Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Bull

On September 29, 2007, I attempted the hardest cross country race I had ever attempted. The Bull Run Invitational at Hereford High School in Maryland attracted seventy-five schools and tallied more than one thousand runners (possibly two thousand). There were more than ten races throughout the day, the first race at 9:00 AM and the last in the late afternoon.

Our boys' teams were signed up for the Boys Elite/Large junior varsity race, which started at 9:00 AM, and the Boys Large race, which started at 9:35. My school is located about thirty-to-forty-five minutes away from the race site, and we had to be there before 8:00 AM, which meant a 6:45 AM departure on the bus from school.

I was awoken at 5:40 AM (which is earlier than I get up for school), and immediately turned on my cross country playlist on my iPod. It was a chilly morning, with the temperature in the fifties, so I bundled up with a long-sleeved shirt and sweatpants and thick socks for the bus ride. I ate a small breakfast which consisted of eggs and a bagel, a good running breakfast in my opinion. I was dropped off at school at (shudder) 6:30 AM where I was joined by two of our team's freshmen (I'm a sophomore). The bus arrived and the twelve brave souls (seven guys, five girls) who got up early enough to take the bus departed at 6:45.

Bus rides are one of the best parts of being on any team. The conversation ranges from gossip, sports, music, and even into politics. Most of the time our coaches discourage us from being loud on bus rides, but today they were a little more lax. The first part of the drive was the usual yakking, but usually a change comes over our team about a half-hour into our bus ride where everyone usually slips into their headphones and gets in their zone.

We arrived at Hereford High School around 7:45, and it was a sight to be seen. Countless runners from various schools from assorted areas were out stretching and jogging and walking the course. We set up our tent as usual and started the course walk.

Now, Bull Run is known in Maryland as the fifth hardest course in the country. I had only heard stories and seen one picture of the course, but after the course walk, I knew why. The starting line was located in front of the backstop of a softball field. From there, the first 200 meters are relatively flat until you run up a relatively steep hill (it actually was pretty steep, but compared to other hills, it was not that steep. At the top of the hill, a U-turn is made around a tree and you go down the hill where at the bottom you run along the outfield fence. At the end of the fence, a sharp right turn is made into a downhill which takes you back into the woods. The loop in the woods comes out up a labeled on the map as "Slight Incline," which I would label as a misnomer. At the top of the hill, a left turn is made and you retrace your steps along the backstop and back up and around the first hill where you pass the one mile mark.

After that, you hang another left and traverse towards the most legendary feature of the course: "The Dip." The Dip is, well, a pretty big dip. Standing on one side of The Dip, the other side looks like a wall. Normally in a race, you are supposed to stride down the hills and try to build up speed. Not so fast my friend. I would estimate the angle on either side of the dip is around forty-five degrees, give or take about ten degrees. The bottom of The Dip consists of a narrow footbridge before you run up the other side (yes, there are two sides, and it is run twice). The top of the other side of The Dip flattens out, but not for long, as it goes up hill AGAIN and around a secluded soccer field, known as the Square of Death.

After that, you go uphill again and come out on top of a rather large hill which is run down and provides a great place to pick up some places, but alas, it does not last forever, as some rolling hills sneak up on you before you traverse The Dip again. During the walk, I found this side of The Dip to be more difficult. Once the top of the dip is reached, it is relatively smooth sailing. You run down into another woods loop where you run up another slight hill until you reach an open field and about 300 meters of open space to the finish line. After the course walk, I was, well, intimidated to say the least.

If you didn't find my description to be that enlightening, a video tour with narration is viewable here.

Now, one of the stories adding to the mystique of The Dip comes from 2003. Maryland had just been hit hard by Hurricane Isabel, but the Bull Run Invitational was going to happen anyway. The JV race started as usual, but then race organizers realized they had a problem: The Dip was impassable. Many runners would not run down it and those who did could not get back up. At the conclusion of the JV race, which took many runners an hour to finish, the rest of the meet was cancelled. That is where this photograph of The Dip comes from. I'd have to say the course was damp while we ran it, but thank goodness it was not during a rain storm.

But enough about the course walk. More about my race, which is what all you came for. I raced in the Boys Elite/Large JV race. There were forty-five starting boxes so there were probably at least that many teams lined up. The five of us running had box twenty-nine, which was towards the middle and gave us a pretty straight shot to the uphill. Our only worry would be the three or four hundred runners crashing in from either side. People say that cross country is a rather tame sport, but it is not. Two teams had laid claim to the neighboring box twenty-eight and they started to get into it before reaching the conclusion that the team that came second would line up on the line separating boxes twenty-eight and twenty-nine. The runner who lined up next to me from that school was intimidating to say the least. We all lined up at the start, waited for the gun, and then, all hell broke loose.

I got a pretty good start out of my box. There was pushing and shoving. I was trying to keep contact with a teammate who was about four people in front of me before disaster struck. The runner behind him was tripped up and that triggered a massive pileup which I was caught in (more about this later). By the time I could finally get up, there were only about twenty people behind me. My psyche was shattered. I was coming into this race all pumped up because I was going to run under twenty-five minutes and just burn it up (in my standards). Being in the back was not good for that, so after jogging up the first hill, I made the decision to make a move coming down the hill. I passed one of my teammates and about ten other people near the backstop and through the woods. My split at the first mile was 7:35; I'm usually around 7:15, 7:20 for my first miles.

I caught another teammate right before my most dreaded part of the course, The Dip. Running down The Dip did not end up being as bad as I thought it would be. I was able to make it down in one piece, even though I made a costly mistake of stopping all of my momentum before I reached the base of the uphill. The back part of the course was rather uneventful; it was just me passing people on downhills and then people passing me again on the uphills. Then, I came to The Dip again. At this point, I have less than a mile left to go. I'm tired. My mind is fried. I barely make it up The Dip without walking and I get passed by maybe five people, including one of my teammates whom I passed earlier. I get into the last downhill of the race and make up mind to "just do it." I try in vain to catch my teammate, but he just as too much for me as I cannot catch him.

On the very last hill of the course, my worst fear is realized, but it also sets up the second-greatest kick of my cross country career (in my first one I passed ten people in the last 400 meters of a race). A kid comes out of nowhere and passes me on the hill. However, once we are on flat ground (and 200 meters from the finish), I realize that I can take him, so I start my kick right there. He hears me and kicks too, and I do not have enough to keep with him. As I layoff, I sigh very loudly, as I am disappointed in myself. He hears this and slows considerably, and I take the opportunity and run with it. To get to the chute, there was a slight turn, so I moved to the outside of him and got around him and was in-step with him. Ten meters from the finish I step it into overdrive and start to lunge, while he reaches out and grabs my wrist to try and stop me. I am still unclear of the result, but I feel as though I got him. After this, I received a ribbon for being a participant and promptly started dry heaving.

My time: 26:03. Personally, I am disappointed, but given the circumstances surrounding the start (I'm still getting to them), I'm proud of myself.

Anyway, the pile up at the start. As I said before, I was tracking one of my teammates while I was four people behind him when it appeared that the person directly behind him got their feet tangled up and went down. Now, for any of you who have seen a race, you know that this had to have lead to a chain reaction, which it did. I was the fourth or fifth person to go down, and I have to say, it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I feel directly on top of another runner, and basically, with still another one hundred runners to pass me, I was pinned. People were screaming. People were swearing. I was kneed in the head a few times. And in case you didn't know, cross country runners wear spikes. Nice and sharp metal spikes. On the ground, trying to get up with my eyes still closed tight, I was stepped on a few times, and it hurt. I had a searing pain come from my left side, just under my armpit after I was stepped on. Once I got up, and started running, I could not evaluate myself, but I was rather shocked when I had time to evaluate the damage: I had (have) three cuts, at least three inches long, with various other shorter cuts on the lower part of my left side and even some cuts on my stomach. I just got up and ran the race, which I just did not feel like doing.

I was in a daze for the rest of the day. I could not believe that all of that had happened to me. It was one of those things you hear about, but you think, "That'll never happen to me." Well it happened, and I think I will be remembering my first experience with Bull Run for a long time to come.

