Friday, September 21, 2007

What's The Deal With Scrubs?

Have you ever watched Scrubs? Do you know what it is? For years, the outside opinion of the NBC comedy Scrubs has baffled me. Entering its 7th and final season, Scrubs has been a television anomaly to me due to the fact that it is constantly a punchline for the television world. Tapped often as unfunny, disappointing, and generally unpopular, the vitriol towards this show is unfair and unwarranted for a show that is creative and entertaining on many accounts.

What really makes the criticism of Scrubs so intriguing is that the show isn't bad, certainly not worse than other sitcoms on TV (According to Jim, King of Queens, and My Name is Earl to name a few), and that for the most part a lot of people accept this criticism they hear. Some how over the years, Scrubs has become the show to ridicule and as a result the show is under appreciated by fans and critics alike.

Told primarily through the main character John "J.D." Dorian (Zach Braff), Scrubs follows the residency of young doctors through the medical world. Using inner monologues and fantasy scenes add to the comedy of the everyday life of J.D. and his other piers at Sacred Heart Hospital. The characters and situations in the hospital create some very imaginative and funny situations that lead Scrubs to be a good television program.

The cast as a whole is one of the strongest on television simply based on the size of the cast and their ability to be funny and add something to each episode whether they are a major component or not. A key example of this is J.D.'s foil and nemesis the Janitor. Torturing J.D. for pure enjoyment, the Janitor's pranks and means of harassing J.D. are great whether he is in the episode for 10 minutes or 2 minutes. That kind of ability to work within the parameters of a TV show so well is something along the lines of Newman from Seinfeld, and praise doesn't get much higher than that.

Also, Scrubs has one of my all-time favorite TV characters in Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley). If you don't know who McGinley is, you'll probably remember him as Bob from the Bobs in Office Space, the S.W.A.T. leader in Seven, and most recently the Commissioner of the More Taste League (MTL) in the Miller Lite commercials. Dr. Cox serves as J.D.'s unoffical mentor and carries himself with a pocketful of insults and overwhelming confidence that leads him to be the top doc in the hospital. Just the character as a whole is so creative and enjoyable that McGinley has really made Dr. Cox his own, adding everything from talking ticks to specific movements that add to the bravado of the character so well. It is amazing to me that he hasn't been nominated for so much as a Golden Globe (I believe he hasn't been nominated) let alone won anything for his performance. It is really one of the most underrated characters on television.

Other cast members add a lot to the show as well. They all add their own special touch of neuroses, egotism, and insanity to the bunch of characters in the show. They can all weave in and out of a storyline perfectly and they are all strong enough to carry an episode on their own. I mean, Sarah Chalke plays Elliot Reid who may just be the only television character in history to get progressively better looking as the show went on. Seriously, she has always taken a step up on the looks department. Which may not have much to do with the show, but is still worthy of note.
(Left: 1st Season; Center: 3rd Season; Right: 6th Season)

Which is coincidentally the exact inverse of Ellen Pompeo on Grey's Anatomy, who has only managed to become more sickly looking and closely resemble a plastic doll.
(Left: Old School (2003); Middle: Grey's Anatomy Season 1; Right: Season 2)

Which is another point of contention. How can Grey's Anatomy be so much bigger as a show than Scrubs? You're dealing with essentially the same material, only Grey's is a dramedy (drama with some comedy) while Scrubs is comedra (comedy with some drama). Granted the allure of Grey's is greater, and for that reason and the fact that dramas are easier to get attached to than comedies, I would expect Grey's to be a bigger hit, but the disparity is so great that it leaves me confused.

Further elaborating on the Scrubs drama point, there are some very poignant moments that go along with the goofball comedy that Scrubs is known for. Some of the stories are well written in a way that at the end, all of the plots in the episode come together to not only make the episode complete, but also lead to sometimes unexpected and refreshing revelations about the struggles in life. Scrubs would never consider itself a drama, and it would never want to be, but that doesn't mean there cannot be moments that make you feel something other than typical light hearts for these characters. The thing Scrubs does that I admire the most is the way in which it shows these young residents struggling in their profession. It isn't all one-liners and goofy situations. There are times when these people do struggle and suffer through hardships that you would find on any drama. Even for being a comedy, Scrubs takes the time to break down these difficult situations and resolve them in a way that is atypical of your usual comedy.

If I was hard pressed to think of reasons why this show is so mistreated, and trust me, I have tried to think of as many things as possible, I can really only come up with two.

First, ironically, what I admire most about the show is what may detract from it. Namely the comedra aspect of the show. I was watching it once, and my brother came down and happened to catch the last 10 minutes or so. Well, the ending was rather serious, and as it wrapped up, my brother turns to me and goes, "What the hell is this show about?" Keep in mind, this isn't the first time he has seen Scrubs, and he was well aware of what show it was, but maybe people who watch a comedy do not necessarily want these curveballs thrown at them out of nowhere. After watching a show that makes them laugh and have an enjoyable time, to throw in some drama can leave a bad taste in their mouths. Also, the fact that these mostly funny characters suddenly go through incidents of death, self-doubt, and depression can seem melodramatic coming through the TV screen. The points of drama are not subtle. They're in a hospital, they're going to have to deal with death, disease, and personal turmoil not because it's easy to write about, but because it is what they as characters would go through.

Second, is the inherent dislike for Zach Braff. As a person, I don't see too much that is good about the guy. He seems like a jerk in real life, and kind of a downer. His movies always show him as some kind of depressed loser who can't get his life together and tends to blame others for his faults. When he threatened to punch an 8 year old on Punk'd didn't help, and something about those scenes in Scrubs when he has to be rude or he says something wrong are just a little too real. Think about it, has there been a least liked leading man for a sitcom ever? Of course, I don't know Braff, he could be a great guy, but these are just general observations from me. Although, I can't imagine my impressions are that different from most anyone else, and that's not a good thing.

