From: Michael Salfino
Date: September 21, 2010 10:32:24 PM EDT
To: scott pianowski
Subject: Week 3 Breakfast
I'm bored by the 2-0, 0-2 stuff. This is just two straight wins or two straight losses. So when assessing playoff odds, how about telling me the percentage of non-playoff teams that won two-straight games (I bet it's a lot) and the percentage of playoff teams that lost two straight (again, probably 25-to-75%, so let's call it 50%). Hey, if the Wall Street Journal agrees it's a story, I'll get the data on that. Otherwise, we're left to speculate.
Two games is enough to start worrying about all the stuff we've gotten wrong. At least that's how I look at the season. At the team level, I'm surprised by the Cowboys. They have no leadership at all. They fail all the intangibles. Wade Phillips is not the kind of general teams need to lead the troops into battle - and, let's face it, this is as close to war as you get outside of the real stuff. Is the talent level that good? So much for me thinking Felix Jones could be Chris Johnson with more carries (that are never going to come). There's a multitude of other things. What are the biggest mulligans you'd like to have right now?
The Vikings having 19 points this year even without their receivers being healthy is a shock even if you were bearish on 2010 Brett Favre. The Bucs can't be taken seriously, right? How many games will the entire NFC West win outside of its division this year (AFC West and NFC South, mainly)? Javhid Best is the fantasy story of the year, little good it's doing in Detroit when it comes to football reality though. I think Shaun Hill is like Tyler Thigpen - guys who could be good if they were given half the chances guys like Alex Smith and Trent Edwards get (there are lots of others). Matt Moore might fall into the category. Maybe Kevin Kolb, too! What's going on in the Land of Cheesesteaks? Week 3 Breakfast is served.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: September 22, 2010 10:44:29 PM EDT
To: Michael Salfino
Subject: goddess of the grape
I can't get my mind away from the Michael Vick/Kevin Kolb story, amazing from a Philadelphia management perspective. The Eagles apparently liked Kolb so much that they dispatched Donovan McNabb within the division - and then Kolb loses the job in 37 minutes to an ex-con who hasn't played a full season in four years. If I were sitting in this movie, I'd walk out of it.
That all said, this doesn't look like the same Vick, does it? His pocket awareness has never been better, and that's saying a lot given that he just faced the Green Bay/Capers scheme (Clay Matthews is a bad man) and an underrated Detroit pass rush. Vick used to give up on a play at the drop of a hat; now, he's using his scrambling to set up downfield connections. I didn't think he was capable of playing like that; at minimum, it tells us he's being coached more smartly now than he ever was in Atlanta.
I wonder if the extra weight is holding back some of King Felix's explosiveness. But there's no excuse for him to have 19 touches after two weeks. Wade Phillips is the deserving fall guy there, but there's blood on the hands of Jason Garrett, too. I can't see how Dallas rallies against its hellish schedule and makes the playoffs.
Detroit's going to have a bridge season, and I won't be surprised if the Lions are good next year. They were robbed in Chicago and at least they were plucky against Philadelphia. I realize the defense is giving up big chunks of yardage, but it's also making destructive plays every week. I believe in Jim Schwartz, for some reason.
Tampa is a non-story - beating Cleveland and Carolina means nothing. I don't understand the Matt Moore Fan Club - he didn't direct a single touchdown drive in the preseason (even without Steve Smith, that's significant), and he basically lost their first two games. John Fox is the type of guy who won't throw old milk away until it's six months past the date, but even he knew a change had to be made.
Brett Favre looks 65 all of a sudden. It's a shame Adrian Peterson has to toil behind that lousy offensive line because he's far and away the best back in football right now; no one else takes a one-yard loss and turns it into a nine-yard gain as often as he does. Is there any pro-Minnesota case, or do we write the obit right now?
The Week 3 slate leaves me a little cold. I guess it's last call for the Cowboys at Houston. The Jets and Dolphins should have a good rock fight. Can the Bears find a way to hang with the Packers on Monday night? How many hits can Jay Cutler take?
