Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday Football Two-A-Days (Thursday Edition)

Coach Eric Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler

There are a lot of questions regarding labor unrest right now, that even contemplating free agency, from how long (or short) the period will be, to when it will start, might be a fool’s errand. I stand before you and declare myself that Fool who shall run the errand!

The Falcons have a number of issues that on surface appear that they can be solved by free agency, but the key phrase is on the surface. Many Falcons fans are clamoring, or have clamored, for the team to sign yet another big-ticket corner this year (former Bulldog great Champ Bailey, perhaps?), but these fans don’t seem to understand the true issues facing the defense, and the secondary in particular.

Last off-season, the Falcons signed Dunta Robinson, a highly regarded cover corner to a big-ticket free agent contract to play in their defense. During and now after the season, many fans and media pundits have labeled Robinson and free agent dud, but they cannot explain as to why. Thomas Dimitroff is a smart man, whose eye for talent helped build and sustain the New England Patriots. Robinson had a sub par season in Atlanta not because of anything he did, he did not play well because of scheme, specifically, Mike Smith’s play-not-to-lose soft zone scheme deployed in the secondary.

When the Falcons’ corners line up, they do so with no less than a ten-yard cushion between them and the receiver. The corners are supposed to react to the receiver’s routes and close with speed to break up or pick off the pass. Robinson’s forte in Houston was as a cover corner, playing man on an island. He would jam the receiver at the line (Houston is a big, strong corner), disrupting the route, and causing problems for the offense. What he is being forced to do by Mike Smith is not in any way the best use of his talents. Whereas a coach like Bill Belichick or Greg Williams would take Robinson’s talents and mold a scheme around them, Smith demands that Robinson do something he isn’t good at doing, so both Robinson and the team suffers.

Brent Grimes, on the other hand, succeeds in Smith’s play-not-to-lose soft-as-Charmin schemes because he is undersized and very, very quick. Not fast, Robinson is fast, too, but quick. Grimes can close the ten-yard gap between he and the receiver quicker than just about any zone corner in the NFL, and he justly made the Pro Bowl this year because of his skill set.

The Falcons would be remiss in spending more money on a corner, especially another cover corner like Champ Bailey, when they need a defensive end. The Falcons (and Mike Smith) would also be remiss if they continued to refuse to adapt their defensive philosophy to the strengths of their players. Why not design a scheme like a rolling zone with single man coverage in the secondary, where Robinson is allowed to do what he does best, jam his man on the line, covering man to man, while the rest of the secondary plays a rolling zone, with one safety giving Grimes over the top coverage, and the other safety playing a center field position?

While the idea of Champ Bailey playing for the Falcons is great on paper, so was the idea of Dunta Robinson playing for the Falcons. Until Mike Smith changes or adapts his football philosophy, signing another cover corner is just throwing good money at bad.

A Sickening Case of Rivalry Turned Ugly

As I am sure many of y’all have already heard or read, the University of Auburn has suffered an egregious injury by the hand of a degenerate Alabama Crimson Tide fan.

The two prized Live Oaks on Toomer’s Corner, where students, alums, and fans of the Auburn Tigers meet for their toilet-papering ritual after wins (akin to ringing the Chapel Bell at UGA), have been poisoned to such a degree that they will surely die.

I am someone who genuinely loves my University and I loathe my rivals as any SEC fan should, but I could never imagine committing such felonious vandalism as the man identifying himself as “Al from Dadeville” on the January 27th edition of The Paul Finebaum Show did. As much as I “hate” Florida, I could never see myself injuring their University or fans in such a way, because I am not a deeply disturbed and twisted individual, like “Al” obviously is.

On the flip-side, I cannot imagine a fan from Georgia Tech or Tennessee driving to Athens and poisoning my beloved Hedges or burning down the Chapel Bell Tower because they lost a football game to my team.

I have frequently said that the idea of the Slowhio State-Michigan rivalry being the biggest rivalry in college football is a ridiculous notion that is shoved down our throat by all of the Big-10 homers at ESPN like Hypocrite Supreme Kirk Herbstreit. Anyone who really follows college football knows The Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama is the definitive, most passionate sports rivalry on the planet.

Today, however, I can only sit and ponder whether Auburn-Alabama has crossed over a line that cannot be undone, and I sincerely hope that there is no righteous retribution from the bereaved fans and alums of Auburn in the coming weeks.

For the next few weeks, Nick Saban might want the company of a bodyguard, and sadly, I am not kidding.

UPDATE: The no-good son-of-a-so-and-so was found and arrested in Dadeville, AL. Yes, Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, was arrested yesterday and charged with criminal mischief after local, state, and federal authorities began looking into “Al from Dadeville’s” claims in January.

He may not receive a stiff sentence in terms of prison time for what he did, but I have a feeling that he will pay through the nose, ears, and any other orifice you can think of when the City of Auburn sues him in civil court for killing those priceless (in terms of emotional value) trees, which they should and will do.

What an expletive-deleted.

Today in History

For those people who think the 2000 Presidential Election was the first, or the biggest problem that has faced our republican form of Government (that’s right people, we’re not a democracy, like Ancient Athens, we’re a republic, like Ancient Rome), well, that is why I am here to impart some wisdom.

