Posted on: February 14, 2009 8:45 pm

Madden has destroyed Youth football

Ok, I'm on a rant now.  I coach a youth football team, ages 12-14.  I've been doing it for a number of years now and enjoy teaching young men to play the sport I love.  I've noticed a growing problem with the youth of this nation and in discussing it with my fellow coaches I found that its not just me that have observed this problem.  Madden football is ruining the youth. 

Yeah maybe I'm picking on Madden because he's the biggest thing out there in the football gaming world but here is the problem.  First when I was growing up my friends and I would play football by actually going out in the street or park, or lot whatever and playing with a football.  Today kids play football in front of a television screen with a joy stick.  Whether its great weather or raining the kids don't go outside to play the real thing.  They take turns pushing buttons on their keyboard instead of actually running, tackling, throwing the football.  They think that it applies to what they can do when they come to practice.  Currently I have 18 kids playing for my team.  4 of them cannot run a single lap around the field.  worse then that I have 2 12 year old boys that weigh over 200# each.  200# 12 year olds.  Other coaches tell me at the high school level there are 300# 14 year old kids that are in danger of having heart attacks then sacking a quarterback. 

When I was growing up we had Pong, you can look it up on Wikipedia.  Its a tennis game and it held our attention span for about an hour if we were lucky.  After that we had to do something.  Hell, my parents would lock me out of the house in the summer so I wouldn't dirty up the house my Mom was cleaning.  No one plays outside and when they do they play the game like they see it on the Xbox or Ninetendo.  So many kids that have some great speed and talant for running the ball continue to try and spin like they see Barry Sanders do.  For them they know that if they hit the spin button enough they can avoid tacklers.  This doesn't work in real life unless you are Barry Sanders or the reincarnation of the same.  Over and over we try and teach would be running backs that they have to run up field, and over and over again they stop running and try and dodge/spin their way from being tackled.  Usually there are 2-3 tacklers converging on the runner and the spinning only allows the runner to expose his back for the tackler to hit.   After that crushing the runner no longers wants to play football or run the ball. 

So you can see my frustration is not really with John Madden himself. I actually enjoy listening to his ramblings in comentary but I wonder if he realizes that the game he loves so much has really been damaged by the game he shills for.  I don't know where the next Emmett Smith is going to come from but I bet it will be from a rural farm where there is no such thing as video games. 




Posted on: December 5, 2008 5:29 pm

Coach Mike Singletary

Mention the name Mike Singletary and everyone thinks of the former middle linebacker of the Chicago Bears.  Ask someone about him and they can describe his wide eyed style of play and the intensity he had both on and off the field.  Now even though they call him Coach Singletary all the same attributes that made him a great Hall of Fame player still exist as he fills the head coaching duties for the San Fransisco 49ers.   

Hired as the interim head coach halfway through the 2008 season to replace Mike Nolan who went 2-6 after 3 seasons of losing football.  Mike Singletary has already put his name and attitude into the Niner players.  In his first game Mike set the tone of how he expected his players to perform.  In his first news conference after a loss to the Seatle Seahawks, Mike apologized for the lack of effort from his players and indicated that this team would be more "smash mouthed" and that only players that wanted to win would suit up.  He made quick changes in personel, benching JTO'Sullivan and moving Shaun Hill to starting quarterback.  He also pushed rookies like Chilo Rachal into the starting lineup trying to find better play then the more veteren lineman were giving.  His only desire was to win and anyone who would help in that cause would find a place to play.  Superstar players like Vernon Davis were called on the carpet after commiting mental errors in play costing the team.  Vernon was benched in that first game but responded in subsequent games by catching touchdowns when the ball came his way.

The intensity that Singletary always used while playing is starting to rub off on the team he coaches.  Players are demonstrating that enthusiasm for the game like Shaun Hill diving helmetless in traffic for a first down against Arizona, or  Nate Clements  devastating tackle on Jason Witten of Dallas, that knocked the tough tight end out of the game.  The team is showing its physicality in their playing style.  Just like the Bears 64 defense of 1985 smashed and blind sided their opponents into submission San Francisco has taken a page from their coach and is playing at a higher level than at the start of the season. 

Coaches live and die on their records.  So far this season Coach Singletary's record is only 2-3 but every game has been contested.  San Francisco was the only team this year to travel to the East coast and win, beating the Buffalo Bills at home in a freezing rainsoaked game.   They shut out the heavily favored Dallas Cowboys for the first quarter of the game at Texas Stadium.  Even division leading Arizona was held below their scoring average for the game and would have lost had it not been for some miscommunication at the goaline at the final gun.  Given a full season under his expectations the Niners could be 6-9 or 7-9 at this point.  I hope he gets to prove it next year. 

