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This blog was born out of a Dynasty Rankings thread originally begun in October, 2006 at the Footballguys.com message boards. The rankings in that thread and the ensuing wall-to-wall discussion of player values and dynasty league strategy took on a life of its own at over 275 pages and 700,000 page views. The result is what you see in the sidebar under "Updated Positional Rankings": a comprehensive ranking of dynasty league fantasy football players by position on a tiered, weighted scale. In the tradition of the original footballguys.com Dynasty Rankings thread, intelligent debate is welcome and encouraged.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Game Notes | Week 5: Chargers @ Dolphins

Before I start, I just want to say that I heard the best 3-man broadcast booth in years last night on TBS when Dick Stockton, Tony Gwynn, and Ron Darling worked the Dodgers/Cubs game. Darling is an exceptional color man -- the best I've come across in a long, long time. And I think I speak for a lot of sports fans who embrace subtlety when I say that it was a relief not to have to deal with ESPN's contrived and over-hyped "game stories" while puffing up the ESPN star du jour during the whole game. Who knew you could have a smart announcer who specializes in simply pointing out the finer details of the game without holding forth on the state of the past-time with all of its controversies and manufactured personalities?

OK, on to football action. . . .

Random Week 5 thoughts:

I'm amazed at how many supposedly smart people fell for Al Davis' "letter to Lane Kiffin" at the press conference. Come on. Kiffin isn't squeaky clean in this imbroglio, but Davis telegraphed that letter weeks ago when the news first started leaking out about Kiffin being on the chopping block. Davis didn't fire him then only because he didn't have "hand." Any good politician knows you have to prepare public opinion before you drop the bomb. Davis manufactured the letter because he knew he could use it as media leverage a couple of weeks down the road . . . and, my god, did the mainstream media fall for it hook, line, and sinker.

The whole sporting world recognizes that Davis has run an embarrassing operation for a long time now -- not just 21st century football ineptitude, but also a clueless, behind-the-times management style from Davis. He rules the franchise like a czar, which is fine when you're winning. But what happens when the embarrassments keep rolling in year after year? You end up with a ranting, raving old man in a bizarre bread-and-circuses press conference that would have left P.T. Barnum blushing.

Did Kiffin flirt with college jobs? Almost certainly. Can you blame him? I don't. Maybe he should have known what he was getting into with Al Davis and the Raiders, but how could anyone possibly understand the utter disfunctionality of the franchise until they see it up close and personal every day? Survival is a basic instinct, and Kiffin acted on it.

Al Davis may have been surprisingly cogent -- and he certainly still has his fastball -- but that manufactured press conference was a batting practice fastball lobbed at the sporting press, and as a whole, they whiffed. As Kiffin smartly pointed out, anybody can put something down in print on a letter, but that doesn't make it true. The football press, however, acted like fools who buy diamonds from gypsies. They took the letter as word from on high and stroked Davis' ego with an unequaled zeal.

Al Davis may be the NFL's greatest living legend. He's also a power-hungry creep with a Machiavellian streak. Unfortunately, nobody had the onions to call him on his unscrupulous treachery. Reap what you sow.

. . .

Trade rumors: Roy Williams, Lions. First of all, the Lions would be silly not to deal Williams if they get a first-round pick offer. With all of the holes on their roster, why use the franchise tag on your No. 2 WR when you could be using a draft pick to fill holes elsewhere? We keep reading about the Cowboys, Dolphins, Bucs, and Ravens as possible destinations, but the Titans make the most sense. I harp on NFL teams blowing their window of Super Bowl opportunity on poor quarterbacks, but the Titans are a playmaking wide receiver away from being Super Bowl favorites. They have the most impressive defense I've seen this season, and Chris Johnson is carrying the offense, but they desperately need a talented wide receiver who can make plays against quality defenses. If Chris Chambers can take the Chargers passing offense to a new level half-way through the season, there's no reason why Roy Williams couldn't do the same for the Titans. It's a perfect trade matchup, which means it probably won't happen.

. . .

Marshawn Lynch's Beast Mode nickname is my new favorite. Used to be Daryle Lamonica's The Mad Bomber. Lynch is no Adrian Peterson, but Beast Mode kicks the crap out of ADP or the Purple Jesus as far as monikers go.

. . .