On 17 February 1801, the House of Representatives breaks a tie in the Electoral College by voting Thomas Jefferson our nation’s third president and Aaron Burr, his opponent vice president (in the infancy of our country, the loser of the presidential elections was made vice president, there was no two-candidate ticket as there are today).

It is amazing to think what would happen if something like this occurred today. Aaron Burr accepted this outcome with more grace than Al Gore and democrats did in 2000. Then again, the fact that he was vice president might have had a little to do with it.

It is also interesting to think of how history might have turned out differently had Aaron Burr, not Jefferson been made president. Would Burr have had the foresight to make the Louisiana Purchase, ensuring the future success of our nation? Would he have championed a government school system that was once the envy of the world (but is now largely broken thanks to over-influence of government from both sides of the aisle)? Would Aaron Burr’s face be carved into Mount Rushmore, or would he have been the worst president this nation has ever had?

Thanks to a vote by the “People’s House,” we will never have to know.

TV Dinner

When the television-watching citizens of America look back at the first two decades of the 2000’s, and the shows that were a success during this time, I believe we’ll shake our heads in sorrow and disbelief at the kind of crass garbage that was successful, and the kind of pure-hearted and honest television we rejected in it’s place.

While shows like Two And A Half Men and Jersey Shore dominate the ratings and the headlines, Friday Night Lights, one of the top-10 television shows of all time has gone away, unnoticed, and criminally undervalued by the television-watching public at large. While Seth McFarlane’s thoroughly crass and unfunny comedy-rip-off animated shows like Family Guy make millions off of the ADD-addled, lowest-common-dominator viewer, one of the best family dramas in television history has been largely ignored.

That Friday Night Lights leaves the airwaves without a sack-full of awards and plaudits is a crime, and a crying shame. Unlike popular belief, FNL is not a show “about football” or another teen soap like The O.C. or yet another attempt at Hollywood to make fun of the good, simple, lower-middle-class folk who love sports, and beer, and meat who live between the coasts.

FNL is simply an honest drama about a small town, where yes, football is involved, but mainly, it is a show about the lives of the people in this town. The people who want to escape, who have bigger dreams than Dillon, TX can grant, the people who never want to leave, who love their town and the role they play in it, even if that role is of a big booster for a high school football team, and the people caught in the middle, who don’t dream because they don’t dare and who don’t know what their place is in the world, whether it’s in the small town or outside of Dillon.

Friday Night Lights is the story of people, their lives, their relationships, their dreams, their failures, their weaknesses, and their successes. It is an honest (sometimes brutally so) picture of American life; the agony and the ecstasy that encompasses such a broad canvass. The show is loosely-based on the book of the same name written by Buzz Bissinger, and focuses around Eric Taylor, coach of the Dillon Panthers, his wife Tami (played by the beautiful and brilliant Connie Britton), who are trying to raise their beautiful teenaged daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) and the struggles there-in while juggling their lives in Dillon surrounded by colorful characters like Matt Saracen's loving-but-suffering-from-dementia Grandma (Louanne Stephens) and Brad Leland’s mega-booster (and mega pain-in-the-butt) Buddy Garrity.

People with Netflix, I implore you to watch the first four seasons on Instant Watch, or put the first four seasons at the top of your home delivery DVD Que. The show will be coming back to the airwaves next month on NBC after airing on DirectTV’s Channel 101 this late winter. From every television critic out there, this final season was a rousing success, and it deserves your attention, people.

There is so much garbage on television, like all of the “reality” shows that have about as much to do with reality as a Star Wars film. Friday Night Lights is more real and more authentic than any show in recent memory, maybe ever (well, except for one tangential plot-point in season 2 that I’m fairly sure was ordered by meddlesome NBC executives that almost sent the show off the rails, but don’t worry about that).

Watch season 1 of Friday Night Lights, people. Invite the best-acted and best-written depiction of what a real married relationship is like (Coach and Mrs. Coach) into your homes and into your heart. You will be hooked from the first episode, and you will grateful that you did. Trust me. You will not be sorry.

Smart Quote

This quote is for that subhuman, Harvey Almorn Updyke from Dadeville, AL.

Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their meanness, and make it a pretext for sordid tyranny.

Honoré de Balzak, The Muse of the Department, 1843

Hey, Check This Out!

This is Coach Taylor’s (played by the subtle and affecting Kyle Chandler) speech to his team at the end of the pilot for Friday Night Lights. There are SPOILERS in the video! So if you have never seen FNL and want to take my advice and want not to know what happens at the end of the pilot, do not watch. Those who need convincing and those who have seen it already and those who do not mind spoilers, check it out!

And please, follow me on Twitter at @UGABugKiller. Thanks!


  1. My idea for a punishment: the guy who ruined Toomer's Corner should have to spend the next year in a prison full of Auburn fans. I have a feeling that the problem would then sort itself out.

  2. Joseph, I have an even better solution.

    Throw the guy in the middle of Toomer's Corner surrounded by every Auburn frat and every Auburn male alum and make him try to walk out of that gauntlet.