Monday, September 20, 2010

Observations from the weekend – Cowboys, Redskins and the rest of the East, Brett Favre, Mark Dantonio, Notre Dame and yes, The Davis Cup

Some quick observations from the weekend:

--      Question one: Am I crazy or has Jerry Jones turned into Dan Snyder? The Cowboys appear to be a fantasy league football team: lots of names and apparent stars but a lousy team. They have a field goal kicker who has trouble, well, kicking field goals. They have a quarterback who puts up lovely stats and never seems to win a tough game. They have 43 running backs but no running game.

I’m not declaring them dead after two games. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat the Houston Texans next week because the Texans are coming off two emotional wins—the Colts and a come-from-behind overtime win in Washington—and have a pass defense that let Joey Galloway (who is 57-years-old) get behind it for a 62 yard catch on Sunday.

So here’s my question: Does Wade Phillips last the season? I mean seriously this guy has become Jerry Manuel: he’s just good enough to keep his job but is guaranteed to never win anything that matters—which used to what you were supposed to do in Dallas until Jones decided face-lifts, selling pizza and building a monument to his ego were the keys to success in life. How much do you think Jimmy Johnson has enjoyed these last 14 years?

--      Question two: Is anyone in the NFC East any good? The Colts made the Giants look like a UFL team Sunday night. That game needed The Little League mercy rule and should have been over at halftime. Not many people would have noticed since the first half took about nine hours to play. (What is it with NBC? Their Notre Dame games take forever and so do their Sunday night games. Maybe they need the extra time so Chris Collinsworth can tell us how great the fall lineup is).

The Giants beat a bad Carolina team last week at home, then got crushed by the Colts. I’m certainly not sold on them. The Eagles, even with Mike Vick’s gaudy numbers, were lucky to get out of Detroit alive even with Matthew Stafford injured. Shaun Hill-yes THE Shaun Hill—threw for 334 yards. Let’s be honest: with all the talk about the quarterback position, the Eagles defense has not been a shadow of its-former-self since Jim Johnson’s death.

And the Redskins? Well, they had the new Mayor planning a parade route at about 6:30 last night and then reverted to their old selves. The local apologists here today are going on about Donovan McNabb’s numbers and the 27-10 lead. Certainly, the team is better if only because it is COACHED and because for the moment Dan Snyder is entertaining all his various sycophants in the owners box and not trying to tell Mike Shanahan what to do. But the game was lost because a chip-shot field goal got blocked and because the defense couldn’t make a play late and because there was NO running game.

Can the Redskins make the playoffs? Sure. Because no one in the division is any good.

--      Question three: What is the over-under on Brett Favre’s next retirement? Favre looked bad, at home, on Sunday against the Dolphins. He and the Vikings may very well bounce back from 0-2 but I think they COULD lose to the Lions on Sunday. If that were to happen things will get chaotic in Minnesota if they aren’t already. The problem with being a great athlete is you never really know when it is time to go home. Favre had a wonderful year in 2009 and that’s why—along with the money—he’s back in 2010. But the margin for error is so small, especially in the violent world of the NFL, that you never know when you are going to step off the cliff. Favre may not be there yet but he can definitely see the posse coming up behind him. It may not matter if he can swim, the fall will kill him.

--      How sad is it that Mark Dantonio’s signature moment as a football coach came only a few hours before he landed in the hospital suffering from a heart attack.

First, thank goodness, he’s apparently okay and was smart enough not to mess around and got himself straight to the hospital. Again though, this makes you wonder about the pressures coaches put themselves under. Dantonio made one of the all-time gutsy calls when he called for a fake 46-yard field goal with his team down 31-28 to Notre Dame in overtime. It was what coaches refer to as a ‘hero-goat,’ call. You’re going to be one or the other, there is no in-between. Dantonio ended up a hero because his team executed the play perfectly and Notre Dame—not surprisingly—never saw the play coming.

The shame is that Dantonio can’t really glory in the moment right now. He’s got to worry about getting himself healthy again and his doctors have to make sure he doesn’t try to go back too soon. This is serious stuff—not Urban Meyer, I’ll resign for 15 minutes and then be back the next day stuff.

--      When will the national media stop moaning about how unlucky Notre Dame is? Someone actually wrote Sunday that Touchdown Jesus should be replaced with a statue of Job because Notre Dame has been so unlucky in recent seasons.

Are you kidding me? The Irish have EARNED their mediocrity with a series of bad coaching hires and some obvious recruiting mistakes. PLEASE do not buy the, ‘our academics are so tough,’ excuse. There may be a few kids Notre Dame can’t take but most of those kids probably don’t belong at Notre Dame anyway. Lou Holtz took some of them and look where that led.

Bob Davie couldn’t coach, Ty Willingham never really got a chance to coach, George O’Leary couldn’t tell the truth and Charlie Weis couldn’t get his ego out of the way for more than five minutes at a time. Brian Kelly may be the answer and he needs time before people judge him one way or the other. But this has nothing to do with bad luck. It has to do with running a bad football program at a place where it is almost impossible—given the money, the scheduling ‘flexibility,’ (as in a total of three road games this season) the tradition and the exposure—to be mediocre. Notre Dame has pulled that off for almost 20 years now. That’s not bad luck.