So there it is. My experience at the 2007 Bull Run Invitational. Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 3: Packers vs. Chargers: Analysis

San Diego Chargers (1-1) @ Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Date: Sunday, September 23, 2007

Scoring Summary
First Quarter
7:07 - (SD) Vincent Jackson 27 yd. pass from Rivers (SD, 7-0)
2:40 - (GB) Crosby 28 yd. field goal (SD, 7-3)
Second Quarter
11:53 - (GB) Driver 5 yd. pass from Favre (GB, 10-7)
2:48 - (GB) Franks 5 yd. pass from Favre (GB, 17-7)
0:32 - (SD) Davis 9 yd. pass from Rivers (GB, 17-14)
Third Quarter
9:02 - (SD) Tomlinson 21 yd. pass from Rivers (SD, 21-17)
Fourth Quarter
2:03 - (GB) Jennings 57 yd. pass from Favre (GB, 24-21)
0:59 - (GB) Jackson 1 yd. run (GB, 31-21)
0:20 - (SD) Kaeding 44 yd. field goal (GB, 31-24)
Green Bay Packers (3-0) 31, San Diego Chargers (1-2) 24

Statistical Analysis
Brett Favre, GB: 28/45, 369 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 110.3 QB Rating
Phillip Rivers, SD: 27/36, 306 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INTs, 116.2 QB Rating
Analysis: Both quarterbacks put in great performances. I applaud Favre for not throwing a pick against a tough defense, but Rivers' pick really hurt him, as it set up the Brandon Jackson rushing touchdown with twenty seconds left. The Chargers could have definitely tied the game if Rivers had not thrown that pick. Anyway, a fantastic game from either quarterback.

LaDainian Tomlinson, SD: 22 rushes, 62 yards, 2.8 YPC
Brandon Jackson, GB: 6 rushes, 22 yards, 1 TD, 3.7 YPC
Michael Turner, SD: 4 rushes, 12 yards, 3.0 YPC
Ryan Grant, GB: 3 rushes, 10 yards, 3.3 YPC
DeShawn Wynn, GB: 2 rushes, 9 yards, 4.5 YPC
Analysis: Not too good on either side. Although they were playing tough defenses, the Pack really needs to get their running game whipped into shape. Wynn and Jackson and Grant need to step up and show the team and city what they are made of.

Donald Driver, GB: 6 rec, 126 yards, 1 TD
Antonio Gates, SD: 11 rec, 113 yards
Vincent Jackson, SD: 6 rec, 98 yards, 1 TD
Greg Jennings, GB: 4 rec, 82 yards, 1 TD
James Jones, GB: 6 rec, 79 yards
Donald Lee, GB: 4 rec, 44 yards
LaDainian Tomlinson, SD: 3 rec, 33 yards, 1 TD
Craig Davis, SD: 4 rec, 31 yards, 1 TD
Malcolm Floyd, SD: 1 rec, 25 yards
Brandon Jackson, GB: 3 rec 22 yards
DeShawn Wynn, GB: 3 rec, 14 yards
Lorenzo Neal, SD: 2 rec, 6 yards
Bubba Franks, GB: 1 rec, 5 yards, 1 TD
Ryan Grant, GB: 1 rec, -3 yards
Analysis: The Packers receivers had a very good game for Favre. Driver was stellar as usual, while Jennings had 82 yards on only four catches in his first game back. Donald Lee is really taking over the starting tight end position, grabbing four passes to Franks' one. Gates and V. Jackson had good days for San Diego, while Brandon Jackson continues to be used out of the backfield, amassing equal rushing and receiving yardage.

A.J. Hawk, GB: 11 tackles
Atari Bigby, GB: 11 tackles
Charles Woodson, GB: 9 tackles
Al Harris, GB: 7 tackles
Nick Barnett, GB: 7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD
Shaun Phillips, SD: 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 PD
C. Hart, SD: 6 tackles, 1 PD
S. Cooper, SD: 6 tackles
Aaron Kampman, GB: 5 tackles
Marlon McCree, SD: 5 tackles
Quentin Jammer, SD: 4 tackles, 2 PD
Nick Collins, GB: 4 tackles
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, GB: 3 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF
Jarrett Bush, GB: 3 tackles
D. Florence, SD: 3 tackles
Igor Olshansky, SD: 3 tackles, 0.5 sacks
Brady Poppinga, GB: 2 tackles
C. Cole, GB: 2 tackles
Jamaal Williams, SD: 2 tackles
B. McKinney, SD: 2 tackles
Eric Weddle, SD: 2 tackles,
Shawne Merriman, SD: 2 tackles
Analysis: The Green Bay offensive line had a very good day, limiting Merriman to only two tackles. However, Phillips picked up the slack for Merriman. Hawk, Bigby, and KGB are the MVPs of the defense for this game, in my opinion. All three played very solid. The Packers defensive linemen, with the exception of Kampman and KGB, were an almost non-factor, leaving much up to the linebackers and secondary, who produced. I would say that Bigby is a plyer to watch for the future.

Overall, all facets of the Packers team played well, with the exception of the running game. With Minnesota up next, it will be interesting to see how the running game will hold up against a good D.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Fantasy Diaries: Volume 6

I guess karma has smiled its face upon me. After going 3-1 last week, I went 2-2 this week, with some heartbreaking losses. So let's find out how my teams did:

Matchup #1
Maryland Maniacs
Bel Air Fresh Princes (1-0) vs. Big Daddy Warriors (0-1)
Warriors (1-1) 119, Fresh Princes (1-1) 70
Analysis: I got blown out in this one. Donovan McNabb (13 points), Joseph Addai (14), and Travis Henry (12) were my only players who earned more than 10 points. My opposition benefited from great performances from Chad Johnson (32), Randy Moss (22), and the Vikings D (20). How does a D lose a game and still earn 20 points? That is beyond me. Along with those three players, the Warriors also had Drew Brees (16) and Jason Elam (10) in double figures. Reggie Brown earned me two points this week, up from one last week...

Matchup #2
FanNation Fantasy Football League
The Providence Kool Thing (1-0) vs. Team likesbrady (0-1)
Kool Thing (2-0) 176.5, Team likesbrady (0-2) 143
Analysis: Defense reigns supreme in this league. My Broncos D recorded 40.5 points this week while the Giants D earned 41.5 points, while giving up 35 points to the Packers. Hmm. My second highest scorer was the surprising LaMont Jordan who racked up 30.5 points for papa. Also having good weeks were Steven Jackson (22.5), Donald Driver (21), Marc Bulger (18.5), and Brandon Jackson (17.5). Not having a good week for me were Daniel Graham (1) and David Martin (3). But what am I going to do? I still got the victory, thanks to goose-eggs by Robert Meachem, Maurice Stovall, and Tony Scheffler. I am very impressed with my start.

Matchup #3
FanNation Elite
DOCTORx Cool (0-1) vs. Kung-Fu Hustle (1-0)
DOCTORx Cool (1-1) 229, Hustle (1-1) 222
Analysis: Yet another close matchup. My top scorers on offense were Randy Moss (32), Marc Bulger (30.5), and Willis McGahee (30). Antoine Winfield (10.5) again led my defense, followed closely by DeMeco Ryans (8.5). My team overcame great performances by Brian Westbrook (31.5), Donovan McNabb (27), and Shaun Alexander (24) on the offensive side and Quentin Jammer (10) and Kirk Morrison (9.5) on the defensive side. Overall, I would say that my offense was moderately successful.

Matchup #4
DOCTORx Cool (1-0) vs. Richmond Wolverines (0-1)
Wolverines (1-1) 171.88, Cool (1-1) 170.30
Analysis: Another tight one at the hands of Yahoo! Of course, the Wolverines have Chad Johnson (50.90). Nothing else was that stellar besides him. And of course my opponent has him the week he breaks out. My top scorer was Roy Williams (23.00) followed closely by Donald Driver (22.05). Chad Johnson. Only reason I lost this one.

After 3-1 and 2-2 weeks, I am still sitting at 5-3 overall for all my leagues, which I am very impressed with.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Week 2: Packers @ Giants: Fourth Quarter

Fourth Quarter
Packers 14, Giants 13

Driver catches two consecutive passes to get the ball to the three yard line. TOUCHDOWN DONALD LEE! A three yard reception.

Packers 20, Giants 13

Mason Crosby extra point is good.

Packers 21, Giants 13

Ahmad Bradshaw fumbles kickoff return. Recovered by Tracy White.

Packers 21, Giants 13

Favre completes seven-yard pass to Bubba Franks. The Green Bay tight ends and running backs are shredding the Giants linebackers right now. Franks seems to be resurrecting his game too. Driver catches a five-yard pass for a first down on third-and-three. TOUCHDOWN DONALD DRIVER! A ten-yard pass.

Packers 27, Giants 13

Mason Crosby's extra point is good.

Packers 28, Giants 13

Aaron Kampman forces a funble but it is recovered by New York. Giants are forced to punt.

Packers 28, Giants 13

The Packers are forced to punt after gaining only one yard.

Packers 28, Giants 13

Derrick Ward picks up 12 yards for a first down on third down. Ward appears to fumble as he goes down, but it is ruled that the ground caused the fumble. Mike McCarthy challenges the call. The call is upheld and the Packers are charged a timeout. Giants take the ball down to the Green Bay 33 after an illegal contact penalty on A.J. Hawk. Packers DT Corey Williams intercepts Manning at the Green Bay 47.

Favre completes a seven-yard pass to Donald Driver for a first down. TOUCHDOWN DESHAWN WYNN! A 38-yard run, his second of the game.

