Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Washington Redskins Offensive Line An Issue?

So I got into a heated argument this morning on Twitter about the Washington Redskins’ offensive line. The opinion of the person I was arguing with?

The Redskins have absolutely no offensive line depth. The starters aren’t that good. The backups even worse.

Anyone who watched the Redskins last season know that isn’t even anywhere near the truth. The Redskins started the season with somewhat solid play in the trenches. The biggest issue on the line early in the season was veteran Right Tackle Jammal Brown, who had apparently not recovered from his lingering and/or repetitive hip injury. Other than that, Chris Chester struggled a bit at RG. When Kory Lichtensteiger went down with injury, the line really shifted. Maurice Hurt replaced him for a few games before he struggled a little bit. Will Montgomery eventually shifted from C to LG and Eric Cook took over at C. Cook proved to be highly incapable of the job, in my opinion, although it didn’t help matters that the team was not running the football at all and was relying on absolute pampered play of John Beck, and Willie Smith was in for an injured Trent Williams.

When Trent Williams returned for a few games, Hurt was back in the lineup at LG and Montgomery back at C. Jammal Brown eventually went down, leading to Tyler Polumbus cracking the starting lineup and not relinquishing the spot the final 4 games.

The season ended with Trent Williams suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That gave Willie Smith significant playing time alongside a young Maurice Hurt, Will Montgomery finished the year at Center with Chris Chester at RG, and Polumbus at RT.

The unit played as well as it had the final 6-7 weeks of the season offensively, and quite honestly, as well as any other line in the league. This was still with shifts at both right and left tackle, and left guard. In the final weeks of the season, the Redskins did will protecting Rex Grossman, as well as springing Roy Helu, Jr. and Evan Royster to pretty big games over 100 yards rushing every week.

With Trent Williams returning to the lineup, Left Tackle should be much improved. Williams isn’t the epitome of consistency, but he does very well when the challenge is the toughest. It’s sort of the standard around here that this team and the players play up and down to the level of their competition every week. If they can play up and not down, they (especially Trent) can be among the best in this league.

But just so you know I’m not spouting off BS about where we ranked with the league, let’s look at some stats:

The Redskins were ranked 16th overall in total yards per game; that’s top half of the league.

They were ranked 14th overall in passing yards per game; and that’s with the John Beck debacle in Buffalo.

They also allowed 41 sacks on the year, tied for 11th worst in the league, bottom half.

They ranked 25th in the league in rushing yards per game, way down in the bottom half.

But let’s look a little deeper. The Redskins allowed a total of 9 sacks in one game against the Buffalo Bills. One game. Cut that down to league average of 2 (when the season high for the Bills as a team was 4)? The Redskins would only have allowed 34 sacks on the year. I know, if’s are nice in hindsight but they’re not realistic… but the fact is, you can still measure. Let’s also not forget there’s maybe only one or two sacks in that game that you can actually put on the O-Line as well, the other 7 were on John Beck himself. So realistically, without that game, the Redskins are looking right at the league average of 2 sacks a game.

Then let’s look at the final 6 weeks of the season in rushing, shall we?

Starting in Seattle, Roy Helu rushed for 108 yards on the ground. 100 yards the following week against the Jets. 126 yards the following week against the Patriots. He was injured in a win against the Giants. Evan Royster posted 132 yards against the Vikings, and then closed the season with 113 yards against the Eagles.

Something to think about? The Patriots were 17th in the league in run defense; The Eagles 16th; The Seahawks 15th; The Jets 13th; The Vikings 11th. They’re all middle of the pack run defense teams, but they’re not walks in the park.

The Skins allowed just 1 sack against the Eagles; 3 against the Vikings; 1 against the Giants; 2 against the Patriots; 2 against the Jets; and 1 against the Seahawks. In 6 games, my math brings that to 10? That’s LESS than 2 a game, and less than 2 a game in the final 4 weeks with the lineup of Willie Smith, Maurice Hurt, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, and Tyler Polumbus. Three of those guys are backups, although Smith or Polumbus could start this year at Right Tackle in place of Jammal Brown.

Case in point? The Redskins were easily fielding a SOLID group in the trenches to close the season. There’s actually more depth than we anticipated, especially considering we’ve got 4 new offensive linemen this year, whom the coaching staff all hold in high regard. And to further my argument?

