Sunday, January 26, 2003
Upchucking in prime time
I don't know about you, but I think Dodge hit a new low in Stupor Bore commercials with its automotive equivalent of the Heimlich maneuver. Funny, yes. Tasteless, definitely.
The phone companies (SBC and AT&T) both struck out with their dull, dull, dull pitches. Even the Raiders were more entertaining.
My vote for best spot: The Bud commercial with the black dude who uses his dog as Jamaican dreadlocks to get around the no pets rule at the bar.
Let's keep the commercials and can the halftime show next year.
Glenn 8-D 6:39:00 PM
I think I watched the game about a quarter too long. Should have turned it off before halftime and saved an hour or so of my Sunday. My prediction was Raiders 31, Bucs 30, but in a season when so many of my predictions went awry, why should today be any different?
In a word, the Raiders looked simply "NawFuL" (and you could remove the N and not lose a bit of the meaning!). No spark. No fire. Half the time it didn't even look like they were on the field -- oh wait, half the time they weren't on the field. Gannon couldn't pass, the receivers couldn't catch, Bill Callaghan couldn't call a play that the Bucs couldn't predict. This team frankly didn't show up with its game face on, and Tampa Bay did. The Bucs deserve to win. Nice to see John Gruden have a super Sunday, but for the rest of us (well, the rest of us in the Bay Area anyhow) it was a true Stupor Bore.
Glenn 8-D 6:32:00 PM
SUPERBOWL - THE BATTLE OF THE PIRATES
RAIDERS 31, BUCS 20
As much as I'd love to see the Raiders lose, it just doesn't seem likely. They're the hot team and they simply have too many offensive weapons. If the Bucs have any hopes of pulling this out, the game will have to be low scoring.
Junior Bro 1:28:00 PM
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Championship Game Predictions:
RAIDERS OVER TITANS: The Raiders are loaded, but enjoy it while it lasts. Age and the salary cap catch up to this team next year. The 49ers can tell you a little about that.
EAGLES OVER BUCS: The Eagles seemed destined to win it all. If you can win with a third string quarterback, you can win any time. Offense and the cold give them the edge here.
Junior Bro 4:22:00 PM
49ERS YEAR END REVIEW AND DRAFT PREVIEW
Overall: The team performed well considering it was riddled by injuries. The 49ers led the league in broken bones and sprained ankles it seemed. The team won the division (more due to the collapse of the Rams than team success) and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. However, it was proven throughout the year that the team couldn't compete with the NFL elite. Losses came at the hands of Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Diego, and Green Bay, all of whom made or narrowly missed the playoffs. The only playoff teams the Niners beat were the Giants (twice) and a struggling Raiders team which was in the midst of a severe losing streak.
Coaching: The firing of Mariucci says it all. Coaching could have been better, but the 49ers still don't have the necessary talent to compete. Playcalling on the offensive side especially was uninspired. I felt that offensive coordinatior Greg Knapp (or is that Nap) would definitely be fired regardless of what happend to Mooch. Defensive Coordinator Jim Mora Jr. has been getting a bad rap in the media. I judge him more with what he did last year than with the injury riddled defense of this year. That being said, I don't want to see him become the next head coach. Denny Green seems the best choice because he's been with the 49ers before, he's an offensive minded coach, and he's a known commodity. Of course, the 49ers traditionally haven't gone with known commodities when selecting their coach. That was true especially with Seifert and Mooch.
Offense: The unit was inconsistent and lacked intensity and creativity for most of the year. Changed playcalling and a few new pieces in the puzzle could make this unit a juggernaut. Pretty amazing considering the 49ers have negleted offense in the draft for several years.
Quarterback: Garcia is entrenced, Rattay appears solid, Cade McNown may return from injury. No help needed here.
Running Backs: Hearst's time may be almost up. The team needs to see what Barlow can do as a starter. Fred Beasley is as good a blocking fullback as they come, but I'd like to find a Rathman type of fullback who can be involved more in the passing game and carrying the ball. Backups appear solid although some are returning from injury.
Wide Receivers: Goodbye J.J. Stokes, and it's about time! The 49ers need to draft a prototype blue chip wide receiver. Someone who can actually get seperation from a defender. Tai Streets' contract is also up. I see him as a third receiver at best, and it's 50-50 as to whether he'll be back.
Tight End: Johnson is good when healthy, but sometimes he was poorly utilized, and he's no Brent Jones. Maybe a strong backup or even a starter can be secured in the draft.
Offensive Line: This unit rivals the secondary as the most injured unit, which may be why the running game disappeared at the end of the year. No matter who was in the lineup, the unit held up remarkably well, and the rookies showed a lot of promise. Deese's replacement must be found at tackle. He's not getting any younger.
