Blue Duck Must Watch List: 1st Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 13, 2009
Code Blue! Footballs back.  And twins.

Code Blue! Football's back. And twins.

Its been so long since we had a normal Sunday.  This is the first sunday in a while where Tiger hasn’t been the only attraction, but Blue Duck, get ready for a sensory overload because today, we got Tiger and football.  Relax, its week 1, but its nice to be back to the Sundays on the couch and the monday fantasy arguments with the girl in the cube next to you.  Its all what America likes to call, the NFL regular season.

Blue Duck is always looking out for you so you tune in to the best sports programming, but since we have no idea whats available in your area (because our readership spans the globe) our contributors are going to tell you a few games to set the dial to, unbutton the pants, and get a steady flow of Coors Light and Doritos going.

From the Lone Colchestrian: Andy,
Game of the week

Green Bay Packers VS Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler, savior in Chicago? or crybaby jackass? we start to find out today

Jay Cutler, savior in Chicago? or crybaby jackass? we start to find out today

In what looks to be a strong NFC North (come on the Lions can’t really even be considered a team) this has the makings of a December-feeling game in September.  The Chicago Bears traded away their future in order to secure a little girl at quarterback.  Of course, I’m speaking of Jay Cutler, possibly the biggest baby to ever play the game of football.  He single-handedly cried himself out of Denver where new coach Josh Mcdaniels handed him a box of tissues and wished him good
luck.

Cutler will experience a big test of his leadership capabilities in his first real game with the Bears.  Playing at Lambeau with the entire crowd against you is no easy task.  It also doesn’t help that the Packers look completely revitalized after a disappointing 08 campaign.

In the offseason the Packers replaced their defensive coordinator
with Dom Capers,  who has gotten his hands dirty in implementing the
3-4 scheme into the Packers game plan, and throughout the preseason this defensive unit led by Aaron Kampmann has looked downright scary.

Assuming Rodgers can stay healthy this year, this offense has looked
exceptionally potent as well.  With a receiving duo of old pro Donald
Driver
along with emerging superstar Greg Jennings, it is going to be
tough to stop this team from scoring.  If Ryan Grant can grind away
yards and keep the defense from dropping all of their defensive backs
into coverage the Bears will have a long day in the house that Favre
built.

My prediction?  Jay Cutler is in tears by the end of the first half as
the Packers force a couple of mistakes from the little guy and the
Pack dominate time of possession winning the game 30-17.

From the Carebear:

Well, I don’t hate people near as much as Andy so I’m just going to go with my team’s game.  As much as I hate watching the Giants play, the Giants against the Redskins tomorrow will be a solid game to tune in to.  It will also be a good way to test the NFC East waters.

The Giants Defense is highly touted, but has a lot to prove to me.  The line will always be strong, but the linebacking corps is suspect, and the secondary has a reputation of giving up the big play.  The defensive backs have a year under their belts now, and we’ll see if they can build off the progress they made last year.

Ahmad Bradshaw may be the lightning to Brandon Jacobs thunder in 09-10

Ahmad Bradshaw may be the lightning to Brandon Jacobs thunder in '09-'10

The real question, though, is the offense.  While I think they actually get better with Ahmad Bradshaw’s tenacious and downright angry running style taking over for the surprisingly Tiki-like talent that Derrick Ward was, the problems are in the receiving ranks.  Ever since Plax pulled a Munson, the Giants passing game has been weak to quite weak, every week.

They lost the well dressed, drop-happy, more tortoise than hare, Amani Toomer, and now start the season with Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, Sinorice Moss, and rookie Hakeem Nicks as their receivers.  Maybe the no name WRs will work, but that is up in the air going into sunday.

As for the Redskins, I don’t care so you shouldn’t either.  If you want good Redskins info go to, http://dcsportsuniverse.blogspot.com/, its a blog from a DC guy I played baseball with at Gburg… Slightly less well done than Blue Duck, but a valiant effort.  Haynesworth is a beast, he should scare the hell out Eli, and his oreo-eating ass.

Prediction from Carebear:  This comes down to Jason Campbell.  If the Giant’s secondary can handle Santana Moss and the passing game then  Clinton Portis will be easier to keep in check for big blue, and the Giants take week 1.  Look for a close one.  Giants: 24, 17.  Big day for Bradshaw.

He could do better.  Hes f***ing Tom Brady.

He could do better. He's f***ing Tom Brady.

Now it’s time for Alex’s pick for Must Watch Game of the Week:

Denver Broncos @ Cincinatti Bengals

This is not a game where you look at both teams and expect playoff births.  This is a game between one team contantly in turmoil (Cinci) vs a team challenging for the title of “NFL’s most dysfunctional team” (Denver).  But this could be a telling game for things to come.

