The Haphazard Blog

Archive for October, 2010

Patriots vs. Vikings Recap

by on Oct.31, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Happy Halloween!

This was a ho-hum kind of game. The teams went back and forth for a bit before the Patriots were able to capitalize on a turnover and then the Vikings came back and made it a one score game again late.

I just want to say again that I hate Sunday afternoon games. Missed the beginning of the game again because the local FOX station had to air some local commercials. Suddenly, the Patriots have the ball.  This may happen again for the Colts game, CBS has the double header.

Alge Crumpler seems to makes a lot of costly and/or stupid penalties for a veteran. This week, it was illegal motion negating a 1st down followed by an incomplete pass to punt. Week 1 it was a false start and then a holding negating a 1st down leading to a punt. Week 3 was holding again. All told, if you read the play-by-play, Crumpler has 3 penalties, 1 injury, 2 incomplete passed and 1 completed pass through 7 games. In all fairness to him, he has been a locker room leader, mentor to 2 rookie tight ends and a staple of the running game.

Blah. Blah. Blah. Brett Favre. Favre. Favre. That is all I hear the announcers saying. It’s like everyone gets paid by the compliment to Favre.

The Patriots offense seems to be getting worse by the week. Is it film study? Conversely, are the Vikings going to win by running all day? It seemed like it, but at the end of the game Adrian Peterson didn’t get 100 yards and the Patriots found a running game.

I really think that the Patriots defense stopped Peterson on that touchdown. I agree with the crowd, bull shit. If you combine the angles, Vince Wilfork stopped the ball and Jerod Mayo finished him off. No touchdown.

I couldn’t stop laughing after Brad Childress decided to challenge the Brandon Tate reception after the network showed 4 replays. I could see it with no replays, but after those? Total ineptitude. Then later he didn’t challenge a turnover. The referees aren’t your only problem Chilly.

The Patriots defense continues their bend, but don’t break ways with a goal line stand. They seem to be getting better, which is what I hoped to see.

I thought Tom Brady was throwing it away when he threw it to Tate for the 65 yard touchdown. But it was another one of those plays where you have no idea what Brady was thinking and it worked out. On the other side, when Brady had a lot of time it seemed like either there was no check down/dump off receiver or he couldn’t find the open guy.

Another awesome interception by Devin McCourty. He ripped that ball away from Percy Harvin as he was going to the ground and took off with it. I think that’s a play Childress has to challenge to see if Harvin was down by contact first.

Favre was knocked out with an injury. With stitches, he obviously was hit in the head by Myron Pryor’s helmet. It was a hit to the chest, but the helmet had to have slid up. By the rules (at least how I read them), that was a penalty (they got an illegal contact anyway, another bad call in my opinion). I’d expect a fine to come his way. On the topic of penalties, not sure how they missed the pass interference call against Welker later. It was a critical point in the game, fortunately, they got the 1st down on the next play.

To end the drive, they ran 2 quarterback sneaks from 1 yard out. What were they thinking there? One yard for a touchdown to go up by 10 and they do that with the Vikings defense in with a goal line package and dug in for the run. Were they that confident that they could get a TD on 3rd or 4th down? Points seem a lot more important than the time left on the clock.

The Vikings had incredible kick and punt coverage teams.

And finally, I just want to echo Bill Simmons.

The Raiders went 29-83 from 2003 to 2009. Somehow, my Patriots have their No. 1 pick during the one year they’ll probably finish 8-8. This makes me angry. Really, really angry.

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Patriots vs. Chargers Recap

by on Oct.24, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Right off the bat, I had to deal with NFL Sunday Ticket annoyances. If a game is scheduled to air on your local station, DirecTV blacks out the NFL Sunday Ticket broadcast. It really sucks when:

  1. The early game you want to watch is on local TV and turns out to be a blowout. The local channel switches to another game and it’s also blacked out. It will take almost a whole quarter before DirecTV lifts the blackout.
  2. The late game you want to watch is on local TV and another game they want to air to completion goes over. I’ve never seen them lift the black out in this case, you have to wait until the local station shows the game.
  3. The late game you want to watch is on local TV and the team in/near your market goes over. If it goes to OT, they will usually lift the black out until half time, but not until a fair amount of the game has already been played.

So today, I was stuck with scenario #2. By the time they joined the game, there was 10:30 left in the 1st quarter and there were already 2 possessions. What’s the point of getting “all the games” when this routinely happens across the country to fans who live outside their favorite team’s market? Can’t DirecTV do it the other way? Have a god faith agreement to black out a game after they confirm it is airing locally? How about at least having a phone number or e-mail address to alert them that a black out needs to be lifted. They charge $300 a season. Is it too costly to hire a guy to work every Sunday to handle black outs?

