Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tebow Should Join Manziel in Cleveland

Tim Tebow has been out of the league for nearly a full calendar year after his release from Patriots camp in 2013.  Still, he remains a topic of discussion from those that completely discount him as a quarterback in the NFL to those that believe he could be a Super Bowl winning quarterback.  There is not much middle ground with Tim Tebow, you either love him or hate him... as a quarterback.  Most people that hate him as a quarterback back-up that disdain by adding that one can not question he is a great young man, Christian and role model.  Well, the atheist and agnostic may hate him, but that's for another day.  This article is about football.  And where better to take it than to the hottest sports town in America.  None other than Cleveland.  Yes, Cleveland!

The re-addition of Lebron James to Cleveland took the circus of Johnny Manziel and escalated it into the most talked about sports city for these couple months.  The fact the Browns are on ESPN regularly is all due to Johnny Football.  Manziel has invigorated, and infuriated with his antics, a fan base that has been great for many years but their barks have been kept quiet by a poorly ran football franchise that has lacked talent since the team was brought back into the NFL in 1999.  Since the re-inception of the Browns, there has been only one playoff appearance and two winning seasons in 14 seasons.  Only the Buffalo Bills can claim a longer playoff drought than Cleveland but at least the Bills have been competitive on a year-in and year-out basis since the turn of the century.  But hope and excitement has sprung eternal with the addition of Manziel in Cleveland.

Manziel brings a very flashy, look-at-me bravado to a city that is old and run down.  Cleveland may rock to Drew Carey and the handful of people that really love the city, but most people claim to be from a suburb of Cleveland rather than the city.  Manziel put Cleveland on the map again and Lebron made it a destination spot.  Yes, you'll probably see Drake hanging out in Cleveland since he clings to the coat tails of the most popular thing out there but still Cleveland is a run down city that is only trumped by Detroit for large cities with highest percent of low income residents.  But it's a city that supports their Browns and ticket prices (on the secondary marker) and ticket sales have increased since Manziel was drafted.

While Manziel is not yet the starter and there is an open competition, there is no doubt Johnny Manziel will be given a chance at some point.  While Brian Hoyer may be the hometown good ol' boy and it's a great story, you don't draft a quarterback without the plan for him to eventually be your starter.  Hoyer is limited athletically and makes bad decisions with the ball, i.e. interceptions, that plagued him while at Michigan State and have in his light NFL work.  While Hoyer may start the season unless the Browns take advantage of one of the NFL's easiest schedules, the pining for Manziel will soon follow in Cleveland like it did for Tim Tebow in Denver in 2011. 

So the question is why do Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow fit in Cleveland?  First, Manziel's style of play is completely different than Brian Hoyer, it's more geared towards being able to use his athleticism to keep defenses on their toes and allow for the secondary to cheat forward to help contain the scrambling ability of Johnny Football.  It is a style that is very familiar to Tebow fans.  The Browns additionally have Tyler Thigpen and Connor Shaw at quarterback.  Tyler Thigpen is a veteran that fits the bill of what Manziel and Tebow do as quarterbacks by opening up their passing game with the dangers of their running ability.  So, other than Hoyer, the Browns have a roster set up to run a more "athletic" offense than what Hoyer is used to.

Next, the Browns are built to run and have a coaching staff that is set up in the same way.  First year head coach Mike Pettine is a defensive minded coach that led the Bills in 2013 and Jets prior to that as defensive coordinators to Top 10 defensive rankings in each of his five seasons as a defensive coordinator.  It is common knowledge a defensive minded coach likes an offense that controls the ball a ton and/or puts up big number so the defense plays with a lead and can pin their ears back.  Additionally, Pettine brought in Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator and Dowell Loggains as his quarterbacks coach.  Shanahan showed the ability to think outside of the box with his handling of Robert Griffin III in Washington.  Dowell Loggains allowed Jake Locker to run the ball when the field didn't open up for a passing lane and prior to his injury, Locker had led the Titans to a 3-1 start.  The only issue with both quarterbacks that these two men led and the question mark with Manziel and any system that is a read-option geared offense is: Can a player in that system sustain that sort of abuse at the NFL level?  Right now, it's still inconclusive but with depth at a position, you can run the read-option system Manziel would thrive in without worrying what happens if he gets hurt.  The 49ers sustained an injury to their athletic quarterback in Alex Smith and it allowed a Super Bowl run with Colin Kaepernick who was a more athletic playmaker.   Tebow and Griffin III both made playoff appearances using running offenses that thrived on eating clock and not turning over the ball by using the quarterbacks rushing/scrambling ability to do so.  The Browns will eventually go all-in on that type of offense and do the same.

