Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Friday, October 21, 2005 at 1:12 PM

Weekend Warrior - Happy Birthday Edition!

Well, I almost forgot to mention that it was my “Happy Birthday” on Wednesday of this week, October 19th. That is right, one whole year of fun, excitement and crazy off the wall posts to not only amuse me, but to amuse the few of you that actually stop by here to spend time with me. In honor of such a monumental occasion, I give you the birthday edition of the all knowing of the know nothing, wacky, zany and utterly uniformed Weekend Warrior Post. Oh, and if you are interested, here is my first not so exciting day of posting right here. Enough with the flash back mushy garbage, let's get on to the current day football garbage!

Northwestern at MSU

Well, can we just call this the battle of the no defense teams? By the time the fourth quarter rolls around the scoreboard operator is literally using poster board to keep track of the offensive numbers, the scoreboard itself is full. Defense does not reign supreme on this day as two of the most prolific offenses in the Big 10 square off against one another in what should be an exciting match up. Exciting, that is, if you like your football scores to more resemble basketball scores! MSU has had two tough luck losses in a row, but being back at home and facing a team that can not defend for crap gives them the boost they need.

MSU 56, Northwestern 49

Ohio State at Indiana

Next to Penn State, the Hoosiers clearly are the surprise team in the Big Ten, actually still in the Big Ten Title picture this late in the season for the first time since the light bulb was invented. Unfortunately for Indiana they still are Indiana and no amount of luck in the world can change that. The sweater vest prevails yet again, but his offense still looks almost as bad as the Hoosiers on this Saturday afternoon.

OSU 27, Indiana 16

Penn State at Illinois

Still pissed off that Lloyd Carr petitioned for two extra seconds to be added to the clock last week, JoPa misses the opening kickoff because he is still barking at the officials. He doesn’t even bother to show up for the game until half time because he himself lost track of time and thought it was a later start. Luckily for him his team doesn’t require much coaching because this is, after all, a game against Illinois. Illinois coach Ron Zook does the opposite of Lloyd Carr, petitioning the officials to take time off the clock to get the massacre over with quicker.

Penn State 42, Illinois 17

Texas Tech at Texas

Coach Mack Brown pleads with his Longhorns to ignore the ghosts of choking past, as in the fact that his team always seems to lose that one game that costs them a shot at the National title. He reminds them that it was Oklahoma in the past, but they already took care of them, so keep your eyes on Pasadena at the end of the season. The players try to take note, but don’t really get it until late in the fourth quarter when the coach threatens to make all the players clean up after their mascot if they lose this game.

Texas 45, Texas Tech 42

Now here it is, the moment of anticipation for all two of my fans, that insane and totally hilarious:


U of M at Iowa

Lloyd Carr tries to remind his players that just because they are clearly living the “up-down theory” this season and just because they have not faired well recently in Iowa doesn’t mean they can not win this game. He points out that just because they won (Northern Illinois), lost (Notre Dame), won (Eastern Michigan), lost (Wisconsin), won (MSU), lost (Minnesota) and won (Penn State) doesn’t mean they should be afraid to actually win two games in a row for a change. Unfortunately the sports dude has his beloved Wolverines here for a reason; they are simply having one of those said “up-down theory” seasons that we all talk about. Troubles continue to mount for the Wolverines at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa and the Wolverines again fail to win back to back games for the first time this season. Keep your heads up boys, at least you got Indiana looming in the near future on your schedule, so there is at least hope for one more victory.

Iowa 27, U of M 24 (another stupid close loss, I am tired of these damn “almost” games!)


Lions at Browns

I guess I almost could put the Lions as the “MOM DO I REALLY HAVE TO WATCH THIS GAME” game week in and week out, but then what am I going to do with the Wolverines for the rest of the season? At least the Maize and Blue will be able to play an important game at Ford Field (please see Motor City Bowl for details) which is more than I can say for any game the Lions are going to play there this season! The woes continue in Cleveland where again the Lions have about as much offensive punch as Tonya Harding! Joey gets the start but does not take the field in the second half, the defensive players pummeled him and he was forced to go on injured reserve. Garcia does not fair much better than Joey, he still thinks he is a member of the Browns because he throws a couple picks to their defenders. He does at least do something unheard of in these parts since the days of Henry Ford himself; he gets the ball in the end zone on offense. Alas it is still not enough to save the Lions on this day, but enough to at least give him the starting nod the remainder of the season. Bye-bye Joey, hello Jeff!