The last thing I’ll say is there are at least the Shortcuts so I can see the plays I missed tomorrow. Now, on to the game (at least what I saw).

Someone needs to remind Brandon Meriweather that while he did make a big hit, the guy still got a 1st down. Quit celebrating like Ellis Hobbs. But a good job lowering his target after the dirty hit and big fine the week before.

The Chargers went for an onside kick early and the Patriots did a good job making sure they got it. Last year, they were caught not paying attention and just running back to cover, this year, while they were taking a step back, they were watching the ball. Dane Fletcher was able to fall on it while other guys made blocks to make sure he had the time to secure the ball. There was no panic.

The Patriots ripped of a 9 yard run on 1st down, then threw 2 incomplete passes. This was a sign of a theme for the offense today, lots of ineptitude and inconsistency.

On the flip side, the defense played very well. They were stopping the Chargers on 3rd down, and on a 3rd and long were able to force a fumble and recover deep in Charger territory. It was another good play by Fletcher who seemed to be carrying over his good play from the Ravens game.

After the Patriots scored a touchdown, Richard Goodman pulled a somewhat common rookie mistake by just dropping a live ball after hitting the ground after the catch. I was yelling at the TV as he went down for someone to touch him because I knew he could get up and run. Instead he tossed the ball on the ground and James Sanders picked it up.

Once again, Matt Light did his best impression of a turnstile as Tom Brady was sacked. In general, the whole offensive line played poorly and Brady was under pressure all night. I’ll repeat it again, the Patriots will be drafting a left tackle. Light is useless. He gets beat routinely (but not often enough to be benched) and he can’t even play any other position.

The Patriots came out playing better in the 3rd quarter. CBS showed a stat saying the last time the Patriots failed to gain more than 38 yards in the 1st half was against the Giants (29 yards) in 2003. They also won that game, went 14-2 and won a Super Bowl that year.

Danny Woodhead continues to amaze. He has great instincts for running and he also perfectly timed a high step to avoid a guy who was behind him from making a shoe string tackle that allowed him to get at least another 10 yards on 2nd and 17 to make it 3rd and 1.

The defense started to look pretty porous in the 4th quarter. On one play, they had a 3 man rush on 3rd and long and the Chargers converted the 3rd down with a pass. This is the opposite of how they played against the Ravens where they played their best in the 4th quarter (and OT).  They were able to move the ball and score touchdowns at will it seemed. I felt like I could predict what was happening. Thy started to pass when Vince Wilfork was in for 1st down, mostly as a checkdown to a wide open underneath receiver or running back. So New England countered with a similar plan to the Ravens last week having Fletcher spy the running back. Philip Rivers just went deep in the middle then. So then they decided to take Wilfork out and the Chargers would just run it. Antonio Gates really stepped it up in the 4th quarter despite an injury.

The second onsides kick by the Chargers was perfectly timed. The Chargers player was at the ball just as it was crossing the 4o-yard line. The only chance the Patriots had was to try and go forward and get a hold of the ball, but without their best “hands” guys, would’ve been equally risky.

I thought it was a curious decision for Bill Belichick to go for it on 4th and 1 from their 49 after the 2 minute warning. The Chargers still had 3 timeouts left and only need a field goal to tie the game. A punt gives them 2 minutes and a long field with 3 timeouts. If they fail to get the 1st down, then the Chargers have the ball at midfield with 3 timeouts and need 15-20 yards to be in field goal range. If the Patriots get the 1st down, they could force the Chargers to burn all their timeouts and then punt for a long field to get a field goal. And best case, they are able to run the whole clock out. My guess on Bill Belichick’s logic: I like our chances of getting a 1st down on this play (It looked like the same play they used to get their last touchdown) over my defense stopping the Chargers with 4 downs on a long field.

So after not getting the 1st down, the defense held enough. On the 3rd down play I was hoping for short completion to set up a long field goal. An incomplete might’ve had them go for it on 4th and long. They got a little more yards than I had hoped. They set up for a 45-yard field goal and has a false start! It moved them back 5 yards and I feared they may decide to go for it, but they went ahead with a field goal. My thought was where is Patrick Chung when you need him (someone else did come real close to blocking it), but to the Patriot’s fortune, the kick hit the right upright and was no good. Another tough win.

One final note. No idea if there is a correlation, but the Patriots 3rd down offense has done a lot worse since the Randy Moss trade. And speaking of, next week he comes back to face the Patriots.

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Patriots vs. Ravens Recap

by on Oct.17, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

If it wasn’t said enough leading up to this game, it will be said even more now. The Patriots are going back to the style of play they had during their Super Bowl championship years. I can see where the sentiment comes from, but the defense has a ways to go.

The Patriots started out poorly on defense. They mirrored the Bills game by doing a great job on 1st and 2nd down and then let the Ravens convert a 3rd and long. Then on the same drive they let it happen again before finally getting a stop in the red zone. I think Derrick Mason ran a bad route short of the sticks though. Either way, they held them to a field goal.

The reverse that the Patriots ran was really slick. Instead of the traditional hand-off, BenJarvus Green-Ellis tossed the ball up to a spot as Brandon Tate was coming across. It let tate grab the ball in stride from the air and quickly get the corner. It was a gutsy call when considering the timing and fumble risk. What I didn’t like was Tom Brady trying to block Terrell Suggs. He went diving at his knees and that kind of move by a quarterback reminds me too much of the concussion Trent Green suffered trying to do the same thing a few years back.

Brady was pretty angry in the 2nd quarter following a couple of dropped passes. You could hear a “god damnit” and later saw him on the sideline still yelling. It reminded me of his anger with Joey Galloway last season. Brady later had some bad throws of his own.

The Gillette Stadium crowd had some pretty good moments making noise during the game. The 2nd quarter and the end of the game stood out to me.

I have no idea why Julian Edelman didn’t let that punt bounce. It was a long punt and could’ve gone into the end zone for a touchback.

I think Bill Belichick made it clear he doesn’t have confidence in his defense when he didn’t use a timeout after they stopped the Ravens for 1 yard on 1st and 10 with 1:39 left and didn’t expect much from the offense as he let the clock run after stopping them on 3rd and 9 with 1:10 left.

The interception Brady threw was a poor throw. He was hurried (or at least felt the pressure) and overthrew Wes Welker who was also double covered. Poor decision on his part and the Ravens capitalized quickly with a touchdown.

I noticed there was a NFL shield screen bug added to the telecast. Watching the Red Zone Channel on DirecTV, I haven’t really seen it for other games. So it seems like DirecTV has added it to the individual games as opposed to CBS.

After the Patriots seemed to get most of their offense from unconventional plays, they have a good drive in the 4th quarter to get a touchdown.

How good does the Patriots defense make opposing QBs look? During the broadcast, once Brady started to complete passes and get into a rhythm, they said Brady was starting to look like Joe Flacco.

Matt Light continues to have inopportune plays. Doing well for all but a couple plays just isn’t quite good enough. He got beat pretty bad a couple times and then got a holding penalty. Momentum killer, but somehow Brady finds Rob Gronkowski open for 24 yards on 1st and 25. I really think if the Oakland pick ends up being real high and there is an elite left tackle, the Patriots pounce. Light is in the final year of his contract and you can almost always expect him to get beat at a critical point in a game. A left tackle is likely to be low risk choice with high value. Especially if there is a rookie wage scale and top left tackles (and top pick left tackles as well) get paid nearly $10M/yr.

On that big play to Gronkowski, Brady got up real mad. He pounded the ground while he was on his back and then was jawing with Suggs. My brother made a good observation, and watching the replay he was right. On the ground he looked bad towards the official and it seems he was real mad that Haloti Ngata (who’s a beast) wasn’t flagged during the play. It seemed clean, but he did fall on Brady taking him to the ground. I’ve seen it called before. Brady was actually yelling at Ngata and then Suggs joined. My brother said Suggs probably told Brady to stop whining and he”s probably right. :)

Weird play calling right before the two minute warning. They seemed to think they didn’t have to run a play before the two minute warning. They ended up calling a timeout and then couldn’t get the touchdown, settling for the tying field goal.

They opted for a hail mary over a 62-yd field goal attempt to win it in regulation. I wonder why Belicick chose not to take the shot. Most likely wanting to avoid a block, but how big of a risk is it being the last play of the game. They could end it right there before OT.

Aaron Hernandez had a pair of drops during OT that immediately put the Patriots in 2nd and 10. They went 3 and out both times. A lot of credit to the defense from the 4th quarter through OT. They forced the Ravens to punt on their last 5 drives letting the offense score 10 points to force OT and eventually win the game with a FG on their third possession of OT.

All in all, it did bring back memories of past Patriots close games and the ability to just make the plays needed to get the win.

October 18 Update: Somehow I didn’t even mention Deion Branch and all of his production in the 4th quarter and OT. He was ready for the entire game and came up big. Also, Danny Woodhead’s continued production along with him taking Ray Lewis down on a blitz pickup. Someone joked if Lewis caught Woodhead, he might be accused of murder a second time, but Woodhead held his own.

