Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The image of Kimbo Slice vs his reality

In highlighting Kimbo Slice's lumps during his stint on the Ultimate Fighter reality show, and UFC president Dana White's willingness to keep Kimbo around on the show... Dan Wetzel makes an interesting point.

What’s most amazing isn’t that Kimbo will return. It’s that the show – either through the magic of reality television or by brilliantly showing what was legitimately real – has turned Kimbo into a likable, humble and easy-to-root-for guy.

The funny thing is that Wetzel implies that Kimbo himself, once a street-hard thug, was not at all likable or humble as a person in the first place.

I think we've had our judgment colored by the crazed antics of fighters dating back to Muhammad Ali, all the way up to the nuttiness of Mike Tyson and even present day fighters like Floyd Mayweather and Brock Lesnar.

Promoters, with their excessive hype and willingness to manufacture controversy in attempting to increase ticket sales and buyrates, have made it easy to dislike fighters, so much that Wetzel and many others across America grew to dislike Kimbo Slice during his mega-hyped and ill-advised run as Elite XC's leading fighter. Elite XC pushed Kimbo as the Tiger Woods of MMA when in reality he lacked even basic fighting skills, and got badly exposed in a quick loss to a run of the mill fighter, and it was their false promises of Kimbo's ability that led in large part to the organization's quick demise.

The shoving of Kimbo down our throats led viewers to loathe Kimbo's name, rather than anything he did as a person. Even during his XC tenure he came across as a humble guy. To imply that Kimbo himself was unlikable, rather than that the hype around him was dishonest and unlikable, isn't accurate.

But that's not necessarily Wetzel's fault. He only follows a sentiment shared by hordes of MMA fans... a sentiment better placed with the defunct org that falsely hyped him as something he's not, than placed with the man himself. Kimbo was simply offered a big paycheck no one else offered to fight as a main attraction. Who turns that down?

Monday, September 28, 2009

NFL Photos for Week 3


Ninja QB Aaron Rodgers prepares to go medieval on the Rams

The new Ravens coaching staff has done wonders for freaking out opponents on their own

Signs the Redskins need a new coach: The tacklers toss salad during plays

This week in NFL Interpretative Dance: It's The Jared Allen Show!

... featuring The Jared Allen Dancers!

Even Buffalo's mutant safeties (with badly attached prosthetic arms) were no match for the Zero Gravity Saints

"Um, excuse me, please don't do that..."

"Excuse me, I'm not your father and I'm in the middle of running a play. Please let go."

The air in San Diego was humid enough to swim in, which obviously affected play

"Did you drop LSD again, dude? That's not a vulture. It's a football."

Pregame fireworks in St Louis symbolize another Rams' season going up in flames

"Somebody tell Lynell that you don't need to carry the ballcarrier to the end zone to score... just the ball."

Raiders tackling got better... and uglier... after the defense was told LaMont Jordan was hiding gold bricks in his uniform

Much to their dismay, Chargers QB Phillip Rivers followed that deep ball by chucking a grenade

"Good job, Lynell, but actually, I was lying about the ref handing you money after a touchdown."

Siamese levitating linebackers were just too much for the Chiefs to handle

"No really, shut up"

NFL teams don't run the option. Should they?

At this point, I think it's best to just put returner/receiver/former college quarterback Josh Cribbs behind center on every play. The Browns are at their most dynamic offensively with Cribbs in the shotgun, running their "Flash" package (their version of the Wildcat), and it isn't as if there's anyone qualified to throw Cribbs, or Braylon Edwards(notes), or anyone else, the ball. If the Browns hope to be competitive at all, they should scrap the traditional offense altogether and go option-read all the way. Or, they can alternate between two quarterback disasters in perpetuity, until the latest Belichick disciple is fired and they start this nightmare all over again.

Granted, Doug Farrar is half-joking, but it does lead me to wonder. Dozens of college football teams run some variation of the option (Triple Option, Wishbone, etc) with varying degrees of success. The QB throws maybe half a dozen times a game and despite the other team knowing you're going to run the ball, you can frequently rack up 200-300 yards on the ground with the QB and 3-4 different backs.

Many college teams do this because it works, and they don't have the talent at QB and receiver to competently run a passing or pro style offense. Running the ball is easier to do, it runs the clock when you succeed at it and it shortens the game, minimizing your opponent's opportunities to succeed even if you don't capitalize on yours. Sure, if you run into an opponent whose defense is just bigger, faster and stronger than your's, you're probably dead meat, but few fit the criteria well enough to stuff every hole in a system that attacks with diverse looks, cuts and angles. The option is football's version of basketball's Princeton offense.

Why have we never seen an NFL team try to run such an offense? The most common argument is that NFL defenses are talented, fast, strong and well prepared, if not well coached... and that such an offense would die a quick, zero point death after the defense stacks nine guys in the box and just bum rushes whoever carries the ball.

However, 1) NFL teams don't need to run a straight option and 2) The recent success of the option-style Wildcat package shows that an NFL team can move the ball with such a system.

