Favre un-re-retires: The Divisionaries Are Born

August 19, 2009

WTF.

Brett.  Seriously?  Go play for the Birmingham Barons.

So, the Football blog I’ll be writing on is called The Divisionaries.  We’ve already got some bitching going on about Favre-gate3.0.  We’ll be able to make fun of the Lions… lots.

And if a weekly post is not enough to get your fix, we’re also on twitter here: http://twitter.com/Divisionaries

And yes.  Gridiron Girl will be making appearances in the as well.

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Brett Favre to Re-Unretire

May 4, 2009

Just when you think he’s teared up at a press conference for the last time, yet ANOTHER rumor pops up that Brett “Journeyman” Favre now wants to play for the Vikings.  Hmmm.  Is it because he’s got “something left in the tank”, maybe, or maybe the economy is such that it’s too soon to open a car dealership.

Had to post this. Original is Law Blog RLHB.

Either way, he wants in, and Mike & Mike on EPSN seemed to hint that it’s purely to get revenge on his old team — the Green Bay Packers.  That should work out for everyone, as we all know through centuries of theater, books and movies — aging gladiators called into battle for revenge’s sake and fueled by blind ambition usually succeed without much difficulty, agnorisis, etc.

What’s sad is that Wisconsin has gone mute on the subject (not that is has a say anyway).  Scanning the most recent headlines on google The Frozen Tundra is frozen still.  There’s a national frenzy but Milwaukee is mum… there is NO mention of Favre on the Journal-Sentinel front page and BARELY even a mention of this anywhere on the sports page. Hmmm. This from the paper that would run a picture of Favre above the fold instead of  Afghan war coverage.

Maybe it’s a McCarthy-era strategy — don’t publish stories about him and maybe he’ll just go away.  Meanwhile, Chicago Sun Times and Tribune both had stuff to say about it.

A few other thoughts:

  • Brett should look for a new shoe endorsement.
  • Green Bay is not quarantined with swine flu — they just don’t have the will to get out of bed this week.
  • Internet-friend Ryan thought: “If [this] … happens the NFC North will be land of the QBs with Cutler here, Stafford at Detroit, Farve at Minnesota and Rodgers in Green Bay, could be interesting.”  It’s true.  Would the NFC North not be the butt of jokes for once?  Maybe they could shake that guaranteed noon start time pattern.
  • Internet-friend Kenny thought: “….if Brett Favre goes to Minnesota, his legacy will be somewhat tarnished. This is the guy that replaced Bart Starr as the face of the franchise historically, and he is going to go wear purple and play in a dome? Just stick to playing football with a posse of country folk at a field in the middle of nowhere while wearing Wranglers.

Five Stars Kenny.  Real. Comfortable. Blog.


Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears, and Scratch-Off Tickets

April 19, 2009

The completely unexpected happened a few weeks ago.  Because I’ve been slacking, I haven’t  posted anything, but, after all my bear-bashing, I’m about to eat my words and enjoy it.

Photo from Blog Down Chicago Bears

The oft-criticized Chicago Bear front office pulled off what amounts to the most important personnel move in my personal history with the team, and perhaps the biggest move in Bears history.

Though other franchises make blockbuster moves and offer ridiculous contracts nearly every off-season (Hi Jets! Cowboys! Redskins!), the Bears are traditionally a stoic, staunch, and slow-moving franchise.  Instead of grabbing hot free agents every year, the Bears opt to reward their core players with generous contract re-signings…  regrettably, as the cornerstones of the defense proved last year, sometimes that’s not the best idea (see: #21).

All that was blown out of the water earlier this week.

Bears fans have had nearly enough of GM Jerry Angelo’s big talk with no follow-through, while Lovie Smith’s unnerving poker face press responses further aggravated fans.  Meanwhile in Colorado, Jay Cutler, former Midwest-born Bears fan and 25 yearr-old Pro Bowl quarterback, was refusing to answer the phonecalls of his team, the Denver Broncos.  Cutler was rightfully peeved — the Broncos’ new sherrif in town, Josh McDaniels, had made no secret of the fact he was not interested in having Cutler under center during the 2009 season.  McDaniels had an inexplicable man-crush on a Patriots backup QB.

Photo from Football Nation

This was the highest-profile trade in recent memory and the Bears, somehow, fended off a HUGE amount of competition to lock up what could wind up solidifying the always-iffy Bears QB position.  A gutsy move that could feasibly solve the perennial Chicago QB problem for the next decade-plus.  Imagine not worrying about this issue again until after we host the Olympics!  Ha.

