New season Monday

Football is underway at all levels, which means that this weekly roundup/preview post is back.

College football’s second week portended less excitement than its opening week, and yet there seemed to be more surprising results this week than last. In particular, two teams with a lot of preseason promise took big hits on Saturday. The Wisconsin Badgers fell out of the Top 25 and fired their offensive line coach after a loss to Oregon State in which the traditional running power generated only thirty-five yards on the ground. Arkansas’ drop from the rankings was even more precipitous, as the Razorbacks lost to Louisiana-Monroe. Michigan, fresh off a no-show against Alabama, nearly lost their home-opener to Air Force, while Clemson nearly doubled up Ball State to stay undefeated, a status they’re likely to carry into their meeting with #5 Florida State in two weeks after facing in-state lightweight Furman this weekend. Michigan State also stayed undefeated with an easy win over Central Michigan, while Vanderbilt fell to 0-2 at Northwestern in a game I attended and more about which I will writehave written.

Robert Griffin III was the star of the NFL’s first Sunday of 2012, while Andrew Luck found himself grouped with more pedestrian rookie QB starters Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill. The always-overhyped Jets turned in the surprise team performance of the day, a 48-28 win over Buffalo. The Lions, who have an official drum line, came from behind to beat the Rams in the last ten seconds of the game, and Peyton Manning returned to form in an ultimately convincing win over Pittsburgh.

Outside of the football world, Serena Williams gutted out a win at the U.S. Open, her fifteenth Grand Slam title, and Jeff Gordon announced that his “absurdly comical mustache” for the NASCAR Chase (i.e., playoffs), which begins this weekend in Chicago.

Scrutiny of the Bounty: A prequel

We’ve been quiet here lately, though not for a lack of notable sports events, even if they are coming in the one sport that’s currently in it’s offseason. Two big NFL stories have been developing in fits and tumbles over the past week or two: 1) Peyton Manning leaving the Indianapolis Colts, and 2) Gregg Williams and Bountygate. There isn’t much to say about the first story yet, or maybe ever. He’ll go to a team. It won’t be the Titans. And we’ll get some variety of Joe Montana in Kansas City or Brett Favre in New York. He won’t have teammates like Marvin Harrison, Jeff Saturday, and Dallas Clark who are on his level, and we’ll probably see a lot of sad Manningfaces peering out of an unfamiliarly colored helmet.

As for the second story: first, a nod to Deadspin for the title tag to this post, and very quickly second, this:

That out of the way, how much can one really say about the bounties Williams and certainly other coaches paid to players for big hits on important players, and how much does one really want to say given the at least tiresome and likely nauseating cliche-laden moral hand-wringing on the part of the sports media?

Instead, we’ll offer a short, derivative series on the bounty story through the eyes of the evolving media reaction. As usual when I start a series of posts without fully mapping it out, the first post is the best (e.g., here and here), and this is likely to be no exception.

This first item is interesting because it was a profile of the New Orleans Saints’ defense under Williams published just before the bounty story broke. Untainted by the news of the bounties, the NFL’s investigation, or the media reaction to it, The Classical’s Charles Star offers up an innocent (from the writer’s perspective) take that’s telling upon retrospective re-read:

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Why don’t the Colts pick up David Garrard?

Rotoworld reports:

Colts not going after David Garrard –

The Colts have not contacted free agent QB David Garrard. With the inept Kerry Collins being evaluated for a concussion and Peyton Manning (neck) likely out for the season, Colts fans are clamoring for an addition. But the team might be best off going with Collins and Curtis Painter, thus entering themselves in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes. The Colts have not shown any interest in Kurt Warner or Marc Bulger either, although they are both retired anyway.

I was thinking last night that Indy should make a move for Garrard, whom Jacksonville almost certainly shouldn’t have let go. They probably will have to lose every game– something of which they’re undoubtedly capable– to get Andrew Luck, but it still is amazing to think that a team like the Colts would even be in a position where flushing a season looked like the team’s best (and possibly only) option. Keep reading…

Peyton Manning is done for the year

Pro Football Talk reports:

The Colts are 0-3, but their season is essentially over.  Peyton Manning will not be coming back to save the team.

