Thursday, September 9, 2010

NFL Picks

It's Aaron Rodgers' world and we're just living in it.

This is really going to be a rare occurrence for the three regular readers of The People Say Booyah: a very short column.

I had a really elaborate plan to do the Frequently Asked Questions style column that I did for the NBA free agency review and then…I didn’t have any time. I’m too busy to throw 5,000+ words together in a coherent fashion.

This forces me to just do straight picks for the divisions and Super Bowls, while I will throw in a couple blurbs for the teams that deserve it (playoff teams in italics).

NFC East:
1. Dallas Cowboys (11-5): Please stop overreacting to preseason. It pains me to say but Tony Romo is really, really good. They have a defense with playmakers. The only concern should be this face.
2. New York Giants (10-6): If the defense is half-decent, the growth and maturation of Eli Manning over the last few years should propel them back to the playoffs.
3. Washington Redskins (9-7): I don’t care what their offensive line or receivers look like: Donovan McNabb wins and he wins no matter what is around him. He’s done it his whole career. With a solid defense, they’ll get the second wildcard.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (6-10): Don’t believe what Andy Reid or brainwashed Philadelphia radio hosts tell you: this team is rebuilding, and another thing: this team stinks. There are questions at quarterback, a horrendous offensive line, and a defense that struggled last year. Where are the positives? Look forward to the Aaron Rodgers air show in week one.

NFC North:
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3): Speaking of Mr. Rodgers aka Kevin Durant of the NFL aka my personal man crush, expect him to win the MVP. He may set records. I paid an inordinate amount of money for him in my auction draft. I had them going to the Super Bowl last year, so you can probably imagine how far I think they’ll go this year.
2. Minnesota Vikings (8-8): Brett Favre will return to his interception prone self without Sidney Rice.
3. Chicago Bears (5-11): Jay Cutler+ Mike Martz + a bad offense line= 5-11
4. Detroit Lions (3-13): Give them two years and they’ll be very dangerous.

NFC South:
1. New Orleans Saints (11-5): With Drew Brees, they will always be in contention. Especially in this crappy division
2. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
3. Atlanta Falcons (7-9): Don’t buy the hype: the defense is suspect and Michael “the burner” Turner is burned out.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14)

NFC West
1. San Francisco 49ers (5-11)
2. Seattle Seahawks (5-11)
3. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
4. Rams (4-12)
Is this above scenario possible? Probably not but when you’re dealing with the worst division in the history of sports, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! Whenever you are being Sold Derek Anderson and Alex Smith as the guys leading sleeper teams, something has gone horribly wrong. I pray this will be the last time I ever write about these four teams this year.

AFC East
1. New York Jets (11-5) I was really high on the Jets last season. Watching Rex Ryan on Hard Knocks only made it better. Having Revis Island in the fold makes it even better.
2. Miami Dolphins (10-6): Chad Henne is good and everyone will realize this.
3. New England Patriots (8-8): I know Bill Belichick is a genius but his defense has no talent and he’s not spying on anyone anymore, so how are they going to stop people?
4. Buffalo Bills (1-15)

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): If they can play .500 ball without Big Ben, he’s going to come back and light the world on fire.
2. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): I don’t entirely trust Joe Flacco or Anquan Boldin’s health, but Ray Rice is a bad man. Oh, and they still have Ray Lewis
3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): Dear everyone: Carson Palmer hasn’t been good since 2007.
4. Cleveland Browns (3-13)

AFC South
1. Indianapolis Colts (12-4): The last time they won less than 12 games, America just gained independence from England.
2. Houston Texans (8-8): I like Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson and nothing else.
3. Tennessee Titans (8-8): They can’t run Chris Johnson on every play.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)

AFC West
1. San Diego Chargers (9-7): AJ Smith is an idiot.
2. Oakland Raiders (5-11)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)
4. Denver Broncos (2-14): Josh McDaniels is a giant idiot.

Super Bowl Pick
Packers over Jets

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Adjusting to Life with Kevin Kolb

Life as an Eagles fan has changed
with Kevin Kolb on board.
The writing was on the wall in 2007. The Eagles decided against getting immediate help in the draft, traded out of the first round with the Cowboys, giving a hated rival an impact player who made big plays in the playoff debacle this past January (Anthony Spencer), and drafted some quarterback from Houston that no one had heard of. Donovan McNabb had to know right then and there that he was not going to finish his career as an Eagle.

And even though there were still some magical moments left (the late season run in 2008 that should have culminated in a Super Bowl berth. Alas…), it wasn’t going to change that. McNabb would wear another team’s jersey.

Even though we’ve had three years to prepare for this, having the team turned over to Kevin Kolb doesn’t seem quite right, especially to a McNabb guy like myself. This is McNabb’s team, the franchise he helped to build almost singlehandedly on offense (to look back at some of the receiving corps from the early aughts is an exercise laughter, pain and front office incompetence. The Eagles would have been better suited starting horse dung at WR. At least dung could beat a press). He won a ton of games and got to the playoffs a lot. Simply put, he is the greatest player in Eagles history and you won’t convince me differently.

But that is all in the past, and Corn on the Kolb (yes, this is how I will refer to Kevin Kolb from now on. Deal with it) takes the reins of a team that could have been poised to make yet another run at a championship with that other guy. Everything about this Eagles season rests on his shoulders.

