Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems: The Cliff Lee Story

December 15, 2010

Remember when he was on Cleveland? 4 teams ago.

So, Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies much to the dismay of the Yankees and Rangers.  It seems that in the dying seconds, the Phils swept in and grabbed Lee with a 5 year deal.  Despite the fact that Lee took less years from Philadelphia in the offer that he accepted, he took what was the best deal overall.

Most of the articles written about this signing and many of the sports radio guys down here in the DFW (everyone but the Ticket) are groaning about the fact that Lee is giving up astronomical amounts of money to go to Philly.  The fact of the matter is, he isn’t.  Lee is still getting $24 mil a year for five years.  A sixth year is either going to be a vested $27 mil or a $12.5 mil buyout, so he basically has 6 years for at least $132 mil, if not $147 mil.  The Yankees offered him about $22.5 a year, the Rangers offered about $23 mil a year, but would not guarantee a seventh.  So…. In conclusion, they all offered roughly the same thing.  The seventh year did not matter, and Lee wanted to create a monster rotation for the Phillies.  Which brings us to….

Are the Phillies now the World Series favorites?

I am usually wrong in my predictions.  By that I mean, I have never been right, but I do not think Philadelphia is the strongest team in the Majors for 3 reasons:

1. Their Offense.
The Phils were 12th in the majors in batting avg. (which I take very little stock in), 13th in OBP, and 12th in slugging.  It is important to note that all of those numbers were good enough to be tops in the NL East.  In what is a big name offense who led the Phillies in OBP last year?  Carlos Ruiz.  OPS? Jayson Werth.

Ryan Howard’s walk numbers have plummeted since being named MVP in 2006, and his power numbers have fallen off as well (most likely a direct result using Dick’s Sporting Goods shit gear).  Jimmy Rollins hit .243 in fairly limited time.  If this offense stays healthy and returns to old form it is the best in the NL East, but with that rotation it is not about the East.  It is about a pennant… Which brings us to October and reason #2.

2. Recent Playoff History.

Projected top 4 in the Phillies rotation next year: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels. 
Anyone watch the playoffs last year?
NLCS- Giants beat the Phils in 6 games beating Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt in the process, but they didn’t have Lee.

World Series- The Giants beat the Rangers in 5 games beating one Clifton Phifer Lee not once, but twice in the process.

Maybe it was a team of destiny or some such nonsense, but they knocked around this dream staff pretty good.  No pennant for the Phillies.

Does adding Lee make them the team to beat in the NL?  Yes, probably, but….

3. There is a monster in the AL, too.

The Red Sox are the best team in baseball.  I was actually saying this before the acquisitions of Crawford and Gonzalez, but they just furthered the point.  Prior to the signing of Cliff Lee by Philly, the Sox had far and away the best staff in baseball.  Bucholz and Lester both had Cy Young caliber years last year.  Josh Beckett is a stud, and he is only 30, and John Lackey won 14 games in his 1st season with the Sox.  Say what you want about Dice K, but that is a pretty solid option at #5 (if ever healthy).

The Sox have a complete lineup, and a solid defense.  With that staff and those bats they have to be the preseason favorite.

With the Sox being so deep, and Cliff Lee (and his spit coated wife) going elsewhere, what are the boys in Bronx supposed to do?

Well, first thing’s first. Don’t shit your pants, Cashman.

Who knew George Costanza still worked for the Yanks?

Here’s to hoping that Brian Cashman does not feel a need to go out and flex his pinstriped nuts on the trade market.  The Yankees have actually been semi- prudent in holding onto prospects in the last couple of years, and it could pay dividends.  Their catching prospect, Jesus Montero has shown promise, and is poised to get time in throughout 2011.  Today’s acquisition of Russell Martin is hopefully not a sign that they are trying to make Montero expendable, but that would not surprise me in the least.

There are still a few guys available that could help the Yankees out a bit, but this might be a situation where they have to offer about 10 guys deals and have them compete.  They just signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal.  This is extremely low risk, but it would be nice to see him and Kerry Wood back together again.  Wood is someone they have to sign as he was invaluable down the stretch.

