Friday, February 27, 2009
If you'll humor me: a completely incoherent Sportscenter-related rant:
The scene: A Sportscenter round table on "which athlete will be the most dominant athlete over the next 10 years." Yes, the concept is a fucking waste of time. I realize that. I was only watching in hopes they'd pimp Hanley Ramirez as the baseball choice; if they didn't choose Ramirez, I was going to bitch about it on here.
Instead I found something far more bitchworthy. Brian Kenny, in a completely awesome pink shirt and tie combo, was hosting. The panelists were Andy North (Golf), Tim Legler (Basketball), Barry Melrose (Hockey), and Merril Hoge (Football). I have no idea why baseball wasn't included. But it wasn't.
Each of the panelists made their choice. North and Legler made the obvious and correct choices of Tiger Woods and Lebron James, respectively. Melrose took Ovechkin, which is fine. Hoge took Matt Ryan. I'd argue that's not the best choice, but whatever. Ryan's fine. This exercise is dumb anyway.
After the panelists made their choices Kenny turned to all of them and asked (sic): anyone in baseball? David Wright? Hanley Ramirez?
Before anyone could correctly answer Ramirez, Hoge interjected with the following point:
Hoge (sic): You can't say anyone will be dominant in the sport of baseball. Baseball has such a black cloud over it that it will probably take at least 10 years to get out of, if they ever come out. And you know what the first question is going to be whenever someone plays well.
My response (sic): HOLY MOTHERFUCKING SHIT. ARE YOU SOME KIND OF COMPLETE FUCKING STEAKHEAD? DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE, YOU GODDAMN SHITTASTER?
Merril: Historically baseball has turned out far biggers stars (Mantle, Ruth, etc.) than the biggest football stars. To this day I'd argue the biggest on field baseball star is a bigger domestic and worldwide presence than the biggest football star, primarily because nobody outside the U.S. gives a shit about the NFL whereas Japan is gaga for Ichiro and South America/the Carribbean love baseball. Shit, you can argue the most famous American athlete of all time is Babe Ruth. Also, the NFL doesn't promote individual stars. They're all about the team, or more specifically the league. All stars are fungible. Unless the NFL's business model changes soon baseball players will have more "dominant" athletes, at least if we're going by domestic and worldwide media presence.
In my lifetime baseball has overcome Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa having steroid allegations. It's overcame a strike that wiped out the World Series. It's overcome Red Sox fans. Each time baseball was still able to produce "dominant" (whatever that means) stars. This time will be no different.
Hoge's point, besides being retarded for thinking one player's admitted steroid use will taint all players down the road, illustrates another reason why I don't care about this "steroids" thing. One sport has "unnaturally" beefed up dudes hitting baseballs super far and throwing them super fast. The other sport has "clean" grown men who are 6'3'', 260 pounds, and run the 40 yard dash in 4.4 seconds. The second sport also includes notable players who've tested positive for PED's and haven't suffered. Instead, they appear in Nike commercials. If I don't care about NFL players taking steroids, why should I care about baseball players doing the same thing?
One would think this would help show Hoge and other dipshits that steroid allegations don't cost a league shit. After an initial "outrage" the public (justifiably) doesn't care. Example: did you know that as early as 1989 the NFL was suspending multiple players for steriod usage? They were. Did anyone remember that? No. Does anyone care that the 1963 Chargers and the Steelers dynasty were tainted by steriods? No. The American public routinely ignores the NFL's steroid issues, not to mention their concussion issues. Calling out MLB for being dirty is the last thing an NFL analyst should do.
I don't know where I was going with this thing. It may be a little disjointed or out there. Sorry.
I fucking hate Sportscenter.
2003 Fiesta Bowl hero and AK specialist/Grey Goose connoisseur Maurice Clarett is alive and well. And blogging from prison. Apparently you CAN do that. Clarett's blog may not be as awesome as Money's, which has been strangely silent following his latest arrest. But it's still worth a look.
Check it out here. He even uses emoticons. Who would have thought?