Even the crappiest NFL teams have some QB and receiver talent. Pretty much every QB in the NFL has shown he can capably run a passing offense at some point in his life. Many were option QBs themselves. Many tailbacks and receivers were once QBs themselves. Chiefs QB Tyler Thigpen may suck as an NFL pocket passer, but the reason he's even in the NFL is that at some point in college, he proved himself a capable QB that can read a defense and complete passes against an attacking defense. You don't get to be an NFL QB unless you succeed in college football as a QB. Josh Cribbs himself was a QB once before becoming a receiver and return man. There are so many examples in the league past and present that I'm about to overlook.

If lining up in a pro set and running the usual isn't getting you anywhere, then why not line up shotgun every play and roll the QB to one side with orders to either find an open receiver, reverse to a receiver or back running the other way, or tuck it and go? Or even line up with two TEs or a back in the slot... and shift to a wishbone when the other team has their nickel package on the field? Or when the other team loads the box after a gazillion straight running plays, send your top receiver streaking up-field, slip the tight end 5-10 yards downfield, go play-action and just kill them dead with a bomb or a screen pass? And every now and then, you can screw with the defense by running a straight play from the gun or a single wing and exploiting any basic weaknesses in the adjusted coverage.

It's not like running an option-style offense would leave you totally predictable and one dimensional. A triple shoot style option could scramble a defense's collective brain and leave the defensive coordinator's head in his hands at halftime.

If you were a bad team appearing doomed to a terrible season, why would you not at least try something like this? You have nothing to lose except 12-16 games and your job (which you'd lose anyway under the status quo).

Item in Petr King's column that may interest only me

On Wednesday, in Kansas City for a series with the Royals, a group of eight members of the Red Sox traveling party -- including manager Terry Francona and infielder Kevin Youkilis -- spent a couple of hours at the Kansas City Chiefs' offices and training facility, across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium. Francona is close to Chiefs GM Scott Pioli from his days in New England, and Pioli visited Francona in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to Tuesday's game. Youkilis and former major-leaguer Sean Casey, now a part-time TV colorman, kept commenting about the pace and fury of the midweek practice. Said coach Todd Haley: "They were very shocked how physical we were and how hard our coaches coached."

Hmm... now, I know Mike Singletary has used a similar approach to make a competitive ballclub out of a crappy 49ers team. But also keep in mind that before he became Kurt Warner's weepy Super Bowl coach, Dick Vermeil ran his St Louis Rams ragged after taking over as their coach, ranting and screaming and nutsing his way through practice... and those teams lost double digit games in each of Vermeil's first couple years.

The saying goes, "Work smarter, not harder," and sometimes, a team that works too hard in practice can find themselves too beaten and gassed to compete on Sunday. This is a clue that maybe the Chiefs are working too hard, but not very smart.

Mike Singletary's team is physical, but a) he doesn't conduct himself like a madman. He is, as he has always been, a fairly reserved man who speaks with impact once he does talk. And b) the Niners follow a fairly simple game plan centered around the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and a fairly good tailback in Frank Gore: Run the ball, control the clock, hit them in the mush and control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball with force.

Says the Kansas City Star:

Right now, Todd Haley and Scott Egoli are in way over their heads. They’ve taken the scraps Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson left, supported them with spare parts from New England, emasculated them with intimidation tactics that allegedly foster a culture of winning and created a team far worse than anything we’ve seen represent our city.

The Chiefs committed 10 penalties in this week's blowout loss to Philly, while trying and failing to run the football.

The Chiefs admittedly don't have a Frank Gore in the backfield (Larry Johnson's seen better days), but the difference here may be the coaches hanging all over guys all through practice with berating and threats. It's hard enough to go through very physical practices, but another to be constantly jerked around by coaches that may or may not know what they're doing. Treat a guy like a screw-up and... well, guess what? He's probably going to play like one. Niners coaching may jump on guys, but the approach is more positive, and so are the results.

Random Week 3 Seahawks thoughts

- 5'10" Seneca Wallace cannot sit in the pocket and be expected to win a game throwing 40 times a game. The average defensive lineman is something like 6'3". You ever tried to look at something past a bunch of people 5-6 inches taller than you? Kind of hard, huh? Now try and throw the ball 7-15 yards to an open receiver as the quarterback on a football field while several of those big linemen are trying to kill you. He had some okay luck early, but as the Bears defense adjusted, it was clear this was no longer going to work consistently enough for him to lead scoring drives while sitting in the pocket.

Doug Flutie (5'9") got around this by using his mobility to keep the defense moving and allow him to throw the ball in open space. Other shorty QBs get and got around the size issue by either managing rushing-heavy offenses that required little throwing, or working behind strong offensive lines and taking 7-8 step drops. Seneca tried the latter and it didn't work often enough because the spotty Seahawks line was missing two top starters.