Amongst the other available names, Brandon Webb and Chris Young are the two that stick out, but neither is a proven commodity.  Jeff Francis might be a low risk lefthander to take a chance on, but only because there are no other lefty starters out there.

I would not be surprised to see them go out and grab Magglio Ordonez now that they have been snakebit by the other free agents.

There is still hope in the East for the Bombers as Tampa liquidated, but I don’t think a trade for an arm (Greinke) would be the answer right now.  Get Andy to come back and play one more year, something inside me wants to see the Yankees win(or lose) with their own guys for once.

Is Alexander Ovie-rated?

April 30, 2010

After netting only 1 of 24 shots in the deciding three games against the Habs, Ovechkin has to hear from his critics.

After watching the 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens bounce the NHL’s top team in the first round,  the Washington Capitals are stuck home watching the rest of the survivors vie for Lord Stanley’s Cup.  Not only did the Caps have more wins and more points than any other team in the regular season, they were also the most prolific goal scoring team in the league, yet this still wasn’t enough to beat a team who scored six less goals than they allowed this year.  After another playoff let down, we are left to ponder; is Alexander Ovechkin overrated?

While this may seem a preposterous question to ask of someone with so many individual awards, he wouldn’t be the first elite athlete forced to defend himself against a reputation as a playoff letdown.  His personal accolades are well known (NHL ROY, 2 Hart Trophies, 3-time all-star), but he can’t avoid the reality of his team’s playoff finishes.  The past three seasons, Ovechkin has led the Capitals to third, second, and first place finishes in the Eastern Conference regular season.  Yet, they’ve been upset each year, twice in the first round.  While this is a team effort, doesn’t the NHL’s best player bear the brunt of the responsibility?

Take the never-ending comparison of Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the superstar matchup the NHL loves, for example.  Statistically, Ovie is “better” if you simply look at goals scored and points totals.  But look deeper at their points/game averages, and Sid the Kid is better (he did miss 20+ games in 07-08).  Sid’s been in 2 Cups, winning last year.  Crosby doesn’t have to defend himself because he’s won in the playoffs.  Ovechkin hasn’t. Sure, one could argue that Crosby’s had a great supporting cast, citing Marian Hossa, Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin, not to mention solid goal play by Marc-Andre Fleury.  But that argument loses all merit when looking at what Ovechkin had to work with this year.  Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom were very good this year, and while their goalie play wasn’t fantastic in the playoffs, teams don’t win 54 games by accident.

All of this brings us back to Alexander the Great.  Everyone expects more from their superstar players in the playoffs.  When he showed up to play, the Caps won three games.  But the four losses?  Try one goal and one assist.  That’s not acceptable when the games mean the most.  Washington had a 3-1 series lead, yet let the 8th-seeded Canadiens storm back and take the series, limiting Ovie to 2 pts.  Should he be blamed?

A-Rod's just one superstar who had to face his critics, until he won a championship.

Let’s look at other sports for a comparison.  Alex Rodriguez is one of this generation’s best baseball players.  Before the ’09 playoffs, he had 553 HR and a career .306 average.  Yet he was labeled a choke and overrated by many around the league (Yankee fans included) for his epic playoff failures which included 2 series wins and no pennants in his career.  When he finally performed in the 2009 playoffs, his team won a World Series and the monkey was off his back.  Kobe Bryant ran Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers following a fruitful pairing that produced three titles in their time together.  Once O’Neal was gone, the pressure was on Bryant to show that he could win on his own.  On his first four years alone, he missed the playoffs, then two first-round losses, and a Finals loss, all while piling up individual awards and achievements.  Still, those didn’t matter until Kobe was able to conquer the Orlando Magic in 2009, to win his first championship as the leader of his team.  Finally, consider Peyton Manning’s reputation before winning Super Bowl XLI.  Two MVP awards, unbelievable statistics, superb regular season finishes, yet in nine career playoff games, Manning only had three wins to show for it.  It wasn’t until his Super Bowl win in 2006 that his status as the best could be cemented.  Those are three superstars who had to endure years of questioning whether they were only fantasy superstars and not playoff heroes, until they finally won big in the postseason.  Why should Ovechkin be immune?