Yeah there are major defensive questions and there is an offensive line that can’t block J-Woww (Jason Peters is officially my least favorite Eagle ever, surpassing James Thrash, Todd Pinkston and Mark Simoneau. I hate Jason Peters. He only played well for two quarters for the whole season, in the first Dallas game, and then promptly got injured. Any half-decent defensive end consistently beats him. Ralphie May would be a better choice at left tackle. At least we got him in a bargain basement deal. Wait, we’re paying him $60 million dollars? And traded a first-round pick? @#%&!). But if Corn on the Kolb is good, the Eagles will be good. Good quarterbacks are always in contention. Period.

So, is Corn on the Kolb good? Andy Reid has gone out on the limb for this guy, risking his job if this guy stinks (That is the underrated part of this trade. Not that Reid had the arrogance to trade McNabb within the division. That’s the Reid I know. But for him to put his career and job security on the line for a guy with four touchdowns and seven interceptions either shows that he is the most arrogant coach to never win a championship in the history of sports or he really believes that Corn on the Kolb is really good).

It’s obviously a question we can’t answer now. I’m not going to judge him on his limited mop-up duty (where he stunk), two starts last season (where there were flashes) and underwhelming preseason (where the entire team stinks). That’s not right. But there are a few things we do know. And everything is now different surrounding the Eagles.

First of all, there is the perception of what Kevin Kolb is as a player. He is the more traditional west-coast offense quarterback. He doesn’t have the huge arm of McNabb but he is more accurate and better suited for Reid’s offense which will focus more on underneath routes and YAC (which is really bad for DeSean Jackson fantasy owners. At 5’11”, 98 pounds, Jackson isn’t really suited to be running the slants and other short routes over the middle. He’s too small. He won’t last. Without the guy who bombs away deep, Jackson’s production will suffer. You watch). He has a quick release, doesn’t hold the ball, blah blah blah. But then again, he doesn’t have the mobility to escape the rush and make the big plays downfield. But again, too early to judge what he does and doesn’t have.

But off the field is where this gets fascinating. He has a “fiery” demeanor, a “competitive spirit”  he takes the game so seriously, he’s willing to get in someones face, and all the other clich├ęs that give Mark Schlereth orgasms. This comes in stark contrast to what we had with #5. McNabb was loosey-goosey, always joking, and one his lasting images will be smiling at Tampa Bay linebackers in the 2001 playoffs, which people made a big deal about, but I could care less (I will, however, not miss the throwing up the field. Washington can have that).

Which brings us to the heart of life with Kevin Kolb: the fans. Eagles fans will eat that stuff up. Even if Corn on the Kolb throws an interception, they’ll enjoy seeing him get frustrated on the sideline. If a receiver drops a pass, they’ll be happy to see him get angry at the guy. He is the complete opposite of McNabb. The difference between the two makes them excited.

Everyone knew what they were getting in McNabb. The Eagles would be highly competitive in the regular season, challenge for the division title, maybe get a bye and make some moves in the playoffs. However, those moves probably wouldn’t include a Super Bowl title, because after 11 years, they hadn’t.

And people were sick of the monotony of competitiveness (which probably sounds really strange to a Browns fan). It was like the Tiger Woods-Elin Woods partnership. Tiger, the Eagles fans, knew they had a pretty good thing in Elin or Donovan. She was good-looking, gave us some good moments, and when we walked in the room, people knew that we were big time. However, Tiger/Eagles fans got bored by that. He wanted to dabble in something else, get a little change, even if it was something not as attractive, for the sole purpose that it was different. Tiger (Eagles fans) don’t have some contrived problem like a deep-seeded hatred for Donovan or a sex addiction, just a longing for a new excitement.

And that’s why so many people are behind the move. They reached that Tiger level of boredom: “Yeah this is great, but I need something new and I could care less if it’s a grenade.”

And it’s exactly why I’m not behind the move. Why trade away annual playoff appearances? Why give up on an era prematurely? In the playoffs, anything can happen: what if this is was the year? Why go out and grab Rachel Uchitel when you have a hot Swede?

I kind of liked the fact that the team was predictable. I think it’s kind of exciting to always be in contention. Yeah the frustration sucks. Yeah the frustration may get the best of me and I may or may not write some things sharing the sentiments I now loathe. But when the season got close to starting I had that satisfaction of knowing that my team would be good. Not the best, but good. So again, why?

You do it because there is the chance that this could turn out like the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie/Jen Anniston triangle. Obviously Pitt upgraded when he went with Jolie: she makes major bank, keeps the profile astronomically high with the humanitarian stuff and is one of the five biggest stars, period. What if McNabb is Anniston and becomes a complete wreck after the breakup? What if Kolb is Jolie and ready to take life to the next level?

That uncertainty that some people find exhilarating, I think sucks, which puts me in the weird position of maybe/maybe not rooting for the Eagles with my full heart. On the one hand, I’m an Eagles guy through and through, with memorabilia all over my dorm room and a fan since Papa West first explained to be the down system in 1998 as Bobby Hoying was throwing interceptions. But on the other hand, I (like my aforementioned father), want to see the Eagles have to pay for their arrogance. For believing that it is their own brilliance that keeps this team going from year to year. For trading the only quarterback I’ve really known and ending a successful era well before McNabb was done as a quarterback.

But at the end of the day, the Eagles come first (the only time I’ll root against them is when McNabb returns to Philly. I hope he goes crazy. Like Paris Hilton on cocaine crazy). Corn on the Kolb will have my support. I’ll give him the chance to be the next great QB. I’ll give him the chance to be a crappy QB. Uncertain is life with Corn on the Kolb.