This offensive line was built to utilize Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme, run stretch plays and bootlegs, and create lanes based on misdirection. That’s all dependent upon a somewhat mobile quarterback. Many would argue the Redskins have quite possibly the 3rd most mobile quarterback in all of football, so all the plays the Shanahan’s took out of the playbook last year to facilitate an easier game for Rex Grossman, will be back. The stretches, the bootlegs, the naked bootlegs…

Also ask yourself this. How many sacks could the team have avoided had Rex Grossman been a little mobile? Or quick enough to run the bootleg? Or quick enough to run the stretch a few times so he could actually sell playaction and the bootleg? What if Grossman had some footwork so he could step up in the pocket and/or take off when nothing was open downfield instead of running backwards or crouching into the dirt?

Yes, more ifs… but those are questions coaches asked themselves before they went out and traded for the rights to the #2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and acquired Robert Griffin III. There’s a clear upgrade at the quarterback position, which will highlight the strengths of the offensive line, rather than put them under the microscope and making them look weak.

But what do I know? I pulled those stats out of thin air, right?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

10 Redskins Players to Watch in 2012-13

I’m going to run down a list of the players I think it’s most important to watch for this season. These aren’t guys I am guaranteeing are going to have ultimate success in comparison to the entire league this season, just guys I believe will contribute greatly to the team.

10. Fred Davis – After being suspended the final 4 games of last year and having been the leading receiver on the team, Davis definitely has a chip on his shoulder and a lot to prove. He very likely was headed to the Pro Bowl last year until he was suspended. If this team is going to be a threat passing on the outside, it will be in large part because Davis commands elite attention over the middle.

9. Tyler Polumbus – I was as impressed with Tyler last year as I was anyone on the team. He came in at RT late in the year when injuries and the suspension to Trent Williams decimated our core, and he had some very good games, especially contributing to boost 6 straight weeks of some of the best rushing football we saw throughout the league. If Jammal Brown can’t go, I would expect Polumbus to get the nod and a chance to prove he can play at this level.

8. DeJon Gomes – I’ve seen people knock him, sleeping on his opportunity to finish off what he started last season. In fact, in Gomes’ heaviest playing late last year, I thought he was superb at safety. The problem most people point to is his coverage, but the only time I remember his coverage coming into play was against Rob Gronkowski, who beat him more with height than anything else, and let’s face it, Gronk’s no easy task for ANYONE, let alone a rookie.

7. DeAngelo Hall – Staying with the DB’s, I want to see what Hall is able to do when he’s allowed to blitz from the nickel around the edge that Ryan Kerrigan or Brian Orakpo will be setting. I’ll also be interested to see how many more opportunities he gets to make a play on the ball considering we play a lot of shallow zone from the nickel, which should allow Hall to keep his eye on the play as he wants.

6. Roy Helu, Jr. – I think he ends up taking this job. People talk about his durability, but I wonder what an entire offseason of preparation and the confidence of the Shanahan duo to sub other backs in and out a little more often might do. If there’s anyone on this offense versatile enough to make RGIII’s job a little easier, it’s Helu.

5. Perry Riley – He’s been one of the most refreshing players on the defense, and been one of the most impressive as well. He’ll finally have an opportunity to start every game (barring injury) and with another year and confidence under his belt, as well as Fletcher sticking around to instruct him further, it’ll be interesting to see what plays he leaves on the field now.

4. Leonard Hankerson – He’s quite possibly the most intriguing player to watch this season, for me, but for great reason. Hank struggled to get on the field last year until injuries knocked a few guys out. Hankerson came in, and his first play was disappointing. But the next week, he had a very strong game. And the week after, an even stronger performance before going down to a freak injury. Hankerson has legitimate elite potential, but he has to use it, and he has to stay healthy.

3. Santana Moss – Moss disappointed last season, even considering he was injured and coaches may have been better off not throwing him back into the mix so late in the year. Moss is rejuvenated for camp, having come in lighter but with added muscle. With a legitimate opportunity to chase the deep ball this year, he could see a year similar to Steve Smith’s last season.

2. Pierre Garcon – I’m nearly impatient waiting to see how Pierre fits in here in Washington. His speed is top-notch, and he has better hands than people give him credit for having. To be fair, it is hard to look bad in Peyton Manning’s offense, but Garcon has those flashes of fitting in most places, and he does fit the mold of a lot of successful receivers from this offense.

