When Vinny Cerrato joined the Redskins, he had just come a successful time working with the San Francisco 49ers. He has joined the Niners after working for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame University for many successful years, including a championship season in 1988.
In his eight years in San Francisco, he was part of a machine that went to the playoffs seven years in a row. The team never won fewer than ten games during Cerrato's time there. When he joined the Redskins in 1999, they made the playoffs that season.
Then Cerrato and team owner Dan Snyder began to hire washed up talents, including Hall Of Famers Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders. The team, already aging, found little relief with an influx of has-beens.
When Marty Schottenheimer was hired as head coach and general manager in 2001, Redskin fans would not recognize the importance of that moment until now. Schottenheimer was given the ability by Snyder to fire Cerrato, and he did immediately.
The Redskins became the first team in NFL history to follow a five game losing streak with a five game winning streak that season. It was accomplished with such mediocre talents like quarterback Tony Banks at the helm, where the team was third from last in the league in scoring.
If only Snyder had stayed the course with Marty Ball.
Schottenheimer was fired after his lone season in Washington, then would move to San Diego to help build a Chargers team that has been a winning team since. He was replaced by Steve Spurrier in Washington, where the team won just twelve games in two wretched seasons.
Though the hiring of Spurrier was a bad move in hindsight, the worst hiring in 2002 was when Snyder brought Cerrato back. It was a move most NFL experts laughed at. Many have said, since then, that Cerrato wouldn't be hired by any other team, and only Snyder would be foolish enough to hire such incompetence. Even the experts on ESPN, where Cerrato had worked in 2001, have long said such criticisms.
The laughter of NFL pundits continues today, though Redskins fans never wanted to see their team become a walking punchline.
There are several theories bandied about to how the inept Cerrato continues to stay in Washington, including the theory Cerrato is blackmailing Snyder to keep his job by possessing some form of incriminating documents or photos that would ruin Snyder's empire.
Cerrato's "expertise" has seen him neglect team need, especially the last several seasons. One example is his drafting tight end Fred Davis in the second round of the 2008 draft, even though the team had a young All-Pro in Chris Cooley at the position.
Sitting on the draft board was a huge defensive end named Calais Campbell for a team starving for defensive end depth. Cerrato blew off this, something he has consistently done when it comes to the Redskins needs in his time back in Washington. Campbell is now a regular contributor on the Arizona Cardinals, and helped them to a win recently by blocking a game winning field goal attempt.
Davis is a guy who should remind Redskins fans of former wide receiver Michael Westbrook in that he is not a fan of the game, and only plays it for the paycheck. He has given Washington virtually nothing since the day he was drafted.
These are the types of players peppered into the Redskins of today. A team desperate for linebacker depth, Cerrato decided to neglect the position until using a few picks on projects late in the draft. One of the projects had character issues, and didn't even make the team.
Whether it is wasting draft picks on projects, or trading away draft picks for washed up veterans who prefer to be 'Dancing With The Stars' in Hollywood than play football, the Vinny Cerrato era has been the worst of times for Redskins fans.
This Snyder team continues to dance with Hollywierd. Jim Zorn was seen yucking it up with Tom Cruise before he lead his team onto the field to break the Detroit Lions losing streak.
Zorn looked smitten with Cruise and had an expression on his face that he could not believe nor envision he would have ever found himself rubbing elbows in the world of entertainment. His time as head coach of the Redskins has been anything but entertaining to anyone but himself.
Dan Snyder has it in his biography that he grew up a fan of the Washington Redskins,and this is what inspired him to buy the team. Though Snyder is known to be very eccentric, a bit of a hot head, and admits to knowing virtually next to nothing about football, he has marketed the team well off the field.
If the Redskins are to have a chance, Snyder needs to step away from the field after he performs two very necessary moves on behalf of the Redskins organization.
The first move, and most critical, is to fire Vinny Cerrato immediately at the conclusion of the 2009 season. It is vital to the team ever having any chance at a future. The guy to consider replacing him with is the guy he replaced in Charley Casserly.
Casserly bleeds burgundy and gold, and is the guy who helped build some very good teams in Washington, as well as making the correct move in drafting Mario Williams with the first draft pick in the 2006 season for the Houston Texans. The Texans are now considered by many as an up and coming team.
The next move is to fire Zorn, a guy who isn't ready to be an offensive coordinator in the NFL, let alone a head coach. His play calling against the long suffering Lions was spotlighted by the nation, but most Redskin fans had already seen this.
Jim Zorn needs to go back to the AFC, because that is the type of game he calls and thinks can work in the NFC. His gutless and effeminate approach has loser written all over it in the NFC East.
Snyder needs to wake up now, and relieve the team of the inadequate Cerrato and Zorn. There is no way he cannot hear the screams of Redskins fans even in his ivory tower perch. Another year with Cerrato or Zorn is like being told to support the Dallas Cowboys, and a real Redskins fan would prefer to commit hara-kiri than do either.