Blue Duck Mock Draft 2010 (part II)

April 22, 2010

For picks 1-10, click here.

11 .Dez Bryant – WR – Den
Out with one receiver who has character issues, in with another.  Sure, Bryant’s never been arrested, but irresponsibility is a character issue too.  Whether it was showing up sans cleats for the biggest workout of his life or his inability to show up for class, Bryant is a timebomb.  He’s also head and shoulders above the field in terms of skill.  Josh McDaniels gambles his future on the hope that he can keep the kid on the straight and narrow.

12. Dan Williams – DT – Mia
Jason Ferguson is 35, suspended for the first 8 games of the season, and Paul Soliai isn’t the answer at the nose.  Williams is exactly the monstrous DT the Dolphins need to employ the 3-4 defense.  He’ll clog space and allow new toy Karlos Dansby to wreak havoc from the ILB spot.

13.  Joe Haden – CB – SF
Nate Clements is getting old and has been ready to shift to safety for a couple of seasons.  Best case scenario, Haden is ready to start by mid-season which will allow Clement to move to centerfield.  Worst case scenario, he’s one of the most talented nickelbacks in the league as a rookie.  That’s not such a bad thing when you’ve got to face the Cardinals twice, along with the Eagles, Packers, and Chargers in 2010.

14. C.J. Spiller – RB – Sea
Pete Carroll always had talented, speedy backs at USC who could run and catch.  The Seahawks roster doesn’t have anyone on the roster who can do either of those tasks very well, so Spiller is definitely the pick.  But “Spiller’s not an every-down back?”  Neither was Reggie Bush and Carroll used him well enough to grab him a Heisman.  As the premier recruiter in college football, the Trojans always had loaded backfields.  Carroll will find the correct role for Spiller to be a success.

15. Mike Iupati – OG – NYG
There’s a reason Eli Manning set career highs in yards, TDs, and sacks and it’s not because of the apparent fall-off by Brandon Jacobs.  It’s because their offensive line was a sieve, which didn’t allow their backs any space to run.  The Giants began a makeover last year by choosing UConn’s William Beatty and continue by beefing up the interior with Iupati.  He’a a low-key mauler from an underrated program, the exact type of player Tom Coughlin would love to coach.

16. Jason Pierre-Paul – DE – Tenn
Eleven years ago, with the 16th pick in 1999 Draft, the Tennessee Titans select: a 6’4”, 265lb athletic “Freak” to rush the passer.
With the 16th pick in the 2010 Draft, the Tennessee Titans select: a 6’5”, 270lb athletic freak to rush the passer.  Jason Pierre-Paul might not have the track record or the elite school competition to point to that says he’s going to be great.  But he’s got the makeup: speed, power, and elite upside.  Oh yeah, that “Freak” was Javon Kearse, he of speed, power, and 74 career sacks.

17.  Brandon Graham – LB – SF
Some scouts knock him for his short stature.  But Graham is good pass-rusher and plays with a high motor.  Sounds a bit like San Francisco’s coach Mike Singletary’s playing career right?  He certainly won’t hold build against production, something Graham showed plenty of as a Wolverine.

18.  Kyle Wilson – CB – Pitt
Landing in the middle of the pack in terms of passing yards per game allowed, Pittsburgh needs to retool in the secondary.  With no top-flight talent at corner, Ike Taylor turning 30, Pitt needs to bring in some young blood.  After winning 3 state championships in high school, excelling on the impressive Boise State team that lost only 5 games in his career, Wilson will be able to step into the Steelers winning culture and not skip a beat.

19. Derrick Morgan – DE – Atl
Pressuring the quarterback was an issue for Atlanta last year, totaling only 28 sacks as a team.  Adding Morgan, who can play DE or LB, will help in that regard.  Also, John Abraham is going to be 32 by the start of the 2010 season, so planning for the future is a need with this pick.

20.  Kareem Jackson – CB – Hou
After losing Dunta Robinson to free agency, cornerback is their most pressing need.  While all the analysts on ESPN say running back is the biggest need for the Texans, they were a top 10 scoring offense without much of a running game last year (ranked 30th).  Having to face Peyton Manning twice a year, the Texans need to do all they can to keep building their defense.

