Monday, September 22, 2008

Hitchens calls Obama 'gutless'
And he wonders if the junior senator from Illinois really wants to win.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

What have we learned after three games?
Right now, the Browns are not a very good football team. It may be because of injuries. It may be because of overconfidence. It may be because of bad coaching.

Then again, maybe it's all those things.

Romeo Crennel is taking a lot of heat. Usually, I defend him, because I have wanted badly for him to succeed. And let me say that I think the best the Browns would have gone in this stretch was 1-2.

The fact is, Crennel should remain the coach for the rest of the season. Changing coaches in the middle of the year never helps anything. My main problem with Crennel is the lack of discipline. How many times in today's 28-10 loss to the Ravens were the Browns whistled for illegal formations, false starts, and delays of game?

Crennel can only do so much from the sideline. The Browns played a decent first half, only to implode in the third quarter. Most of the blame for that falls on Derek Anderson, who practically handed 14 points to the Ravens will ill-advised throws. We keep waiting for "Good Derek" to emerge, but he's been almost all bad through three games.

Is Brady Quinn the answer? Maybe, but just installing him won't help if he has to face the type of rush Anderson did today.

Again, the Browns are without two high-quality offensive linemen and two starting receivers. The playmakers that are playing are banged up as it is. But everything was magnified by the turnovers.

The defense? It was pretty decent in the first half, put in ridiculously bad situations in the third quarter and worn down by the fourth.

Suddenly, the secondary does not seem like the biggest issue facing this team.

Forget playoffs, division, everything. The Browns need to stop thinking about the hole they are in and start thinking about the Bengals. There is no point in looking back, no point in trying to make up for three losses.

A win is what is needed. Just one.

It won't solve everything, but it will make things better, if only for a week.


Phil's NFL Picks, week 3
Chiefs (0-2) @ Falcons (1-1)
With Tyler Thigpen starting at quarterback, the Chiefs have already raised the white flag for 2008.
Zach's thought: Falcons 2-1? Wow. Falcons.

Raiders (1-1) @ Bills (2-0)
What would make Al Davis happier: a win Sunday and a winning record, or a loss and the firing of Lane Kiffin?
Zach's thought: The Bills are off to a great start. Bills.

Buccaneers (1-1) @ Bears (1-1)
Odd stat: Bears QB Kyle Orton has a mere 12 touchdown passes in 501 attempts for a measly 2.4%
Zach's thought: The Bears have looked more like the Super Bowl team of two years ago in the first two weeks. Bears.

Panthers (2-0) @ Vikings (0-2)
Minnesota will start Gus Frerotte at QB and try this new concept call a forward pass.
Zach's thought: Vikings need this one more. Vikings.

Dolphins (0-2) @ Patriots (2-0)
Nice of Joey Porter to give New England extra incentive this Sunday.
Zach's thought: The Dolphins are retched again. Patriots.

Bengals (0-2) @ Giants (2-0)
Chad Johnson is on pace for 472 receiving yards, zero touchdowns, and change his name to "Over-rated-co."
Zach's thought: Ought to be entertaining in a Bengals-sort of a way. Giants.

Texans (0-1) @ Titans (2-0)
Can't be a good sign for Vince Young that his head coach is more comfortable starting Kerry Collins over him.
Zach's thought: Young needs to get away from football for a while. Titans.

Cardinals (2-0) @ Redskins (1-1)
After posting a perfect QB rating last week, what does Kurt Warner do for an encore?
Zach's thought: He's bested by Jason Campbell. Redskins.

Lions (0-2) @ 49ers (1-1)
Odd to call this the Mike Martz bowl since he's never been the head coach of either of these teams
Zach's thought: Lions are do for a mediocre performance. Lions.

Rams (0-2) @ Seahawks (0-2)
The Rams have lost their first two games by a combined score of 79-16.
Zach's thought: Ugh. Seahawks.

Saints (1-1) @ Broncos (2-0)
Final score of this game could rival an Arena Football League game.
Zach's thought: Broncos are tough in Denver. Broncos.

Steelers (2-0) @ Eagles (1-1)
Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder has to be a concern in Pittsburgh.
Zach's thought: Eagles offense looks pretty tough. Eagles.