But there are always naysayers… here are the biggest complaints which I will swiftly refute:

Naysayer #1: “Jay Cutler is a good QB but he doesn’t have anyone to throw to”

  • Aside from the fact that the Bears have two solid tigh ends and one the best pass-catching backs in the league, I get the point — the Bears wide receiving corp(se) is  the worst in the league.  But, as my pal Jimmy pointed out, good quarterbacks create better receivers.  Good receivers don’t make great QBs.
  • Note how unimpressive past Packer wideouts become after they leave a team that had  Brett Favre throwing to them. Note how well Randy Moss fared in Oakland without a decent signal caller under center.  Note how well the pass-happy Eagles threw this year without any real stars at the position.  Note how Wes Welker played on the Dolphins compared to how well he’s played in New England.
  • Also worth mentioning: the Bears are sure to make some moves post-draft.  Aside from the draft itself, there are plenty of veteran wide receivers to pick up… Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison, The Foot-Shooter to name a few.  Granted two of those three athletes are past their prime, but they’re still  serviceable, savvy, smart, possession players.

Naysayer #2: “The Bears gave up too much to get Cutler”

  • To lock-up Cutler, the Bears gave up two first-round picks, an additional pick, and their starting QB, Kyle Orton.  On paper, this looks like a pretty steep cost.  But for anyone that’s followed the history of Chicago drafts, this is a great move.  Long-story short, the Bears DO NOT draft offensive players well… or develop them well. Trading away what might be for what already is makes perfect sense.
  • Think about it like this:  Some guy (probably in a trenchcoat) approaches you on the street… let’s call him… ummm,  Josh McDaniels.  He has five-hundred dollars neatly stacked in a pile and wants to trade you for your two “Win a Million” scratch-off lottery tickets.  Mr McDaniels (who is obviously clinically insane) would rather have your two scratch-offs than his cold, hard cash.  He’ll trade you his liquid assets for two of your unscratched lottery tickets.  Sure, your tickets might be worth lots too, but your name is McCaskey and your family has never had much luck in the lottery.  WHY DO YOU NOT AGREE TO THIS TRADE?
  • Appendix: Here are the Bears’ 1st round offensive skill position picks since 1988: Greg Olsen, Cedric Benson, Rex Grossman, David Terrell, Cade McNown, Curtis Enis, Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Conway, Brad Muster, and Wendell Davis.  It’s pretty evident you’ve been squandering them anyway, why not give them away for something tangible? Tangible and fucking awesome btw.

Naysayer #3: “Kyle Orton is the future”

  • K.O., god love him, is a solid QB, and may still wind up being a fantastic player.  But look at the facts: He is not a Pro Bowler,  Cutler is.  He isn’t 13-1 when the defense allows less than 22 points, which Cutler was last year (fyi — Bears avg points allowed last year: 21.9).  Lastly, Orton’s lack of arm strength nullified the speed that “#1” receiver Devin Hester possesses; while the words “Cutler”, “canon”, and “lazer” often appear in the same sentence.
  • It’s Science:
  • Note how "canon" spikes when Jay Cutler news spikes.

I’m thrilled to see what happens this season.  And if Cutler is a bust — so be it.  I don’t think Chicago would have ever forgiven the franchise for not pursing an all-star QB that was within their grasp, so I commend the Bears for making a huge, and long-awaited move.  I’ve never anticipated a season more than I have this off-season.  I wish it started tomorrow.


Vikings and Bears NFC North Run-off

December 9, 2008

I’m not going to waste time talking about the Bears and Vikes games last week, but I AM going to focus on what happens now — with three games left apiece.

So far, all we know is that the Bears D is not good when playing other good teams.  They only appear to be good when playing games they’re expected to win.  It’s no coincidence their recent wins have been against the lousiest of the league — Jacksonville, Detroit, St. Louis — they remind me of a pouty Rec League group that plays in the lower levels just to feel good about themselves.

Lance Briggs said earlier this year that when the Bears defense wanted to play well they would play well.  Hmmm.  Well, sidestepping the most obvious question, (“As a professional athlete player, when do you NOT want to play well?”) question #2 is, “Do you find it odd that in games the defense SHOULD have been amped up, you actually played worse?”  Failures such as:

  • A chance to beat an undefeated Titans team.
  • A chance to claim first place in the NFC North by beating the division rival Packers at Lambeau.
  • A change to reclaim first place in the NFC by beating the Vikings in prime time

Were they not pumped up about these games?

