Best NFL Sunday... Ever!
December 09, 2013
It can't even be close. There's only one problem: nobody has been keeping a very good, detailed list, soooo I'm not sure what would be #2.
But my goodness, Sunday was so incredible, it reminded me of two immutable truths...
NFL football is so awesome a televised sporting product, that because the games are almost always down to the last second, and the utterly bizarre ways to win or lose are so myriad...
1. You can't f*** it up. Even though NFL owners seem to be trying real hard. (Hint: they can't).
2. As a frequent critic of everything involved with "Point #1" above.... well... whatever. I can't quit it. And neither can you. Sign me up for 10 more years of Sunday Ticket. Price is no object.
Then, you throw in some snow. All over the bleeping place!
Had to be the SNOWIEST Sunday in league history, and I am pretty sure somebody at ESPN's "Nerd Factory" is going to research that and have our answer by mid-week.
Thanks Al Gore!
- Amazing Finishes
- Horrible Calls on simple rules we accept
- Random application of horrible rules everybody hates
- Off-field soap operas
- Big hits
- Elimation Pools
And best of all, Ed Hochuli asking.... nay... DEMANDING... that somebody get out here right now and blow the goal-line!
Ahem. Well, he *sorta* said that.
NFL records fell on Sunday all over the place...
LeSean McCoy broke Steve Van Buren's single game rush record with the Eagles set in 1949.
Matt Prater finally took down Tom Dempsy's 63 yard field goal mark. And altitude be damned, it was f***ing freezing in Denver, so I think there's no asterisks to be hung on it.
And surely the DEPTH of the snow in Philly (almost 8 inches) is the deepest I've ever seen for an NFL game.
Obviously, the league would love something sorta like the Philly game in New York for the Superbowl. But they might get just frostbite and wind. Or numbing rain.
We shall see...
Things here in Washington D.C. are about to get nutty. I don't really have any great desire to adjudicate this 3-way idiot's-spat between Danny, Shanny, and SuperBob. But, alas, this is the job.
So, yeah. Who leaked the Shanahan "office cleanout" story, almost a full YEAR after the fact? Gee, take a guess? Who wants to get fired - right now, to get a jump on other vacancies - while pinning his own abysmal record on a meddling owner and a diva QB?
Shanny is a beady-eyed, excuse-making weasel, and his true colors, in full plumage, are being shown now. He's done here, and he's done league-wide. Mark my words. The best paragraph came from this awesome nuclear blast of a column from veteran Skins opinion man Tom Boswell in the Washington Post.
In the Great Snyder Depression, there have been many low points. He fired Schottenheimer in part because he just didn’t like him, even though he’d won eight of his last 11 games. Then he hired Spurrier, who lasted only two years, then phoned in his resignation from a golf course. Some thought that the bottom was when the only human Snyder and his pet general manager, Vinny Cerrato, could get as head coach was a position coach, Zorn, who thought the teams colors were maroon and black.
But none of that, apparently, was the true and absolute bottom. Out-of-work Kremlinologists who now study Ashburn, Va., will someday determine whether Shanahan really wants to be fired so he can get the first shot at the open Houston coaching job and take his son, Kyle, a successful offensive coordinator there in ’09-10, with him to a safe harbor and, perhaps, a No. 1 overall draft pick. After all, the Texans are the only team in the NFL with a worse record than Washington. Or maybe “fired” ensures him more of the $7 million for ’14 that he’s owed, whereas “I quit” squanders it.
Ka-boom. Read the whole thing. It's museum quality
. Boz had the stones to ask Shanny: "So, you're only going to answer questions about things you want to talk about today, is that it?"
Of course, I hesitate to piledrive Shanny too much, because as Bos mentions above - IT ALWAYS ENDS BADLY WITH DANNY COACHES! Except Gibbs, who left suddenly and was of no help at all in finding a decent successor.
All I know, is LOOK at that graphic ESPN worked up for the story. Could they make Danny or Shanny look like any bigger shitheels? Good work, graphics department.