So why do the Browns need to add the Jesus circus Tim Tebow brings with him?  After all as many will point out, Tebow:
  • Doesn't have good footwork
  • Throwing mechanics are flawed
  • Can't read a defense
  • Favorite receiver is the ground
  • Completion percentage is awful
The fact is, Tim Tebow showed an ability to do well in an offense geared to his strengths and at least do what was needed to keep his game in contention and with a lot of excitement and wins.  An offense similar to what Shanahan drew up in Washington is that sort of offense Tebow would make a great back-up in.  A guy that can help eat clock, fill-in when an injury happens and not make bad mistakes that eventually could lead to a victory.

No matter what I read and hear experts saying Manziel is not Tebow, they are wishing because Manziel is a slighter version of Tim Tebow with the same propensity to scramble and make plays first.  He's not going to be a pocket passer.  He's not going to be molded to be a Hoyer type.  He's not going to put the team on his arm like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning but put them on his legs and back.  It's what made Tebow dangerous when his lack of being able to "look like an NFL quarterback" got ignored and he was just allowed to lead his team. 

So again, why should you pair Manziel and Tebow?  The playing style of Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow is going to take double the punishment they did in college.  There are at least four more games a season in the pros and the speed and violence is a whole other level than college where a gifted athlete can take almost take a break against the slower, less talented teams that the SEC schedules three times a year.  So by having clones of quarterbacks, you allow your starter to take those hits and replace him for a series, quarter or game if they get injured.  In this situation, your offense isn't devastated when your starting quarterback goes down as it is when you run one system and don't have a similar quarterback that can run it.  Bringing in Tebow allows you to have three quarterbacks, with Tyler Thigpen, that can run the same offense without the need to switch offenses mid-season.  Having Tebow would do two huge things, create an even bigger circus in Cleveland and garner more attendance and attention and it would allow Tebow to develop his game while being a back-up to Manziel.  Tebow is what you want in a back-up quarterback as a coach, someone you can just say "go make plays and try to get us a win."

As you'll note, nothing has been pointed into bringing in Tebow to help calm Johnny Manziel's partying down or for Tebow to be his mentor.  Tebow is not meant to be a babysitter and trying to calm Johnny will just make him act out more, as is proven with someone that pushes rules already.  Tebow will force Johnny Football to focus on football and keep him from supplanting him during a game because Manziel is more focused on what he is doing that night.  Manziel is the rich boy that has too much fun and is on the Todd Maronivich path with just expecting to have things his way.  A hard working, good Christian boy that takes some of the attention off Manziel will either make Manziel focus harder or have no effect.  One thing it will do is bring a good work ethic and love of football that Manziel shares.  Tebow is filled with humbleness and maybe some of his humble pie can be fed to Manziel.  No matter what comes of Manziel, Tebow makes for a good fit as a back-up to help if Manziel goes down and to bring in a player the league has only kept away due to two major reasons; his circus being larger than their own starting quarterback and a team's unwillingness to run an offense that differs from the status quo of the league.  Cleveland appears geared to run an offense that is catered to Manziel with the staff they have and having another person to fit it can only help the Browns.  Plus, Tebow's cult following can only continue to raise the popularity meter of Cleveland sports.  It's time for Johnny Football and Touchdown Timmy to combine forces to take Cleveland to the promise land they have missed so often this century, the playoffs!

Friday, July 25, 2014

When Sports Comedy Isn't Funny... (aka Drew Soicher, Colin Daniels, etc...)

