Since I am having trouble digesting the Patriots pathetic performance the other night, the miserable season of the Red Sox is now mercifully over, the Celtics should be average at best this year and then their best player breaks his hand “in the shower” and the Bruins seemingly have some issues in shaping the roster just a scant few days before the season opener…well, what better “sport” to talk about than NASCAR to let the other topics simmer for a bit?!
So the Tony Stewart case has been completed and filed and…NOTHING! Listen, no one but Stewart knows if he was trying to intentionally hit Kevin Ward Jr. That much is for sure. But to have the case wrap up as quickly as it did, with absolutely no penalty whatsoever is mystifying. And then to throw out that Ward was under the influence of marijuana, enough to impair his judgement, seems to be adding insult to injury. I’ve said before that Ward was an idiot to be running out to the middle of the track to confront Stewart, even if the cars were under caution and slowing down. But how is it that everyone else saw Ward and avoided him, but Stewart didn’t?
Anyway, when this all went down, I had spoken to an old college friend who used to be a HUGE racing fan…maybe the only one at school. We’re talking about a guy who was all depressed about a rookie driver (Rob Moroso, and yes, I had to ask him what the name was) that was killed in 1990, not at the track, but in a drunk driving incident. And he didn’t even like him! Just thought he had a promising future. We’re also talking about a guy who had a quilt on his bed in his dorm room, made by his Mom, that included fabric pieces autographed by various celebrities including a few NASCAR drivers. His Mom mailed fabric pieces to these guys and they signed them and mailed them back. Pretty impressive for his Mom to do, I have to add. Kudos to her. Anyway, Dale Earnhardt was on it, along with his favorite driver, Phil Parsons (WHO?? Sort of a scrub driver, he says). He used to get really upset when anyone even sat on it. I mean…REALLY upset. Was hard to fathom his anger, since a) it was college, b) it was only a quilt and c) only the Good Lord knows what his roommate was doing to it. But I digress and needless to say, the dude is a credible NASCAR source, no question about it.
We had a little back and forth about the Stewart thing, outlined below:
BB (Billerica Blowhard): Flat out, do you think Tony Stewart hit Kevin Ward Jr. on purpose?
CQG (College Quilt Guy): My gut is that Tony was trying to send the kid a message by buzzing him as he went by. I don’t agree with people saying Tony didn’t see him. I think he saw him – as Tony came back around, his car was a lane higher than the car in front of him and I don’t think his view was obstructed.
BB: What are your personal feelings toward Stewart as a fan? Primarily before this incident?
CQG: He’s been my favorite driver over the last 10+ years. But he definitely has an “I’ll show him” edge to him. The accident happened because Tony ran this young driver up to the wall, basically being a hardass on the racetrack and putting the less experienced driver in a bad spot. That’s Tony. That’s how he is.
BB: Why do you say, “That’s how he is”? Can we look back in the past and see some similar type of behavior?
CQG: Hell, Tony himself got out of a wrecked car in ’98 or ’99 and walked on the track waiting for the offending driver to come around. He’s not above it. He likes to be the top dog and after the wreck this time, I don’t think he wanted to let this guy (Ward) show him up with the pointing and yelling. So he buzzed him.
BB: Final thoughts?
CQG: Obviously I don’t know what Tony saw. In all seriousness, there’s no way to know what he saw unless he tells someone the truth. The truth may indeed be that he didn’t see the guy. I just find that hard to believe and I think he misjudged the situation very badly. Though I absolutely do believe Tony had no intent of any physical harm.
There you have it. I feel the same way. But since my credentials for talking about racing are nonexistent, I had to ask an expert. I have to believe a lot of people feel the same way as well. That leaves me totally befuddled that Stewart is facing basically zero penalty for his actions. Maybe he pays some sort of financial settlement in a civil case, I don’t know. But what does that do? Especially after it seems as if Ward’s name has been dragged through the mud a bit with the marijuana facts?
I get that intent would be hard to prove. I get that Ward went out onto the track into traffic and kind of set himself up. I get that racing is a dangerous sport. I get that Tony has had a tough time dealing with this, as several articles have stated recently. I get the whole thing. But it seems to me that everyone involved, save the Ward family, want to sweep this under the rug as fast as possible. Get a big name back on the track. Get lots of dough rolling in for the sponsors. Something’s leaving a bad taste in my mouth about this…and again, I am not even a racing fan. But in the end, it’s all about the money, right?
Loved that TV show. Banged out all 7 seasons last spring on DVD. Sweet!