Did Jim Zorn get hold of the Denver Broncos playbook for 1983? Watching the Redskins struggle with the Saint Louis Rams this past Sunday, it seems so.
While Washington barely won in spite of Zorn's inept play calling, it was a victory so shallow that the most loyal of Redskins fans sent boos cascading down onto the field after the final gun. Hopefully the reactions sunk into Zorn enough to understand where he is at.
The Redskins play in the NFC East, not the AFC West. The weak finesse style of play Zorn seems to want will not work in Washington's division. The West Coast system may work in other divisions, but it has never produced a champion out of the rough NFC East.
This is a division known for being won by the strongest, not the prettiest. Though some of the mashers who became champions out of the division were deemed pretty by some after successes, usually the champion limps into the playoffs having battled some of the NFL's best teams which happen to reside in the NFC East as well.
The inadequacies of Zorn's offensive philosophies shone brightest under the spotlight of scrutiny on the teams final drive. As the Redskins clung to a 9-7 lead with the game clock winding down, they found themselves inside of the Rams 10-yard line. It was first down, and critical the Redskins to score a touchdown to put the game out of reach.
Zorn then resorted to calling a series of plays that were both ludicrous and baffling. The first play was an attempted shovel pass that was incomplete, and was destined to go nowhere. Then it was fourth and less than a yard. Zorn decided to go for it.
Conventional wisdom would mandate either a sneak play from quarterback Jason Campbell, or a run up the middle with running back Clinton Portis. Zorn elected to do neither. He called a sweep play with Portis that went nowhere, and caused the Rams to acquire possession of the ball.
Luckily for Zorn, the Redskins defense held the Rams from moving the ball. The game ended in favor of the Redskins, though it was viewed unfavorably by many of their fans. Going into Detroit next week, they may find refuge on the opposing teams field. Hopefully Zorn will also left have some pages of his playbook in Washington as well.
Many pundits of the NFL say that a head coach usually gets a pass in their first year on the job. Zorn is now entering his second season, and his offensive scheme is as ineffective as it was last year. If this season continues on as it has started, it would be hard to imagine him back for a third season.
The NFL Rules Committee is out of control. Last year we saw a defensive player getting a fifteen yard penalty for hitting Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan as he was releasing the ball. The reason for it? Putting too much weight on the quarterback.
Most know the quarterback has had many rule changes since 1979 to make his job obscenely easy, but now it is quite clear that the NFL quarterback is no longer a football player. They have become a media image full of unworthy hype and adulation.
I guess now the powers that be decided to change the definition of a touchdown now. Last week saw rookie Louis Murphy catch a ball in the end zone. He came down with both feet, and had full control of the football. Murphy then landed on his elbow, which is considered down and makes it a dead ball. Though that should not matter, because the ball itself is supposed to be dead once it crosses the goal line.
The thing was that Murphy then lost the football after crashing down to earth. The new rule states it is an incompletion, not a score. This is perhaps the dumbest new rule farted out of the bowels of the committee, though the new rule on only having two players form a wedge to block on kickoffs is pretty darn close as well.
When does enough become enough for this group trying to justify their paychecks. These rules all subtract from the game, and proves that not all busybodies contribute positive contributions. Perhaps, in these lean economical times, it would be prudent to disband this insipid council for at least a decade so the players can play football with the little rules left that allows them to do so? This is not the NBA, though Paul Tagliabue tried to make it so.
My NFL Power Rankings After Week Two :
1. New York Giants 2. Baltimore Ravens 3. Minnesota Vikings 4. New Orleans Saints 5. New York Jets 6. Pittsburgh Steelers 7. San Diego Chargers 8. Indianapolis Colts 9. Atlanta Falcons 10. New England Patriots 11. Houston Texans 12. Denver Broncos 13. Philadelphia Eagles 14. Chicago Bears 15. San Francisco 49ers 16. Tennessee Titans 17. Dallas Cowboys 18. Buffalo Bills 19. Arizona Cardinals 20. Oakland Raiders 21. Cincinnati Bengals 22. Green Bay Packers 23. Seattle Seahawks 24. Washington Redskins 25. Miami Dolphins 26. Jacksonville Jaguars 27. Carolina Panthers 28. Kansas City Chiefs 29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30. Detroit Lions 31. Saint Louis Rams 32. Cleveland Browns
This is a rare entry for me, talking about fantasy football.
I leave that stuff to Lester's Legends, a REAL expert!
Check him out, if you some haven't yet, at http://lesterslegends.com/
I have played fantasy football six years in about three to four leagues each year. Won four championships in the six previous years, and lost in two more championship games. The key for me has been gambling on rookies basically.
I am now in my fourth year as the commissioner of my own league, but joined three more leagues this year as well.
My problem was simple. I was the last team to draft in each league that is no less than 18 teams deep, and my life in reality had me so that I could only make one draft in person. I had to scour the free agents lists after the other leagues drafts.