Defense: A frightening pattern of fourth quarter collapses. Injuries, Injuries, Injuries. No pass rush and a porous secondary. These were the same problems as when the 49ers went 4-12. Is the real defense the one who nearly shutout Philadelphia last year or got blown out by Philadelphia this year? Only time will tell.
Defensive line: Played well against the run, but had no pass rush. Chike Okefore's contract is up, and the 49ers should let him go. Stubblefield isn't the same player he once was, and Bryant Young isn't getting any younger. The 49ers need to find a stud pass rusher to compliment Andre Carter and they need to find a young defensive tackle to provide a push up the middle as Young once did.
A defense can't be successful without a solid pass rush.
Linebacker: Injuries, I sound like a broken record. This is a unit that has tons of potential, but can it stay healthy? No draft help is needed here, yet.
Secondary: Mike Rumph may get better, but he wasn't the answer this year. The 49ers need to look for another corner in this year's draft and perhaps another safety as the players at this position can't seem to stay healthy.
Special Teams: HELP!!! Lafleur looked like Pepe Lepew out there. The 49ers need to find a punter. Chandler may work out at kicker, but needs another year of evaluation. It's time to resurrect this unit after years of neglect. They probably cost the team more than one game last year.
DRAFT/FREE AGENCY PRIORITY SUMMARY:
Junior Bro 4:18:00 PM
His career began with a loss at Tampa Bay in which Jerry Rice blew out his knee and Steve Young suffered a concussion. It ended at Tampa Bay in a humiliating blowout loss. The 49ers have fired their head coach, Steve Mariucci, completing a one year span in which all 6 major sports franchises in the Bay Area have made coaching changes. And they say New York is tough!
Mariucci probably signed is own death warrent against Tampa Bay at the end of the first half when, with 50 seconds and 2 time outs left and the ball on the 40 yard line, Mooch ran out the clock. Several offensive players were visibly upset with that decision, and I'm sure the owner wasn't happy with it either.
That was just the final example of a philosophy which Mooch's detractors have called too conservative. An offensive which was geared to run and then pass instead of the Bill Walsh philosophy of the pass setting up the run. It is true that the offensive and the team in general have been very vanilla and emotionally lacking for most of the season. Supporters have argued that Mooch simply didn't have the talent or team health for the team to be more creative, but the second half comeback against the Giants seem to have disproved that hypothesis. The shackles were removed, and suddenly, the team was an offensive juggernaut for the first time all season.
There is much that will be missed about Steve Mariucci. He was very likeable. He won with a veteran team, piloted the team through salary cap hell, and emerged on the other side to be a winner with a young football team. His run first mentality protected a young emerging defense, and made the 49ers a winner. However, a team needs either an explosive offense or a dominating defense to make it all the way in today's NFL. The 49ers had neither of those things this year. What could have been a superb defense was riddled with injuries and the offense was far from explosive due to play-calling, offensive line injuries, and lack of wide receiver depth.
Another year under Mooch with a good draft solves most of the those problems, but not the play-calling. One Bay Area columnist stated in an article the "running" joke among members of the media that after every 49er incomplete pass on 1st and 10, there would be an off tackle running play that would invariably net very little. As I watched the beginning of the Tampa Bay game on the very first offensive series, that exact scenerio took place just as the columnist described. That type of predictable play-calling just won't cut it in the NFL.
So goodbye Mooch! I know you'll land on your feet somewhere, and I just hope the 49ers can find someone even more capable to run the ship!
Junior Bro 3:27:00 PM
Saturday, January 11, 2003
MORE PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Tennessee over Pittsburgh - Lots of prognosticators are predicting an upset, but I just think the the Titans are the better team.
Philadelphia over Atlanta - If Philadelphia makes it past the Falcons, they'll probably win it all.
Tampa Bay over San Francisco - The 49ers will be emotionally spent after that Giants games. I don't think they have another 24 point comeback in them.
Oakland over NY Jets - This may be the best candidate for an upset, but the Raiders are just playing too good right now.
Junior Bro 10:05:00 AM
Sunday, January 05, 2003
THE 49ERS WILL LEAD ME TO A PREMATURE DEATH
It's tough being a 49er fan this season. In less than 30 minutes of football my emotions went from utter devestation, to flickering hope, to excitement, to exhausted relief. I know when the Niners play that no lead is safe, but I generally think it's when they are the ones who has the lead. The 49ers had no business winning that game. The only explanation is the Giants felt they already had the game won and relaxed just a bit. The result is the second largest playoff comeback in NFL history next to Buffalo's win over the Houston Oilers more than a decade ago. The 49ers may not get any further in the playoffs, but at least the 49ers can look back to this game and hold their heads high.
SOME BRIEF THOUGHTS:
The 49ers better employ that hurry up offense early and often against Tampa Bay.