You watch enough football, and you start to see patterns. The way Cleveland lost was typical. Up by a "safe" 12 points vs. the Pats with just over 2:00 to play, the Browns decided to ONLY rush 4 players against one of the most lethal QB's in history. Brady had plenty of time to scan and throw, and went tic-tac-toe down the field almost exclusively to Julian Edelman for a TD to close the gap to 5.
After the on-side kick (the first one the Pats had recovered since 1995!) you would think the Browns would learn their lesson and at least rush 5. Wrong. On the controversial PI call that set-up 1st and goal, look at the comical fact that the Browns STILL had three warm bodies trying to cover a no-name scrub like Josh Boyce.
To no avail. Surely smart d-coordinators would look at that and say "you know, if we just rushed one more guy" this dude would still not be any more "covered" than with three DBs.
The same thing happened in the Vikings-Ravens game, where you can see here the comical MIS-APPLICATION of bodies to defend a game winning pass with :10 left.
It's like coaching DOGMA, that "thou shalt NEVER rush more than 4 guys" to make sure you have all the empty field covered with bodies.
Flacco on that play dropped back comfortably, looked at his options comfortably, and then thre the game winning dagger.... comfortably.
And I suspect this nonsense will continue. Most NFL coaches are creatures of habit, superstition and fear.
CzabeVegas 2014 is OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!
December 06, 2013
Can't wait to see everybody in March! Year 5, and this one will be, I am certain, the BEST ONE EVAH!www.czabevegas.com
Book now, don't dawdle!
Makes a great Christmas gift!
Congrats to Paul Gawronski! Champion of the Cover5 College League!
December 05, 2013
For the first year, we organized a college Top-25 league for the addictively awesome Cover5 game.
It was a lot of fun.
And, I sucked at it.
My initial boffo 80 point week, led me to believe I was going to be a CONTENDAH all the way to the end.
However, I quickly found out that I had no good feel for when it actually made SENSE to lay a whopping 34.5 points with a college team that is about to win 76-3, or not.
My season started to get wobbly and then unravelled completely in a disastrous -60 point Week 10. Such high hopes early, only to be dashed with the cold water of reality, that I was simply NOT.THAT.GOOD., not unlike a typical Clemson Tiger campaign.
I shall remain undaunted, though, and look forward to next year.
In the meantime, all hail Paul Gawronski, who survived a -22.5 point closing week to squeek out a 3 point victory in the end. That's Cover5 for ya, kids! Every game, every point matters, RIGHT TO THE END!
And for the "place" and "show" ponies Michael Oswald and Ryan Elwell, they will no doubt be thankful for their nominal prize payouts compared to the big one, they will certainly agonize for some good long time about double-disasters of -40.5 and -41.5 in the final week of play.
Once again, that's Cover5!
For Mr. Gawronski, it's gonna be a ho-ho-ho-MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Now, stay tuned to this space next week, for a very cool Cover5 College BOWL SEASON game!
Animals Don't Give Two S***'s About Roger Goodell's "Heads Up Tackling" Program
December 05, 2013
I defy you not to spend many minutes watching these.
No chance. You will watch. You will laugh.
And I am pretty sure none of these little toddlers ended up on the season ending PUP-list after these collisions.
They're kids. It's like they are made of rubber!
/ht Gawker.com who had an even longer collection of more animal/human hijinks here
Inside The World of "Mean" Gene Steratore: The 2nd Best Ref in the NFL (Behind Eddie "Pipes" Hochuli)
December 04, 2013
Okay, please don't chortle when I say this, because I mean it with full force and candor."This is when Peter King is at his best."
In fact, if I were at SI.com, I would convince Pete to give up trying to make week-to-week sense of a sport - the NFL - which clearly eludes his comprehensive grasp, and instead just write features like this one.
Interesting. Well written. Thorough.
Dare I say, "lofty."
Pete, get yourself a triple-cap mocha latte for this one. On me.
My favorite line from Steratore about officiating in the NFL:
“This business is a tinderbox. You’re walking on a cliff on every play. I want to make sure we get the fouls everyone sees. My belief is you go fishing for whales in this business. Don’t go fishing for minnows.”