Somehow I started this year undefeated, though I realize this is a fleeting moment.
For fun, I decided to let you in on my rosters so you can get a decent chuckle and realize my teams are probably not playoff bound.
The first team is called THE HANGMEN, named in honor of Chris Hanburger's nickname.
QB : Tony Romo = Well, no complaints. He is average QB : Trent Edwards = If he stays healthy, he could be OK. RB : Chris Johnson = Maybe, but he splits carries. RB : LenDale White : The guy he splits the carries with. Auto-draft rules lol. RB : Knowshon Moreno = I like rookies, this guy might be good. RB : Ahmad Bradshaw = If Jacobs has a injury, Ahmad might help. WR : Randy Moss = No complaints here at all. WR : Vincent Jackson = Again, no complaints. WR : Chris Henry = I think he is a sleeper. WR : Eddie Royal = If Marshall leaves, his value increases. TE : Kellen Winslow = Dunno how many balls he will see? K : Neil Rackers = He should get chances D/ ST : San Diego = They are solid, so I'm happy. D/ ST : Minnesota = I like them, so happy one again.
THAT is probably my best team.
Here are the others :
CHRIS HANBURGER HOF 2010, named because of my mission you might know of.
QB : Drew Brees = Geesh, how could I not be happy here? QB : Trent Edwards = Just think he will be good this year. RB : Ladainian Tomlinson = I hope L.T. still has IT. RB : Pierre Thomas = I think he gets 1,000 this year. RB : Tim Hightower = He scored me a mess of TD's last year. RB : LeSean McCoy = I think Westbrook can't last 16 games. WR : DeSean Jackson = A repeat of last year would be nice. WR : Percy Harvin = Just have a feeling on this rookie. WR : Torry Holt = I think his tank isn't quite empty. WR : Darrius Heyward-Bey = Saw him as a Terp. He's a rookie starter. TE : Jason Witten = The Cowboys love getting him the ball often. TE : Jeremy Shockey = He could be big this year. K : Kris Brown = Best free agent kicker available in my league. D/ ST : Steelers = They are a top five unit in the league.
GAITHERSBURG GLADIATORS - This is my team in my four year old league, and defending champs.
We did some rule changes to increase scoring, and increase rosters. Missing this draft hurt, because one has to dig deep in later rounds especially. I did a lot of free agent moves here.
As the commish, I have to be fair and nice. One guy couldn't rank his players, and got no QB's worth anything. Being charitable, I gave him Kerry Collins for WR Dave Clowney.
QB : Phil Rivers = No complaints QB : Matt Stafford = At least he is starting, so hope he does decent. QB : Chad Henne = The best free agent left. Blah. RB : Lawrence Maroney = Dunno if he'll get the ball much. RB : Knowshon Moreno = The rookie thing. RB : Cedric Benson = At least he is currently starting. RB : James Davis = A rookie sleeper. RB : Aaron Brown = I like this rookie. RB : Mike Goodson = A rookie with potential. RB : Chester Taylor = If AP goes down, he is the man. WR : Larry Fitzgerald = He is a lucky get for my team. WR : Brandon Marshall = Hope he is productive, not disruptive. WR : Darrius Heyward-Bey = A Terp and rookie. WR : Louis Murphy = He could surprise. WR : Pierre Garcon = Many people get the ball in Indy after Wayne. WR : David Clowney = The guy hopefully isn't just a preseasom player. WR : Chris Henry = Hoping he realizes his talents. WR : Jerheme Urban = The Cards love to pass. WR : Mike Wallace = A sleeper rookie. WR : Deon Butler : Gambling this rookie is ready. TE : Todd Heap = He could be back to All-Pro form. TE : Jacob Tamme : In a thin TE pool, he was the best option. TE : Martin Rucker = A sleeper pick. K : Matt Prater = This guy might not get many chances. D/ ST : Eagles = Happy here. They can pick off passes. D/ ST : Seahawks = I hope they will be good. D/ ST : Bills = They are a decent team for bye week use.
HANBURGER HOF 2010
QB : Tony Romo = A decent guy. QB : Jason Campbell = Hoping he is decent. RB : Chris Johnson = Hope he gets carries. RB : Ryan Grant = Maybe he gets 1,000 RB : Reggie Bush = I don't think I'll keep him long. RB : Felix Jones = If he stays healthy, he might do OK. WR : Larry Fitzgerald = Hope he keeps going. WR : Lee Evans = He can be big this year. WR : Devin Hester = Dunno how good he will be. WR : Chris Chambers = Might dump him. TE : Antonio Gates = He is a top TE in the AFC. TE : Vernon Davis = If the Niners use him right, he could be the best. K : Adam Vinatiri = If healthy, he is solid. D/ ST : Vikings = Think they will do OK this year.
Well, these are my teams. Not impressive, I know. Beggars cannot be choosers when drafting last, especially if one does not make three of the four live draft days.