On the same day that President Obama stated American troops are kinda/sorta/not really leaving Iraq, 2nd Lieutenant Winslow was redeployed. While Tampa's a fine little shithole itself, I would've preferred Southern Afghanistan host K2.
No mention of Winslow would be complete without his feelings on his service to this country:
Ah, Kellen. He even included a shout-out to Hollaman by throwing in the "man, I'm pissed."The intelligence of a grapefruit, that guy.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Russian guy "guzzles" Viagra to complete 12-hour threesome. Dies of heart attack shortly after.
At least he went out on top. Actually, scratch that, for all we know she was on top.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Those of you who know me also know my distaste for one Nick Punto. I have always disliked him. Even when he was having a career year in 2006, I thought Punto was an poorman's Jose Oquendo. Most of my hostility toward Nicky came from his lack of ability at the plate along with a certain propensity to slide head-first into first base. Now comes the news that he actually thinks diving into first base is just as fast as running through the base!
"For some reason, I think it's faster," he said. "For all the people who have told me it's not, I still think it is.
"We'll never know. Until there is a swimming pool at the end of the 100-meter dash, we'll never know. Who's going to dive onto a corked field on a 100-yard dash? Nobody."I beg to differ. If it was known to be faster to dive through the finishline of a sprint, EVERYONE would be diving across the track at the Olympics.
Let me be frank with you Punto, you are a jackass for even questioning this in an interview. I seriously hope you suffer a career ending injury sliding into first base during the 8th inning of a 10-2 blowout, you fuck job. I was going to expand on the ignorance and complete stupidity of Punto's thoughts further, but it looks like another blogger has beaten me to it.
Unless you care about the first game of spring training (ZOMG HANLEY WENT YAYA! HE’S TOTALLY WINNING THE MVP!!!!11), it’s a relatively slow news day. We’re discussing Gopher hockey for Christ’s sake. Since our other writers have
whored advertised their own high school athletic success, I’ll do the same.
Last night was the final matchup of the biggest individual rivalry in South Florida HS basketball (Cris Carter was there, Minnesota people). In what some were calling South Florida’s biggest game in 35 years (and others were calling the biggest South Florida HS basketball game EVAR), Pine Crest, the alma mater of (among others) former Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga, actor Kelsay Grammar, porn star/California Governor candidate Marey Carey, and noted douchebag dmk, defeated American Heritage 61-59 (some video there) to advance to the regional final. Pine Crest rallied from an 11 point fourth quarter deficit, including a 5 point deficit with about a minute and a half left (take that, Michael Lewis and your deficit theory).
Assuming you don’t care about the actual schools involved – a safe assumption – here’s what you need to know as a college basketball observer:
Florida signee, consensus top 10 senior, McDonald’s All American game participant, and Naismith Award finalist Kenny Boynton had 20 points but fell to 0-7 in career head to head matchups with uber-prospect PG Brandon Knight. Even when Boynton was surrounded by elite talent, including current Florida Gator Eloy Vargas, his team couldn’t get the job done. In last night’s game, with just over three seconds left Boynton headed to the line for a one and one with had a chance to tie the game. He missed the front end.
Brandon Knight, a consensus top 5 player in the junior class, finished with 25 points and 7 assists. Knight is without a doubt the top HS player I’ve ever seen. Watching a high school freshman windmill dunk is always impressive. Knight’s been a varsity starter since eighth grade and was All-State as a freshman and sophomore. His sophomore year he was the runner up for Florida’s Mr. Basketball even though he missed half the season due to back surgery. Knight’s probably one and done for the NBA unless David Stern changes some rules. At one practice this season, Jim Calhoun and his entire staff watched him. For a practice. We’re talkin’ about practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game, but practice. Among others, Billy Donovan is a regular visitor to the Pine. Donovan is one short dude.
Boynton, at one point, applied to Pine Crest but didn’t pass the admissions test. One wonders just how good that team would have been had he joined up with Knight and Ed Waite, among others.