While I find it laudable that the NFL prohibits officials from even taking a SIP of alcohol in the 24 hours prior to a game they officiate - and even frown on a post-game beer with the crew after a job well done - the league still somehow lets Jeff Triplette amble around and fuck up NFL games left and right while exhibiting all the urgency and focus of your typical DMV worker.
Read the whole thing. It's magnificent, nerdy, ref-obsessed goodness.
Who Exactly, IS This Woman?!
December 03, 2013
Because, I find her oddly.... hot?
Is she the NFL's designated "chain gang supervisor/hall monitor?"
And what is she saying here. Something tells me, there's a bad word involved, given Jeff Triplette's crew's massive screw up at the end of the SNF game.
And if I find her vaguely "hot"... then what is wrong with me?
December 02, 2013
Gonna be really, really hard to bring this guy back next year after last night.
While it's generally a stupid idea to base hiring/firing decisions on largely meaningless games at the end of lost seasons, the fact remains that particularly bad losses can often prove fatal to head coaches.
If you still had faith as a Redskins fan in The Shanahii, then surely your faith has been shaken to it's core.
In short, it's hard to make a list of what the guy does WELL any more.
Certainly not roster assembly. Certainly not motivation. Certainly not in-game tactical decisions, clock management, or instant replay challenges.
Yes, his offensive concepts, by and large, remain a proven commodity. But what in the hell is he doing with this particular quarterback? It remains a mystery to me.
If he, or his son Kyle really thinks we'll be running zone-read-option-pitch plays 3, 4, 5 years from now, then they are fucking crazy. Those who have screamed that this is the "offense of the future" continue to miss the point.
Winning in the current, modern NFL, is predicated on essentially one thing: the ability to pass the ball downfield. As efficiently as possible.
The better you are at downfield, vertical, strikes, the easier it becomes to win.
And this doesn't even account for injuries to your most valuable player, the QB. Even if RG3 were an indestructible zone-read robot, this offense would still be a waste of time.
It doesn't mean I don't want all traces of it scrubbed from the playbook.
Keep these pistol, zone-read "looks" in there, and then use them judiciously. Goal-line. 4th and 2. Not as a obligatory pre-cursor to play action passing in the first quarter on your own 30 yard line.
So I now have to wonder: "What DID the Shanahii see in RG3 when they loaded the sacrificial pyre of #1 picks and light them on fire for him?"
Did they claim to see "the future" of NFL offenses, and wanted to run zone-read-option from the jump, and stick with it for years and years and years?
Did they see a 2-3 year "project franchise QB" (if there is such a creature) who would need to be slowly nursed into a pocket passer?
Or were they surprised at some things he could not yet do, and have been "winging it" ever since he landed here in town?
I don't know, and I'm not convinced that THEY know either!
And of all the sins a coaching regime can commit in the NFL - Shanny's pathetic 24-36 record not included - the worst sin is not having a coherent and sensible PLAN for your most important player.
Whatever that plan is, I'm sorry, I don't see it.
Worse yet is the relationship seems hopelessly poisoned. Part of which, may well be the fault of an image obsessed signal-calling diva.
It doesn't matter. He's who you got.
You need to coach him, mold him, manage him, and even suffer him through it all. You bought him. He's yours. Too late to complain if he's not compliant enough for your liking.
At the least, Griffin needs a truly independent offensive coordinator to be his best friend and mentor, a "good cop" counterbalance to the "bad cop" of big Mike.
That "obviously" (as Shanny likes to say) cannot be the coach's under-resumed son. It just can't. Sorry, Kyle.
Sadly, all of this only represents a portion of the team's problems. The roster is too stuffed with bad ideas, patches, and purchased, aging free agents. Watching this team run around, compared to watching other teams in the league run around, the only word that comes to mind is… "feh."
So do you really want Shanny back for a 1 year "prove it to me" final installment of his original contract?
But I'm also not convinced this owner and this franchise even knows HOW to make a decent hire. Aside from pushing a massive pile of money at a recently fired coach with two Super Bowls, the last time they tried to hire somebody they ended up with Jim Zorn.
