Friday, September 25, 2009

The week that was...

Hello, interwebs! Have you missed me?

For my longtime readers (all 2 of you), you may remember that around this time last year my posting schedule became sporadic at best, nonexistent at worst. This is my busiest time of the year at my job, and by the time I get home I tend to collapse on the couch rather than share all my remarkable insight with all of you…for that, I apologize. I’m not sure how you survive without me.

(that was sarcasm, by the way)

So…what’s been going on?

- I guess I’ll be the last Dawg blogger to remark on the comments Coach Martinez made this week regarding the play of the defense so far (h/t to David Hale).

Here’s the thing…I don’t expect CWM to say, “OK, we’ve done this, this and this from a scheme standpoint, and now we are going to do that, that, and that instead.” I understand that his answers are going to be a bit vague, by necessity. However, what I DO expect is for him to say is something like, “This is my fault. Whether it’s scheme or execution, it doesn’t matter…the buck stops here.” Instead, he says that the players are in the right position, they just have to make the play, which is another way of saying, “My scheme is fine, these players are just screwing up.”

I’m not even saying that this is not a true statement…but ultimately, as the Defensive Coordinator, isn’t it his job to make sure these guys are executing the scheme properly? I know that he can’t make the plays himself, these are 18-22 year olds, etc, etc…but this is not a problem that has just cropped up in the last two ball games. Our opponents are AVERAGING over 30 points a game against us the last nine games. Those are inexcusable results, regardless of the competition or any extenuating circumstances like offensive turnovers, etc.

Good news is that the coaching staff is at least showing some sense of urgency this week. Looks like there will be a shakeup in the playing time among the secondary, especially at safety. Bryan Evans, God love him…he’s extremely fast and he can definitely bring a lick, but he is just not blessed with the skills to cover anybody one-on-one.

The talent is there on that defense…I still believe that. I keep thinking that this will be the week when that talent meets scheme meets execution and our defense puts together a performance worthy of their Junkyard Dawg reputation. I still think that this week as well.

- ASU prediction: Dawgs continue to gel on offense, seemingly working new playmakers in every week. This week, I say we get big contributions from Brown, Wootentheballcarrier, and Caleb. And, yeah, I’ll say it again in hopes that this week it will be true...the defense finally gets their act together, aided by big games from the emerging DE tandem of Houston and Washington.

Dawgs 38, Devils 13.


- DawgSports put it best about the Ole Miss – South Cackalacky game last night…it was the huge upset everybody saw coming from a mile away. I’ve been saying for months that Ole Miss was overrated…they got WAY too much hype based on a winning streak at the end of last season.

An excerpt from my SEC Media Days coverage:
It had been 727 days since they won a conference game when they beat Florida. That says a lot about what an impressive performance and huge upset it was, but also...this is the team that so many are picking top 5 and handing the SEC West to? A team that, as recently as last year, had a TWO YEAR conference losing streak going? Excuse me if I don't jump on that bandwagon just yet.

My opinion on teams like Ole Miss is that they are going to have to elevate themselves to elite status…I ain’t putting them there until they prove that they can do it. Add to the massive hype (and pressure that comes with it) the fact that they had played absolutely nobody so far, so their first real game was on the road, at night, in Columbia against a team that had already been through a couple of real games….and that was easy pickings last night.

Oh, and something else I agree with DawgSports about…I miss Erin Andrews’ hot librarian look from last week.

- Big game coming up for the Falcons, on the road against the Patriots. This is a chance to see if we have really stepped up to an elite status. I know, the Pats haven’t exactly looked like themselves so far, but I think that makes them even more dangerous.

I think this game may look very familiar to Dawgs fans…I don’t see us shutting down the Pats offense, so we are going to have to outscore them. I say we do…Falcons win 38-34.

On a related note, how much of an upgrade is Mike Peterson over Keith Brooking? He makes more plays in one quarter than the overrated Brooking made in the last five years…interceptions, forced fumbles, recovering blocked kicks, big hits BEHIND the line of scrimmage (not seven or eight yards downfield, where Brooking made his living). Another coup by Demitrof, this one with an assist to Mike Smith and the seriously-missed-in-Athens Brian VanGorder, who coached Peterson in Jacksonville and convinced the GM to go get him.

- Looks like next year will be the end of an era, as Bobby Cox has announced that he will step down following the 2010 season. Bobby is a very polarizing figure among Atlanta sports fans…you get people saying that he couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag, and you get people saying that he was the key to the extended run of success that the team had in the nineties and early aughts.

I think the truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. I think that for a 162 game schedule, you would be hard pressed to find a manager better suited to be successful. However, as so often is the case, what makes you awesome is also what makes you suck…his even-keel, never-too-high-never-too-low, “that’s just baseball, we’ll get ‘em tomorrow night” attitude always seemed to carry over into the more pressurized atmosphere of the playoffs. After the first couple of playoff runs, I just never really sensed the intensity out of the Braves dugout the way I did from the opposition…not sure how to quantify that, but if you’re a longtime Braves fan you probably know what I mean.

I do, however, take issue with people who say that he had the best team in the playoffs every year and only managed to win one ring. We may have had the best pitching staff every year, but our top-to-bottom roster was usually not the best in baseball. Now, that being said, we definitely lost to teams (Padres, Cubs, Astros, etc) who I thought we were better than, but I don’t know that we were the best team in baseball any of those years.

The one World Series I thought we “should” have won but didn’t was in ’96. Braves got down 3-1 against the Cardinals in the NLCS, and it looked like it was all over. But they swept the next three against the Cards (winning 14-0, 3-1, and 15-0) and then the first two in Yankee Stadium (winning 12-1 and 4-0). For those five games, that was the greatest baseball team I have ever seen.

You all know what happened next, so I’m not going to rip the scab off that old wound.

Bottom line…Bobby Cox is a Hall of Famer and whether we know it or not, we’ve been lucky to have him for the last two decades.

Wow…I’m starting to think I should have broken this up into several posts. To those still reading, thanks for hanging with me, and I’ll be back on Sunday to recap the Dawgs win over ASU!


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