Tuesday, January 26, 2010

15 seconds of shame

This video has been making the rounds for a few days now, ever since the NFC championship game.

It's certainly funny, and raw and more real than a lot of fake drama which gets passed off as entertainment.

But I've been thinking about this and I really have to wonder: why was this tape made?

What I mean is, why was this woman videotaping her husband and daughter watching a football game? Did she videotape the whole thing and just post this short clip? Did she know, as so many of us did, that Favre was gonna blow it as only Favre could, and intentionally start videotaping them at the end of the game? Alternatively, was she hoping to catch her families reaction to a Super Bowl clinching FG only to have disaster strike? Or was this just whimsy and random chance?

I'm asking these questions not to the individuals who made and posted this particular tape, but in a more general sense. Why was this video made and posted?

There are a lot of videos like this online now. More get made and posted every year. Have we advanced (if that's the right word?) to the point where more and more people are willing, even happy, to put their lives on camera and show it to the world, if for no other reason than the fact that they can?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Offseason: RFA's part 2

Here's where things get really interesting. Barring a new CBA, these five will be RFAs this year:

WR Malcom Floyd
WR Vincent Jackson
OT Marcus McNeill
OLB Shawne Merriman
RB Darren Sproles

Lets start at the top. Floyd will be back, probably given a first round tender (per Kevin Acee). Maybe they sign a long term deal, but I think that only happens if Jackson somehow gets away.

Speaking of Jackson, he had his third arrest on Sunday before the game. Nothing too serious, but it is his third strike (or a least, a foul tip). He's a funny guy to figure out: (almost) totally selfless on the field (flag kicking aside), a huge producer, a game changer. Apparently an idiot off the field, at least sometimes. I don't see him getting away, and I think there's good odds on him getting a long term contract. Worst case, a first and third round tender.

McNeill must stay. Must must must. It would be idiotic to give your franchise player 90+ million and build the offense around him and then not give him what he needs to succeed. What he needs is McNeill, or another Pro-Bowl left tackle, and there aren't that many of them around. Hopefully this can be a long term deal for Marcus. He's one of my favorite players, and he deserves to get paid after out performing his second round rookie contract. Seriously, this guy made less in 4 years than a lot of guys make in 4 games, and I wouldn't blame him for wanting to be rewarded generously. I think it will happen. At the very least he gets a franchise tag.

Merriman... this is going to be interesting. His sack production was way down this year as he battled injuries (again), and there is not so secret tension between him and management. Still, he was productive at times, he's getting healthier, and at worst he's an above average OLB. I have to think his market value has declined considerably, so maybe there is a chance of an affordable long term deal (assuming AJ even wants him back). Acee thinks a franchise tag will be used to retain him, and I agree that seems like the most probably outcome.

Finally, Sproles. This is a tough call, and its a tough spot for him. Last year he was an UFA and the Chargers tagged him. So really becoming a RFA is a step backwards for him, which doesn't really seem fair at all (cue violin for guy making 6 million a year to play a game). Still, he is protected by the RFA rules. If the Chargers put an RFA tender on him, he's guaranteed 110% of last year's salary, which will be over 7 million. I just don't see that happening, even for him. I think he's either going to get a long term deal done, or he'll be tagged and traded or allowed to walk. Hopefully AJ and Sproles can see the value of their situation. He fits so well into this offense and is such a weapon.

All in all its a lot to figure out, let alone predict how someone else will figure out. My instinct tells me that all these guys will be back next year for another run.

Offseason: RFAs part 1

I already discussed the Chargers current UFA situation. Now things get really interesting. Here are the list of Free Agents to be (or not to be). These guys will be RFAs if a new CBA is not approved. This means that the Chargers will be able to put various tenders on them if they so choose.

ILB Tim Dobbins
DT Antonio Garay
C Eric Ghiaciuc
WR Malcom Floyd
OLB Marques Harris
WR Vincent Jackson
DL Travis Johnson
OT Marcus McNeill
OLB Shawne Merriman
LB Dontarrious Thomas
RB Darren Sproles
QB Charlie Whitehurst

In addition, Jeromy Clary is an RFA no matter what, and Tolbert and Applewhite will be exclusive rights free agents. I predict all three will be offered contracts, though that doesn't guarantee they survive training camp.

Wow. Quite a list. Lets start with the relatively easy ones:

Ghiacuic and Thomas are the lowest priority. I have no idea about their retention, but I wouldn't bet on it if all the injured players come back.

Harris is only slightly higher on the list. I doubt he's retained. Tucker and Applewhite are coming back, and I fell certain that AJ will be targeting yet another OLB in the draft.

Garay has a better chance, but with Jamal, Bingham and OG coming back there will be no room for him. Maybe they retain him through camp, but I don't see Bolts in his future.

Dobbins is an interesting case. As a good special teamer and decent backup linebacker, he's probably retained. Since he was a 5th round draft pick the Bolts might put a slightly higher tender on him, perhaps a 2nd round tender.