As Andy mentioned, Denver traded away their franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler and have also had a drama filled training camp with Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall.  That all happened after the shocking (to some…) firing of longtime coach Mike Shanahan.  Enter new head coach Josh McDaniels, QB Kyle Orton, and new faces all over both sides of the ball.  Denver has always been known for a successful running game and had one of the most explosive passing games in the league last year, ranking their offense as 2nd overall.  The defense, on the other hand, has been among the league’s worst over the past few years.

For Denver, this game can answer alot of questions.  Has McDaniels mended fences with star receiver Brandon Marshall?  As great as Eddie Royal was last year, in order for the Broncos offense to be successful, they need Marshall to add that vertical threat to the offense.  Also, which running back will lead the committee setup by McDaniels; rookie Knowshon Moreno, veterans LaMont Jordan, or Corell Buckhalter?  On the defensive side of the ball, can Brian Dawkin defeat father time and produce at safety?  The Bronco’s secondary was ranked 26th in the league last year and didn’t get any younger in the offseason.  We’ll find out against a team with a promising offense with its own issues to boot.

In Cincinatti, you’d have to hope that this is the make or break year for head coach Marvin Lewis.  He’s let the inmates run the asylum, and as a coach who was hired based on his success as a defensive coordinator, he’s never had an average defense as a Bengal.  That’s not even mentioning the character issues on this team, where there are too many to count.  If I’m a Cincinatti fan, I’m hoping that clueless owner Mike Brown is demanding a big step forward from his team or else changes are in the mix.

Things are actually looking up for the Bengals, as QB Carson Palmer is returning healthy for the first time in over a year.  Despite the loss of TJ Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals picked up underrated Laveranues Coles to man the spot opposite a revitalized Chad Ochocinco.  Adding to the passing game, troubled wide receiver Chris Henry seems to have his head on straight and has always teased with flashes of a starter’s talent.  If he can keep it together this season and Palmer can stay healthy, this passing offense has a ton of potential.  As the passing game goes, so goes the running game, manned by an extremely average Cedric Benson (another player with character issues in Cinci? No way!) .  If the passing game is successful, they will be able to run the ball behind an average line.

Also looking promising, the young defense finally built by Lewis.  Second year linebacker Keith Rivers was a beast last year, before suffering a broken jaw on a brutal hit by Hines Ward.  He’ll be joined by Dhani Jones in the middle, who had a solid year last season, and rookie Rey Maualuga, his former USC teammate.  That has the making of a very solid unit.  Cornerback Leon Hall is establishing himself as one of the top CB in the AFC.  There is talent here, so we just have to see if Lewis can coach it up.

The reasons to watch this game?  First, we’ve got to see if Palmer is officially back.  If so, look for Chad Ochocinco to just go off.  He’s too talented to waste it again.  Next, can the below average lines, both offensive and defensive, play above their heads?  Can former Cowboy Roy Williams fulfill the promise he offered coming out of the University of Texas 8 years ago or is he the undersized linebacker Dallas finally realized he’d become?  Bottom line is, this is a team with plenty of promise that can take that next step towards the playoffs (but won’t make it yet).

My prediction is that the Bengals come in and handle business.  The Broncos camp couldn’t have been productive with Orton and Moreno missing time due to injury, Marshall missing time due to suspension, and a new offense being implemented.  Furthermore, Orton has looked like a jugs machine for opposing defenses during the preseason.  Cinci will want to come and prove they are back.  The Bengals take it, 31-14.

In the preseason, Kyle Orton gave opposings defenses the ball.  Will he continue into the regular season?

In the preseason, Kyle Orton gave opposings defenses the ball. Will he continue into the regular season?

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Burress Released; Now What?

April 3, 2009

Today the NY Giants released Plaxico Burress, after a tumultuous season which ended with Plax shooting himself in the leg.  Per reports, NY offered Burress a restructured contract that would have addressed the team’s grievance against the gun-toting receiver and ensured he stayed on the roster for the upcoming season.  Plax declined and the team immediately cut him.

Quick summary of events that led to this:

  • Plax missed several practices after signing a brand-new long-term contract, encurring fines.
  • Plax arrived late for several other practices, encurring fines.
  • Police were called to Plax’s home due to a domestic dispute, no charges were filed.
  • Plax shot himself in the leg at a club in late November.  The team suspended him for the remainder of the season for “conduct detrimental to the team”
  • NYG withheld $1M bonus due in December, citing the suspension as just cause.
  • Burress is currently negotiating a plea agreement with the state of New York due to several gun charges.

New York never wanted him back.  That was obvious from day one.  They always left the door slightly open for a return, but it never seemed that management wanted him to return.  Perhaps they grew wary of his actions after several indiscrestions.  From the sounds of it, the restructured contract ensured the Giants would keep the $1M they withheld from him in December.  Coach Coughlin was sick of dealing with the immature Burress.

So that leaves us here:  What does Plax do now?

