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Dead Fish Handshakes and New England Heartbreaks

Better luck in '09 Bill, Love Eric.

Better luck in '09 Bill, Love Eric.

After two years of bitter resentment and an epic rivalry of bad blood, Eric Mangini found a way to keep hated rivals, the New England Patriots, out of the playoffs. In doing so he lost to the Miami Dolphins…and consequently his own job. The former 1-15 Dolphins were able to extend their record to 11-5 and inch above New England to take the AFC East title.

This isn’t another one of StatDrgon’s conspiracy theories. I’m not proposing that the Jets “threw” the game to keep New England out of the playoffs, but I’d like to remark on the incredible coincidence that the future of the Patriots’ season fell to the hands of the New York Jets and Eric Mangini. Essentially, all that New England needed on Sunday was a victory from the Jets. Unfortunately (for New England) the Jets were not able to provide a win for their northeast rivals.

The name Eric Mangini makes Patriots fans shutter. To understand fully, one must be familiar with the history of ill will between the two organizations.

After 5 seasons of coaching with Belichick and the Patriots (2000-2005), Mangini left to take head-coaching position with the Jets. The terms and way that Mangini left sparked a rivalry between the two coaches. Over the next year New England filed tampering charges against Mangini for soliciting (then) current players and assistant coaches to abandon their commitment to the Pats organization and join him in New York. The feud came to a culmination in 2007 when, amidst of a perfect season, the Patriots were accused of videotaping other teams defensive signals. New England was reprimanded $750,000 in fines and the forfeiture of a 1st round draft selection for the following year. The incident, known infamously as ‘Spygate,’ sparked the criticism and condemnation of the Patriots organization and brought up questions of illegitimacy regarding three previous Championship seasons. Eric Mangini was the advocate and spokesman for accusations against Belichick in Spygate 2007. The actions taken by Eric Mangini, at this time, exacerbated the discord between himself and the New England Patriots.

When Tom Brady (QB- New England) went down for the season this year, Mangini must have felt like a kid on Christmas day as the window to the AFC East Title was opened. The Jets posted some significant victories throughout the first half of the season, beating the Patriots in overtime as well as handing the (pre)undefeated Titans a first loss. However, the season fell apart and all hopes of a playoff run were demolished as the Jets lost 4 out of the 5 final season games.

By Sunday the Jets were mathematically eliminated from the post season, however, the game against Miami was significant for Mangini in order to prove worth to the Jets organization. He was not able to do so as the Jets faltered 17-24.

This morning the New York Jets announced that they would be letting Coach Mangini go.

Had Mangini nothing to ‘play for’ yesterday, I would have been sold that losing was a tactic to keep the Pats out of the playoffs and prove dominance over hated rival Belichick.

As rivalry proves to be the driving force for creating exciting drama in sports, I can only hope that Eric Mangini finds a new job where he can effectively crawl under Belichick’s skin again, and vice versa. I would be beside myself with grief if I were not able to witness dead fish handshakes for years to come.

And that’s what the StatDragon is breathing fire about!

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Fantasy Football, News, NFL, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NFL Makes An MLB Move

Fresh off the most exciting final weekend in recent NFL history, the NFL brass couldn’t sit back and enjoy the success.  Nope, instead of congratulating themselves at Monday morning meetings and beginning the propaganda brigade for the postseason, the NFL announced that the 2010 Pro Bowl will be played in between the 2010 Conference Championships and the 2010 Super Bowl

Youre Better Than MLB

You're Better Than MLB

The NFL Pro Bowl is already the most irrelevant of all the all-star games because it is played after the season, many players don’t attend, and the games are more like glorified scrimmages, but moving it in between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl isn’t going to fix anything. 

