The Monday Afternoon Backup Fullback (9/22/08)

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Posts from Handicappers on hiatus

The Monday Afternoon Backup Fullback (9/22/08)


The decaying Al Davis is Tommy Rider's Boner of the Week.

 A lot of people have columns called "Monday Morning Quarterback." I was trying to come up with something different and decided to settle on the position I dominated in high school: Backup fullback. No one could block a guy two times a game like the powerful (but painfully slow-footed) Tommy Rider. So now that the NFL season is in full swing, here is the debut of the "Monday Afternoon Backup Fullback." I hope you enjoy my inane observations.

After another week of watching 20 hours of football, I've made some more meaningless observations that I want to share with the boys at Pregame. Let's just say that Greg Schiano doesn't want to meet me in a dark alley right now. Here is this week's edition of the Monday Afternoon Backup Fullback:

Best Coaching Decision of the Week: This is an easy one. Hats off to Tony Sparano for coming into New England and taking it to the Patriots. People around the NFL have raved to me about Sparano and after watching his team on Sunday, I think the Dolphins are in good hands. Sparano saw that the Jets gave the Pats problems running the spread offense last year with Brad Smith, so he put it in just for this game, making Ronnie Brown the focal point. And while the balls to the wall offense was great, Sparano was just as aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Unlike that dink Eric Mangini, Sparano pressured Matt Cassel and had his corners play physical with the Patriots receivers, forcing Matt Cassel to make quick decisions instead of letting him sit in the pocket and throw short passes all day. I haven't been this impressed with an overall gameplan in quite some time. The Dolphins will be a great underdog play the rest of the year, especially at home. I'm definitely a Tony Sparano fan. Besides, I miss his TV show.

Worst Coaching Decision of the Week: Jack Del Rio playing for a field goal late in the game against the Colts. Now, he got lucky and won the game but it's these kinds of stupid decisions that will cost the Jags wins down the road. Up by three points and inside the 10-yard line with a chance to put the game away, Del Rio ran the ball up the middle three times and kicked a field goal to give Jacksonville a 20-14 lead. Well, anyone could have written the script after that. Of course, Peyton Manning led the Colts down the field and scored a touchdown. The only problem is they went down the field so easily, the Colts scored and left a little too much time on the clock and lost at the gun. But when people say Jack Del Rio is a bad coach, these are the kinds of things they are talking about. When you have Manning on the other sideline, you can't play scared. The Jags had a chance to put the game away but instead they left the door open and it almost cost them. They are lucky not to be 0-3.

Keep it Simple Stupid
Greg Schiano has done a tremendous job at Rutgers. No one can deny that fact. But his gameplan against Navy was one of the worst I've seen in years. The Midshipmen came in ranked 97th in the country in defending the pass. So what did Schiano do? He used this week to work on his running game. Rutgers threw only 20 passes and accumulated just 131 yards. To put that in perspective, Navy had 89 yards passing. Now I know Mike Teel stinks but anyone can throw on the Navy secondary. Here is my take Schiano: He's a great mid-level program coach. If Schiano took over UAB, he would turn them into winners. But I don't think he is going to do well at a big-time program. I like to call guys like Schiano "8-4 coaches." Going 8-4 is fine at Rutgers but it gets you fired at Penn State. It's a shame that Rutgers plays Morgan State this week because the team is in turmoil. Teel punched a defensive player in the head after he tossed an interception late in the game. Rutgers is saying Glen Lee was offering words of encouragement but I'm guessing he said something like, "You just threw your last pass as a Scarlet Knight. You suck." Anyway, Rutgers is fade all the way the rest of the year.

The Defense Rests
I'm going to make a prediction here: Denver will be involved in a lot of high-scoring games this season. Just a hunch. The Broncos have arguably the best passing attack in the NFL right now but their defense is still terrible. Granted, maybe a team like the Chiefs - who have trouble scoring against air - won't pile up the points on the Broncos but whenever Denver plays an offense with a heartbeat, expect fireworks. There will be plenty of chances down the road to cash in on Denver overs. Keep another thing in mind about the Broncos. When a team has a weak defense like Denver does, it makes it tough to cover big spreads. Currently, the Broncos are -9 this week at Kansas City but I wouldn't bet the Chiefs with your money.