A short QB needs open field to maximize his vision. Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp did not get Seneca in open field often enough. With his vision always obscured, it's no surprise Seneca made several bad throws. (The Lance Briggs INT, however, was just a great play by the athletic Briggs)

- Seahawks coach Jim Mora Jr is a stark contrast to the country club-esque reign of Mike Holmgren. Whether or not you think his callout of kicker Olindo Mare of two missed field goals (43 and 34 yards) is classless and uncalled for, and whether you think the context of the game makes it too unpredictable to say that the Bears don't win the game anyway if he makes those kicks... it's clear the coddling mentality of the Holmgren era is long gone. The idea of 'class', like morality, is relative anyway. If class won titles, the Steelers and Raiders, some of the biggest assholes in football history, would have never won those Super Bowls in the 1970s.

- And to be fair, variance be damned (sorry, John Morgan, but the variance you're thinking of usually involves shitty weather and FG blocker penetration), Olindo Mare has to at least nail the 34 yard field goal. It's a balmy day with minimal wind in a stadium whose construction does a fair job of neutralizing the wind, and he's a veteran that's been hitting these kicks for well over a decade. Kickers usually don't miss those kicks without getting cut later one way or another. In a game where the Seahawks needed all the help they could get, Mare hurt his team at least once, if not twice (if you think the 43 yarder was easily makeable, which it may have been).

I don't blame Mora for being pissed, whether or not I would have called Mare out in the postgame press conference (I wouldn't have). Mare's on the payroll for one reason: to make a drive into those last 20-30 yards at least an automatic 3 points. If the Seahawks were okay with 34 yard shanks, they'd play a rookie kicker.

- The one group I don't see Seahawks fans blaming for the loss: the Chicago Bears. They may still have kinks to work out and they may be missing their star linebacker, but this is a good, physical ballclub that, provided their QB plays up to his ability, can at least keep themselves in a game and certainly do what it takes to win them.

It's a testament to the Seahawks' depth that despite missing 8 starters, including their starting QB and left tackle, they stayed with a good Bears team for 60 minutes and were two FG misses and/or a late drive away from taking it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

NFL Photos for Week 2

"Okay, I need you to put me on your right shoulder"
"Then I need you to carry me several yards downfield"
"Then turn me around so I'm facing my quarterback"
"A'ight- wait"
"... what"
"... you mean the one on the field right now?"

Now 0-2, the Titans should consider scrapping their Kama Sutra zone defense.

Having failed at regular defense, Rams tacklers are now resorting to punching opposing ballplayers.

This week in NFL Interpretative Dance: Titan(ic)... Jeff Fisher's ship meets a Texans sized iceberg

Let's just say this play didn't go the way Drew Brees wanted

Nor did this one

The Saints scored 48 points despite this because of their zero gravity goal line package.

Maybe it's just me, but I think Mike Brissel (#65) is guilty of holding here. In fact, that Titans defender is about to take a spinebuster

Spencer Havner gets the Goldilocks Gangbang treatment from the Bengals. "DID YOU TAKE OUR PORRIDGE AND BY PORRIDGE I MEAN FOOTBALL"

Steven Jackson uses the Redskins defense as a Barca lounger during the 1st half

Ochocinco ends up in huge trouble when Packers fans are told he tastes like chicken

Donald Driver uses his hover powers to weave through the Bengals secondary

The Bucs invisible spider net helps them save a touchdown against T.O.

The Seahawks lost in large part due to Jim Mora's questionable 'run our plays upside down' strategy

Jake Delhomme points to the recipient of his next turnover

It's YOU, Chris Houston! Come on down!

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson is about to suffer the bone crushing experience of a teammate twice his size forgetting he is twice his size. This is why the Lions can't have nice things, like touchdowns and wins

The Broncos' midgame waiver wire pickups are getting out of hand

Cory Redding realizes too little too late that agreeing to let the trainer cook off his bunions during the game probably wasn't a good idea

After winning with kung fu in week one, Frank Gore took up Muy Thai and used it to sink the Seahawks in week two

Monday, September 14, 2009

NFL Photos for Week 1

3rd and long, from the Matrix:

The bonus double-score Jumbo Football was a flop in Week One

Young tailback Derrick Ward's Split-Leg Fart-Block proves successful against Cowboys defenders

In defensive strategies, the Eagles front seven's strategy of eating onion, vegemite and anchovy sauteed kava before the game and breathing on QB Jake Delhomme proved exceptionally successful:

A Detroit Lions offensive player reaches the end zone and immediately becomes very confused

Brian Dawkins' offseason weight loss plan backfires badly as Ochocinco carries his deflated ass for about 20 yards with minimal effort

Frank Gore applies his newly honed karate skills during a run against the Cardinals

Jay Cutler realizes midway through the 2nd half that coaching and skilled teammates actually matter to a QB's success

The cameraman who took this picture of Al Harris immediately turned to stone as he did so

This week's edition of NFL Interpretative Dance: Crouching Packer, Hidden Turnover

"Tell me who took your beer, mang. Imma mess that guy up."

Rams highlights from their game with the Seahawks: