Tag Archives: Jon Gruden

Daily Noontime – October 26, 2011

Ben Cherington is in and Theo is out!

Happy Wednesday to everyone and welcome into another splendid edition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s some great news and notes to kick-start your day! 

Headlines: 

* The Boston Red Sox introduced the team’s new General Manager on Tuesday, Ben Cherington, while the Chicago Cubs named Theo Epstein their president of baseball operations.

* According to the Red Sox, John Lackey will undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow and will most likely not pitch again until the 2013 season.

* Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell has made it clear – he’s staying with his team, and won’t relocate to Boston or Chicago.

* Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and quarterback Joe Flacco admitted they both deserve the blame for Monday’s loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

* Apparently Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are interested in obtaining the Miami Dolphins head coaching job next season.

Games to Watch: 

* Philadelphia at Montreal (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern 

* Texas at St. Louis (MLB/World Series/ Game 6) – 8:05pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

What’s better – the broadcast or Hail Mary? 

NFL Draft 2011: Day Two Winners and Losers

By Dan Rubin 

Here’s what I liked and didn’t like about the draft’s 2nd and 3rd round selections, goings-on, and overall tomfoolery:

Winners:

The mad genius did it again. Maybe I’m just a wicked homer, but Bill Belichick never disappoints during the NFL Draft. He orchestrated the Patriots to the tune of three second round selections and two third round selections, which he traded into picks and future considerations. When the dust settled, they selected a cornerback, two running backs, and the heir apparent to Tom Brady.

I love the selection of Ryan Mallett. Actually, let me take that back; I really love that pick. I said in my draft preview that the Pats needed a quarterback. Mallett’s the answer. The Patriots are preparing for life after Brady because he won’t play forever. Mallett brings all the coachable tools for the NFL with none of the immediate pressure. He’s going to sit for four years (maybe), learn the system and mature under the tutelage of one of the game’s all time greats. Then, when it’s his time, he’ll be able to step in and seamlessly fill the role. Bill did it again.

I also really liked Cincinnati’s patience with waiting for Andy Dalton. It would’ve been easy to react in the first round and trade up to get Dalton, especially after Minnesota grabbed Christian Ponder. But they waited as long as they could and gambled that Dalton would last through the first two selections of the second round. It doesn’t sound like much, but Buffalo desperately needs a new quarterback (among other things). They passed on Dalton for Aaron Williams, and the rumor of the Bungles trading up to get in front of the Bills to ensure a shot at Dalton was left at just that. With the rumors still swirling regarding the fate and future of Carson Palmer, the Bengals at least made sure they have a contingency plan one way or the other.

Division I-FCS came out on top on Day 2, as well. Usually, the former I-AA doesn’t produce players until the late rounds, when guys from Coppin State start making their appearances. But 2011 is another year where I-AA players went in the first few rounds.  Both players were offensive linemen, but Benjamin Ijalana (Villanova) joined the Colts, and William Rackley (Lehigh) and Kenrick Ellis (Hampton) joined the Jaguars and Jets, respectively, in the second and third rounds, respectively.  It also marks another year where the J-E-T-S dipped into the FCS division, where they took Vlad Ducasse from UMass last year.

ESPN gets a “big thumbs up” for its coverage of the second and third rounds. They trotted out everybody under the sun for the first round, and it seemed like it was too much talking and not enough of the players. Maybe it’s because the later rounds don’t have as much of an opinion, but they had packages for just about everyone on the second round. I saw more blocking package highlight reels for those big daddies getting picked than I’d seen with some players in the first round. And Jon Gruden continued some of the best analysis I’ve heard when it comes to the NFL.  That’s saying something because Gruden is so awesomely bad on Monday Night Football. I’m actually looking forward to hearing what he has to say on the final day of the draft.

Gruden also gets a huge pat on the back for the way he handled the lockout situation. Ok, the lockout is back, thanks to a judge in the middle of the NFL Draft. At least that’s not awful timing or anything, given the events of yesterday’s pre-draft debacle booing at Roger Goodell (more on this later). But Gruden said what we all are thinking – “Look, I have no idea what these four and five-syllable words even mean.  Let’s just get back to the game.”  Thank you, Coach.  Thank you very much.

Kudos to the league for trotting out every dusty alumnus they could find. Seeing Joe Morris the day after I heard about Mark Ingram, Sr. brought me back to memories of Tecmo Bowl on the old Nintendo Entertainment System. I can still envision Mark Bavaro running that outlet pattern to the bottom of my screen, then hitting him for a first down as Phil Simms trotted the Giants up the field. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve lit up the Los Angles Raiders in that game; every time they trotted out somebody, it gave my dad and I something to talk about, usually around him having seen the guys and me asking about them.

Franco Harris’s Beard gets a class by itself. Looks so natural, no one can tell (Just for Men gel!).

The guy who introduced the Lions second round pick is probably the only person willing to be identified as a Lions fan (for now).  They couldn’t even find a decent alumnus. Apparently Scott Mitchell couldn’t be found.  Maybe they could’ve trotted out Wayne Fontes.