21.  Jermaine Gresham – TE – Cin
Earl Thomas should be the pick here, but Mike Zimmer seems to like Roy Williams in the secondary.  Given the talent outside in Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant, taking Gresham gives Carson Palmer the underneath option he needs.  Given his apparent lack of arm strength, Gresham could be a popular target in Cincinnati in year one.

For picks 22-32, click here.

Blue Duck Masters Preview

April 8, 2010


A tradition unlike any other…. Georgia Pines, Pimento Cheese, Undulating Greens, Magnolia Lane, yellow flagsticks, tight lies, and rich middle-aged white men in khakis and gay hats… did we mention the Azaleas.

There is nothing better than tuning into the Masters and listening to Mike Tirico and/or Jim Nantz’ opening monologues that make Shakespeare sound like a cold-hearted prick.  If there is a time for “over the top”, the Masters is the event.

Contenders– Westwood, Els, Paddy, Furyk- We hope he doesn’t contend bc its so damn boring, Goosen- great “fast green” putter, Poulter, Cabrera, Mickelson, Allenby- Augusta is known as a “second-shot” golf course and nobody hits mid irons better, Kenny Perry- I still cry thinking about last year, and- speaking of crying, Steve Stricker has to be a favorite.  Also, Ross Fisher-  who collectively, played better than anyone last year in the Majors.

Luke Donald has put on about 20 lbs in the last year and quietly become relevant again.  3 top 10’s in 8 events this year for the Brit who hasn’t 3 putted since 7th grade, literally.

Staying with the British theme, Ian Poulter’s loud pants and eye makeup should contend.

Sleeper Picks—Couples, Schwartzel/Oosthuizen, Duval, Ryan Moore, Jason Dufner…

I love Freddy, and the dirtbag has been lights out on the senior circuit shooting nothing above 68, and winning 3 of 4 events, but there will be one major element missing at Augusta that has been present for all his victories this year.  A golf cart.  I don’t see him contending for four days.

Brian Gay has had a pretty quiet season following up a breakout year in ’09, but has made 8 of 9 cuts and rarely misses a fairway.  On a second shot course, I always favor Mizunos hitting into slick greens.

Only one person has this wallpaper on their desktop, Brian Gay.

Its hard to call Sergio a sleeper, but, with his history in Majors, Ray Romano may be more of a favorite than the pouty Spaniard.  I just have a bad feeling that he will have a good week.

Tiger Returns–  After many weeks of in-patient therapy, aka A Build-Your-Own-Fleshlight-Kit and a Hooters Calendar, Tiger Woods is returning to professional golf at the Masters.  The Masters is THE week for golfers and golf fans.   There are roars for great shots, ovations for great men, and more fast food joints than you can shake your dick at  (If you shake your dick at fast food joints like we do).

Tiger has to be the favorite.  He plays his best when everything is on the line.  While most of us can barely even get the club back if more than 4 people are watching us tee off, Tiger will tee off on Thursday knowing everyone will be watching.  ESPN is showing his tee shot live more than two hours before their coverage even starts at 4pm.

Best Threesome of the Thursday/Friday lineups other than Tiger, Elin, and Jamie Jungers of course-

9:51am and 12:03pm are both open tee times.  I tried like hell to hook that up on, but that bastard Michael Breed was wrong about how easy it is to book.  I ended up calling Augusta direct, and getting a foursome on at 9:51 under the name ‘Donohue.’  I hope Chad Campbell, Francesco Molinari, and Paul Casey don’t mind slow play.

What the fuck is a Yonex? Even if its the worst club on earth, its better than Wilson Staff.

The Ernie Els, Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa is one of about 3 good tee times.  Kim and Els are coming off recent victories, and Ryo has a press following that rivals Tiger’s.

What to Expect. Augusta is a monster now (7,400 yards) and is not the wide open course that could really be played multiple different ways like it once was.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still the most beautiful, best put together course in the country, but it has lost some of what made it unique.