Browns 24, Lions 17

That is all I got for today, as always football responsibly and keep a protective barrier in front of your flat screen, football is frustrating in these parts nowadays! Eat, drink and tail gate responsibly my friends, later! The sports dude.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 1:15 PM

Right or wrong, Joey has to go.

I was going to put all this in the comments section, but it ended up, as usual with me, being too long winded. Therefore I decided that I will just take a moment and create a whole new post discussing why, at this point, there really is no choice but to start Garcia sooner than later.

As far as the first point goes I agree somewhat and here is why. I don't think Garcia starting would be a disservice to Detroit because I think he gives the Lions the best opportunity to win. Joey has no confidence in himself, the coaches have no confidence in him and, most importantly, the players clearly don't believe in him. By putting in a washed up Garcia it is the best option for the Lions to at least make a push towards winning this crap infested division where even at 7-9 you get in the playoffs by default. Garcia is still smart enough to run the offense, his mental capacity is still the same as the one that went to pro bowls with Mooch and this offense in San Fran. It is his physical skills that have clearly declined, but I think the knowledge of the offense will again be just enough to get us more wins than Joey. Mooch can not continue to let Joey start, the ship is sinking fast with him and he knows it. I mean offensive players get on each other all the time, but when defensive players who are clearly busting their asses off get in the face of the offensive unit (mainly Joey) then you know you are having serious problems. That is the one thing that pisses me off most about the whole situation; I just wish Mooch would come clean and tell us the truth, take control and put all this crap under the rug. The only problem with that is that in this damn society we live in today where everything has to be so cut and paste, bland and friggin’ PC Mooch knows full well he can not tell the truth. The truth is simply this and I would love for him to say it – “Look, Joey was never my guy and clearly the kid does not have the necessary skills to succeed in the West Coast Offense. As soon as I feel that Jeff Garcia is back at or near 100% we are going to make a change at QB to a guy who clearly understands this offense well enough to get production on the football field. Yes Jeff’s physical skills have declined over the past few seasons, but his mental awareness and general overall understanding of this offense makes us a much more productive offensive team as a whole.” There you go, read it and weep, that would be the honest God Damn truth, but Mooch knows full well that the only coach left in the NFL that could get away with that crap is Bill Parcells, the last of the old school, who gives a shit about PC, hard ass coaches.

Look, am I excited about Garcia coming in and being the starter for the Lions, I mean, as far as long term goes? Hell no, I may sound stupid to you guys sometimes but I really am not that ignorant! Look at what that means, it means that not only did we waste a very valuable first round pick (either #2 or #3 overall, I forgot!) it means that we here in Detroit still do not have a QB. Garcia is a decent enough answer for this year; I truly believe he gives us a better chance to win now then Joey, but what about next year? Two years from now? I admit that Garcia is about as close to empty as my gas tank, but damn he can’t be any worse than what we got now! I mean against Baltimore Joey passed for 97 friggin’ yards, last week take away the miracle to Marcus Pollard and he barely elapsed 125, for an entire game! Those are numbers that a QB with any understanding of this offense, declining skills or not, can easily surpass without even blinking. Remember too that Mooch continues to say this is a dummied down version of the offense, something tells me the playbook would expand a little as well if Garcia were under center.

Furthermore, you can not under any circumstances let Joey continue this year as a starter once Garcia is able to continue, you just can’t do it! There are too many things that point to the fact that as long as Joey remains in there you are going to have a mutiny on a large scale proportion that this organization may never recover from. The offensive players, right or wrong (I say wrong, I am not giving them a free pass either!) clearly do not believe in the guy and are sabotaging the season. The defensive players, who single handedly won the Baltimore game and all but won the Carolina game, are ready to beat Joey to a pulp if it means getting him off the field. By letting Joey continue, if there is another option, is just locker room suicide for this franchise and I think Mooch all but knows it. The only problem is, when does he make the switch, when is it the right time?