Player of the Week: Marion Barber - Sure, he's my favorite player in the NFL but in my opinion, Barber is the NFL MVP after three weeks, with Jay Cutler a close second. I loved Barber in college and thought he could be a solid starting NFL running back. I was happy when Dallas stole him in the fourth round but not even I could have imagined him being this good. Last year after playing Dallas, Patriots S Rodney Harrison said that Barber was one of the best backs in the NFL by far and some people snickered. Well, no one is laughing now. Tony Romo and the Cowboys passing attack wasn't in sync early against the Packers but they were able to move the ball thanks to the impressive running of Barber. People talk about his power - and he is the strongest back in the NFL bar none - but one thing that gets lost is his vision. Barber rambled for 142 yards and a score to help give the Cowboys a huge win on the road. If Dallas has the kind of season I think they will, Tony Romo could win MVP. But make no mistake about it, Barber is the best player on that team right now.

Quote of the Week:  "It was an embarrassment, the fans deserve better, and if I had the authority, I would have fired the general manager." -William Clay Ford Jr. after the Lions lost to the 49ers on Sunday. When asked again, directly, if he would fire Matt Millen, Ford Jr. said, "Yes, but I don't have that authority." Apparently, Millen doesn't have x-rated pictures on the younger Ford.

Boner of the Week: The second annual Boner of the Week award goes to Al Davis. Here is a Raiders team that has grown by leaps and bounds under Lane Kiffin and Davis wants to fire him. After getting blasted in their opener, the Raiders have bounced back and played well two weeks in a row on the road. More importantly, the team is showing signs of life under Kiffin for the first time in years. Listen, I've seen Davis up close and he looks like he isn't going to drop dead within the minute. It's a shame too because Al has been such a pioneer in a lot of areas but now he's going to be remembered as a diaper-wearing, drooling senile old man. Davis is hurting the development of that franchise and for that, he is a boner.

  • Thanks Josh. Edwards is playing great. I thought the Bills may have been a little overrated entering the season. I guess I couldn't get that Sunday night game out of my head where the Pats made them look like a high school team. I thought last week was an impressive win. I had the Bills -9.5 but even though they didn't cover, coming back like that for a young team showed me something. For all the talk about the Jets, they might be the worst team in that division. lol

  • "Ah, I think I see what the problem is Tommy? Don't want to use your real name? Well this isn't my real name either. But I didn't write:

    "I heard from someone who is close to the case that there is a sex tape of Bill Belichick"

    "Welker's injury is very serious and he may miss the season."

    "I'm pretty sure (About 80 percent) that the Patriots taped that Rams walkthrough"

    No sex tape, Welker is healthy as a horse and the Patriots did not tape the walkthrough.

    "Tommy Rider", thats where I go to get my information."

    God get a ****ing life

    Gotta give Trent Edwards some love Tommy. He'l never be the best QB in the league but he's money in the 2 min drill. No way the Bills win that game if not for Edwards.

  • Tom, I have to say I've gained a certain amount of respect for Kiffin during this game of chicken he's playing with Al Davis.  It can't be any fun showing up to work every day when Davis has turned the whole place against him.  It must drive Davis crazy that he just won't quit.

  • Ah, I think I see what the problem is Tommy? Don't want to use your real name? Well this isn't my real name either. But I didn't write:

    "I heard from someone who is close to the case that there is a sex tape of Bill Belichick"

    "Welker's injury is very serious and he may miss the season."

    "I'm pretty sure (About 80 percent) that the Patriots taped that Rams walkthrough"

    No sex tape, Welker is healthy as a horse and the Patriots did not tape the walkthrough.

    "Tommy Rider", thats where I go to get my information.

  • Mr. Freeze, Barber lasted that long because he didn't have "speed." I always love how NFL scouts judge speed. Let's put guys in shorts and have them run on a track. That's important, why? They were right, Barber doesn't have great speed but he has great everything else.

    Hog, Kiffin won't quit because that's what Al wants him to do so he doesn't have to pay him. I'm sure he hates it there but he doesn't want Davis to get his way and after the way he's been treated, I can't say I blame him.