Tiger coming back is the biggest thing to happen to golf since Jesse Ortiz unveiled the Orlimar Trimetal.  And the return will take much of the attention off what could be the best event on tour.  No doubt, if you weren’t sick of the Tiger scandal already, you will be by Sunday.

Luke Donald wins after Sergio double bogeys on the first playoff hole.  Quiros third.

Tiger Speaks

February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods broke his silence earlier today, making a statement at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse. In an awkward display, Tiger apologized for his behavior, admitting to cheating, vowing to improve himself, and asking for the media to respect his family’s privacy.

Like a deer in headlights, Tiger took to the podium and spoke for 14 minutes before departing to return to rehab.  Luckily, a camera “malfunction” forced the feed to come from a side view of the embattled superstar, ending the robotic display he was putting on.

A quick analysis of his performance (afterall, that IS what this was):

  • While all of these golf “experts” swear that these were Tiger’s words, not those of a PR firm, I’m not buying it.  Mike Tirico, just because ESPN allows you to anchor golf coverage, spare me your “inside information”.  Rick Reilly? Please, you ceased relevance years ago, so save the analysis for ESPN the Mag.  You’re not much better in front of a camera (click links above to see him ruin SportsCenter).
  • Let’s be honest; Tiger didn’t write that speech.  In fact, when watching it, it appeared that he had been reading the statement for the first time on the air.  He awkwardly stumbled through parts of it, and it wasn’t because of emotion.  He’d pause and then look at his notes, realize his sentence wasn’t ended and try to power through.  One would think that if you were going to make a speech, you’d read it over a few times and be comfortable with it, right?
  • While there have been mixed reviews on his statement, let’s get one thing straight: No matter what he said, he was damned.  Damned if he glossed over the affairs, damned if he didn’t.  The golf community is up in arms because he didn’t announce his return to the tour, the pop community is up in arms because he didn’t divulge what steps his family is taking next.  But if he did, he’d be blamed for putting golf ahead of his problems or pandering to the media, looking for forgiveness.  So let’s not criticize what was said too much.  He’s in a no-win spot, and he gave us the obligatory apologize America apparently needed.  Let it be.
  • Finally, Elin wasn’t there.  Does this mean they aren’t working things out?  Who cares?  It’s their life, their problem, not ours.  In fact, I respect the fact that no matter what’s going on, she didn’t show up to feint support for the guy who cheated on her numerous times.  She can give him a chance to prove he’s changing, but she didn’t play the role of the “Politician’s wife”, showing up as the pathetic, weak woman who is standing by her husband because that’s what she’s supposed to do (see Edwards, Elizabeth, and Sandford, Jenny).  Kudos Elin, call me 🙂

My issue is with everyone criticizing Tiger and his scripted statement.  Listen, he’s a golfer, an athlete, but he’s human.  We’re so quick to tear someone down, but who built him up in the first place?  Let’s be honest, he’s not sorry for what he did; he’s sorry he got caught.  If the media hadn’t broken the story on Thanksgiving, maybe Elin wouldn’t have snooped on his phone, and he wouldn’t have gotten caught.  So let’s not kid ourselves here.  He’s sorry that his life got turned upside down.  Is that wrong? Yes.  Is what he did wrong? Probably.  Does it change my view on him as a golfer? No, and it shouldn’t change yours either.

What is he to us? A golfer.  He’s not our father or brother.  What he does on the course is all that should matter to us.  We pay to see him play golf, not for his personal life.  Does he need to be a saint to play golf? No.  Is he one of the best to ever grace a golf course? Absolutely. So to all those holier than thou people out there complaining about what he says/does, you’re just kidding yourselves.

Fast forward to a Sunday afternoon, with Tiger in the final pairing of a tournament; who’s going to win?  Who are you tuning in to see?  Certainly not Phil (tits) Mickelson or Sergio Garcia.  He didn’t “disgrace” his sport.  He didn’t cheat the sport.  There’s plenty of athletes who have betrayed their sports and they haven’t been villainized, so why should Tiger (See A-Rod/Big Papi)?

Bottom line: Tiger’s doing what he thinks he needs to do, be it for himself, his family, or the public eye.  But in the end, none of it matters.  He did what he did, he’s doing what he’s got to do.  Let’s just wait patiently for his return to the course, where he will reign again.  We’ll see who’s hating him when he comes back and wins a couple more majors.  I know I’ll be waiting.