Losers: 

The NFL gets a massive black eye with its labor situation. Rich Eisen said before the first round that it would be great to finally get back to football, even if it was influenced by an uneasy labor situation. And now the league is right back in the headlines for the wrong reasons. As name after name was rattled off, it became quickly overshadowed with the reinstitution of a lockout we, as fans, really don’t want. These billion dollar owners and million dollar players are on the verge of ruining something we all desperately are begging them not to.  And yet nobody seems to care.  Did you not hear the fans?  We’re mad as hell, and they’re going to demonize the one thing we all need as an outlet.

I mean, maybe they haven’t figured it out yet.  Football saved New Orleans after Katrina. A team named the Patriots won the Super Bowl the year of 9/11, armed with a guard who had brothers who ran into the Twin Towers (oh by the way, they were underdogs that everyone loved). This game has a way of touching millions of people, and they’re going to destroy it. I hope you can sense the emotion in those last two paragraphs.  I desperately want my NFL, and even if they do figure it out, there’s a sense that this game and league that I love has been irreparably torn in some capacity. The 2011-2012 season will always be marred by the labor situation because the offseason is so affected by it. Thanks a lot guys.

In terms of rosters, I don’t really get what New England was doing with drafting two running backs. Ok, I get that BenJarvis Green-Ellis probably isn’t a long-term solution. But the guy just ran for 1,000 yards in a year where he wasn’t even the feature back during the first third of the season. So they went out and drafted two running backs out of the four picks on Friday. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. I can understand taking one, but now the backfield is going to be stocked with a ton of guys. Only one can carry the ball at a time, and with Tom Brady under center, you’re not running it every play.

I also don’t get why the Patriots didn’t go after a wide receiver or, more importantly, a defensive lineman. Pass rushing is an issue for this team, and they haven’t yet addressed it. Maybe they have confidence in the returning Value Menu of Ron Brace, Myron Pryor, that guy Love, and Vince Wilfork.  Maybe they’re banking on the return of Ty Warren and a steady improvement of the linebacker corps.  But something felt wrong about taking another rookie cornerback that nobody in New England has probably heard of and not even touching that horrendous pass rush.

Offensive position players were big losers on Day 2. 15 out of 32 and 20 out of 33 picks in the second and third rounds, respectively, were for defense. And now take into account that two of the first four picks in the second round were for Dalton and Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. The offenses around the league are clicking at a pace never before seen, and the game is starting to shift its focus to how to stop these high-powered attacks.

Speaking of Kaepernick, congratulations to the San Francisco 49ers for making the “Holy Crap We Need to Press A Panic Button” draft pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. As soon as Dalton went to the Bengals, the Niners immediately traded up from 7th in the second round to 4th to ensure they got Kaepernick. They left Mallett on the board and took a guy who ran a weirdo offense in the WAC last year. He also doesn’t throw the ball like a prototypical NFL-style QB. What does that add up to? A poor man’s Vince Young.  They also made the biggest reactionary move of the draft so far when they did that. They needed a QB since Alex Smith (Welcome to Bustville.  Population – you) is not under contract, and right now their only returning signal caller is David Carr.  But they could’ve waited and had the choice of Mallett in that slot. Or they could’ve traded back and amassed some other picks to get Mallett there. Instead, they traded up to take a guy who I don’t think is a very good quarterback.

One last stat on Kaepernick, who is a guy who threw and ran for thousands of yards, Nevada nearly lost to a weak Boston College team in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl this year. Yes they finished the year ranked #11, and they beat Boise State, and Kaepernick put up ungodly numbers. But take away a punt return for a touchdown on special teams, and Nevada loses that game. That’s right, they lose to a BC team that had an offense ranked something like second from the bottom in passing. A good defense shuts him down. What do you think will happen in the NFL, where defenses are awesome?

I’m personally looking forward to Day 3, when teams start to fill out their rosters with some names you probably haven’t heard of.  But Day 3, and the later rounds for that matter, usually fills out a good chunk of star players over time (like that guy with the sweet looking hair who plays for New England.  Brady, I think his name is?).  And for me personally, I’m hoping Mark Herzlich gets selected somewhere.  The 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year deserves a shot at the pros after all he’s been through coming back from cancer, and it would be one of the final stamps on a comeback that I have taken a true personal interest in.  It would make a lot of us who support the fight against cancer very happy and very hopeful for those who suffer from this horrible disease.

See you tomorrow as we wrap up one of the best weekends in the NFL.

NFL Draft 2011: Day One Winners and Losers

By Dan Rubin

With the 2011 NFL Draft already underway, it is officially time to look back on day one and reflect on which teams drafted well, as well as the ones that didn’t. Here is our winners and losers from the first round.  

Winners: Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers come away as big winners of the first round.

Now look, I understand that there’s a very real possibility that Newton could become a major bust and that they drafted Jimmy Clausen to fill the starting quarterback role. But, I also believe that the draft is used to give your fans a very real hope of success in a way that one single day can’t. Fans don’t get hungry for tickets over minicamp, and they don’t get pumped up for OTAs.  They get pumped at the draft.  This is a team that lacked a face for their franchise.  They have it now.  Maybe in three years, we’ll question the pick and refer to the Heisman Trophy winner as a bust, but for now, this day and this draft belonged to Newton. Almost immediately, the future of Panther football was altered.