I have spent few days reading a lot about three stories that have been the talk in Denver sports radio:
  • Michael Sam's sexuality/Tony Dungy comments
  • Pat Bowlen's Alzheimer's
  • Ray Rice Suspension
I am guilty of trying to make light of situations with comedy and have learned many times that it isn't always appropriate to add comedy to something.  Typically it's my wife reminding me I take things too far and at times, she is very right.  I have learned a lot from her (and others) telling me this more than once in my life.  I can tell you after reading people's thoughts on all three of these items, I completely get when something has been taken too far.  Unfortunately people like Colin Daniels and Drew Soicher have taken it too far. 

Local Denver sports blogger and wannabe expert Colin Daniels, co-founder of South Stands Denver, made light of the Broncos Super Bowl loss by stating "Hopefully Pat can't remember that Super Bowl".  He also correlated Tony Dungy's takes on Michael Sam being a distraction he wouldn't have wanted as a coach to Dungy's son's suicide years ago and "Maybe Tony Dungy's son was gay".  Daniel's website and twitter page has regularly called out local sports media for the things they have said that are insensitive but his play at humor and bad jokes needs to be questioned as well.  He regularly has been on 94.1 FM Mile High Sports and even had a fantasy football show during last season and is a fill-in and regular on Thursday's on the very talented Renaud Notaro's 6-7 p.m. show, but he should be held to the same standards he holds his "colleagues" of the Denver radio/print/TV sports media.

This all ties into the main culprit that has drawn Denver football fan and people who have dealt with Alzheimers, Drew Soicher.  Soicher has spent 14 years having to record his sports segments and bits.  His awful Drew's Clues, Bobbleheads and pre-recorded stories show his lack of sports knowledge and the circus 9News has allowed him to make Denver Sports.  Well , that and the joke it has made of it as evident by his 9 News Bio and "sports" segments.  His comments during last nights newscast may be the last straw for Denver Broncos Country when he said "So much talk about Alzheimers at Broncos training camp that I keep checking mye roster to see if that's a new player on the team." Video Courtesy of Shawn Drotar  Denver's 9 News is the Home of the Broncos and it's started to raise a ton of ire from this comment.

Ray Rice's suspension brought up the regular fire it had previously but it was then tied into and compared to marijuana/alcohol/drug suspensions that Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon face.  These are two totally different issues with the NFL.  I believe anything that harms or could potentially harm another/other people over ones self should be penalized far greater.  Unfortunately the NFL's law, aka Roger Goodell's reasoning, is clear as mud for domestic abuse, violence, weapons charges, etc. while having a set action against drugs.  It also doesn't separate a recreational drug/alcohol from sports enhancing drugs.  Goodell and the players association need to modify this in the collective bargaining agreements.  Instead of shunning a player and banishing them from their team, get them treatment for drugs.  In the case of violence and other issues not in the CBA, spell it out so players know there is more emphasis put on criminal activities, even ones that don't go through the court of law.  If there is evidence and facts, spell it out.  But I digress and read media members and others take this suspension and make humor of it saying, "thank goodness Rice didn't kill her, he would have got 3 games." or  "Beat up your woman-2 games, smoke pot-indefinite suspension guess it's better to beat your wife than it is to smoke pot or drink."  I also hear Stephen A. Smith tell women Don't Do Anything to Provoke wrong actions.  This sounds like a bad Dr. Dre song to me.  We all have heated arguments/discussion or been "provoked" in life and instead of taking it to physical abuse; we walk/drive away, calm ourselves down, back up a bit and keep arguing but calm things down.  We don't snap and assault someone because we've been provoked as Rice and his girlfriend tried to play it off as. 

So what do we take from all this?!  Well, think about something before you say it, tweet it or send it out to the world and realize that sometimes bringing something so negative in life to humor isn't necessary.  Maybe it's time to show some respect for people by just shutting up and focusing on the story rather than focusing on adding to the comment section that shows how judgmental and our lack of compassion that is seen in society.  I have been saying this to myself at times, maybe others should-Don't cross the line, don't take it too far and show your fellow mankind some respect instead of using their situation to try to get a laugh. Not everything has to be so damn funny!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ESPN Denver Blows Up Format...