Other than that, I can't really think of anything to take away from Scrubs. I'm just a guy trying to figure out why no one seemingly likes this show. It's like the musical equivalent to liking the Foo Fighters. They've been around for awhile, sure I purchased "The Colour and the Shape" back in the day, but I don't like the Foo Fighters now. As a matter of fact, I know more people that hate the Foo Fighters than like them. Can you name one person that legitimately likes the Foo Fighters? That's what liking Scrubs is kind of like. Maybe I'm way off and a lot of people like Scrubs, who knows, but I'm just trying to get to the bottom of this situation as best I can.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

VS: The Office (Extended Edition)

In honor of The Office (NBC Version) being syndicated, Season 3 being released on DVD, and the eventual premiere of Season 4 coming up, I wanted to re-release my VS edition of the office from the old site. I'll add some pictures and make some comments every now and then to make it 'newer' so enjoy.

For this edition of VS, I'm going to take on the task of comparing the NBC and the BBC version of The Office. The Office originated in England, the brain-child of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. I became familiar and a fan of the BBC version, and I think it is a great all around show, not just a comedy. When the NBC version came out, Ricky and Steve were executive producers of the show, and I did hear them give the NBC version their blessing, so I decided to watch some.

While I have all the BBC episodes on DVD (there are only 12 plus 2 specials) I have managed to catch up and see most of the NBC version of the show. Which brings me to my standing that I would be able to break both versions down, and for those of you that are only familiar with the NBC version that need to check out the BBC version, or vice versa, this will be helpful for you.

I'm going to use the characters as the primary basis for comparison with a few intangibles thrown in. First though, I'm leading off with an overview of the show.

The Show:
The BBC version certainly has a dark, typically British humor to it. I think NBC viewers will be surprised just how similar the show is, up to a certain point. Although a groundbreaking show in Britain, The Office lasted a mere 2 season stretch spanning 12 episodes simply because the creators felt the show reached its peak, and to push it any further would be a mistake. A trait familiar to Gervais and Merchant, who just pulled the plug on the successful show, Extras, after two seasons with a Christmas Special planned.

The NBC version has gained popularity over the past couple of years. As each season passes, more and more people are watching the show. While the NBC version lacks the dark Brit humor, it makes up for it with a more Americanized relationship humor, which the BBC version stayed away from aside from the main love interest story of Dawn and Tim (NBC: Pam and Jim). Now it's safe to say The Office is one of the top comedies on television.

David Brent/Michael Scott-

David Brent is the epitome of every boss you'd love to have but can't stand to be around. Constantly attempting to be the center of humor and fun at his paper mill, Brent participates in moments that are simply painful to be a part of. Brent is basically a child. He has selfish needs and thinks he is funnier, smarter, and more charming than he actually is. Full of contradictions and poor thought process, you can actually see how all of these terrible ideas and actions form in Brent's head and how he thinks they'll actually be a great success. Completely devoid of any natural talent, Brent is a train wreck that is just enjoyable to watch.

Michael Scott, similar to Brent, has the same affinity for terrible humor. Scott is a child mentally as well. The difference is that Scott comes from is more of a can't fit in, awkward personality slant. He doesn't know how to assimilate himself to everyone else and often gets in trouble due to his poorly thought out actions and insensitive comments. All of which only add to the humor of the show, of course. I would argue Scott is a bit more "stupid" version of Brent, but it isn't exactly like Brent is a genius either.

Final Call: You can't go wrong with David Brent. He is a once in a lifetime character that is brought to reality in the most hilarious and real way. Ricky Gervais and Steve Carrell became the first actors to win an Emmy for playing the same character. If you're looking for just painful comedy then you won't get more "answering machine moments in Swingers" than from David Brent. Plus he plays guitar.

Tim Canterbury/Jim Halpert-

Tim is the typical man stuck in the middle of a job he just exists in. He has dreams of going back to university, but those dreams never come to fruition. He is sort of the sensible center of the office universe. While battling his feelings to the engaged Dawn, Tim takes out his aggravation by playing pranks on Gareth. His observations and wit that are necessary to steer the ship, so to speak.

Jim is very similar to Tim. They even have the same haircut and stares at the camera. The characters both serve the same purpose in the show. Being the center of the office doesn't permit much swing on the character interpretation. Jim too plays pranks on Dwight with the help of his secret crush, Pam. The one element that is needed to pull of the Jim character is charm. He has to be likeable, unlike everyone else, where it really doesn't matter if you like them or not.

Final Call: I'm going to have to go with Jim on this one. I think this character is more likeable, plus the pranks he pulls on Dwight are phenomenal. There are some pranks on the BBC version, but not to the extent of the NBC version. It really is just genius how funny these pranks are.

Gareth Keenan/Dwight Schrute-

The constant person getting picked on, Gareth is an ex-military who is now assistant regional manager, I mean assistant to the regional manager. Based on his ex-military background and odd social skills, the uptight Gareth is a sucker for pranks and the brunt of numerous jokes. His rants during interviews are great as well. He is the perfect side to Brent. There is also a running joke between Tim, Dawn, and Gareth where Tim and Dawn use Gareth's military training to make him insinuate that he is gay. Funny, but probably too politically incorrect for the US.

Dwight is also primarily the brunt of jokes on the NBC version of the show. Dwight is a bit more out there as a character than Gareth. Not roped in via ex-military training, Dwight is more of a wannabe military. Partnering up with Michael Scott, Dwight is much more of a suck up, gung-ho type sidekick. Giving his all for his beloved paper company. He certainly took it up a notch the past couple seasons by being concussed in a car crash and saving Jim from an attacking Roy.

Final Call: Dwight is a bit more out there and harder to believe, and I think that the writers of the NBC version use that to get some laughs as a result. With that being the case I'm going to have to go with Gareth as the better version of the character. All the laughs of Dwight without the reaches that need to be made with that character.

Dawn Tinsley/Pam Beasley-

Dawn is the love interest of Tim, while being engaged to Leigh for three years. Dawn and Tim get through the days at Wernam Hogg flirting, while she usually deals with Brent by trying to be nice, but not afraid to show him what's up when he makes her uncomfortable. Usually reserved, it's only when she spends time with Tim that she seems really happy.

Engaged to Roy for three years, Pam is the receptionist at Dunder Mifflin. While much more involved in the story compared to the BBC version, Pam has certain storylines that are separate from Dawn just based on the extra characters around the office. This adds a little more to her character and Roy isn't as much of a dick as Leigh is, so that makes her look more reasonable for staying with him, or at least when they were together.