The Atlanta Falcons were exposed on offense in the divisional playoffs. The Packers took away the deep threat on Matt Ryan in their game back in January, and he only threw for 186 yards.  They had some defensive woes, which I’m sure they’ll address when they can start moving and signing players (as well as later in the draft).  But they had to find a solution to the problem of having only Roddy White for the deep ball.  Now Ryan has White, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner, Michael Jenkins, and Julio Jones to throw the ball to.  He’s only in his 4th year.  They actually didn’t need a lot, so they were able to make the deal.  Sure they got fleeced, but I don’t think it’s a horrible move.

But as much as I loved the gutsy, ballsy move by the Falcons, I really love what Cleveland did. Cleveland has more holes than a donut shop.  The early pick would give them a flashy player, but they don’t need that; they have the face of a franchise in Peyton Hillis. They need to fill pretty much everything else. And they acquired the ability to do it by giving away an early pick that couldn’t make a huge impact on this team.  In the rebuilding future, this could go down as the moment where the Browns became relevant again.

Jon Gruden – thank you for owning the talking hairpiece of Mel Kiper, Jr. Seriously, if Gruden crapped on Kiper any more, Kiper’s address would’ve become “porto-potty in NYC.”  It was awesome.  I love it when football guys just take it to that guy.

Detroit’s pass rush this year will be Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. A couple of months ago, Aaron Burns, (our guest from the Charlotte Weekly this week) thought Fairley would go first overall. I love the pick because he was there at #13.  The NFC North is wide open if Green Bay has any Super Bowl hangover.  The Lions aren’t pushovers anymore.

The Patriots did a good job playing it safe, picking a good, solid offensive tackle with their first pick.  I really wanted Anthony Costanzo, but they got essentially the same guy with a different name in Nate Solder.  Right now, the Pats have nobody under contract for their line. Matt Light is a free agent, Logan Mankins is pretty much history, and Stephen Neal and Nick Kaczur, (a.k.a. your right side of the line) is gone. So that means your preseason offensive line returns only Dan Koppen. I like the pick a lot.

Costanzo became a winner anyways, when he got selected to block for the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.  I remember standing at a Boston College game talking to his dad four-odd years ago, and I knew he was going to be great.  Another year, another Boston College Eagle in the first round.  Ho hum, that’s becoming par the norm for “O-Line U” over there in Chestnut Hill.

The Losers: 

This will go down as the draft where the fans finally rebelled. Roger Goodell had his photo moment with the Hall of Famers and the Prospects, and the fans booed him almost immediately.  The chants of “We Want Football” shocked everyone, and I don’t think the talking heads knew what to do when it happened.

Rich Eisen had nothing to say, and the “commish” looked lost at the podium.  It’s the first moment through the entire labor drama when the fans finally spoke up and could actually be heard, and nobody knew what to do.  The constant booing cascading from Radio City Music Hall’s rafters said it all – the fans are fed up with legal speak and loopholes all over the place.  They want results.  They want football.  And Goodell ended up with egg on his face.

Teams also had to draft by need in the first round because they couldn’t move players ahead of time.  With the league not advising teams on player movement before Friday, the first round featured absolutely zero player movement.  The teams could only trade picks or draft players.  Therefore, it became surreal almost immediately when Von Miller was picked second overall, and he hugged Roger Goodell – a man he’s suing.  It was the fourth or fifth moment where I laughed at the Commish, and but the loser of the moment was Miller.  How can you sue the league, hug the man you’re suing, and have people take it seriously?  I’m sure the NFL will use that in its defense somehow.

The Falcons screwed their future over very badly by giving up two first rounder’s, (including their pick next year), their second round pick, their fourth round pick, and next year’s fourth.  If they don’t hit on every other pick this year, they could be in some deep trouble. Thomas Dimitrioff has mortgaged his job on Jones ability to produce and Atlanta’s ability to win a Super Bowl within the next 2-3 years.

I don’t get why Jacksonville traded up to take Blaine Gabbert.  I mean, I think Gabbert’s better than Jake Locker, but they have a decent quarterback who can win football games.  David Garrard is pretty good, and he can scramble.  I just don’t get why you make the move to take him, when you can sit back two picks later and get an offensive lineman to protect and block Garrard.  Instead, you’ve served notice that Garrard is gone in a couple of years or at least backing up, and you’ve gone into transitional mode.

Christian Ponder?  Really?  Like…really?  I’ve followed him from Day 1 at Florida State…really?!?!

The draft coverage gets a sagging grade because honestly, I didn’t think it was great. Too many talking heads, not enough highlights.  And the gratuitous phone call shots are overboard as always. It just feels like it’s too much. I’d prefer the olden days when they interviewed fans instead of just showing them.

We’ll be back with more coverage throughout the weekend. A long couple of days ahead, especially if you’re a Pats fan like us at Noontime Sports.