From a ratings and marketing perspective the new schedule will probably boost ratings slightly.  However, the problem with the schedule change will probably result in fewer high-caliber players attending.  For instance, what happens if 10 players from the teams participating in the 2010 Super Bowl are elected to the Pro Bowl?  Will their teams allow players to play in the Pro Bowl if they’re playing the Super Bowl the following week?  The answer is no way.  The Pro Bowl has constantly put the NFL in a bind, but it’s never been a hindrance.  Moving the Pro Bowl could make the Pro Bowl more of a nuisance than an anticlimactic end to the best seasonal sport around.  Instead of living with the inherent design flaws, the NFL put on it’s Bud Selig hat and decided to tinker.  Ask MLB how good tinkering works out.  From no salary cap, to all-star game foibles, to the PED problem, the MLB has mastered the art of amplifying  little problems into larger ones.  Note to Roger Goodell.  Take a look down Park Avenue at your friends at the MLB and don’t follow their lead.  Keep the NFL as is.  You’re doing just fine.  Or did you not watch the week 17 action?

FlyMaster Signing Off…For Now!

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, General, NFL | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Curious Case of Romo’s Favreness

Farewell Favre

Farewell Favre

Jets fan for a day, suicidal by night! One of the many playoff scenarios involved the AFC East. After watching my beloved Pats dispose of the Bills in windy Buffalo, I had the distasteful chore of having to root for the Jets vs. Miami. I wanted neither team to win this game praying for a McNabb miracle tie. Then I heard Brett Favre’s pregame speech to his offense which went something like; “Alright guys, let’s get back to playing the football when we won 5 in a row. No matter how this goes, win or lose, we gotta put our best effort forth and that’s all we can do. Love you guys”. Followed by half his team running back in the tunnel and tucking their balls in their purses. Then Favre mailed it in after his first TD celebration. The guy showed no emotion or grit, while his offense forced me to smash my head into the wall just hard enough to cause blurriness and borderline consciousness. I figured if I had to be a Jets fan, then I had to boo and throw snow balls like the rest of the Zoo Yorkers. One pick, two pick and then pick number three sealed the fate of Mangini and the Pats. Like any New Yorker, I left the game early and found myself watching continuous commercials for Marley & Me. That’s what Brett Favre can do to an afternoon and to the hopes of an 11-5 New England team.

Romo, the new "old" Favre

Romo, the new "old" Favre

Now to the new “old” Favre, Mr. Romo. Tony Romo has become about as clutch as my friend Danny’s attempt to hit on women after 6 hours of drinking. Danny speaks in a German-like tongue, juggles his drinks and falls on the floor. Now that’s Tony Romo in a playoff like atmosphere. He’s the new Brett Favre of our generation. A gun slinger who can fool you 67% of the time but when he needs to seal the deal under pressure, ends up throwing an INT. Going back to my friend Danny, when he needs to seal the deal, he calls the girl a sexy little biatch and falls flat on his face. The female usually runs in the other direction but takes his phone and throws it in the women’s bathroom toilet. It’s crazy the similarities here. Philadelphia trounced the dramatic Cowboys into the ground thanks to Romolicious pulling his best Favre impersonation. 183 yds and 1 Int, Pro Bowl numbers in a win or go home game. All I ask is that Wade Philips now gets fired for his useless, awful attempt at coaching. TO certainly won’t beshedding any tears for his QB anymore. And you better believe Jessica Simpson rids herself of Romo after watching him collapse. After Sunday, Tony’s going to need a new girl and a cell phone. I got a feeling that thing is flushed down the toilet like the hopes and dreams of Cowboy fans everywhere.

Life isn’t measured in minutes, but in moments.


December 29, 2008 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Burning NFL Questions

1.  Wasn’t this one of the most exciting final weeks of football you have witnessed in a long time?

2.  Was there any doubt that Romeo Crennel and Rod Marinelli were going to get canned?

3.  Speaking of firings, though, did Mangini really deserve to be fired after having two winning seasons in three years?

4.  Will Jerry Jones finally realize that team chemistry is what is needed in the locker room, and not just talent?

Tony Romo

Tony Romo

5.  Can everyone stop trying to replace Donnovan McNabb now?

6.  Isn’t it great to see Chad Pennington finally get some well deserved credit?

Chad Pennington

Chad Pennington

7.  Is it me, or are the Ravens the scariest team in the playoffs?

8.  Was it a bad decision to have Ben Roethlisberger play in a meaningless game against the Browns and get hurt, or just part of the game?