Final Call: I'm gonna have to side with Pam on this one. She is more developed, and I think she is given more of an opportunity to as a character.

Overall I think that the BBC version is superior, and here is why. The story arch is drawn out perfectly. No time feels like it is wasted, and you appreciate everything that there is. The dark humor is a preference of mine compared to the lighter humor of the NBC version.

The NBC version does have more episodes, which is nice, and that allows itself more character development and stories to run with. In the end though that doesn't make up for the quality of the BBC version. You see hints of it with the NBC version, but The Office isn't just a comedy. It has parts drama, and moments that really hit you in a way you don't expect from the typical comedy. Plus I tire of things like the will they/won't they situation with Jim and Pam, and the reaching and liberties that are taken with Michael Scott and Dwight.

So here is the choice:

A. The dark brit humor of the BBC version, with less episodes, but a great story.
B. The zanier Americanized NBC version, with more episodes, and a slightly more diluted storyline.

Either way, I would suggest you give each series a chance. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

NFL Preview: Post-Season & Awards

Ok, this is the last sports related thing I'm going to write for a while. Perhaps some of you do not care for sports or are just sick of a week of NFL Previews, but next time I'll bring something more for the general reading audience. Hope you still find the stuff interesting though.

First, just a quick run down of the NFC East games this past week.

Eagles v. Packers:

What an embarrassing loss. We handed the Packers this game, and while the offense did struggle, that is to be expected in the first game of the season from this team. As for who is to blame for the loss and those horrible special team mistakes, it is clearly the Eagles organization and people like Tom Heckert, Joe Banner, and Andy Reid for not getting a capable punt returner on this roster. It comes down to the sheer ego of these men that they thought they could just throw anyone back there and things would be fine. There were plenty of capable return men available over the past year, but the front office opted for Jeremy Bloom. Since Bloom wasn't as explosive as the front office hoped he would be, they cut him. A 5th round pick from last year just cut. To make things worse the whole mantra of this years draft was that they were comfortable with the team they had and felt they had no areas of need, which allowed them to take a luxury pick of Kevin Kolb in the second round. Yeah, real nice move, guys.

Some of you may think you could do a better job than J.R. Reed and Greg Lewis did yesterday, and you'd be right. Anyone with a limited football IQ knows that on punts you can simply fair catch the ball, and you do not have to touch it. Sadly, our two return men did not. With that said, neither of them are punt returners and the coaching staff cannot expect them to just go back there and be steady contributors. The first punt Greg Lewis ever fielded was in the last pre-season game. That is unacceptable for an NFL franchise, let alone one that plans to win a Super Bowl sometime soon. Yes, I agree Reed and Lewis are professional football players, and they should know the rules of the game, but you never know what could be going through their heads when they're back there. Didn't the special teams coach tell them anything? The only positive from yesterday is that Greg Lewis will finally be released from the team, and he'll no longer be an Eagle.

Redskins v. Dolphins:

Pathetic game, but the 'Skins won (barely) and set themselves up nicely to get destroyed next Monday by the Birds.

Cowboys v. Giants:

Oh geez, here comes all of the Cowboy love. This game proved absolutely nothing to me. Everything that transpired I already knew. The Giants are going to be terrible, minus a career year from Eli Manning, and the Cowboys are terrible on defense. How do you let up that many points to the Giants? How? The Giants did whatever they wanted, without their starting RB! The only reason the Cowboys put up so many points was because the Giants defense is plain bad, and they didn't make any adjustments to the Cowboys attacking them over the middle until the 4th quarter. I'm telling you, mark it down for next week, I don't know what the line is going to be for the Cowboys at the Dolphins, but take the Dolphins. They have a solid defense and will cause more problems for Tony Romo than the Giants did.

Other than that, you gotta love the opening weekend of football, especially that Michael Mann directed Nike commercial with Shawne Merriman and Steven Jackson. They always have the coolest commercials.


East: Philadelphia Eagles
West: Seattle Seahawks
North: Green Bay Packers
South: New Orleans Saints
Wild cards: Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins

East: New England Patriots
West: San Diego Chargers
North: Baltimore Ravens
South: Indianapolis Colts
Wild cards: Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos

Wild Card -
Seattle over Chicago
Washington over Green Bay

Baltimore over Denver
San Diego over Pittsburgh

Divisional -
Seattle over Philadelphia
New Orleans over Washington

New England over San Diego
Indianapolis over Baltimore

Conference Championship -
NFC: Seattle over New Orleans
AFC: New England over Indianapolis

Super Bowl: New England over Seattle

Awards -

MVP: Tom Brady
Coach of the Year: Sean Payton
NFC Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year: Calvin Johnson/Patrick Willis
AFC Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshawn Lynch/David Harris
Worst Eagle: Assuming Greg Lewis gets cut, Correll Buckhalter

Saturday, September 8, 2007

NFL Preview: The East

AFC: East

1. New England Patriots 13-3 (Last Year: 12-4)

After making the most moves/best moves in the off-season the Pats sured up virtually every weakness they had on their team. Their LB's were slow, they got Adalius Thomas, their WR's weren't game breakers, their top 3 WR's weren't with the team last year, and they had return problems on special teams, they traded for Wes Welker to handle those duties. With all those improvements there is some kind of uneasiness I have with the Pats. It's like for so long the Pats haven't been the most talented team, causing people to always question if the Pats could win. Now, it's more of a done deal. All the pieces are in place, and things are too good for the Pats. There is just a feeling that something could go very wrong this year. Starting with Tom Brady. Let's have the Sports Guy sum things up perfectly.
What an intriguing twist for the Manning-Brady rivalry! Manning comes through in the big Pats-Colts game, Manning wins the Super Bowl, Manning hosts Saturday Night Live ... meanwhile, the only way Brady's 2007 would have been rockier was if Bridget Moynihan named their new son "Peyton." (Which would have been the single most vindictive move by a female celebrity since Alanis Morissette released "You Oughta Know" in 1995).
Anyway, will everything implode? Probably not they're the Pats. Even if 5 things go wrong, the Pats can handle it.

Best Fantsy Player: Tom Brady - he finally gets to have a multitude of weapons around him. With Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth at WR and Laurence Maroney coming into his own at RB it is almost like Brady is being spoiled. He should be able to extract TD's like a surgeon extracts a gall bladder this year.