Can they hire a hungry, non-celebrity coach (ala Bruce Arians or Mike McCoy) and then stand back and let him do his thing, create his culture, and operate the team without undermining him?
I have my doubts. But I am pretty sure we're about to find out.
When you have gone 0-5 on night games, when the stadium is half empty, when you have a 14-0 lead on a truly fetid opponent like the Giants and get swamped 24-3 after that…. well… then next year becomes a distinct MARKETING problem if Mike Shanahan is still on your media guide cover.
And there's one thing we know about this franchise: marketing always has a say at the table, no matter what might look like a purely "football" decision.
I've Always Wanted To Do Radio With A Former TE and Master Potter….
December 01, 2013
…. and now… my dreams have ALL COME TRUE!
Enjoy this nicely shot piece on my new radio buuuuuuddy, Christopher Cooley.
Not sure if the Washington Post shooting web videos is necessarily the path to profitability again in the paper business, but they are doing it. And if you want the "word story" to go with it, you can read it here.
Why I'm Thankful...
November 30, 2013
For parents, and a family... like this.
I was lucky enough to get a hold of the Czaban Family Archives in advance of my parents' 50th anniversary this summer. My pops did a great job of documenting things - often, ordinary things - along the way when I was little. And my mom, was and is, simply the best.
I am so lucky that both are alive and thriving, and living nearby to dote on our daughters and spoil them rotten.
If you ever wanted to see the backstory of my upbringing and why I jokingly call them the "mean streets" of McLean, Virginia... well here's the definitive documentary.
I hope everyone who reads this blog, also had a great Thanksgiving.
And if your parents are still alive and in your life, enjoy every minute with them.
And for your kids, take lots of pictures and video. They mature with age and become priceless family artifacts.
Get. Better. Players.
November 26, 2013
Sometimes, the simplest message is the most true.
Like Chick-fil-A's brilliantly minimalist marketing strategy, in the NFL there is no substitute for getting better players.
And despite all the problems with the Redskins right now - too many to truly list - the biggest problem remains as boring and old as the NFL hills: poor talent.
Griffin can improve. Shanahan can be fired. Those things will run their course.
Getting mo' better players, however, takes time and a persistent strategy.
Nothing sexy or quick about it.
Here's all that really matters about the Redskins right now. Going into the Vikings game 3 losses ago, the team was staggeringly healthy. All 22 of it's Week 1 starters on both sides of the ball, were suited and ready to go.
And they lost the next three.
If you were to rate each player as follows...
++ = NFL elite, All-Pro
+ = Very good, Pro Bowl Caliber
0 = A decent player, no more, no less.
- = Less than average player
-- = Liability, should not be on roster
I would say the Redskins current roster has more "minus", or double-minus players than "plus" players by a factor of 2-to-1.
And I won't go through calling them out, because I think followers of the team know exactly who they are.
So in other words, the Redskins' roster - full of "minus" players - doesn't even have young backups who are pushing and taking over starting jobs.
Which makes the bench "double-minus" caliber talent.
Shanahan is eager to get at that sweet, sweet, salary cap money which will be finally be available this spring. Hell, he talks about it more than a teenager talks about the upcoming One Direction release.
But you can't buy more than a few decent guys with cap space.
The Rams have our first rounder this year, as final payment for RG3. It's looking like it might be Top-5, perhaps (gulp!) #1/#1.
That's sobering enough if Griffin were good this year, and the team was still bad due to other reasons.
But in my nightmares........ I see Joe Webb.
In my nightmares, I see the great RG3 Experiment morphing into a guy who is not much more than a "run around guy", still trying to pull miracles out of his Superman socks.
I still have faith, maybe stupidly, that this guy is smart enough, committed enough, and skilled enough to play the position at an elite level.
But he needs better coaching, a big dollop of humility (currently being installed by recent events and games) and... alas.... MORE. BETTER. PLAYERS.
Here are the notable screen shots from last night's game. None are comforting. Especially, the kick to the gonads!