Quotulatiousness

July 27, 2014

Teddy Bridgewater as the “anti-Manziel”

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:49

The Vikings traded back into the bottom of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft to take Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as their second pick in the first round (after linebacker Anthony Barr). Many Vikings fans wanted the team to take Johnny Manziel as the team’s quarterback of the future (I wasn’t among them … I thought Manziel would be too much of a media circus attraction for the Vikings). 1500ESPN‘s Judd Zulgad says that Bridgewater has been almost the exact opposite of the ongoing media extravaganza that is Johnny Manziel:

Johnny Manziel has spent much of his time since being selected in the first round of the NFL draft this spring fetching himself as many drinks as possible and calling attention to himself at every turn.

Teddy Bridgewater, meanwhile, has done everything in his power to maintain a low profile and hasn’t been photographed once with an alcoholic beverage near him. But Bridgewater might have left himself open for a photo op at one point Friday when he did have a drink in hand, although it was not of the alcoholic variety.

“He actually got me a Gatorade today, which I was really thankful for,” veteran quarterback Matt Cassel said of his rookie teammate.

Bridgewater would qualify as the anti-Manziel.

Manziel is cocky to a fault and before he’s even neared NFL stardom, or played in a regular-season game, he’s allowed his celebrity to continue to go to his head. It sounds as if this has left the Cleveland Browns wondering exactly what they have gotten themselves into.

Bridgewater, whom the Vikings took with the final pick in the first round of the May draft after making a trade with Seattle, not only doesn’t come across as brash, he’s getting sports drinks for the guy he ultimately would like to beat out of a spot for the starting job.

“Right now, my main focus is just getting better each and every day,” Bridgewater said Friday after completing the first training camp practice of his NFL career. “I’m going to continue to just push Matt and Coach Zim (Mike Zimmer) is going to make the best decision for the team. If the coaching staff feels that (I’m ready), that’s when my number will be called. But until then my role is just to continue to push Matt and make the quarterback room a better room.”

(more…)

September 23, 2013

At 0 and 3, the Vikings bandwagon is pretty much empty

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:41

Yesterday’s game at the Metrodome was supposed to be an easy romp for the Minnesota Vikings. The visiting Cleveland Browns had supposedly given up on the season, starting their third-string quarterback and trading away their top running back to the Colts. The only challenge was to be whether Adrian Peterson would score his first touchdown before Jared Allen recorded a sack. That’s certainly not how the game worked out…

Right after the final whistle blew on this mess, 1500ESPN‘s Jeff Dubay and Judd Zulgad have a few thoughts on the catastrophe:

The strength of the Vikings is supposed to be their running game and the offensive and defensive lines. Adrian Peterson can’t do much if there are no holes being opened for him — just as Christian Ponder can’t do much if the defenders are getting to him (six sacks yesterday). The Vikings’ defensive scheme depends on the front four getting pressure on the opposing quarterback, but Cleveland’s third-string guy, starting his second career game, threw the ball more than fifty times. The weakest area for Minnesota is the defensive secondary, and they were about to suit up the head trainer to go in by the end of the game — Chris Cook was injured, Jamarca Sanford was injured, A.J. Jefferson was injured … there were no more fresh bodies to throw on to the field after that.

Even the special teams — normally a strength — gave up some highlight reel plays including falling for a fake punt and a fake field goal. Cleveland’s Spencer Lanning was apparently the first player since 1968 to have a punt, PAT, and a touchdown pass in the same game.

Adam Carlson of The Viking Age had this to say:

  • The Vikings secondary got beat on a regular basis. We saw AJ Jefferson get burned so bad by Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon that the fire department is still working on putting out the flames. The injures to Cook and Sanford didn’t help, but today Josh Gordon looked like Calvin Johnson out there.
  • The offensive line struggled. There’s no polite way to say this. For the Vikings to win games, the offensive line needs to play better. Pressure came from everywhere to get to Ponder and Peterson before they had time to get things going.
  • The play calling and personnel were questionable at best all day. When the Vikings needed to go the distance of the field in less than a minute with only one time out, short passes to the middle of the field were called. In that situation, the team needs to be more aggressive.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Overall, the Minnesota Vikings should be extremely disappointed to be at 0-3 right now will have to have a major turnaround soon to even try to get back into this season. If the Vikings fail to get things going, we could see major changes to this team coming much sooner than expected.

The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover calls this week’s Stock Market Report the ‘Cleveland Steamer’ edition (don’t Google that term if you don’t recognize it):

Junk Bonds:

The Offensive Line. Mother of God, how can you be so terrible? HOW? There is very little running room for Adrian Peterson, Christian Ponder has zero time to throw, and collectively, this group got pushed around more than the French Army. Do you guys remember when we were relieved that Phil Loadholt got re-signed to his big contract right as free agency was beginning? Me either.