Packers 34, Giants 13

Mason Crosby's point after attempt is good.

Packers 35, Giants 13

Jared Lorenzen is in at quarterback for the Giants. Cullen Jenkins is called for a personal foul. Derrick Ward gains 7 yards up the middle at the two minute warning.

Two Minute Warning
Packers 35, Giants 13

Anthony Wright in at quarterback. Wright's first two passes are incomplete. Wright completes a 12-yard pass to Mix, but his next two passes are incomplete. Ball at Green Bay 11. Jarrett Bush forces an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Favre takes two knees to close the game out.

Packers 35, Giants 13

Final Score:
Green Bay Packers (2-0) 35, New York Giants (0-2) 13

Week 2: Packers @ Giants: Third Quarter

Third Quarter
Giants 10, Packers 7

Tramon Williams returns the opening kickoff of the second half 42 yards to the Green Bay 49-yard line. Korey Hall catches his first career pass for ten yards. It's the Packers' 12th first down of the game, as opposed to 10 last week. Hall catches his second career pass in the middle of the field for another first down. James Jones catches a 17-yard pass to the Giants eight-yard line. Sam Madison is called for pass interference at the Giants two-yard line. Spot of the foul. Jackson has no gain on first and goal. TOUCHDOWN BUBBA FRANKS. A two-yard pass.

Packers 13, Giants 10

Mason Crosby's extra point is good.

Packers 14, Giants 10

Derrick Ward busts a 26-yard gain around left end. Ryan Pickett checks off the field with an injury. Manning is incomplete on second-and-five to Amani Toomer in the endzone. Al Harris is called for pass interference which gives the Giants a first down. Amani Toomer is called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Moves the ball from the eight-yard line to the 23-yard line. Ward moves the ball to the 14-yard line, bringing Lawrence Tynes on the field for the field goal attempt. Kick is good.

Packers 14, Giants 13

Brandon Jackson has a 15-yard catch and run, followed by passes to Donald Driver and Donald Lee to the Giants 43-yard line. Bubba Franks catches a pass for 13 yards to the Giants 30 yard line. The third quarter ends with the Packers having the ball on the Giants 27-yard line.

End of Third Quarter
Packers 14, Giants 13

Week 2: Packers @ Giants: Second Quarter

Second Quarter
Packers 0, Giants 0

Favre shows some of the Favre of old, firing a laser into Donald Driver for a 15-yard gain. Favre's third-and-ten pass is batted down. Fourth down.

Packers 0, Giants 0

Gibril Wilson flattens Jon Ryan on a punt, earning a 15-yard penalty and a first down. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman start talking about Ryan's "guns." Favre's first pass of the drive is deflected by Aaron Ross into Gibril Wilson's waiting arms. 275th career interception.

Packers 0, Giants 0

Ward gains a few yards before Manning's third-down pass to Jeremy Shockey is incomplete. Feagles barely gets the punt by Brady Poppinga.

Packers 0, Giants 0

Osi Umenyiora tackles Wynn for a five-yard loss. Favre completes a 46-yard pass to James Jones to the Giants 30-yard line. Brandon Jackson follows that up with a two-yard run. Favre completes a screen pass to former Giant Ryan Grant for 22 yards. On first-and-goal, Jackson rushes for one yard. DeShawn Wynn scores his first career touchdown and the first Packers touchdown of the season on a 6-yard run.

Packers 6, Giants 0

Mason Crosby's extra point is good.

Packers 7, Giants 0

Eli Manning connects with Eli Manning on a forty-yard pass after Charles Woodson slips. Manning connects with Plaxico Burress on a twenty-eight-yard touchdown pass.

Packers 7, Giants 6

Lawrence Tynes' extra point is good.

Packers 7, Giants 7

Joe Buck calls Ryan Seacrest an "unstoppable force in this universe." The Packers are really going after Giants CB Corey Webster in this game. Packers call their second timeout on third down and five.
Gamebreak: Joey Galloway catches a 69-yard TD pass, putting the Bucs up 14-0 on the Saints.
Packers punt to R.W. McQuarters.

Packers 7, Giants 7

Al Harris is called for illegal contact, giving the Giants a first-down on second-and-six. This just does not seem like the same defense we saw last week. On third-and-three, Manning completes a 19-yard pass to Jeremy Shockey for a first down into Packers territory. Giants wide receiver Steve Smith is out for the game with a scapula injury. Burress catches a 6-yard pass to the Packers 30. Third-and-four for the Giants.
Two Minute Warning
Jeremy Shockey converts third-down, but the play is offset by an offsides penalty by Aaron Kampman and a delay of game penalty Jeremy Shockey. On third-down again, Shockey drops a pass at the two-yard line. Lawrence Tynes converts 48-yard field goal.

Giants 10, Packers 7

Tramon Williams returns the kickoff to the 48-yard line. Negated by a holding penalty. Packers get ball at 15-yard line. On third-and-nine, DeShawn Wynn gains ten yards for a first down. Packers call final timeout of half with :14 left in the half after Wynn gains eight yards. Third-down pass to Bubba Franks is incomplete. Jon Ryan punts. Penalty, replay fourth down. Punt out of bounds.

Giants 10, Packers 7

End of Second Quarter
End of First Half
Giants 10, Packers 7

Statistical Breakdown
Eli Manning, NYG: 10/16, 143, 1 TD
Brett Favre, GB: 11/17, 139, 1 INT
Derrick Ward, NYG: 8 rushes, 45 yards
Brandon Jackson, GB: 8 rushes, 26 yards
DeShawn Wynn, GB: 7 rushes, 8 yards, 1 TD
Sinorice Moss, NYG: 1 rush, 4 yards
James Jones, GB: 2 catches, 53 yards
Amani Toomer, NYG: 2 catches, 48 yards
Jeremy Shockey, NYG: 2 catches, 38 yards
Plaxico Burress, NYG: 2 catches, 32 yards, 1 TD
Ryan Grant, GB: 1 catch, 21 yards
Donald Driver, GB: 2 catches, 20 yards

This is definitely not the same Packers defense we saw last week. The Giants offense is just making plays all over the field. Favre needs to be the gun-slinger right now, and not the game manager. However, Brandon Jackson looks pretty good, with more than half of his total rushing yards last week in just the first half.

Third quarter up next.

Week 2: Packers @ Giants: First Quarter

Week 2
Green Bay Packers (1-0) @ New York Giants (0-1)

The Packers got off to a rough start, giving up two 19-yard plays to Jeremy Shockey and Derrick Ward, before Brady Poppinga gets called with a 15-yard personal foul, letting the Giants get the ball inside the Packers 20 after two plays. The Packers held on third-and-eight, leading to a missed field goal by Lawrence Tynes.

Packers 0, Giants 0

Vernand Morency and Greg Jennings are inactive again, putting some more pressure on rookies Brandon Jackson and James Jones. The Packers put a good first drive together, but are stopped on third-and-one. Mason Crosby is brought out for a 43-yard field goal atempt. Wide left.

Packers 0, Giants 0

Eli Manning completes a third down pass to Steve Smith for a first down.
Gamebreak: Steve Smith (Carolina) makes a fantastic TD catch against the Texans.
Derrick Ward gains six yards for a first down. The Packers defense looks horrible right now. They can't stop anything the Giants throw at them. Aaron Kampman and A.J. Hawk get their first shot at Manning. Joe Buck calls Eli Manning's arm a "moneymaker." Derrick Ward is all over the Packers D. On third-and-six, the Packers get shots on Manning and Jeremy Shockey. Jeff Feagles comes out to punt, passing on a 51-yard-field goal attempt. Feagles punts the ball to the four-yard line.

Packers 0, Giants 0

DeShawn Wynn is stuffed by Antonio Pierce at the line of scrimmage trying to get out from inside the five-yard line. Brett Favre lofts a long pass to Ruvell Martin and draws a pass interference call on Corey Webster, moving the ball to the 27-yard line. It looks as if the Packers are trying to involve Martin more in the offense.
Gamebreak: Cadillac Williams scores his first touchdown of the season against the Saints.
Favre completes a seven-yard pass to James Jones for a first down.

End of First Quarter
Packers 0, Giants 0

Second quarter up next.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Fantasy Diaries: Volume 5

So as the curtain drew on a fantastic first weekend of fantasy football, I found myself at 3-1 overall, the benefactor of one point, one-half point, and .35 point wins. Pretty wild, eh?