2. New York Jets 9-7 (Last Year: 10-6)

I like the Jets team this year. They made all the right moves last year, draft wise, and with Thomas Jones in at RB, proper strides have been taken. However, last year they had a much easier schedule, and while they'll still be playing Buffalo and Miami, the rest of their schedule is sure to make things harder for the Jets. They still need to stabalize their QB position, and Chad Pennington has looked horrible.

Best Fantasy Player: Thomas Jones - I've liked Thomas Jones since he was drafted by the Cardinals. Obviously things didn't go too great there, but in Chicago, he found what kind of back he was. Behind a very solid offensive line Jones should be able to shine, and as the main TD threat, that can only translate to fantasy points.

3. Buffalo Bills 8-8 (Last Year: 7-9)

God knows how the Bills can get rid of all their key defensive players, their best RB, and have J.P. Losman as their QB, but they're still improving as a team. It is really mindblowing. I mean J.P. Losman has turned into a decent NFL quarterback with one of the best deep balls in the game. Who knew? Not me, that's for sure. While Losman may be a one trick pony, it is a good trick. Lee Evans and Peerless Price give Losman good options, but the ability of this offense to work will rest on rookie RB Marshawn Lynch. While there were concerns about Lynch's back and off-field incidents before the draft, things seem to be going well for Lynch. Things better stay that way or he'll be getting suspended by Commissioner Goodell.

Best Fantasy Player: Marshawn Lynch - he could be the best rookie RB this year. Although I'm not so sold on his ability to suddenly be a star in Buffalo. Keep Option 1a. as Lee Evans.

4. Miami Dolphins 4-12 (Last Year: 6-10)

When you have a top 10 pick, you should be able to do better than, "He's a great return man." Trent Green is your QB, your defense is all you have and they're old, and for GODSAKE'S change your logo!

Best Fantasy Player: Chris Chambers - he is a good receiver, but with a drunk driving in the off-season and Trent Green throwing him the ball, things are looking bleak.

NFC: East

1. Philadelphia Eagles 11-5 (Last Year: 10-6)

Oh, the Birds. What can you say? If everything goes right, then you have your NFC Champs. If one thing goes wrong, the house of cards is going to fall just like that. If things go poorly, the NFL Year In Review Video for the Birds is going to be called "House of Cards: The Story of the 2007 Philadelphia Eagles." What can go wrong? Everything. Donovan, Jevon Kearse, Brian Westbrook, and Shawn Andrews aggravate past injuries, Kevin Curtis does not work out as a top WR, and the defense falls in on itself. Individually, there is over a 25% chance that each of those thigns can happen. That makes me worried. Add to that Andy Reid's personal problems with is kids, well that is putting a whole new level of concern to this season. I think Andy can separate family from work, but it has to affect him in SOME way.

I haven't been too impressed with Kevin Curtis this year, and he's definitely going to have to prove to me he can fill Donte Stallworth's shoes. He doesn't need to be spectacular, but if he can perform like Reggie Brown, then that' is all I ask.

The defense is always an issue. The gutsy move to release Jeremiah Trotter leaves a lot of pressure on second year LB Omar Gaither to fill in and step up, and new acquisition Takeo Spikes to work with Brian Dawkins to captain this defense. Sean Considine needs to make big strides at strong safety, but while both he and Gaither seem sure they'll be able to do so, it's their actions that will be the most important. Many are saying the key to the whole defense is Brodrick Bunkley's ability to be a factor and push that line to get more pressure on the QB and give the LB's room to make plays. I do agree Bunkley needs to pick it up and all indications are that he will be a large contributor this year, I think Mike Patterson needs to do the same. He is more experienced and should take more of a prodcutive role.

Overall, things are far from perfect for the Birds. A lot of things have to go right for them, and I think if everything does click, then they will be in the Super Bowl. That is how these things usually work: Drew Bledsow gets hurt and rookie Tom Brady comes in and wins a Super Bowl, Trent Green blows out his knee in the preseason and a former bag boy from the Canadian Football League named Kurt Warner wins a Super Bowl, and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy loses his son to suicide only to pull his team together for an improbable run to the Super Bowl. So if things go right, I see great things ahead. It's what needs to happen.

Best Fantasy Player: Brian Westbrook - he is officially the most important part of the Eagles offense. When everyone is healthy, he is what makes things role. His durability will always be questioned, but as long as the Eagles run the ball with him, Correll Buckhalter, and Tony Hunt, Westbrook should get his screens and runs to produce a lot of yardage. Plus the touches he loses on the goal line to Hunt will be made up for in his pass catching ability in the redzone.

2. Washington Redskins 10-6 (Last Year: 5-11)

The 'Skins are my sleeper team this year. I basically don't see much of the rest of this division as a threat, so I figure some team has to step up to challenge the Birds. The Redskins have the talent and the ability to be a good football team. Their defense is solid, although I have no idea who any of their LB's are. For all I know, it's these guys. Anyway, the talent is there, they have a proven coaching staff, two solid RB's to spell each other, and most importantly I think Jason Campbell can be a functioning quarterback. They don't need anything spectacular, just a QB that won't turn the ball over and can make 2 of 5 big plays. As long as they can run the ball with Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts, they can control the field and win some games in the NFC.

Best Fantasy Player: Clinton Portis - although his knee is an issue, you can't sell him too short. If the offense gets moving, holes should open up in front of him and he should be able to get the TD's he desperately needs.

3. Dallas Cowboys 8-8 (Last Year: 9-7)

Plain and simple, I'm not a believer in Tony Romo. He has flaws that can be exposed, and teams that have film on him now can expose them. He has put together a nice pre-season, but what does that mean? His phyche has to be shaky after that Seahawks game, and the bright lights of Dallas may be too much for him to take. Hell, Terrell Owens has managed to insult him and it's been a quiet pre-season for TO. Plus the defense has never really come together like it should have, with Roy Williams being shockingly close to becoming the next Michael Lewis. The RB situation needs to be worked out. I don't know if Marion Barber can handle a full load, but he should because he is much more explosive that Julius Jones.

Best Fantasy Player: Marion Barber - he wasn't just a one year wonder. Even if he doesn't get his carries, he is still the guy they turn to at the goal line, and it may only be a matter of time before the carries start to tip in Barber's favor.

