Monday, October 01, 2007

Somewhere, in some physical model of the universe, Tom Brady is crying for a roughing the passer penalty even now, when the game is already over. I do have it on good authority that Congress is currently debating a way to make any hit on Tom Brady a federal offense. It is early in the season, though, and sooner or later all good things must come to an end. But other matters must intrude before I discuss the Patriots.

One thing that is bothering me at this point in the season is the rumbling that Cedric Benson should lose his job. I don't think the Bears made a mistake in going with Benson and trading away Thomas Jones. After all, Thomas Jones didn't exactly torch the Bills this week, managing to gain just 19 yards. The fumbling has been unpleasant, to say the least, but in the grand scheme of what is wrong with the Chicago Bears, it's merely a blip next to the ghastly quarterback play.

In yesterday's game, Cedric Benson gained 50 yards rushing on 15 carries. That's not too bad. Granted Thomas Jones would have found ways to get more yardage and more carries by simply seizing the ball from his quarterback and turning passing plays into rushes, but short of that I don't see how Benson could have done more to help the Bears win when the offensive masterminds abandoned the run far too early.

After the Lions scored their first TD of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit from 13-3 to 13-10, a lesser man than Ron Turner might have placed more emphasis on the run to work the clock. Instead, he left the game in the capable hands of Brian Griese who managed to find a wide open defensive back for a big TD. A moderately competent high school quarterback should have been able to avoid that pick.

Detroit followed the big Hester return with a long TD drive, but one that didn't take much time off the clock. So the Bears took the field with all the time in the remaining on the clock. I joked with my friends as we watched the game that the run was no longer an option in the Ron Turner offense with that much time on the clock and trailing by only four points. Unfortunately, I was entirely too correct for my taste and for the Bears chances to win.

The Bears are advertised to be a team predicated on running the football and playing good defense. Against the Lions, the Bears threw the football 51 times in a game they never trailed by more than ten points. With a quarterback who hadn't played a game of this magnitude in more than a year.

I appreciate that the Philadelphia Eagles had torched Detroit through the air last week. But the Bears simply aren't built that way. Their wide receivers aren't that great. Mushin Muhhamad has been a disappointment. Berrian is fast, but inconsistent at best. Rasheed Davis looks like a serviceable number 4 option, unfortunately he's forced to be a number 3 in this offense that has no better candidate for the role. Greg Olsen hasn't been on the field long enough to be fairly evaluated. Desmond Clark is dependable, but they forget he exists at times.

The Bears need to find plays and blocking schemes that recognize the difference in style between Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. Their offensive line simply isn't playing very well or very consistently. Obviously, it would be great to have the line playing well, but it would be possible to muster an effective running attack if they were only consistent. That way, Benson would have an idea of where they might generate push and where he might have success. If that were the case, he'd have more confidence.

I suppose I might be underselling Ron Turner's prowess. There may be a method to the madness that I just don't see. Maybe it works out to the good of the team to have the tailback unable to trust his offensive linemen. Maybe having a tailback who has to wonder from play to play if he might get a chance to see daylight will bear dividends later in the season. Or perhaps Ron Turner is just such a nice brother he's trying to mirror Norv's lack of success in San Diego.

Before I move on from the Bears, I think it's time to rip Jay Mariotti. It was with very little shame and humility that Mariotti discussed to awful play of Brian Griese this past week. It was almost as though he hadn't called for Griese to play at the top of his lungs. But I suppose one must ask the question has any one with more to be humble about than Mariotti ever been less humble?

It was, however, particularly perceptive of Mariotti to upbraid Cedric Benson for not doing more. Ron Turner was right to go away from the run when he did. Benson gained 47 of his 50 yards in the 3rd quarter. It wasn't as though he was building momentum as the game went on, right? Poor blocking and poor play calling could derail any running back's performance.

Seeing a sentence like this in Mariotti's column: "He failed again, looking more interested in running out of bounds then putting the cause on his back" makes me wonder if any editorial restraint exists on the Sun Times. Instead of then it should be than, that's a high school mistake. I don't think I'm nitpicking here, or being hypocritical. Yeah, I make my share and several other people's shares of mistakes in my posts, but I'm not paid to write for a major metropolitan newspaper.

And then there is this thing (I hate to dignify it by calling it a column) on Rex Grossman from ten days ago. I leave it to you to decide whether Mariotti's lack of discretion or the indecent enthusiasm with which he seemed to enjoy his lack of discretion is more offensive. It's just one more reason to despise Mariotti. There is nothing like a lazy, slovenly, arrogant douche to make you want to name your firstborn Jay.

I could not be more tired of the speculation that the Patriots might emerge from this season undefeated. First, the season is only 1/4 of the way through its course. To this point, the Patriots have played 2 sinking ships and 2 teams that may want to simply give up the ghost on the season. As impressive as the first three 38 point performances were, the Patriots still have some dangerous teams on the schedule.

At this point, I have the same level of confidence that the Pats will go undefeated as I have that Daunte Culpepper will duplicate his efforts against Miami going forward, that Terry Francona and Theo Epstein will survive in their present capacities for another season if the team loses to Anaheim and that I will ever have even a passing interest in the future of John Edward Thomas Moynihan. In short, I have no confidence that this team will beat all of the following teams: Pittsburgh, Dallas, Indianapolis and Miami twice.

I will have more on Francona, Epstein and the rest of the Red Sox brain trust as they get closer to losing a playoff series, but something must be done. Last year, the can't miss rookie closer burned his arm out and had to be shut down early. This year, Clay Buchholz came on like a house afire, threw a no-hitter in his second start and had all of Red Sox Nation aflutter with laughter as they scoffed at the Yankees and their conservative Joba Rules. It's not quite so funny now that Buchholz is done for the year as the team plays on, due to fatigue in his shoulder.

There was a time when the Red Sox used to trade all their prospects for veterans to gear up for the stretch drive. Under this regime, apparently the MO seems to be to call up those prospects and throw them to the wolves. I guess they think it's better to have those guys burn out before their minor league deals expire only to be replaced with much more lucrative contracts. But then I'm cynical. The question Red Sox fans have to ask themselves is would they rather believe this administration is corrupt or incompetent.

PS - I was joking when I mentioned the Miami Dolphins, but it does seem like they have a habit of playing spoiler and upsetting the Patriots these last couple of seasons. And don't get too excited about a career day for Sammie Morris. Perhaps if the Bengals had more than two linebackers available to play the bulk of this game, things might not have been so bad. I think Justin Smith said it best when he said it felt like 9 on 7 drills out there. The Pats might as well have been on a power play as though it were hockey with the Bengals injury woes, but that's life.

PPS - Trevor Hoffman looked very old tonight, blowing this save. He also looked a lot like the Snowman (Jerry Reed) from Smokey and the Bandit.

No comments: