Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Iraqi "Progress"

So American soldiers continue to die fighting for the highly corrupt Iraqi government. The whole point of Bush's "Surge" (i.e., war escalation) was to bring about security for the Iraqi government so that they could resolve their political differences.

Attacks into Baghdad's Green Zone are not only increasing, but becoming more accurate and deadly. The "Surge" is going so well, that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants General Petraeus out.

Oh but never mind those facts, are the Iraqi politicians making progress? NO, THEY ARE ON VACATION FOR THE NEXT MONTH.

Because of the ongoing violence and failures of his government, Maliki is facing the very real chance that his ruling coalition will disintegrate and a new Prime Minister will be put into place. That will then require us to work with yet another government. The situation is not improving - it is worsening.

Monday, July 30, 2007

40 Days!

Only 40 days until the Bears opener at San Diego (37 until the first NFL game of the season).

Couple of quick notes. Looks like Briggs is back with the starting D. Olsen is doing well in the first couple of days in camp. Griese apparently is struggling early in camp. But it is still very early.

Redskins signed LaRon. I heard a stat tonight that I thought was interesting. There has never been a defensive secondary made up of all top-10 picks. The Redskins will make history if the starting corners are Double Move and Springs, and their safeties are the Reaper and LaRon.

Also heard that Chris Samuels hurt his knee right at the end of practice. He had an MRI tonight and the Redskins reported that it is a sprain - out for a month. It will be interesting to see if they move Wade out to tackle. If they do, obviously it hurts them at guard because Wade is trying to take over for Dockery.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pat Tillman Murdered?

There is potential evidence that Pat Tillman may have been murdered by a fellow soldier in a "fragging" incident. To make matters worse, the murder may have been covered up. And if that is not already bad enough, the White House may have known that Tillman was a victim of friendly fire and created a hero story about how he died fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda to build public support for the War in Afghanistan.

As more information leaks out over time, the whole mess is a stain upon this country. Apparently Tillman died for nothing and then was used as a political football.

Par for the course, the White House is refusing to release any documents relating to what they knew about Tillman before he was honored as a hero.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

5-Year NFL Team Salaries

For some odd reason, there are people who think that some NFL teams are "cheap" or that others spend more on their players. If you look in any one year, you will find that there are teams that spend significantly more than others. However, because of the NFL salary cap teams are largely equal in how much they spend.

If you look over the last 6 years here is the average annual total team salary paid out by team:

Chicago - $81.5M
Washington - $82.7M
Indy - $84.2M
New England - $78.4M
Denver - $82M

If you look over the last 5 years here is the average annual total team salary paid out by team:

Chicago - $82.5M
Washington - $88.1M
Indy - $88.3M
New England - $81M
Denver - $77.9M

If you look over the last 4 years here is the average annual total team salary paid out by team:

Chicago - $85.2M
Washington - $94.8M
Indy - $94.0M
New England - $89.7M
Denver - $81.8M

The idea that Chicago has been "cheap" is just plain wrong. The salary cap is the great equalizer. Chicago spends just as much on its players as these other teams. And, they don't ever have significant cap cuts.

Comment on Bears' Critics

Mike Downey of the Trib wrote a very good piece on all of the Chicago Bears critics - basically that they are foolish to be so down on a team that won 15 games last year before losing in the Super Bowl.

Obviously injuries to key players could hurt the team (Harris, Urlacher, Benson, and Grossman would probably hurt the most), like they hurt Seattle last year. However, the Bears do have significant depth throughout their roster, all of their core guys are back, and they seem poised to again do damage in the NFC.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bears Sign Briggs and Bazuin

As I expected, Briggs signed (he had no other options).

The Bears also signed second round pick Dan Bazuin, so all their players are signed and will be in camp.

Briggs will Sign

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Briggs will sign the franchise tag offer and play at 1 year, $7.2M. In exchange, the Bears will agree not to franchise him next year.

He didn't sign the big contract that he was offered, thought he was worth much more than the Bears and the NFL were willing to pay, and now he doesn't have any other options. Of course, I think making $7.2M for one year is nothing to sneeze at. If he plays well, he will earn his big contract next year.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tillman Signs His Extension

The Bears signed cornerback Charles Tillman to a six year extension.

He said, “I’m glad to remain in Chicago,” Tillman said during a teleconference. “I like playing for coach [Lovie] Smith. I like my teammates. I love the organization and I like the city, so it feels good.”

I am quite certain Lance Briggs will be back, and they also have some depth if he chooses to be a fool, not take millions of dollars, and sit out.

The Bears knew they were going to be without Tank for half the year, but I would still like to see them get some more depth at defensive tackle. I'd also like to see them re-sign Tommie Harris this year, but Harris still has two years on his contract, so he is not really a priority.

Monday, July 23, 2007

NFL Training Camps to Open

By next week, the NFL will be back in full swing with players struggling through training camps.

For the Bears, I expect Briggs will return right before the season. The guy is not going to sit out 10 games and give up the millions of dollars he would earn. I expect them to pick up a D-tackle or two as players get cut. They seem a little thin. I am looking forward to seeing Rex cut down on the mistakes and Devin Hester transition to offense. They only have one more pick to sign (2nd round DE, Dan Bazuin). I'm looking forward to the season.

Redskins. Who knows? They have a lot of work to do. LaCanfora predicted that Landry will be signed by Friday. That would be a good bit of news. In the pre-season, Campbell will be interesting to watch. I think they will rest Portis. It will be interesting to see if their defense shows some heart.