4. New York Giants 5-11 (Last Year: 8-8)

The Giants lack of talent on the offensive line and from the LB's back to the secondary makes this team the weakest in the division. Losing their best offensive player in Tiki Barber doesn't help either. The Giants know Tom Coughlin is going to be fired at the end of the year, so what is the motive to play for him? The team has no true leader outside of Michael Strahan, who just decided to come back and play for this team, and it certainly doesn't help to have Tiki ripping on everyone from his former team. Regarding that, I think that Tiki can write whatever he wants in his book. Those are his thoughts and feelings, but to bring up random moments and bash players like Eli Manning on his TV gig is inappropriate. As an analyst it is important to draw on his experiences as a player, not throw former players under the bus. I don't care what anyone says, but do you think anyone on the Giants actually liked Tiki? Can you imagine hanging out with him? He would be so pompous and arrogant. Everything about him as a person is calculated and planned out, fake if you will. He's clearly criticizing his former teammates as a way to separate himself from football player Tiki into broadcaster Tiki, but the bottomline is that he's just not a good broadcaster so far. The way he was talking about going into the media, you'd think he would be a little more "real". He's not a news anchor, he's an analyst for a football show and dabbles in morning show work. He needs to be a person not Tiki-bot.

Moving away from Tiki for a second, I think Eli will step up this year. He'll have his best year to date, but the people around him won't help. I see new RB Brandon Jacobs splitting carries with Reuben Droughns by week 8 due to Jacobs fumbling and overall ineffecitveness. There are just to many holes for them to handle.

Best Fantasy Player: Eli Manning - like I said, this will be Eli's best year as a pro, it has to be. If he fails, you can stick a fork in Eli at least as a Giant. I say this because times when everything isn't perfect and you need someone to step up, you're QB and former #1 pick should be that guy. He doesn't have Tiki to defer to. He has to be the leader and come into his own as a football player. It's time to put those partying ways behind you, Eli.

Monday: Post-Season and Awards

Friday, September 7, 2007

NFL Preview: The West

A rather inauspicious way to kick off the season last night with the Colts absolutely bludgeoning the Saints. I'm personally looking forward to all the commentators flipping on the Saints and telling us how the Colts are great and will repeat for the Super Bowl a mere day after no one picked the Colts to repeat. Gotta love the media. Anyway, onto the West.

AFC: West

1. San Diego Chargers 13-3 (Last Year: 14-2)

That picture pretty much explains what the West is all about. That man, LaDainian Tomlinson is off a record breaking TD year minus the playoff success. This years Chargers would be the frontrunner for AFC Champs with the Pats, and in some circles they still are. However, like some kind of science experiment from Trading Places,the Chargers fired their head coach due to poor playoff performance for a coach with an even worse playoff history, Norv Turner. This will answer a major question in the sport of football: How much can a coach mess up a team? It will be interesting to see. I don't expect the Chargers to be as successful as last year. The Broncos will push them and QB Phillip Rivers may find some growing pains. However, this is the most talented team in the NFL. That should count for a lot.

Best Fantasy Player: Vincent Jackson - clearly, I'm joking. It's LDT. The runaway #1 pick of every fantasy draft. It isn't even close. So if you get him feel fortunate and enjoy the ride.

2. Denver Broncos 10-6 (Last Year: 9-7)

Last year was a hiccup to the usual Broncos football. The team was stuck in between major changes at RB and QB. Now that the Jay Cutler era has begun, the Broncos can start getting back on track. On offense, with the addition of Travis Henry, everything should be clicking. The biggest problem for the Broncos was their pass rush, which they have made a major effort to improve by drafting DE's Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder in the first two rounds of the draft. Probably the biggest move the Broncos made was acquiring Dre Bly to start opposite Champ Bailey in the secondary. Those are two guys you can leave on an island and they should be fine. They are shut down CB's, and I'll be interested to see how difficult it is to throw on them.

Best Fantasy Player: I can't say Travis Henry just because you never know what Mike Shannahan is going to do about splitting the carries, so to be safe I'm going with Javon Walker, and I'm going to use the rest of the time to talk about Champ Bailey.

Not only have we seen that the Redskins were dead wrong in trading Bailey for Clinton Portis a few years ago, Bailey has placed himself as the top CB in the game. He was my pick for Madden 08 cover man. Usually there is a correlation with the new features of the game and the player's position on the cover. They should have put Champ on the cover and made a cornerback/secondary function to make it esier for the user to manually cover widereceivers. Would have been great.

3. Kansas City Chiefs 6-10 (Last Year: 9-7)

Everyone is down on the Chiefs, but I don't see why. They overachieved last year, but are they this terrible mess? No more than usual. Damon Huard is 10-6 as a starter, there have never been good WR's there, and while people make a big deal about Larry Johnson's carries (they do need to limit those)he is still a great RB. Let's face it, the Chiefs haven't had great WR's, well ever. They have the formula to win some games with what they have.

Best Fantasy Player: Larry Johnson - as long as his carries are limited I think LJ can have the best season of any RB coming off 400+ rushes. He's a bull, not some finesse back, and hopefully the Chiefs will spell him more and realize if they burn him out, then they will be the worst team in this division for years to come.

4. Oakland Raiders 4-12 (Last Year: 2-14)

Believe it or not, there were two positives to come out of last years season for the Raiders. First, their defense emerged as one of the up and coming in the league. Despite the record, the D was very good, but when the offense doesn't score, well if you let up 10 points you're screwed. Second, they got the first pick in the draft, which they used on JaMarcus Russell. While he hasn't signed yet, which is the Raiders fault for not giving him his money and using the luxury of negotiating with his agent prior to the draft, he has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. Next year they could make some strides and challenge the Chiefs to get out of the cellar.

Best Fantasy Player: LaMont Jordan - he was a top fantasy player not too long ago, but an inept offense along with injuries compromised Jordan's season. He is a dark horse this year in the fantasy world, but would be a great back-up option to have.