FAU signee Ray Taylor, a 5’5 point guard, led Heritage, and all scorers, with 27 points. Ironically enough the only game Boynton missed this season was a mid-year matchup with Pine Crest. In that game, Taylor carried the load and Heritage won. Ewing theory, anyone?
Monmouth commit Ed Waite (ignore the ESPN notice that he hasn’t committed anywhere. He signed early at Monmouth) had 17 points and 16 rebounds for Pine Crest. He also hit a key three with under 20 seconds to pull Pine Crest within a point. Waite would have been one of the top football recruits in the country as a TE/WR had he elected to play football. Mississippi State, among others, offered him a scholarship before his senior season even though he didn’t play football past his sophomore year. Waite’s sophomore football season he had over 1100 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns in just over 7 games, primarily because of how well coached he was. On the basketball court Waite was a finalist for the McDonald’s All American game but wasn’t selected. Had Waite waited to sign until after the season he may have ended up going to a bigger program, but he’ll probably get a bunch of early playing time at Monmouth.
Pine Crest's other lower level D1 prospect, quasi-Junior (long story) F Jeremiah Bell, finished with 6 points and 7 assists. As is his forte, he was likely tough on the defensive end.
Pine Crest could have been more loaded this year had one of their players qualified and not been forced to transfer. Nigerian 6’10 freshman Ismaila Dauda enrolled at Pine Crest last fall but was so far behind academically (due to growing up as a product of Africa’s education system, which narrowly trails rural Southern schools in supplies like books and running water) that he couldn’t stay at the school, although I have on first hand authority he was “such a nice boy” and that “they tried everything they could to keep him there” (legally). Dauda was recently offered, and accepted, a scholarship from the University of Miami. As a freshman in high school.
Thank you. We'll now return to sports about which you people actually care.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Gophers are 3-8-1 since January 9th and are another weekend of poor play away from assuring themselves road playoff games when the WCHA postseason begins in three weeks. This would be the second straight year that Minnesota would have to travel in the opening round of the playoffs. Their current seventh place standing would match last season’s dismal finish and be just the fifth time since WCHA play began in 1951-52 that Minnesota finished that low in the conference. On the surface, a below average defensive unit can be to blame for the Gophers’ problems, but underneath there is an ongoing problem which has forced this program into a two-year spell of mediocrity.
The main reason for the Gophers’ struggles has become the flight of their star players who still have eligibility remaining. In the last few of years, boatloads of players have opted for the NHL rather than playing three or four seasons at the “U”. In all, eleven players since 2006 have left the Minnesota program without playing a full four years. That list includes the likes of Erik Johnson, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Okposo and Phil Kessel, all of whom are having budding NHL superstars. This season, the Gophers feature just two seniors, while the 2002 National Championship team sported seven seniors. The old adage that in college athletics, squads win with juniors and seniors has never been truer than in hockey, as the last five national champions have averaged 12 upperclassmen on the roster.
This has put Head Coach Don Lucia in an extremely tough position. Of course, the appeal of a system which breeds NHL talent is important to a hockey program, but if those players do not stay more than a year or two, it also makes it tough to sustain a winning team. The Gophers have continuously had top-5 recruiting classes since Lucia arrived in 1999, but in the last couple of years, those top recruits have bolted prior to maturing into dominant upperclassmen that could help win a national title. Obviously, there is always a chance that your best recruits will leave early, but with new NHL rules pertaining to entry-level players and their bonuses, Lucia and the Gophers have been hit extra hard. It is now going to be up to Lucia to decide who to recruit and who to let go if he deems that the player is only going to contribute for a year.
Regardless of how this season turns out, Minnesota is well-stocked for a Frozen Four run next year and beyond. The only question is how many of their players which have been drafted by NHL teams will leave. If the trend continues, a two year ailment for Minnesota will blossom into a lingering disease which hinders a storied program from staying at the top of the college hockey mountain.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The above pictured less-than-handsome young gentleman seems like any other small college basketball player you might find. Except for one minor detail. That detail? His name.