But this is no recap of that. Who wants to talk more Ray Rice?! OK, most have had enough of it. As have I. But the sad thing is that even though Rice is a scumbag, could the NFL and its “leadership” have come across as ever worse in this whole thing? Hard to believe, but it’s quite possible. But more importantly, should we be surprised at all of this?
What Rice did was certainly reprehensible. And the Ravens can certainly exercise their right to release him, which they did. The NFL can suspend him, which they did. But he will be back…if he can still play of course. His 2013 was nothing to write home about, so maybe he can’t. But some team will likely take a chance on him down the road. I’m ok with that. After all Michael Vick, Pacman Jones and various others have gotten second chances. Everyone deserves a second chance. People make mistakes (though admittedly, throwing a heavy left cross and then dragging your girlfriend around like a carcass might be stretching it to be called a “mistake”, but…).
But it’s surprising to me that this has blown up as far as it has. Part of it is the NFL’s role in it, more on that later. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it should be swept under the rug (again, more on the NFL later). But Ray Rice is far from the first domestic abuser in the NFL…or professional sports for that matter. I think the available video has really pushed this into the public eye more. But where was the outcry when Greg Hardy was found guilty for assaulting his ex-girlfriend in July? Or when Ray McDonald was arrested in August for allegedly assaulting his PREGNANT fiancee? Is it because of the video? But this kind of stuff has been going on since Christian Peter was beating up women at Nebraska and Robert Kraft tried to pull a fast one by drafting him 3 rounds after he was projected. If it wasn’t for his wife Myra, who essentially made the Pats never sign him, business would have gone on as usual. Jeez, do we all forget Lawrence Phillips, who was firing women down stairwells with some regularity (among many other despicable acts)? And countless cases before that most assuredly.
Just surprises me that Rice is the case that is being singled out. When the league is full of these jokers. And full of criminals in general. What does the public expect from the people that play this sport? Full of domestic abusers, drug addicts, guys that are part of drug rings, juicers, gang bangers, even murderers, etc. The Rice thing is just another day at the office. I don’t mean to minimize the situation. But the league has a bigger problem than Ray Rice. And I’m not entirely sure it is fixable. Maybe it’s all the hits to the head and other general violence. Not sure. But doesn’t look like things will change.
What’s exacerbating the whole issue is the whole NFL bungle job on the Rice case in particular. Roger Goodell certainly lied through his teeth. As anyone else involved with the league and the Ravens most assuredly did as well. They all wanted to bury it because they know the last paragraph is true. A lot of bad dudes in the NFL. So let’s just fire out a suspension and move on. Suppose I can’t blame them…especially with the money at stake. “Protect the Shield”. Something bad goes down, act swiftly and then move on. Don’t jeopardize all the dough flowing in.
Anyway, the NFL certainly doesn’t handle everything perfectly. This just looks worse because of the blatant lying. They should have just got ahead of it and dealt with it then. Video is everywhere. How did they not figure someone like TMZ would get a hold of the tape?
So Goodell may lose his 44 million dollar job. But who cares? Another figurehead will take his seat. And what really changes? Also, if the same type of players keep coming into the league, what really changes there too?
Like I said, just another day at the office…nothing to see here. Oh look, Adrian Peterson just got deactivated for Week 2. He is facing charges for allegedly beating his kid…carry on…
Just like after the first preseason game, had to give myself some time to digest that pathetic performance by our supposed Super Bowl contenders, the New England Patriots. Don’t get me wrong. I am not jumping off the bandwagon for sure. This team will still win the division, despite these clowns that are saying the Pats have sole possession of last place right now. The cliche “it’s only one game” does certainly apply. But it is a disheartening way to start the season, I will allow. Anyway…some observations:
*What the hell happened to this “revamped” defense we have been hearing about? “Darrelle Revis will shut down his guy and allow for others to help out elsewhere”. “Chandler Jones will have a huge breakout year”. “Patriots have too many good corners”. “Having Big Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo back will stiffen up the run defense”. Etc. Ok again, so some of this stuff may well happen over the long haul. But it’s a little concerning that NONE of this happened yesterday. I will grant that the Dolphins had more than a few short fields to work with on their drives, but still…Matt Patricia and his crew did nothing to inspire confidence. Patricia hasn’t done anything to inspire confidence for me since he’s been around actually. But that’s a story for a different day…
*Of particular concern on D was the alarming lack of pass rush. Especially since we were all told that the Miami offensive line is “in shambles”. What doesn’t help is when you only play your 2nd best pass rusher from last year half of the game. Yes, Rob Ninkovich may be better off as kind of a “3rd pass rusher”, but the fact remains that he was the Pats 2nd best one last year. And he does seem to have a nose for the ball, as he always seems to force fumbles. Yet he played half the snaps yesterday. One thing I did like that I saw a bit…love to see it more, but at least it was way more than last year…was that Dont’a Hightower was utilized more as a pass rusher. Not that he had a lot of success. But he appears to be better rushing instead of covering. So we will see where that goes. So if losing snaps to Hightower as a pass rusher is the plan, it’s ok with me. But Ninkovich losing snaps to Sealver Siliga or Joe Vellano or even Dominique Easley (now anyway)…not ok…because…
*…the middle of the D-Line got gashed by the running backs. Continuing story from last year. I don’t know what game analyst Trent Green was watching. But I didn’t see Vince Wilfork as being “light on his feet” and “a difference maker”. He had one nice rush. And then couldn’t stop anyone else coming through. Part of it is the stiff he has to play next to (see above). But folks, Vince ain’t the same guy, simple as that. Is it still the torn Achilles recovery? Old age? Just being fat? Not sure…probably a combination of the above. But either way, Chris Jones ain’t gonna be the answer when he comes back from his injury. Maybe Tommy Kelly would’ve helped. But these guys all sucked yesterday. No other way to put it.