    Bullet, I think the total of a Cowboys/Broncos game would be 75 and I would still bet the over. I'm guessing Davis is your "Boner of the Decade." lol

    Thanks for the great feedback guys. That's why I write these stupid observations of mine. I want to get your opinions on the subject.

  • BTW...Barber is a beast.  If your team is down to the Cowboys in the fourth, he is going to punish you and you'll feel it for weeks.

  • It seems that my Broncos will drive me to drink this year, short drive though, haha.  It seems like our rush defense is better than last year but we keep getting picked apart after getting a big lead.  Is it possible that, with our defense being younger than we normally have, they sit back after getting a big lead? Hell, I don't know.  They better fix something soon.  A Broncos-Cowboys game would be fun.

    Al Davis is always a boner to me.

  • I'm not a Kiffin basher, in fact I have defended him in several arguments with my buddies for the same point you make.  OK, Week 1 the Raiders looked like they were TOTALLY unprepared for a football game, but then again did anyone think that Denver would come out guns-blazin' like that??  But, my point wasn't really a critism against him, but more of an observation that he may be TRYING to get the boot.  I imagine his life now is kind of like the guy whose wife non-stop nags in his ear. He is probably sick of it and I can't imagine why he would want it to go on another week.  Who could focus in his situation on his job, Al Davis either has to step up and make the move, or step up and publicly endorse the coach, which is not going to happen.

  • I agree the Marion Barber is one of the best in the league.  I thought Minnesota should have drafted him.   It was the perfect situation,  he was a talented RB, which they needed at the time, and he was a hometown kid (sort of),  coming from the University of Minnesota,  so the fans would have loved it.  And where was he drafted?  8th pick of the 4th round,  just 3 ahead of the Vikings, who chose Ciatrick Fason.  I believe Fason was cut by Jacksonville before the regular season this year.    I was amazed that Barber fell to the 4th round,  I felt he would have been a solid pick in the 2nd round.  

    As for Kiffin,  the surprising part is that he lasted this long.  I think the team has improved under him,  and he doesn't deserve to be fired, but we all know Al Davis,  and this is what Al Davis does.     I think Kiffin's experience in Oakland will help him to get another head coaching position,  possibly as early as next season.  

    My  only regret is that I didn't  bet on Kiffin to be the first coach fired this year... he was at +300.  

  • You make good points Sweat Hog. My Player of the Week isn't always the guys with the best stats. No doubt Brown was tremendous but I gave the props to the coaching staff. I just think Dallas probably losses last night if it weren't for the hard running of Barber. That's the most impressed I've ever been with him. The Bears defense came in second for Boner of the Week by the way. And I agree Kiffin made a mistake there. So many coaches refuse to call timeouts in that situation, it drives me nuts. My point is your team is showing improvement under this guy. At the very least wait until the season to do all this garbage. As a guy who has been in NFL locker rooms, trust me this circus kind of stuff hurts teams because it's all the media cares about and the players are constantly forced to deal with it. What is he going to fire Kiffin for? To hire James Lofton? I'm pretty sure he can wait until after the year to do that. But good arguments across the board. I'm just getting sick of hearing a report every hour about Kiffin's job. Either fire him or don't.

  • Love Barber, but how can you not give Ronnie Brown player of the week?? 5TDs is not a feat that we see every day, or every season for that matter.

    My Boner of the week is the Bears Defense, who the hell gives up 400+yards to Brian Greice and the Bucs Offence???  Besides, it's just understood that Davis is the big boner day-in, day-out.

    And great points about the Broncos, hard to bet on them, hard to bet against them.

    What do you think of Kiffin not calling the T.O. in the final minute to try to get the ball back?? I thought that it was the proverbial white flag, and almost begged for the axe.  I don't have another explanation, it's not like there was a 50+ yd FG attempt, I think it was a routine 39 yarder or so.

  • WILL OAKLAND EVER BE COMPETITIVE WITH AL DAVIS??????  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!!!

  • M. Barber= BEAST.......Al Davis= WOW, lookin a little like Yoda these days.......WITHOUT the wisdom!!!

  • Reports out of Oakland have Kiffin lasting at least another day Tommy, so don't give the old Syracuse Orangeman the Boner of the Week yet.  Totally agree about Barber though - he is a beast and forms the best RB tandem in the NFL with Felix Jones.