Travis Johnson is similar to Dobbins. There might not be room for him next year, but he did play reasonably well. He was a first rounder, so I suspect they'll put a low tender on him if they do retain him.

Whitehurst will get the lowest tender if retained, since no one is likely to give up a 3rd rounder for him. Hard to say what they'll do here. They must like the guy, but he's clearly not the QB of the future, and probably not even the backup of the future. Volek has only 1 year left on his contract, so they might let Charlie walk and try to draft another QB to groom as a future backup.

That's it for the "easy" guys. The other 5 are going to need their own post. As for these 7, I think AJ brings back 4 at most, assuming successful injury recoveries from all the guys who were out this year.

Offseason: UFAs

Well, its been 3 days. The season has not risen again. Time to move on.

First order of business: Free Agency!

Well, not quite. The first order of business is to determine whether or not there is going to be a CBA and a salary cap this year. All signs point to no, though its entirely possible, probably even, that the deadline will be pushed back in order to give the owners and the union more time to hammer out an accord. This is what happened last time they were negotiating a new agreement. I think there is going to be a lot of pressure from the 200+ players who may miss their shot at unrestricted free agency this year to get a deal done, even if that means a smaller total pot of revenue for salaries. Its actually an interesting bit of game theory, but now's not the time for that discussion.

Its always tough to figure out what AJ is going to do with regards to free agency and retaining personnel. But I won't let that stop me from wild, baseless speculation!

Per the North County Times, here is the Chargers list of Unrestricted Free Agents to Be. This means that all of these guys are free to come back, provided the team wants them, or to go to any other team they get a better offer from regardless of the CBA situation.

DT Alfonso Boone
TE Brandon Manumaleuna
C Dennis Norman
WR Kassim Osgood
DT Ian Scott
TE Kris Wilson
RT Jon Runyan

Kassim has pissed off AJ enough and made his displeasure with his role (and paycheck) known, so he's likely gone for good. Runyan says he's going to retire and run for Congress. Norman might be retained as insurance in case Moose can't recover, but I think he's a long shot to make the team next year and he probably knows that too.

Scott, Boone, Manu and Wilson are all interesting. AJ won't pay any of them top dollar, but I think he will see the value in retaining at least one of the TEs and one of the NTs. Which pair he would target is unknown (or maybe he'll have to take what he can get). Manu is great as a blocker but hasn't given much to the passing game. Wilson came on as a special teamer and occasional receiving threat, but I suspect his value is higher for other teams who will pay accordingly. Also, I suspect that AJ will draft another tight end of the future, meaning that there might not be room for both of these guys in the fall.

Bottom line, from this group of 7 we might get back 5 at most, more likely 2-4. If I had to guess, I'd say that Manu and Scott have the best chance of wearing bolts next year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Challenges and Changes

Time of Death: 1:01, 4th Quarter.

Rigor Mortis is setting in, so let's get that body up on the table and do the post mortem.

The 2009 Chargers season was ultimately a disappointment. There were a lot of high points, including several wild finishes and big wins over good teams. An 11 game winning streak. Players we know and love reaching new heights. Rivers continuing to become an elite QB. Marcus McNeil having a strong year protecting the blind side, which had a direct correlation with Rivers's success. Gates, Jackson, Floyd and Nanee resurrecting Air Coryell. Several pro bowlers. One, apparently cursed, First Team All-Pro.

And of course, there was LT. 12 more TDs this year. Fastest ever to 150 TDS. Passing a number of greats, including the Immortal Jim Brown, on the all time rushing list. The cheesiest, funnest music video I've seen in a long time.

The season was one of challenges. How to replace Igor, Bingham and Jamal on the D-line? Who to replace Hart and Chambers after they were cut? How to replace Hardwick after he went down in the first game? How would they come back from 3 1/2 games down, after a pair of humiliating losses, and take back their division? How would they even make the playoffs?

Ron Rivera did an admirable job putting together a hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense after injuries ravaged his players. It didn't generate a ton of pressure or turnovers. It didn't stand up to the run all the time. It was held together with athletic tape and happy thoughts. But somehow they managed to be just good enough to propel the team to 13-3. I think its also fair to say that the defense, with the exception of one painful play, played pretty damn well yesterday.

There were a lot of games this year where Chargers fans had to seriously wonder going in how the Bolts were going to manage. How to handle the speed and explosiveness of the Eagles? How to go into Denver and wrestle away the division? How to stop the Dallas running game? How to handle the New York pass rush? How to deal with a physically punishing and emotionally fired up Bengals team? They passed all these tests, but ultimately failed the final exam.

Norv did a good job this year. Ultimately the failure rests on him, but hopefully he can learn from this as they all need to and be better moving forward.

Its just a game, and I know how silly it seems that sports should effect people at all, especially people who aren't even part of the team. Even if they had gone all the way this year, none of us would be getting Super Bowl Rings and Cristal showers. But still, this is rough. I've not been deprived of titles in my life as a sports fan, but the Chargers are my favorite team in my favorite sport playing in my favorite city. I wanted a Super Bowl for them. I wanted it for the city of San Diego. I wanted it for the franchise. I wanted it for all the players we love and coaches we love to hate.