Chief Kickingstallionsims. Which sounds like something out of the Ron Mexico name generator, but isn't. He's a real person.
Naturally, he's from the only region of the country dumb enough to give a kid that name. Which is South Florida (note the HS, not the college there). About 15 minutes from where I grew up, to be exact. No, it's not Indian territory.
God, some parents are fucking dipshits.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Residing in Big Ten country, this year has been a surprising one for a conference that has been very weak since Illinois and Michigan State went to the Final Four in 2005. All of the major conference rankings have the Big Ten ranked in the top three in terms of the league’s overall strength this year. Coming into today’s games, it is widely thought that six or seven squads will make the field of 65.
The results of this past week has thrown the bubble picture into complete chaos, beginning with Illinois’s miraculous comeback against Northwestern and ending with Michigan’s win over our overrated Gophers. As it stands, there are five teams within a game and a half of each other that have a great chance to go dancing. Those teams on the bubble are Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan. Here are their outlooks:
Key Wins: Purdue, at Michigan State, at Illinois
Key Losses: Temple, Rhode Island
Just nine days ago, the Nittany Lions were left for dead following three straight double-digit losses. Now, with back-to-back victories over Minnesota and Illinois, they have vaulted into fourth place in the conference and have become nearly a lock to make the tournament.
What Penn State cannot afford is a poor finish to the season, but I think two wins gets them into the field of 64 no matter what they do in the Big Ten Tournament. Even though their RPI and SOS are very low for a tournament team, wins on the road against Michigan State and Illinois along with a home win versus Purdue are more impressive than any other Big Ten bubble team’s resume.
Finish: Fifth Place (21-10, 10-8) Tied w/ Ohio State
Wisconsin (17-9, 8-6)
Key Wins: Illinois, Ohio State, Virginia Tech
Key Losses: at Iowa, at Northwestern
The Badgers are all but in the field of 65 with their sudden resurgence. Left for dead after a six game losing streak, Wisconsin has rattled off five consecutive wins while holding their opponents under 52 points in each of those games. That bodes well down the stretch for a team that averages only 65 points per game on offense.
Wisconsin could put a wrench into Michigan and/or Minnesota’s postseason plans as they have remaining games against both schools. This team is definitely peaking at the right time, and with their impressive strength of schedule as well as a high RPI, the Badgers will be dancing unless they go winless in their last four games. DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS TEAM IN MARCH.
Finish: Third Place (20-10, 11-7) Tied w/ Illnois
Key Wins: at Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Purdue, Butler
Key Losses: at Northwestern
Ohio State is another team that should be in as long as they get to nine conference victories. The Buckeyes played a tough non-conference schedule and only have a blowout loss to West Virginia as a blemish on their tournament portfolio. Thad Matta’s team will have some work to do if they perform like they did in their last two games (losses to Wisconsin and Northwestern).
Three of the Buckeyes final five games are in Columbus and with a game in Iowa City against the struggling Hawkeyes, Ohio State should finish at least 3-2 and safely in the NCAA tournament as a seven or eight seed.
Finish: Fifth Place (20-9, 10-8) Tied w/ Penn State
Key Wins: Illinois, Duke, UCLA
Key Losses: at Maryland, at Penn State
The good news for Michigan is that it does have a very strong strength of schedule rating, as well as a decent RPI. The bad news is that the Wolverines play three of their last four Big Ten contests on the road, and also have to host Purdue, who just waxed league-leading Michigan State Tuesday night at Chrysler Arena. Like Minnesota, a run to the Big Ten Semifinals would do wonders for their tournament resume.
Finish: Seventh place (19-12, 9-9) Tied w/ Minnesota
Key Wins: Louisville, Ohio State, Illinois
Key Losses: at Northwestern
If Tubby Smith is unable to get this team back on track, the Gophers will fail to make the Big Dance after starting the season 12-0. They have only won marquee victory over Louisville, but if they get to nine conference wins, and make a run into the Big Ten Semifinals during the conference tournament, I think they sneak in.
