Bill Connelly looks at the college offenses, defenses, and overall teams that have improved (Air Force!) or regressed (North Texas!) the most in 2014. Year Zero is a real thing (sometimes).
13 Nov 2013
by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz
Tom: I made my initial trip to a press box two weekends ago, for the Rams-Titans clash in St. Louis. That was neat, and a sign of how far I've come from attending the previous Rams-Titans game in St. Louis back in 2005. That was the first NFL game I attended in 17 years. After the initial "this is awesome" experience, though, it occurred to me all I did was watch a game with my computer in front of me. That's what I do every Sunday, except I do it with the TV view instead of the all-22 overhead angle I basically had.
I was actually a bit underwhelmed. At least in St. Louis, you have two long rows of seats. And everybody has their assigned seat. Like any workplace, you have the usual collection of people who spend their usual time together.
Mike: What bizarre hazing rituals did our colleagues perform on you thanks to your status as the New Guy?
Tom: None, really. At least that I noticed. I don't know, I started fifth through tenth grades in separate schools. I learned thick skin out of necessity. Perhaps I am now persona non grata to everyone. Anyway, I introduced myself to Paul Kuharsky and some of the other of the Reporters Who Cover The Titans. Paul had recently had me on his podcast, but I'd never met him or anyone else before, since I live 500 miles away and am not normally in the press box. There is free food, the quality of which apparently varies greatly depending on the location, and drink. The turkey wasn't bad. I managed to restrain myself from eating any of the free ice cream treats.
Mike: Isn't that breaking the cardinal rule of free stuff? Maximize free calorie input?
Tom: Probably, but there comes a point where dislike of exercise plus a like of a non-expanding waistline means you restrain yourself.
A Rams PR person handed out play-by-play sheets at the end of each quarter, including the normal stat package you see in a gamebook. I imagine if there had been any injuries of note in the game, the press box announcer would have noted them, but there were not. While I never root for injuries, I felt kind of deprived and disappointed in a way. That probably sounds really silly, I know.
Mike: We all know you're a horrible person. This is nothing new.
Tom: So the press box is neat and all, but at the end of the day it's just watching from a different angle. Once upon a time, this was a big deal for me, because all I got from a game was the TV tape. Now I can just open up my iPad and pull up the overhead, the end zone, and the TV angle from any game the Titans have played this year and watch that. For some people, it's the communal aspect, being part of a crowd. But in the press box, I wasn't wearing my No. 71 Roos jersey and cheering like a fan. I was in a button-down shirt and slacks like the most of the rest of the middle-aged white guy crowd and not cheering. I'm still heading down to Indy for my annual trip to see the Titans play there, but I'm really wondering if going to games is worth it, especially as a fan of an out-of-town team.
Any take on the in-stadium viewing experience, Mike?
Mike: Personally, I hate in-stadium viewing for football without exceptionally great seats. Stadia are just too large, and laid out to maximize seating, rather than optimal viewing for the spectators. I finally made it back to PNC for the NL Wild Card Game, and even with fairly bad seats my overall experience was better than any football stadium I've watched a game in.
Tom: I've kind of pooh-poohed the in-game experience, but I've actually grown more tolerant of non-exceptionally great seats. On my 2005 St. Louis trip I was in about the 12th row on the 40-yard line. (Thhanks, Aunt Carol!) It was a while before I had seats quite that good again. And that bugged me.
Mike: Too good to share a section with the common man, eh Gower?
Tom: The press box in St. Louis is particularly high -- higher than the upper deck. I rather enjoyed my view. I went to Nashville for the Titans-Chiefs game. I was in the upper deck, about 15 rows high, on the 40 yard line. I enjoyed my view. I've sat in the upper decks in Indy, in the end zone, and about the 10-yard line. I enjoyed both views. I think part of it has been my education as a fan. I recognize things better and see more, so my viewing experience is less dependent on the quality of my seat.
Mike: I think I would give a good view live at the stadium an edge over one of the non-NBC games, but if every game gave us the same suite of live views that NBC does for Sunday Night Football, I can't imagine going to a game unless it was as part of a group.
Tom: You know, I never take advantage of SNF Extra.
Mike: I hope that enough people do for NBC to continue the program. It is really quite nice, and something I wish all the NFL broadcasters would adopt.
Tom: Perhaps I should, since I similarly enjoy that it exists. I'll try it next week if I remember to.
Mike: Give them those hits!
Tom: At the end of the day, the press box is just another place to watch a football game. It has its pluses, but like every stadium experience, it's probably best at a time there are no other games going on. The biggest benefit is probably one I didn't take advantage of: the ability to go talk to the players. Beyond what I would write for Audibles, I didn't have a game story to do, so I didn't feel the need to. Perhaps I should have. Even if I did, I am not sure how much I would have gotten out of it considering I was just a fly-by-nighter with no relationship with any player. On the whole, I'm very content to spend 14 or so regular season Sundays in my living room, taking advantage of Sunday Ticket, and I think I'm likelier to increase that number instead of decreasing it.
Quarterback: Your Scramble writers are sure Colin Kaepernick was a mainstay of every Loser League team, all of which benefited from his league-low 3 points last week. Right? Right?
Running Back: At one point late in Sunday's game, your Scramble writer was looking forward to writing up Ray Rice, who at the time had 14 carries for nine yards and four catches for nine yards. That would have been a Loser League goose egg. Alas, Rice finished with 30 yards rushing and 26 receiving and was not the low man. Your low men were instead two players who did in fact finish with nine receiving yards. Steven Jackson had 11 yards rushing for his 1 point, while Rashard Mendenhall had a fumble to offset against his 42 for 2 points.
Wide Receiver: Earl Bennett, Ted Ginn, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Mike Wallace, 1 point each. Wallace is the third wide receiver this season with at least four catches for under four yards per catch.