*The pass defense was supposed to be a major upgrade, due mainly to Revis. But the schemes being played had me a little confused. Now I am far from an “X’s and O’s” guy. But seeing Jamie Collins covering Mike Wallace in crunch time was something that was more than a little shocking to me. And seeing Tavon Wilson on the field at all was mystifying. I guess when the alternatives are Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon and I suppose Malcolm Butler, then…but maybe Kyle Arrington or Logan Ryan could have played more in some capacity? Revis was also not Revis. But he is the least of my worries at this point.
*We don’t even need to talk about the blocked punt/bad snap.
*Now let’s get to the offense. Josh McDaniels has a better rep than Patricia. Because of this, he may take less heat. But he needs to get some heat here. Along with the Offensive Line coach…GOOOOGE, or whoever he is. Now before everyone lays the blame on the Logan Mankins trade, ALL of the lineman sucked yesterday. ESPECIALLY the tackles. Would Mankins have made a difference? Maybe. But the other guys were terrible. They seemed to rotate a bit, but the snap counts showed that was not the case. Ryan Wendell got a handful of snaps in place of Jordan Devey, but the other 4 played all game (though Dan Connolly rotated between center and right guard). Not a big deal. Bottom line is that Mankins or no Mankins…didn’t matter.
*Going back to McDaniels, the Patriots have a worrisome pattern of completely abandoning the run. Not that their running backs were tearing it up. And we’ve already been through the lines’ struggles. But they just completely went away from it. Making them of course one-dimensional and therefore easier to defend. Think they should have stuck with it longer. Also, Miami was down their top 3 linebackers at some point. Couldn’t he/they have made some adjustments to exploit that a little more?
*No no-huddle offense either. Part of their package for years. Was it the heat, being it was September in Miami? Maybe. But didn’t they just have training camp, two-a-day practices, exhibition games, etc., in July and August? Seems to me the heat shouldn’t have affected them as much as some people have claimed it may have.
*Last, but not least, Mr. Tom Brady. Not very good. Yes, again time to throw was an issue. But looks like he zoned in on Gronk too much. Gronk was in on limited snaps, but Brady was always looking for him. Brady also stopped throwing to Edelman in the 2nd half…well, except the deep pass he fired over his head…then seemed to blame Edelman. Maybe Julian should have kept running under the ball, we won’t ever know. But he was open. I don’t know what the story is with Danny Amendola either. Both training camps we hear about how Brady is working on good chemistry with Amendola. Danny got hurt last year and then Brady also clearly lost confidence in him. This year was supposed to be different. But we never saw him out there really until the 2nd half. Did Amendola just not get open? Does Brady still lack confidence in him? Jeez, he threw to Brandon LaFell more and that was a disaster. Was Aaron Dobson not physically ready? Seemed like he would have been a better choice at WR instead of LaFell…but I guess hindsight is 20/20. But the bottom line was that Brady was off his game yesterday. Let’s hope we can chalk it up to him being always bad in Miami.
*This didn’t matter in this particular game, but I thought it was interesting to see Patrick Chung returning kicks. Yikes! If they aren’t going to throw to Amendola, why not put him back there? Just a thought…
To sum it all up? Ugly! There are areas of concern. But if the AFC East is as bad as it is supposed to be, there is no long-term issue…divisionally anyway. A trip to the playoffs is still surely in order. But if these things don’t get completely fixed, they will probably face a road game in the playoffs and an early exit. Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it though.