Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dear Titans, Don't Draft a QB named Cam, Blaine, Ryan, or Jake this year, please.

The No Football League NFL Draft is coming up next week and therefore there is a lot of news about the Quarterbacks. The Titans kind of need one, by the way. I'm not willing to put up with another year of Kerry Collins or Rusty Smith. *shudder*. I would rather have no pro football and might get my wish. My thought is that the best option, however, is to draft a QB in the 2nd or 3rd round, think Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, or Christian Ponder, and trade or sign a veteran. Maybe not Kolb, maybe not Palmer, and definitely not McBadd McNabb, but maybe a guy like Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace or Dennis Dixon (who could be a long-term guy too) or even Bruce Gradkowski. I don't really care as long as they can play well enough to allow the new draftee to sit for at least 3 games to keep learning.

Truth be told, the Titans don't look all that great on paper. Therefore, we don't have a whole lot to lose in trying some of these guys. A first round pick on a Quarterback, however, demands production. I don't want that for this team. Especially since a guy who I reaaaaalllly like could be coming in to the league in the next draft, Baylor's Robert Griffin III. I like that kid a LOT! He is a passer first, that has some wheels if he needs them. Just awesome to me.

But I digress. Why don't I want Cam Newton? Why don't I want Blaine Gabbert? My answer is simple and the same for both players. Show me the hype from their performances as a freshman, sophomore, and junior years as a whole. In other words, I don't want a guy who was spectacular for one year. I want a QB that has a history of winning, leading, and succeeding along with all those physical tools. Would I like to see Cam Newton become a respectable, likable guy and take the league by storm with his amazing physical gifts. Yeah, I really would, the league needs a story like that. I just don't want the Titans spending money on that kind of risk. When someone shows me Newton or Gabbert, I think Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch. That's just based on my experience, not necessarily statistical value. I was a lot younger, but followed closely, and don't remember hearing anything about either of those guys until draft day was a few months away. I may be wrong though.

Jake Locker and Ryan Mallet are kind of in the same boat for me. While I remember hearing hype about them for a while now, I can't remember the big games that they've won. Probably because they haven't won any. Physical size, strength, stature are all things these two get praised for and again, with the exception of Notre Dame quarterbacks, I generally hope guys do well in the league despite my criticism (which I'm sure means soooooo much to them). Jake Locker, ok, it seems he had a couple big wins ripped away from him, maybe, but still, not a lot on the ol' resume. Ryan Mallet's lasting image to me was a game a couple years ago against Auburn, I believe, in which he was injured. He sat out, while the backup QB came in and lit up Auburn to pull the Hogs within a score or two. Mallet comes back in, and the Hogs get stomped. Image sered into my brain. Thanks. I also can't finish talking about Mallet without the character stuff. While many times jerks make good athletes (who knows why) and while ultimately most would say that as long as the player doesn't get into legal trouble it is ok to go with them.....I want likable, upstanding, overall good guys on my team. Be nasty on the field, be gracious off the field. That what I want, personally.

All that to say, draft Defense with the 8th pick. Wait on a QB, because the difference between a the marquee names and a 2nd or 3rd round guy is probably just that...a name.

(Draft Robert Griffin III next year, too)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

That was refreshing

Preds win! Preds win! Finally!

Jonathan Blum lifted the spirits of a fanbase with his first NHL goal, Leggy finally reappeared, Peks was fantastic, and the hockey gods gave us a bit of help with that no-goal!

So nice....bring on the Trade Deadline! Let's find a scorer of some kind!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

No Panic in this Preds Fan

I have to admit. This loss to Dallas, 3-2, was tough to swallow. The Preds played better than their last few games got some rebounds and potted a couple goals. Ryan Suter knotted his second mark of the year and Colin Wilson (a favorite of mine) finally got back on the scoresheet. However, it was all for naught as the "hockey gods" that Trotz always talks about were not on our side, it seems.

Nevertheless, we head back to Smashville tomorrow to face the Blue Jackets and we are still just one point out of the 8th and final playoff spot. All is not lost. Not by a longshot. As I talked about in my last post, the Predators are one of the streakiest teams in the NHL and until we sit more than 5 points out, I'm not going to panic. This has just been one strange strange year. How many teams would still be in position to make the playoffs when 3 of their top 4 Centermen are on the IR, their Defensive Corps has been beat up all year, and the prize off-season acquistion has played all of 2 games this season. The answer is not many. There is plenty of reason to remain optimistic. It may take a little thinking through the situation, but there is indeed plenty.

