published Monday, January 16th, 2012

5 at 10: NFL questions, more Vols drama and Team Morgan Freeman

From the soon to be named studios, let's go.

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    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts to a missed pass during the first the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

NFL — more questions than answers

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs was filled with, "Whoa, did that happen" moments. So it's fitting that we still need answers heading into the NFL's Final Four. (Side note: Did you know that "Final Four," as well as March Madness are trademarked by the NCAA? Seriously.)

1) Who was the genius that said you can't win the whole thing without a great quarterback? (The 5-at-10.) Who was the yahoo that thought the Packers were going to walk through the playoffs (Yep, the 5-at-10, again.) Who was the goof that said NFL defense is overrated? (Guilty, again, but as long as the Pats stay alive, we're not completely wrong about that. And we did go 3-0-1 in our NFL picks last week, hitting the overs in the NFC games, nailing the Pats minus-13.5 and pushing on the Ravens' 20-13 win.)

2) Did the NFL pass a rule that Green Bay's receivers had to take a shot of Jack Daniels for every "duh" comment Troy Aikman made? ("Turnovers will be crucial," and everyone drinks.) That has to be the reason the Packers dropped so many balls, right?

3) Who thought Tim Tebow would place a direct phone call to the Man upstairs and pull out an Immaculate Reception II or the Divine Interception or the Field God or something that would scare the stumble off Tom Brady's face? (No one that was thinking clearly — heck the Pats beat Denver by 18 in Denver a month ago, so the New England beatdown was not overly surprising. And it kind of looked like Tom Brady was a little bit irritated, right? He had the "Hey, I'm still Tom Brady and I still have more Super Bowl rings than anyone still playing. Remember me?")

4) Who thought the best game of the weekend would be a Saints-49ers shootout? (No one, that's for sure. And that leads us to the following 49ers tangents...

a) What a great moment for Vernon Davis, huh? After being removed from the field four years ago by then-coach Mike Singletary for a lack of effort, to make that catch in that moment for a franchise with that move history was awesome in its awesomeness. And normally we would have a litany of jokes for anyone who squalls on a football field that does not have to be rushed to surgery, but that joy and release and gratification was pretty cool. (Although, here's saying Vernon is getting grief from his teammates today.)

b) When did Alex Smith flip the switch? Wow, if you had to pick one guy to lead a last minute drive for a TD to win last Thursday, Smith would have been seventh of the eight NFL QBs still playing (ahead of Texans QB T.J. Yates).

c) When did Jim Harbaugh become the best football coach on the planet? Say what you will, but if you had a job opening and endless funds, who is your first call? Thought so.

5) Loved our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's take here (Wiedmer: Could Eli become known as the best Manning QB?) on the rise of Eli Manning, and toss out this question: If Eli leads a banged-up Giants team to Super Bowl No. 2, does he pass brother Peyton? We say yes, but are interested in all views.

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    In this file photo, UT defensive line coach Lance Thompson, right, talks to players during a game against UT Martin at Neyland Stadium.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

More UT staff drama

Hope Derek Dooley enjoyed the 72 or so hours after hiring Sal Sunseri, and the after glow of the praise of landing (yet another) former Alabama assistant. Lance Thompson, the first Sabanite to be plucked by UT (he left Alabama to join Lane Kiffin in the famous 13 months that every Vols fan wants to forget), reportedly is heading back to Tuscaloosa for a similar position on the defensive staff there.

With all staff moves, the decisions and reflections come back to the head coach. With that in mind, let's play a little point-counterpoint:

Pro-Dooley: Hard to blame any defensive coach for wanting to coach for Saban.

Anti-Dooley: This is assistant No. 6 that has left without getting a promotion.

Pro-Dooley: Thompson left when he was not considered for the DC job, so it's more sour grapes than anything.

Anti-Dooley: OK, that may be true, but it took Dooley almost two weeks to pick Sunseri and it took Saban and Co. not much more than two days to locate and lure Thompson to be Sunseri's replacement. (And if Saban is moving quickly to re-hire Thompson in this situation, don't you think Thompson could be viewed at least as Sunseri's equal?)

Pro-Dooley: Hey, UT went 5-7 last year, and lost to Kentucky. It's time to replace some assistants.

Anti-Dooley: True, but defense was not the Vols problem. And the only part of the UT defense that under-achieved was the secondary. (Quick: Want to guess who is the only defensive assistant still on staff? Yep, defensive backs coach Terry Joseph.)