It’s Time To Go Bobby Bowden

October 10, 2009
After 33 years and 2 National Championships, its time good ol Bobby steps aside.

After 33 years and 2 National Championships, it's time good ol' Bobby steps aside.

Florida State has been in the news a lot lately, but unfortunately it has nothing to do with the players or the performance on the field.  It’s all about the competence of Bobby Bowden as a football coach.  The Seminoles are 2-3 on season, including a disgraceful 0-2 in ACC play.  The ACC is no SEC or Big 10 or Big 12, it’s full of overrated teams with reputations based on their past, not current play.  The Seminoles record is where it should be, based on the talent they have.  The problem is the distraction Bowden is providing his program.

Bowden will forever be a legend in Tallahassee for winning national titles in 1993 and 1999.  He’s won a lot of Bowl games too, notching 11 W’s since 1991.  But take a closer look at his record and you’ll see that he hasn’t accomplished much in the past decade since his last title.  Since 2000, his teams have averaged 4.2 losses per full season (this year’s record not factored in).  In the current BCS climate, 1 loss can ruin a season and 2 surely ends one.  An average of 4 losses per season is not acceptable for a team that is typically a strong recruiter and ranks well in preseason polls.  Take into account they play in the woeful ACC, 4 losses is completely unacceptable.  The conference is weak, with only Virginia Tech being a consistent BCS bowl team.

Jen Sterger, FSUs hottest fan, is the only thing the Seminoles have to show for the past decade of football.  Maybe it was worth it after all?

Jen Sterger, FSU's hottest fan, is the only thing the Seminole's have to be proud of for the past decade of football. Maybe it was worth it after all?

Looking outside of their record, let’s examine what he brings to the program.  Experience?  Yup, few can compare with his.  Knowledge?  Up for debate, as his coordinators have been gaining more and more responsibility over the years.  This isn’t to say he’s not smart, but there’s no telling how much he has to do directly with gameplanning these days.  Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was signed to a contract a couple years back, giving him the head coaching gig when Ol’ Bobby steps aside.  apparently, there’s a clause in the contract that pays Fisher $5 million if he isn’t the coach by 2011.  This is fine, if they were producing and the ballcoach was looking to wrap up his career.  In fact, at the time it was signed, it looked like a coup by FSU because they locked up a talented younger coach and had a contingency plan in place for the day that Bowden called it a career.  Recruiting-wise, it was supposed to reassure athletes that they wouldn’t be subject to not knowing who their coach would be should the 70+ year old head coach retired.  Kids sign up for 4 years of football at a school, and part of a recruitment pitch is the coach being there for your entire ride (thus the ridiculous and overinflated 10 year contracts many college football coaches receive).

But as Fisher has gained this future guarantee, it’s been said that he’s also taken over control of the team and that he often doesn’t consult Bowden about team issues because he thinks it’s “his team”.  Sure, this might be a problem with Fisher, not Bowden, but let me explain.  Bobby’s more or less backed himself into a lame-duck corner by not committing to a long-term deal, only having a contract with apparently infinite one year options he can exercise each year.  With the uncertainty regarding his contact, the school had to lock up an heir apparent for recruiting purposes.

Furthermore, it appears that Bowden has lost control over his team in recent years.  He’s had players miss games for testing positive for drugs (WR Parker), fighting, and academic cheating scandals.  He had to vacate victories from ’06 and ’07.  Of course, players are responsible for their actions, but the coach needs to be able to judge character in addition to talent when recruiting.

Looking at this season alone, Bowden surely isn’t inspiring his team.  After the loss to the University of Southern Florida, Bowden laughed during his post-game press conference while he justified why his team lost.  “When they’re playing Western Kentucky, Wofford, and Charleston, they beat the heck out of ’em.  It’s hard, you’re just not sure of the people they’re playing, but (chuckling) they’re good, they beat the heck out of us,” Bowden said, “They whupped us.”  Is this an appropriate response when losing to a small school, at home, with a freshman quarterback, while rushing for only 18 yards?  The answer ought to be no.  To sit there and chuckle about the apparent fact that he overlooked this team because of who they’ve played previously is downright shameful.

