Mining the mental abyss

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Aug 25, 2009



By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts filosopher
 
Deep thoughts from the Chief Troll before, during and after Baltimore's 24-23 win over the Jets on Monday Night Fake Football.
 
***
 
Jon Gruden is a great addition to the MNF broadcast booth this year – far more insightful than Joe Chardonnay. But is it just us, or does Evil Chucky, with his sinister grin, always look like he's devising new and gruesome ways to rip Ron Jaworski's heart from his chest cavity?
 
Our advice? Keep your head on a swivel this year, Jaws.
 
***
 
News broke Monday night at the 49ers have named Shaun Hill their starter for 2009. Our question is, "What the hell took Mike Singletary so long to make the decision?"
 
As we noted recently in our NFC Icy Issues, Hill was the obvious guy to start ahead of Alex Smith. The only reason the 49ers let the issue drag on as long as they did is because of the NFL's seeming obsession with pedigree – Smith is a former No. 1 overall pick. Hill was an undrafted free agent. But as Hill proved last year, with his 2-to-1 TD-INT ratio while leading the otherwise pathetic 49ers to a 7-3 record, he clearly represents the future in San Francisco.
 
***
 
According to the effusive praise from the Monday Night Football broadcast team, Baltimore's second-year quarterback is quite a calming influence in the huddle. In fact, sources tell us that Dr. Murray prescribed 20 milligrams of joeflacco to Michael Jackson the night that he died.
 
***
 
News also broke Monday that Edgerrin James has landed with the Seahawks. He's certainly not the long-term answer, but if healthy he should provide a short-term boost to a rushing offense that fell off the face of the earth when it lost Steve Hutchinston to free agency and Shaun Alexander to injuries in 2006.
 
The Seahawks averaged an awesome 4.7 YPA on the ground with Hutchinson and Alexander leading the way in 2005. They fell to a middling 4.0 YPA in 2006; a poor 3.8 YPA in 2007; and an improved 4.2 YPA in 2008.
 
Considering what's happened since, it's hard to believe that Alexander was the league MVP in 2005, when he rushed for 1,880 yards and a then-record 27 TDs, while leading the Seahawks to a 13-3 record and their first and only Super Bowl appearance. He picked up just 1,636 yards and scored 11 TDs in the three years since, and is now out of football.
 
James, meanwhile, was one of the most productive offensive players in NFL history when he left the Colts for Arizona in 2006. But last year, he was essentially shut out of the Cardinals offense. He rushed for just 514 yards and 3 TDs on 133 carries (3.9 YPA) last year. His average has dropped below 4.0 YPA each of his three years in the desert.
 
Alexander turns 32 on August 30. James turned 31 earlier this month. The two remain symbols of how fleeting life is for a running back in the Not For Long league.
 
 
***
 
Great to see Sam Koch punting for the Ravens. Reminds the CHFF crew of our typical teenage lament: "Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody ..." Yeah, it's tough being a 39-year-old virgin.
 
***
 
For all the hype about new Jets coach Rex Ryan's aggressive, attacking style of football on defense, the Jets offense stills seem married to the draw play on 3rd and long -- at least if their performance Monday night was any indication. You'd think Ryan would have filed for a divorce, but no such luck. This play, only slightly more conservative than William F. Buckley Jr., has been a staple of the Jets offense since about the Joe Walton Era.
 
On the first drive of the first quarter, Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez was picked off by Ravens TD Haloti Ngata, who returned the ball 25 years for a touchdown.
 
On the next two drives, the duly chastened Jets coaching staff called draw plays up the middle on 3rd and 19 and 3rd and 7. Naturally, both plays failed to pick up the first downs. Nothing like tradition.
 
Naturally, Ryan today named Sanchez the Jets starting QB for 2009, after his impressive performance Monday night (3 for 8, 43 yards, 5.4 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT, 55.7 rating).
 
***
 
If you care, the folks at America Online's Asylym.com are conducting a reader poll to determine the "manliest" restaurant in America. Here are the four finalists (with four different NFL markets represented):
  • Northeast: Blue Ribbon BBQ (Newton and Arlington, Mass.) – "a beloved bastion of barbecue in Boston" (which is kind of like being the most productive quarterback in Chicago Bears history ... not much to brag about).
  • South: Ray's the Steaks (Arlington, Va.) – "an affordable, no-nonsense steakhouse in the suburbs of Washington, D.C."
  • Midwest: Hilltop Inn (Evansville, Ind.) – "a legendary Indiana restaurant famous for fried brain sandwiches" (you had us at fried brain).
  • West: Zeitgeist (San Francisco) – "rowdy burger haven" (nothing like filthy vegetarian hippies to populate a rowdy burger joint).
 
***
 
Speaking of manliness – or lack thereof – what kind of non-man drinks Bud Light Lime? Seriously, everytime you walk into a bar these days, there's some dude drinking Bud Light Lime. It's a sad commentary on the state of our nation. Imagine the Duke or Clint drinking Bud Light Lime?
 
Budweiser is fine. In fact, it comprises about 25 percent of my average daily caloric intake. Bud Light is strolling down the path toward chick-dom. Light beer, after all, was made specifically for the female market back in the day. It was only after Miller Lite's hugely successful ad campaign of the 1970s featuring various ex-athletes and sports personalities that guys thought it was cool to drink light (or lite) beers.
 
show video here
 
 
But we were not fooled. Light beer was and is for pussies. Light beer with lime beer is for chicks and chicks only.
 
So, to summarize:

Yes!

 
No
 
Never!
 
***
 
Speaking of beer, I spent Sunday touring Bar Harbor, Maine – specifically visiting its three breweries (Jack Russell Steakhouse, Bar Harbor Brewing Co. and Atlantic Brewing Co.
 
The best is Atlantic Brewing Co. just outside of tiny little downtown Bar Harbor. It's a little place hidden behind an old white New England colonial house on a winding country road on a forest-covered island in rural coastal Maine. In back of the little white house is a beer garden, brewery and smokehouse serving pulled pork, ribs and all kinds of beer-friendly savories. They offer brewery tours and sell beer and beer-related goodies in their gift shop – all of this just a couple miles from one of the most beautiful parts of America: Acadia National Park on the gorgeous, rocky coast of Downeast Maine (that's Acadia Lighthouse in the picture).
 
Atlantic Brewing Co.'s woodsy, isolated location and outdoor seating remind me of one of those great little brewery-beer gardens you stumble upon in the small villages of rural Bavaria. Great find.
 
Bar Harbor, by the way, boasts a bit of sudsy fame: it has more breweries per capita than any town in America (three in a town with a year-round population of 4,800).
 

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