NFC: West

1. Seattle Seahawks 10-6 (Last Year: 9-7)

The NFC West is the most highly contested and debatable divisions in the league. Whether it is due to its supreme talent level or swelling of mediocrity is still up in the air. However, this division has belonged to the Seahawks for the past few years, and I think they have a couple of seasons left. They still won the division without their best player, Shaun Alexander who is coming fresh off the Madden Curse. That is pretty impressive, and if QB Matt Hasselbeck can rebound and have a good year, then Seattle should win the division again.

Best Fantasy Player: Shaun Alexander - 2 years, 1 Madden Cover, and LDT removed from his career year, Alexander was once the fantasy darling turned into fantasy question mark. There are two camps for Alexander, the "He's going to recover and score 30 TD's camp" and the "His foot is still injured and won't be the same camp." I'm leaning more towards the former rather than the latter.

2. San Francisco 49ers 9-6-1 (Last Year: 7-9)

The Niners are this years sleeper darling, but I'm not jumping on that band wagon. They will be better, but they're still young. Vernon Davis needs to come into his own on offense, and the free spending the Niners did in the off-season to acquire Nate Clements and Michael Lewis was money not so well spent. Hint to every team that plays the Niners, pump and go to the X receiver. It'll get Lewis all day long. Oh, and I kind of owe an apology to Alex Smith who has turned out much better than I ever imagined. Yes, with what little he has done so far he has still far exceeded my expectation. If he takes the jump this year he is supposed to, then I will give him an outright apology next year. Oh, and that's right, I'm calling for a tie.

Best Fantasy Player: Frank Gore - I liked Gore coming out of Miami, but injuries limited him. While he was mostly healthy last year, his broken hand during training camp has to worry you about his overall ability to stay healthy. Beyond that, as long as he holds onto the ball on the goal line and doesn't give up those TD's to converted RB Michael Robinson, there isn't much to dislike.

3. St. Louis Rams 8-7-1 (Last Year: 8-8)

Quite a division for RB's isn't it? You have 4 of the top 6 RB's in the league. The 2nd of which is Steven Jackson of the Rams. While Jackson came on late last year, he is ready to explode with a great year. He is aiming for 2,500 total yards from scrimmage and a lot of TD's. While that sounds all well and good, the Rams are not the constant threat on offense they once were. They still have their key players like Torry Holt and Marc Bulger, but something just holds this team back. After playing as them in Madden in an exhibition game, I'm guessing it is their secondary. I don't have the slightest clue who any of these people are. That's not a good thing I'm sure.

Best Fantasy Player: Steven Jackson - is rather the obvious pick for this team. However, keep in mind that his TD stats were poor until the last few weeks of the season, and teams will now show more focus on him. While he will still be a star, ideas of 2,500 total yards from scrimmage isn't going to happen, and he is guilty of a fantasy RB sin, fumbling the ball.

4. Arizona Cardinals 7-9 (Last Year: 5-11)

Here was last years sleeper darling. However, they couldn't overcome being THE CARDINALS. Edgerrin James fizzled as their big free agent signing and rarely did both the offense and defense perform together. This year though, they have a new coach in Ken Whisenhunt and a new hope to acutally get better. They are on the right path, but in this division they need to straighten out their defense a little more. I look at this division as flip-flopping in a couple years with the Cardinals and Niners battling at the top and Seattle and the Rams demoted to the lower level. We'll see though. I must admit, I'm going to miss those Dennis Green press conferences.

Best Fantasy Player: Larry Fitzgerald - one of the best receivers in the game. The guy is so talented, he just needs Matt Leinart to get him the football and he will toast this division.

Tomorrow: The East

Thursday, September 6, 2007

NFL Preview: The North

AFC: North

Baltimore Ravens 11-5 (Last Year: 13-3)

The Ravens played extremely well last year. The defense brought them along for the first few weeks, then Steve McNair and the Ravens offense began to come around and actually perform. We all know what the Ravens defense is about, but the questions is always with the offense. McNair gave them a steady QB, and this past off season with the addition of Willis McGahee is a definite upgrade over Jamal Lewis. McGahee was an above average back in Buffalo, but with a solid offensive line in front of him this should be a career year for him. The reason for the drop off is that the offense and defense played a little too good last year, plus the Ravens had an easier schedule due to their horrid season 2 years ago. Losing Adalius Thomas to free agency will not hurt them as much as it would hurt most teams. They still have Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Bart Scott back there.

Best Fantasy Player: Willis McGahee - if anyone should appreciate having a decent passing attack and solid offensive line it's him. He "couldn't wait to get out of [Buffalo]," but he commented that some of the motivation to leave Buffalo was that there were no night clubs to go to, so we'll see how that goes. I'd look for 1,400 yards and double digit scores for Willis.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6 (Last Year: 8-8)

For me it was really a toss up between the Steelers and Bengals for this spot, but what it came down to is which team to I think matches up best against each other and the Ravens. I still cannot trust the Bengals D against hard hitting teams like the Steelers and Ravens. While the Steelers took a step back last year, new coach Mike Tomlin has seemed to get his team in some sort of order after there was a large backlash from the players since the team did not hire incumbent offensive coordinator or offensive line coach, Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm respectively. As I've mentioned before, Ben Roethlisberger no longer commands my hatred, and the rest of the offense has the possibility to be one of the best in Pittsburgh's recent history. The D will be anchored by wild man Troy Polamalu, and as long as the void left by Joey Porter isn't too great, then the Steelers should be in the running in the North. If they struggle then it could be the end for new mascot Steely McBeam. With that name, I hear he does porn in the offseason.

Best Fantasy Player: Willie Parker is healthy and should get more goal line touches. The sleeper year predicted for Santonio Holmes may be overblown, but he definitely gives the Steelers a deep threat, and if Tomlin sticks to his word and says they're going to open up the offense more than that is a good thing.

3. Cincinnati Bengals 9-7 (Last Year: 8-8)

Like I said, it is close between the Steelers and Bengals. No one in the division can match the Bengals offense, but their defense is lacking by a lot. So much that Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Ocho Cinco himself, Chad Johnson cannot overcome. With all the off season arrests and problems adding up, the Bengals have taken some steps back over the years, but they finally seem to have gotten their house in order. Maybe next year they will be better suited for a run in the conference.

Best Fantasy Player: T.J. Houshmandzadeh - long the second receiver to Chad Johnson, they have now become 1 and 1a. With Chris Henry suspended for the first couple games could open more end zone opportunities for the tall, rat-tailed wideout.