1. Duh – He’ll be the most scrutinized player on the team this year. Hopefully fans don’t have this expectation that he can do no wrong. It’s on us to be a beam for support when he has a bad game, and it’s on us to not crown him for things he hasn’t done when he has good weeks. If he can establish himself the leader of this offense (of this TEAM), make solid decisions, and show promise, he’ll be successful regardless of the numbers and the record.

Friday, July 27, 2012

nostalgia, ULTRA vs channel ORANGE



                                                                                                                                                     After nearly a month of listening to channel ORANGE, I have to say that nostalgia, ULTRA was much more listenable as a whole and was song for song more enjoyable. The songs on NU didn't exactly mesh instrumentally, but they all fit together, each song had something memorable to say and the tape as a whole had immediate replay value. But with CO, I didn't even want to listen to it again after my initial listen-through, there was no replay value. Once "Thinking Bout You" and "Fertilizer" fade out, the album itself fades away into a dreary obscurity until it resurfaces for a moment with Pyramids and Lost, then dips away again until it reaches its apex with the Andre 3000's verse on Pink Matter. Even the intricate rhyme patterns strung together by Earl Sweatshirt do little to liven the deadened and empty vibe present on most of channel ORANGE. Aside from a few bright spots, CO's lyrics did nothing for me.

As far as melody and instrumentation are concerned, CO features some stellar sounds, such as the bass line on Pink Matter or the effortless falsetto Frank employs on Thinking Bout You. Well crafted, CO is beautifully cohesive and each song flows into and compliments the next. CO hangs it hat on that, its cohesiveness. People will either hail it for how every song meshes seamlessly or deem it average for lacking distinct songs. It has the potential to grow on you if you give it the chance, but upon first listen, it won't give you any reason to give it that chance. Its predecessor, nostalgia, ULTRA, drew you in immediately with its quality single, "Novacane." As far as lyrics are concerned, NU is equally as depressing as CO on a few songs(JUST a few, which is an immediate contrast to CO), but on NU, those blue feelings are treated subtly and are dealt with more in a manner of self-reflection rather than self-pity. The emotional low points on NU are either set to uptempo beats or written in a reflective manner, mitigating the depressing effect that lyrics about heartbreak and suicide would normally have. Our deepest moments are the ones riddled with pain, but they can never and will never add depth to our selves until and unless we recognize that there is more to living and love than pain.

All things considered, channel ORANGE will probably be remembered as the more significant of the two albums, much in the same way most critics laud Voodoo as D'Angelo's best work, casting Brown Sugar aside with nary a second thought. But for me, nostalgia, ULTRA told me more about Frank as a person than channel ORANGE did. For all the talk of CO being a deeply personal album, and it is, NU, to me, is more expressive of who Frank is, whereas CO is more explanatory of a mood stemming from a very specific time in his life. NU flowed with a stream of consciousness style, it was lyrically erratic yet poignant, instrumentally and sonically diverse and featured enjoyable singing. CO on the other hand felt more calculated and lacked feeling for much of the album, yet the instrumentation and musicality was well done, well executed. But as far as his singing on this album goes, I only really enjoyed Frank's singing on Thinking Bout You. That isn't to say it was bad, just that it didn't jam the way his singing on NU did. So, all that said...

My verdict: nostalgia, ULTRA > channel ORANGE.
(this is subject to eventual change of course, lol. it's only been like 3 weeks >_>)

"May love ever possess you, may peace come into your life."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Laugh at me?? Maybe in future posts