Wouldn't it be ironic if Mooch ended his 49er coaching career with a loss at Tampa Bay? It's where he got his start, in the same game Jerry Rice blew out his knee and Steve Young suffered another in a string of concussions.
Seems like all the playoff games so far have been blow outs or teams coming back from huge deficits. It would be nice if we could have some close games for 60 minutes next week.
Junior Bro 8:48:00 PM
Saturday, January 04, 2003
WILDCARD ROUND PREDICTIONS
Indianapois over NY Jets - The Jets gave all they had just to get in the playoffs. I'd love to see them win this and play the Raiders, however.
Green Bay over Atlanta - No team beats the Pack on the frozen tundra in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh over Cleveland - Neither of these teams appear to be going far in the post season.
San Francisco over NY Giants - They beat them on the road, in the opening game of the season, so they should beat them at home in January. That is if the 49ers porous secondary holds. Don't expect the 49ers to make it past the second round.
Junior Bro 9:05:00 AM
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Sean's Season In Review Part 3: Final Thoughts
* It took a 3 out 4 squeaker to get by Ben on the last week and achieve the best overall picks record.
* No squeaker neccesary to get past the Senior Bro. From being tied to being up by 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 games in consecutive weeks. That's a collapse worthy of Miami! Before that run, I was sure it was going to be the Senior Bro's year.
* Congratulations to Ben on a great year. It made the last few weeks very interesting to see who would emerge on top.
* I must reluctantly admit that the Raiders have a much better chance than the 49ers to advance to the Superbowl. The 49ers have too many glaring weaknesses, as evidenced by the fourth quarter collapse against the Rams. Yes, that was a meaningless game, but the 49ers have had the same problems all year: an inconsistent kicking game and punting, the lack of a consistent second and third receiver, a lack of passing defense, and failure to hold significant fourth quarter leads. I pointed out most of these weaknesses in my preseason predictions.
* The 49ers are at best a one win and out team. They could conceivably lose to the Giants, who are on a hot streak.
* The Raiders have a chance to make it to the Superbowl and win, but could face stiff competition from the Jets or Colts in the divisional round and Tennessee if they reach the conference championship game. I would love to seem them face the Jets who have taken off with an impressive drubbing of the Packers.
* That's about all for this season. Stay tuned next year Junior Bro fans as I try for the unprecidented five-peat!
Junior Bro 7:09:00 PM
Sean's Season In Review Part 2: Bowl Games and Awards
In the college football tradition, I though up some good (or bad) bowl matchups between alleged NFL teams:
BLOOPER BOWL (A.K.A. LAUGHABOWL): CINCINNATI VS. DETROIT
(The two teams with the worst records in football.)
NAWFUL BOWL (A.K.A. PAPER BAG BOWL): ST. LOUIS VS. CHICAGO
(The biggest disappointments when compared to the previous year.)
COLLAPSABOWL (A.K.A. CHOKEBOWL): NEW ORLEANS VS. MIAMI (Dishonorable Mention: San Diego)
(Teams who would have been in the playoffs, but blew it with a December collapse.)
Note: Miami's collapse came a bit earlier this year, normally they make it to the playoffs and then lose 42-0.
UNFASHIONABOWL: NEW ENGLAND VS. DENVER
(Teams who finished well, but too late to make the playoffs)
RIP VAN WINKLE BOWL: HOUSTON VS. ARIZONA (Dishonorable Mention: Giants, Cowboys)
(Game most likely to end in a 0-0 tie score.)
IMAGINABOWL: KANSAS CITY VS. NEW ENGLAND (Dishonorable Mention: Saints, Dolphins)
(Teams who would have been most likely to make the playoffs exciting.)
SEPTEMBERBOWL: TENNESSEE VS. NY JETS
(Teams who proved poor September records are overrated.)
Best Player to Miss the Playoffs - Ricky Williams, Miami
Leon Lett Award (a.k.a. worst bonehead play of the year) - Dwayne Rudd, Cleveland (for his premature helmet removal)
Junior Bro 6:45:00 PM
Sean's Season In Review Part 1: Preseason Predictions
My preseason predictions this year were surprisingly accurate, probably because there were no Chicagos this year. I only missed one division winner - San Francisco instead of St. Louis (guess I should have more faith in my home team). The only playoff team I didn't predict was the Atlanta Falcons. In addition, I correctly guessed the win-loss records of 8 teams: San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Dallas, Denver, and the N.Y. Jets. I successfully predicted the records of every team to within two games either way except St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and Carolina.
My Superbowl picks of Green Bay and Tennessee still are possible, but I'm more inclined to go with Philadelphia in the NFC at this point. The Raiders are also playing extremely well, but may have problems if they run across a hot team like the Jets.
Junior Bro 6:01:00 PM