Its too bad that Bobby Bowden is costing his team a chance to compete with the big shots in college football

It's too bad that Bobby Bowden is costing his team a chance to compete with the big shots in college football

Then there was the drama unfolding this past week.  The chairman of FSU’s board of trustees was reported to have been working behind the scenes to remove Bowden and appoint Fisher head coach this season.  And if Bowden didn’t step aside, it was rumored that they would have amended Fisher’s contract to give him authority to make personnel decisions once the season was over, thus allowing him to remove Bowden from his post.  This was denied, but not convincingly.

ESPN is running an interview with Bowden this weekend, asking him about the scandals.  He basically shrugs it off, saying he takes it “year by year” because of his contact options and “when you’re 40, you’re like ‘Oh my god’ but I’m 79, what do I have to lose?”  That statement right there is the essence of what is wrong with Florida State right now.  He doesn’t have anything to lose, he’s not hungry, and he’s not leading the team to their full potential.  It’s time for a change, as it has been for a while.  It’s just too bad that FSU’s 2009 season had to be wasted to find that out.  It’s never nice to see a legend leave, or be forced out, but sometimes you have to save a man from himself.  Be it pride, stubbornness, whatever, Bowden should have been gone a while ago.  Now he’s hurting the program he’s spent the past 33 years to build.  It’s time to go Bobby, do it for your team.

Buffalo @ Miami – A Fantasy Perspective

October 3, 2009
Will the Screen Machine run all over the Dolphins?

Will the Screen Machine run all over the Dolphins?

A 1-2 team versus a team with no wins, a fantasy showdown?  You got that right.  In fantasy sports, records and wins/losses don’t matter.  It’s all about stats and playing the right matchups week in and week out.  That’s why this week’s tilt between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins at the Landshark should be a gold mine for fantasy success.  Sure, the season long stats for both teams are not impressive.  Both teams have underachieved and have something to prove.  Let’s take a look at who should excel – from A Fantasy Perspective.

Must Start:

Look for the Dolphins to run the ball to give the new starting quarterback an extra second to breath on pass plays.

Look for the Dolphins to run the ball to give the new starting quarterback an extra second to breath on pass plays.

Ronnie Brown (RB) Miami – The Bills are 117.3 yards per game on the ground and the ‘Fins are running at a clip of 161.3 per clip.  That spells a perfect equation for the head of the Wildcat that Miami runs.  Brown is averaging 5 yards a carry and when he gets rolling, there’s no stopping him.  Don’t be worried about Ricky Williams.  Sure, he’s a factor and he gets his fair share of carries, but his upside is limited.  Brown’s is not.  Add in the fact that the Dolphins are trotting out a new QB who hasn’t started a game in his career, the Dolphins should be running to take the pressure off the Michigan alum.  All this should be enough reason to start Brown with confidence.  A nice bonus for fantasy owners is that the Bills will be without DT Josh McCargo, star LB Paul Posluszny and starting safeties Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott.

Fred Jackson (RB) Buffalo – While last year’s starting running back, Marshawn Lynch, returns from suspension, Jackson has carried the load for the Bills.  He hasn’t done anything to lose his role in the offense, by carrying the ball at a near 5 yard average, and by acting as Trent Edwards safety valve out of the backfield.  Even late last year, Jackson carved out a big role on the offense when Lynch was still there.  Expect the Bills to get Lynch involved, but at a gradual pace.  The Dolphins only allow 66 yards rushing per game, but don’t fear.  They allow teams to convert on third down 45% of the time.  Third down is the spot in the game Jackson definitely won’t cede to Lynch this week.  If you’re in a PPC league, Jackson should do extremely well for you.

