Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Crazy Saturday of Football

Going into Saturday's Wild Card playoff game, the biggest headline was about the Seattle Seahawks, and how at 7-9, they really had no business in the playoffs.  Their opponent, the 11-5 New Orleans Saints were America's darlings last year, and look poised to make another Super Bowl run.  Despite being the road team, the Saints were a 10 point favorite, and no one gave Seattle a chance in this game.

Then the game started.  On the third play of the game, Matt Hasselback threw a interception, and things looked bleak for Seattle.  Hasselback regrouped, and channeled his inner Joe Montana, and picked apart the New Orleans defense.  Hasselback, whom most pundits wrote off, had the game of his life.  He finished 22-35, for 272 yards, and 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception.

On the other sideline, the great Drew Brees put up his usual gaudy numbers, but the big story was New Orleans inability to stop Seattle.  Marshawn Lynch sealed this game with one of the greatest runs in NFL history.   The run was just sheer determination and grit, and it might have earned Lynch some extra money.

When the game ended, the Seahawks had a stunning 41-36 victory over the Saints.  The defending champions are going home, and the so-called pathetic Seahawks have a date in the next round.  One stat that made me chuckle, the only way the Seahawks can finish with a winning record, is if they win the Super Bowl, which would make them 11-9.

Also, when NBC has their annual playoff doubleheader, the NFL should allow the MNF crew to do the game, Mike Mayock's lisp drove me nuts all day.  A broadcast team that hasn't done a regular season game, has no business doing a playoff game.  Shame on NBC and the NFL.

Moving on to the AFC, the Jets played the Colts, in a rematch of last year's AFC title game.  The game didn't feature the fireworks of the day's predecessor, but was a very good battle.

Call me crazy, but Peyton Manning being hailed as one of the greatest QB's of all time is a joke.  The dude is now 9-10 in the playoffs, after today's loss to the Jets.  His best receiver, Reggie Wayne, forgot to show up, as he had a single catch, for one yard.  It was Pierre Garcon(5 catches, 112 yards, TD) who was Manning's main target.  Overall, the Jets didn't allow Manning to get the ball downfield.

If the Jets are going to make a Super Bowl run, Mark Sanchez has to improve dramatically.  He missed several receivers open downfield, and threw an interception at the end of the half, that could have potentially led to a field goal.  You simply cannot throw away opportunities to score in the playoffs.  Overall, Sanchez was 18-31, for 189 yards, and an interception.

The Jets rode a dominant offensive line, and the running back duo of Ladainian Tomlinson(16 carries, 82 yards, 2 TD's) and Shonn Greene(19 carries, 70 yards) to victory.  After seeing LT run like he did this year, I am convinced that he quit on the Chargers last year.  Call me crazy, but running backs don't improve at the age of 30.

Nick Folk hit a 32 yard field goal as time expired, and the Jets have a date in Foxboro next week.  The Jets squeak out a 17-16 win. 

Overall it was a great day of football, one that Sunday will have trouble topping.

An Interview with former SDSU guard Tyrone Shelley

It has been a long, and interesting journey for Tyrone Shelley.  When he left Crawford High School, he was the San Diego section's all-time leading scorer, with 2,962 points.  He is ahead of players like Houston Rockets guard Chase Budinger, and former MLB first baseman Tony Clark.  He also holds the section record for points in a game with 76, a game in which he sat out of the fourth quarter. 

After his stellar career in High School, Tyrone attended Pepperdine Univeristy, where he led his team, averaging 15 points a game as a freshman.  He also earned a place on the CollegeHoops.net Mid-Major All-American first team for his efforts.

After that season, he transferred to San Diego State, and got the opportunity to showcase his talents in his hometown.  He went through an injury-plagued campaign last season, averaging 6 points a game, for SDSU, which advanced to the NCAA tournament. 

After last season, Shelley decided to transfer out of SDSU, and found a home at Georgetown College in Kentucky, an NAIA school.  By going down to a lower level of play, Shelley could play immediately, and wouldn't have to sit out the season, due to transfer rules. 

Most scouting websites say Shelley has an opportunity to make a living playing basketball, whether it be here in the states, or overseas.  Shelley is averaging 10 points and 6 boards for Georgetown College, and his team is off to 15-1 start this season.  Shelley was gracious enough to answer some questions for me, so here it is.

Q:  In moving from San Diego to Kentucky, what has been the biggest adjustment?