Posted on: November 25, 2008 8:45 pm

NFL MVP and other acronyms.

MVP stands for Most Valuable Player.  The award is suppose to go to the best player in the league that has demonstrated through his play to have ment the most to his team.  You wouldn't know it but there are numerous MVP awards given each year.  In the past a Most Valubel Player has been awarded by the UPI, United Press International, the Pro Football Writers of America, and the Newspaper Enterprise Association but the main award that the NFL recognizes comes from the AP, Associated Press.  As you look over the list of award winners you'll notice something.  Except for 1971, 1982, and 1986 this award as gone to either a runing back or a quarterback.  Makes sense that these positions usually touch the ball more times then any other position so by rights it should be one of them.  In 1971 the MVP was Alan Page, defensive tackle for Minnesota.  In 1982 the MVP was Mark Mosley, kicker for the Washington Redskins.  In 1986 the MVP was Lawrence Taylor, linebacker for the New York Giants.  Only 3 players in the 50 years of this award have not been a quarterback or running back.  So it makes sense that for possible MVP candidates we should look at these positions.  Looking at the teams that these players are from we see teams that made the playoffs, some were in the division championships some Super Bowl Champions that year.   That makes sense becasue an outstanding player on a team that still lost in spite of his play would not mean that much as an outstanding player that caused his team to win.  So it stands to reason that the MVP comes from a sucessful team.  It also stands to reason that the true determination of whether a player was valuble to his team was to see if they could suceed without him.

This year as we look at possible MVP candidates we can look at quarterback rating.  The top 4 rated quarterbacks are as follows Philip Rivers, Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, and Drew Brees.  The difference in their quarterback rating from 1st to 4th is 4 points so all of these individuals are close.  Looking at the team records San Diego is 4-7 2 games behind the division leading Denver, .  Arizona is 7-4 and leading the NFC West, and Dallas is also 7-4 currently 3rd in the NFC East,  New Orleans is 6-5 but 2 games out of the division lead.  Based on his teams record I think Philip Rivers is out of the running.  Looking at their team's record right now it seems that only Kurt Warner has led his team to winning their division.  That would be preaty amazing in itself but if we look back at Arizona's history we find that Arizona has never won their division since realignment.  Never even been above .500 in the last 10 years. 

The funny thinig is that at the start of training camp Kurt Warner wasn't the number one quarterback on the team, it was Matt Leinart.  In training camp Kurt Warner was brought back from injury last year to coach Matt and show him the ropes and help him to be the quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals.  He has done that for a number of other teams, Eli Manning in New York, Marc Bulger in St. Louis.  All Kurt wanted was to be able to compete for a starting position.  Just give him a chance to show what he still had.  He won the job in preseason.  Beat out Leinart and all the other quarterbacks.  Still no one gave him much of a chance because Arizona had drafted Matt Leinart to be the quarterback of the future.  Sooner or later Leinhart would be replacing Warner.  Wait til he, Kurt Warner, loses a few games.  Well there are five more games left  this season and barring injury Kurt Warner will start them all and he will lead the Cardinals to their first playoff game since 1998.  This is not a new award for Kurt as he has won the MVP twice in 1999 and 2001 as quarterback for St. Louis in the offense nicknamed "the Greatest Show on Turf."  This year Kurt Warner has thrown for 21 touchdowns vs 8 interceptions and a 69% competion percentage. 

The only other quarterback that comes close to these numbers is Drew Brees who as thrown for 22 touchdowns vs 11 interceptions and a 67.5 % completion percentage.  Unfortunately Drew Brees has not been able to lift his team to the playoff picture this year.  He might still make it if they can win the remaining 5 games on their schedule.  He has played well this year but as his team as faltered due to injuries to Reggie Bush, Marcus Colston, and Deuce McAllister and others his numbers have not resulted in victories for the Saints

Now an arguement can be made that Tony Romo means alot to Dallas, when he was hurt for 4 games this year and out of  the lineup the team faltered showing how much Dallas depends on him to win.  Unfortunately Dallas did win games without Mr. Romo and so the necessity of him being behind the center in order for the Cowboys to win does not hold water.   Romo has 18 touchdowns vs 7 interceptions and 64% completion percentage.  He trails the other two but if he were able to bring Dallas to a playoff berth he would also be looked at for the MVP award.

