going the other way. Including the week 1 match-up against Seattle. And that sums up my feelings on this team pretty well, so close, but not there yet. The problem I have with this team starts at HC, where Dick Jauron does just enough not to win. I just don’t think Jauron will nut up when the game is on the line, and say punt on 4th and 2 down by 6 with 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter on the opponent’s 48. That is the kind of chicken shit play calling I have come to expect from Jauron, and while his chart may say it is the right choice, to the offense it say “I have no confidence in you”.

14 – Houston Texans (projected record 7-9)

I know 7-9 is a step back from last year’s record for this team, but I actually think they are better than last year, but the schedule is tougher. I expect this team to flirt with 500 all season, but a brutal stretch in November into December will dash their playoff hopes. However if this young offensive line can gel, and the defensive line keeps improving at their current pace, this team will contend for the AFC South crown next season.

15 – Denver Broncos (projected record 7-9)

God this one pained me, I so wanted to put the Raiders a game ahead of the Broncos in the final rankings, but in the end it came out this way. The difference to me is the experience of Jay Cutler vs. the inexperience of Russell. Other than that these teams are very similar, can’t stop the run, huge question marks at WR, great defensive backfields. But at least Broncos fans will be down about yet another non-playoff year.

16 – NY Jets (projected record 8-8)

Guess what, this has nothing to do with everyone’s favorite attention whore, in fact I would have given them another early win with Pennington at the helm thanks to his experience in the system. The O-line is nowhere near as good as advertised. The defense is still in transition and I don’t like some of the personnel moves. This team is better than last year’s version, but that is largely due to playing the NFC West.

17 – NY Giants (projected record 9-7)

The Giants are still a good team, but the loss of Osi, Strahan, and Wilson on the D will be too much to overcome. The secondary is going to get exposed on a weekly basis, and while I don’t like Shockey, he is a better overall TE than Boss and Boss’s limitations will slow the offense. This team will still be in playoff contention until the final week, but comes up just short.

18 – Carolina Panthers (projected record 9-7)

Here is how I see Carolina’s season. They struggle early without Steve Smith and due to a tough 1st 3 weeks. Turn it on mid season before falling apart in November. A big part of the problem here is there is no one across from Peterson to draw the offense’s attention, and with no other pass rush this team will struggle. They will still be in the hunt deep into December, but there just isn’t enough there to say playoffs.

19 – Washington Redskins (projected Record 10-6)
I really have no Idea why I like the Redskins this much. Their offensive line looks putrid in the preseason, Clinton Portis is due to breakdown, Campbell is still making rookie mistakes due to being in his 5th offense in 5 years and the defense has already had the injury bug hit. But for some reason I expect this team to win a few shockers and contend deep into December, getting bounced from the playoffs due to tiebreakers.

20 – Green Bay Packers (projected record 10-6)

The last of our non-playoff teams is the 3rd that I have missing out due to tiebreakers. There are two key reasons why I do not see this team making the playoffs this year. One being that I do not see Aaron Rogers remaining upright all season, and two being the moves on the defensive line. This is still a young team that is set up well for the future, but there will be a season of growing pains for Green Bay as they make the transition from Favre to Rogers.

Twenty teams down, twelve to go. When Brickinthebox returns with part 3, we will give you our playoff teams along with the predictions for how they will fair come playoff time. That’s right, the 1st annual Brickinthebox put it on the board lock for Super Bowl winner will be announced next week. Try not to bankrupt Vegas, I don’t need them coming to break my fingers.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

2008 - NFL Season Preview - Part 1

The NFL regular season is upon us. So it is time for Brickinthebox to do what every other site that talks NFL does, make some worthless predictions about how teams will fair this season.

Here at Brickinthebox we are going to break this thing up into parts. There are only so many hours a day I can waste at work without forcing myself to stay late to take care of actual work. The goal being to have all the predictions for team records out by Thursday, and maybe a closer look at each division as well.

So here is how we came up with this mess. I went through the NFL schedule and assigned each team a win or loss for each game. Then I told my spreadsheet to tally up the record, and I was surprised by some of the results.

Then I had to decide how to present this wealth of misinformation. Some sites present it by division, some by record. I’m going to do things a little differently; I am going by draft order in next year’s draft. So with all the BS out of the way, the 1st team on the clock is:

1 - Atlanta Falcons (projected record 2-14)

What a freaking mess, their two best players going into last season are now in prison and on the Oakland Raiders (no that is not the same thing wise ass). They are starting a rookie QB, Matt Ryan, whom I believe is incredibly overrated (go look in the archives for why). They have two sample size superstars (TM in the backfield. They are starting a rookie at LT, who I believe should have been moved to guard, or even better center. Then you look at their defense. There is just nothing to like about this team this season. Next…

2 - St. Louis Rams (projected record 3-13)

Look, this team has the potential to do much better than this I admit that. But they also have the potential to beat out Atlanta for the 1st pick. Their offensive line is in shambles, Pace is already injured. Bulger looks shell shocked, and Trent Green and his vacant stare is backing him up. Steven Jackson is the lone bright spot on offense, and he just got paid, the carrot has been taken out from in front of the horse. The defense has some young talent, but way too many holes. This is going to be a long year for St. Louis.