A:  "The biggest adjustment for me was getting use to the weather, and the distance from my family."

Q:  After playing for SDSU last year, what impacted you leaving the program?

A:  "I left because I wasn't getting the recognition for going out and playing every game hard, and injured, and I was so hurt I couldn't even walk."

Q:  When you decided to leave SDSU, did you receive any offers from any D1 schools

"I decided I wanted to leave after the tournament loss to Tennessee because I knew I was going to get healthy, and I wanted to play elsewhere. When I did(decide to transfer) I did receive D1 and D2 and NAIA schools."

Q:  In my research, Georgetown College has a storied history at the NAIA level, what role did that play in you deciding to transfer there?

A:  "Georgetown being good in the past, and getting the chance to visit, and meet the returning players and players from the past, I felt like I had a chance to get better and improve my basketball game. and grow as a person."

Q:  Have you had an opportunity to follow SDSU this year?

A:  "Yes I still follow SDSU, because I still have friends on the team and at the university,  and Malcolm is (Aztecs forward Malcolm Thomas) like my little brother, so I'm still a SDSU fan."

Q:  What interests do you have off of the basketball court?

A:  "Off the court I like to do normal things, such as hanging out with friends, and trying to sing, and watching movies."

Q:  Is there a big difference in the level of play between the NCAA and NAIA?

A:  "There's a huge different in height, and there are a lot of smaller players in NAIA, but they play big because they play so hard. The games are refereed differetly as well,  there are a lot more touch fouls,  and fouls in general called."

Q:  You are one of the tallest players on the Georgetown College roster, have you had to play a lot inside the paint?

A:  "No, I felt like I played the post more at the D1 level and now I'm on the wing a lot more. If there is a smaller player guarding me, I will go into the post, and exploit the mismatch."

Once again, a big thank you to Tyrone Shelley for giving me, and you readers a few moments of his time.  Follow Tyrone's new team at http://www.georgetowncollegeathletics.com.










 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Carolina is out of Luck, Andrew to stay at Stanford

With one statement, the Carolina Panthers draft board is in flux.  Andrew Luck, considered to be the consensus choice for the #1 pick in the NFL Draft, has decided to stay in school for his junior year.

In a statement that Luck released today, he said that he plans to stay at Stanford, and pursue his degree in architectural design.  By staying in school, Luck could potentially be leaving $50 million on the table.  The guy is obviously an intelligent guy, and i applaud him for taking his academic career seriously.  He went to Stanford for a degree first, and football second.

However, from an economic standpoint, Luck could be blowing a major opportunity.  The first pick in the draft could command around $50 million, which seems almost impossible to pass up.  However, Luck comes from a wealthy background, so the money might not be a huge motivation to someone who is already wealthy.

If your are a Panther fan, this has to be a tremendous kick to the gut.  The only solace that you had for an awful season, was a shot at Luck, your franchise savior.  Instead you can look at Blaine Gabbert from Missouri, or Cam Newton, but neither of those players is as polished as Luck.  The Panthers can also look at players on the defensive side of the ball, but they won't have the sex appeal of a franchise quarterback.

I respect Luck for his choice, he wasn't influenced by the media, or anyone else in his life.  Ultimately, he did what was best for him, and to me, that shows what kind of leader this young man is.

Finch Breaks Up

In a story missed by me, post-hardcore band Finch decided to call it quits, and scrap plans for a studio album that they were planning.

The band rose to prominence in 2002, with the album, "What it is to Burn."  The title track was a big hit on Modern Rock radio, and the band developed a very nice following.

From a personal standpoint, Finch was part of my first concert, as I saw them, and Something Corporate open for New Found Glory.  Finch tore the roof off of Cox Arena, back in 2002, and they became part of the soundtrack of my High School career.  They blended sounds of hardcore like Glassjaw, and had a definite Deftones vibe.

They went with a darker sound on their second album, "Say Hello to Sunshine," which wasn't received well by fans, and they faded away into obscurity, eventually disbanding back in 2007.

They reformed in 2008, and did a nationwide tour, and released a digital EP.

I had the opportunity to meet singer Nate Barclow, after their set at Soma, here in San Diego, and the guy was a complete douche.  He blew off my buddy and I, when my friend asked for an autograph.  His girlfriend also had a muffin top, and bad teeth.  I thought musicians get better tail, than last call girls at some hick dive bar.

He did however write a great album, which I advise you all to check out.  RIP Finch.