Many thanks to Sean Bishop for allowing me to contribute here. Who am I? A 26 year-old sports and numbers nut that sacrificed a life of being a ladies man. Born in DC, raised in MD (PG County!), and currently in Glendale, AZ. With the start of training camp underway and happiness abound, I will instead look bad at 5 (or more) of the worst Redskins games I've watched live or on TV. 5.Redskins 34, Cardinals 37; 11/06/1996 I have a soft spot for Arizona. Half of my family is from there, and I ended up graduating high school in the "Grand Canyon State." As long as the Redskins would win their weekly NFL game, I'd root for the Cardinals (unless they faced the Skins). I remember it vividly: Redskins are enjoying a 4th quarter lead, and Boomer Esiason turns the 4th quarter into a passing league exhibition. Boomer throws for 522(!) yards in the game. The Redskins get the game-winning FG nullified by a penalty (they miss the re-kick), and the Cardinals score a FG with 33 seconds left to prevent a tie. At least I didn't have to witness a tie game, but I'd no longer be prevented from witnessing that thanks to.... 4. Redskins 7, Giants 7; 11/24/1997 Where do I begin with this game? Gus Frerotte celebrating a TD run the dumbest way possible? Michael Westbrook tossing his helmet near the end of OT (an losing the Redskins valuable field position)? Or the fact that we tied the Giants. On national television. That tie would prove costly at the end of the season with a playoff spot on the line, but hey! At 8-7-1, Norv can call that another "winning season" on his résumé... 3. Redskins 16, Bills 17; 12/02/2007 I LOVE Joe Gibbs. Love the man to death....but you HAVE to know the timeout rules. Not because it was a late-season game, but because it was the first game after Sean's death. Now maybe Lindell makes the FG anyways of the T.O. gaffe wasn't committed. But for that to happen on that day of all days still goes down as maybe the most heartbreaking (on-field) loss in history for Redskins fans around my age. Yes, winning the final 4 games that year was inspiring (culminating with a 21-point win over Dallas in the season finale), but that Buffalo game was the ONE game every Redskins fan, player, and employee wanted to win that season. 2. A "special" two-fer: Redskins 0, Cowboys 27; 12/14/2003 Redskins 0, Bills 23; 10/30/2011 The two worst shutout losses by far (even worse than the 3-0 loss to the Jets at windy RFK back in 1993). Tim Hasselbeck cemented his spot in Redskins "history" with a 6-26 passing performance, good for a 0.0 rating. John Beck tried not to be outdone by being sacked 9 times, and every deep ball he threw came down like a duck shot out of the air. The Dallas game was lost to Quincy Carter of all QBs, and the Buffalo game was lost in Toronto, giving our neighbors up north a reason to stay connected to their beloved CFL. 1. Two Monday Night Duds: Redskins 12, Giants 45; 12/21/2009 Redskins 28, Eagles 59; 11/15/2010 "Swinging Gate" That's all I will say about the Giants game. As for the Eagles game, it was the Michael Vick showcase. I'll never forget looking at the scoreboard, wondering if it was broke, because we were down 28-0 in the 1st quarter. Then came the rain. Then Albert Haynesworth napping during a play. The only good thing about this game? My ticket was free-though I should've been paid to watch that manslaughter. These two games are the only two games I went to that I voluntarily chose to leave before the game ended.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012-13 NFL Season Predictions

First of all, record predictions are more a result of best-case scenarios, not built around actual weekly prediction beakdowns. The win/loss ratio will not add up correctly, so don’t expect it to. This is just based on what teams SHOULD be able to do, while trying to stick to who finishes where in their divisions as well. On top of all this, I know it's not even training camp yet, and players can and will get injured all the way through now and the regular season kickoff... but assuming in best-case scenarios that they take teams in healthy and key players don't get hurt, here are my early predictions for the 2012-13 NFL Season.


AFC East:

New England Patriots – The Patriots were in the Super Bowl. They lost. They're going to be pissed. Tom Brady had as tremendous a year as you can (nevermind that he threw more INT's than his previous 2 seasons combined) and would have broken Dan Marino's record had Drew Breesus not broken it the week before. Defensively, they've got a lot of players returning from injury, and should be able to make some plays that they couldn't make last year.
Finish: 13-3

Buffalo Bills – They started off as well as any team last year. They played stifling defense, ran the ball extremely well, got good play at QB, and then when their back went down, the team spiraled out of control. It seemed like misfortune of circumstance, so, if they can stay healthy, their best case scenario is much improved from last year.
Finish: 11-5

New York Jets – The Jets crumbled last year. Badly. This year, they're without a sure thing backing up Shonn Green at running back, and the future of their quarterbacks are lost. They've still got targets at WR, but they need a QB who can manage the passing game. I'm interested to see the trick plays with Sanchez & Tebow on the field together. Defensively, they may be better off than last year.
Finish: 9-7
Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins haven't done enough anywhere to convince me of anything. They'll have some targets to throw to, but I'm not sold on their QB's, especially the young guy. Defensively, they seem worse and worse every year. I'm not fond of this group at all.
Finish: 4-12

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens were a Lee Evans dropped pass away from going to the Super Bowl, where they probably would have beat the New York Giants. But Lee Evans dropped the pass, and they didn't, and they aren't. This year, the Ravens are, again, a little better on both sides of the ball. They need a consistent Flacco for once, like he was in the playoffs. Otherwise, same old story.
Finish: 13-3

Cincinnati Bengals – I like this young group. They've got a lot of potential. I doubted them last year, a lot. This year, I see hope. I particularly like Andy Dalton, who showed he had some poise last year. With a year under his belt, and his primetime target a year under his? They will make strides.
Finish: 11-5

Pittsburgh Steelers – I feel like the Steelers are getting worse at their own game. This is a franchise that has always drafted well, no matter who was running the show. These past couple years, I've been underwhelmed by their drafts. They started to get it together midseason last year, but then fell right back into obscurity when the lights were brightest. I don't see them getting better.
Finish: 8-8

Cleveland Browns – Let Cleveland tell it any way they want to... but they're in trouble. Sure, they've got a young bull to run the ball, but they can't have much confidence at the most important position on the field. Cleveland better pray for a miracle in the form of my predicted Heisman winner Matt Barkley...
Finish: 2-14

AFC South:

Houston Texans – As far as anyone is concerned, this is Houston's division to lose for at least another year. With Schaub coming back, and knowing they've got a somewhat competent backup in T.J. Yates, the team should be able to shred people through the air again to really help keep Arian Foster healthy heading into the playoffs. Defensively, they should be strong, but I'm not ready to crown them scary.
Finish: 12-4

Indianapolis Colts – I think this Colts team will be better than they're going to get credit for until people see them. I like Luck, I like a lot of the talent they added around Luck (a couple familiar faces) and I like that Reggie Wayne stuck around to make the kid's transition a little easier.
Finish: 8-8

Tennessee Titans – I see hope here as well, but they NEED Chris Johnson to return to form if they're going to achieve anything mirroring success. They've got an opportunity in this division to surprise people, but they need to handle the fundamentals.
Finish: 7-9

Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert has a weapon or two, Maurice Jones-Drew should be healthy again... defensively, are they able to start making plays in critical moments? That's the huge uncertain that has hindered the Jaguars for years now.
Finish: 4-12

AFC West:

Denver Broncos – Man, you talk about making a statement. We saw in the playoffs that their defense might not be as feirce as they wanted to appear, but that kinda happens when your quarterback is putting you on the field more and more every game. They now have the smartest quarterback to have ever played the game, presuming he's 100%, with a better run game by miles than he's ever had. Denver is now a scary team just because of 18.
Finish: 11-5

Kansas City Chiefs – I think they can get better production this year solely because they've got a chance to start fresh and get their running game back. Defensively they need to shore up, a lot, but I like this offense and I like their chances to still threaten to take this division.
Finish: 9-7

San Diego Chargers – I've never been more underwhelmed by the post-2000 Chargers than I am right now. Philip Rivers played as horrible as he could have played last year (while still managing SOME respectable numbers) and this team is in need of a run game that they still haven't found. Defensively, I wouldn't feel safe with them vs. most college teams.
Finish: 6-10

Oakland Raiders – I can honestly see Oakland surprising us and doing well, but something tells me they're not cut out to make a big splash the first full season after Al Davis' death. I still like their defense, but offensively, they need to remain healthy. Plus with a coaching change and new direction, it might be a taxing year in Oakland.
Finish: 5-11


NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys are better defensively, at least the front 9... but when you get back to those safeties, I still dislike the Cowboys. Offensively, they can put themselves in contention if Romo manages to cut down on costly turnovers. He played very secure last year when he was on the field, but the few mistakes he made were all critical (albeit not all his fault). The one thing outside of the safeties that Dallas should be worried about? Jason Garrett. He can't screw up anymore calls if he wants to see his team in the playoffs.
Finish: 10-6

Washington Redskins – The Redskins are better. People fuss about the safeties, but they had Doughty/Gomes most of the end of the season anyways, and Gomes now has a year under his belt. Offensively, they hope to cut down on the 20+ turnovers by Grossman and turn some of those into scores with Griffin, who opens the playbook back up. Still not the most frightening team at WR, but there's a run game that was pretty successful without consistency from the O-Line.
Finish: 9-7

New York Giants – This is the most up and down team in the league, imo. If they get into the playoffs, as I've said time and time again, they can beat anyone and are probably the most terrifying team to face. But they have to get to the playoffs, and that means some consistency and luck in the regular season. Eli is elite though.
Finish: 9-7

Philadelphia Eagles – Mike Vick is talking bigger than Vince Young did last year, and oddly enough, it was Vick himself who wanted Young silenced. They will be better with healthy, focused receivers, and a young back who deserves to be talked about amongst the best in the league. Defensively, if they can build on what they did the last few weeks last year, they could be a real threat.
Finish: 9-7

NFC North:

Green Bay Packers – I don't see how the Packers will be much worse, let alone not be better. If they can get a productive run game back, and get their receivers to start catching the football, they're infinitely better than they were offensively last year. Defensively, however, they really need to adjust and tighten up. Injuries plagued them, so if they're healthy, they should be near impossible to beat.
Finish: 14-2

Detroit Lions – Blown away, absolutely. Matt Stafford is everything as advertised and more. It helps when you've got Megatron catching touchdowns for you, but Stafford threw to way more than just Megatron, passing for over 5,000 yards. Production in the run-game is needed now, and defensively, the Lions have to learn to play disciplined and tame (that sounds familiar >_>).
Finish: 10-6

Chicago Bears – Before going down with injury last year, Jay Cutler ended up playing some of the best football in the league. Before Matt Forte got injured, the team was on a high and running the ball as well as anyone in the league. With healthy receivers and the addition of Brandon Marshall not just as a go-get-it threat, but a blocker downfield, the Bears offense could be as ferocious as their defense.
Finish: 10-6

Minnesota Vikings – I like Christian Ponder. He was far from above average last year, but he's got better than above average potential. Adrian Peterson returning to this team can really spike their production... they just need their targets on the outside to mature and become threats.
Finish: 5-11

NFC South:

New Orleans Saints – Even with all the troubles, suspensions, not having coach Payton, the Saints are still the team to beat in the South. Drew Brees and his colossal performance, will surely play better, imo. He had some of his best passing days the few games that Payton was off last year with his ACL injury, and the team will rely more on Brees to call plays and manage out of his comfortableness.
Finish: 11-5

Atlanta Falcons – I'm not sold on Atlanta, still. You manage to get a better weapon in Julio Jones, supposedly all you need. Michael Turner gets bodied in the box, and Matt Ryan becomes as insufficient a quarterback as the playoffs have ever seen, and Tim Tebow played a playoff game! The defense still isn't worth a chance, and until Matt Ryan can show me he can take over a game, I don't want to hear shit about him.
Finish: 9-7

Carolina Panthers – CAAAAAAAAAAAAM! WHOA CAAAAAAAAAAAM! Cam Newton is ridiculous! RI-DI-CU-LOUS! Superman incarnate, for sure. He broke Peyton Manning's rookie passing record... PEYTON MANNING'S! Set the QB rushing TD record, in his rookie year. Proved he could throw the ball... and he outthrew receivers which means he's got the arm to ease up a little. His short-passing game was off, but he buys so much time and space, and he's so young, you have to believe he'll get much better at it. Defensively, their cog returns to help them win some of those close games.
Finish: 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I was of the belief that this team would get production last year... my how wrong I was. I like Blounte, as a player, but I question his desire, which isn't a good thing. At WR, I still don't fear or respect their corps. Defensively? They need to do something, and do it right. Otherwise, they're competing for the #1 overall pick.
Finish: 3-13

NFC West:

San Francisco 49ers – They dominated last year on defense. Nobody was intimidating defensive aside from Baltimore's reputation. Offensively, they ran hard and forced teams to stop their physicality, most failed. If they can improve on their offensive play this year, but taking a few more chances instead of focusing so hard on limiting mistakes, they can be a threat.
Finish: 12-4

St. Louis Rams – I'm skeptical about the Rams. I'm a huge Sam Bradford fan, I think the kid will be great. He had absolutely no help last year until acquiring Brandon Lloyd to help catch the ball. Steven Jackson being healthy and a little lighter should pay off. Defensively, they should mug people with Jeff Fisher's coaching influence. They could be the turnaround team of 2012, but for the sake of realistic best-case scenarios?
Finish: 7-9

Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks played well last year, but not great. They need consistency and a threat at QB. They signed Matt Flynn, but they have to hope his underwhelming offseason isn't a sign of things to come, and actually get production out of him. Marshawn Lynch got in trouble again, and he's on a short leash as it is. Defensively, they need more discipline vs. the run and screen.
Finish: 6-10

Arizona Cardinals – Underwhelming, by far. I had no expectations of Kolb, but I didn't have so poor of an expectation that I saw what happened last year coming to them. They've got a better option next to Larry Fitzgerald at WR now, and if they get their backs healthy again, they can improve. But they absolutely NEED to get solid play from QB.
Finish: 6-10

Most Yards Thrown: Drew Brees
Most Touchdown Passes: Aaron Rodgers
Fewest INT's with 400+ throws: Peyton Manning
Most Yards Rushed: Maurice Jones-Drew
Most Touchdown Rushes: Arian Foster
Most All-Purpose Yards: Darren Sproles
Most Receptions: Wes Welker
Most Yards Receiving: Andre Johnson
Most Touchdown Receptions: Calvin Johnson
Most Sacks: Jared Allen
Most Tackles: London Fletcher
Most Interceptions: Ed Reed
Most Fumble Recoveries: Jason Pierre-Paul
Most Defensive Touchdowns: Ed Reed

Thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises [Spoilers Inside]

After seeing the movie and having time to absorb it, to let it stew, I’m ready to give my thoughts.

Nolan ended this trilogy perfectly. He had an ending he wanted, he told people the ending was perfect, so perfect that they never considered changing it. Batman comic purists were expecting the end of Batman, but comic purists know the broken back wasn’t the end—it was a detour which lasted a long time.

In the movie, Nolan rushed Batman back, for time’s sake. That’s fine by me. We got a realistic idea of what happened. What we got in the end, was a sequence of events that shook the entire trilogy to its foundation. One film removed from making himself the villain, and Batman is the hero. He becomes Gotham’s white knight. It’s funny that people expect Nolan’s entire involvement with Batman to come to an end… I see it just beginning to take the next step. Batman isn’t The Dark Knight anymore… he’s Gotham’s hero.

In the movie, to Gotham, Batman is dead. He blew up saving their lives. Bruce Wayne’s death unexplained to the people other than possibly being one of Bane’s victims. But Wayne simply relocates, and Alfred’s vision from earlier in the movie comes to fruition. I’m sure Christian Bale is done (for now) as the caped crusader. But, as we saw in the movie, there’s a hint at Robin (or hopefully Nightwing) becoming the next on-screen hero in Nolan’s direction.

Purists know that Batman also returns, in the form of Azrael, until Bane makes his return. Azrael eventually disposes of Gotham’s monsters in a way Batman never would… allowing them to fall to their death. When the good name of Batman is tarnished and Nightwing can’t do anything about it, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham…

I have no proof that Nolan will follow through with this story. He did put twists onto Bane that were never touched in comics… but he left an opening for any route with Robin and Bruce Wayne he wants to take, and he did so with closing all of the doors needed to be closed as well, which is very difficult to do.

The one thing that stood out to me in the movie though, is the appearance of Scarecrow yet again… but not yet anywhere near his capability as one of the godfathers of Gotham crime. To me, it feels more like a suggestion that he’s on his way there, and a hint at him becoming a primetime villain in a future installment of Nolan’s project(s). If that’s the case, I expect the Wayne story to return and go above and beyond what we expect.

I said there’d be spoilers, and there were a few. I speculate and hope as a fan a lot. Take this piece for what it’s worth… comment, interact, let me know if I’m missing out on a direction, a detail.

By the way, the greatest part of the entire movie was the final fight scene on the steps when Bane beat up a pillar, bare fists… don’t even attempt to argue with me.

Addressing The Colorado Shooting

Before I get into more light-hearted ranting throughout the day, I want to first start by offering my prayers and condolences accordingly to the victims, families, and friends of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.

It takes a real despicable human being to commit heinous acts, and what we saw on Thursday night/Friday morning, was about as heinous as it gets. Whatever this guy thought he was doing, whatever sparked his intention to do this (I hate when people try to pin it on movies), was absolutely wrong.

I’ve seen a lot of victim blaming as well, and for the righteous fuck-heads claiming the very movie these people went to watch glorifies the actions of this guy, fuck you, you know-nothing pieces of shit. No victim is at fault for what happened, especially in this incident.