Damn DirectTV. They were supposed to install this week, and they never showed up. That Titans/Ravens matchup today is going to be a hell of a game to watch, but I'm stuck with Chargers/Dolphins on basic cable.

OK, game time. I really want to keep a close eye on Phil Rivers today. He was so inconsistent in handling defensive pressure last season, but he's been dynamite from all accounts this year.

Sproles in on 2nd down on the first drive and carries it straight up the middle for about 10 yards. And there's another carry. Sproles gets 2 of the first 3 carries for the Chargers. Fastball to Chambers and he goes up and gets it. Nice play by Chambers doing what he does best. Pressure on Rivers made him just barely overthrow the screen pass to LT. Matt Roth blew up that play. Rivers outside the tackle box with a poor sideline pass to LT. Rivers might have tweaked a knee on Matt Roth's pressure. Something looks off. Screen to LT -- first down.

I think Rivers is limping on his left (non-surgically repaired) knee. But that was a nice threading the needle pass to Buster Davis over the middle. Chargers inside the red zone. Chris Chambers on a WR reverse that goes nowhere. Another screen to LT (3rd on opening drive), and this one goes nowhere. Chargers trying that play as an extended handoff for some reason. Pass to V-Jax in the endzone broken up by Crocker, and the Chargers will have to FG it here.

Ooof. Flipped over to ATL/GB, and Aaron Rodgers is sacked on his first pass attempt.

Chad Pennington to Ginn on the first play, and Penny's alleged improved arm strength is a joke. That was a floater to the sidelines. Ronnie Brown wildcat formation direct snap for a couple of yards. Penny to Fasano wide open on 3rd & 1 for a 16-yard gain. Wildcat snap to Brown, handoff to Ricky Williams with Penny lined up at WR. Wildcat direct snap to Brown once again for 10 yards, and this is beginning to look like a staple of the Phins offense. Defense thinking now instead of reacting? Drive stalls, and it's going to be about a 47-yard FG attempt. Rookie Dan Carpenter nails it (no pun intended).

Here comes the rain. It looks like we're going to have showers here for awhile.

3rd & long and yet another screen pass to LT. Fourth time in the first two drives they've tried that play.

Wonder if the rain will have an impact on the wildcat formation? Ronnie Brown breaking tackles, and Ricky doesn't seem to be as much a part of the game plan anymore. Let's see if it stays like that all game. Brown with another nice run to take us to the end of the 1st quarter.

Nice diving catch by Greg Camarillo, but just a couple of yards short. Both offenses getting bogged down in the rain. Hope this doesn't turn into a punt fest . . . but if it does at least it's nice to know Mike Scifres is a hell of a punter. First a 66-yarder in the air, but a penalty backs him up to the end zone end line and he boots a 65-yarder in the air. That guy kills the ball.

Nice catch & run Pennington to Davone Bess for 24 yards. Pennington crunched by Marqus Harris on a coverage sack. Pass to Ricky Williams, and he goes nowhere. At this age, it's quite possible that Ricky can't make plays in space anymore. Another third down completion to Camarillo that falls short. Dolphins go for it on 4 & 1 at the 22, and that's a ballsy call by Sparano to eschew the FG. Ronnie Brown picks up the first. Pennington to Camarillo for a 17-yard strike in the end zone. Perfect pass, and Camarillo did a hell of a job to go up and get that ball while shielding the defender. Awesome catch in traffic by Camarillo. Dolpins lead 10-3.

How the hell do I disconnect a fire alarm that won't stop beeping? Yeah, I know it means I need a fresh battery, but I don't have one right now, and I can't take this incessant chirping.

Hope you bought low on Andre Johnson while all the doubters were out in full force over the past week and a half.

Rivers swing pass to LT, and the two can't hook up. Rivers having a hard time finding anybody open downfield. He's shuffling quite a bit in the pocket. Nice play stepping up in the pocket, but Rivers looks like he's dragging his leg around in the backfield.

Pennington floats one over Camarillo's head and almost gets him killed by Antonio Cromartie. Ronnie Brown first down on wildcat formation again. Great patience by Brown, making the right decisions. He's the key to the wildcat working. Ricky bobbles the pitch but still picks up 7 yards. Dolphins finding creative ways to use their run game. Ronnie Brown picks up 9 yards on 3rd & 2. He's been money in short yardage.