On a somewhat related note, is Pekka Rinne not the most underrated goaltender in the league? To me, he is the sole reason the Predators are even close to the playoffs. Noone has been more rock steady and with the lone exception of Tim Thomas, who is having a video game year, what goalie has meant more to their team? The D in Nashville is very good, but lets be real here, Peks is bailing them out a LOT this year. It's a shame (or crime?) but he won't finish in the top 3 for the Vezina Trophy. It's garbage, but it's probably true.

Here's to Colin Wilson heating up, Captain Shea firing the cannon, Poile working the magic, and player playing to potential for a stretch! Let's Go Preds!

Puck drops at 2pm in Smashville. Go see Blake Geoffrion's homecoming vs. Columbus and cheer the Preds to a revenge victory. Peks is ready and waiting BJs!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halishuck called up

Glad to see Poile did what I thought he would, make some changes. No major trades, but solid changes that at the very least add some excitement and optimism for Preds fans like me.

First, the Sulzer trade: A little sad to see Sulzer go, given that I felt he was one of our better defensemen. He is extremely underrated, in my opinion, and we only got a conditional 7th round pick in 2012 for him. The return doesn't excite me much. However, I am glad Sulzy gets a chance to get significant playing time somewhere. He deserves a better shot and with the number of solid defensemen we have in the NHL club, in up and coming prospects, and the emergence of Jonathan Blum, he wouldn't have gotten much. Good luck to him and I wish him the best.

Second, Steve Sullivan goes to the IR for what I read is an recurring groin issue. Surprised we weren't told "lower body injury" but nevertheless, it doesn't surprise me that he is injured. He's had problems staying healthy and watching him play after the puck to the face, I felt like there was something else bothering him.

Wade Belak being put on waivers is sad from the standpoint that the possibility is there that he will go to a different team and no longer be involved with the media in Nashville. Funny guy and seems to be a class-act when he isn't pounding people's faces....when he isn't a health scratch.

All these moves result in the call up of Matt Halishuck and Blake Geoffrion.

Halishuck isn't much of a scoring threat at this point in his career, but he is a heady player and seemed to spark JP Dumont when they played on a line together earlier in the year. Here's hoping he can spark Leggy or something.

The most exciting news to a lot of Preds fans is the call-up of Blake Geoffrion. While I have the common worry of hoping they didn't call on him too soon, I can't help but be excited about the potential. The young group of Sergei Kostitsyn, Patric Hornqvist, Colin Wilson, Blake Geoffrion, Jonathan Blum, Captain Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Cody Franson, and eventually Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Chris Mueller, Taylor Beck, and Linus Klasen (who I think gets called up shortly after he gets healthy and plays a few AHL games again). The future is BRIGHT, in my eyes.

Don't be shocked if Poile gets some more trades done before the deadline. I have a hard time seeing all these things happening just so we can bring some guys to Smashville from Milwaukee.

Next Game : Saturday, February 26, 2011 @ Dallas Stars, puck drops at 1pm Central Time.
GO PREDS GO!

All these moves result in the

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Preds spiraling....

The Nashville Predators can't buy a goal....

As I type this, the Preds haven't scored since Saturday, February 19th. It has been a looooooooooooong February for Nashville fans. Where can we find solace? Marcel Goc is done for the year, Matthew Lombardi is more than likely suffering the same fate. Cal O'Reilly? Probably done. The hope is they bring in a sniper type player to spark the players that are supposed to be our offensive guys.

I'm just glad this is the shortest month of the year.

However, I thought about things in a way that is somewhat encouraging. We are banged up (Understatement),  and we have no scorers to speak of, but the Preds have been incredibly streaky this year. Maybe this is just the last ugly stretch until the playoffs. I like what Mike Fisher brings to this team. Jon Blum looks like he is going to be a good good player for a long time. There are a lot of things that make me optimistic.

But I could easily see us missing the playoffs this year and feeling we missed a great opportunity, yet again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Ramblings of a Crazed Basketball Fan

Going to the GCMS Falcons v. Ridgeview Mustangs Varsity Boys Basketball Game tonight. Why? Because my brother is on the team, I am a GCMS alum, and Prairie Central is on the road in Rantoul, so it makes more sense to watch the Falcons.