Finally: Am I the only person who noticed that Patrick McEnroe ended his run as Davis Cup captain with a win—a tough one at that. The U.S. had to go to Colombia this past weekend and play on slow red clay in order to retain its spot for 2011 in The World Group—the 16 teams that play to win the Davis Cup. A loss would have meant playing their way back through the relegation group in 2011 to have a chance to compete for the Cup again in 2012.

Without Andy Roddick, the U.S. won 3-1, Mardy Fish winning two singles matches (8-6 in the fifth to wrap it up Sunday) and the doubles with John Isner. Good for Patrick and the U.S. It’s a shame no one pays attention anymore.

By the way, Serbia plays France for the Cup the first weekend in December. A ratings bonanza no doubt for Tennis Channel.


Anonymous said...

Re the Notre Dame -Michigan State game. MY ND friends are calling for a Congressional investigation for the failure to call delay of game on the last play. Looked to me like the receiver could have run another 5 yards(or 50 for that matter) even had the penalty been called. These same ND friends are remarkably silent about the 1999 Notre Dame - Navy Game.

Gary G said...

Who would have thunk ...The U.S. beat the Columbia Lions in tennis! Who's next, Brown?

FOTB Staff_ said...

Gary with a G - thanks!

FOTB Staff

Anonymous said...

Question one -- No. He's turned into Skeletor. (I think he needs to eat more of that hundred dollar pizza.)
Wade will last the season (because Jerry will be so busy with Super Bowl duties) How nice would it be if the Texans and not the Cowboys were to make it to the big game in Jerry's house?

Actually, I think Wade kept his job this year because the Super Bowl is in Dallas and to have a new coach try and take over and get to the ultimate home game... it wouldn't happen... But Wade's not going to get there either. Rebuilding starts next season.

Question two -- No. They are all mediocre. Which means anyone can take the division. But it will be ugly to watch... and the winner will probably be quickly out of the playoffs.

Question three -- End of the regular season.

Dantonio -- Sad. But not surprising.
Media stop moaning -- Never. I don't know why (probably money) but they can't quit loving that school.
Davis cup -- Yes. You are the only one that noticed. Congrats to Patrick McEnroe and the US team... but no one really cares. Unfortunate, but true.

Love the blog. Thanks for writing it.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a dog in the fight when it comes to the NFC East, but I think its great when they ALL are struggling. Much like it might be this year....I only wish we could lump the Jets in there.

When it comes to Dantonio, it will take it until everyone knows he's healthy long term, but there has to be a joke in there about the fake field goal, touchdown jesus and heart attack, doesn't there?

I second Egan -- thanks for the blog. I don't often comment, but great thoughts and insight. I find it more sensible than most, and not a place for contrived controversy like others.

JJ said...

Count me as one of those Vikings fans who welcomed Farve's return. Really, when your alternative is Tavaris Jackson, you'd welcome Tommy Kramer back. Childress just cannot admit Jackson was a mistake. As to Farve, I would say he is benched before the end of the season. Once the Vikes are out of contention( say week 5), it will be time for Tavaris to play his way off the team. Then we can draft a quarterback that can really play.

Older Notre Dame alum likely find themselves pining away for the Dan Devine era.

Any thoughts on the U.S. Ryder Cup clothing? I am all about retro, but that stuff is just flat out ugly.

Phil said...

Davis Cup apathy is directly related to the demise of popularity in the sport of tennis in the U.S. not a lot of Americans play the game anymore. Added to this unfortunate fact, professional tennis tennis has become a mostly European sport. The Davis Cup would make for a more compelling competition if it were held every two years, or possibly every four years. As it currently stands, the Davis Cup doesn't engage us, because there isn't much at stake. I mean if the U.S. players aren't that interested why should we be take it seriously?

sanford said...

For those of you who like tennis, you might want to read the book A Terrible Splendor. It focuses on the 1937 Davis Cup and the match between Gottfried Von Cramm and Don Budge. It was a time when the Davis Cup was a big deal.

Anonymous said...


Dantonio's return may not take long at all. I had a similar experience eight years ago, but I coded in the emergency room. They used the paddles to get me back. Like Dantonio, I was stented, which is a procedure they do through an artery in the groin. I was in the hospital for a week, back working part time within a couple of weeks, full time within a month.

Your bypass surgery, under full anesthesia where they cracked your breastbone in half, is a much bigger deal. Stenting is often done on an outpatient basis.

As for the stress question, I'd like to see all of his lifestyle habits before I'd jump to that conclusion. Was he a smoker? I was, and I was told that was a much bigger risk factor than any kind of stress.

Love the blog.


bevo said...

"A ratings bonanza no doubt for Tennis Channel."

That's a problem. Time Warner includes the Golf Channel on the digital package. To get the Tennis Channel, I have to buy the sports package. I am not spending an extra $6 a month to get one more channel that I care about.

When I get the opportunity, I will watch tennis if football is not on. The sport is simply too easy to understand and to appreciate not to watch. Yes, I will watch WTT when ESPN or Fox sports bothers to show it.

Max said...

Ty Willingham never really got a chance to coach?

You are being too nice to him, he had a chance at Notre Dame and after a hot start got worse and blown out by USC every year. Then he did nothing at Washington. He did have a chance to coach.