Gang, we're already to the midpoint of the week. Man, the fall days disappear, don't they?
OK, we open the floor for a slew of topics today, and we got up a little early and felt a little motivated. Hope you enjoy. Tomorrow, we'll try to be funny. Maybe Les Miles will stop by, who knows.
Before we get moving, happy belated birthday to Chevy Chase, who turned 70 on Tuesday. Wow. Seventy. Chase has been a stud duck for decades, and while he's mixed in some world-class stinkers, too, he delivered this generation its Christmas classic in Christmas Vacation. Three Amigos is severely underrated. Ty Webb may be on the Rushmore of the most quoted characters by the 5-at-10. So happy birthday, Chevy. And reading about his career on Tuesday, there were a slew of great roles that Chase turned down, including Otter in Animal House and Forrest Gump.
From the "Talks too much" studios, don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch.
The Atlanta Falcons enter a bye week, and the team's once lofty goals and hopes enter a good-bye week.
Julio Jones, the team's best player, is seeking a second opinion, but all reports have the gifted wide out likely to miss the rest of the season.
Injuries have derailed these Falcons, who are nine months removed from being a play away from the Super Bowl.
But those injuries and the aging of several players and the questions across the lines of scrimmage and the unknown of the future other than the fact that the Falcons have signed a top-12 NFL quarterback to top-three money, what does the future hold for this franchise?
The defense is hollow - seriously, someone can't make a play to confuse a rookie quarterback in his fifth start on a game-winning drive on the road in the final minute? - and the offensive line is questionable at best.
The Falcons were built around an array of weapons that by design should be difficult to stop. That's the theory at least, but look deeper than the injuries that have completely erased that plan.
Atlanta started 8-0 last year and five of those games were decided on the final possession, all of them obviously wins. This year, the ebbs and flows of the league have evened, Atlanta losing four games on the final possession in its 1-4 start.
So it goes, and this season was certainly hampered by the injuries to Roddy White, Steven Jackson and now Jones.
Side note: Want a strange comma splice, look how this sentence changes: Every talented offensive player other than Vad Lee and Aaron Murray in the state of Georgia was injured this weekend. Now, try this: Every talented, offensive player... Robbie Alomar and Andrew "Dice" Clay aside, you can be talented without being offensive.
Let's discuss this moving forward.
Matt Ryan has been good for the Atlanta Falcons. Good, but not great, considering the shiny new toys he's been allowed to enjoy.
We have long said this is a quarterback-driven league. If you have an elite guy - a P. Manning, a Brady, a Brees, a Rodgers - it is still a quarterback-driven league.
But let's discuss this angle: If you do not have an elite QB, let's say you have a guy you believe is good - and a guy that is better than half the league, per se, a Cutler or a Stafford or even a Cam Newton or maybe a Matt Ryan - and you give that guy a nine-figure deal like Ryan or Joe Flacco have received recently, can you win in this league considering that will consume a large chunk of your salary cap? The Falcons defense will have a hard time rebuilding in any other method besides the draft because of the coin tied into Ryan and eventually Julio Jones.
So, is having an overpaid above-average-to-good QB better or worse than not having a clear quarterback solution? Who's situation is better this year and moving forward: The Atlanta Falcons or the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that recycled Alex Smith in a situation that features talented pieces around him?
Look at the Seattle Seahawks. They built a foundation of a stout defense and an offense highlighted by Marshawn Lynch, and then Seattle struck gold with Russell Wilson in the third round. (Side note: Jacksonville drafted a punter five picks before the Seahawks landed a potential franchise QB. And yes, the Jags still have Blaine Whoshishelmet at quarterback.)
Has the salary cap actually magnified the value of the elite quarterbacks while devaluing the merely good quarterbacks?
According to CBS sports, Kentucky's high school sports governing body has done away with postgame handshakes because more than 20 postgame fights in various sports in recent years.
So, because of bad sportsmanship, the attempts at promoting good sportsmanship have been quashed.
That makes perfect sense. On Uranus.
This is where we have landed, where we regulate and legislate to prevent the outlier and close the loophole or possibility of something bad potentially happening at the expense of all else.
What about these: You start a postgame fight, you lose your right to participate in Kentucky high school sports. You start a fight after the game, your team forfeits that game and/or the next game. You start a postgame fight you get kicked out of school or get arrested.
We have a super, Super, SUPER competitive 6-year-old who hates to lose more than Sen. McCarthy hated communism. After every game we play - basketball, races, Candy Land, whatever - whether he wins or loses he has to shake hands and say "Good game." It can be a chore after a loss, because dude is 6 and is learning to handle it as best he can.
That's the life lessons of sports, especially at the high school level.
You learn to win and to lose, and it's one of the reasons you can learn just as much in the locker room as you do in the classroom growing up.
Because learning how to win and lose - how to handle success and failure - will serve every one of those kids as much later in life than knowing how to conjugate a verb or when the state constitution was ratified. More so more than likely.
Now, because there are a few uncontrollable scenarios or difficult situations, we're going to bag postgame handshakes.
- Did you see the hubbub created by the Braves boycotting Chipper Jones' first pitch of the playoff series because Chipper picked the Dodgers in 4? So Chipper tosses the first pitch to the mascot rather than longtime teammate Brian McCann or Tim Hudson? Unless Chief Noc-a-Homa came out of retirement that seems like a rather bush league move, especially for a guy like McCann, who has made himself the "old-school" baseball sheriff of late. If you think you're Crash Davis on the field against Carlos Gomez, quit acting like Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh off it. Seems completely petty to treat a franchise icon like that for making a pick that turned out to be completely correct. You want to show up Chipper, beat the Dodgers, then ask him to throw out the first pitch for the NLCS and ask him about his pick.
- Postseason baseball has been excellent, and here's a tip of the cap to StuckinKent for his rant about using your shutdown reliever in shutdown situations, as he prescribed with the Braves leaving their best pitcher in the bullpen in the season-ending loss Monday night. Case in point: With the season on the line, the Tigers turned to ace Max Scherzer for two innings of relief. Tigers win; Braves pack the gear.
- Kudos to Spy's Red Sox, who topped the Rays and head to the ALCS. After last year's disaster, and the flipped script to the ALCS, is it fair to say that Booby Valentine had the single worst season in coaching history? Discuss.
- Jadeveon Clowney and Steve Spurrier have said there was some miscommunication last Saturday dealing with Clowney's injured rib and his decision not to play. You think so doctor? And gang, this issue is starting to be wrapped into jersey sales and paying players. Stop it. This issue is about when college football players can enter the draft. Period.
Hey, gang, remember the mailbag. Yes, that's not a question, but still.
OK, since we can't go a complete show without talking college football, let's ask three college football questions:
We are at the halfway point for the Tennessee Vols? Grade them to this point at 3-3.
For Mocs fans, five games in and at 3-2, have your expectations changed?
For the Bulldogs, how worried are you about Saturday's trip from Missouri?
For the non-football fans out there, JMC has given us the thumbs up about James Spader's new show "The Blacklist" and we concur. So, how's this, of all the actors that were part of the Brat Pack - and Spader was a fringe guy at best - who has had the best career? Discuss/