Happy Friday Bloggers! This is the best weekend of the year: NFL FOOTBALL! I am pumped and jacked like old Pistol Pete Carroll. Thursday night football kicks off the season with the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens rematch of their AFC Divisional playoff game. Then, more college football on Saturday, a ton of games on Sunday in the NFL (including the New England Patriots!). As I look at the maple tree in the front yard change to yellow and orange leaves, it means hockey training camp is around the corner and the Boston Bruins are getting ready to make another run at the Stanley Cup. The Red Sox continue to grind away wins, and with less than a month to go, no one here in the Boston area takes it for granted with the collapse of 2011 still fresh in the collective consciousness. Oh, and basketball is coming soon. The season is now closing in on that part of the year known as “sports nirvana.”
In an officiating video distributed to the media, NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says that read-option quarterbacks can be hit like runners, even if they don’t have the ball. If a quarterback who handed off or pitched the ball is still carrying out a fake in a running posture, he can be tackled the same way he would be if he still had the ball. “He is still treated as a runner until he is clearly out of the play,” Blandino said. “The quarterback makes the pitch, he’s still a runner — he can be hit like a runner until he’s clearly out of the play.”
This is bad news indeed for Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson as they now have 300 lb behemoths looking at them with malice as they calculate when and how they can take their legal shots at these young, athletic read-option/pistol quarterbacks. With this allowed, the quarterback injury rate looks like it may increase more than the NFL would like for its young, marketable stars of today and tomorrow.
According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, defensive end Anthony Spencer said he had a setback with his knee, which kept him off the practice field. Spencer had surgery on his left knee early on July 25, keeping their franchise player off the field since.
The Cowboys are also without defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who’s on the PUP list. That has the ‘boys starting both George Selvie and Nick Hayden upfront, which is hardly the kind of pass rushing/run defending defensive tackles new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin would have drawn up.
Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that “all indications” are that wide receiver Santonio Holmes will be in the lineup for the Jets in Week One. While the “expectation internally” is that Holmes will be on the field, there may be a cap on how many snaps Holmes will play after spending all of camp and preseason doing limited work as he made his way back from Lisfranc surgery.
With quarterback Mark Sanchez injured and possibly having played his last snap in New York, quarterback Geno Smith has ABSOLUTELY NO ONE to throw the ball to on offense. A healthy Holmes could be the difference between two or six wins this season, and with two top game-changer prospects (defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater--no, not Johnny Football!) the difference between pick two and pick five could be monumental next year. Coach Rex Ryan may be trying to win games and keep his job (not that any number of wins would do it), but the team front office should be in total “suck” mode.
Whatever the injury report says, New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola says he’s raring to go for Sunday’s opener. “I’m sick of talking about it, I just want to go play, to be honest with you,” Amendola said, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “I’m excited about getting out there. I’m just ready to go.”
Amendola is--many fans of the former slot receiver in New England don’t want to hear this--an upgrade over Wes Welker. Amendola, in his one preview in the preseason, was electric. Quarterback Tom Brady obviously loves having him, undrafted free agents outside the numbers possession wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, and tight end Zach Sudfeld to throw the ball to in this offense. The Patriots have been stagnant at wide receiver since 2009. This move was overdue and is going to lead to an upgrade to the best offense in football (well, Green Bay or New Orleans may have a few deserving votes!) over the past three years when tight end Rob Gronkowski returns.
Former Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder said Wednesday on WQAM radio in Miami that former Dolphins running back Ricky Williams routinely smoked marijuana before games .
Other news out of Miami: the sky is blue. The sun is yellow. Grass is green. The weather is warm. Talk about surprising NO ONE!
Bills safety Jairus Byrd wants out. Byrd, who signed his franchise tender and agreed to play this season for $6.916 million, is trying to orchestrate a trade, according to the Buffalo News.
As if there were not enough problems in Buffalo with top defensive player cornerback Stephon Gilmore injured and safety George Wilson inexplicably shown the door in the offseason, the team is susceptible to passing attacks with Byrd questionable with his injured foot (plantar fascitis). So who do they face week one? Oh, only quarterback Tom Brady and the high-powered New England Patriots.
The Jets are going with third-year pro Bilal Powell as their starting back, but Chris Ivory will “play a lot of football as well,” head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday. Powell, head coach Rex Ryan said, “has earned the right to start,” according a transcript from the club.
Doesn’t matter who starts...that team should be more concerned about finishing cleaning house. Powell failed to impress much last season, and the Jets added Chris Ivory from New Orleans (who actually has impressed in limited action). My hope is that anyone drafting Ivory in Fantasy Football releases him foolishly with Powell number one on the depth chart, because Ivory is starting material and Powell is a backup at best.
Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas says Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is noticeably stronger this year. Thomas said in an interview on ESPN that in his first season with Manning last year, he thought Manning’s arm was fine in 2012. But Thomas says he now realizes that Manning hadn’t completely recovered from his 2011 neck surgeries last year, and Manning throws the ball much better now than he did during the 2012 season.
Last season, anyone with at least one eyeball could see that Manning was limited in the passing game (he had neck fusion surgery, for God’s sake!). Somehow he performed so well with his “wounded quail” tosses last season; however, with neck and back issues, that offensive line had best keep Peyton upright because “neck fusion surgery” and “free run at the QB” sounds like a Denver disaster.
RANTING AND RAVING:
So no response on Twitter from Boston-area/National sportswriter Ron Borges after my rant last week...no surprise there.
Another day, another rant: Here in the greater Boston area, we are subjected to the Boston Red Sox cash cow known as NESN (New England Sports Network) which is owned by and broadcasts the Boston Red Sox games. Fortunately, chief annoyance Jerry Remy is on leave for the season due to his adult son viciously stabbing and murdering his estranged girlfriend. Remy and his “cohort” play-by-play Don “Dope” Orsillo make up what this viewer considers the worst combination of announcers in the game (I used to get the Bip Roberts feed, so I know bad announcing!).
The RemDawg (as Remy nicknamed himself and turned into a hot dog stand outside Fenway Park) is all about one thing:marketing his chain of hideous restaurants. He shamelessly promotes himself and talks endlessly about any subject except baseball. He offers “analysis” and “color” so infrequently that when he makes a rare comment that is insightful (once a year, maybe) one forgets he was a major league player in California and Boston for over a decade. Then, he says something stupid and you remember the Red Sox brought in Dave Stapleton to try to displace him (as well as Stan freaking Papi!).
Orsillo, unfortunately, is simply a clown. Unfortunately, the two are extremely popular. They are going to remain (unless Remy calls it quits--he had cancer recently and this situation with his son is a big deal). I don’t have to like them--I am not their target audience. The stats-obsessed fan who has PitchFX stats and matchups on the computer is going to watch the game regardless of who is blabbering on TV. Remy and Orsillo exist to charm the little old ladies, casual fans, and the “Pink Hats”. That, they do very well and management has no plans to replace them. For me, I suffer through the games and at least have Dennis “the Eck” Eckersley to entertain us until the RemDawg returns.
OK, Gabbers, I am done. I have to take a break from the laptop to watch some damned good NFL football tonight and consume some fine pint cans of Smithwick’s Irish Ale to consume while watching the game and waiting for the Lovely Mrs. B. to return from her first afternoon class for Nursing school. But, hey, it’s Friday by the time I post this, so I’m one day closer to the weekend! Have a great initial NFL weekend, everyone, and thanks as always for taking the time to read.