So, my advice is to get your fantasy help from Lester's Legends or Chris at http://undrafteds.com.
My cousin usually picks these games for me, but I cannot find him now. So I'll take a stab at it.
MIAMI DOLPHINS @ ATLANTA FALCONS
Miami and Atlanta meeting in the first week of 2009 actually is a moment to pause and reflect on 2008. Both teams came out of nowhere, and exceeded the expectations of everyone. Including themselves probably.
This year, they both expect to exceed last years results. While Miami stuck to their guns by drafting to build a team, Atlanta brought in veteran tight end Tony Gonzales to upgrade the team.
Miami and Atlanta both rely on the run to set up the pass, though Falcons QB Matt Ryan has a stronger arm over veteran Dolphin QB Chad Pennington. This helps make the Falcons more explosive, while Miami relies on a methodical attack.
Miami has the edge on defense and special teams in this meeting. If Miami can control Falcons All-Pro running back Mike Turner, they will help themselves to a better chance for victory. Miami has upgraded their defensive secondary, so Atlanta might have more difficulty without the effectiveness of the run.
This game will come down to the trenches, and Miami's offensive line may be better than the Atlanta defensive line. It should be a low scoring affair, where the winner won't take it by much. Either way, this game will be a good gauge on which of these teams will be at least as good as last year. MIAMI 23 ATLANTA 17
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS
Kansas City is not going to have a easy schedule until their bye. Four of their first seven games are against teams that made the playoffs last year. Being winless into the bye is a real possibility.
Their quarterback, Matt Cassell, is not at full health. Their offensive line is in flux, and they appear years away from being a consistent threat.
Baltimore, on the other hand, expects to go further. They were one win away from a Super Bowl appearance last year, and are looking much improved coming into this year.
Basically, expect the Ravens to beat up the Chiefs for 60 minutes.
BALTIMORE 24 KANSAS CITY 3
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ CAROLINA PANTHERS
My pick for Game Of The Week.
Both teams expect to be in the playoffs this year, and both teams offenses strengths are the others weaknesses. This will be a fun game to watch.
Philadelphia offense is basically Donovan McNabb. Their running game scares no one, and their offensive line is already banged up. Though the Panthers run defense is not a top rated unit, there are questions about their ability to defend the pass over the middle with their safeties.
Expect to see the Eagles to use multiple receiver sets and throw the ball over 40 times. If Julius Peppers and his gang can get to McNabb fast and often, it could spell a blowout for the Panthers.
Carolina relies on the rushing attack. Their passing game is basically Steve Smith, but the Eagles have an excellent cornerback on Asante Samuel to shadow him all game. Expect to see the Panthers run the ball mostly, as they try to exploit the Eagles suspect run defense.
It will be a case of explosive versus deliberate. Will the Eagles outscore Carolina or will the Panthers beat down Philadelphia? Stay tuned to this game for the answer.
PHILADELPHIA 34 PANTHERS 24
DENVER BRONCOS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS
This game features an improved Bengals hosting a rebuilding Broncos. Though some may not think much of this encounter, it could be fun.
Cincinnati has a running attack no one knows what to expect from it. Denver has a rush defense many expect to be as poor as last year. The Bengals want to throw the ball better than last year, while the Broncos pass defense is very good.
Denver heads into 2009 with a star receiver, Brandon Marshall, who wants to play elsewhere. They also have a new quarterback in Kyle Orton who is more ball control oriented than last years starter Jay Cutler. Orton is hoping rookie running back Knowshon Moreno is at full health after a preseason injury, because many think Moreno will be a star in the league.
The Bengals have a good defense. They will have a chance on showing it versus a team with a new coach, system, and players. This should be a fun game to watch, and it could come down to special teams.
CINCINNATI 35 DENVER 24
MINNESOTA VIKINGS @ CLEVELAND BROWNS
Already I am sickened by the headlines that are attached to this game. It will be a sickening quarterback love-fest, mainly directed at Brett Favre.
The Vikings win in the trenches, while the Browns are praying theirs are majorly upgraded from last seasons poor showing. Expect a heavy dose of the Vikings rushing attack, led by Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Though the Vikings will try to exploit a decent Browns secondary, rookie Percy Harvin might get a few screens to test the OLB's.
Brady Quinn heads in as the starter for the Cleveland 2009 season. It is doubtful he will be able to rely on their running game against Minnesota's tough defense, so he will have to pass often. The hope is that Quinn can stay strong, and not get happy feet, against the Vikings pass rush. The offense will be on his shoulders most likely in this game.
In the end, the Vikings expect to wear down the Browns. That could change if All-Pro return specialist Joshua Cribbs runs wild.
MINNESOTA 30 CLEVELAND 13
NEW YORK JETS @ HOUSTON TEXANS
The Texans are many peoples pick as a dark horse team this year. They have an explosive passing attack, and an up and coming defense. The only question to the Texans is their running attack. Steve Slaton was excellent in his rookie season last year, but some question whether or not he is the guy who can carry the load.