Jaguars (0-2) @ Colts (0-2)
With injuries completely depleting the offensive line, Jacksonville's running game has suffered badly.
Zach's thought: Jacksonville is in bad straits. Colts

Browns (0-2) @ Ravens (1-0)
Cleveland is tied with St Louis for the lowest amount of offensive points scored (16) after two games.
Zach's thought: I hate this game. Ravens.

Cowboys (2-0) @ Packers (2-0)
Dallas needs to avoid a letdown after last week's shootout on Monday night.
Zach's thought: Reality strikes one of these teams. Cowboys.

Jets (1-1) @ Chargers (0-2)
San Diego fans can blame referee Ed Hochuli all they want, but that 30th ranked defense isn't helping matters any.
Zach's thought: No, the Jets aren't any good, in case anyone's wondering. Chargers.

OVERALL: 19-11


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Panel: Week 2
Nihar: Green Bay over Detroit
Phil: Arizona over Miami
Andy: Giant over St. Louis
Vivek: Kansas City over Oakland
Curtis: Seahawks over 49ers
Zach: Giants over Rams


Friday, September 12, 2008

The Andy Barch Interview, post week 1

1. Who was the most impressive team in week one?

The Carolina Panthers. Knowing how much pressure is on this team this season, the way they went across the country to play one of the AFC's finest, without their finest receiver Steve Smith and came away with a victory in the final seconds of the game was EXTREMELY impressive. This is a team to watch this season. My question with this team is, can they capitalize now that the Saints are playing without their best WR in Marques Colston?

2. Who was the least impressive team?

The Detroit Lions. I know the Falcons played their tails off, and they were a feel good story in week one, but the Lions simply cannot afford to get embarassed like that in the first week of the season. They were CRUSHED in every phase of the game. I liked Matt Millen a lot as a color analyst on Fox, but at what point to you begin asking the Ford family what they are waiting for? He has tried everything, and NOTHING has worked in Detroit during his tenure. They got thoroughly embarassed in week one, and they've shown no improvement from their second half collapse last season.

3. Does the Tom Brady injury end the Patriots hope of the Super Bowl?

Absolutely it does. I didnt think they'd get there even with him at the helm. I wonder how long it will be until Randy Moss complains about not getting the ball enough, or Cassle not putting the ball on the money. This team was old on defense coming in and their secondary is paper thin. They just arent as powerful as they once were. The other teams in the division are also getting better. I'm not saying they wont make the playoffs, but I dont think there is any way they make the big show.

4. What is up with Vince Young?

Do you remember when the media made a big deal about his poor scores on that wonderlinc test? I've never seen that test, but I hear it tests your ability to process information under pressure. Isnt that important for all quarterbacks? Do you get the sense that he cant really do that? Maybe the media members were right about making a big deal of his scores on that test. Or perhaps, the Titans should have made him go through a psychological evaluation. This story is so bizarre. I dont have anything against Vince Young, but I just dont think he's this superstar quarterback that people thought he was going to be two years ago. That offense just needs a quarterback that will be conservative. The kind that doesnt have to win games, but just not lose them. Kerry Collins will be a fine fit.

5.What team's performance Sunday was more of a mirage, good or bad?

Bad-Indianapolis-They are a much better team than they showed. Those guys hadnt been working together very much in camp with all of the injuries and it showed, they just werent in sync. They'll be just fine.
Good-Atlanta and Chicago. Chicago's offensive line is weak and they're offense is very vanilla. Their D benefitted from Indy's injuries and lack of cohesiveness. Atlanta's offense did what Mike Mularkey and Mike Smith wanted it to do, but they did it against a very weak Lions Defense. Against better teams, Matt Ryan will be challenged, teams will take advantage of the rookie QB and they'll load up the box to stop Norwood and Turner.

Don't forget to check out out blogs, polls, power rankings and our two shows per week at the pigskinpodcast.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama and the pig
I don't think Barack Obama meant to call Sarah Palin a pig. The McCain-ers would be best to leave this one be.