That is the last dilemma that I would like to discuss, and in Drew Sharp’s article today in the Free Press he really hit in on the head. There is plenty of blame to be spread around in various areas and whether it is fair or not the offenses lack of production always falls on the QB’s shoulders, even if it is not entirely him. Please don’t get me wrong, Mooch is to blame for a lot of this as well, and that is the point of this paragraph and the article written by Sharp and Mooch knows it. Garcia is Mooch’s trump card, wild card and last chance to prove that he deserves to keep his job after this season. If, or should I say when, Mooch decides to pull the plug and make the switch to Garcia it has to be the right time because Joey, barring injury, will never take another snap as a Lion. If Mooch is right then there are no issues, there are no concerns, because Garcia will come in and produce just enough to put offensive points on the scoreboard. But if Mooch is wrong and Garcia makes little or no difference, he was the one that buried Harrington, he was the one that was wrong and he will be the one to leave town on the same bus as Joey after the season. This is not your typical QB switch, your usual QB controversy, this not only has the season hanging in the balance but the future of his job as head coach of the Lions as well. He knows it, he senses it and he fully understands he has no choice but to be right if, or when, he makes that switch and puts Joey on his ass.

Look, lastly I would like to say, fair or not, the position of QB in the NFL comes with this type of treatment, especially here in Detroit. Does that justify the treatment of Joey Harrington? No, there is no justification in it but, as lame as it sounds, it is what it is. Joey has been given more than his fair share of chances to succeed here in Detroit, he really has been, but has done little to help his case. The QB, as with all teams in the NFL, is the focal point as far as the offense is concerned and, right or wrong, when the offense fails the QB takes the brunt of it. But people don’t look at the bigger picture, they don’t look at the fact that Joey is not a West Coast QB, they just see a guy who is suppose to lead the offense and does nothing with it week in and week out. If fans were smart enough they would boo the West Coast Offense (or Mooch) but they don’t get it, they don’t see it. Can Joey possibly go on somewhere else and succeed in the NFL? He might, but clearly it will not be here. If Mooch is maintained this team will have its coach’s identity and that identity does not fit Joey one bit. It is easier to replace a QB than a coach and a locker room full of players, which is what would have to happen if they kept Joey. That is the sad thing, but it is true, there is no way Joey can continue here in any capacity, it would require a new coach and a complete make over of the entire locker room. That is why I say, right or wrong, that Joey can not continue as QB here either for the remainder of the season or beyond. There are too many other pieces that need to be replaced, so it is just easier to replace one instead of many. Is that the right thing to do? Well, let me ask you this, when was the last time the right thing to do and the easiest thing to do were ever the same.

Later – the sports dude.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at 3:21 PM

Joey Harrington - his career as a cliche'.

So, here you have it, Joey Harrington the nice guy off the field versus Joey Harrington the lousy QB on the field, what do you do? Do you keep giving the guy chance after blown chance, opportunity after missed opportunity, or do you simply just wash your hands of it and say enough is enough? I mean at what point does “niceness” and “this guy really cares about winning” just get thrown out the window for the simple fact that “we dropped the ball on this guy, he really is just a bust?” Look, I know that I have never been a Joey backer and I hope the majority of you out there are now seeing why, but I really wanted him to do decent this year. The sad thing is that is all we needed for him to be, decent, and he has not even come close to that! The reason why I was simply asking for decent is because now it means a wasted first round pick and another “fresh start” at what has become a never ending QB carousel for the Lions.