4. Cleveland Browns 3-13 (Last Year: 4-12)

WELCOME! That is what should be stamped on the forehead of the Cleveland Browns because they are the doormat of this division. Having been an absolute disgrace since returning to the NFL, the Browns made a good selection of OT Joe Thomas, but then mortgaged their future (to the Cowboys gain, sadly) to draft Brady Quinn as the QB of the future. Quinn may be able to become a functioning QB, but I just don't like the deal. Quinn fell for a reason and if he wasn't the QB for Notre Dame I wonder how much farther he would have fallen.

Best Fantasy Player: Kellen Winslow - has spent much of his career either running his mouth or getting injured, but if and when he stays healthy he shows what made him a great TE in Miami. He will need to step up and perform to keep these Browns barely afloat. With LB's covering him and most teams not caring about defense because they'll be up by 20 against the Browns, he could get some junk TD's throughout the year.

NFC: North

1. Green Bay Packers 10-6 (Last Year: 8-8)

I'm calling it, this is Brett Favre's last year. He's going to pull it all together for one last playoff run. The only way it isn't his last year is if he wants to do the old announce his retirement before next season and go on a retirement tour. Seriously though, I like the Packers this year. They have one of the best young defenses in the league and with Favre back there, you have a QB that can find some wins where only losses appear. Then again, recently Favre can do the exact opposite of that as well. Either way, I like the Pack's wideouts of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, and rookie RB Brandon Jackson from Nebraska appears ready to jump right into the starting line-up. They could surprise the division.

Best Fantasy Player: Donald Driver - has been Favre's go to guy for the past few seasons and should reprise that role this year. He is certainly one of the more underrated receivers in the league, but he performs fantasy-wise.

2. Chicago Bears 10-6 (Last Year: 13-3)

The Bears are right on the edge of falling apart and I don't know if they are aware of it. Let's start with a defense that collapsed in the Super Bowl last year. Then there's Rex Grossman who is shaky already. He's going to cost them at least 2-3 games this year. The running game is up in the air with Cedric Benson taking over where there used to be a platoon of him and Thomas Jones. Benson hasn't proven himself as a #1 back yet, and with Grossman at QB, the Bears are going to ask a lot out of him. Devin Hester emerged as one of the most exciting players in the league last year, but will he repeat his performance? History says no. Even at WR, it seems like a big leap to predict Hester will be a contributor where so many other return men have failed (see: Dante Hall, Az-Zahir Akim, Michael Lewis (the milkman), Desmond Howard) the list goes on. I could see the Bears being 8-8 or even 7-9, but I'm going to side with caution and give them a 10-6 record.

Best Fantasy Player: Adrian Peterson - not the rookie, but the one currently second on the Bears' RB depth chart. I think Benson will not deliver or he'll get hurt and Peterson will be able to step in. He is averaging over 4 yards per carry in his career and could have a decent fantasy year.

3. Detroit Lions 5-11 (Last Year: 3-13)

Everyone is waiting for the Lions to turn it around, and while it will probably happen eventually, peole have certainly stopped holding their breath. After drafting their 4th straight WR with a 1st round pick, the Lions appear to have something going for them. I think you had to take Calvin Johnson if you were the Lions. Your past mistakes like Charles Rogers and Mike Williams should not dissuade anyone from taking a talent like Johnson. With that said, had the Lions taken say Troy Polamalu and Shawne Merriman instead of those two bums, well the Lions could be a little better off to say the least. Under offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the offense should be running on all cylinders. Jon Kitna can perform in this system and if Kevin Jones or Tatum Bell can operate at RB, then the Lions should be able to improve a little.

Best Fantasy Player: Roy Williams - can take advantage of Calvin Johnson getting some attention, and in this offense can certainly fulfill the Torry Holt role Martz implemented in St. Louis.

4. Minnesota Vikings 3-13 (Last Year: 6-10)

While it may not be apparent, the Vikings are a year away from being a very good team again. They have the key components in place on the offensive line, running back, and have one of the best defensive lines in the league. What they're missing is a veteran QB and receivers that can catch the ball. While those may seem like two major things, they're not impossible to find. This year, they're in trouble. Being too young is a problem in Minnesota, but with the talent at most of the key positions, they're a great Tavaris Jackson game away from beating nearly anyone in the NFC.

Best Fantasy Player: All Day - one of the best nicknames in football goes to Adrian Peterson. While he will split carries with Chester Taylor, his explosiveness and ability to find the endzone will eventually get Peterson the job. The only concern is Peterson's injury past. While he has no recurring injuries to knees or anything, he has been hurt frequently.

Tommorow: The West

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

NFL Preview: The South

Time to run through the NFL and see what we can look forward to in the coming season. As usual I'm going to go division by division given predictions on the records and a little bit about each teams best/emerging fantasy player. My predictions have improved every year, so here's to keeping up the trend. ONWARD!

AFC South:

1. Indianapolis Colts 12-4 (Last Year: 12-4)

The Colts completed one of the most unexpected runs to the Super Bowl last year. After looking less than stellar all year, the Colts defense came together at the perfect time and they had some impressive wins on the way to Peyton's first Super Bowl title. I cannot imagine the Colts being able to repeat after the, frankly, "lucky" way the defense played plus their off-season losses on defense. They'll still dominate one of the worst divisions in the league though.

Best Fantasy Player: Peyton Manning - no matter what shape their D is in, the Colts will always make sure Peyton is happy offensively. As for Josephy Addai, I think he has potential, but is he better than Edgerrin James in his prime? I don't think so.

2. Houston Texans 9-7 (Last Year: 6-10)

The Texans could be much better this year if they drafted Reggie Bush or Vince Young like anybody with half a brain would have. Sadly, the front office in Houston overthought their pick by leaps and bounds leaving them in worse off, but shockingly not as bad shape as you'd think. After taking advantage of the Falcons stupidity and acquiring Matt Schaub along with free agent Ahman Green, and with the leadership of their best draft pick last year (Hint: His name isn't Mario Williams) the Texans certainly appear to be on the rebound.

Best Fantasy Player: Andre Johnson - managed to survive the David Carr years, and he can still put up decent numbers. While I'm one of the few people that do not wholly blame David Carr, he certainly did not help Johnson's cause. Schaub should be able to bring more stability to the position.