Obama was, however, stumbling around with his words when he maade the remark. In fact, the last few times I've seen him on TV, he's seemed less in control than usual. Maybe the Palin pick and the subsequent bounce really did shake the Obama campaign.

Those on both sides should remind themselves that there is a long (too long) way to go.


The Panel: Week one
Andy Barch: Patriots over KC
Aaron Rund: Seahawks over Bills
2-time defending champion Nihar Vasavada: Steelers over Texans
Phil Prusa: Steelers over Texans
Vivek Vasavada: Patriots over KC
Curtis A: Steelers over Texans
Zach: Patriots over KC


Great moments in Indians broadcasting
"The Indians get three ... a crooked number for sure." --Matt Underwood, during the Indians-Orioles game.

Umm, what?

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 06, 2008

NFL Picks, week 1
Phil Prusa and I go head-to-head. Panel will be up later.

Lions @ Falcons
New head coach plus a new starting QB equals a season opening loss for Atlanta.
Zach: Lions usually beat bad teams. Lions.

Seahawks @ Bills
Flying across country is hardly the perfect way to begin 2008.
Zach: Who knows with this one? Seahawks.

Cowboys @ Browns
Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis, and Braylon Edwards all missed significant time during the preseason.
Zach's thought: I feel OK about this one, but I'd rather be wrong anyway. Browns.

Jaguars @ Titans
I am sold on David Garrard. I'm not sold on Vince Young.
Zach's thought: I'm going with the home team. Titans.

Jets @ Dolphins
Don't get too comfortable Brett because it's going to get a lot harder after this.
Zach's thought: The Jets figure to get a lot of pub for this win. Jets.

Chiefs @ Patriots
New England could start Matt Cassel at QB and still win easily.
Zach's thought: Zzzzzzz. Patriots.

Buccaneers @ Saints
Fast fact: New Orleans is an NFL worst 13-28 in opening games.
Zach's thought: Saints march to the Super Bowl starts here. Saints.

Rams @ Eagles
Philadelphia should have plenty incentive this year after being the only NFC East team to miss the playoffs last year.
Zach's thought: Eagles always tend to look good early. Eagles.

Texans @ Steelers
Look for Pittsburgh to win their sixth straight season opener.
Zach's thought: Why do I hate Pittsburgh? Opening games like this. Steelers.

Panthers @ Chargers
Little advice to Shawne Merriman: get a 6th opinion.
Zach's thought: Chargers should win by plenty. Chargers.

Cardinals @ 49ers
San Francisco swept the series last year.
Zach's thought: Big season coming up for Matt Leinart ... oh wait. 49ers.

Bengals @ Ravens
The Joe Flacco era begins much sooner in Baltimore than anyone expected.
Zach's thought: The Bengals may not be good, but in a game like this, it doesn't matter. Bengals.

Bears @ Colts
The rematch of Super Bowl XLI that nobody really wanted to see.
Zach's thought: The Colts looked awful in the preseason. Doesn't matter. Colts.

Vikings @ Packers
No pressure eh Aaron Rodgers?
Zach's thought: He should get plenty from the Vikings line. Packers.

Broncos @ Raiders
Is this game really prime time? These teams went a combined 11-31 in 2007
Zach's thought: Raiders always lose this one. And most of the others. Broncos.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cliff Lee
It's been a remarkable year for Cliff Lee. With more than three weeks left until the end of the regular season, Lee has done what no Indians' pitcher has done since Gaylord Perry.

Cliff Lee has won 20 games.

People have noted Lee has had success in the past. He won 18 games in 2005.

But even that Lee was different than the one who has been pitching this year.

Truth is, Lee's season has been the best by an Indian since Perry. Lee hasn't blown guys away the way CC Sabathia did (and is continuing to do). He just gets guys out.

It is both the ultimate joy and the ultimate frustration to watch him pitch. Every time he pitches, you feel like the Indians will win.

But at the same time, he's doing this -- winning 20 games, losing two, having an ERA barely above 2.3 -- in one of the most disappointing Indians seasons in recent memory.

But Lee can't control what the front office and his hitters have or have not done. Lee probably will win the Cy Young award. That will make back-to-back Indians Cy Young winners. I'm fairly certain we will never see that again.