Look, for those of you that may not have realized this, I bleed maize and blue and there is a reason I bring this up. My father in law, bless his ever aching heart, is the same way about the Lions, he bleeds Honolulu Blue. Point being I remember on that day a few years backs his joy and merriment when the Lions drafted one Joseph Harrington, the Lions savior and QB of the future! Even to this day I still bring it up to him, kind of like rubbing salt in an already gashing wound, that I knew then drafting him was a mistake. I pointed out the fact that he came from a conference that plays defense, especially in the secondary, like some form of swiss cheese. I remember pointing out to him that for all those flashy numbers he put up in college were against some of the worst defenses ever known to college athletics. Come on people, do you really think that the Pac-10’s bread and butter is their defensive prowess? Hell no, look at USC, it is for its run and gun, spread offense and reckless abandon! I mean, look at the guy who was QB before Joey Harrington at Oregon, does Akili Smith ring a bell? The point is Joey had bust written all over him before he even took a snap in the NFL. By the way, and off track a little here but it goes along with my ripping of the Pac-10, if any of you think Matt Leinart is going to be a good QB in the pros, you are fooled once again. That guy is not going to be anything in the NFL and will follow the paths of Tim Couch, David Carr, Gino Toretta, Akili Smith, Jason White, Andre Ware and now one Joseph Harrington. I’m sorry, I have said it before and I will say it again, if you have inflated numbers in college against deflated defenses you are not going to have a very good chance of making it in the NFL. Some do, and please see Carson Palmer in Cincy for an example, but even in college scouts questioned Joey’s precision and efficiency.

The next point is this whole thing about how he is such a nice guy and how he cares so much and how he is trying. Look, people who know me will say I am one of the nicest guys in the world, yes they honestly do! But just because I am a nice guy doesn’t mean I am going to be successful, even decent, at everything I do. Crap, just because I am a nice guy doesn’t mean I can walk into an airport and say “Hey, I am a nice guy, can I go fly that plane over there? I mean, I played this video game once and was good at that, so I should be able to fly that 747. Oh, by the way, did I mention I am a nice guy?” I have no idea how to fly a plane, how to be a chemical engineer, or how to play an NFL QB (although I do play a mean game of Madden!) and just because I am a nice guy, a sweetheart, doesn’t mean that I should be given a chance to do so. The problem with Joey is that he has not been given only one chance; he is on about his fourth or fifth chance here people! All the niceness in the world, all the charity in the Metro Area, all the “Blue Skies” aside it does not transcend into winning on the football field, leading a team to victory and getting them to some meaningful games in January! This is not a personal attack on Joey, if he is the same guy he shows us publicly as he is privately that is great, he really does seem like a nice guy. But I could care less if he was an asshole, as long as he is winning games then so be it! Not that I necessarily want an asshole or cancer on a team I root for, but at the end of the day the results on the football field are what matters most. That is why I hate all these people who say that “Joey doesn’t fit the blue collar mentality of this sports town that is why he is booed”, that to me is just total bullshit. The guy is booed because he is last in the NFL in QB rating, because he is 16-33 as a starter and because he sucks! I guarantee you that if this guy was winning there wouldn’t be boos because he is nice, because he plays piano, it has nothing to do with his “niceness” that causes the boos! The niceness is not what is getting booed here people, it is the level at which he plays and that level is found somewhere at the bottom of a landfill. So people please stop “pimping” him as a nice guy who is not getting a fair shake, or saying that he is only getting booed because he plays piano, I promise those things would be overlooked if he were winning. Jamaal Lewis gets busted for selling drugs, Ray Lewis goes on trial for murder, those guys are clearly assholes and their issues are overlooked because they are successful NFL players. The bottom line is he is not winning and, nice or not, results are what we want and with him we are definitely not getting any.

I would also like to bring up the people out there that keep saying that he has never had talent around him, an offensive line around him, or a scheme to benefit him. Those are excuses and after four years of saying those things they need to stop. There are plenty of pieces around him to make something work, but the bottom line is he is not getting it done on the field or, more importantly, in the huddle. The offensive line this year has not played up to potential, I will give you that, Raiola is an undersized center and Backus is having the worst year of his career. But even last year when the offensive line was gelling, even when it was playing well he was mediocre at best. The past two years he has had a decent core of receivers to throw to, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Marcus Pollard, Kevin Johnson, but he still has a problem getting the ball to them in stride. For every one good pass he throws it seems that there are another six or seven that leave you scratching your head and saying “how could he miss that throw?” His constant check downs, his misreads, his errant passes, the list goes on and on. “Well, what about the dropped passes” is one of the questions that you Joey supporters like to throw out there. Did any of you ever think that those passes are dropped simply because the receivers are surprised that he actually put one where it belongs? I mean if I were a receiver and I constantly had to stretch out for a pass, go behind me for a pass or leap three feet in the air to make a catch, it might catch me off guard if my QB suddenly put one right on the numbers. Yes I know receivers at this level are suppose to catch a pass if it hits them anywhere in the hands, but if your hands were always going way in front, way in back or down towards the ground, one that was actual put where it is supposed to be may catch you off guard as well. He has lost the trust of the offense, the defensive players are now even jumping on him, there just is no more this guy can do. Niceness only gets you so far, it is time skills were taken into consideration as well.