Finish: Seventh Place (21-9, 9-9) Tied w/ Michigan
I believe the final spot for the Big Ten in the NCAA Tournament will come down to Michigan or Minnesota. Whichever of those schools makes a run deep into the Big Ten tournament or closes the regular season on a hot streak will be jumping for joy on Selection Sunday, with the other squad headed to the NIT.
Friday, February 20, 2009
To make sure we got tickets for the Saturday afternoon game, three of us were working the computer and phones at our places of employment in order to score the seats. After sitting on the internet for over four and a half hours, while simultaneously calling the Cubs ticket office every couple of minutes, it became apparent that our trip was unlikely to happen. The reason?
Online Ticket Brokers.
Once I began to realize that getting multiple seats at Wrigley for the Saturday afternoon game was out of the question, I searched the internet for other ticket avenues. Sure enough, at the same time I was waiting for a chance to purchase Twins-Cubs tickets, three online scalping (yes they are scalpers if anyone wants to argue, bring it) sites were already posting tickets for sale around double face value.
My exact thoughts at that time:
HOW IS THIS FUCKING POSSIBLE??? I WAS IN THE ONLINE QUE SINCE 9:35 IN THE MORNING AND ITS 2:30 AND I CAN’T GET FUCKING SEATS. I HAVE CALLED LIKE ONE-THOUSAND TIMES AND ITS ALWAYS BUSY. BUT SOMEHOW STUBHUB AND TICKET KING HAVE MULTIPLE TICKETS FOR SALE AT $110. FUCKING CUNTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sadly, because of sites like Ticket King, StubHub, and a host of others, our trip to the Friendly Confines is in serious doubt because of the greed and corruption that are online ticket brokers. Now let me be clear when I say I have no problem with dirty men selling seats outside of the venue of the day of games…that’s just a way to make a quick buck for those guys. However, when companies buy thousands of tickets with a computer program and then turnaround and sell them for double of what they are worth, I guess I have a big problem with that.
In fact, I am calling for our new president to outlaw all online ticket brokers and other schemes which makes going to the game for average fans all but impossible. Case in Point: $110 for bleacher seats???
Scratch that last post title. We DO have something ready today.
Joe Crede (the former White Sox 3B, not this guy) is reportedly on the verge of agreeing to a deal with the Minnesota Twins. Crede would presumably take over at 3B for Minnesota, although whether that’s as the primary 3B or in a platoon role with Brian Buscher is yet to be determined. Regardless of the money, is Crede an upgrade on a Harris/Buscher platoon?
Even though Crede’s regressed quite a bit, the answer is yes.
First, Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher. Both Harris and Buscher are butchers with the glove. Both have negative UZR/150 (UZR explanation here). Had he qualified, Buscher would have been the AL’s worst defensive 3B by RZR, with Harris not far behind. For an organization that values defense, Harris and Buscher aren’t great fits as starters.
Still, for the money they’re decent at the plate. Based on their past splits, a platoon tandem of Buscher and Harris could probably put up around a .750-.770 OPS if their plate appearances were coordinated well with the handedness of the opposing pitcher. At the salary each is earning, that isn’t a bad output level. But once their defense is factored in, Buscher and Harris would probably be pretty close to the bottom of the AL in terms of overall production.
Now, on to Crede. At this point in his career, Joe Crede is pretty average offensively. He’s coming off an injury-plagued .773 OPS/.330 wOBA/.269 EQA season, all of which make Crede only slightly above average when compared to other every day 3B. His declining line drive rates are a cause for concern, as they make it likely Crede’s batting average, and therefore OBP, will continue to plummet.
Still, Crede’s a valuable asset at the plate because he has the ability to draw a walk (his walk rate actually rose last season) and he doesn’t strike out a ton. He’s also not prone to ridiculous platoon numbers, as his career splits by pitcher faced are essentially equal. Additionally, Crede’s .242 BABIP was pretty low last season, even when looking at his 14.3% line drive rate. If Crede can raise his line drive rate back to 2006 levels and keep the increased patience shown in 2008, he’s probably good for about a .320-.330 OBP and .770-.780 OPS. Which, at this point, the Twins should happily take.
