Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tailALDLAND’s weekly football roundup is back following week three of college football and week two of the NFL.

College Football


  • I caught snippets of ESPN College Gameday and Fox Sports 1’s college football pregame shows. Gameday remains the leader of the pack, but I’d like more time to see how FS1’s show develops. In the meantime, I’ll join FS1’s Joel Klatt in sending good wishes to the folks in Colorado dealing with major flooding right now.

The games — excitement building:

  • With a couple East Carolina fans in town, we watched the Pirates hang with Virginia Tech for about three quarters. The Hokies did all they could, including badly missing a bunch of close kicks, to hand ECU the game. Frank Beamer looked like he wanted to puke, but his team managed to hold it together in the end. Virginia Tech 15, East Carolina 10.
  • We were flipping between that game and UCLA-Nebraska. When I first checked in on this one, Nebraska had a 21-3 lead, and it looked like the best early game of the day would not materialize into a competitive affair. That turned out to be sort of true, but not in the way I expected. UCLA scored thirty-eight unanswered points to beat the now-mythological blackshirt defense in Lincoln 41-21.
  • The game of the day belonged to Alabama and Texas A&M, and it lived up to the hype. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies started very hot, jumping out to a 14-0 lead and choking the Tide’s early drives. A&M scored touchdowns on its first two drives, which averaged 71.5 yards and 2:06 off the clock. Alabama responded, though, methodically amassing thirty-five temporarily unanswered points and carried a 42-21 lead into the fourth quarter. The Aggie defense had yielded to The System, but Manziel wasn’t through, although twenty-one fourth-quarter points wouldn’t be enough to top Alabama. The Crimson Tide remain undefeated, winning 49-42, but Manziel unequivocally proved that he is must-see football every time he plays, and his cohort, receiver Mike Evans, deserves some credit too.     Continue reading

A case study in comparative NFL politics

Before the season started, I “interviewed” the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, and asked him about some of his disciplinary decisions. I couldn’t get him on the horn on short notice, but because I know he reads the site, I want to present the following data points for his review.

Case #1: Thanksgiving Day; Ndamukong Suh

Suspension for the above depicted act (which posed no meaningful threat of injury to any player): two games.

Case #2: December 8, 2011; James Harrison

Suspension for the above depicted act (which caused immediate and ongoing serious injury to the player involved): one game.

That Suh is a “repeat offender” cannot explain the distinction, as Harrison’s history of “devastating” hits is even more well known, and one of Harrison’s hits last season was the catalyst for the league’s crackdown on the very type of hit he put on McCoy last week. The only possible rationale for Suh’s heavier sanction is that his action came on Thanksgiving, a day of massive viewership, while Harrison’s hit was on a Thursday night game with many fewer viewers. Still, an indefensible basis for the disparity.

Many are rushing to brand Suh, previously largely a media darling, as a dirty, immature player, and I’ve tried to flesh out my own thoughts on 2011 Suh, but if you think Suh is making the Lions into a violent team, 1) you’re doing a disservice to Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, and 2) you haven’t heard 90s Lions star Lomas Brown dish on teammate Bennie Blades (fast forward to 3:24).