The Defensive Line. Mother of God, how can you be so terrible? HOW? Run defense was okay today, but quite frankly, the Browns didn’t need to run. Brian Hoyer…BRIAN HOYER…looked like a first ballot hall of famer. Why? Because there was zero pressure for almost the entire game. None. Look, I’m aware that the Tampa-2 scheme is one that emphasizes pressure from the line…but this isn’t 2009. Pat Williams is gone, and Kevin Williams isn’t what he was, and Jared Allen and Brian Robison have been non-factors to this point (although Robison did get a sack today). This line has gotten old and ineffective, and they need help generating pressure.

The Entire Coaching Staff. Other than the first offensive and defensive series of the game, this team looked and played uninspired football, and it seemed like they were expecting Cleveland to just throw in the towel. It doesn’t work that way in the NFL, and all credit to the Browns here. They played like they wanted it, and the Browns coaching staff ran circles around the Vikings staff all day. Leslie Frazier challenged a play he couldn’t, Bill Musgrave…oh, Bill Musgrave…apparently only has two plays in the playbook (more later), Alan Williams let Brian Hoyer become the talk of the NFL, and Mike Priefer was caught flat footed on special teams not once, but twice.

AJ Jefferson. In the litany of terrible Vikings defensive backs, AJ Jefferson is moving into Wasswa Serwanga territory. He leaves more cushion on a receiver than you would find on an oversized couch, is more allergic to contact than Miley Cyrus is to normal, and has absolutely no ability to make a play. Other than that, he has all the qualities one would possess to play in the NFL.

Update: Arif passes on some PFF grades for yesterday’s game:

May 9, 2013

Part of the reason the Cleveland kidnapper went undetected is the emphasis on the “War on Drugs”

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:48

You may have heard this argument from Radley Balko or the folks at Reason and Reason.tv, but here’s Kristen Gwynnne at Alternet making a very Balko-sounding point about police militarization:

Retired law enforcement veteran Stephen Downing, former captain of detectives in the LAPD, says he has not seen proof that the police officers failed to adequately respond to information in this case; indeed, police cannot possibly crack every case and investigate every angle all the time. At the same time, we must recognize that police are incentivized to go after certain crimes — like drug crimes — and not other, far more heinous crimes, like rape.

In the first place, federal cash giveaways make police departments’ reactions to drug cases much more swift and severe.

“The statistical demands of the drug war and the grants that come from the federal government — all they do is incentivize our local police to chase drugs and chase seizures so they can supplement their budgets,” Downing said. “We call that ‘policing for profit.’”

Furthermore, allowing military training of local police has “turned our police into drug warriors,” instead of “police officers and peace officers.”

“Every police department, every sheriff’s department, and the federal government have personnel that are dedicated 100 percent of the time to drug enforcement,” said Downing, “and the result of that is to use police resources for that purpose.”

[. . .]

Praising the man who helped Amanda Berry escape, Stephen Downing also says police need to become more involved with their communities.

“The community is involved in solving these cases and the willingness of people is helpful,” he said. “If the police would recognize more the true value of their community — that the people are the police and the police are the people — rather than chasing drugs and asset seizures and policing for profit modalities, all our communities would be better off and more aware.”

Update: A few hours later, and Reason also links this piece:

At the crux of the drug war is the victimless crime of narcotics possession and use (and the sales that make that voluntary possession and use possible, tied to which are the weapons needed because of the business’ illegal status). Billions have been spent on law enforcement around the country to combat an essentially private, voluntary choice. Alternet ran a piece this morning explaining some of the perverse benefits for police to going after drug crimes instead of kidnapping, rape and slavery. The rescue of three women by a passer-by from a home police had been alerted to multiple times (and which was apparently occupied by the father of one of the girl’s self-described “best friends”), coupled with incidents like the suspected Boston bomber being spotted not by a massive manhunt but by a homeowner having a cigarette in his backyard and the thwarting of the Times Square bombing not by the heavily-armed and stationary police officers in the area but by local vendors going about their business suggests it’s not money or even manpower but good, alert police work that can solve and stop crimes. Instead, fueled by the militarization of police and the war on drugs, the beat cop’s disappearing while the war on what goes in your body continues, violently.

May 7, 2013

Cleveland in the news

Filed under: Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:11

Dave Owens sent this along, saying “It may be the greatest TV interview ever.”