Matchup #1
Maryland Maniacs
Bel Air Fresh Princes vs. FunkyTown Freaks
Fresh Princes 95, Freaks 94
Analysis: This matchup ended up being a lot closer than I thought it would be, but I got the W, so it's all good. I had five players record 10+ points (Donovan McNabb, Joseph Addai, Travis Henry, Laveranues Coles, and the Chargers D/ST) while my opponent had only three players score 10+ points (Jay Cutler, Frank Gore, Plaxico Burress). However, Burress scored 32 points which basically kept it close. The turning point of the matchup came between wide receivers Reggie Brown (Fresh Princes) and Lee Evans (Freaks). Both came into Week 1 looking to put up big numbers, but, well, neither performed. I don't even think either showed up. Brown scored one point (count it, one!) for me (so I guess you can say he showed up), while Evans scored ZERO points. That one play where McNabb decided to throw to him really helped me.

Matchup #2
FanNation Fantasy Football League
The Providence Kool Thing (0-0) vs. Richmond Wolverines (0-0)
Kool Thing 168 (1-0), Wolverines 167.5 (0-1)
: Wow. What a victory. I came into the Monday night games down 167.5-148 with only two player who hadn't played: Shayne Graham and Darrell Jackson. I think I would regard this as one of the greatest fantasy football comebacks of all-time. I put my faith in a kicker (yes, I know he is part of a high powered offense) who was playing the number one defense and a wide receiver, who, well, just isn't regarded that highly. And they produced, surprisingly. I was again helped by a player of mine (David Martin) producing one point while an opposing player (Nate Kaeding) produced NADA.

Matchup #3
FanNation Elite
DOCTORx Cool (0-0) vs. Ervin's Motorcycle Gang (0-0)
Ervin's Motorcycle Gang (1-0) 292.5, DOCTORx Cool (0-1) 228.5
: I got blown away in this matchup, plain and simple. I had Randy Moss (38.5 points) who was immediately cancelled out by Plaxico Burress (45.5) while Joseph Addai (36) and Tom Brady (52) blew away my running back, Willis McGahee (22.5), and my quarterback, Marc Bulger (25.5). This was also my first league involving defense so my highest scorer was Antoine Winfield (14.5) and my lowest scorer was Terrell Suggs (0). Defense is more hit and miss than offense. I need to learn.

Matchup #4
DOCTORx Cool (0-0) vs. ErvinEater (0-0)
DOCTORx Cool (1-0) 160.23, ErvinEater (0-1) 159.88
: Another close matchup. My highest scorer was Joseph Addai (23.30) against ErvinEater's Steve Smith (25.75). Offensively, I had two players score in double figures, Torry Holt (21.30) and Addai. ErvinEater had the highest scoring player in Randy Moss (40.30). Overall, my offense was outscored 122.63-109.98, but as they say, defense wins championships. My highest scoring defensive players were Madieu Williams (10.00) and DeMeco Ryans (8.50) compared to Julian Peterson (11.50) and Ray Lewis (7.25). Gotta love my defense.

So there we have it, Week 1 of the Fantasy Football season. I'm 3-1 and hope to continue my quest for eventual dominance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Quarterbacks of the 2001 NFL Draft

The 2001 NFL Draft provided an influx of potentially great quarterbacks. But did those quarterbacks really reach their potential?

Michael Vick, Virginia Tech, Round 1, Pick 1
Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
Current Team: Atlanta Falcons (?)
Career Stats: 74 games, 67 starts, 11,505 yards, 53.8 comp%, 71 TDs, 52 INTs, 75.7 QB Rating, 3,859 rushing yards, 21 rushing TDs
Career Analysis: Was/will never be a true quarterback. Off the field aside, he's exciting, but not really the right kind of quarterback to win championships.

Drew Brees, Purdue, Round 2, Pick 32
Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
Current Team: New Orleans Saints
Career Stats: 77 games, 76 starts, 17,218 yards, 62.7 comp%, 107 TDs, 67 INTs, 86.9 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Relatively mediocre early in his career, the drafting of Phillip Rivers motivated him to play well his last two years in San Diego. However, a torn labrum led to his ousting, where he earned a major contract with New Orleans. The result: an NFC Championship Game appearance a year after having the second pick in the draft.

Quincy Carter, Georgia, Round 2, Pick 52
Drafted by: Dallas Cowboys
Current Team: --
Career Stats: 38 games, 34 starts, 6,337 yards, 56.5 comp%, 32 TDs, 37 INTs, 71.7 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Carter just made a whole bunch of bad decisions in his career. For more on his career, follow this link.

Marques Tuiasosopo, Washington, Round 2, Pick 59
Drafted by: Oakland Raiders
Current Team: New York Jets
Career Stats: 11 games, 2 starts, 550 yards, 54.5 comp%, 2 TDs, 7 INTs, 48.0 QB Rating
Career Analysis: A career backup plagued by injuries. Has never lived up to second round potential. Now on a Jets roster behind Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemons.

Chris Weinke, Florida State, Round 4, Pick 106
Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
Current Team: Out of Football
Career Stats: 27 games, 19 starts, 3,800 yards, 54.3 comp%, 14 TDs, 26 INTs, 61.4 QB Rating
Career Analysis: The good ol', "Let's draft the 28-year old Heisman winner." Weinke, starting 15 games his rookie season, never panned out, which can be said about a lot of the quarterbacks in this draft. Weinke did start three games in the 2006 season (I did not know this) as a 34-year old in his sixth year of pro football. I guess baseball didn't really pan out.

Sage Rosenfels, Iowa State, Round 4, Pick 109
Drafted by: Washington Redskins
Current Team: Houston Texans (by way of Miami Dolphins)
Career Stats: 17 games, 2 starts, 1,041 yards, 54.7 comp%, 9 TDs, 7 INTs, 77.6 QB Rating
Career Analysis: I don't know enough about Rosenfels to really do a write up about him. He spent one year on the bench in Washington before going to Miami, where he saw some playing time. He appeared in four games for the Texans in 2006.

Jesse Palmer, Florida, Round 4, Pick 125
Drafted by
: New York Giants
Current Team: Out of Football
Career Stats: 8 games, 3 starts, 562 yards, 52.5 comp%, 3 TDs, 4 INTs, 59.8 QB Rating
Career Analysis: About the only thing that went for him was being on The Bachelor. I think he messed that up too.

Mike McMahon, Rutgers, Round 5, Pick 149
Drafted by: Detroit Lions
Current Team: Out of Football(?)
Career Stats: Unavailable
Career Analysis: I am having trouble finding anything out at all about this guy, but he was on the Philadelphia roster most recently. He had some good games while playing for the Lions, but never really got a handle on the job as Joey Harrington and Jeff Garcia came in and out.

A.J. Feeley, Oregon, Round 5, Pick 155
Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles (by way of Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers)
Career Stats: 20 games, 13 starts, 3,389 yards, 55.7 comp%, 22 TDs, 21 INTs, 71.1 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Feeley is most known for guiding the Eagles into the playoffs in his second season after injuries to Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer. This led to his big payday a year later with Miami, which did not pan out. A mediocre career backup.

Josh Booty, LSU, Round 6, Pick 172
Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
Current Team: Out of Football in 2003
Career Stats: Never took an NFL snap.
Career Analysis: Spent three seasons on the Cleveland Browns roster. Older brother of John David Booty.

Josh Heupel, Oklahoma, Round 6, Pick 177
Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
Current Team: Out of Football(?)
Career Stats: --
Career Analysis: Never played an NFL snap. Only lasted one year in the NFL.

So there we have it. I would have to say that only one of these quarterbacks (Drew Brees) has had a successful NFL career, and one (Michael Vick) has had a semi-successful career.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2001: Still With Me

Just to start, please don't get political with me or my views. This is my opinion, how I see things. I will accept your criticisms, but just don't talk about how much of an idiot I am.

September 11, 2001. The day of infamy. The newspapers from September 12, 2001 and beyond lie in a yellowing stack in my father's office. I have never looked at any of them. My parents never let me. As a fourth grader, I was too young. Maybe some day I will look at the newspapers, read the articles, and look at the pictures.

But anyway, back to the day. As most people describe it, and many September 11s afterwards, it was a perfect day. I was fourth grader. I got on the bus. I went about the routine a fourth grader should go through. Then it started to get weird. People were just getting picked up out of school and I didn't know why. It is something that would be very unnerving to me today, but I still thought nothing of it.

Then, after lunch, my teacher, Mrs. Nelson, told us that something had happened. She said that she didn't feel that she was the one to tell us and that she would let our parents tell us. This is probably the clearest memory I have of the day. On the bus ride home, the rumors were swirling: West Nile virus, bug spraying, planes crashing. None of it made sense to me.

When I got home, my parents, looking very somber, sat me down with my sister and explained to me what happened. I could not comprehend what had happened. I did not even know what the Twin Towers looked liked. I did not truly comprehend until weeks later when I summoned enough courage to watch the news, and I was shocked. I still have trouble putting the pieces together when I see pictures of the World Trade Center before the attacks. So tall, so invincible. How could two planes bring them down so quickly?