Lee Evans (WR) Buffalo – Eight receptions, 88 yards, 1 TD.  In three games.  Ouch.  Perfect timing to travel to visit Miami, the team he absolutely owns.  He’s got nearly 700 yards in his career versus the ‘Fins.  With all the controversey over the weak offense in Buffalo, you’ve got to think Dick Jauron will open it up this week, right?  Right?!  I hope so, or else there might not be much hope for the WR corp in Buffalo this year.  Evans is a true burner, and he’s used that speed in the past against the Dolphins.  Look for him to get loose over the top and grab at least one deep ball for a TD.  The Miami defense got absolutely obliterated by the Chargers last week, and while the Bills aren’t in San Diego’s class offensively, they do have some weapons to use.  The only question is whether Jauron and Edwards are smart enough to use them.

Ted Ginn Jr (WR) Miami – Yeah, he’s been much worse than his stats show.  He’s got 13 receptions for 134 yard and no scores for the season.  He’s dropped a few sure touchdowns, and hasn’t earned the trust of Chad Pennington.  Luckily for him, Pennington’s gone and in steps Chad Henne.  The new qb doesn’t have the experience or accuracy Pennington does (few do), he does have twice the arm strength as Chad has ever dreamed about.  This plays to the strength of Ginn; pure speed.  With the starting safeties for Buffalo out, along with starting corner Leodis McKelvin, Ginn should be able to run free this week.  Dink and dunk is Pennington’s game, not Henne’s.  Look for him to go deep to the speedster off of playaction passing.  Ginn’s been wasting a roster spot on fantasy benches all season.  This is the matchup you want to use him.

Worth a Shot:

Terrell Owens (WR) Buffalo – If T.O. ever had a shot at getting his point across without outright saying it, this week is it.  He tiptoed that line of being a “good soldier” by not blaming anyone for the anemic offense, although during his press conference, his message was clear:  GIVE ME THE BALL.  Now, a coach should never cater to a player’s demands, in most cases.  This is a case where you need to feed the ball to the malcontent.  Not only will it prevent the epic tantrum that will come if he’s not used, its the right move to make for the team’s success.  T.O. is a great receiver and needs to be involved.  The ‘Fins were shredded last week, and T.O. is too good to be phased out.  Start him and hope that Trent Edwards and Co. do the right thing and get him the damn ball.

Chad Henne has been groomed for this moment since he was drafted a year ago.  Lets see that rifle in action.

Chad Henne has been groomed for this moment since he was drafted a year ago. Let's see that rifle in action.

Chad Henne (QB) Miami – Call me crazy, but I think it’s worth a shot.  The Bill’s secondary is short-handed and should be exploited.  Bill Parcell’s puppet, Tony Sparano, should be looking to take advantage of that and give the kid a shot.  He’s short on professional experience, but is by no means a novice.  He started four years at Michigan, when the Wolverines were still a premier program.  He holds school records for touchdowns, yards, attempts and completions, while playing with NFL caliber receivers (Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston).  He knows the Miami playbook front and back, and has been groomed for this moment since he was drafted.  He’s got the physical skills.  In a matchup against a defense with lots of fill-ins, this is a matchup worth gambling on.

Guys I’m Avoiding:

Anthony Fasano (TE) Miami – I really hope he’s not starting for your team.  There are a ton more productive tight ends in the NFL right now.  Each week, fantasy sites keep asking “Is this the week Fasano breaks out?”  The answer – NO.  He’s limited skills-wise, and he obviously isn’t an important part of the offensive gameplan.  With Jake Long’s early season struggles, look for him to stay in protection to help on Aaron Schobel and Kawika Mitchell’s pass rush.  Stay away from Fasano.

Maybe I’m insane for seeing this many bright spots in a game between bad teams.  They each have talent, but they’re not using it correctly.  Dick Jauron has proven many times he doesn’t understand the game of modern football, yet I still cannot believe he’s this oblivious.  His “Pop-Warner” offense needs to be opened up, everyone else knows it, let’s just hope he and Trent Edwards have figured it out too.  Evans is being wasted running curls and slants.  He needs to run go routes and posts.  Terrell Owens may have lost a step, but putting him in motion allows him to get separation.  These are simple adjustments to the gameplan, which should be implemented against a team that is the sixth worse pass defense in the league.  On the other side, the Bills secondary is dessimated by injury and the Dolphins should seize that opportunity to get their first win.  Henne’s got pro skills, let’s see if he can use them.