From: Michael Salfino
Date: September 22, 2010 11:23:32 PM EDT
To: Scott Pianowski
Subject: Re: goddess of the grape (USE THIS ONE)
The schedule blows this week. I'm looking forward to Packers-Bears. My guess right now is that Cutler and the Bears are going to be a season-long story. The Jets are going to trounce the Dolphins, who are playing with many of the same defensive players as last year when their defense wasn't good. Additionally, their offense stinks. The wildcat is dead, at least for them because Ronnie Brown can't throw it, and everyone knows it.
It's not fair that the Jets-Dolphins is on Sunday night while we get the second episode of the great "Boardwalk Empire" plus the season premier of the new "Dexter." (Hey how about Showtime and HBO get together for a very special "Dexter" where Michael C. Hall takes out half of "Entourage." The bad half - or maybe the most bad half since they're all pretty tiresome now.) With "Mad Men" still on, who do you DVR all the shows? I'm going to be taping the West Coast airing I guess. That'll keep me up until 5 a.m. Monday morning.
Oh, and don't think I don't notice we only talk about the Jets when they spit the bit and not when they demolish Tom Brady and the Patriots. Okay. Be that way. Queue the soapbox moralizing about Braylon Edwards. The Jets haters around here - which are legion due to the Giants having two fans for every one Jets fans. Plus NYC is so cosmopolitan that people here are from everywhere and root for everyone. So the Jets are supposed to take a stand beyond the disciplinary structure the league has in place to make a statement. To what end, no one quite knows. Bottom line, 70 percent of this town and 95 percent of the media want the Jets to fall flat on their face so bad they can taste it. But they're worried off of last week that it's no longer going to work itself out that way between the white lines. So now the view is, "It's better to lose the game and make the point that drinking and driving is bad." Sure and then everyone will shut up in January when the Jets miss the playoffs by a game. Right.
The point you're missing about Kolb is he got the job in little more than 37 minutes. Easy come, easy go. How do you walk into a locker room and face the team with this Kolb obsession that's based on nothing really? The one bad strike against Vick is getting dumped six times last week and running into trouble on numerous other occasions. I know the Eagles line stinks right now, but Vick has always gotten sacked too much so I'm not prepared to lay most, never mind all, of the blame at their feet. I don't know why Vick is playing better, but I can't discount that maybe he's finally committed to his craft and film study. He's cited this as a big change, according to some reports.
We agree on the Lions. Maybe you're right on Jones but I need to see more touches because the home run hitters at RB go 0, 1, -2, 3, 4, 1, 57 (or something like that, a lot). My Yale guys with the NFL Power Rankings still like the Cowboys because they've had a very good success rate on offensive plays. That hasn't translated into points, I know. But the former is more heavily weighted for projection purposes than the latter. Favre is old but I've said earlier this week that this is that bad year what we've seen semi-regularly since the late '90s. The Saints are sort of staggering qualitatively now, don't you think? They're lucky with turnovers. They're also last in those Massey-Peabody defensive success rate rankings (offense is more important than defense there and everywhere, but last is bad always). They could so easily be 0-2 right now. What's happened to Robert Meachem by the way?
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: September 23, 2010 10:12:51 AM EDT
To: Michael Salfino
Subject: physical graffiti
I didn't watch the Boardwalk Empire premier but I'll check it out on your recco. I haven't liked a Steve Buscemi vehicle since Ghost World; he never seemed to fit on The Sopranos.
What do you want me to say about the Jets? I don't have a long-term personal stake in them, either way. I picked them to win last week. They were dominant the final three quarters, good for them. They're still a team with fleas.
Edwards has been a frustrating player for a while, dating back to his Maize and Blue days. There's no incredible catch he can't land and no routine catch he can't drop. So far this season we've seen him take a stupid special teams penalty (Week 1), get a brainless taunting call after a touchdown (Week 2) and then take a DUI in the city of cabs (I guess Ignatowski had the night off). The Jets will be happy to call him a cab after the season. I hate to see talented players wasting their ability.