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    Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes (5) keeps the ball away from Kentucky forward Eloy Vargas (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. Kentucky won 65-62.
    Photo by (AP Photo by Adam Brimer/Knoxville News Sentinel)

College hoops rewind

Wow, crazy weekend of hoops, huh? Strong effort from UT in a tight loss to Kentucky. Impressive showing by Ohio State and Duke on the road. Puzzling implosion by UNC at a better-than-anticipated Florida State.

So it goes.

We're fully expecting Chas9 to swing by later and give us the Top Tenn teams in Tennessee (and maybe give us a little UK intel), but until then here is the 5-at-10's eight that are elite:

1) Kentucky: They have more NBA talent than at least seven NBA teams.

2) Syracuse: Starting to become believers.

3) Baylor: Unbeaten and Perry Jones may be the best player you don't a lot about.

4) UNC: Saturday's loss aside, ton of talent.

5) Ohio State: When healthy, the Buckeyes are tough — ask Indiana.

6) Kansas: May be a touch high, but the young Jayhawks are only going to get better and may have a higher ceiling for improvement than any team in the country.

7) Michigan State: Any coach getting more consistently underrated than Tom Izzo.

8) Duke: We feel the Devils are flawed, but even a flawed Duke team is better than almost everyone else.

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    Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, right, and assistant coach Mike McQueary walk the field during practice, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Michael R. Sisak)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This and that

— Our NBA ban ended Sunday, and as we started catching up with the comings and goings in the league, we noticed three things: Kobe is doing work (as EC pointed out last week), the Philadelphia 76ers are leading the East (when did Andrew Toney and Dr. J), there are a lot of bad, Bad, BAD NBA teams, and the lack of an offseason has only magnified that.

— Joe Paterno spoke to the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins for a story in Sunday's Washington Post. Three quick thoughts: Jenkins is getting great access (she along with Dan Flesser of the Knoxville News Sentinel broke the news about Pat Summitt's early on-set dementia) but we wonder if there was some questions that were denied by Camp Paterno; we wonder if Paterno is buying that load of back-pedalling, soft-talk, double-speak that he is trying to sell and we wonder if he would buy it as an excuse from one of his players in the 40-plus years he was the head coach at Penn State?; we wonder that for all the talk Camp Paterno about looking forward to Joe telling his side, this was all they had?

— Former Baylor School golf star Harris English made his debut as a full-fledged PGA Tour member this weekend at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Enlgish struggled on Sunday, shooting a 5-over 75 to finish tied for 67th. (English pocketed $11,275.)

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    Actor Morgan Freeman poses backstage with the Cecil B. Demille Award during the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Today's question

We watched the Golden Globes last night and three things became apparent to the 5-at-10:

1) When you have two kids under the age of 4, the two things that suffer the most are your sleeping habits and keeping up with current movies. (We were tickled any time Cars 2 was nominated last night so that we felt like we had a dog in the fight. So it goes.)

2) OK, whoever came with automatic microphone deserves a Golden Globe of their own. Seriously, when you have winners ranging from Morgan Freeman to 4-foot-5 Peter Dinklage, who won for "Game of Thrones" the auto-adjusting mike was like the award show version of air conditioning (one of those inventions that previous generations didn't think were overly important, but now that you have it and are accustomed to it, there' no doing with out it). Side note: When Dinklage won and his speech started to drag, do you think the show's director said, "Keep it short?"

3) And on to the question: Freeman was honored with the top overall Golden Globe last night, and when they showed dude's resume, Freeman is VASTLY underrated. In fact, he's an underrated Hall of Famer, and his 1989 — "Driving Miss Daisy," "Lean on Me," and "Glory" — may be the single greatest year for a movie star of all time. We're making the Tim Duncan All-Stars — the honorary team of guys from all sports that people know are stars, but may not realize they are superstars/all-time greats — the sports branch of Team Morgan Freeman that covers all pop culture. So, if you have five people in pop culture, who is the starting five of Team Morgan Freeman?


about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Eustice_Chase said...

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers looks more like an old Mike Vick and Atlanta Falcons team... The QB was scrambling every chance he had and his recievers were goal tender... it was awful... but I knew the Giants would take the Packers heart this weekend... I called a Giants vs Ravens Super Bowl some 3 months ago... I know we have no written record...but believe it guys it happened!

Who Dat Gonna Beat Dem Saints? uhh can we say the 49ers? That was one heck of a ball game...and Vernon Davis Crying like he just got voted of Survivor was Magical... pure Magical! Can I add that this year has truly been the year of the Tight End... Vernon Davis went for 180yds Gonk went for 150 or so... and hes not even the best TE on his team...although Im sure some will argue that...and Jimmy graham with the Saints... yikes... like I said...this is the year of the Tight End!

If the 49ers win it all...will anyone have the "Jim Schwartz Size Coghense" to say that Harbough won it with Singletery's team ???

January 16, 2012 at 10:24 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

...and wasnt Tom Coughlin on the hot seat just 6 weeks ago?

January 16, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

Great point about Rodgers running for his life. Behind a great quarterback, we'd take a great pass rush and take our chances. (The 49ers pressured Brees all day, too.)

Even greater point about the year of the tight end (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Who among these do you take:

1) Vernon Davis

2) Gronk

3) Aaron Hernandez

4) Jimmy Graham

(And remember you are leaving out Heath Miller, JaMichael Finley, Keller, Gates, Winslow, Tony Gonzalez ((who should be considered the Godfather of this group and get a royalty check from every converted hoops player that makes an NFL roster))

And everyone is on the hotseat in the NFL — well everyone other than Belichick and the Harbaugh brothers who are succeeding with SIngletary's and Billick's players (kidding).

— 5-at-10

January 16, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, the Sixers did indeed lose to the Lakers 4-2 in the Finals, yet management took action to improve performance in the blocks against Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

That action was to first trade Darryl Dawkins of late from Lovetron,due to sagging performance to New Jersey for a 1st rounder. The the Sixers take that pick and turn it into Moses Malone. With Malone in the line up the Lakers lose twice Philly in the regular season.

The Sixers not only won the Division in 1982-83, this team returned only a year after losing to the Lakers 4-2 in 1982 Finals to defeating the Lakers 4-0 in 1983.

As trades go, coming up with Moses Malone to handle a man, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, demonstrating Pkilly's focus to become a finals winning team.

I'll take one Finals victory sweeping "Show Time" rather than the Braves 1-14 record of turning the regular season excellence to one World Series.

January 16, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show Irish Fan:

Saw this on the facespace: Daniel 9:26 - "The annointed one will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing" (Tim Tebow was 9 for 26 > this weekend)

Cue the Twilight Zone music.

— 5-at-10

January 16, 2012 at 11:07 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Dont forget Dallas Clark oh wise one... but if forced to make this tough choice...Im going with long as can refrain from posting pics of himself shirtless with adult film stars on his facebook...Im not saying...Im just saying...

Vernon Davis is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Hernandez has too many Tattoos that break down his aerodynamics and I dont think Jimmy "Honey Maid" Graham can block well enough to play on my team.... unless its the thursday evening 3 on 3 pick up game...

January 16, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Did this weekend just make tight end the star position in the NFL again? I can't believe the talking heads at ESPN - and there are a lot of them - didn't break down the impact the new breed of tight ends are having. Gronkowski and Hernandez had 250 plus total yards between them. Graham and V Davis had a thousand yards and 18 touchdowns combined in one game (on a side note ... as good as Bo was in Tecmo Bowl, Michael Carter was dang near unstoppable as a nose tackle. But I digress...).

Two things I steadfastly refuse to watch (OK, three if you count the NBA, which I don't, since it is Fredo at the bottom of the lake to me) - NFL pregame shows and awards shows. Any and all of them. If I really need all that much hot air, I'll sit outside in Ludowici on a July day.

Also this weekend proved that if you can rush the passer, you can do a whole lot to help or cover up your secondary.

January 16, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

The 76ers did work back in the day, they just didn't have enough bullets to top the Celtics on a regular basis. That said, the 76ers were a lot like the 90s Braves — great in the regular season; always had a heavyweight obstacle (Celtics/Yankees, et al.)

EC —

Dallas Clark and Jason Witten, too. If we had to take one, we'd probably take Graham, just because he's faster. But you make a fair point about Gronk — all the way around.

Spy —

Carter was tough, but the Tecmo Bowl Power Rankings go:

1) Bo

2) LT (that's Lawrence Taylor youngsters, not LaDainian Tomlinson)

3) Randall Cunningham

4) Jerry Rice

5) Mark Bavarro (way better than he actually was real life, and the Giants' "All curls" play was unstoppable even if the opposing defense called it because of Big Mark)

And we don't begrudge you your anti-awards show stance, but Ricky G was pretty entertaining, and there was NOTHING else on that was even remotely interesting.

— 5-at-10

January 16, 2012 at 11:58 a.m.
Redlegs11 said...

Can't believe no one saw the Seminoles' scalping of said Tar Heels coming after the way they squeaked by SEC kingpin Auburn a few weeks ago (50-19 at the half I believe)

As for the NFL and defense I still can't believe anyone thought the leagues two worst defenses would somehow overcome (packers 31st and pats 32nd). Pats day is coming. 150 yards seems like a reasonable over/under on yards for ray rice. Question: has there ever been four worse defenses in the playoffs than broncos, pats, packers and saints?

And Gronk is head and shoulders better than any TE in the game now. Guy is a beast. The fact Eli doesn't have a superstar in TE slot also gives him a nod over big bro. Look for another family reunion in super bowl, but at least Rodgers and Brees can now enjoy Hawaii along with Brady.

January 16, 2012 at 12:06 p.m.
chas9 said...

On Eli: yes.

On the NBA: Nobody Bothers Anymore.

On Morgan Freeman: Who else would you want playing God?

Top Tenn Rankings, week 10:

Since our last rankings, both Vandy and MTSU had three double digit wins, so they stay solid at one-two. Memphis holds on to #3 with three less impressive wins.

The Vols rise one spot and The Cuonz stays as cool as ever with a shocker over Florida and losses to big dogs Kentucky and Mississippi State by a total of seven points. This team could make the Big Dance.

With three victories, ETSU rises two spots, but everybody below #4 is essentially tied for the cellar.

1) Vandy


3) Memphis

4) The Vols


6) Belmont

7) Peay

8) Lipscomb

9) TN Tech

10) TN State & UTC (tie)

January 16, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.
Livn4life said...

You had me on the Pro/Anti-Dooley right up to the quip about the KY loss. That is behind the Big Orange and even the most PRO Dooleyites would fire him if it happens again. COME ON MAN!

January 16, 2012 at 1:13 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I'll give you the barren landscape of TV options opposite the Golden Globes. And Gervais is a funny fella. I was lucky. I had a ton of work to do.

Two more quick things. In our fantasy playoff draft, nobody, and I mean nobody, drafted Vernon Davis. For the record, the Spy and his attorney drafted Eli, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, among others. Suffice to say, we have a hooge lead right now in points scored. And we have eight guys left with three games left to play. Yes, we went all in on the Giants. Did the same last year with the Pack and that worked out OK, too.

Though you maybe could hold "Baseketball" against them, Stone and Parker from "South Park" have a long-running hit TV show, turned into it a smash movie (had an Oscar-nominated song) and now have the No. 1 show on Broadway with the "Book of Mormon," which won a slew of Tonys. That's a strong run right there to be a Morgan Freeman all star. Just not with the taste. Or decorum. Or decency. Though they are entertaining.

January 16, 2012 at 1:26 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Ok, big fella, one thing we missed from the weekend.

The Greatest of All Time turned 70. Can you believe it's been almost 16 years since this ...

When it was Ali to light the torch, who didn't go "Oh. My. God!" For once, I'm glad we didn't have Jim Ross going, "That's Muhammad Ali's music!" Because that moment needed nothing else. Not one stinking thing else.

January 16, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Redlegs —

Great point about FSU — if you can survive the 40 minutes of helplessness that is the Auburn basketball program, you're ready for anything this side of MJ and Bugs and the Space Jam crew.

The 5-at-10 was guilty of looking past the importance of defense. In today's rules with today's pass-first, pass-last, pass-always approach, we thought a few turnovers and one or two stops would be enough for the Packers and the Pats. So it goes. (As for the Ravens beating the Pats, though, Ed Reed will have to be healthy. Period.)

We took Jimmy Graham (Crackers) because he has more speed than Gronk, but we can see taking either.

9er —

Like the Top Tenn, and you're spot on about everything under No. 4 is pretty much tied in oblivion (or Bolivia, if you're Mike Tyson).

And we agree wholeheartedly that these Vols could be a tournament team. Get to 18 wins and cross your fingers, and heck, we'll break this down in a column later this week. But know this, if Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin gets these Vols into the NCAA tournament, he's the Coach of Year hands down.