Raiders Cancel Cable, Al Davis has Offically lost it

Typically an 8-8 record is nothing to celebrate in the NFL.  It means you are the very definition of mediocre, and the season was largely unsuccessful.  That is, unless you are the Oakland Raiders, a team that has had nothing but 10 loss seasons since 2002.  The Raiders have been a constant punchline over the last 7 years.  Whether it was the drafting of Jamarcus Russell, horrible contracts handed out to players like Javon Walker and Tommy Kelly, and losing season after losing season.

This year, Tom Cable helped bring the Raiders back to respectability, and gave Raider fans a reason for hope.  The Raiders went from 31st in points, to 6th.  They rode behind one of the NFL's best running games, and while Jason Campbell is far from being a star, his best quality is that his name isn't Jamarcus Russell.  The defense improved as the season went on, and physically pummeled the Chargers and Chiefs, the two teams that finished ahead of them in the AFC West.

The Raiders also went 6-0 in their own division, the first time a team accomplished this, without making the playoffs.  Cable brought toughness back to the Raiders, and the offensive line became a solid, cohesive unit.

Yes, Cable's 17-27 overall record is far from impressive, and they were 2-8 outside of the AFC West, but the Broncos are a mess, the Chiefs are no Juggernaut, and San Diego is wildly inconsistent.  With another draft(even without a #1 pick) and another go in free agency, and the Raiders could easily be a 10 or 11 win team next season.  I firmly believe Cable should have been given another shot.  Hell, guys like Gary Kubiak and Marvin Lewis kept their jobs.

The move was also questioned by Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler, who called the firing a "huge setback."  The locker room of a professional sports team can be very fragile, and for veterans like Lechler who have suffered through constant turmoil, the move can't be well received.  The hot rumor is that the job will go to current Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson, although I wouldn't be surprised if Davis hires someone completely off the radar.  After all he did it with Lane Kiffin.

I am not saying that Cable is a great NFL coach.  However, the Raiders significantly improved under his leadership.  Another year with Cable and Hue Jackson, and Oakland could be a legitimate contender.  Perhaps they still will be, but Cable deserved a better fate.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chargers survive in Denver, Wrap up Disappointing Season

The Chargers jumped out to a 33-14 lead in Denver, only to watch Tim Tebow and the Broncos make a comeback.  After desperate passes were batted away, the Chargers escaped with a 33-28 over Denver, to put the finishing touch on an underwhelming season.

The Chargers got their first glimpse of Tim Tebow, and wasn't very impressive with his arm, but looked great with his legs.  He also nearly brought Denver back, overcoming a 19 point deficit.  He hit Brandon Lloyd on a 14 yard touchdown strike, to give Denver an early lead.  He also ran for a touchdown.  For the day he finished 16-36, for 205 yards, with 2 TD's and 2 INT's.  He also 94 yards on the ground, including a 30 yard scamper that led to a touchdown.

The Chargers got the equalizing score on the legs of Ryan Mathews.  He scored from 27 yards out, his first of  on the day.  Mathews had a career day, in his final game in a lackluster rookie season.  Mathews had career-high totals with 26 carries, for 120 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  He showed the explosiveness and agility that Charger fans have waiting to see.  However, fumbles continue to be a problem with Mathews, as he put it on the ground twice.  Luckily, the Chargers recovered both times.

The Chargers took the Mathews score, and 3 Nate Kaeding field goals into the locker room, and led 16-7 at the half.

Philip Rivers also got the Chargers moving through the air.  Despite not throwing for a touchdown, Rivers threw for over 300 yards, completing passes to 10 different receivers, including an amazing one-handed grab by Malcolm Floyd.  Legedu Naanee paced the passing game, with 4 catches for 79 yards.

After the Chargers built a 33-14 lead early in the 4th quarter, the Chargers reverted to their self-destructive ways, allowing Cassius Vaughn to score on a 97 yard kick return.  It was the 4th kick return for a touchdown the Chargers have allowed this season.

After Tim Tebow scored on a 6 yard score, the Broncos had a pulse with 27 seconds left.

In yet another special teams gaffe, the Chargers allowed Denver to recover an onside kick, but Tebow's desperation heaves came up short, and the Chargers win their final game of the season.

The Chargers wrap up a disappointing season, and their future looks rather uncertain.  In the next coming days, I will have an offseason preview, and what the Chargers can do to get back on the path for a Super Bowl.  Norv isn't the only problem, folks!