Unfortunately, we were reminded yet again, that unstable people exist out there who want nothing more than to rob people of their right to live without fear of things like this happening. Lives were lost, other lives are in jeopardy, and our thoughts turn to ourselves because it literally could have been any of us sitting in any theater when someone decided to do this.

But I ask people not to worry about how to solve these problems through extra measures at movie theaters. There’s no reason to implement metal detectors and have K-9 units on hand every minute of every night. A metal detector won’t stop these people from shooting before they enter the building; they won’t protect people from bullets if a gunman is already unloading a clip into a crowd. This man didn’t even enter through the gates everyone else did… he snuck in through a fire escape and committed a mass murder.

Solutions are outside of the institution of movie theaters. Solutions start at the counters of every gun shop, and at the hands of everyone trying to sell guns and ammunition, both legally and illegally.

Don’t criminalize the victims for going out and enjoying themselves, having a good time watching what was supposed to be the biggest blockbuster of the summer. That’s what people do, and have done, for decades. This could have happened any day/night at any movie ever. Unfortunately it happened, and now panic has spread. Malls have been shot up before, schools, churches, grocery stores, army bases… but we still inhabit those places and expose ourselves to the possibility of it being us all the time.

The movie theater experience shouldn’t change. It can’t change. If it does change, he won, even if it wasn’t his intention.

Once again, everyone affected, directly and indirectly, is in my prayers, and I’m sure the prayers of all the writers here at Don’t Laugh, People.

Friday, July 20, 2012

U Mad Bro?

If you're not.. what is it going to take?

I once believed in music, but the fact of the matter is this...

"The time when music could change the world has passed." - Neil Young.

Music is a reflection of our world at large and the world within ourselves, both of which are growing emptier with each succeeding generation. Music will never again have the power it once had. Music no longer stands a chance at changing our apathetic and desensitized world.

Music draws strength from the beliefs of the people who create it and the people who relate to it. But we no longer believe. Not in music, not in our government, not even in each other. Where our faith may have once been merely misplaced, it is now entirely discarded. It is outmoded, outdated and obsolete. We have given up on ourselves and readily accept the world as is. Any outrage over a/an social/political/economic offense is corporately subsumed, thus effectively nullified. Individuals have no platform with which to make their issues known, and even if such a platform existed, the average human has not the mental tools with which to effectively articulate themselves. It's conventional wisdom in today's world that might does not make right, but this idea is constantly challenged by our "we don't believe you, you need more people" mentalities. So even if a platform for individuals existed, those who spoke would inevitably be swept under the carpet by bigger, more established and more numerous voices. And if that's the case, it would appear that there is nothing any of us can do and it would seem as though we are all victims of circumstance, victims of the times we live in.


I cannot concede that society has chained us. Circumstance is indeed a villain in our times, but it has not chained us. We forged our chains with our own hands, shackled ourselves to walls we built and tossed the only key to meaningful growth in a place we are taught not to look. Within.

But no, we shouldn't challenge ourselves, we shouldn't let things anger us. Keep calm, things will work themselves out, right? Besides, anger in response to the status quo is derided and disregarded. Emotion in general is publicly mocked and pitied.. And no one likes being made a fool of. We should never pay too much attention to the world around us, we've got to keep our emotions invisible and stay in our lanes. We have to do what we have to do to feed ourselves and we can never let our thoughts wander toward ideas of changing the world in a meaningful way. There isn't time for that, our schedules are too busy.

So what should we do instead?

We should sit and read our Twitter feeds while someone tweets about the killings at the Denver opening of The Dark Knight Rises. Not a single muscle moved in our faces, nary a frown to be found, not the slightest flinch at learning of senseless murder. We tweeted our outrage and disgust, we used our 140 characters to indict the government. But that's the extent of it. Online evangelism. Senseless murder such as this is has become so commonplace that we don't worry about it beyond a few tweets of outrage. The emotion is never carried off the internet into our own physical lives, our anger is never fully realized. We never get mad.

Is this how things are supposed to be? How much do we really value life?

I consciously use "we" rather than "you" because I include myself as part of the issue. No one among us is outside of human issues, we are all involved. That said, I am not here to insinuate that I have the answers, because no one has them. All that I know is that first, we've got to get mad.