The Jets come in expecting to blitz, blitz, blitz on defense. They feel they can afford to gamble because they have an excellent secondary. The offense should be run oriented, because they will be relying on rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to throw the ball.
This game will come down to the passing game. Houston's success versus the Jets secondary measured against the Texans defensive line attacking the Jets offensive scheme.
HOUSTON 24 NY JETS 10
JACKSONVILLE @ INDIANAPOLIS
It wasn't long ago this would have been called the game of the week. After the Jaguars poor 2008 season, some are expecting the Colts to roll.
The Colts still is about Peyton Manning and his ability to control a game. They are hoping the running attack is improved with the addition of rookie Don Brown, but they go as far as Manning goes.
The Jaguars are rebuilding, but they still have many players to make for a successful 2009 campaign. Dave Garrard is the quarterback, and is reportedly in the best shape of his career. Maurice Jones-Drew is now going to be the main running back, and he is recovering from a minor injury.
Jacksonville will need to pass the ball to win this one, while the Colts appear to have the more balanced attack in this matchup. It could remind many of their past battles, which were wire jobbers.
INDIANAPOLIS 28 JACKSONVILLE 24
DETROIT LIONS @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
This clash features a team expecting playoffs against a team just wanting a win. Detroit drafted well this year, but they may be too young of a team to do much against a Saints team on a mission.
Though the Lions will win a few games this year, the opening game of their season isn't going to be one of them.
NEW ORLEANS 38 DETROIT 21
DALLAS COWBOYS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay is hoping a few veteran players brought in this year can carry the team to a division title while they wait on the youngsters to develop. Josh Freeman might be the future quarterback of the team, but Bryan Leftwich will start this year. Derrick Ward is a running back who many think will add a much needed wrinkle to the teams attack.
Dallas is a team that has not lived up to the media hype the last several years. They have many good players, but have fallen short thus far. Now that the team is coming into this year expecting less drama in their locker room, the theory is that they will get over the hump finally.
Though the Cowboys are not a lot better than the Buccaneers, their defense might make the difference in this game. Many expect it to be much improved, especially versus the run. Tampa Bay's only chance of winning this one is having their young and excellent offensive line control the clock running the ball. DALLAS 24 TAMPA BAY 17
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers @ ARIZONA CARDINALS
Arizona is going to throw the ball. They have seven wide receivers on their roster, so they may as well gun it often. The Cardinals are also hoping rookie Beanie Wells teams with Tim Hightower to give them much needed balance, especially in short yardage situations.
The 49ers, on the other hand, love to run the football. They are hoping for a better passing attack, even with first round draft choice Michael Crabtree not in uniform. One way to improve the offense is to line up tight end Vernon Davis off the line in the slot, much like Antonio Gates is in San Diego. Davis is bigger, stronger, and faster than Gates, so this is hopefully the year the Niners use Davis to the best of his abilities.
Both teams have good defenses, so it will come down to who executes best on offense.
ARIZONA 31 SAN FRANCISCO 17
SAINT LOUIS RAMS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
This is a inter-divisional battle of two teams in the rebuilding mode, though the Seahawks won't be as busy as the Rams are for another year or two. Saint Louis was recently dealt a serious blow when defensive tackle Adam Carriker was lost for the season due to injury.
Seattle's offensive strength is passing the ball, while the Rams best attack is giving the ball to running back Steven Jackson often.
This won't be a barn burner, but these teams still have a chance to win one of the weakest divisions in football.
SEATTLE 21 SAINT LOUIS 17
CHICAGO BEARS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers are building a team that could be special in the future, though they hope that future is now. Aaron Rodgers proved the team made the right decision by installing him at quarterback last year, and appears to be on the verge of a breakout season after a sharp preseason showing. Ryan Grant is the teams best running back, but the team is at its best when they go to the air with their fine assortment of diverse receivers.
The defense was also excellent in preseason at creating turnovers, but it remains to be seen if they truly have made the transition to the newly installed 3-4 defense. It is a good possibility, because the defense is full of veterans.
The Bears are a team that traditionally has won running the ball and playing great defense. Matt Forte in the running back who carries on that tradition, though the veteran Bears defense was showing a few cracks of aging late last season.
Chicago seemingly hasn't had a good quarterback since Hall Of Famer Sid Luckman retired in 1950. They traded their future to the Denver Broncos away in hopes that Jay Cutler could provide them brighter roads ahead. Cutler has an excellent arm, but it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to tossing the pigskin in the Windy City instead on the mile high air of Colorado.
This won't be the classic Black and Blue warfare of years past, but it has a chance to spin it's own yarn. The ball with be in the air this game, while two experienced defenses battle to keep the end zone clean.
GREEN BAY 28 CHICAGO 24
WASHINGTON REDSKINS @ NEW YORK GIANTS
The Redskins head into 2009 with a second year coach hoping his system is now fully understood by his young quarterback. Jason Campbell started off 2008 in stellar fashion until his offensive line and running backs began to crumble around him from injuries.