In the same year that it was billed top radio show by The Westword (and myself  Denver Sports Talk-For Better or Worse) ESPN Denver's The Locker Room's threesome has been destroyed by your Cousin Lou from Littleton.  Gary Miller magically disappeared without much notice or talk in early May.  Miller was well respected due to his work on CBS with Vic Lombardi and then his morning show with Vic before Lou cut the best sports radio show in Denver.

ESPN Denver's brass were back up there evil plotting like the Diabolical Mr Sinister when after two weeks of Tom Nalen's "vacationing", Nalen has joined Miller in looking through the sports classifieds for a new microphone.  The Locker Room had challenged The Drive (arguably the least fact driven show with two idiots laughing and making loud noises) and brought the listener friendly programming of Danny and Cello on Mile High Sports 94.1 into a old WWF (it's not WWE to me, sorry) Royal Rumble situation.  It appears Kreckman lost two solid sidekicks and will have to battle things out on his own or will be joining forces with a new ally.  Kreckman will succeed on his own, but the constant shake-up of his show has become tiresome.  He was radio platinum with arrogant Joel Klatt, since he was able to put a fire on his personality, and is good flying solo (The Working Man) or in a group setting but afternoon drive radio can't be sustained with a man flying solo.  This isn't KBCO or some classical music station, this is sports talk so I believe this is a TBD (to be determined) situation.  We will wait to see what format his show takes but I believe we saw a good format and tandem with Nalen's so called fill-ins.  If it were to happen it would instantly become the best tagteam a Royal Rumble has ever witnessed if "fill-in" Ron Zappolo became his constant equal instead of Kreckman's sidekick like Nalen and Miller were.  Instead of Batman and Robin it would be like two Batmans of Michael Keaton and Christian Bale fame teaming up.  Another viable option and in keeping the former NFLer angle, but with a little more mean streak and a lot more Denver sports and radio background by adding Matt McChesney.  The former Niwot Cougar, CU Buff and Denver Bronco has a strong tie-in with the local prep group with his business Six Zero Strength, radio past and sports past it makes a great twosome heading into Broncos training camp.  When McChesney and Kreckman paired it was more on subject than the show was with Nalen but still had the banter that makes a show in the afternoon work.  The Denver sports radio listeners are waiting to see what the 3-7 p.m. timeslot will look like on ESPN Denver.

That's not the only thing ESPN Denver has left Denver Sports listeners in limbo on.  The duo of CJ and Les no longer appear on the company's website and there is a noticeable time slot hole from 12-3 after national shows end at noon and Kreckman starts at 3 p.m.  CJ and Les were not good radio.  I talked to many people that just would not tune in and chose the Geriatric Power Hours over it.  It is a welcome departure and the most obvious of replacement options with football season days away is to take the caller friendly and football nut in Cecil Lammey and let him talk all things from college talent to NFL talent and the NFL.  Currently, it looks like that may be the case with Cecil on 12-3 p.m. recently.  Cecil is easily the best fantasy football guy in the Denver market and amongst the best in the country.  He has a great amount of knowledge and studies football and knows talent.  The guess is we will be Riding Shotgun with Cecil Lammey more than just on weekends and during his fill-in and spot appearances any more but seven days a week like it was for a very short while before Lou desmolished the proud local start-up of The Ticket two and a half years ago and sold (his soul) to ESPN.

One thing is for certain with these latest changes, nothing stays the same in Denver Sports Radio and the question is what's next?  Again, I believe Lou would just be best selling the last half of his soul and make ESPN Denver only be nationally syndicated to allow for a national view for all those transients and non-local sports fans to get a national take.  It would also strengthen 104.3 The Fan and 94.1 Mile High Sports and allow those two sister companies to keep battling it out with each other.  Three local takes talking over each other from noon to 6 p.m. has become crowded, mind numbing radio and watered down for many of the shows.

But to end back on point, ESPN Denver made the right move by ridding themselves of CJ and Les and featuring their strength in Cecil Lammey and Nate Kreckman.  Their next step is to add something that brings listeners back from 12-3 p.m. or keeps listeners with Kreckman.  Raj Sharan should be more featured during the winter with his good basketball background, but in the meantime it is football season and we will be listening to see what's next.
Edited: Cecil appears to be the 12-3 p.m. guy and it's a very good move for ESPN Denver and Lou from Littleton.