October 13, 2012

A new take on NFL power rankings: the “Lack of Power Rankings”

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:25

Scott Feschuk works his magic to ensure that Cleveland comes in first in at least one ranking this year:

Resuming a hallowed and time-honoured tradition that dates back all the way to the beginning of this sentence, we take a break from sucking at football picks to present our Mid-Mid-Season Lack of Power Rankings. Teams are rated from worst to first.

1. Cleveland (0-5) You know who’s having a terrible season so far? God. Defend Him all you like: the Guy is just going through the motions. Come on, God: we’ve seen you torment the Browns for the last eon. TRY SOMETHING NEW.

2. Buffalo (2-3) The Bills are giving up so much yardage so quickly that they’re on pace to break the all-time record set by France in 1940.

3. Jacksonville (1-4) So the NFL has announced that in 2013 it will again be sending Jacksonville over to play a football game in London. Twice more and we’ll be even for them sending us Coldplay.

4. Tennessee (2-4) Despite its win over Pittsburgh, this team is a bigger train wreck than Barack Obama’s debate performance wrapped in NBC’s fall comedies and driven into a tree by Lindsay Lohan.

5. K.C. (1-4) Ladies and gentlemen, the Brady Quinn era is upon us. Lock up your daughters! (Otherwise, they may steal Brady’s job.) On the upside, a few drives should be enough to earn Quinn an ESPY nomination in the category of Best Ryan Leaf Homage.

June 16, 2012

Obama’s really bad week

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:56

Matthew Continetti on President Obama’s really awful week:

I can’t be the only person in America who, at about minute 35 in President Obama’s almost hour-long “framing” speech in Cleveland Thursday, wanted to tell the president, as the Dude famously screams at Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, “You’re living in the past!”

Obama’s overly long, repetitive, and by turns self-pitying and self-congratulatory address was so soaked through with nostalgia that MSNBC should have broadcast it in sepia tones. The speech — which even the liberal Obama biographer Jonathan Alter called one of the president’s “least successful” political communications — revealed an incumbent desperately trying to replay the 2008 election. But no oratory will make up for a flawed record and a vague, fissiparous, and unappealing agenda.

The president himself forced this abrupt re-launch of his reelection campaign. After a bad week that began with terrible job numbers, proceeded to Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall, and culminated in awful fundraising news, Obama tried to recover last Friday by addressing the press on the state of the economy. Except things went horribly wrong. The president uttered six words — “the private sector is doing fine” — that not only will plague him for the rest of the campaign, but also perfectly captured his complacent attitude toward all things outside the realm of government.

April 27, 2012

“Trader Rick” Spielman gets unexpected value for trades

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:08

As I mention every year, I don’t follow college football, so the draft is something I don’t have particularly strong opinions on — I have opinions on which positions the Vikings should be drafting, but not on the specific players who could fill those roles. I depend on the sports writers at the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, and 1500 ESPN to do the legwork for me, and the Vikings fan bloggers, like the Daily Norsemen to opinionate.

The Vikings came into the first round of the NFL 2012 draft with ten picks over the three day draft. At the end of the evening, having selected the top prospect at left guard tackle and a safety, they still have ten picks in the subsequent rounds. New boss Rick Spielman got great value from trading the #3 pick to Cleveland for the #4 pick plus extra picks in the 4th, 5th, and 7th rounds (that’d be #118 overall, #139 overall, and #211 overall). A nifty bit of trading.

Spielman followed up that trade by selecting Matt Kalil from USC (who was the overwhelming favourite pick of both the Minnesota sports media and the fan blogs). Toward the end of the first round, Spielman then swapped Minnesota’s 2nd and 3rd round picks with Baltimore for their 1st round pick (#29 overall), using that pick to select Harrison Smith of Notre Dame.

Here’s Christopher Gates of the Daily Norseman to summarize the first day of the draft from the Vikings’ point of view:

Minnesota selected USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, a guy that said that he could really envision himself being in Minnesota after the time he spent with the Vikings. When he met with the team a few weeks ago, he told them that if the Vikings took him, they wouldn’t have to worry about a left offensive tackle for the next decade, and apparently the Vikings agreed. His acquisition will officially put Charlie Johnson into the left guard spot vacated with Steve Hutchinson’s release. . .something you knew if you listened to Eric’s audio from Rick Spielman’s press conferenceafter the pick. . .and solidify two spots on a Minnesota offensive line that was overmatched for the majority of last season. I said for weeks that Matt Kalil was really the “duh” pick for the Vikings, and I’m happy that the team not only made the correct decision, but did so while acquiring three more selections.

The trade gave the Vikings thirteen total picks, and they used some of that ammunition to move back into the first round at number 29 overall. In order to make that jump, they sent the Baltimore Ravens the #35 and #98 overall selections. The Vikings took Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith with that selection, as they try to solidify another unit that was disastrous in 2011, the defensive secondary. Smith projects as more of an “in the box” type of safety at this point, as he’s willing to come up in run support and in generally a very sure tackler. However, he has shown enough athleticism to be able to be solid in coverage as well. The pick was a bit of a surprise. . .I thought the Vikings would go with a receiver like Stephen Hill after they jumped back into the first round. . .but Smith is a pretty solid pick and should be able to immediately contribute.

Tom Pelissero has a Q&A with Matt Kalil:

Matt Kalil had a hunch he was going to end up with the Minnesota Vikings.

Well, more than a hunch.

Not only did Kalil believe the Vikings would select him in the first round of the NFL Draft, the left tackle out of Southern California said on Thursday night he was “really relieved” when he saw a Minnesota number on his cell phone while they were on the clock after trading back to No. 4.

“I think that I had an idea that’s where I might end up,” Kalil said. “But the way the draft works, and especially right now, all these trades going down and everything, I was trying to keep open-minded.”

He was scheduled to arrive in the Twin Cities early Friday and meet with reporters at 1:30 p.m., along with fellow first-round pick Harrison Smith.

Mark Craig (from whom I stole the “Trader Rick” nickname for my headline) has a brief entry on Harrison Smith:

Smith, a 6-2, 213-pounder, had been considered a second-rounder who might climb into the bottom of the first round, which he did. He also fills a huge need for a Vikings team that had only three safeties on the roster, including Eric Frampton, who’s strictly a special teams guy.

Smith will likely start immediately alongside Mistral Raymond. Considering the lack of depth at the position, don’t rule out possibly re-signing Husain Abdullah. The Vikings had an offer on the table for Abdullah.

September 10, 2011

NFL quote of the day

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:55

At the Daily Norseman, Eric J. Thompson puts the awful situation for both Ohio NFL teams in perfect perspective:

BROWNS over Bengals: Can we just have Ohio State replace one of these two teams already? Or would the Buckeyes’ salary put them over the cap?

I’m not a great prognosticator (I’m already 0-1 on the season — the Saints let me down against the hated Packers), so you can take these picks for exactly what they’re worth (i.e., very little):

  • Atlanta - @Chicago Sun 1:00pm
  • @Cleveland – Cincinnati Sun 1:00pm
  • @Kansas City – Buffalo Sun 1:00pm
  • Philadelphia – @St. Louis Sun 1:00pm
  • @Tampa Bay – Detroit Sun 1:00pm
  • @Jacksonville – Tennessee Sun 1:00pm
  • @Baltimore – Pittsburgh Sun 1:00pm
  • @Houston – Indianapolis Sun 1:00pm
  • @Arizona – Carolina Sun 4:15pm
  • @San Diego – Minnesota Sun 4:15pm
  • @San Francisco – Seattle Sun 4:15pm
  • New York (NYG) – @Washington Sun 4:15pm
  • @New York (NYJ) – Dallas Sun 8:20pm
  • New England – @Miami Mon 7:00pm
  • @Denver – Oakland – Mon 10:15pm

Favourites listed first, home team marked with “@”.

October 20, 2010

NFL levies $75,000 fine for helmet-to-helmet hit

Filed under: Football, Health — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:57

The NFL is at least appearing to be serious about their new policies on helmet-to-helmet hits:

A day after saying it would consider suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits, the N.F.L. decided Tuesday to fine three players involved in a string of injurious collisions last Sunday.

The N.F.L. wants to give players and teams fair warning that it plans to ratchet up discipline for violations of players’ safety rules, the league spokesman Greg Aiello said. Players, coaches and teams will be told Wednesday that future disciplinary actions will be harsher, setting the stage for possible suspensions.

James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker who knocked two Cleveland Browns out of their game with helmet-to-helmet hits — one was within the rules; the other was a penalty the officials missed, the league said — was fined the most, $75,000, because of previous trouble. Earlier this season, he was fined $5,000 for slamming Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young to the ground while sacking him.

Update, 22 October: For a lighter view of the issue, here’s Scott Reid:

My favourite part of this story is the way James Harrison declared he would retire rather than be told he couldn’t hit people in the head at excessive speeds with his helmet. He was already sore about that on-field crossbow ban and the legal talking-to he got after he tried to roofie Tom Brady. How many more humiliations is a defensive player supposed to endure? When it was pointed out to him that retiring meant not getting paid, Harrison quickly amended his view. Still, I wouldn’t set my cocktail down next to him if I was a certain long-haired New England pretty-boy quarterback.

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