But most of all, I wanted it for LT. He's given so much to the team and its fans, and the only thing he ever wanted was to win a Super Bowl for them. Its sad to think that the probabilities are strongly against him ever getting to play in the Super Bowl, and the odds are probably even longer against him doing it for the Bolts.

Things get pretty blurry from here, complicated by a large free agent class which might not actually exist, depending on a CBA which will probably not exist. The salary cap is likely coming off this year, which could be a blessing or a curse depending on how the Chargers play it. The Chargers have 6 draft picks currently, are 28th in the order, and are unlikely to get much help from supplemental picks.

At this point the only thing we can say for certain is that there will be changes. And, as always, more challenges ahead.

Arlington or Bust.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Outage: Remix

I'm not sure how I forgot it in my previous post, but no set of uplifting words in a time of defeat would be complete without the wisdom of Python.


Well, that sucked. We've seen this movie before, and its always true that sequeals are worse than the originals. In this case the original was awful, meaning that the sequel is really bad.

Its sad. Its frustrating. Its really bad when you stop to realize that a number of our favorite core players are probably not going to be around next year for a number of reasons. Its especially bad considering the grim possibilities of an uncapped year and a potential lockout down the road.

Of course, its just a game. The sun will rise tomorrow.

A few words of encouragement may help. The first is from a very wise woman:

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory!

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

That's the poet Emily Dickinson. I doubt she knew or cared much of football, but her words ring true.

The next words come from a very wise man.

93 days till the draft.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Badvertising: Avatrailer

I finally saw Avatar today. I went despite knowing basically the whole storyline (and knowing that the storyline was hackneyed and lame). Normally I don't go to crappy movies just for the visual effects, because most just aren't that great no matter how much they spend on CGI and C4, but with all the buzz Avatar has gotten I knew I had to see it on the big screen just to experience it.

The results were... kinda underwhelming. Mostly I felt like i was watching a cartoon, which I basically was. Then there's the boring story, the super heavy handed bitch slap of an allegory, tons of logical problems, plot holes and a nice topping of Deux ex Machina.

But really, Avatar isn't a movie, its a spectacle, so its not worth thinking too hard about. Instead, I feel like ripping into something even less entertaining than the movie itself: the crappy trailers for even crappier movies which I was forced to endure. Lets dive right in:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Oh Pierce Brosnan. How far you have fallen. You were James freaking Bond! One of the good Bonds, even in the crapfest "Die Another Day". How did it come to this?

I give this movie (based on some books, apparently) credit. The writer clearly didn't want to be accused of making a giant "Harry Potter" ripoff, so they made the main character not wear glasses. Totally different. Good thing its probably gonna flop badly at the box office, because that means there won't be any monetary reason for JK Rowling to sue. Of course, she's super rich anyway, so maybe she'll do it just to punish them for their audacity. Here's hoping.

Knight and Day

I can't embed this next video, so you'll have to got to Youtube to see it.

What the hell is this crap? Would the studio not green light another "Mission Impossible" title? The action is cheesy and there is no apparent story, which can't bode well for it. Tom Cruise, you don't have to be an action star anymore.


Lame. And that hairpiece looks awful on Angelina Jolie.

Despicable Me

This one doesn't seem so bad actually, but maybe we just don't see enough to tell what the actual story is. Based on the animation, I first thought it was a sequel to "The Incredibles". The only real criticism I have of this trailer is the time wasted listing all the names of the voice actors. In most cases I just don't care who a voice actor is, even when I actually know who the hell the actor is, which I don't for about half of these. I guarantee kids don't care either, so its especially weird considering this looks like a kids movie. Not really a great marketing choice.

Shrek 4 Ever After

You listen to me Dreamworks: leave my Shrek alone! Stop squeezing the life out of it!

At least they say this will be the final chapter, which is a good sign. And it was great to see Donkey finally get some waffles.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

LT Slide!

We are in strange and dangerous territory here people!

The most I have been able to find out is that there is a sketch comedy duo, Tim and Eric, who apparently make cheesy videos like this. They are the two goofy looking white guys in this video. How LT came into contact with them, and how he was convinced to dress up and help make this crime against music, fashion and good taste is beyond me. Though from the look of things, it didn't take much convincing to get LT on board with the project.

We better win now. For the love of God we better win, cause its the only way LT will ever justify this sequel to the Super Bowl Shuffle. Bring on the JETS!

UPDATE: I think there is a simpler explanation. This is probably a Nike viral ad. Everyone in the video is wearing the same shoes, all Nike, and the swoosh is on those footballs as well. The video is posted on youtube by someone called "Raiderssuck760" who has no previous youtube postings. (They also claim to be 30 years old... could this be LT himself?!?) But the biggest giveaway is that this song is playing on the radio in LTs car in his famous Kimbo Slice commercial from last year. Listen carefully to the beginning of the ad:

If this is a commercial, it doesn't do anything for my desire to buy Nike. It does, however, make me love LT even more than before!