The defense was good last year, and returns virtually the same with a few upgrades. Albert Haynesworth is a high priced defensive tackle Washington signed to help them improve the run defense.
Brian Orakpo is the Redskins first round draft choice this year. He played defensive end in college, but Washington is having him help out their dreadfully thin outside linebacker unit. He will be exposed if he has to cover anyone, but Washington is hoping they can use him as an edge rusher.
The Giants are all about their trenches. The offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, and the defensive line may be the best in the NFC East. This is what makes the team go. Though quarterback Eli Manning gets the press from a media driven to love the quarterback, he is about the sixth most important member of the offense.
The one problem for the Giants this game might be their injured cornerbacks. New York will be forced to start a third stringer, and have a rookie play nickel back. This could bode well for the Redskins, a team trying to find out what wide receivers they can rely on. If New York goes to a zone to protect the corners, All-Pro tight end Chris Cooley could have a field day.
WASHINGTON 31 NY GIANTS 28
BUFFALO BILLS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
This is the first game of a double header on Monday night. It also will be hyped to mark the return of quarterback Tom Brady to the gridiron.
New England is a deep veteran team many pundits expect to make a serious run for a championship. The one major weakness that easily could be exposed is that Brady's lone backup is rookie Bobby Hoyer. An injury to Brady could very well end all hopes for the team.
Buffalo is hoping their newly installed no huddle offense wreaks havoc on the league. The questions on their offensive line might be an issue exposed by the Patriots. Though Buffalo has a decent defense, they may end up tired by mid-season if the no huddle is a failure.
NEW ENGLAND 45 BUFFALO 21
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ OAKLAND RAIDERS
"Just Win Baby!" That is the motto of Raiders owner Al Davis. It is also a motto the Chargers should be chanting this year. Davis may not mind, considering he once worked for the Chargers in their AFL days.
Oakland has the makings of a young and exciting offense, led by a deep unit of excellent running backs. They have a chance to be unpredictable and explosive. Their big problem is that their defense cannot seem to stop the opponents from rushing the ball down their throats. Richard Seymour is a defensive end who was just acquired from the New England Patriots for a first round draft pick, so Oakland hopes the veteran can show his teammates how to win.
The Chargers are a team that appears to be without weakness. They are stacked with talent at virtually every position. They can beat you on offense, defense, or special teams. They also realize their window if opportunity is closing, and this could be their last real shot at a championship for awhile after a few key players become free agents at seasons end.
Neither team, nor their fans, like each other much. It will be a battle, but the Chargers may have too much talent for the Raiders to stop.
1. Philadelphia Eagles - This year they are on a mission. 2. New York Giants - They are not easy to stop on the ground attack. 3. Dallas Cowboys - As flawed as that horrid TV at the fifty yard line. 4. Washington Redskins - Mediocre coaches get mediocre results.
1. Minnesota Vikings - Blah, blah, blah Brett. It's all about the trenches. 2. Green Bay Packers - The defense is very good. 3. Chicago Bears - They are a year away...maybe. 4. Detroit Lions - They will win games this year.
1. Carolina Panthers - They like to ground and pound you old school style. 2. New Orleans Saints - If Pierre Thomas runs well, they will do well. 3. Atlanta Falcons - The mirrors used last year will be shattered this year. 4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - It will take time to get better.
1. Arizona Cardinals - Warner has one good year left. 2. Saint Louis Rams - They are getting real good in the pits. 3. Seattle Seahawks - The rebuilding stage hits harder next year. 4. San Francisco 49ers - They appear on the right track.
New York Giants over Carolina - The G-Men are superior in the trenches.
New York Giants over Arizona Cardinals - The Jints will control the clock. Philadelphia over Minnesota Vikings - This year is for Jim Johnson.
Philadelphia over New York Giants - The mission for JJ continues.
1. New England Patriots - Hopefully Brady plays, yet they proved they win without him. 2. Buffalo Bills - The offense is more explosive than you think. 3. Miami Dolphins - The talent pool is getting deeper each year. 4. New York Jets - Rookie QB's rarely do well at first.
1. Baltimore Ravens - Lewis inspires his teammates to overachieve again. 2. Pittsburgh Steelers - They will be in it to win it. 3. Cincinnati Bengals - The offense will score, the defense is underrated. 4. Cleveland Browns - The trenches look shaky.
1. Houston Texans - The kids are ready this year. 2. Indianapolis Colts - Dungy will be missed in crunch time. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars - A few drafts away from coming back. 4. Tennessee Titans - Passing game will not produce, Young finishes the year starting.
1. San Diego Chargers - The class of the weakest division in football. 2. Oakland Raiders - The collection of talented running backs will win some games. 3. Kansas City Chiefs - Things are improved in some areas, but aging in others. 4. Denver Broncos - The rebuilding process will take awhile.
Pittsburgh over New England - Pittsburgh wins in the trenches.
San Diego over Pittsburgh - Defending champions rarely repeat. Baltimore over Houston - Defense beats a young team.
San Diego over Baltimore - San Diego wins this with big plays on defense.
San Diego over Philadelphia - L.T. runs for 150 yards and two scores.
Offensive MVP : Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Defensive MVP : Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina Offensive Rookie Of The Year : Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Defensive Rookie Of The Year : James Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis Coach Of The Year : Gary Kubiak, Houston
A few months ago, I did an interview with friends of mine on the legendary band A Flock Of Seagulls.
It was published on the Texas Star Tribune.
The site link is at : www.texasstartribune.com
They were getting ready to do a few concerts in Texas.
I found the answers to my questions interesting.
This is not a sports related topic, though one could find similarities with professional sports and the music industry.
A Flock Of Seagulls are a legendary band that has long had a worldwide following. The band has long enjoyed playing in Texas, and the fan base in the state is as strong today as ever.
Mike Score created the band in late 1979, and they were known throughout the planet in a short time. The band also helped get MTV off the ground by being one of the first bands to shoot a video of one of their songs.
Since then, A Flock Of Seagulls has spanned the globe innumerous times. They have written many hit songs, created gold records, and won a grammy. Many know they are the first Liverpool band to have a gold record since the Beatles. Mike Score relocated the band to the United States in the mid-80's, and has kept the band moving forward since.
The band has a strong lineup and are still creating today. Mike Score and world renowned lead guitarist Joe Rodriguez have been playing together for over a decade now, and the bassist Pando and drummer Michael Brahm, two well known and respected musicians, have now played with the band for over four years. Many fans of the band feel this is the best lineup the band has ever had.
The band is well known to give incredible concerts. One trademark of the band is they play everything live. Many bands, unfortunately, use pre-recorded music at shows. The music, energy, and passion that emanates from A Flock Of Seagulls in a show is electric, and makes their concerts better than the rest.
You can keep track of the band by going to their website :
You can also visit their fan website :
They are currently touring all over Europe for several months.
What is your favorite memory of all of the times you have played in Texas?
Mike Score : Well lets see, there are many memorable shows in Texas. The first one with Joe King Carasco in 1982 at some dome. All I really remember was it was so huge. I wondered how they would get enough people in, but it was quite full, and we had a great night. There is a club we used to play at in Dallas, I cant remember its name, but we always had good shows and a great party after.
Joe Rodriguez : I don't have one "favorite" memory, per se, but one that stands out is when we played an outdoor gig in Austin in the middle of the summer a few years ago. It was so incredibly hot and my feet felt like they were on fire with the way the sun was baking my black boots on stage. I guess I was looking a little woozy from the heat and some kind soul in the front row misted my face with cool water. Very thoughtful of them!
What is your favorite AFOS song to play? Mike : Well they all have their moments. Usually for me its newer songs. The old ones are really for the fans. Its always nice to see people go off to "I Ran" and "Space Age" and "Wishing", because thats what they know.
Joe : I never get tired of "Space Age Love Song"...the chords and melody are still magical to this day. Also, "Man Made" is very atmospheric and I get to do an intense solo at the end that seems to get the crowd going every time.
Is it a staple of the bands playlist?
Joe : They have been, yes.
Mike : Well yes, but I can change. Nothing is set in stone except "I Ran" and "Space Age".
How does the band determine which songs you will play at each event?
Mike : We decide what to play depending on the time we have, and someone may say, "Hey we haven't played that for a while!" So we throw it in and see how it goes. Also, when we rehearse, we try different songs and see if we can slot them in.
Joe? How many different guitars do you end up playing at each set? What are they? Joe : Normally just one versatile guitar that covers everything. I don't tell anyone what brand it is, so as not to promote the company, but I play a particular one live more for sentimental reasons and because I'm comfortable with it.
Mike? Do you prefer traveling the U.S.A. by plane or automobile? Is there a reason?
Mike : I, myself, prefer to drive. It means you can stop when you want and catch a bit of peace. Airports are a mess no matter how organised you are. Your always sitting around for hours, although in some cased flying is the only way to get there on time.
Mike? It was once written that you love refurbishing sailboats. Is this still a hobby?
Mike : I like messing about with boats, but not lately. I have too much other stuff going on.
Was it part of your inspiration for creating the beautiful song "SEVEN SEAS" on the band's CD "LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD"?
Mike : I think i did that alone one night. I was just messing with a synth. I think there was a movie on which had something to do with the seven seas, so I called it that. It fitted. I don't remember much more about it, I just liked the way it turned out.
Many bands today use pre-recorded music at concerts. Why does AFOS prefer not to?
Mike : Well if you are using pre-recorded or tapes, it's not live is it? I think using samples is pretty much the same but you can at least trigger them live. If you are playing to a tape, who is running the band? You or the tape? In certain cases, it needs to have a bit more energy or be slowed down a little. It depends on the atmosphere of the night. Only live can you judge that and adjust. New bands have grown up to use tapes, etc. It's their way. Its almost like they are afraid to just play it and make mistakes. I say trust the other guys in the band and just play. That what a band is all about. If not, you might as well mime or just put your mp3 through the PA (system) !! Joe : I think it can take away the live dynamics and danger factor of seeing a live band perform. That's the excitement of it for us and the audience. Besides, when you've got a thick wall of sound like Mike's keyboards and my guitar, how much more would you need?
Mike? You once said, many years ago, that the internet was the future of music. Would this tie in with your famous song "MAN MADE", where you wrote "Now machines control, while the man obeys"?
Mike : "Man Made" was about how I saw the future. Everything will be controlled by machines, and eventually we will lose control of the machines. NORAD, Star Wars Project etc. They are faster than us and they don't make mistakes. They do what you tell them, or so thats how it's supposed to be. It will be fine if the human race can keep control, but I don't think we will. Once we build a self aware machine, it's the end for us. It will decide we are disposable. Just like "I Robot" : the best way to save us is to get rid of us...in little boxes so we can't do anything to each other.
Would you agree with David Byrne (Talking Heads) that the music industry is a "dinosaur that had its time, but now it is going extinct", thus making it necessary to put out music through the internet even more?
Mike :The music industry is the T-Rex of this century. It ate up all the musicians and artists. Really, I think once lawyers and accountants took over : the industry was doomed. The main word here is greed. Like all ceo's and bosses and such. They think they did it all and the artists can go f--k themselves. I think their quote is, "Your nothing without me!!" From managers record companies agents - etc etc etc. So, in a way, the internet is a breath of fresh air. Of course there are exceptions to this, but how many great bands have their CD on the shelf because one individual at a record company was on a power trip? Now anyone can release anything they want, which is good, but also leads to a huge pile of crap going out as well. At least it's there if you want to listen. This is a huge subject and everyone has their own take on it, so enough. Even mine changes from day to day.
Who are your major musical influences? Mike : Everything influences me, but it depends on my mood. Band wise : the Beatles - brilliant stuff! Also, Ultravox, Pink Floyd, Elton John, and any song I think is good from country to heavy metal. Even though I don't really like hip hop or rap. there are still some good songs in that genre. I really think it's because I don't understand where its coming from or what influenced it. Reggae as well. All reggae and rap songs are the same to me, but it's not my field, so it influences me to not be like that.
Joe : Big influences when I was coming up were Ace Frehley of KISS, Neil Geraldo from Pat Benatar's band and Elliot Easton of The Cars. These guys really knew how to make great melodic and memorable use of an 8 bar solo spot in the middle of a rock radio single.
Mike? How do you go about creating your fantastic instrumental songs?
Mike : Well I just start playing and building up stuff. Catching a theme or atmosphere, then go from there. I think about what movie it will be in. It's really music for unwritten movies.
Joe? You are widely known as a great guitarist. What do you think of Stevie Ray Vaughn?
Joe : When I was big into shredders like Yngwie and Tony MacAlpine, I thought "the blues" was kinda cool and classic, but limited and stuck in a rut. I remember being half asleep on the couch one Saturday night ages ago. Suddenly, I was woken up by a TV show camera about a foot away from a battered Fender guitar and seeing this guy banging and bending guitar strings as thick as piano strings like they were nothing. What energy and what a tone! It was very inspiring and he changed my outlook on blues forever. There have been many pretenders to his throne, but there'll never be another like the original SRV.
Mike? Many fans know you were a guitarist on the band TONTRIX before creating A Flock Of Seagulls. Do you compose your songs playing guitar?
Mike : In TONTRIX I was a bass player and I wasn't really in to songwriting at the time. Now I write songs on whatever I have . Guitar, synth, sticks. An echo effect can be inspiring. For me, writing is the best part of the whole thing. I'd say I write 2 or 3 songs a day really, some days more, and I do little demo's of them then move on.
Is the band recording any of your many new songs? If so, is there any time line you will release a new album?
Mike : We started to record some songs, but life is full of deflections. So everyone has other things going on, which slows down the whole process. I didn't really have the feeling that it was time to release some new stuff, but now it is getting to feel that way, so we will have to finish up. I am also working on a solo project. I will finish one song at a time and see where we are.
Texas has always held a strong fan base for the band. Would You like to send a special message to them?
Joe Rodriguez : Despite its size and no matter the vibe of the different areas of the state, Texas has always had the warmest and most enthusiastic welcome for us. The people are down to earth friendly and they're always connecting right there with you. I always look forward to a gig there because I know the audience will make it a great show. Can't wait to see them again!
Mike Score : Yes. Texas seems to love A Flock Of Seagulls, and I'd like to thank people for sticking with us. We like coming to Texas. We seem to play well there and get good response. I hope it continues that way for a long time yet.