Owner Jim Irsay announced at a breakfast meeting with Super Bowl donors Monday that Manning will miss the entire season, according to WISH-TV in Indianapolis.

Irsay may be speaking out of turn, but you can do that when you own the team.  Even if the Colts don’t make a move to injured reserve official just yet, this is a sign the Colts have no expectations Manning will return.

Indianapolis will surely have a high draft pick in a good year for college quarterbacks.  They may just be high enough to draft Andrew Luck first overall.

Obviously this all but ensures the accuracy of my preseason prediction that the Colts will lose every game this year. I think the Andrew Luck question is a bit less obvious. Setting aside the common, generic draft-day debate of whether a team should draft for need or always take the best player available regardless of need, would the Colts take Luck? Maybe I’m just so used to thinking of the Colts and Manning together, and also thinking that Manning was basically indestructible– not necessarily because he’s physically tough, but because he’s succeeded in avoiding a lot of damaging hits– that it’s initially hard to think of Indy taking a QB, especially when they seem to have so many other needs. If Manning’s done for good, this of course becomes a moot conversation.

A reexamination of performance enhancing drugs in sports, and Peyton Manning’s neck

Jason Whitlock, a writer for Fox Sports, formerly of the Kansas City Star, even more formerly a footballer for Ball State, and sometimes guest host of Jim Rome’s radio show, asked in his NFL column this week, “If human growth hormone or some other performance-enhancing drug would help Peyton Manning’s nerves regenerate and heal his neck, would you be against the NFL’s top player using it/them?”

Keep reading (and vote)…

Autumn in ALDLAND?

Football season is in full swing, the U.S. Open is coming to a close, and hurricane season (hopefully) is wrapping up. Summer won’t quite go away, though, as evidenced by the perfect baseball weather (along with its accordant short sleeves, sweat, and sunburns) at yesterday’s Tigers and Twins game in Detroit— more on that game later today. 

There were two week-one blowouts yesterday in the NFL: the Ravens beat the Steelers 35-7 and the Peyton Manning-less Colts succumbed to an Arian Foster-less Houston team 34-7. While the scores were similar, and both outcomes were somewhat surprising, I think everyone believes the Steelers will have a successful season this year. When I saw the Houston-Indy score, though, I said that the Colts might lose every game this year, and I think we’re going to find out just how much Manning meant to that team. Beyond the obvious– his complete control of the offense– Manning also set up the Indianapolis defense. Like a dominant pitcher who can influence other games by allowing his team’s bullpen a day off, Manning kept his defense off the field, thereby allowing them to pursue a more aggressive (and energy-draining) approach when the other side did control the ball.

The NFL kicks off in less than two hours

Two months ago, who would’ve thought there would be a season this year? Well, probably everybody who actually thought about it. The NFL never was going to cancel this season, just like the NBA won’t miss theirs, and from the fan’s perspective (if not the media’s), the work stoppage wasn’t that big of a deal. But who would’ve thought the 2011 NFL season would look like this?

Probably not too many of you. Moreover, if told that, as work resumed and the season approached, Brett Favre was in talks with another NFL team, who would guess that the once-retired, greybearded quarterback starting in week one would be Kerry Collins?

Keep reading…

Why Isn’t Mike Vanderjagt Still Kicking In The NFL? (via ThePostGame)

He wants no attention, even though he’s still as charismatic and eloquent as any football analyst. He wants no sympathy, even though he probably deserves it. He says over and over again that he’s out of the league because he “went from outstanding to mediocre.” He’s got a nice house and a lovely former cheerleader wife and an 11-year-old son named Jay (who, by the way, recently won a Punt, Pass and Kick competition). Vanderjagt readily confesses, “I was an idiot” for saying those things about his team. He has Manning paraphernalia all over his restaurant, and he says the two are long past their dust-up. He has some powerful things to say, that’s for sure, but “Peyton did me wrong” is not one of them.

Vanderjagt has moved on.

Sorta. … Read More

via ThePostGame