Kolb didn't get the job in 37 minutes, not really. He had to show things in camp and in practice, and in the film room, that made this team confident he was the man going forward. (Many times I've wondered how much there is to know.) McNabb is still a capable player; the way his trading was handled should tell us how the Eagles feel about Kolb. Then again, Kolb wasn't sharp in August and you can't underestimate the pressure of the players after Vick flashed like he did.
I'm trying to think of the home-run hitting back who improved his game after adding 15-20 pounds. I can't think of anyone, who am I missing? My favorite Dallas scene from last week had Felix on the sidelines, confused, while Tashard Choice was explaining something to him. There's a guy I feel sorry for, Choice - he might be the team's best overall back and he's third on the depth chart.
Is Meachem's toe still bothering him? I could see that being a problem all year. It's a testament to Brees and Payton that the Saints get so much done with the receiving group they have; Marques Colston is really a No. 2 and I don't see anything special about the other targets. Steve Breaston would look like Wes Chandler on this team. The defense? Hats off to Roman Harper.
I'm not ready to commit to the Bears, even as a home dog on Monday night. Martz and Cutler are due for a major gaffe at the wrong time. You better respect the Dolphins, bro - Tony Sprano's guys put up 61 points on the Jets last year, and now Darrelle Revis is out. Give Miami the mild upset. I'm going to take Dallas outright as well; maybe I'm mad at Houston for stealing that game in Washington. Gary Kubiak is starting to get under my skin, too.
From: Michael Salfino
Date: September 23, 2010 10:47:14 AM EDT
To: Scott Pianowski
Subject: Re: physical graffiti
The Times critic agreed that Buscemi is a bad fit as a gangster. I think they're going for that Meyer Lansky, half businessman-politician/half gangster (what's the difference) thing.
The Jets have fleas? I don't see them. Not on defense. The QB is going to be good at least, I guarantee it. There's nothing wrong with the backs and receivers. Jets 24, Dolphins 10. It's going to be easy on Sunday night. You're joking with those 61 points right? You're never lazy in your analysis so I assume you're just straining to make a counter argument. The Dolphins had 104 total yards and a per-play average of 2.04 yards (rounding up!) in that second meeting after Rex figured out that stupid Wildcat (snore). If the Dolphins get three return TDs this week again, the Jets will lose. Not going to happen. The Dolphins are 19th in the league in yards allowed per rush including a game vs. the putrid Bills. The Jets run for 175 yards with a lot of jumbo looks against that undersized Miami 3-4.
Kolb showing things in camp and practice? Meaningless. There's no replicating Sunday fury there. So you're saying the way the Eagles handle things is so judicious and rational that this proves Kolb is good? Off this week's craziness? Clearly, Andy Reid doesn't think things through. He doesn't think timeouts and end games and fourth down calls through, either. During the week, he's great. But in the heat of battle, he's below average, to be kind. Probably just like Kolb, who wilted in Week 1 (and he's no rookie).
How often do running backs add weight? I think you have sample size problems with that study. I do not think that's an issue now. He's probably lost the weight after camp anyway.
I'm not big on blaming injuries for lack of production in football. If you're out, fine. But if you're in, no excuses. This is just Sean Payton being Payton. And the Saints defense has been really lucky in getting turnovers (again). You let Alex Smith march down the field against the wind and convert a two-point conversion, and we're giving them props? New Orleans is playing like a .500 team now, and the days of reckoning are coming unless they pick it up substantively and not randomly with the turnovers. Consider where they sit in the Massey-Peabody WSJ Ranks this week - 18th. Remember, this is just 2010 performance relative to league-average performance. Of course, no one in the NFC South is distinguishing themselves, but Atlanta seems the better team to me right now. (Last year is quickly becoming about as meaningful as Kolb's minicamp exploits.)