Meanwhile, in my own private Idaho, the other team I devoutly follow (The Artists Formerly Known As The Seattle Mariners) have decided, in the most corporate and “family-friendly” way possible, to put a stamp on their season…in EARLY MAY. They’ll be mailing it in at fourth-class rate, no doubt…better to save those pennies! That’s right…a team that won 116 games three short years ago may be hard-pressed to score 116 RUNS in their alleged ’04 “campaign”. We’ll talk more about wacky front offices in general later, but oh, boy…these guys should get some sort of award.
So, with very little going on in sports right now to catch the interest of this writer (and please don’t even mention the Bataan Death March known as the NBA Playoffs), it’s time to go “under the radar” and emerge with a few random thoughts from around the athletic world. Gimmick columns as such being the last refuge of scoundrels and fools, but hey…whaddya gonna do? It’s a weekly deadline!
Eli’s Comin’ (or maybe not?): From our sister site, GiantInsider.net, comes the news (ably reported by Ken Palmer) that Eli Manning’s minicamp debut was…uhhh…a real adventure. Apparently, it was an off-day at Progeny Central, as Manning The Lesser was “borderline awful Friday, as he completed very few passes and fumbled some snaps during the team portion of the Giants first two practices of the Manning Era. ‘He had excellent huddle command,’ Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the morning workout. Manning was in no way bothered by the poor start, knowing that he has a long way to go and quite some time to get there. “I’m just trying to learn as I go,” the prized rookie said.”
It’s been said so many times, in so many ways…Welcome to the NFL, Rook. Now your life gets REALLY interesting.
P.S. What is “Excellent Huddle Command”? Are we supposed to be impressed that Eli can call a five-yard slant with an authoritative voice in the huddle if he can’t make that play yet? Apparently so.
Turn Your Head And Coughlin: Several unnamed veteran Giants are extremely unhappy with new coach Tom Coughlin…unhappy enough to lodge a formal complaint with the NFLPA over Coughlin trying to redefine the meaning of the “voluntary offseason program”.
Two thoughts here…first, I wonder what it is that makes Bill Parcells loved and revered by his players (yes, even the ones who claim to hate him), while Coughlin, a man who has been a winner in the past and comes from the Parcells school, has had issues in Jacksonville and now begins his tenure in New York on somewhat shaky ground. Parcells goes into Dallas last year and takes the stars off the players’ helmets, requiring that said stars be earned…and EVERYONE drinks the Kool-Aid. Yet, whenever Coughlin attempts to establish similar discipline, things just tend to boomerang on the man. Never having been an observer at either coach’s camps or practices, I wouldn’t be qualified to opine…but there is apparently a hair-thin difference in this league between “Lombardi-esque” and martinet. Could the difference be those pretty Super Bowl rings Parcells has? Time will tell…
Second, is anyone else awaiting
the Manning Family Meltdown that might occur the first time Coughlin opens up
a can of “tough-guy” on young Skywalker?
Cap-Strapped…and for WHAT?: The news out of San Francisco is Not Good. QB hope Tim Rattay went down recently with a groin injury (he may or may not be available for the beginning of the regular season), leaving possibilities open for backup Ken Dorsey, or, one might think, a free-agent signing such as the available and reliable Kerry Collins or the soon-to-be-available Kurt Warner. Problem…the Niners have about $1.3 million in cap room.
Which begs the question…HUH?!?!?!?
How in the name of John Brodie does a team who lost Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia in the offseason, with maybe two remaining players who could be remotely be considered “marquee” and at the top of their game (LB Julian Peterson, who has been franchised amidst a prolonged contract dispute, and RB Kevan Barlow) have no money left? I’d have to break out the Big Bottle of Advil to analyze any team’s cap situation, but what gives here? Do they have a secret payroll wrapped up in Mike Rumph? Did someone forget to carry the “2”? Did these guys attend the recent Howard Lincoln seminar, “How To Spend $60 Million On Benchwarmers”?
Well, the heck with it. I’d rather spend the rest of this article focusing on a few on My Favorite Things…some things I see happening this season in the NFL, and other miscellany:
1. Does anyone else see
a secondary in Seattle that could be completely and totally terrifying in ’04?