3. Tennessee Titans 7-9 (Last Year: 8-8)

Vince Young surprised a lot of people last year. After questions about his throwing form and failing the Wonderlic IQ Test Vince showed in the NFL what he showed in college, an ability to win. However, with a team that has gotten worse all around him and the Madden curse on his shoulders, it may be too much for VY to overcome. If anyone can, it's him though.

Best Fantasy Player: Vince Young - he is the entire team. No question about it. Every game they win will be because of him and how he performs.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-10 (Last Year: 8-8)

Jacksonville seems to be a mess. They just got rid of Byron Leftwich, their supposed franchise QB, and their defense has been weaker than previous years. The Jags are going to rely on their ability to stop the run and their run game on offense. It could be a rough year in Jacksonville.

Best Fantasy Player: Maurice Jones-Drew - some people still comment on his 5'7 height, but as long as Fred Taylor is still in the backfield with him, we know MJD is going to get receptions out of the backfield and split time with Taylor, plus taking goaline opportunities. He's an explosive player, and he does all you want out of a fantasy player...he scores touchdowns.

NFC: South

1. New Orleans Saints 11-5 (Last Year: 10-6)

The Saints were one of the best surprises in all of sport last year. They rebounded from Katrina and went on to the NFC Championship game. Rookies Reggie Bush and Marques Colston were key components to what was and will continue to be one of the most explosive offense's in the league. Drew Brees is in the perfect system for him, and Coach Sean Payton will just get better. The only area of concern is the secondary and the linebackers. The defense is what keeps them from being a great team.

Best Fantasy Player: Reggie Bush - he is the all-purpose back in the Big Easy. He improved in his running ability and should get more looks on the goal line. Although, I must admit, when I see things like this and this, I start to get a little worried about Reggie.

2. Carolina Panthers 9-7 (Last Year: 8-8)

The team in Carolina is near the end of the road. They have the same core players and I think they've really gotten all they can out of guys like DeShaun Foster, Jake Delhomme, and Dan Morgan. They're still a good team, but I just don't see them as a threat any longer. Their window has closed.

Best Fantasy Player: Steve Smith - still a dangerous weapon, and he has performed with Delhomme at QB. I also like DeAngelo Williams at RB. As I said, Foster has pretty much reached his peak, and I feel Williams can take over the starting role with some strong performances early in the year.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8 (Last Year: 4-12)

The Bucs have been in the same position that the Panthers are heading towards. Somwhere between young and old, proven and unproven, a limbo where the team cannot decide whether they should nurture young talent or push for the playoffs. This decision was made for them last year as they finished 4-12. Their ever againg defense has been what was holding them back, but now after releasing long time DE Simeon Rice, you can see they officially are looking to rebuild. Although signing Jeff Garcia may seem the opposite of what I said, I cannot blame them for wanting a proven QB that can lead the offense. I look for rebound years from Mark Clayton and Carnell Williams.

Best Fantasy Player: Carnell Williams - it is hard to find a true fantasy player in Tampa, but I think Cadillac could rebound and be productive in the fantasy world.

4. Atlanta Falcons 3-13 (Last Year: 7-9)

Things were rough for the Falcons even before this whole Mike Vick fiasco started. Now they're in terrible shape. The defense faltered last year, the new coach brought in specifically for Mike Vick is left with Joey Harrington at QB, and all the Falcons have had to deal with these distractions all year. The odds of them rebounding like the Saints are next to impossible. I am glad that the Falcons fell on their faces, I never liked them, and even more Michael Vick is finally knocked off his pedistal of being some kind of great football player. He was overrated for as long as he's been in the league.

Best Fantasy Player: Jerrious Norwood - With Warrick Dunn winding down in his career and struggles at QB will put a lot of pressure on Norwood to perform as a secondary back. He has the explosiveness to have a good year, but it is just a question as to whether he can put it all together to take Dunn's job.

Tomorrow: The North

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Welcome To The New Site!

Let me show you around. Starting from the top, we have the new banner with official catch phrase. It's pretty plain, but I have no idea how to successfully use the HTML stuff, and when I did try, all I got was a gigantic picture with the text running off. So we're stuck with the plain black background. I have to say, I like the catch phrase. By landfill I don't mean garbage, but all that excess build up in my that I can now write down in many different forms.

In the middle we have the place for the articles, and I like to think the colors will make it easy to read without much eye strain. I do not particularly care for how narrow the column is, but I can't do anything about that really.

To the right, there is a lot of new stuff. First, GLOCKthoughts' Thinker of the Month. Every month I'll post someone's picture with a thought about that person under it. The inaugural member is Mike Vick, which is clearly a jab at the quarterback, however I will have legit people in there as well. It all depends on what has transpired over the past month. Below that there is an archive of all the GLOCKthoughts for easy navigation. I've already added some from Myspace just to add some records to the new site. Anyway, it should be much easier to navigate through past articles and things like that. Then there is the poll questions. I figure this will change about twice a month. It'll usually be a joke that everyone can vote on. Further down, there are links to websites, videos, and news links. These are all things that I'm interested in or places I go for some info. Rounding out the column are links to a message board and my profile. The message board is for anyone to write about whatever they want. I've set up some pre-packaged topics, but feel free to do whatever you want.

At the bottom we have a Seinfeld quote, which will probably change every now and then. It always puts a smile on my face.

Overall, I think this is an upgrade from the previous site. It has a more professional feel, and it is also a better reflection of my personality while at the same time opening up the site to anyone that wants to participate or write something down. It is all anonymous so you don't have to identify yourself if you don't want to, and I would hope some people would find these options useful. While I do not think these things will be used all the time, or maybe at all, just having the options there are a good thing.

You can expect me to take a more professional approach to my writing. More pictures (Right: Like Doug),links LIKE THIS, and I may even proofread my stuff every now and then. I'm always going to be looking to improve this site, but right now I'm kind of at my skill level max when it comes to modifying the site. I look forward to improving this thing and hope you enjoy.

I'm going to kick things off tomorrow with my NFL Preview. With the first game on Thursday, I'm going to try to preview both the Saints and Colts division by then, and round off the rest of the league by Sunday. Should be fun. Peace.