Discouragingly, BP’s PECOTA doesn’t look too highly upon Crede, as their 50% projection has him as about a.300/.720 OPS player. At those offensive numbers Crede’s value to the Twins isn’t much higher than the Buscher/Harris tandem, even with Crede’s defensive advantage. Fortunately, the Bill James, Marcel, and Chone projections have Crede as about a .315 OBP/.760 OPS player, at which rate he’s an upgrade on the Harris/Buscher tandem after factoring for Crede's defense.
Yes, Crede’s real value to Minnesota lies in his defense. Even though he’s declined defensively over his career, Crede still profiles as an above average defensive third baseman. His .729 RZR in 2008 would have placed him above the AL average, and his 2008 UZR/150 would have been well above average. If Crede’s healthy and able to get back his prior defensive abilities, he’s even more valuable to the Twins.
To sum up, with Joe Crede the Twins are probably getting an offensively average 3B, but one with significant defensive value – provided he’s healthy. With the Buscher/Harris tandem, the Twins would get similar offensive production to Crede’s, but they’d probably have the AL’s worst defensive third basemen. Combining Crede's similar offensive output to Buscher/Harris with the defensive upgrade over the Buscher/Harris tandem makes Crede worth the money he’s being paid. A healthy Joe Crede makes the Twins a better team.
It's February. There isn't dick to talk about in the sports world, unless you REALLY like the NFL combine. Our baseball previews aren't ready yet and there's no college basketball news worth discussing. We covered the T'Wolves earlier this week. The NHL? Maybe when the playoffs start.
Instead of reading any original sports-related material presented by us, please take a look at my favorite (fake) essay of all time: Planes, Trains, and Plantains: The Story of Oedipus. If you haven't seen it, I HIGHLY recommend taking a look. After all these years it still cracks me up, even when I'm not on psychedelics.
Another brief announcement: you no longer need a blogger ID to comment. So if you just troll through and want to call one of us an asshole (like this cocktaster with the reading comprehension of a 3rd grader educated in a Mississippi public school did), you can now do so anonymously. After all, that's what the internet is for.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Gagne, 82, had been involved in at least two other physical altercations while residing at the Friendship Village Retirement Community. He has suffered from Alzheimer's Disease in the latter year's of his life and it appears likely that he has no recollection of the fight and subsequent death. What a tragic turn of events for all parties involved.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Any intelligent Viking observer (note: may not include Brad Childress) knows that Minnesota can’t win with Tarvaris Jackson. At least not until he acquires accuracy and decision making ability. Meaning the Vikes probably can’t ever win with Jackson.
Naturally, every armchair QB in the Twin Cities area now has their idea for fixing the Vikings QB situation. Among the ideas from the mouthbreathing KFAN segment of the population:
Hey, let’s bring in Favre!
No, fuck that, let’s get McNabb – he can’t cost more than a third round pick!
Eat shit, all of you – Matt Hasslebeck is the answer!
I want horse balls! Also, Derek Anderson would be a nice pickup for the Vikings.
Bro, Gus Frerotte was good. The Vikings went 8-3 with him. He just wins.
Ah, the soothing voices of KFAN. They’re as relaxing as listening to an obese woman being thrown through a woodchipper.
Still, each of those ideas are arguably better than the most realistic scenario for the Vikings: acquiring Tom Brady’s fluffer, Matt Cassel, an idea posited by far too many people. Why is this idea bad? I’ll defer to the exemplary work of Greg Cosell:
When evaluating a quarterback, it is essential to assess his play based on the way he was utilized within the framework of his team's offense. The two cannot be separated. There are myriad elements to consider. For instance, did he take the majority of his snaps under center or was he primarily in the shotgun? As a corollary point, what was his comfort level in each formation? Did he throw the ball predominantly out of three-step drops, five-step drops or seven-step drops? How prevalent was the team's play-action pass game?