THESE are the games you have to win, THESE are the games you win if you deserve to be the Division Champs — Tough games, DIVISION games.   It’s because the Bears can’t win to save their own hides that having to root against the Vikings is just maddening. 

If the Bears won games they were supposed to, we shouldn’t have to watch the scoreboard to see if Detroit is going to beat them (Or Arizona, or Atlanta, or New York) in the next few weeks.  Larry Mayer’s ChicagoBears.com Chalk Talk made it painfully clear what needs to happen for the Bears to make the playoffs:

There are two ways for the Bears to win the NFC North: They go 2-1 and the Vikings go 0-3, or  the Bears go 3-0 and the Vikings lose at least two of their final three games. Minnesota can win the division with two victories regardless of what the Bears do.

So, if I must, here’s who they both play in weeks 15, 16 & 17.

  • Vikes (8-5): Arizona* (8-5), Atlanta** (8-5), New York* (11-2)
  • —  combined record (27-12) .692
  • Bears (7-6): New Orleans** (7-6), Green Bay (5-8), Houston (6-7)
  •  — combined record (18-21) .462

(*Clinched Playoff Birth, **Wild Card Race)

So,  at first blush, The Vikings have a more difficult schedule. But you have to consider both Arizona and especially New York have nothing left to play for, so their only real difficult game is Atlanta.  Based on Mayer’s comments, I find it very unlikely that Minnesota — with the playoffs on the line, will manage to lose to the Cards and Giants; both disinterested teams.

Chicago, though their win% looks favorable, has to first play a New Orleans team with a matching record, healthy Reggie Bush, and a serious bone to pick with two losses in the last two years against the Bears — one a NFC Divisional Playoff upset.  Next up, Green Bay — historic rivals who, no doubt, would love to spoil a Bear playoff run.  Finally, you have a Houston team which the Bears should not even THINK about until they have beat both Green Bay and New Orleans and the Vikings have lost to Atlanta.

So… speculate all you want, they don’t deserve to win the division.  Why?  Because they’ve had TWO chances to do so within a month, and they’ve failed.  WHY DO WE WANT TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS ANYWAY?

To get blasted by whomever we play?  To give the Bears Franchise an excuse not to make any major shake-ups in the off season? To get a higher draft pick?  Seriously, why?


NFL Power Rankings and No Love for Team X

October 1, 2008

Leave it to Bristol Connecticut-based ESPN to release a Week 5 Power Ranking that puts the entire NFC East Division in the top ten: New York Giants (1), Dallas Cowboys (3), Washington Redskins (6), and the Philadelphia Eagles (9), while their troubled .500 Patriots still get to linger near the NFL elite.

Obviously, the Giants look hella-good right now but prime-time darlings, the Cowboys, are over-rated as usual. The Redskins did well in Week 4 by beating Dallas but in my opinion, that should devalue “Americas Favorite Team” more than improve Washington’s standing. Keeping Philly in the top 10 after their loss to the Bears is also strange — granted they were sans Brian Westbrook, but that injury situation won’t be resolved before the next kickoff.  What’s more, shouldn’t the Eagles loss to an out-of-conference 1-2 team sink the East’s much-vaunted elite status?  Guess not.

 ***

Let’s do some abstract math. Let’s call a team, “Team X“. Mind you, this is all hypothetical…

Here is how Team X had fared so far:

  • Week 1: Beats #17 Ranked team (away)
  • Week 2: Loses to #7 Ranked team by 3 (away)
  • Week 3: Loses to #10 Ranked team by 3 in OT (home)
  • Week 4: Beats #9 Ranked team (home)

By these stats alone, where would you rank Team X? A team that has beaten the #9 and #17 teams, and has narrowly lost to the #7 and #10 teams. Well, certainly not at #18th (ranked BELOW the two teams they have defeated), right? RIGHT?!?!?! 

 ***

Purely coincidentally, Team X is exactly where the Chicago Bears find themselves in these rankings. As a local fan, this is very off-putting. The Bears are a 2-2 team, ranked 18th, which seems about right until you compare who sits above and below them…  They remain in the lower tier of .500 teams, just above the Jets (19), and Cardinals ( 20), with the 49ers (22) and Falcons (24) bringing up the rear.  What’s MORE questionable in the rankings is the SEVEN two-win teams ahead of them, and even a sub-.500 club, the 1-2 Colts (17), still ahead of them. 