3 – Cincinnati Bengals (projected record 4-12)

I am not going into the tiebreakers, and I have a ridicules number of teams at 4-12, so I am just going with the order that the spreadsheet sorted them. So Cincinnati gets the #3 pick. I would like to pick the Bengals to perform better, I have Carson Palmer on two of my fantasy teams, but I just kept giving the edge to the opponent for two reasons. One being that the Bengals defense sucks, and two being the offense looks to be falling apart due to injury. I will say that of all the teams I have picked to go 4-12, the Bengals are the one in my mind most likely to go 8-8, whoopee.

4 – Miami Dolphins (projected record 4-12)

After last year’s debacle, this is a great turn around for this team. I like allot of what the Dolphins have been doing. The O-line has some of the best young talent in the league; the running backs look good if they can stay healthy. Pennington is a gamer, say what you will about his arm, and Henne is a great Parcells type QB. But it is going to take at least one more season for the Dolphins to get the personnel they need on defense, and there is no one to catch the ball. The Dolphins will play allot of teams tough, but fall short most of the year.

5 – Kansas City Chiefs (projected record 4-12)

I kept asking myself as I picked Chiefs games, are they really this bad, or is it just my anti-Chief bias? The answer, they really are this bad, and I could have just as easily picked them to go 1-15. Croyle sucks, Herm sucks, the defense sucks, the receivers other than Bowe suck and LJ has the curse of 370 (TM hanging over his head. Other teams are going to run and pass at will against this team, and the offense will face 8 and 9 in the box all day. But remember Chiefs fans, this is a rebuilding season, as will be next year, and the year after, and the year after…

6 – Chicago Bears (projected record 4-12)

There were plenty of games where I could have gone either way with the Bears. I kept saying to myself, “the defense should keep them in this, but can the offense score?” unfortunately I could only see the defense pulling out 4 wins. When you QB choice is Orton or Grossman, you really don’t have a choice. The receiving core is abysmal. I do like the young backs, but the O-line will struggle to open any holes. Four wins sounds about right for this team.

7 – Arizona Cardinals (projected record 4-12)

Wait a minute, isn’t this the year the Cardinals finally turn it around and compete for a playoff berth? Well if you have believed this the last 10 years, you probably believe it again. I like coach Wiz, Boldin and Fitz are an incredible WR pairing. But I don’t trust Edge to hold up, I don’t trust the line to give them enough time and the defense is Swiss cheese. If Arizona can work out there differences with Boldin and keep Wiz around I expect them to improve, next year.

8 – San Francisco 49’ers (projected record 4-12)

I will say this upfront, hiring Mike Martz was a huge mistake. His schemes do not fit the personnel. His personality will clash with Nolan’s, and this team will be a mess by midseason as fingers get pointed at everyone. There are good young players to build around on defense, but the Vets that have been brought in don’t make sense. The offense is Frank Gore, and Gore cannot carry a team this bad alone. And in case you haven’t been paying attention, San Fran makes three of the NFC West teams drafting in the top 8. What a pathetic division.

9 – Cleveland Browns (projected record 6-10)

If anyone in Cleveland read this blog, I would be getting allot of heat right now. Fortunately I have 3 readers, so there will be no backlash. For Cleveland I kept thinking “can the offense score enough to keep up” and the answer time and time again was no. Derrick Anderson is the big question mark here. Will he recover from his concussion and prove that last season wasn’t a fluke? I believe that the answer is no, last season was a fluke, his WR’s & TE’s will return to earth, and the Dog Pound will be calling for Quinn by midseason. But the real problem is on D. Shaun Rogers will break down early after looking unblockable the 1st few weeks. And there is just nobody in the secondary that can cover. This is a great team for fantasy production, both for and against.

10 – Tennessee Titans (projected record 6-10)

BrickintheBox’s favorite idiot, Adam Schein, went off on a caller the other day for referring to the QB situation in Tennessee as the “Vince Young Experiment”, but what should it be called. Everyone loves to point out that Vince was a probowler as a rookie (just proves how worthless the probowl is for accessing talent) and the Titans winning percentage under Vince. Well the record is more due to a tough defense getting by despite Vince. This year some of that D starts to show its age, and Vince will be forced to carry more of the load. Vince cannot handle the load, and when the Titans are forced to go away from their run heavy ways they will lose, and lose often.

There you have it, the top 10 picks in the 2009 NFL draft will look something like this, if not I will give you your money back (as this site is free you are looking at $0, spend it wisely). Keep checking back for the next segment where we will go into the rest of the non-playoff teams.