Posted on: November 23, 2008 2:30 am

College Rivalries

As we come to the end of another college football season the end games often are with the biggest foe of the year.  Its not the BCS rankings that come to mind but the bitter battles between college rivals.  When I think of historic football games I always remember these classic matchups between schools with a long history of gridiron battles.  USC-Notre Dame, Ohio St.- Michigan, Army-Navy, USC-UCLA, Florida-Florida St., Washington-WASU, BYU-Utah, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Texas-Texas A&M, Oklahoma-Nebraska and Oklahoma-Oklahoma St to name a few.  Interstate competition, rivals in the military, and matchups of teams from the same regions.  Who can forget the1977 Irish playing USC and coming out of the tunnel wearing their green uniforms after warming up with their blue jerseys they beat the Trojens 49-19 that day.  Future Hall of Fame great Joe Montana showed some of the legend he would create by leading Notre Dame to victory.  I can also remember the great coach of Ohio St., Woody Hayes with his powerful team of "super sophmores"  on their way to a 2nd undefeated season and another National Championship  when they were derailed by rookie Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.  That game started 10 years of war between both teams and was usually key in determining a National Champion.  These are the games that the stopped the entire university when they were played.  Tickets were always scarce and television broadcasts were watched with great intent by the throngs of following fans.  Everyone has their favorite teams based on their own attendance to the various schools or a desire to be part of the group.  Sometimes these alliances divided individual states, cities, neighborhoods, and even families between the competing teams.  When it comes to these games the records and statistics of each team go out the window and the pride of the university is displayed.  Bonfires are burned, rallies are held and all attention is drawn to Saturday afternoon's game.  Thats what makes college football so great.  In professional football the more talanted team wins more often then not but in college on any given day one university can shock the world by playing above their abilities.   The rivalries allow great players to excell and become legendary.  The careers of future star athletes begin and are refined under the pressures of these competitions.   Hopefully the BCS will not remove these deep rooted competitions from the landscape of the university.  As teams strive to improve their strength of schedules and raise their win/loss records to vie for Bowl participation don't let us forget the reason college football is so great, its the histories of the competitions.  Mixing with those legendary teams and becoming part of the history of the game.

Posted on: November 21, 2008 1:08 am

Run or Pass in the NFL

This year is full of ups and downs in the NFL.  Teams that have been perenial division leaders are appearing to miss the playoffs and that made me think of a question.  What is more important a good running game or a good passing game.  Is it better to control the ball with a ground and pound attack or go down field with an air force of footballs?  Lets look at the current leaders. 

Currently the top five running teams in yardage per game are the New York Giants, Atlanta, Baltimore, Minnesota and Washington.  The overall win/ loss records of those teams are as follows:  the Giants are 9-1, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington are 6-4 and Minnesota is 5-5.  Only the Giants and Minnesota lead or are tied for the lead in their division.  The leaders in rushing scores are Tennessee, New York Giants, Miami, Baltimore, and Jacksonville.  Tennessee leads the league at 10-0, Miami is 6-4, and Jacksonville is 4-6.  Only the Giants and Baltimore are in the top 5 of both rushing categories.  Each of those teams has used 3 different runners in a running by committee effort.

The top five passing teams in yardage per game are New Orleans, Arizona, Denver, Philadelphia, and Houston.  The overall win/loss records of those teams are as follows:  Arizona 7-3, Denver 6-4, New Orleans 5-5, Philadelphia 5-4-1, and Houston 3-7.  Only Arizona and Denver lead their divisions.   The top 5 leaders in passing scores are:  San Diego, Arizona, Denver, New York Jets, New Orleans, and Dallas.  The Jets are 7-3 and lead the AFC East, Dallas is 6-4, and San Diego is 4-6.   Only Arizona and Denver are on both lists.

Looking at this data from a pure wins and losses basis the leaders Tennesse and the New York Giants boast the top 2 records in the NFL.  That would indicate that being able to run the ball enables a team to win more often than a passing team.  In fact the only losing  record for a top 5 running offense is Jacksonville at 4-6.  On the other hand two of the top passing offenses San Diego at 4-6, and Houston at 3-7 have losing records and the best passing team is only 2 games over .500. 