9.  Does anyone really expect much out of the Cardinals in the post-season?

10.  Although the Titans had nothing to play for, how does such a great team get shut out against a division rival?

11.  How many games in 2009 will it take for the Lions to finally win one?

12.  Wasn’t it a shame that Drew Brees came 16 yards short of breaking the passing record?

13.  Isn’t it a bigger shame that an 11-5 team like the Patriots can miss the playoffs, while the 8-8 Chargers get to host a playoff game?

14.  Aren’t you happy you don’t have to hear Terrell Owens’ garbage in the playoffs?

15.  Speaking of the Cowboys, why is Bradie James picking fights with fans–does he think think he is recently fired Browns GM Phil Savage?

16.  Speaking of Phil Savage, will he be remembered most for extending Romeo Crennel after just one good year in 2007 or refusing to trade a hot and cold QB in Derek Anderson while his stock was high?

17.  Can someone explain how Tampa Bay blew a playoff opportunity by losing to the Raiders?

18.  Can someone explain how the Broncos blew a three game lead in their division?

19.  Don’t we all hope Brett Favre doesn’t drag out his retirement drama for months and months?

20.  Now that it’s playoff time, why can’t the NFL bring back the Don Cheadle commericals?

December 29, 2008 Posted by | NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That’s the Way they Became the Brady Bunch

It’s over – For those of you who thought Tom and Gisele would eventually part ways, it’s not going to happen.  According to several reports and TMZ, Patriots QB Tom Brady proposed to supermodel Gisele Bundchen while flying a private jet on Christmas Eve. 

They were headed from New Jersey to Massachusetts with four dozen white roses, champagne and two Brazilian parents on board.  Tom asked if she would join the Brady Bunch (not in those exact words)…And well…The rest is a common man’s nightmare.  Not that any of us would stand a chance, but the mere hope of seeing her on the market has now vanished.  Dreams have been tainted.  Fantasies have been exploited. 

Usually we don’t see athletes seriously settling down, but this was a good look for Brady.  The woman happens to be a tall, Victoria Secret supermodel with the ability to rake in $30-some million annually.  Compare that to Brady’s $18 million, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide b*tch.  One that wears the pants and is quoted as being the world’s richest supermodel.   

Power couples usually don’t last (i.e. Madonna/Guy Ritchie) but I’m giving this one a lifetime.  Brady doesn’t seem like your typical athlete sprung off women and Gisele’s got that Brazilian culture on lock.  But since many of you will be reading this and saying “what the f*ck is wrong with you?” and “Explain her sense of culture when it came to posing half nude”, I’d like to know how long you think it’ll be before sh*t hits the fan.

Skrybe – Keep it Fly

I assumed youd rather look at Gisele than Both Gisele and Tom or just Tom.

I assumed you'd rather look at Gisele than Both Gisele and Tom or just Tom.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Lions “could have” been

Oh, for better or for worse, it is official, we have now had the first ever 16-0 Pro Football team followed up by the less than miraculous 0-16 team, the Detroit Lions.  The images of Brady tossing it up for Moss are contrasted by Dan Orlovsky personally taking it upon himself to extend the End Zone to 15 yards.  Who can carry the blame for creating the worst football team in NFL history?  Well, we know Matt Millen was widely regarded as a bust in the GM role, and yesterday Rod Marinelli took the fall from a coaching perspective, but eventually, when not only the Executive offices and the coaches fail, we must look up top toward the Ford family.

The NFL is a very fair league with salary caps, franchise tags, and a draft system awarding the worst teams.  So, “could” the Lions have actually avoided this miserable fate?  Could this have been a team that would be preparing for next week’s playoff game or even the next weeks by way of a bye week?

Lets take a look at what the Lion’s current roster is:

Offense: QB Dan Orlovsky, RB Kevin Smith, FB Jerome Felton, WR Calvin Johnson, WR Shaun McDonald, TE Michael Gaines, LT Jeff Backus, LG Edwin Mulitalo, C Domini Raiola, RG Stephen Peterman, RT George Foster, Backup QB Drew Stanton, Backup RB Rudi Johnson, Backup WR Mike Furrey

Defense: LE Dwayne White, DT Cory Redding, DT Chartric Darby, RE Jared Devries, LOLB Alex Lewis, MLB Paris Lenon, ROLB Ernie Sims, LCB Leigh Bodden, FS Daniel Bullocks, SS Dwight Smith, RCB Travis Fisher, Backup DL Shaun Cody, Backup LB Ryan Nece, Backup DB Brian Kelly

Take a quick look at how THIS cast performed:

Now, with a few minor changes, some better draft insight, and better decision makers in place, this is what “could have” happened:

2002: Oh boy, 2-14, what a year..things can only go up from here, right?  Lets start with the draft.  Joey Harrington, the 3rd overall pick, high hopes but little fulfillment.  Instead, lets just say they go to the other side of the ball and take DT Albert Haynesworth from Tennessee.  In round 2, instead of Kalimba Edwards, lets take Andre Gurode and let him play G, his natural position as seen in college.  Round 3, CB Andre Goodman doesn’t work for me, lets instead take FS Chris Hope from Florida St.  With no 4th round pick, we pass on TE John Owens in the 5th (I know, it was hard to do, but we have to) to take DE Aaron Kampman.  In the 6th round, we feel we have found the steal of the draft and select RB Adrian Peterson, only to find out it is not High School Phenom AP, but Division I-AA player AP.

2003: Finishing 3-13 in 2002, the Lions had glaring needs, none more glaring than WR, defensive pass rush, and defensive play makers.  They were on the right track by taking a WR, but chose the wrong one at #2.  Instead of Charles Rogers, lets say the Lions take Andre Johnson out of Miami.  In the 2nd round they selected LB Boss Bailey, where they “should have” taken the next pick CB Charles Tillman from Louisiana-Lafayette.  And finally in the 3rd round, instead of selecting Cory Redding, DT, they should have addressed the need at TE over the incumbent Michael Ricks and selected TE Jason Witten of Tenessee who went 3 picks later.  In the 4th round, instead of RB Artose Pinner, the Lions select CB Asante Samuel from Central Florida.  5th Round, no to S Terrence “He’s No Torry” Holt, but yes to Boston College C Dan Koppen.  Just as well, in the 6th round, no to WR David Kircus, but yes to OLB Cato June from Michigan.  Finally, in the 7th, pass on T Ben Johnson (Isn’t he banned) for WR Taco Wallace, simply for morale purposes.  Finally we sign two undrafted players, youngster Tony Romo from Eastern Illinois and TE Antonio Gates from Kent St.

2004: OK, the Lions gained a little ground and finished 5-11.  Joey Harrington showed a little life, but the running game faltered and the defense was miserable with a combined total of 28 sacks on the season, no one player with  more than 4.5.  The Lions came in with the 6th overall pick, but traded it to Cleveland, who selected TE Kellen Winslow Jr, and the Lions drafted WR Roy Williams, where they “should have” selected RB Steven Jackson out of Oregon St., the top RB in the draft.  In the 2nd round, they selected LB Teddy Lehman from Oklahoma.  Replace that pick with SS Bob Sanders out of Iowa, and follow that up with a 3rd round selection of T Max Starks from Florida, replacing their actual pick, CB Keith Smith of McNeese State.  Round 4, instead of moving the 4th round pick, lets just say they keep it and pick DE Jared Allen from Idaho St.  Lastly, in the 5th round, the Lions pick OT Shane Olivea of Ohio St. passing on RB Michael Turner…hey, nobody’s perfect.

2005: Alright, we are on the right track, another improvement, 6-10.  Joey Harrington has his best season yet, the running game shows some life, and the receiving corps actually begins finding the end zone…but the defense still sucks.  With the 10th overall pick, the Lions select USC WR Mike Williams, passing up on LB’s Demarcus Ware and Shawn Merriman, going with the next two picks.  Lets say the Lions take Ware.  In the 2nd round, the Lions trade up to take DT Shaun Cody…lets just say they stay put and pick MLB Lofa Tatupu from USC to replace Alex Lewis and his mere 55 tackles from the ILB spot.  In the 3rd round, pass on CB Stanley Wilson of Stanford, and select Justin Tuck, DE of Notre Dame who went two picks later.  Missing on a couple picks, we wait until round 7 where we DO NOT trade this pick, but select DT Jeremiah (Jay) Ratliff who went 1 pick later.

2006: OK, the Lions took a step back to 5-11 after Jeff Garcia flopped and the running game dwindled back down to nothing.  The defense still looked bad and needs some serious help.  So, with the 9th overall pick, the Lions select OLB Ernie Sims, not bad, atleast not a WR. In dire need of a true playmaker, lets instead take Florida St. teammate CB Antonio Cromartie.  In the 2nd round, lets skip S Daniel Bullocks and protect Romo with Pro-Bowl LT Marcus McNeill.  In the 3rd round, the Lions selected RB Brian Calhoun, since nobody is perfect, lets just let this one stay.  But, in the 6th round the “dream Lions” come back to their senses and select CB Courtland Finnegan out of Samford University, who stayed around until the 7th round.

2007: Ugh, that 3rd round mishap on Brian Calhoun really cost the Lions, and they finished 3-13 this year.  Jon Kitna came in and lit up the aerial attack, whereas the running game stunk and the defense was a joke…picking a mere 12 passes all year long!  So, with the 2nd overall pick, the Lions took Calvin Johnson…I will take it!  Although, in the 2nd round, lets not take QB Drew Stanton and look instead at ILB David Harris from Michigan.  OK.  After trading a myriad of picks around for little to nothing, the Lions finally select FB LeRon McClain out of Alabama in the 4th round.

2007: OK!  Now we are talking, 7-9 and things are looking up right?  Kitna passes for over 4000 yards again, but that’s about all…not much else happening.  So lets fix it!  In the 1st round, the Detroit Lions select: OT Gosder Cherilus of Boston College..wait, no, lets try that again, how about East Carolina RB Chris Johnson.  Better.  In the 2nd round, no thanks on LB Jordan Dizon, but yes to WR Desean Jackson out of Cal.   From here, I could explain how Detroit could go on to select Steve Slaton and Tim Hightower, and call their quartet Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, but THAT would be unrealistic.  So what do we got here:

Offense: QB Tony Romo, RB Steven Jackson, FB LeRon McClain, WR Andre Johnson, WR Calvin Johnson, TE Jason Witten, LT Max Starks, LG Edwin Mulitalo, C Dan Koppen, RG Andre Gurode, RT Marcus McNeill, Backup QB Drew Henson, Backup RB Chris Johnson, Backup WR Desean Jackson, Backup TE Antonio Gates, Backup OL Shane Olivea

Defense: LE Jared Allen, DT Albert Haynesworth , DT Jay Ratliff, RE Justin Tuck, LOLB Demarcus Ware, MLB Lofa Tatupu, ROLB David Harris, LCB Charles Tillman, FS Chris Hope, SS Bob Sanders, RCB Antonio Cromartie, Backup DL Aaron Kampman, Backup LB Cato June, Nickel Asante Samuel, Dime Courtland Finnegan

Hey, it “could have” happened.

December 29, 2008 Posted by | NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment