August 17, 2008

Time for the Cavalcade of Pre-Season Football

WITH JUST THREE WEEKS -- God! Let it get here already! -- before the start of the NFL season, it's important for fans to analyze important developments taking place in the worlds of professional and college football. This is for several reasons: one, nothing else is going on; two, it's important to see what's happening with the backups and third-stringers on a team, because you may need them; and three, nothing else is going on. So let the Cavalcade of Pre-Season Football Begin!

* HA HA! I now have the Big Ten Network! It's about time, too. I have to say that when it comes to availability of sports programming -- particularly football -- I don't care what it costs to get it. It's just a shame I can't get the NFL Sunday Ticket on cable. But now that I have the Big Ten Network, never again will I be forced to go without watching Big Ten football on television. Well, unless I'm at -- ugh -- work on Saturday.

Although I have to admit it will be difficult for me to get excited about certain programming (ooooooh! Purdue's football team is practicing!) I will probably turn in for the broadcast of Michigan's football practice, which is Monday at 9 p.m. This will hopefully let me ratchet down my expectations (you mean Michigan's not going to be national champions?) or -- and this is most likely -- allow me to have inflated expectations for the season, which will leave me screaming at the television on Aug. 30 during our game against Utah. Apparently, Coach Rodriguez has been giving the team a good kick in the ass and our strength coach is legendary, so I'm excited to see the results.

* THOUGHTS ON STEELERS AFFIRMED. AOL's Fanhouse blog reports about what I expected: Santonio Holmes is crazy good; our running backs look good, to complement a good prognosis for our wide-receiving corps, and our offensive line ... oh God help us.

* A MEMO TO THE NFL. For some reason, the NFL is broadcasting various commercials for NFL apparel and materiel that feature Steelers fans. This may be because Steelers fans are prone to spending their disposable income on Steelers stuff. Tonight, two commercials caught my eye. The first is a commercial for women's NFL apparel, which features four hot female Steelers fans. The second is a commercial for NFL team-themed memorabilia.

Although it is enjoyable to see the female Steelers fans mock the doofus male Tennessee Titans fan who stumbles into their tailgating sanctum, I have an issue with the second commercial. You see, it shows a football room chock full of Steelers memorabilia and then asks, after scanning over to an end table with a plain light fixture on it, "What's with the lamp?" Never mind the lamp. What's with the Steely McStupid bobblehead doll?

No true Steelers fan would ever purchase anything related to Steely McStupid, much less a bobblehead doll, and then put it in his Steelers-themed football-watching room. No. A true Steelers fan would have other things, like a poster of Mr Rooney.

* MUCHO STINKO UPDATE. So Chad Johnson reportedly wants to change his name to Chad Ocho Cinco, thus allowing him to have it on his jersey without the NFL fining him.

The Rant approves of this, if only because it will make the Cincinnati Bengals even more of a laughingstock than they were before. Plus, the paperwork will give Mucho Stinko something to do while healing up from his sprained shoulder. In other Bungles news, the Detroit Lions went crazy in attacking Carson Palmer, and the Bungles' backup quarterback is from ... Harvard. From Harvard! I love it! (Although, annoyingly, he did look pretty good in the Lions game).

* QUOTH THE RAVEN, "Losing season!" Yeah. Baltimore. Maximum suckage.

* I'M JUST POINTING IT OUT. "Shoot, I don't care if it's pre-season! Redskins are 3-0, baby!"

* CANADIAN FOOTBALL UPDATE. Well, at least the Roughriders had a bye week this past week, because they needed it. As Loyal Rant Readers know, everyone on Saskatchewan's squad is hurt, and so hopefully the week off will help many of them recover from their (less-severe) injuries. Also, it's a good thing the CFL has a 19-week season, because it's going to take a good two or three months for the team to recover from its spate of broken legs.

More importantly, the Riders are 6-1 and have a two-game lead on pretty much everyone, plus a 4 1/2 game lead on the two worst teams (Winnipeg and Hamilton) in the league. This means they can pretty much play their backups and STILL make it into the playoffs. Once they get in the playoffs, they'll be well on their way to making a second run for the Grey Cup.

* NOTE TO ROD PEDERSEN: The Voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders should spend the money to have his blog hosted on his own Web site, and not Blogger's.

* WHAT IF? Saving the best for last ...

As a rule, one is not supposed to read too much into pre-season games. This is because the games don't feature the first-stringers on a team. Rather, they feature the backups, third-stringers and marginal players fighting to retain their own positions or move up on the depth chart. But pre-season games do provide insight into the talents of these players, and that can be important down the road if your starters get hurt.

Which leads us to the "What if?" questions of the week: what would happen to the Patriots and the Colts if their starting quarterbacks got hurt? For that matter, what would happen to the Patriots if many of their starters got hurt?

I mean, I hate to read too much into the Patriots' craptacular performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight, but boy. It certainly seems to me they're going to be pretty thin on the depth chart, even if their first unit is one of the best in football. Then again, the Pats may well not suffer any major injuries this year, and it could just be their bad play is a feint, devised by Evil Genius Hobo Coach, to disguise the efficacy of the Patriots' second- and third-stringers. But I haven't seen anything that would save the Patriots or the Colts from a Catastrophic Quarterback Injury.

This is one thing I like about the Pittsburgh Steelers -- they actually realize the backup quarterback position, you know, involves more than holding a clipboard. If Ben Roethlisberger gets hurt, we can turn to Charlie Batch. Or, we would, if Batch hadn't had his collarbone broken. So what did we do? We went out and got Byron Leftwich to be our backup. True, Leftwich isn't all that great of a quarterback, but he'll do well enough. That's not something I think one could say of either Matt Cassel or Jim Sorgi.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 17, 2008 11:47 PM | TrackBack

Michigan sucks.

Posted by: Jesse at August 19, 2008 11:38 AM
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