I don't know why I do it to myself, though. My class was the first to start and finish as GCMS Falcons and my senior year basketball team tied a GCMS/Gibson City/Melvin-Sibley record with 24 wins. So while I move on and follow and cheer for the PC Hawks, I am still very much interested in how my Falcons are doing.

Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple regional titles in a severely watered down 4 class system for IHSA Basketball, the answer to "How are they doing?" is usually a shake of the head. It can be ugly sometimes. This year's team is a bit undersized and inexperienced, but all and all should be better than their 1 win and 6.5 million losses indicates. However, some games you are surprised they won a game at all this year.

This is not a "fire the coach" post. This is not a "let's talk about the glory days" post. This isn't even meant to talk bad about the players or their skill set. My point is simply this: How did we get here?

Let me be clear, the fundamentals of the game of basketball are not taught like they were years ago. To be honest, I'm not sure they should be. Kids are bigger, faster, and stronger than they were years ago and by the looks of things, they might be bigger, faster and stronger than some of the teams I was on. They are certainly stronger than I was in high school! That being the case, the fundamentals simply need to be tweaked. I watch warm-ups and practices and think where is any of this in the offense they run during the game. I feel that the major difference between kids in today's high school game, as opposed to even 5 years ago, think about the game much less. Going through high school, I remember finishing basketball practice and then going to play pick-up ball some days or going home and shooting outside, running through game scenarios. I scored 28 pts in a NCAA Tourney game for Eastern Illinois one night out behind the grain bin at the farm, in fact. I thought about the game. Whatever I lacked in athleticism and size, I made up for in basketball smarts. I was the 6th or 7th man of my basketball team my senior year even though 10 ft was probably my range. Why? Because I understood what my role as a player was, meaning I knew my strengths and weaknesses. I worked on my weaknesses but made sure that I played to my strengths. I wasn't planning on going out and shooting the lights out for 45 points every night. That wasn't my role. I approached each game with the mentality that I was going to come off the bench and shut down whatever man was put in front of me. I was going to outwork him defensively and out-rebound him. With that mind set, I knew what to watch for while I waited to go in to the game. I analyzed each player and thought how I would defend him or run offense against him once I got in the action. I'm not sure players think that way anymore. Boxing out is standing in front of a man and then trying to outjump him for a rebound and playing defense seems to be having your man miss a shot. What happened to moving your man out of the way for a rebound by boxing out? When did defensive mindset change from "my man won't get the ball because of me, and if he does, he won't be able to even get a shot off"?

Since players don't think about the game on their own as much. Coaches need to work it into practice and warm-ups. They need muscle memory and stretching and all the necessities before exercise, but they also need to warm-up their minds. They need to play through the game before it happens.

I used to think my JV coach, Mr. Mike Allen, was nuts for saying "Visualize before each game". I did, but not cause I thought it would help. I just thought somehow I'd prove to him that it did nothing. Years later I realize that he wasn't crazy. (Not for that saying anyway) He was trying to get us to think about the game. Basketball smarts are the difference between a talented, athletic 2-23 team and an average athleticism, undersized 15-10 team. It makes a world of difference. Know your role, know the game, then its all execution. I wonder how we get that back? Maybe it's not gone....but I sure have a hard time seeing any.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Of Snow Days and Signings

Officially survived the Snowpocolypse of 2011 and have been able to enjoy two days of what I truly love to do: watch sports, think about sports, and read about sports. Today was National Signing Day for College Football, so that's been my dish since 9:30am. Good to see the University of Tennessee rope in a Top 25 recruiting class. I love what Derek Dooley is doing with the program in bringing it back to respectability in the public eye after the previous years of losing and the "Lane Kiffin Experience". The Vols look to be a team that will be competing for an SEC title in the next couple years.
Haven't heard much on the U of I Illini. That may not be a bad thing, however, as none of the other recruiting classes really materialized into anything much. Although props to Zook for bringing the Illini back to competing at a high level.

In the NFL, the Tennessee Titans' Coaching Search continues with most sources saying that Mike Munchak is the odds on favorite. Mike Heimerdinger, Mike Mularkey, Gregg Williams, and Perry Fewell are the other candidates. If I had to rank 'em:
1.Perry Fewell
2.Gregg Williams
3.Mike Heimerdinger
4. Mike Munchak
5. Mike Mularkey

Here's hopin....