Livin(Large) —

We didn't mean the UK line as a dig. We just know that after the season the Vols had, there were a lot of UT fans who weren't terribly upset to lose some of the assistants who left.

That said, it's the number (replacing 6 assistants) that takes most folks by surprise.

PS — great use of the "C'MON MAN," which may be the only thing that the ESPN NFL pregame show has added in recent years that is pleasing.

— 5-at-10

January 16, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

And no doubt seeing Ali lighting the torch was one of the all-time chill bump moments of our lifetime. (Although if Jim Ross had said, "That's Ali's music," that would have meant that Foreman or Frazier was coming off the top (Olympic) ring rope with a metal chair. That would have been AWE-some.)

Great call on Parker and Stone.

Here's our Team Morgan Freeman, pop culture division:

George Strait — dude has 50 number hits. Stick it Garth

Eddie Murphy — Say what you want about all the rest because it's back ground noise. Dude was a mega-star at stand-up, then cut a No. 1 record, then re-invented movie comedy, then took on animation just because he could.

Clint Eastwood — Started out as a western tough guy, then felt lucky, then became a mega star before becoming Holiywood's best director (yes, Martin and Steve, we said it).

That's our top three for right now. We'll be back to round out the top 5.

— 5-at-10

January 16, 2012 at 1:54 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Though it wasn't much of a stretch for Strait, he wasn't bad in "Pure Country."

January 16, 2012 at 2:03 p.m.
chas9 said...

5/10--Agree with your elite 8 list, though I'd put Duke higher. And like UK's Davis and Gilchrist, Perry Jones is a player you want to see anytime you can.

As for UK-UT, the close score is a credit to The Vols. But it's not esecially bad news for Big Blue. Any W in the SEC is a good thing. The schedule is a real grind. And every team brings its A game against the Cats. Having said that, the close score is support for my contention that UK won't go unscathed the rest of the season. It's really rare to have a perfect conference record, even for national championship teams. But it was fun to read your claim that KY has more talent than some pro teams.

And let us not let the opportunity go by to note on this space the big Lady Cats HUGE win over the Lady Vols. Good year for UK ending Tennessee streaks. The rematch in Knoxville will be fun!

January 16, 2012 at 3:03 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Agree on both counts — Strait playing that role was not unlike a certain sports editor with a family-oriented, Interweb-based sports column playing a wise-cracking smart alec with a touch of an over-confidence problem. Thoughts?

Here's another one — Ice Cube. He went from the streets to Gangsta Rap pioneer with NWA, to the movies to TV to being a big-time Big-Timer. That cat changed the game to fit his skills.

9er —

Forgot about the Lady Cats? Wow, you've had a pretty nice run around the work place trash talk, huh?

Agree that running the table is tough, but the Cats are up to it. And there is ZERO doubt the Cats get everyone's best shot. When we were at Auburn and the Tigers drew bupkis, there we're still two sellouts a year — UK and LSU with Chris Jackson and Shaq (although a few years later the Hogs and Scotty Thurman and Big Nasty Corliss Williamson packed the joint too).

— 5-at-10

January 16, 2012 at 3:55 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

As far as count one of the above indictment ... omerta, my friend, omerta.

Nice call on Ice Cube. Vanilla Ice? Not so much. Maybe even a little bit Ice T (and Russell Simmons has morphed into such a media mogul who works behind the scenes it's hard to know what to do with him).

How bout this one - Mark Wahlberg. From Funky Bunch to actor to producer now. It also doesn't hurt that he grew up around the corner from my favorite cousins.

January 16, 2012 at 4:43 p.m.
Redlegs11 said...

Don't forget about Ed O'neil. Dude had about as big a role in "a winner never quits:the Pete gray story" (filmed in Chattanooga as I did. From there to Al Bundy on married with children to Golden Globe winner for Modern Family las night. In all seriousness though how about The Fresh Prince of Belair Will Smith.

January 16, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Redlegs —

Will Smith is a big-time call. Big-TIME. Dude was cuttin' silly rap albums — "Parents just don't understand" and "Summertime" — to TV success to big-screen success. Heck, Newsweek called him the most powerful man in Hollywood in 2007.

Spy —

Not so much on 'Nilla. As for Marky Mark, yeah, the kid from Southie did OK.

— 5-at-10

January 16, 2012 at 9:04 p.m.
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