Monday, February 05, 2007

Feelin' Groovy

"Lord you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way."

So I'm just having a superb day. Nothing really major has happened, but all the little things seem to be locking in. It's kind of weird, like you're seemingly bulletproof. So, I decided to sacrifice sleep to try and enjoy the rest of this day, because these are the ones that make living a good thing. Alright, anyway, before I get too "Reader's Digest" here (I'm not even sure if that's an applicable clue. Just throwing stuff out there, seeing if something will stick.), let's start with the game from last night.

It was absolutely frightening how well I had that game pegged. My first major comment of the game came right before the opening kickoff, uttering the words "they should just kick the ball out of bounds because this guy is going to "house" it." Sure enough...7-0 Bears. With all the success Hester has had, it again makes me wonder who will be next year's "flavor of the month" for return men. Hester was great, but history has shown that a guy whose speciality is returning kicks has one great season, then vanishes off the face of the Earth. I call it the "Dante Hall Theory." No one, and I mean no one, had a quicker rise and fall to superstardom than Dante Hall. He was "the human joystick." Now, he's the Chiefs' fourth receiver, and invariably has become just another return man. Last year it was Eddie Drummond. So with all that being said, I will be shocked if Hester has any kind of success next year. There's two main reasons for that:

1. Teams now know what this guy brings to the table, and likely are going to be doing ridiculous things to keep the ball out of the guy's hands. Also, notice what happened when the Colts squib kicked last night. The upback fumbled the ball back to Indy at around the Chicago 35. So, you have to assume teams will see that, and are going to steal that gameplan to assure themselves they don't get torched. This I feel will have a cause and effect relationship with #2, which is...

2. With teams starting to squib kick and doing directional kicking, the Bears will start to line Hester up at different positions, kind of like what they did last night. The Bears had him at around the 20 yard line on one kickoff that I can recall. With this, you're looking at a real potential for injury here. When you move up to receive a kick, you are giving yourself less time and space to be able to maneuver, meaning the defense will have an easier time getting to the elusive Hester. When you factor in that, as well as the fact that he returns both kicks and punts, Hester is leaving himself open to getting reamed one of these times. I'm not in anyway saying that I'm rooting for that, or anything to that effect, it just simply is a consequence that you have to look at when you talk about returners.

My pick for next year's returner of the year: Garrett Wolfe, rookie from Northern Illinois.

The hot button issue with me and the game was anything relating to Peyton Manning. You want to talk about wipping a dead horse. I go completely off after anyone says "he deserves to win a title." I can't deal with it. Ok, first of all, no one deserves anything. You have to go out and make things happen, and for a long time, Manning heroed the role of the NFL's A-Rod, choking under pressure countless times. Finally, he stepped it up, and got a ring. For his performance last night, he probably deserved it, but when you talk about someone "deserving" something simply because he had great stats throughout his career, that's bush-league.

The Colts are incredibly successful on offense mainly because they have a first-round pick at every skill position. Seriously, how could you not be successful when you have a cast like that driving down the field. Who do you guard? When should you blitz? Seemingly, only the Patriots have figured it out, but even then, when you look at the AFC title game, they overthought what they were doing, pretty much driving themselves mental, and ended up getting shalacked. When you have the ability to spread a defense out, and have like seven different weapons to go to, that definitely helps. I have seen a ton of Colts games, and every time I sit down and watch Manning, I try and contrive some kind of theory of a way to stop him. I think there are a few reasons that definitely should be considered. First, you have to bump and run their receivers. If you are able to at least throw off the timing of a route, perhaps even redirecting them, then you give your defense more time to get to Manning, bringing up my second point. You have to apply pressure on Manning at all times. I'm not saying blitz every down, but you have to disrupt his flow, because once he gets into a rhythm, it's over. Zone blitzing is almost a must. The guy has great football intelligence, but he's not perfect. You need to give him something to think about. The thing is, when you have such a short amount of time to process everything that is going on, those few milliseconds of figuring out the coverage could be the difference between a big gain and a sack. Finally, you have to do a better job with containing the middle of the field. Manning's big thing is he likes to check down to his tight ends and his running backs coming out of the backfield. A way to do that is to constantly have a spy on Manning throughout the game. It doesn't even have to be a linebacker. Actually, if you run a nickel defense, you can drop a tackle back to guard against the short pass. Obviously, this is much easier said than done. Manning is great, but he is still given way too much respect. It's like in preparing to defend him, defenses give him god-like respect. You have to do the things that make your team successful, and not trying to think too much about simply attempting to not let the game get out of control.