In a season of frustration, Lee has done something none of us can believe. A guy who was sent to the minors last season is dominating in a way few have.

Imagine if he had done this last year. Imagine if the Indians had only been passable until midseason and Sabathia wasn't traded.

In the end, all we can do is enjoy the greatness every fifth day, unable to be sure if a season like this will happen again -- to Lee and the Indians.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

If Fred Thompson gave more speeches like the one tonight ...
He'd be the Republican nominee. The problem, of course, is that I don't think he wanted to be president. If you're willing to put your family, friends and entire life through this scrutiny, you had better want to be president.

My favorite part of the speech? Here.

Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases.

They tell you they are not going to tax your family.

No, they're just going to tax "businesses"! So unless you buy something from a "business", like groceries or clothes or gasoline ... or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small "business", don't worry ... it's not going to affect you.

But it does. It always does, and I'm thrilled someone finally said it.

I'm a huge Joe Lieberman fan, but his speech couldn't match Thompson's. Joe's never struck me as a great public speaker. But he made a good appeal to centrist Democrats and independents.

The message I received from tonight?

"You won't be voting for a Republican. You'll be voting for John McCain."

I'm not sure if it will work. I still think McCain's chances are a longshot. But we'll see. I'm rarely right on these things.

One quick note on Sarah Palin:

Leave her family alone. If you're a member of MSNBC or something, just imagine it's John Edwards.


Monday, September 01, 2008

The Browns and the challenge of expectations
The Cleveland Browns approach this season with more optimism and more expectations than at any time in the post-expansion era.

Expectations can be good, but they can also set a team up for disappointment. All the players have to do is look a few blocks away, where the Indians are slugging it out after playing for the American League pennant last season.

Of course, the Browns have more pressure, if only because no matter what LeBron James or Grady Sizemore do, the football team is always the No. 1 show in town.

A week from tonight, fans will either be predicting Super Bowl or disaster. There won't be an in between.

There are two guys who will catch the brunt of the criticism if things don't go well this season: coach Romeo Crennel and quarterback Derek Anderson.

That's just the way it is. Crennel took a team most people expected to flounder and coached it to 10 wins. Yet the credit from the Cleveland media didn't come to him. It came to offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and GM Phil Savage.

Derek Anderson came out of nowhere to throw 29 TD passes and make the Pro Bowl. It was by far the best play by a Brown quarterback since Bernie Kosar in the late 1980s.

And some people still want Brady Quinn under center.

Neither Anderson nor Crennel is perfect. As good as the Browns were last year, they lost a few games they should have won. In Arizona and Cincinnati, the Browns made countless mistakes. But it was the slow start that cost them. How they started slow in Cincinnati with the playoffs on the line is anybody's guess. That can reflect on the head coach.

Anderson was awful in the games listed above. His problem last season was he was a little like Charlie Frye -- he thought he could do things he couldn't. Unlike Frye, Anderson has the talent to have his gambles pay off. But they did not in Cincinnati, and it cost the Browns a playoff berth.

So despite the success of 2007, Anderson and Crennel will be under a magnifying glass again.

But people don't expect the offense to be a problem. The defense, specifically the secondary, is very concerning.

The Browns are thin there, having traded Leigh Bodden and having Daven Holly go down with a season-ending injury.

Brodney Pool was injured in the preseason and is questionable for the opener against the Cowboys.

And yet, the biggest disappointment of the preseason is probably Eric Wright, who after a strong second half last year, was getting beat regularly in preseason.

It was an 0-4 preseason, but no one should care about that. What is most concerning to me is the injuries to guys like Ryan Tucker, Rex Hadenot, Pool, Josh Cribbs, Antwan Peek and probably a half dozen others I've forgotten.

Even if the majority of the guys are back Sunday, it doesn't mean they'll be a tight unit. Remember week one last year?

That's what is so troubling. If the Browns get blown out by Dallas, they'll go into a primetime game with Pittsburgh with perhaps the season on the line. Don't believe me? Look at the schedule.

Tough weeks are ahead. But winning football games is never easy, especially for the Browns.