Saturday, September 16, 2006


Week 2: Dolla Dolla Bill Y’All (aka Raider Urinalyses Test Positive for Doody)

After witnessing some legendary offensive ineptitude over the years as an Eagles fan, I was fully convinced that I would never see anything as inept as the 1986 Eagles offense, which featured exactly zero NFL-caliber offensive linemen. New “coach” Buddy Ryan would sign prospective players off the street and throw them into the starting lineup a matter of days later, and rarely would the same player start in the same position for consecutive weeks. The line coughed up an NFL-record 104 sacks, most of which were absorbed by a quarterback seemingly athletic enough to have avoided many more – Randall “He’s Back Scrambling for His Godforsaken Life” Cunningham.

Just a matter of weeks ago, I was telling someone or other that such a catastrophe could never happen again in the NFL. There’s too much money invested in making sound football decisions, I reasoned: scouting, drafting, and coaching are much more evolved, specialized, and monetarily compensated for than 20 years ago.

Or at least this is what I though before viewing the 2006 incarnation of the Oakland Raiders. I stand corrected, humbled, and utterly shocked.

Not only is this offense an abject train wreck, the train was packed to the gills with horseshit, and Monday night it plowed into the side of a mountain… A mountain of horseshit.

Just put me out of my misery, baby.

On every single offensive snap, San Diego’s defense came across the line in an absolute jailbreak and reached Aaron Brooks before he had even completed his drop. They didn’t even allow him a split-second to make a bad decision.

Hall of Fame offensive lineman and longtime offensive line coach Art Shell was powerless – or unwilling – to make any adjustments. Brooks kept taking seven-step drop after seven-step drop and getting buried on down after down.

It usually requires a preliminary round of “American Idol” auditions to prompt me to feel embarrassment on someone else’s behalf as they’re too bereft of awareness to feel it themselves. But as the flailing and carnage continued for the Raiders, both tragedy and comedy were left in their wake, leaving only painful vicarious embarrassment.

And it occurred to me: this is the worst display of offense I have ever seen in the NFL – and I survived The Bobby Hoying Era.

I still maintain that drafting, scouting, and coaching have progressed far beyond the space they occupied in 1986. However, apparently this does not apply to the Raiders. Even the 49ers and Jets – unquestioned bottom-feeders of the NFL – accounted for themselves well in Week 1. The Jets even managed a victory.

No, not everyone is good. But there’s too much at stake for most teams – but not all teams, as I’d thought – to be completely, brutally outclassed.

The Raiders, as they’ve so often been throughout their storied history, are in a class by themselves. But that doesn’t mean what it used to. And I’m predicting them to go 0-16 this season.

Start tanking, Brady Quinn.

Now let’s avail ourselves of the Week 2 picks, which are brought to you this week by… ah, I can’t find it. To hell with it!

Buffalo at Miami
-After years of excessive punting under Mike Mularkey – for example, they punted numerous times on 4th and short within the opponent’s 40 yard line – last week, the Bills, under Dick Jauron, went for it on 4th and 1 from their own 30-yard-line. The result: Failure. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Pick: Buffalo! Fortune favors the bold, beyotch!

Carolina at Minnesota
-As close to a nice thing as I’ll say about anyone: since John Fox has been coaching there, have you ever seen the Panthers underachieve in two games in a row? I’m pretty sure I haven’t.
-Steroids! Hookers! It’s the Panthers and Vikings… next on FOX!
Pick: Carolina

Cleveland at Cincinnati
-After watching Honey Buns Fraley get manhandled by the Saints’ mediocre defensive line, I’m thinking the Browns would have been better off with what they had beforehand: absolutely nothing.
-Bengals’ off-season rap sheet includes arrests for five players, but according to police documents obtained by Around the NFL With Billie M.F. Smalls, in all cases the arrested player was wearing pants.
Pick: Cincinnati

Detroit at Chicago
-Sign outside Notre Dame locker room: “Play Like a Champion Today.”
Sign outside Detroit Lions’ locker room: “Are You Wearing Pants?”
Pick: Chicago

Houston at Indianapolis
-Scant moments after Indianapolis’ first touchdown of this game, a stray piece of confetti will fall from the RCA Dome ceiling and alight on David Carr’s shoulder, causing him to crumple to the turf.
Pick: Indy.

New Orleans at Green Bay
-Only five weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Green Bay mercilessly ran up the score against the beleaguered Saints and beat them by nearly 50 points. It’s payback time – book it! Here comes the Karma Train, Brett Favre!
Pick: New Orleans

NY Giants at Philadelphia
-In midweek meeting Giants coach Tom Coughlin threatened team that, if they lose this game, they’ll be thrown from an invisible portal beside the New Jersey Turnpike and left in a roadside heap à la “Being John Malkovich.”
-No football column forthcoming this week from Matty – it seems he was eaten by Andy Reid.
Pick: Dah Iggles

Oakland at Baltimore
-I had been predicting an outcome of Baltimore 56, Oakland 0 before I found out that Robert Gallery would miss the game due to injury. New prediction: Baltimore 56, Oakland 0.
Pick: Bawlmer

Tampa Bay at Atlanta
-Please allow me to provide redress for my preseason prediction that Tampa Bay would win the Super Bowl: Oopsie!
-Actual football analysis: perhaps the loss of defensive coaches Mike Tomlin and Rod Marinelli is going to have some impact on the Bucs’ defense.
Alright, glad that’s out of the way.
Pick: Atlanta

Arizona at Seattle
-The desired result of Deion Branch’s acrimonious holdout from the Patriots has been realized: I now know his agent’s name.
Pick: Seattle

St Louis at San Francisco
-Rams’ impressive performance against Denver last week clearly illustrates what was missing from this team under Mike “K” Martz: Effort.
Pick: St. Louis

Kansas City at Denver
-Nearly 300,000 copies of “Madden 2007” recalled because of a malfunction in the Herman Edwards Botched Clock-Management feature.
-Jake Plummer TD passes in 2006 season: 0. Jake Plummer left-handed passes in 2006 season: 1.
Pick: Denver

New England at NY Jets
-Bill Belichick’s sideline attire: The sartorial equivalent of Chad Pennington’s rotator cuff.
Pick: New England

Tennessee at San Diego
-This week, Titans able to enjoy America’s finest weather while getting the ever-living piss beaten out of them.
-Too lazy to reconcile salary cap implications of a trade to Chargers, Titans GM Floyd Reese planning to just tell Billy Volek to report to the wrong locker room.
Pick: San Diego

Washington at Dallas
-Henceforth known as “The Bad Karma Bowl.”
-If these teams’ jackal owners had their way, this would be the only game on the schedule; all other teams would have been driven out of business by insufficient profit margins.
-Opening coin toss to determine “who gets to be the Yankees and who gets to be the Red Sox.”
-Traffic problems surrounding FedEx field are now so severe that it takes less time for a suburban Washingtonian to attend a Redskins/Cowboys at Texas Stadium.
Pick: Dallas

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
-A history of race relations in the NFL:
In 1962, the Redskins were the only team in the league yet to have integrated its roster, seeing itself as the quasi-official team of the South, when the league office stepped in and demanded that it draft Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis of Syracuse, the first black Heisman winner. They refused, trading the draft pick to Cleveland. The Browns drafted Davis, only to see him be diagnosed with leukemia and die before he would ever play in an NFL game.
In 2006, the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a twisted outgrowth of modern racial politics, have three black quarterbacks on their roster to insulate starter Byron Leftwich from unfounded racially motivated criticism from hayseed fans.
Pick: Jacksonville 23, Pittsburgh 18

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