Rex Grossman is horrendous. It doesn't help that he looks like he's 15. The guy cracks like china. I think Bears fans get completely teased by Grossman. He has these flashes of brilliance, like the bomb he threw to Berrian in the NFC Cahmpionship against the Saints, and it gives the fans a sense of blind optimism, and it's like "hey, we don't have to worry about the quarterback now." Wrong. Grossman was a product of the system at Florida, like so many have been (by the way, expect that to start changing now that the Gators have a coach that actually runs the ball and uses more formations than a shotgun, four receiver set; not putting down Spurrier or anything, but all the guy did was call his "fun and gun" gameplan, and air the ball 50 times a game, and hey, it worked; however, when you consider the pro game, you're going to need to be a little more rounded in abilities). I mean some of those throws last night had me wondering if I had made an incorrect career move, and that I may have been able to lace it up and make it happen (this is that blind optimism I was talking about). Just so many mistakes he made yesterday, it was unfathomable. It's not completely Grossman's fault the Bears dropped the game (the defense really didn't play as well as it should), but he shoulders a ton of the blame. Let the offseason quarterback controversy begin!

Thomas Jones only getting 15 carries is inexcusable. This is the guy that they needed to have a big game, and he definitely did just that, getting 112 yards (most of it came on one run, but when you take out the 52-yarder, you're still talking about a little more than four yards a carry, which isn't bad at all). The Bears simply did not gameplan properly. You have to do the things you do best. The Bears allowed the Colts to be the aggressor, and Chicago looked pretty weak in comparison to how Indy was playing their defense. Chicago has a smashmouth style to their game, so making Grossman throw the ball 28 times was a huge mistake. Why are they so reluctant to play Thomas Jones? It's almost as if they want him to fail so that Cedric Benson can take over as the starter. I know that they drafted Benson fourth overall in the '05 Draft, but you have to be realistic about things. Jones is a better back right now than Benson. Not to say he won't be good in the future, but when you are playing on the biggest stage of professional football, you have to put your best men out there to try and win.

Last thought I have about the game was how lackluster I thought the coverage was in general. First of all, I can't deal with Phil Simms anymore. Does he really know what he is saying? It's almost like the beginning of a roller coaster. He comes out of the gate, usually throwing out some decent facts and interesting tidbits before the game gets going. Then, through the first five minutes when they run through the lineups, he still is pretty solid. So he keeps climbing up the hill, but, right around halfway through the first quarter, he'll try and think of something cleaver to say about something a quarterback had done, but there's nothing there. He just hits a wall, and from there, continues to go on in a free fall of babble that never ends. I understand being a color guy is probably an incredibly tough job to do, but can it be that tough? I wonder. Also, I'm sure CBS had a ton of cameras at the game, but it seemed like they could not get the right replays going. Most of the time, they were showing obstructed views, so you couldn't really follow the flow of the play. That's kind of a nit-picky thing, but again, they don't call it the big game for nothing.

Ok, so being a borderline insomniac, I see some interesting things when I'm watching TV at night. One of my favorite things that sometimes comes on is Aussie Rules Football. You have to love it. No rules, no pads, and the referees where white suits. It's fantastic. So anyway, it got me to thinking. There should be a station that shows the following 24 hours a day: Aussie Rules, rugby, curling, hurling, soccer, tennis, and cricket. I know, I know, I say cricket and you say I've gone mental. However, you probably haven't seen it, and your basing your opinion on the sport's reputation for being a "nancy" game. I'm telling you, do what you can to watch a match. You may be surprised at how interesting it is. The rules are kind of strange (click here if you're interested), but it actually is a compelling game for the most part. I don't know, would you watch it? Maybe it's just me, but I would be hooked on that station if it were on.

If you ever are feeling kind of blue, do yourself a favor. Flip over to Lifetime or one of those networks and see if they are running an after-school special. If you think life is kind of sucking, you have it way better than everyone in these movies. Like just this past weekend, I started clicking through the channels, and I saw that chick from "The Girl Next Door," and decided to keep it on for obvious reasons. Anyway, so it turns out that the girl is a degenerate gambler, ends up robbing her parent's house, and is forced to sleep with a weird older dude because she couldn't repay a loan. My day got infinitely better after that. So, I'm just throwing that out there, trying to help you out.

I will be updating this hopefully by the end of the week. Until then, thanks for reading. God bless. Peace.


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