Here are a couple of power rankings for anyone who is interested. Bears ranked near the top. Redskins near the bottom.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Clock is Ticking on Briggs

He has to sign a long-term deal today or the only deal he can get from the Bears is his franchise tag offer (1 year, $7.2M).

Rosenhaus was in Chicago last week and has been trying to work something out. But, I don't really expect anything to happen. If he does sign a contract today it won't be much different than what he could have signed last year.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Note to JKD

I'm glad we resolved the whole "Michael Silver is accurate" nonsense. I'm glad you finally understood and accepted the point that I was making that he was not "accurate" but "consistent with your views."

The fact that we disagree about the Redskins and Bears is not an issue for me. The fact that you claim to be objective and accuse me of bias is a problem. When you claim that you don't have any dislike for the Bears, but then post largely inconsequential anti-Bears stuff and clearly use a different standard for the Bears, I do have a problem with that.

I can accept your opinions without trouble and I could accept that you are anti-Bears and that you are biased, but find your constant claims of objectivity and Bear neutrality ridiculous. Your beliefs as demonstrated by what you post are very, very clear. It is your hypocrisy that I find nauseating.

I freely admit to being anti-Redskins and pro-Bears - unlike you, I don't try to hide that. There is really no reason to hide your biases. However, having such biases does not mean that one cannot objectively analyze data and information. I believe the Redskins are going to suck because I don't believe Danny Boy has a good organization and they don't have the depth of talent to win. I believe the Bears are good because they are the opposite of the Redskins. I don't just blindly believe the Bears will win because I am a fan of the team and that the Redskins will lose because I don't like the team.

More Senseless Iraqi Nonsense

The number of American soldiers killed is now over 3600 and we continue to spend about $2 billion a week. The surge has not resulted in any real gains for American interest, because the point of the surge was to stabilize Baghdad so that the Iraqi government could get its act together.

Now, it looks like the Iraqi government is going to pull a Bushie and take a month-long break in August. So American troops are dying for nothing (as they have been). White House Spokesman Tony Snow was dismissive when asked if it was appropriate for Iraqis to take the month off -

Pressed as to whether American officials had tried to talk Iraqi leaders out of their vacation, Snow said, “You know, it’s 130 degrees in Baghdad in August. I’ll pass on your recommendation.”

“Well, Tony, Tony, I’m sorry,” Raddatz replied. “There are a lot of things that happen by September, and it’s 130 degrees for the U.S. military also on the ground.”

Progress is not being made by the Iraqis which is why so many Republicans are now starting to look at options that will end up with the redeployment of American troops out of Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki says they don't need American soldiers anyway. It is time to leave.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Best Organizations in Football

Last week,Michael Silver at SI posted up what I consider to be a ridiculous ranking of NFL team owners. He put Jerry Jones (#2), Danny Boy (#5), and the Texans' Bob McNair (#7) above owners like Dan Rooney (#9), the Giants' Mara and Tisch. He has Al Davis ranked at #20.

Frankly, any one who cannot agree that Bill Clay (Detroit) is the worst owner in football does not know what he/she is talking about. (Silver has Clay ranked #29, ahead of the Bills, Saints, and Bengals owners).

Ultimately, fans only care about winning and losing. A great owner is one that has a team that wins, and hopefully wins consistently. In order to have that, you have to have good leadership at the top, good GM skills, good scouting skills, good coaches, and good players. That is what makes up a great organization, and ultimately it translates into "W's" on the field.

That said, here are what I think are currently the 5 best NFL organizations:

1. New England
2. Chicago
3, San Diego
4. Denver
5. Philadelphia

Here are the 5 worst in my opinion:

1. Detroit
2. Oakland
3. Tampa Bay
4. Washington
5. Houston

These are teams that have the players, coaches, front office, scouts, and the overall organizational systems to win consistently over the next 5 years. The worst teams have to show that they can evaluate and develop talent, and that they can manage their cap figures so that they are not re-starting every year.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Follow Up to Owner Ranking

SI's Michael Silver got hammered by fans for his ridiculous ranking of NFL owners. Here are a couple of choice comments from his column:

"You are dead to me, Michael Silver, for thinking for even one half a split-second in your teeny-weenie mind, that Dan Snyder deserves to be ranked above the Rooney family in your asinine excuse for a column. The Rooneys have won five Super Bowls and been a proud leader in the fight for stability and diversity. The other has transformed a once-proud franchise into a perennial overhyped laughingstock whose reverse Midas Touch has even managed to tarnish the legacy of Joe Gibbs. Oh yeah, I'm supposed to ask a question: Is you ignorant, or is ya just stupid??"

He posted a couple of fan posts supporting him in bashing the Bears, but he did put up the following:

"This isn't a question. Just letting you know, Virginia McCaskey is the 'Owner' of the Chicago Bears. Congrats on using your journalism degree. It's called investigate THEN report. Your ending crack on Grossman is ... wow."

Of course we have no idea how many fans supported his take on Snyder or on the Bears' ownership, but I feel confident that Bears fans are much happier right now than Redskins fans, and that is really all that counts.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bears Sign Olsen

The Bears are the first team to sign their first round pick. In fact, they are the first team to sign one of the top 64 picks in the draft.

They only have their second round pick, Dan Bazuin, left to sign. Not bad for an organization that JKD and Deepie believe is cheap and one of the worst organizations in football (given their apparent agreement with SI's ridiculous ranking of owners).

Let's see what the "great" Danny Snyder and his minions do about signing LaRon Landry. I'm sure JKD will have some excuse when LaRon doesn't make camp on time. Never mind that the 'Skins had so few picks to worry about signing.