However, my reaction was not the typical "Let's get 'em!" reaction. Mine was more "Why?" I loathe Osama Bin Laden, but after 9/11 I was more concerned with "Why?" When coalition forces invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power, I was ok with that move. It seemed necessary. However, I did not see the need for Iraq. I don't want to get political, but I support the troops, not the war.

In the years following 9/11, I have made many connections to the day. The funeral of my great-uncles, a former Naval officer, was September 11, 2002. The funeral, which took place outside of Philadelphia, reached it's emtional climax, as a employee of the cemetary played taps as the casket was being lowered.

Today, many of my teachers told stories about September 11. During my chemistry class, we had the option of attending a mass in our auditorium. My chemistry teacher said, "I didn't stop teaching for 9/11 and I'm not going to stop for it now." I was sort of taken aback, but after she explained that she was trying to take her students' minds off of the tragedy, I totally understood. It's not like she wanted to keep teaching.

Another, more harrowing story, comes from my Spanish teacher. Every September, my school hosts a foreign exchange program with a school from Spain. The Spainiards visited New York City and stood on top of the Twin Towers on September 10, 2001, less than 24 hours before the first plane hit. My current Spanish teacher was supposed to go on the trip, but she had a gut feeling that she did not want to go to New York. After the exchange, the students took their time-stamped tickets that read "September 10, 2001" and 11:26 AM" home as a sort of morbid souvenir of the trip.

The one thing 9/11 brought out was the inner patriot in every American. The only problem, in my mind, is that the patriotism has almost totally disappeared. I love America. I dislike the current administration. So do many other people. The country divided almost as soon as it was unified, which makes me feel very uncomfortable. Are people only going to be united when over 3,000 innocent people are killed? Is that the only way we can be united? I include myself in that. We do not need to wait for something to happen to be united. We should be united anyway. Unity should be something always present. Unity should overcome everything, including religion.

That brings me to my next point. I don't have a problem with any Muslims or Arabs or Iraqis or Afghans. I have basically forgiven that stereotyped region of the world. I see nothing wrong with Islam. I had to do a report on it as freshman, and I see nothing wrong with it. I do have a problem with extremists, but then again, I have a problem with extremists in all religions. In discussions in my AP Human Geography class, we realized that September 11 was tied with religion and the extremist Muslims disagreements with American/Western culture. Some of the tension between Christians and Muslims Discriminations against people because they are Muslim bother me. Some people do not realize how connected Christianity and Islam are.

People need to know. That's the only way we can overcome these tragedies.

However, most people don't know. It's a sad thing.

September 11, 2001 is a day that lives in infamy. It should never stray far from our minds, along with the Oklahoma City Bombing, the first World Trade Center bombing, and all other tragedies that have had an impact on our great nation.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Week 1 - Packers vs. Eagles, Recapitulation

On a rainy afternoon that later turned sunny at Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre took another step towards claiming part of the record books. Favre and the Packers overcame some sloppy play and a tough Eagles defense to defeat Philadelphia 16-13 on a Mason Crosby field goal with two seconds on the clock. The victory was number one hundred forty-eight for Favre, tying John Elway for most wins by a quarterback all-time.

This game was defined by the skill, or lack there of, of special teams. Early in the first quarter, Eagles wide receiver Greg Lewis, making his first career punt return, muffed a Jon Ryan punt. A muffed punt is not allowed to be advanced by the kicking team, so as various Packers tried to pick the ball up, it was moved into the Eagles end zone where Packers linebacker Tracy White recovered. Mason Crosby, a rookie from Colorado who beat out incumbent Dave Rayner for the starting kicker job, converted his first career extra point soon after.

After taking a 10-0 lead with 9:39 left in the first quarter on Crosby's first career field goal, a 53-yarder, the Eagles came storming back, scoring 13 unanswered points in the second and third quarters, on two David Akers field goald and a Donovan McNabb-to-Jason Avant touchdown pass, the Eagles took a 13-10 lead with 8:20 left in the third.

The Packers' next drive was the highlight of the game. Starting off the drive with three consecutive passes to Brandon Jackson, Donald Driver, and Donald Lee for 28 yards, Favre looked like, well, Favre. After advancing all the way to the Philadelphia 42-yard line, the Packers were set back after a Driver offensive pass interference penalty, a very ticky-tack call.

With around six minutes left in the game, Favre made one of the greatest plays of the game. On a third-and-ten, Favre took the snap from center and was immediately under intense pressure from the Philadelphia defense. While being wrapped up by Joselio Hanson, Favre alertly flipped the ball to a surprised DeShawn Wynn, who gained control before scampering up the middle of the field to the Eagles 24-yard line for an eighteen-yard gain.

Two plays later, Favre's magic struck again. On a second-and-ten, Eagles defensive end Juqua Thomas had a bead on Favre, and Favre, while being dragged down backwards, rifled a pass to tight end Donald Lee for a six-yard gain. This sudden change in momentum forced the Eagles to use their first timeout. After a Mike Patterson sack and a third-down incompletion, the Packers had to rely on Crosby once again and he made the 37-yard field goal with ease, tying the game at 13 apiece. The drive was the statistical highlight of the game for Favre, as he went 5-out of-7 for 66 yards.

The game seemed lost for Packers late in the fourth quarter. After getting the ball with around five minutes remaining, Favre was sacked and stripped of the ball and it was recovered by Jevon Kearse. However, the Eagles were not able to go anywhere, leading to a punt by 6'5", 265 pound rookie punter Saverio Rocca, a rookie from Australia. The Packers, getting another chance at taking the game, were stopped at their 40-yard line with 1:09 left.

Jon Ryan sent a short punt towards his left and Eagles return man J.R. Reed took a long run after calling fair catch and trying to get to it. However, the ball was too far out of reach and as Reed dove for the ball, he muffed it and the ball was recovered by Packers defensive back Jarrett Bush at the Philadelphia 31-yard line. Immediately within Crosby's range, Jackson rushed for eight yards before Favre took a knee and called a timeout with six seconds left. Crosby's forty-two-yard field goal attempt was good, giving the Packers the 16-13 win.

Despite the win, Green Bay still has a lot of work to do. Favre managed the game pretty well, completing 23 of 42 passes for 206 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Favre was without second-year wideout Greg Jennings who is nursing a hamstring injury. James Jones, a rookie from San Jose State, made his first career start and caught four balls for 29 yards. Driver led the receiving corps with six catches for 66 yards. The running game also missed Vernand Morency as rookies Jackson and Wynn combined for 48 yards rushing.

The Packers pass defense had a scary moment early in the game when Al Harris hyperextended his elbow in the first quarter. Harris would return to the field eventually with a heavily taped arm, but the damage was done while he was off, as Kevin Curtis caught a thirty-seven yard pass from McNabb to set up a David Akers field goal.

Overall, the Packers defensive play was a success. McNabb was held to under 200 yards passing and completed only 45% of his passes. The Packers D also held Brian Westbrook to 131 yards of total offense, or five yards per touch. No receiver, after Westbrook, had more than three catches for the Eagles. The Packers were outgained by sixty-eight yards while Eagles held the ball for around three more minutes.

Overall, the Packers were lucky to escape with this win. The running and passing games (basically the entire offense) needs to step up if they are to have a chance against the New York Giants next week. The defense was a pleasant surprise, holding a high-octane offense to only 13 points.

Nice start to the season.


Week 1 - Packers vs. Eagles, Second Half

Fox plays "Rag and Bone" by The White Stripes before the start of the second half. Another one of my favorite songs. Another good omen?

Third Quarter
14:31 - Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard is out for game with sprained knee.
14:09 - Bubba Franks drops a diving catch.
14:02 - Favre converts first down on 12-yard pass to Franks.
11:04 - McNabb completes a 31-yard pass to a wide open Jason Avant. Eagles were originally pinned at the 15-yard line.
9:35 - Eagles convert a 3rd & 6 with a 15-yard pass to Kevin Curtis.
8:20 - Packers force fourth down after an athletic play by Al Harris.
8:15 - Akers converts 47-yard field goal.
Eagles 13, Packers 10
6:47 - Favre converts third and four with a 22 yard pass to Donald Driver.
5:47 - Driver is called for offensive pass interference on a very cheap call. Driver barely touches his defender.
4:48 - Favre makes an amazingly impossible play as Favre shovels the ball to DeShawn Wynn while being dragged down by two Eagles. Gain of 18 yards for Wynn.
3:30 - Favre completes a 6-yard pass to Donald Lee at Eagles 18 while being dragged down by Juqua Thomas.
2:43 - Favre converts third and four on a four yard pass to Ruvell Martin.
1:31 - Favre sacked at 19-yard line by Mike Patterson.
:49 - Favre one-hops a third and fifteen pass to James Jones. Fourth down.
:45 - Crosby converts 37-yard field goal.
Packers 13, Eagles 13

End of Third Quarter
Packers 13, Eagles 13

Fourth Quarter
14:55 - Cullen Jenkins sacks Donovan McNabb on third down. Negated by Charles Woodson illegal contact penalty. First down.
12:47 - Corey Williams sacks McNabb on third down.
12:13 - Jackson stuffed at the line of scrimmage again. Only 10 carries for 18 yards.
11:02 - Packers go three and out.
I gotta get me some Packers Crocs.
8:32 - Eagles use second timeout of second half.
The new Miller Lite commercials with Dr. Cox from Scrubs as commissioner of the MTL are pretty funny.
7:43 - Nick Collins almost picks off McNabb on third down.
5:53 - Johnny Jolly deflects McNabb's pass for the third time today.
5:09 - Jason Avant called for a 15-yard personal foul.
Favre fumbles somewhere in here. Missed it because of the phone.
2:39 - Packers force Eagles punt.
2:26 - Brandon Jackson has his best run of the day for 9 yards.
1:59 - Jackson picks up first down.
Two Minute Warning
:59 - J.R. Reed muffs punt from Jon Ryan. Recovered by Jarrett Bush.
:52 - Eagles use their final timeout.
:48 - Jackson gains seven yards to the Eagles 23-yard line.
:14 - Favre takes a knee.
:06 - Packers call timeout.
Packers 16, Eagles 13
:00 - Game over.
Final Score: Packers 16, Eagles 13

Brett Favre wins 148th career NFL game, tying John Elway's record.