Why would running the ball be more effective than passing?  Well having a sucessful running attack allows a offense to control the clock and field position in a game.  Turnovers are minimized and by consistently running the ball the opposing defense has to tackle a ball carrier much more often and is more susceptible to being worn down during the game.  It has been said that when a team passes the ball 3 things can happen and two of them are bad.  Passing teams are more apt to turn the ball over as the top 5 teams in turnovers include Houston, Denver, and the New York Jets.  Passing teams also are less able to control the time of possesion making it hard to run out the clock on close ball games. 

Teams that consistently run the ball are able to deal with injuries to key players.  Losing a quarterback in a passing attack like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning this year have reduced the effectiveness of these teams.  Where as Pittsburgh was still able to suceed even when Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall were injured they plugged in Melwende Moore and kept running.  The same when Willis McGahee went through his streak of injuries for Baltimore Ray Rice kept up the offense. 

In conclusion it appears that having a good rushing offense will lead to more sucess in the NFL then a good passing offense.

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 11, 2008 1:04 pm

Monday Night Football on the Decline?

I believe that Monday Night Football, an American staple, is going down the tubes.  As a kid in the fall I always looked forward to Monday night.  Hated Mondays, still do, but Monday Night Football brought out the best of the greatest American sport.  Living on the West Coast I knew that I would be able to watch the entire game before going to bed.  Now most of the time I watch MNF til the primetime programming comes on when I change the channel.  What changed?  I still love football both college and professional. I have football fantasy leagues to inspire me to learn the names of other players on teams I don't follow. I'm still a die hard 49er fan.  I still yell at the screen when a play goes bad or a call is wrong, much to the dismay of my wife and children. No personally the passion is still there for me but Monday Night Football is not what it used to be.

When I first started watching Monday Night Football was broadcast on the ABC network. It starred Frank Gifford, Don Meridith and the amazing Howard Cosell.  Great voices, different, but each person brought something to the game.  Cosell with his monotone diatribe speeches and Don and Frank with their personal insight into the interworkings was a great match.  Over time numerous announcers came and went.  Some good, some not so good.  I enjoyed most of them, especially John Madden and Al Michaels who seemed to be the perfect announcing team.  The games came alive and they were usualy well matched contests with playoff implications.  I remember the Dolphins beating the Bears on Monday night spoiling their perfect season.  It was the best football of the week.

In 2006 ESPN took over the rights to MNF and even though it usually has the best sports coverage on the planet things have gone downhill.  Instead of Al Michael's great play by play we have Mike Tirico.  Not sure what he's been announcing before, probably Sportscenter at midnight.  He seems to lack the depth of understanding of the game becasue he continually asks questions from his booth mates about various inane aspects of the game.  Instead of describing the action you feel that you are in a quiz for people who've never seen football before.  For color commentary instead of John Madden or Dandy Don Meridith we have Tony Kornheiser and Ron Jaworski.  Both of which serve in other areas of the ESPN television production.  As far as I'm aware Tony Kornheiser's only claim to fame is as a radio personality which is what he's best suited to if you've ever seen him.  He's very loud abrasive and in your face style does well on the radio but here it irritates, annoys, and angers the audience.  He makes calls on game outcomes like he was setting the line in Vegas, and when wrong, which is often, he makes excuses for his ineptitude.   Ron Jaworski does well on the weekly breakdowns of the NFL when he can disect the strategies of the various offenses.  He tries to do the same things on each play of the game usually running over the next 2 plays. 

What we get then is the whole crew talks over one another like children in a station waggon on a long trip trying to get someone's attention.  Often times their conversations are not about whats happening on the field but what they are eating before or after the game.  How their flight was, what new gadget they are using now.  All of which distracts and takes away from the football game.  Its very frustrating and I've aften watched the game with the sound off and used the radio announcers for my audio. 

I'm not sure on how the games are drawn as to which network gets which game but the Monday night games have not been as memorable as they have been.  Last year, 2007,  there were several games that teams were playing that were not in playoff contention or the game meant nothing.  This is the only game of the day and should get all of the viewing audience and you can't get a better matchup of teams?  ESPN really should be more proactive with the NFL in picking what games they can show.  I understand that sometimes teams don't do as well as expected but having the Brown's on 3 times and the Eagles twice. 

My hope is that some of the readers will realize that its we the viewers that created MNF.  Our diligence to following the game of football made us partners with the networks.  We buy what the commercials advertise.  If we don't like a particular show we stop watching.  I don't want to see MNF fall by the wayside but it will if ESPN continues to throw 2nd rate talant at the game and treat it like just another broadcast.  Its more then that it is an American icon and just like our flag people have the right to desecrate it but that doesn't make it right.

Category: NFL
Tags: ESPN, Football
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or