The Colts Have a Running Game Baby!

https://twitter.com/Colts/status/1074663511760920576

The Colts beat the red hot Dallas Cowboys 23-0 without Andrew Luck throwing a touchdown!  What the hell is happening?!  Frank Reich’s creation has come to life!  That’s what’s happening!

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When the Colts first started to bounce back from their 1-5 start, we saw the defense playing well enough to keep the game close so Luck and the offense had plenty of opportunity to score.  Now the defense has progressed to the point that they’re playing well enough to win games on their own!  They just shut out the Cowboys!  This is NOT traditional Colts football.  Colts fans are used to a system where our offense has to score on nearly every possession to pull out a win.  Do we finally have a coach that subscribes to the theory that defense wins championships?  It appears so!

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Another big reason the Colts started turning this season around was that the offensive live was finally protecting Andrew Luck.  For the first time in his career Luck had time to let plays fully develop and wasn’t picking himself up off the carpet after every play.  Now, the offensive line is not only protecting their QB, they’re actually opening up running lanes.  Turns out, Marlon Mack is a very talented running back!  He just needed a little daylight, that’s all.  It’s much easier to run through a door when its open.

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Speaking of open doors, big shout out to Ryan Kelly and Mo Alie-Cox for a dominant performance on the line last night!  We knew Ryan Kelly was a beast.  We just needed him to be healthy enough to play.  But what a find in Mo Allie-Cox!  Mo Alie-Cox is not just another athletic tight end with good hands.  He’s a physical specimen!  He’s 6’6″ – 260!  And unlike most former hoop stars turned tight end, this dude can block!

Every NFL team in the playoff hunt should be praying to their God or their science or their cult leader, whoever they think controls their destiny…that the Indianapolis Colts don’t make the playoffs this year because they might be the most well-rounded and dangerous team in the league right now.  They are Frank Reich’s monster!

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The XFL Is Back And I Need To Decide On A Team

The XFL is back and I was pissed about it but now I’m all in. More football, more gambling, and now all I need is a team to half ass root for. 

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Anyone who likes football will enjoy in 2020 when a week after the Super Bowl a whole different season starts. Right now, it looks like February 8th or 9th is when this season will kick off for the XFL. The 8 cities getting teams are New York, Dallas, Houston, Carson (Cali), Seattle, St Louis, Tampa Bay, and Washington D.C. Most teams will play in stadiums already taken up by pro teams – Houston using the local college facility and Dallas using the old Rangers (MLB) stadium. The mascots definitely will sway my decision on who I’m rooting for, but as of right now I absolutely LOVE St. Louis. We own the Cardinals and I always enjoyed watching the Blues/Tarasenko so St. Louis seems to be the place I’ll go with. Also, the few football fans still in that city will go balls to the wall for games at the Dome so I’m all in. Hopefully they are the St. Louis Ligers or something cool like that.

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Waking up a week after the Super Bowl with Football on

I’m not sure this XFL is going to be similar to the one before, but let’s just hope the rules aren’t as soft as the NFL now. The plan now looks as though the XFL is going to be all in on gambling on the games and using the legalization of that to benefit their own brand will draw more people to the XFL. The other thing is going to be skill level. 900 guys who were cut from the NFL last year have been invited to try out for next season. Obviously the talent won’t be as good, but if the hits are bigger and there can be more of an old school football feel, I think this could workout for sure. Let’s get excited about more football in America and start cheering for the St. Louis Ligers. (Really should think about that being the name of the team going forward.)

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NHL ‘Fight of the Nights’ Now Few and Far Between

Enjoy a good scrap when you can, they won’t be around forever. With the players, coaches, and the game itself focused on skill, speed, and precision more than ever, fighting has taken a back seat. Occasionally, you can still catch a good tilt when the blood boils over. Last night Jamie Benn and Josh Anderson went toe to toe with some old school ferocity you don’t see much in this modern NHL. 

There’s something exhilarating about seeing a star player like Benn mix it up and throw them thangs. The Captain not backing down and going toe to toe with a bottom 6 guy on the other team gets all the juices flowing from the teammates and fans alike.

Excitement – Beat his ass! Don’t back down! 
Inspiration – That’s our guy! He’s risking it for us, let’s do the same for him!
Fear –  Don’t break your hand, please don’t break your hand or face!

It’s no secret fighting is becoming a rare commodity in the league the past few years. Check out these numbers from last year:

According to HockeyFights.com the number of games with a fight in the NHL is projected to dip to less than 20 percent for the first time since it began tracking the stats in 2000. The number of fights per game (0.22) and the number of games with a fight (220) are also projected to hit new lows.

For years the NHL has resisted the calls from the media and casual fans to ban or outlaw fighting entirely, while still quietly catering to it’s hardcore base that knows fighting has a place in the sport. Will this ever change? It’s doubtful it will happen under Commissioner Gary Bettman, who has been careful to build and grow the sport while keeping it’s base principles of physicality in tact. 