Game Stats

Total Net Yards
Green Bay: 215
Philadelphia: 283

Green Bay: 6-35
Philadelphia: 8-76

Time of Possession
Green Bay: 28:12
Philadelphia: 31:48

Green Bay: 2
Philadelphia: 3

Third Down
Green Bay: 8/18, 44%
Philadelphia: 6/18, 33%

Brett Favre, GB: 23/42, 206 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Donovan McNabb, PHI: 15/33, 184 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brandon Jackson, GB: 15 carries, 40 yards
Brian Westbrook, PHI: 20 carries, 85 yards

Donald Driver, GB: 6 receptions, 66 yards
Jason Avant, PHI: 3 receptions, 54 yards, 1 TD
Kevin Curtis, PHI: 2 receptions, 53 yards
Brian Westbrook, PHI: 6 receptions, 46 yards
Brandon Jackson, GB: 4 receptions, 35 yards
James Jones, GB: 4 receptions, 29 yards
Donald Lee, GB: 4 receptions, 27 yards

Nick Barnett, GB: 13 tackles, 1 INT
Mike Patterson, PHI: 10 tackles, 1 sack
Takeo Spikes, PHI: 9 tackles
Atari Bigby, GB: 8 tackles
Sheldon Brown, PHI: 7 tackles, 1 INT
Aaron Kampman, GB: 6 tackles
Trent Cole, PHI: 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF
William James, PHI: 5 tackles
A.J. Hawk, GB: 5 tackles
Cullen Jenkins 5 tackles

There we have it. The Packers are still undefeated.

Week 1 - Packers vs. Eagles, First Half

An attempt at a live blog for the game:

September 9, 2007
Week 1
Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Starting Lineups
Green Bay Packers
QB: Brett Favre (258nd consecutive start)
RB: Brandon Jackson (R)
FB: Korey Hall (R)
WR: Donald Driver
WR: James Jones
TE: Donald Lee
LT: Chad Clifton
LG: Darryn Colledge
C: Scott Wells
RG: Jason Spitz
RT: Mark Tauscher
DE: Aaron Kampman
DE: Cullen Jenkins
DT: Johnny Jolly
DT: Ryan Pickett
OLB: Brady Poppinga
MLB: Nick Barnett
OLB: A.J. Hawk
CB: Charles Woodson
CB: Al Harris
SS: Atari Bigby
FS: Nick Collins
Philadelphia Eagles
QB: Donovan McNabb
RB: Brian Westbrook
FB: Thomas Tapeh
WR: Reggie Brown
WR: Kevin Curtis
TE: L.J. Smith
LT: William "Tra" Thomas
LG: Todd Herremans
C: Jamaal Jackson
RG: Shawn Andrews
RT: Jon Runyan
DE: Jevon Kearse
DE: Trent Cole
DT: Broderick Bunkley
DT: Mike Patterson
OLB: Takeo Spikes
MLB: Orlando Gaither
OLB: Chris Gocong
CB: Lito Sheppard
CB: Sheldon Brown
SS: Sean Considine
FS: Brian Dawkins

They played "Taper Jean Girl" by Kings of Leon, one of my favorite songs, on Fox before the start of the game. Must be a good omen.

First Quarter
14:37 - Packers force the Eagles 3 & Out on the first drive of the season. A very good start with some help from penalties.
14:15 - Brandon Jackson gains two yards on his first NFL carry.
13:27 - Packers go 3 & Out on first series after incompletion on pass to Ruvell Martin.
13:10 - TOUCHDOWN! Muffed punt by Greg Lewis on first career punt return recovered by Tracy White in the end zone. Mason Crosby converts first career extra point. (7-0)
13:10 - Crosby has a huge leg as evidenced by his touchback on the kickoff.
10:34 - Nick Barnett intercepts Donovan McNabb on a very athletic play at the 34 yard line.
10:30 - Brandon Jackson drops his first career reception.
10:30 - Favre completes first pass of season to Donald Driver for first completion of season.
9:40 - Mason Crosby makes 53-yard field goal, first of career. (10-0)
Packers definitely made the right decision in taking Crosby over Dave Rayner.
7:31 - Packers force another 3 & Out.
7:13 - Al Harris shaken up after hit by Atari Bigby and taken into locker room.
7:05 - James Jones makes first career reception.
4:46 - Favre throws first interception of the season (#274 of career) after Sheldon Brown steps in front of Bubba Franks.
0:10 - McNabb completes 36-yard pass to Kevin Curtis to the Green Bay 6-yard line on Tramon Williams.
The loss of Harris is really hurting the Packers pass D in the nickel and dime defenses.
End of First Quarter, Green Bay leads Philadelphia 10-0.

Just saw a commercial with Jonathon Ogden of the Ravens dancing. A lot. Didn't want to see that.
Fox is going to have another Yankees-Red Sox game on this Saturday. Ugh.

Second Quarter
14:10 - Nick Barnett forces Westbrook out of bounds at the 6-yard line on third and goal.
13:34 - David Akers kicks 23-yard field goal, but it is negated by holding penalty.
13:30 - Akers makes 33-yard field goal. (10-3)
Oh God, Ryan Seacrest is going to host the Emmys.
11:22 - DeShawn Wynn takes first career carry for 8 yards on a third down.
Those new Heineken commercials are really, really weird and freak me out.
Commercial for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I actually saw it being filmed in Philly in June. Neat, huh?
10:23 - Al Harris is back on sideline with heavily taped elbow.
10:09 - Al Harris returns to field.
7:10 - Cullen Jenkins injured.
Another hit to the Packers defense. With Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's decline, Jenkins' emergence has been a pleasant surprise, but the potential loss of Jenkins would be extremely detrimental.
6:54 - Jenkins' injury reported as a calf cramp.
6:00 - McNabb throws 9-yard TD pass to Jason Avant. Akers' extra point good. (10-10)
5:46 - Packers only have one first down so far.
5:28 - Packers pick up second first down on 10-yard pass to Driver.
4:57 - This just in: Tony Siragusa is the most annoying sideline reporter on TV.
4:05 - Jevon Kearse mauls Brett Favre, forcing a sack and fourth down, before limping off to the sideline.
2:48 - McNabb is sacked by KGB.
Pittsburgh-Cleveland is on CBS. Derek Anderson is already in the game in the second quarter.
:58 - Favre completes consecutive passes to Driver and Jackson, totaling 28 yards.
:38 - Ruvell Martin catches pass for first down at Eagles 38.
:11 - Favre sacked by Monte Reagor back to Eagles 47. Packers use final timeout.
:00 - First half ends with 15 yard pass to Jackson

End of First Half: Packers 10, Eagles 10

First Half Statistical Leaders
Brett Favre, GB: 11/20, 100 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
Donovan McNabb, PHI: 10/17, 111 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brandon Jackson, GB: 5 carries, 13 yards
Brian Westbrook, PHI: 11 carries, 49 yards
Brandon Jackson, GB: 3 receptions, 34 yards
Brian Westbrook, PHI - 5 receptions, 37 yards
Kevin Curtis, PHI: 1 reception, 37 yards
Nick Barnett, GB: 5 tackles, 1 INT
Sheldon Brown, PHI: 4 tackles, 1 INT
Takeo Spikes, PHI: 4 tackles

Green Bay is struggling offensively. Jackson and Wynn need to step up for the Packers to win this game. That's about all their is to say about this.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Green Bay Packers Season Preview - Offense