Kicker: One free game check for Adam Vinatieri, who became the rare specialist not to have a single snap in a game. Other kickers have matched his 0 by not even attempting a kick, but most of them kick off. Punter Pat McAfee handles kickoffs for the Colts, though, so with Indianapolis going for two after their only touchdown and not kicking a field goal, Vinatieri might as well have not shown up.
For complete information on how your team did, check out the Loser League results page.
KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: Perhaps if Richie Incognito had drawn the proper line, the Miami Dolphins would not have been down two offensive line starters and maybe even managed to gain a yard or thirty on the thirteen handoffs they had Monday night, as opposed to the zero yards they actually did gain.
MIKE MARTZ AWARD: After the previous Sunday's performance against the Rams, the Tennessee Titans decided their run game was fixed and would be enough for them to defeat the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars. They came out running early and often and got approximately nowhere, with Shonn Greene and Chris Johnson combining for 36 yards on 14 first-half carries plus two fumbles, one of which set up Jacksonville's first score and one that stopped them in the red zone. So much for being able to run when you want to run it, eh, Mike Munchak and Dowell Loggains?
Tom: We were both right last week. The Broncos covered, and the Panthers won as underdogs. Go us! As a reminder, lines are courtesy of Bovada and were accurate as of time of writing.
Mike: Why is there no line for Chiefs-Broncos. Curse you, Bovada! You are on to my game.
Tom: A fine question, to which I do not have an answer.
Mike: I suppose Denver is riskier this week, considering Manning's injury. That said, I'm going to at least keep tabs on simply picking whatever line they hang on the Broncos from here on out.
Tom: Too bad, so sad.
Mike: My gut reaction is to take Arizona against Tampa, but the two actually match up pretty well: Two bad offenses that are propped up by their defenses. Arizona's offense is somehow worse, although their defense is elite.
(Tom gently reminds Mike that Arizona is playing Jacksonville, while Atlanta is playing Tampa, a game that was not on the board.)
Mike: Oh. Well then. How did I misread that?
Tom: You were brainwashed by Evil Rex Grossman.
Mike: Well eff it, Jacksonville is horrible. Arizona Cardinals -7 at Jacksonville Jaguars. Wait, that implies there is a Good Rex Grossman.
Tom: No, there's just a Normal Rex Grossman. He's just not very good at football. Speaking of the Bears, they're favored against the Ravens, but only by the home edge. Even after the home loss to the Lions, our numbers have the Bears as the clearly superior team. I'm not sure I trust that our numbers have the Bears pegged exactly right, particularly going forward taking into account Cutler's injury and the new loss of Charles Tillman. But our numbers match what I've seen of the Ravens. Bear down, bear down. Chicago Bears -3 vs. Baltimore Ravens.
Kimble: Since Darren Sproles had been concussed the previous week, I benched him in my PPR league. Not coincidentally, I lost my week 10 game by two points. With some lineup juggling, I can put Sproles in for either Steve Smith, Alshon Jeffery, or Chris Johnson. I'm leaning toward benching Smith, but Jeffery's new quarterback and Johnson's old meh-ness leave me worried. Should I trust my instincts?
Tom: CJ?k is, was, and will always be incredibly week-to-week. In PPR, though, he's a solid play this week. He'll get carries, as Shonn Greene was not more effective than he was, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has been willing to throw him more checkdowns more consistently than Jake Locker was.
Mike: I'm not sure why Alshon Jeffery is really an option over Sproles, honestly. Jeffery has been a pleasant surprise, but has nowhere near the upside of Sproles, plus has massive quarterback issues hanging over his head.
Tom: I was trying not to make too much of that. I think it's Sproles and CJ and then do you play Smith or Jeffery. Of course, Jeffery has had 20, 17, and 14 PPR points his last three games. I can understand why you wouldn't want to bench that. I think it's just time for me to get over that mental hurdle and accept Steve Smith at 34 isn't the player he was when he was younger. He hasn't had a catch longer than 23 yards all year and has a modest three touchdowns and 42 receptions. Still a fine player, a valuable one for his team, but not the top fantasy option he once was.
Mike: I agree. However, most of Jeffery's value has been built up over those past three weeks, in which the Bears faced the 22nd, 29th and 23rd ranked passing defenses in the league, respectively. Those numbers are very, very soft. While Smith might not light up the scoreboard, he should give you some consistent, albeit low, level of production. Baltimore has had issues against opposing No. 2 receivers, but a combination of Jeffery's inexperience and the quarterback issues will cut strongly against him. Especially since this week will likely feature Josh McCown trying to make up for a completely stymied running game. Halloween was last month, NFL!
Tom: I think the Ravens' secondary can be had, and McCown has certainly been better than I thought he'd be. In your shoes, I play Jeffery and sit Smith.
evenchunkiermonkey: I don't really remember sending that last email, but I don't remember leaving my mom that voice-mail, ordering all that stuff off Amazon, sending incredibly misspelled sympathy emails to John Fox and Gary Kubiak or trying to trade Ryan Matthews for Larry Fitzgerald. I wasn't really complaining about what Rodgers injury meant for my fantasy team, but instead what it meant for the ACTUAL Packer's team. I decided to lay off the booze until Rodgers is healed up and not just because my mother invited me to what will either be dinner or an intervention next weekend.
No need for roster advice but I have a question. How many fantasy leagues is too many fantasy leagues? I'm only playing in 14 this year, I swear I can quit whenever I want....
Mike: Whatever exact number of leagues it took you to require alcohol to get through the draft. Making a rough guess of your BAC, I'd say somewhere around four.
13 comments, Last at 14 Nov 2013, 6:01pm by justanothersteve