“Fine there sports dude, but what about the offensive scheme, the coach and his lack of trust in the QB, shouldn’t that be taken into consideration?” Sure they should and I do not doubt that these are things that affect Joey as well, but do you really expect Mooch to suddenly change? I like Mooch, I really do, and I think given the opportunity to do things with this offense with a QB he can trust might actually turn into some winning football in these parts. Joey has had four years to grasp the offense and he has shown little or no progression in it at all, in fact it has been just the opposite. I mean after four years, don’t you think he should grasp some of it even decently (which is all we need!) as opposed to the constant downward spiral he is in? There has been no advancement and all I keep hearing is how this is a “dummied down” version of the offense that they run. Four years and this is a dummied down version, three years of it with Mooch? What the hell else can we do for this guy, start calling pop warner plays? Street football plays? There is no way this guy can succeed in this scheme and I doubt, for that matter, he will ever succeed anywhere in this league as a starter. I also don’t want to hear anymore about the lack of talent and support around him, it is a lame ass excuse at best. There is a little known guy in New England by the name of Tom Brady, have any of you ever heard of him? You know, the QB who until last year never had a real running game but still won two Super Bowls before Corey Dillon came along. You know the guy who has now won three Super Bowls with a bunch of #2 and #3 receivers, at best, that he is throwing to week in and week out. A guy who came in for an injured Drew Bledsoe and took the Patriots to the Super Bowl in his first year as a starter, HIS FIRST YEAR AS A STARTER! Do you really think Belichick dummied down his offense for Tom Brady to the point where a first grader could understand it? I am not a fool, I am sure there were some things removed for Brady’s sake, but not to the point where it was dummied down, maybe more likely watered down. The point is even a decent QB with minimal skills can succeed and Joey is clearly neither of those things.

So where does this leave us now? I hinted at it on Monday and I will say it here again, it comes down to signing a decent veteran in the off season (Jon Kitna or maybe retaining Garcia if he has two years left in the tank, which I doubt!) and sitting Orlovsky and telling him to simply watch and learn. It is apparent the Lions are high on Orlovsky and from what I saw in the preseason it seems he has the makings of a decent QB which is again all we need. Make no mistake about it, the Joey Harrington soap opera has officially run its course and will be cancelled as soon as humanly possible. In other words whenever one Jeff Garcia is deemed fit enough to go back under center. It could be this weekend at Cleveland, but something tells me the Lions will just ride out the storm this Sunday and give Garcia one extra week. But come October 30th the Lions will reshape their roster, moving Garcia into the starting line up, promoting Orlovsky to #2 on the depth chart and relocating Joey to the sidelines where he belongs, getting towels and Gatorades for his team mates and holding a clipboard. Is that the long term answer? No, it really is not, it is a sad ending to a story that never should have taken place. Garcia should at least have enough left in the tank to help the Lions win the weak division they are in, but will do little for their never ending saga at finding a “QB for the future.” Maybe with Orlovsky they won’t make the same mistakes and I hope for all of us people who are still willing to call ourselves Lions fans they won’t. The only thing that is certain in all of this is the old cliché “nice guys always finish last.” In Joey’s case he clearly is a nice guy and undoubtedly is going to finish his career here last on that depth chart. Later – the sports dude.

Monday, October 17, 2005 at 10:47 AM

Monday Morning QB - feeling lucky edition.