The Green Bay Packers are undefeated! For now, at least. Anyway, here is how I think the team shapes up and a preview of their schedule. Enjoy:
Quarterback has never been a question mark in Green Bay for a long, long time. However, as Brett Favre gets older, it is time to give a look to Aaron Rodgers, who is the quarterback of the future. There are many detractors on Rodgers, but has he really had a chance? He has not quarterbacked in a meaningful game or situation yet, so it is unfair to judge him. Rodgers had a very good offseason. It was reported by the coaches that he was showing great leadership and making strides in his development. Carlyle Holliday is listed as the third-string quarterback (and wide receiver) on, so some gimmick plays could be in order. If Favre goes down, Rodgers could step in and be an adequate backup. Don't forget about Paul Thompson on the practice squad.
Grade: I have to say a B. Favre getting older and the 23-year old Rodgers developing puts them right in the middle. After Rodgers though, the situation gets a little shady with two versatile athletes who have spent time at wide receiver (Holliday currently, Thompson in college).
Running Backs
This is most likely going to be a running back-by-committee for the season. Vernand Morency is penciled in as the starter, but is currently nursing a knee injury and it is doubtful he will start the season opener at Philadelphia. Brandon Jackson, a rookie out of Nebraska, is expected to take over the starting spot, but suffered a concussion in practice to go along with a mediocre preseason. suggests that Jackson will start the season opener against the Eagles, while Morency is eased back in in a third down role. However, also reports that Morency could take over for Jackson if he struggles early. Also on the roster are DeShawn Wynn, a seventh-round draft choice from Florida, and the newly acquired Ryan Grant, in his third year out of Notre Dame. Given the recent injuries to Morency and Jackson, Wynn and Grant could both see some action this season. Noah Herron, also a running back, was placed on injured reserve during training camp.
Grade: I have to say B-. With no clear cut starter, every running back on the roster is under pressure to produce and fill Ahman Green's shoes. All of these backs are somewhat young (Morency is the oldest at 27) and none of them have been in the league for more than three years.
If you are anything remotely close to a Packers fan, you know the Packers love their fullbacks. However, with the release of William Henderson this past offseason, the fullback situation becomes a question mark. Korey Hall, a rookie out of Boise State, is slated to be the starting fullback on What you may not know though, is that Hall is a converted linebacker learning a new position. Hall is also expected to be a special teams ace for the Packers this year and in the future. On the last day of camp, another fullback joined the party: John Kuhn, picked up off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kuhn saw action in nine games last year for the Steelers and is expected to compete with Hall for the starting job. I wouldn't put seeing them both on the field on the same time out of question either. The Packers do love their three back sets.
Grade: C. Didn't want to have to give them that grade, but when you honestly look at it, you have no clue what to expect from any of them. This grade may be pushing B or B+ by the end of the season if they produce.
Wide Receivers
Injuries aside, this is a pretty good group. Donald Driver leads the group and hopes to improve on last season's 92 reception, 1,295 yards, and eight touchdowns. When Brett Favre is your quarterback, it probably will happen. Or at least you'll come close. After Driver, however, the picture is a lot hazier. Greg Jennings, a second-year man out of Western Michigan, had a good rookie season, but disappointed in the preseason where rookie James Jones, shined. It's only preseason, but hey, it has to show something. Jennings will start the season as the starter, but may clear the way for Jones, depending on who Favre targets as his favorite receiver early on. Behind them on the depth chart are Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holliday. Martin has been on the bubble year in and year out, but closed out the 2006 season with a 100-yard game, quite a performance when you think of the impact Driver and Jennings had last year. Holliday is listed as the third string quarterback on, so, as I said before, some gimmick plays may be in order.
Grade: This is really tough because you have Driver, who is a stud, but after that, it is a crapshoot. I am going to have to say B-. The only reason for that low of a grade is the uncertainty between Jones and Jennings on who will be second and third receiver. This grade could easily change in either direction by Week 5.
Tight Ends
Currently, on the depth chart, Donald Lee is starting over Bubba Franks. Lee, in his fifth year out of Mississippi State is seen as a superior replacement to Bubba Franks. Franks, 29, was overcome last year with a case of the drops, which had many people calling for his removal from the lineup, not to mention Franks' production has been on the decline in recent years, scoring 0 touchdowns last year. Lee did not score as well last year, but averaged 15.0 yards per catch.
Grade: C+. Just not that good when you think about, but if Lee produces as well as some expect him to, he could very well bump the overall grade up to B.
Offensive Line
Long the strength of past Green Bay teams, the offensive line is looking up again with some young talent being mixed in with some crafty old vets. First, the vets. Chad Clifton (LT) returns for his eigth season with Packers, anchoring a young offensive line along with Mark Tauscher (RT), also returning for his eigth season. The line's midsection is manned by center
Scott Wells, in his fourth season from Tennessee, Daryn Colledge (LG), in his second year from Boise State, and Jason Spitz (RG), who is in his second season out of Louisville. The offensive line boasts some young backups in Tony Moll (G), Allen Barbre (G), Tony Palmer (G), and Junius Coston (T), who are all in their third year or younger. These young players could all develop into some fantastic players in time.
Grade: B. Nothing particularly stands out about this line besides Tauscher and Clifton. Wells has been solid, while Colledge and Spitz should be an improvement now in their second year in the NFL.

Overall, I would give the Packers offense a B-. It's not the greatest, but it will put up some points. There are also some question marks tied in with this offensive, such as the tight end position, too.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The End of the Road For Our Neighbors to the North

On September 3, 2007, the Ottawa Lynx played the final Triple-A baseball game in Canada. Following in the footsteps of Triple-A teams from Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Edmonton, the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A affiliate will head for greener pastures next year. The lone teams that remain in Canada are the Vancouver Canadians, a Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays.

So what does this mean for baseball?

I think baseball is basically ignoring the United States' neighbor to the north and concentrating on globalizing baseball elsewhere, in places such as Asia and Europe. But why ignore Canada? It's not like the players coming out of there are horrible. Erik Bedard, Ryan Braun, Ryan Dempster, Eric Gagne, Rich Harden, Ferguson Jenkins, Adam Loewen, Russell Martin, and Larry Walker are some of the notable players to come out of Canada. Braun, Loewen, and Martin are all regarded as young stars of the game.

Yes, Canada is a hockey-first country, but is it really necessary to pull ALL teams out of Canada? Canadians are allowed to like baseball too. But this is the end of the road for Major League Baseball affiliated teams. When the only two teams in your country are a Single-A team which could be moved at any time and an underachieving MLB team, that's not good. The Blue Jays are only 14 years removed from a World Series title, but if they falter in the next 10-15 years, I can see them being moved.

When it all comes down to it in, 5-10 years, the Blue Jays will be the only team left and Major League Baseball will be wondering what happened to baseball in Canada. Unfortunately, they won't realize they brought this upon themselves.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Packers make some more roster moves...

On September 2, 2007, Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson announced more roster moves made by the Packers:

Packers claim fullback John Kuhn off of waivers.

Packers place running back Noah Herron on injured reserve.

The following players were signed to the practice squad:

Paul Thompson, QB: A rookie from Oklahoma who played quarterback and wide receiver in college completed 11 out of 19 passes for 86 yards and no touchdowns in the preseason. It seems as if the Packers will only carry two quarterbacks (Favre and Rodgers) on their active roster. Thompson is the number three quarterback.

Corey White, RB: A rather surprising cut given the Packers running back situation, but was made expendable because of the Ryan Grant acquisition. This rookie from UAB was the second-leading rusher this preseason, gaining 108 yards on 34 carries. May see some time because of the running back situation.

David Clowney, WR: This rookie from Virginia Tech had a rather successful preseason catching five passes for 32 yards and returning four kickoffs for 66 yards.

Chris Francies, WR: Francies, in his second season out of UTEP, appeared in the first two games of the preseason, netting two catches for 16 yards. That's about it.

Clark Harris, TE: Harris, a rookie from Rutgers, had his moment of glory this preseason with a twenty yard catch against Seattle. Unfortunately, that was all he did.

Orrin Thompson, T: Thompson appeared in three of four preseason games.

Spencer Havner, LB: Havner appeared in three games this preseason and recorded eight tackles, with five coming against Seattle.

John Kuhn: The Newest Packer
The Packers also claimed fullback John Kuhn off of waivers from the Steelers on September 2. Kuhn, a second year pro from Shippensburg, spent 2005 on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad before appearing in nine games in 2006. Kuhn will be expected to help shore up the fullback position, as Boise State rookie and converted linebacker Korey Hall is slated on to start. Welcome to the Packers, John.

In another devastating blow to the running game, Noah Herron was placed on injured reserve. Herron was expected to be in the competition with Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency, or at least be a backup and spell either of them. Unfortunately, due to a knee injury, Herron will have to sit out the year. In his two years with the Packers, Herron has 82 attempts for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and a 3.2 yards per carry average for his three year career out of Northwestern. Herron spent his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So there we have it. The Packers have made EVEN MORE roster moves. Man, they've been busy.

