Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Andy Barch Interview
As usual, I'm joined by NFL expert Andy Barch, and he gives me his thoughts on the league, on and off the field.

Z: I guess I'll start with the serious stuff. Andy, I know you followed Sean Taylor in college. What thoughts do you have on what has happened

AB: its very confusing. I'm interested to hear more details, but even those details, good or bad will not take away from the kind of player that Taylor was. He was a freak, a hard hitting, athletic safety who was leading the league in picks.

I remember before the 2004 draft, I hosted a show in Lansing Michigan, and on that show I mentioned that Taylor could be to the safety position what Ray Lewis (back then) was to the middle linebacker position. I've always thought he was terrific, and this obviously leaves a HUGE gap at safety for the Redskins. What an awful, awful story. This guy could have been in the same class as a Ronnie Lott.

Z: It seems this kind of thing has been happening too much lately. Darrent Williams dying last year, being an example. Does the NFL have a problem it needs to deal with?

AB: No, it's not the NFL's problem. These guys are grown men, and off the field, there is only so much the NFL can do to help these guys. I feel awful for what has happened to both Taylor and Williams, but what could the NFL have done to prevent either one of these deaths? Darrent Williams was out celebrating after the final game of the '06 season, with some of his teammates. Is the NFL supposed to babysit these guys and tell them they can't go out? Absolutely not. There is only so much the institution can do.

In the case of Taylor, was the NFL going to send extra security to his place to make sure he wasn't robbed or shot?? Probably not. Again, these guys are grown men, and what they do off the field is on them, not the NFL.

Z: OK, back to the field ... Big game this Thursday. How do you see it shaking out?

AB: Green Bay hasn't won there since the late 80's/early 90's. I don't see that changing. I like Favre, and what he's done with that team is nothing short of remarkable. I don't think their defense, because of all the injuries, will be able to stop that Dallas offense.

Green Bay does a good job of staying disciplined in their passing lanes which will force Romo to be honest in the pocket, but I think he should have enough time to find TO, Witten and his running backs. I expect a shootout.

Z: What has been up with the Titans lately? People talk about Albert Haynesworth, but six points against the Bengals?

AB: Zach, this team has overachieved all year long. Lendale White has been much better than I thougt he'd be this deep into the season, but I think teams are beginning to find out how awful this receiving corps is.

Keep Vince Young in the pocket and make his receivers try to make the plays; that's the best way to defend this offense. Defensively, they've been a monster surprise, Bullock and Haynesworth have been huge.

Z: Are they a serious playoff threat?

AB: I dont think so. Jeff Fisher is an outstanding coach. Over the last 15 years, I don't know if there is a coach out there who's done more with less. Floyd Reese is good on TV, but I think he was a sub-par GM. Fischer has his guys playing extremely hard every single week. He never has the most talented team, but they always seem to find their way into the playoff picture. This year, there are so many teams on their level in the middle of the race that have so much more talent, and I think that will show in the end.

Z: If you had to pick playoff teams now, who would they be?

AB: AFC: Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Chargers, Jacksonville, Cleveland. The top three are gimmies, the Chargers are just better than any of the AFC West teams. Jacksonville is a serious threat the way I see it. Their defense is playing well and they are running the ball with authority on EVERYONE. Cleveland has an easy schedule the rest of the way and thats why I choose them over Denver and Tennessee.

NFC: Dallas, GB, Tampa, Seattle, Arizona, and Minnesota. The top two are gimmies, the NFC South is garbage and Tampa Bay, while they don't impress you with their numbers, they just find ways to win games and there isn't anyone in that division strong enough to stop them. Tampa is like the Diamondbacks of the NFL. I picked Arizona because I like their balance on both sides of the ball. I think they are going to surprise people down the stretch. I didn't choose the Giants because they are a TERRIBLE second half team. The Redskins are certainly going to miss Shawn Taylor and they are inconsistent on offense. Detroit has shown its true colors during this recent three game skid and Minnesota is beginning to show some promise. They are inconsistent, but they've shown that they can compete with some decent teams this year, and if they get Adrian Peterson back, they've got the most explosive player in the game and that will make up for their lack of a passing game.

Z: Browns .... any hope?

AB: Yes, I have changed the way I look at this team. While their defense is still difficult to watch at times, they can score with ANYBODY IN THE LEAGUE. It's amazing what a good offensive line can do for you. Fans, columnists and experts alike have been calling for realignment on the offensive line since the team came back into the league and this year, that unit has been FANTASTIC. That's a huge reason for the offense's success. As we talked about earlier, winning the war in the trenches gives you a tremendous chance to win games, and at least offensively, they are winning the war in the trenches. More importantly, they have guys on this team who actually believe that they can win. That negative attitude is slowly going away.

Defensively, they have shown some signs of improvement, and I think Derek Anderson is the answer. Take that for what its worth, letting that guy hit the free agent market would be a HUUUUGE mistake.

Z: It only took 12 weeks to change you on the Browns. I'm so proud of you.

Thanks, AB

AB: As Bob Dylan once said....times, they are a changin', and eventually, I had to keep up with the change in time. Thank you Zach, I always enjoy being a part of your blog.



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