Thursday Links

Back from the homeland & blogging again…

Good clock management story today on ESPN from Greg Garber. The column mentions Dick Curl & Herm Edwards at one point, which gives me reason to re-quote my favorite story from the 2009 season.

Is there a less encouraging sight than Dick Curl excitedly imparting information to an overwhelmed head coach trying to make a crucial strategic decision? He’s like a two-minute drill saboteur. Lost in the Jim Zorn bashing this week after the Rams-Redskins game was a vintage piece of Dick Curl gamesmanship at the 9:25 mark in the fourth quarter with the Rams down 9-7 and facing 4th-and-2 on the Washington 41. Now, what would someone who is not Dick Curl recommend in this situation? Send the offense back out and go for it? Attempt the long field goal? Solid choices, but lacking in the Curl touch. Wouldn’t it be better to call a timeout after an incompletion, line up in a fake punt formation with an eye toward drawing Washington offside, only to have one of your guys commit a false start at the last second, killing any chance for a field goal or manageable fourth-down conversion? Brilliant. I’m interested in who else Steve Spagnuolo considered for the clock wrangler job before settling on Curl. There were people in the McKinley administration with a better sense of when to take a timeout.

Norv Turner, Good Coach?

This point admittedly seemed more controversial two weeks ago, back when the Colts were 14-0 and the Saints were 13-1. Back-to-back losses have left both teams vulnerable entering the playoffs. Turner’s the last man standing all right, but his case would be complete with or without the late-season swoon from Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton. All it did was remind us that a good coach—fundamentally—is someone who keeps preventable damage to a minimum. That’s Norv Turner. Norv Turner is a good coach. How the hell did this happen?

For readers under the age of three, it’s worth noting that Turner was considered an apocalyptically bad head coach for nearly a decade. He went 49-59-1 in seven seasons in Washington and 9-23 in two years in Oakland. Since taking the Chargers job in 2007 he is 32-16, with a 3-2 mark in the playoffs Whether Turner improved in San Diego or merely had his incompetence outpaced by a new generation of coaches is debatable. Not debatable is Turner’s performance over the past one-and-a-half seasons holding together a Chargers team that had every excuse to go to pieces.

Top NFL Business Stories of 2009. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, especially during Lions games, and I’ll certainly have more on it this offseason.

Despite several recent meetings between the NFL and its labor counterpart, the NFL Players Association, regarding the extension of the labor agreement ratified in March of 2006, it appears we’re headed for a different system come March.

The amazing thing about this negotiation, unlike any other in modern professional sports, is that ownership is ready and willing to embrace a system without a Cap and the players are arguing in earnest for continued operation with a Cap.

In looking more closely, one can see two reasons: (1) Among the poison pills built into a system without a cap are two more years required for free agency, meaning 212 players – including top players such as Logan Mankins, Elvis Dumervil and Vincent Jackson – who would be free to negotiate with any team in the league now cannot; and (2) the lack of a spending floor that will permit (encourage) teams to roll back player costs and gear up for the next system, with or without a cap.

The gap between good and bad appears to be widening. The successful teams of recent years – Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Eagles, Packers, etc. – continue to have success. The unsuccessful teams of recent years – Lions, Raiders, Browns, Rams, Bills, etc. – continue to have challenges (the Rams and Lions will draft in the first two slots in consecutive years). The games appeared less competitive, especially early in the season.

Get all of your decade best-of lists here.

Boris Becker is playing poker.

NBA Jam is coming for the Wii!!!!

The evolution of soccer tactics and a video of the making of the World Cup ball.


This week in Jersey Shore:

This may be shocking, but it turns out, “The situation is that the “The Situation” is no stranger to getting paid to walk around shirtless.”

Best quotes from last week’s episode here. From the recap:

It wasn’t entirely clear how the gang scored themselves an invite to Sleazeside’s version of Lake Havasu, but we’re fairly certain the lake that they were romping in contains more crabs than your local Red Lobster. The highlight of the afternoon was clearly when Pauly D hopped in the water and not a single hair on his head moved.

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