Yes, the post header says it all, feeling a little lucky today! How else can I feel? A last second loss to Wisconsin, a last second loss to Minnesota, why not think this was going to be the same? The damn play actually happened so fast I thought it was a loss, I missed the damn catch! I saw Henne throw to a spot and I saw no one there when he released it, Manningham had yet to make his slant. I turned around, threw my arms up in the air and cursed under my breathe - the kids were in the other room watching cartoons, had to curse that way! Then, a split second later I hear the announcers yell "TOUCHDOWN!" and I turn to see a wave of maize and blue rushing to the center of the field. It wasn't until they slowed it down and showed the replay that I actually allowed it to sink in. All I can say is that it was nice for those kids to get a break to go their way for a change because if they would have lost that game there wouldn't even be a Motor City Bowl to joke about, it would literally have been over.

The Spartans, on the other hand, just had all the air sucked out of them at the end of the first half, there was no way they could recover from that. I am not a football elitist, although I pretend to be, but what I saw at the end of the first half even surprised me. I saw Stanton rallying the offense to get together for a quick spike, his arm was even in motion to let the players know that is what he wanted to do, and all of a sudden here comes the kicker out on the field. All I could think was "What the ..." and you all can fill in the blanks any way you choose! I would have loved to have seen Stantons' face when he looked up, mid motion for the spike, and saw the kicking team coming out on the field. It was probably a look of "What the ...." Again, fill in that blank any way you choose. There was just no life left in those kids in the second half and it is a damn shame, they would have won that game no doubt. They were playing better, had all the momentum in their favor and, even if Goss would have missed the field goal, been up 17-3 at the half. John L. said it best as he was running off the field, "That's a dang coaching mistake, the kids are playing their tail off and the coaches are screwing it up!" Couldn't have said it any better coach, I wouldn't want to be that coaching staff this week, I think they are going to get more abuse from John L. than the players.

Lastly, the Lions - I am not even going to touch this one! Let's put it this way, Lions defense 14, Jason Hanson 6, Joey Crappington 0. I mean, Chris Weinke, Mr. Heisman bust himself, who has not thrown a pass in two seasons, comes in and looks better than Joey has all season! No more, and if anyone even tries to defend Joey, get a grip and stop fooling yourself. I am tired of the no offensive line excuses, I am tired of the no receivers excuses, the bottom line is he is not getting it done. That was his last start at Ford Field, barring injury, this season. He will get one half, which he doesn't deserve, at Cleveland, Garcia will come in and Joey will be dropped to #3 on the depth chart. The dude is done, what a waste! Look, I said it before and I will say it again, I really wanted him to do well this year because as he goes the Lions go, but the dude is not a NFL caliber QB. I wish he would have succeeded because this now means that next season we have to start all over again. We will sign an aging veteran (with more left in the tank than Garcia!) to run the show for a year or two and let Orlovsky sit, watch and learn. We are back at square one as another top five pick goes to waste (the other is Charlie Rogers, who also has bust written all over him! Or is that pot?), what a damn shame. But the cat has been given more chances than a whore at a bachelor party and he is clearly regressing not progressing one bit. The cat is done, period, point blank and end of story. If he even starts anymore games after Cleveland I will never watch another Lions game this year. Pack his bags and get him and his piano the hell out of town!

The good news, besides U of M finally catching a break, is that I saved a bundle on my car insurance! Just kidding, but I do have some exciting news. I was able to get tickets to the Aerosmith concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills this weekend, I had a nice little password given to me from Ticketmaster for the weekend presale! Got four tickets, going to the show on December 15th and am looking forward to Lenny Kravitz as the opener as well! Damn, I really am happy, because seeing how they are all older than dirt, or the Red Wings roster for that much, (all right, I had to get one shot in!) you just never know when they may drop dead or just call it quits. They are, in my opinion at least, the greatest AMERICAN rock and roll band of all time. I stress AMERICAN because there are some good bands from England (please see the Stones, Zepplin and Beatles for reference) that are pretty good too. But my nod there goes to the Stones, mainly for longevity sake, but the Beatles are a close second.

All right, enough babble, later me hearties! I am out like Joey Harringtons' career in Detroit, peace - the sports dude.

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