If converted safety Michael Boulware can ramp up the learning curve and hit
it anywhere near the way Marcus Trufant and Ken Hamlin did in their rookie seasons
(which, admittedly, is a LOT to ask), you’re looking at a nickel package
of Trufant, Hamlin, Boulware, Ken Lucas and Bobby Taylor in center field. Yow.
Don’t underestimate Taylor’s contribution out there…if he
can play that deep zone, it would seemingly allow more man coverage and bump-and-run
from our younger guys, potentially eradicating the Seahawks’ susceptibility
to the short slant up the middle. We may finally have a situation where the
secondary gives the pass rush more time, while said pass rush unnerves opposing
QBs enough to kill those dink passes and set up more INTs. Could be synchronicity,
Ray Rhodes style…a welcome and long overdue thing to see.
2. Speaking of our DC, a quick shout-out to Ray-Bob…the Hawks have let you “buy the groceries” two drafts in a row, my man. The recipe you put together will mean the difference in this team’s potential Super Bowl run…
3. If Darrell Jackson and Koren Robinson can solve the drops, Matt Hasselbeck will be in the running for NFL MVP in 2004.
4. As for the aforementioned Niners…don’t be surprised if they wind up in the cellar of the NFC West for the first time in I Don’t Know How Long. The Rams have suffered a slight erosion of their talent base, but they still must be taken very seriously. And the Arizona Cardinals? With Denny Green on board and that Fitzgerald/Boldin WR combo, this team could edge it up to .500 and spoiler status. We must NOT overlook them.
5. It appears the Rams will cut Kurt Warner, and I really hope he winds up with the Bears. It would be nice to see a turnaround from Kurt (although it was looking really ugly last year), and Lovie Smith deserves a marquee quarterback, as do Bears Fans. Has there been a “Franchise QB” drought longer than the one in ChiTown? Aside from a few magic years from Jim McMahon, you basically have to go back to Sid Luckman in the 1940’s (!) to find a time when Da Bears had a league-leading signal-caller. Warner’s other possibility is an “opportunity” to play Crash Davis to Eli Manning’s Nuke LaLoosh…blech. Somehow, I can’t see Brenda signing on for that…
6. Nobody’s really talking about Kerry Collins, but whoever gets this guy (so casually cast aside in the Manning fiasco) will not regret it. Collins has become a mature, reliable QB with consistent production, and there’s one thing for sure…wherever he goes, he’s leaving the NFL’s worst offensive line behind him in NYC. If a team like the Cowboys picks him up, look out.
7. With Jim Mora, Jr. and Greg Knapp establishing San Francisco East in Atlanta, I’m VERY interested to see what Michael Vick makes of the West Coast Offense. There’s no doubt he has the tools to redefine that brand of quarterback – should be fun to watch.
8. I would love to see the Lions take it to the next level this season (and with their fine draft, there’s no reason they can’t), if only because Steve Mariucci strikes me as one of the most intelligent and genuine NFL head coaches. After extending the Niners’ competitiveness a few years past its logical conclusion and getting rudely jettisoned for his trouble, Mooch deserves better.
So, as I fade out for this week with the strains of Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” (the definitive version) blaring at Doug Central, just one more thing to mention…Steve Utz’ “Hi, Mom!” article was a really great way to help celebrate Mother’s Day. My own mother raised me as a single parent, devoting a very large part of her life to a son who didn’t always appreciate said devotion at the time. This is a lady who toured with the Roger Wagner Chorale and the Metropolitan Opera National Company…and she gave it all up for nobody’s idea of “domestic bliss” when I was born. Now, as a true friend and confidante, she has always made my interests her own, to the point where she can explain the music of Jimi Hendrix or the 3-4 defense FAR better than you might image.
So, to you, Mom…thanks for everything you have done for me, including (and maybe especially) the things you said and did that I don’t even realize. Thanks for raising a man we can both be proud of, against the odds. And thanks for showing me how life is supposed to be lived.
“Favorite Things”, indeed…
Doug Farrar writes a column for Seahawks.NET every Monday. Feel free to send him your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.