I can’t disagree with any point in Cosell’s basis for evaluation. The Vikings need to find a QB who can manage a game in Childress’ West Coast offense. And by “manage a game” I mean hand off 30 times, thrive in the play-action game, get rid of the ball quickly, complete a few mid-range passes on 3rd and 6, and occasionally give Bernard Berrian a chance to make a play on a deep ball. Can Matt Cassel do that?
Early in the season the Patriots ran a conventional NFL offense, with Cassel primarily aligned under center. They used the shotgun only as an occasional changeup or, as many teams do, in long-yardage situations. It became evident Cassel was not particularly comfortable dropping back from center. He often seemed rushed and hurried, with a tendency to quickly lose his reading definition. That's why he ran so frequently. He was not seeing the field with clarity, and his instincts compelled him to leave the pocket whether it was necessary or not.
I remember breaking down Cassel's third start, the Patriots' victory over the 49ers in early October. He was very mechanical and robotic in his progressions and reads. If he could determine his throw based on the pre-snap read, he made it. If he couldn't, and he had to process information as he dropped, he struggled. As a result, he did not show a lot of patience in the pocket, often moving directly into the pass rush. That's the main reason Cassel was sacked so often in the first half of the season.
In addition, Cassel wasn't demonstrating the willingness to pull the trigger on tighter throws at the intermediate and deeper levels. Those are the kinds of plays that work off five- and seven-step drops with the quarterback under center.
Oh. Shit. That sounds a lot like Tarvaris Jackson, minus the athleticism. If Cassel can’t operate well from under center he can’t play in Childress’ offense. Or, really, any offense revolving around Adrian Peterson.
But wait, it gets better.
What the Patriots learned as the season progressed was that Cassel was far more comfortable and relaxed playing in the shotgun. Their overtime loss to the Jets in mid-November solidified that belief. The Patriots fell behind 24-6 in the second quarter, and from that point on, Cassel was exclusively in the shotgun. That defeat was the first of six consecutive games in which 88 percent of Cassel's pass attempts came out of the shotgun.
This…well, this is not good news for the Vikings. Talk about a predictable offense. The Patriots can get away with being in the shotgun all the time because they have the WRs to make plays and don’t have Adrian Peterson in the backfield. With their personnel, Minnesota can’t move toward a shotgun-based offense. Not that Childress would ever consider doing such a thing, but even if he wanted to he couldn’t.
In the last seven weeks of the season, the Patriots were primarily a shotgun passing team. They did not call a lot of drop-back plays. Why? Because Cassel was simply not very good at it.
When the Patriots wanted to get the ball deeper down the field, they put Cassel under center and went play-action. In those situations, they always used seven- or eight-man protection schemes to make certain Cassel had time and space.
The emphasis on play-action also helped Cassel because it is almost always an either/or read; you throw the ball based on the positioning and movement of one defender, usually one of the safeties.
In the event Minnesota does go through with acquiring Cassel, this is moderately encouraging, solely because this is the type of play action scheme the Vikings could use to stretch the field with Bernard Berrian.
If Cassel becomes available in a trade before the 2009 season, it is imperative that interested teams perform a methodical and systematic breakdown of his play and tendencies from this past season.
I have zero confidence the Spielman/Childress Quiz Bowl team would do this.
They must have a complete understanding of what Cassel is and what he is not, what he does well, and what he struggles with.
Again, zero confidence.
Always remember that if you do not see it on film, there's a reason for it. If Cassel is the guy you want, you must structure your offense based on his strengths and not force him to overcome his limitations.
Brad Childress is far too stubborn to fit his scheme to his players. If Cassel is acquired the Vikings will be trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Assuming Hasslebeck and McNabb aren’t available, the only QB on the market who can fit Minnesota’s scheme is Jeff Garcia. The Vikings should just suck it up, offer Garcia a fabulous two year deal, and hope his inevitable injury isn’t serious enough to cost him time in December and January.