In recent years the softening of our society along with the increased education in head injuries has lead to a lot of heat for the NFL and to a lesser degree the NHL. The NFL recently settled their concussion lawsuit with former players suing the league and paid out a hefty sum… $1 billion dollars in total to former players to help pay for medical treatments and living expenses in their post football lives. The NHL had a significantly smaller settlement to it’s former players settled in the past few days. Much smaller in scale as naturally the league generates less revenue than the NFL. Also noteworthy that less players chose to fight the league in court, only 318 (who will receive $22,000 a piece), compared to the NFL suit which had over 4,000 former players and their families vs the league. 

I myself stand very conflicted on this issue. I do enjoy fighting in the league and think there is a place for it. Not the staged 4th line brawls, but the naturally occurring, heat of the moment, stand up for your teammate battles that happen from time to time. I would even be ok with harsher penalties for fighting than the standard 5 minute calls that are inconsequential.

However on the flip side I would like to see all those predatory hits to the head from blindside checks and shoulders eliminated and penalized as it is in international hockey. I understand it’s somewhat hypocritical, but I think now with the league and the players more educated than ever on head injuries and the inherent risk of playing the sport with it’s level of physicality there can be a distinction.

Anderson and Benn clearly square off here, neither was attacking the other from behind or unknowingly. They both willingly accept the risk of this fight. I do believe this is the basis for the standard that needs to be set.

Let me know what you think…

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There is No “Hard Knocks” Curse

Scrolling through Twitter I saw a “Moment” (still not sure what even qualifies as a moment) with tweets discussing a so called Hard Knocks Curse.

https://twitter.com/TheInfamousMarv/status/1056951315962716160

Look at that list, this is not a curse. This is water finding it’s level. The Madden curse exists because good players with high expectations are hurt or perform poorly in the year they appear on the cover. These were bad head coaches with awful teams and mostly low expectations. Obviously in the wake of the Hue Jackson and Todd Haley firings (lol Cleveland) yesterday, everyone was reminded of this iconic moment from earlier this season…

https://twitter.com/JKutz34/status/1056961939501400064

We all knew it wasn’t if, but when Hue would get the axe. What we didn’t know is that Todd would be hitting the unemployment line for the second time in a calendar year. Turns out the Browns are BAD. A tale as old as time, but still rings true to this day. Hard Knocks is a fantastic series, but can also work as a phenomenal propaganda machine spreading misinformation even more powerful than any Russian hacker or North Korean dictator. A few slow motion shots of a spiraling ball, a killer beat in the background, some fiery coach speak dubbed over top, and as a fan you’re ready to run through a damn brick wall. The excitement around the Browns was palpable, #1 overall stud QB, two of the best WR’s in the game, a stable of productive and high quality RB’s, a promising rookie CB. This was the year… until it wasn’t. 

To put it simply the thing about Hard Knocks is it’s a TV show. NFL Coaches, GMs, and owners absolutely HATE distractions. You can essentially pin reality TV show at the top of any certified list of distractions, it’s the poster boy. Teams DO NOT want to be a part of Hard Knocks, especially good teams. For years the only teams Hard Knocks was being “gifted” to were not great. Most of it is a collection of some the NFL’s most forlorn franchises. Let’s look at the list of teams and their records.

The first year is their previous record/The second is their record after appearing on the show:

Baltimore Ravens – 2000 record: 12-4   2001 record: 10-6
Dallas Cowboys – 2001 record: 5-11   2002 record: 5-11
Kansas City Chiefs – 2006 record: 9-7   2007 record: 4-12
Dallas Cowboys – 2007 record: 13-3   2008 record: 9-7
Cincinnati Bengals – 2008 record: 4-11-1   2009 record: 10-6
New York Jets – 2009 record: 9-7   2010 record: 11-5
Miami Dolphins – 2011 record: 6-10   2012 record: 7-9
Cincinnati Bengals – 2012 record: 10-6   2013 record: 11-5
Atlanta Falcons – 2013 record: 4-12   2014 record: 6-10
Houston Texans – 2014 record: 9-7   2015 record: 9-7
Los Angeles Rams – 2015 record: 7-9   2016 record: 4-12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2016 record: 9-7   2017 record: 5-11
Cleveland Browns – 2017 record: 0-16    2018 record: 2-5-1

Outside of Baltimore in 2000 and Dallas in 2007 none of these are exactly powerhouses rolling out the red carpet for HBO cameras. The Ravens actually coming off of a SuperBowl win was a huge get in the premiere season, but let’s be honest they were bound to suffer a setback after letting go of Trent Dilfer… There’s a reason you don’t see the modern successful franchises on this show, the Steelers, the Patriots, the Packers. Great organizations do not want to deal with the distraction.

The argument there is some kind of curse seems silly. These are honestly just average to bad teams that are being featured. Expecting them to suddenly become playoff teams or post double digit wins is fairy tale stuff. The NFL and HBO know this and that’s why they changed the requirements for Hard Knocks a few years ago. Teams are now exempt from the all seeing eye of HBO if they meet any of the following requirements:

1) They have a first-year head coach in place 
2) They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons 
3) They have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years

While #2 hurts the chances of seeing great teams featured the other two rules certainly helps increase the odds of not seeing the bottom feeders every single year. If the show continues long enough eventually you will see a more storied and successful franchise featured, but until then any curse talk is misguided. No curse, just stink. 

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