He got his trial for gun charges suspended, most likely to negotiate a plea deal.  The max jail time is 3.5 years, and reports say that he is trying to avoid jail time.  Legal experts say that jail time is a guarantee and NY prosecuters are not expected to do the star any favors.  NY has some of the most strict gun laws in the country and they are said to want to make an example out of Burress.  But for the sake of arguement, let’s assume he’ll see the football field at some point in ’09.  Where does he end up?   Here’s my take:

  • Chicago – Their only early pick in this year’s draft is in the 2nd round.  They need help at WR, but also S and CB.  Their receiver corp is terrible and they just spent a bounty on Cry Baby Cutler.  He needs someone to throw to and Burress is still a great receiver.
  • Baltimore – Ray Lewis killed 2 people at a Super Bowl party and he’s the face of the franchise.  Maybe Plax can become “born-again” after giving himself a flesh wound.  The Ravens have a strong veteran system set-up that might be able to keep him in check.  And Flacco’s targets are still not that great so he could use him.
  • Philly – The team says they are set at receiver, but anybody who’s seen them knows that McNabb needs a big target.  They never effectively replaced Owens from the Super Bowl season.  Curtis and Jackson are good players, but they are tiny.  Burress is a 6’5″ beast.  The Eagles are always in contention every year, so they can afford to sit and wait for Burress to get back on the field, after jail and a Goodell suspension.
  • New England – Just kidding, but I’m waiting for the media to suggest this and run with it.  Aren’t the Pat’s linked to every star in the league, just because we’re nasty?  We piss excellence, and every player wants to play for us.  The media will point to Moss and Corey Dillon as the fact that Belicheck can change troubled players.  Let’s get this straight;  they didn’t shoot anyone, let alone themselves.  This is not happening.
  • Maimi – A real possibility.  They have a need for a big receiver opposite Ginn.  I could see them signing him to a one year contract with stipulations forcing Burress to behave to get paid.  Would Parcells do it?  Maybe, because he’s not coaching “the player” in this scenario, so he can pass the buck.  Burress’ only hope would be that Ronnie Brown is throwing it from the Wildcat, because Chad couldn’t hit him deep to save his life.
  • Bengals – Burress has the rap sheet and character issues required for consideration by the Bungles.  Yeah they signed Coles, but since when has common sense ever entered Cincy’s mind?  Exactly.
  • Jacksonville – It seems as this is the 10th consecutive year they’ve needed a number 1 receiver.  They have several needs and this could fill one.  But who knows what they’ll do?  Del Rio got rid of lots of bad chemistry players this off-season and after being burned by signing Jerry Porter last year, they are trying to avoid that again.
  • Oakland – Al Davis likes speed.  He doesn’t care about character.  Plaxico has lots of one and little of the other.  I think its a match made in heaven.  Especially because Goodell probably never wants to see Plax play again (he hates thugs) and Big Al hates the league.  Davis can give the league the finger while actually improving his team.  This needs to happen.
  • Dallas – Nope.  While any other year this would be a possibility, I think that Jerry Jones is actually giving this “team chemistry” thing a try.  I wouldn’t rule it out down the line though.
  • Tennessee – A forgotten team.  They need help at receiver and Plax fits the bill.  But coach Fisher values character and I think he’d be hesitant to get involved with him.  But he’d fill a need.

Quick hits:

  • Michael Vick says he was immature to engage in dog-fighting and it was irresponsible to kill dogs.  Seriously?  Immaturity is showing up late to work, handing in homework late, paying a credit card bill late.  It is not buying a compound for the sole reason to breed and fight pitbulls.  Irresponsible to kill dogs?  This guy has obviously not learned anything from his time in jail.  He’s still a sick S.O.B. and he won’t play in the league this year.  There’s no way that Goodell gets burned by this d-bag again.  But he will play in 2010 and there will be bidding for his services.  He had skill, we’ll find out if he still has it next year.
  • Cutler has beef with his new offensive coordinator, Ron Turner.  Apparently when Turner was the head coach at Univ. of Illinois and Cry Baby Cutler was a senior in h.s. he was promised a scholarship.  And then Illinois landed another qb and rescinded the offer.  That’s Cutler’s story.  Turner denies ever offering him a scholarship.  I love this already.  Cutler is a bitch and he needs drama.  Keep it coming big guy
  • What’s with the drug test results getting leaked? Raji was leaked yesterday, and now Cushing and Matthews have supposedly popped positive.  While I think they are completely wrong to have tested positive in a test they knew was coming, I think the league has a serious problem on their hands.  These test results are not supposed to be public knowledge.  Medical information should be confidential and most definitely not released to the media.  Especially before the teams get the official reports.  The league needs to fix this immediately.  But the players should never have tested positive in the first place.
    Update – Cushing and Matthews apparently tested positive for steroids, while Raji, Vontae Davis and Percy Harvin have tested positive for marijauna.  If true, all are idiots.  College players are expecting a drug test at the combine.  It is incredibly dumb to engage in these decisions.  That said, at least Cushing and Matthews partook in something that will benefit them.  Steroids at least make some sense.  But weed?  How is that helping anybody?  Dumb, dumb, dumb.