What’s going on? You lose two games by the margin of a field goal to two top-10 teams (Bucs, Panthers) then you beat the Eagles and you wind up below ALL FOUR of them in the rankings?! It makes very little sense outside the NFL Buzz Bubble.

Meanwhile NFC North Rivals, the Favre-less (and now Rodgers-less) Green Bay Packers sit at #15 in the power rankings. The Pack went 2-0 early after two divisional games, beating the sputtering Vikings and lowly Lions. Then they lose to the Cowboys (who narrowly beat the Eagles), and then lost decisively to the Buccaneers, winding up at 2-2.

Would you not think that (*ahem*) Team X should be ranked above them? Considering Team X‘s wins came at the hands of lesser opponents and their losses were to teams that are on-par with those Team X has played. No?  Well then, you must live around Bristol.

***

For instance, the dude over at BeatPaths has a different way of visually-representing NFL Power Rankings which is easy to read, and even, dare I say, borders on functional art.  I’m really enjoying this site:

BeatPaths’ Post Week 4 Visual Ranking:

2008-4-Nfl-Clean

The site ranks team SOLELY on record, eliminating and subjectivity, and ranking teams directly based on two criteria: Number of wins & number of losses. It goes futher by color-coding the teams by divison, so if you’ll note, the NFC East is strong (but not ESPN strong), and the AFC North is being dragged down by the horrible play of both Ohio teams.  Meanwhile, the mediocre NFC North is just that — at about 5th/6th Tier with both 2-2 teams sitting alongside most other 2-2 teams.

These rankings are based on “beat paths” (strings of teams which successivly beat one another), and “beat loops” (groups of teams which have both won or lost to eachother).  

The divisional aspect comes into play because only teams in the save division play eachother twice in the regular season, “beat loops” in which teams split their divisional  help give us insight on how competetive each individual division is.  Click here for more details.

Also, the peeps over at BeatPath were inspired to do there thing because they have the same issues I have with subjectivity:

Seems like all the other major power ranking lists out there are in this category. A sportswriter or a committee applies their subjective judgment to all the teams and ranks them however the hell they want. You’ll see huge changes in the lineup every week because of the upsets. The main flaw with these lists is that they aren’t scientific, have huge variance in week-to-week performance, and aren’t really reflective of the overall quality of a team.

 Rah-rah, BeatPath.  Please meet my “Add To Favorites” button.


Take Heart Brett…

August 7, 2008

you could’ve wound up in Minnesota.


Favre and The Bears, Cont’d.

July 31, 2008

The rumor mill is still working overtime about Favre in a Bears any uniform but a Packer one.  And hey, with the Go Sox just picking up Ken Griffey Jr. today, maybe it’ll be a new trend to pick up all stars five years past their prime.

ChicagoSports.Com just got in on the action with a column “Is This Shirt a Good Fit?,” by David Haugh.  Haugh makes some good points, though the article is mainly speculation illuminated by fluff.

I love the mention that “a Packers source close to the situation replied, ‘Not a chance,’ when asked if a scenario existed where Favre could be wearing the hated blue and orange this season.”   Ha ha ha.  Why not?  As Haugh point out, a half-year ago would anyone believe the Packers would be actively trying to marginalize Favre — keeping the face of the organization, the heart of Green Bay, and the sole reason for a successful Packer decade on the sideline in favor of an unproven QB with a questionable haircut?

Haugh also makes a good point that the Packers last year (sans-Favre) were a more dismal looking team than the Bears were last year, or will be this year:

A year ago at this time, the Packers’ offensive line looked as shaky as the Bears’ does now, with at least two positions considered question marks. Their wide receivers included Donald Driver, but the rest were as green as their home jerseys, similar to the Bears’ group that will report to Bourbonnais on Tuesday. And please don’t even mention the running backs the Packers started last season with before Ryan Grant emerged—nobody would recognize their names if you did… Somehow, Favre unified the group of misfits into an offense eventually respected and feared. His quick release made the offensive linemen better pass protectors. His ability to read coverages made his young receivers more open. His implied deep threat opened things for the running game.

Brett.  C’mon south.  Enjoy the city.  Maybe you and Griffey will hit it off.