Pennington to David Martin on a nice gainer, but Martin got drilled in the back/neck/head by Cromartie. He got jarred there, and it wasn't a good place to get hit. It looked like a whiplash type of injury after Antonio Cromartie drilled him in the back. His return is uncertain, but it looked like the type of injury that would keep him out the remainder of the game.

Ronnie Brown touchdown out of the wildcat formation. What a diving block by Ricky Williams on Quentin Jammer. I think Ricky makes for a nice role player at this stage of his career, but Brown is the bellcow.

Rivers continues doing his happy feet routine, but I think that's just his style. He still hangs in under pressure while shuffling his feet.

Dolphins use wildcat offense and swarming defense to take 17-3 halftime lead.

I've mentioned a couple of times already, but Ricky Williams' explosiveness has left him. He just can't create anymore. Clinton Portis can live like that, but he's almost 5 years younger.

Rivers hit as he throws on his first attempt of the drive. Tomlinson nowhere to go, and that's Matt Roth again. Roth is having the game of his life getting in San Diego's backfield. Rivers backstep happy feet under pressure and misses Buster Davis on 3rd down.

Ronnie Brown not showing explosiveness really, but his patience, power, and decision making have all been excellent. Greg Camarillo has been the Dophins' best WR today.

Wildcat handoff Brown to Ricky twice in a row, and Ricky wants to throw the 2nd time . . . nobody open. Dan Carpenter hooks it from 42 yards out for the miss.

Rivers not getting much zip on his throws today, and I don't know if it's the defensive pressure or his inability to plant. Just as I type that he throws a 42-yard jumpball to Vincent Jackson, and V-Jax goes up and gets it nicely. LT gets the carry, and once again Matt Roth bottles him up. Rivers 17 yards to Chamber in the corner of the end zone, and Chambers turned Will Allen around with a nice cut and great job of dragging his feet. Now we've got a ballgame.

Davone Bess nonchalant with the ball on the kickoff, and the ball flips right out of his hand and into Jacob Hester's waiting arms. The wheels may be coming off the Dolphins right now. Rivers sacked! Joey Porter & Vonnie Holiday.

Interesting that Sproles is getting the running back work on the drive. Rivers to Chambers with a five yard gain when they needed six for the TD. 4th & goal from the one. LT shut down on the fourth down run, and the Dolphins with a much needed goal-line stand. Chambers is being carted off with a leg injury. No word on severity.

Pennington trips and drops the ball in the end zone, and that looks like an intentional grounding to me. That should be a safety, but it's not called that way. Awful defensive pass interference on Clinton Hart b/c that would have taken a hell of a catch by David Martin -- borderline uncatchable. A 28-yard penalty brings the Dolphins out of the shadow of their own endzone. What a brain-fart by Hart.

Fasano finds a soft spot and Pennington makes a great throw across his body for 20 yards.

Undersized D-lineman Matt Roth sacks Rivers, and Roth is terrorizing the Chargers today. Game of his life. Chargers try another screen to LT, and nobody on the Dolphins fall for it. V-Jax gets a 2-3 step separation from defenders but Rivers overthrows him deep.

Wow! The Seahawks are so bad that David Carr is already in for garbage time . . . and throwing TD passes to Sinorice Moss. Weren't the Seachickens supposed to have a good defense this year?

LT gets his longest run of the day for 11 yards. Look at Matt Roth out there on coverage on Antonio Gates. He's an animal.

Ronnie Brown 1st down run . . . that's power football. He just trucked Antonio Cromartie. Boy, does Ronnie Brown run hard. Pennington to Ginn for a huge 13-yard gain and a first down. Brown keeps running over the Chargers, and they can't stop him. Hell of a game by the Dolphins offensive line this game. Dolphins are going to run out the clock and win this game. They play a tough brand of football and are moving to 2-2.


T Bell said...

Hey Wess,

If it's not too late, or you haven't done it for anyone else, tell DTV I referred them to you. We each get $50 bucks off.

It's the least you could do for me dropping Brett Meyers in WHRBL ;)

Twin Killing dot Com said...

You're right, Ron Darling is great. But Jeff Torborg was the best TV analyst of all time; Dave Campbell, radio.