Sources: and

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Packers clear even more roster space...

On September 1, 2007, Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson announced that the Packers had parted ways with 20 more players:

Paul Thompson, QB

Corey White, RB

Brandon Miree, FB

Shaun Bodiford, WR

David Clowney, WR

Chris Francies, WR

Calvin Russell, WR

Zac Alcorn, TE

Clark Harris, TE

Orrin Thompson, T

Travis Leffew, G

Adam Stenavich, G

Larry Birdine, DE

Tim Goodwell, LB

Spencer Havner, LB

Rory Johnson, LB

Patrick Dendy, CB

Marquand Manuel, S

Alvin Nnabuife, S

Dave Rayner, K

Safety Tyrone Culver, linebacker Abdul Hodge, and guard Tyson Walter were placed on injured reserve.

The Packers also acquired running back Ryan Grant from the Giants for "an undisclosed future draft pick."

My take: Some of these moves does not affect the roster that much, but three or four of the moves affect the roster greatly.

The release of quarterback Paul Thompson leaves Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks on the roster. Many people thought Thompson had the number three quarterback position locked up after the release of Ingle Martin. Not so much.

Marquand Manuel's release signifies his classification as a Packers free agent bust. Brought in to help solidify the secondary, he did not help that much. I say good riddance, but it will be interesting to see how well the secondary holds up this year.

Mason Crosby has officially won the job as the Packers kicker with the release of Dave Rayner. Crosby had a down year in his senior season at Colorado, but I think he is the perfect man for the job. He has a big leg that can kick through the bad weather at Lambeau. I think he will be a success.

Putting Culver, Hodge, and Walter on injured reserve weakens each of their respective positions. It pains me to see young guys put on IR before the season even starts. I think Hodge could have contributed along with Culver in a backup/special teams roll.

The acquisition of Ryan Grant adds some more punch to the running game, while Brandon Jackson has a concussion (questionable for the season opener), Vernand Morency is out the first four weeks of the season, and Noah Herron is out at least the first three weeks of the season. DeShawn Wynn survived the cuts, so the Packers have two healthy running backs in Wynn and Grant. It remains to be seen, however, how much playing time either of them actually gets.

These cuts also signal the end of the preseason. The Packers went 2-2 this preseason, beating Pittsburgh 13-9 and Seattle 48-13, while losing to Jacksonville 21-13 and Tennessee 30-14.

Aaron Rodgers was the Packers' leading passer this preseason, completing 37 out of 59 passes for 382 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 98.6 QB rating.

Brandon Jackson, expected to be the opening game starter, was the leading rusher with 131 yards and two touchdowns on 40 attempts, dividing out as a mediocre 3.3 yards per rush average.

James Jones, the rookie out of San Jose State, had a very impressive preseason, catching 21 passes for 233 yards with a long of 32 and two touchdowns. Jones is said to be right on Greg Jennings' heels for the number two wide receiver spot behind Donald Driver. The only other Packers to catch touchdown passes were Carlyle Holiday and Noah Herron.

There we have it. The preseason is over. Bring on the Iggles!

Who's Next?

No, not that Who's Next? With Byron Leftwich's departure from Jacksonville, I decided to take a look at the other quarterbacks selected in the 2003 NFL Draft and examine their situations. Pretty interesting, eh?

Carson Palmer, USC, Round 1, Pick 1
Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
Current Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Career Stats: 45 games, 45 starts, 932/1461, 63.8%, 10,768 yards, 78 TDs, 43 INTs, 91.5 QB Rating
Career Analysis: One of the best quarterbacks in the game today. Benefits from a great supporting cast, but is still for real. Came back strong from his devastating knee injury.

Byron Leftwich, Marshall, Round 1, Pick 7
Drafted by: Jacksonville Jaguars
Current Team: --
Career Stats: 46 games, 43 starts, 789/1344, 58.7%, 9,042 yards, 51 TDs, 36 INTs, 80.5 QB Rating
Career Anaylsis: A huge disappointment. Plagues by injuries (never played a 16 game season) and inconsistency (never had more than 15 TD passes), the Jaguars basically said, "Good riddance" by releasing Leftwich.

Kyle Boller, California, Round 1, Pick 19
Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
Current Team: Baltimore Ravens
Career Stats: 41 games, 34 starts, 578/1036, 55.8%, 6,103, 36 TDs, 34 INTs, 71.0 QB Rating
Career Analysis: A disappointment, but the jury is still out. Boller's career in Baltimore is basically condemned by inconsistency, the arrival of Steve McNair in 2006, and the drafting of Troy Smith in 2007. Boller (another Tedford product?) has basically worn out his welcome in Baltimore. However, he could resurrect his career if he finds a suitable system and patient coaching staff.

Rex Grossman, Florida, Round 1, Pick 22
Drafted by: Chicago Bears
Current Team: Chicago Bears
Career Stats: 24 games, 23 starts, 367/675, 54.4%, 4,496, 27 TDs, 26 INTs, 72.4 QB Rating
Career Analysis: All I can basically say is that a lot of people do not like him. Grossman led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, his first full year as a starter, but took the brunt of criticism because he was maddeningly inconsistent. This is a very important year for him, as he has missed most of three out of four seasons, and he needs to produce to keep his job (and quite possibly his life) right now.

Dave Ragone, Louisville, Round 3, Pick 88
Drafted by: Houston Texans
Current Team: --
Career Stats: 2 games, 2 starts, 20/40, 50%, 135 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 47.4 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Out of football since 2005. Maybe he was brought in to push David Carr? Who knows? Nothing really to say. The 2 games he appeared in were both in 2003, his rookie season.

Chris Simms, Texas, Round 3, Pick 97
Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Current Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Career Stats: 19 games, 15 starts, 291/492, 59.1%, 3,087 yards, 12 TDs, 17 INTs, 71.2 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Not good. Simms just has not got real good shot in Tampa. The acquisition of Garcia buried him even further this year after his devastating spleen injury last year. Who knows if he will ever return to 2005 form (which was not even that good)?

Seneca Wallace, Iowa State, Round 4, Pick 110
Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
Current Team: Seattle Seahawks
Career Stats: 15 games, 4 starts, 95/166, 57.2%, 9 TDs, 8 INTs, 75.4 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Probably would have been converted to a wide receiver or running back because of his athleticism, but he has found a home as backup quarterback in Seattle. Wallace filled in admirably for Matt Hasselbeck last year and was rewarded with a contract extension, so you know he must be doing something right.
Brian St. Pierre, Boston College, Round 5, Pick 163
Drafted by: Pittsburgh Steelers
Current Team: Pittsburgh Steelers (spent 2005 with Baltimore Ravens)
Career Stats: 1 game, 0 starts, 0/1, 0.0%, 0 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 39.6 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Preseason player. That is all there is to say.

Drew Henson, Michigan, Round 6, Pick 192
Drafted by: Houston Texans
Current Team: --
Career Stats: --
Career Analysis: Spurned the Texans for baseball. Later returned and played for the Cowboys, but didn't do anything.

Brooks Bollinger, Wisconsin, Round 6, Pick 200
Drafted by: New York Jets
Current Team: Minnesota Vikings
Career Stats: 14 games, 9 starts, 168/293, 57.3%, 1,764 yards, 7 TDs, 7 INTs, 73.0 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Mediocre backup at best. Performed well during his nine starts in New York. If Tarvaris Jackson struggles in Minnesota, Bollinger could see some playing time.

Kilff Kingsbury, Texas Tech, Round 6, Pick 201
Drafted by: New England Patriots
Current Team: -- (Played for NY Jets in 2005)
Career Stats: 1 game, 0 starts, 1/2, 50.0%, 17 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 79.5 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Yet another system passer on college that failed in the NFL.

Gibran Hamdan, Indiana, Round 7, Pick 232
Drafted by: Washington Redskins
Current Team: Miami Dolphins
Career Stats: 1 game, 0 starts, 1/2, 50.0%, 7 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 58.3 QB Rating
Career Analysis: Four teams (Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins) in four seasons spells doom for Hamdan. Probably won't see anymore action in the NFL.

Ken Dorsey, Miami, Round 7, Pick 241
Drafted by: San Francisco 49ers
Current Team: Cleveland Browns
Career Stats: 12 games, 10 starts, 171/317, 53.9%, 1,712, 8 TDs, 11 INTs
Career Analysis: Another quarterback with a ridiculous college career that falls short in the pros. Probably hasn't gotten a legitimate shot to show his stuff, but there has to have been a reason he was drafted behind Gibran Hamdan.

So there we go, a look back at the quarterbacks of the 2003 NFL Draft. As for predicting their futures, I see a change in scenary in the cards for Leftwich (duh), Boller, and Simms. I think Grossman will be in Chicago for a few more years.

Wasn't that interesting?