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E*TRADE Money Management, Can I Trust Them?

by on Oct.16, 2010, under Finance, Investing

Yesterday, I received a call from E*TRADE’s concierge service about some cash in my Roth IRA. She was seeing if I needed any help with investing it. There were a lot of odd moments. For many of the questions I asked her, she said she couldn’t give me an answer because she wasn’t allowed to give financial advice. But most of the questions were about what products do you have that meet this criteria. I wasn’t asking where I should invest, just what options they had. To make it weirder, she started to tell me about E*TRADE’s active money management. I don’t see the difference between her telling me all about that and telling me about other products.

I pointed out to her the only reason I had the cash in my account was because E*TRADE closed their S&P 500 index fund, but I’d be willing to look over some materials on the past performance of the actively managed accounts. On the surface, it seems pretty simple to determine if it’s worth it. They will charge a 0.75% annual fee to manage your assets (If they manage $10,000, they will take $75 no matter what happens) plus the fees from all the funds they choose to invest those assets. Are they any better than an index fund? My other question is, if you couldn’t manage a S&P 500 index fund, how can I trust you to actively manage anything more complex. Anyone can manage a S&P 500 index fund, and somehow E*TRADE couldn’t. I really look forward to the answer to this question.

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Credit Card Cleanup

by on Oct.16, 2010, under Finance

Inspired by my brother, I got my credit cards in order this week. I had 4 non-store specific credit cards. It turned out that 2 of my accounts were closed (both at Bank of America). One was my New England Patriots Visa and the other my West Virginia University Visa. I only used each card once (back in 2002 and 2003) so it’s not much of a big deal, but I did lose the credit lines ($5,000 each) on the two cards. That could have a minor impact on my credit score.

I also had a Sony card with a larger limit along with a Chase Freedom card. The Freedom card is the card I use pretty much exclusively. The Sony card was also with Chase, and considering it somehow had -9600 points it was pretty much useless for rewards or buying Sony products. I have no Sony products now anyways. I called up Chase and tried to have them move the credit line to my Freedom card and was told they no longer do that. My only other option was to request an equivalent raise in my credit limit on the Freedom card and then close the other account. It seemed like a good idea until she told me the request was denied one minute later.

Thanks to a helpful post on the FatWallet Finance forum (lots of good information there) I called up the lending department and mentioned I had other accounts and wondered if they could move the limit from one account to the other. A few minutes later, the credit line was moved and my Sony card account was closed. I got what I wanted, but I did have to have a hard pull on my credit report to get that initial denial. But from what I’ve read, that initial denial is necessary to get help from the lending department.

Also, I recently made an international purchase and didn’t even think about any type of fee until my brother asked me about it. I looked into it, and I was hit with a 3% fee. It’s odd though, because I was in Vancouver in 2008 and I don’t remember ever getting any fees. I wondered if the fees were just built into the currency conversion and the Credit CARD Act of 2009 has exposed the fees as a line item. I tried to do some research on it, but I didn’t see anything specific to foreign transaction fees, but some banks have said that the fee would begin to appear as a separate line item. However, I came across an interesting article talking about how the credit card companies are trying to recoup all the lost fees. It looks like in an effort to protect consumers from predatory practices and excessive fees by the credit card companies, the credit card companies are going to find ways to ensnare the consumers who pay their bills on time and in full every month. This isn’t a shock but it does suck.

So at the top of my list now is get a Capitol One credit card since they have no foreign transaction fees. I’m really late to the game on this and I have a feeling it won’t be like this much longer, but it is now something on my radar to watch out for when choosing a credit card in the future.

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It’s “I Couldn’t Care Less”

by on Oct.16, 2010, under Entertainment, TV

I’ve been noticing this a lot more often lately for some reason. I don’t know if the phrase has become more popular/common or it has just started to bother me a little.

If it is becoming more common/popular, does that mean we’re becoming increasingly apathetic? Now that I’m noticing this, I’m going to try to use it a lot less.

In any case, the reason I’m writing this is it seems like I’m seeing people use this more in TV and Movies, but use it wrong. They often say “I Could Care Less” when they really mean “I Couldn’t Care Less”. It had me wondering if the writers wrote it incorrectly, if the actors just said it incorrectly or if the director didn’t notice. Maybe all of the above.

With that in mind, I made a care chart for everyone that shows why “I Couldn’t Care Less” is correct.

How Much Do You Care? Chart

How Much Do You Care?

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Patriots vs. Dolphins and Bye Week Recap

by on Oct.14, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

I started to take notes during games so I could remember things that I noticed later. More than any game so far this year, they come in real handy. The Patriots won handily 41-14, but thinks weren’t looking so bright in the first half. It would be easy to forget.

To start the game, Anthony Fasano was wide open in zone coverage and able to convert a 3rd and 3 for over 20 yards. Heading into this game, I was hoping for 3rd and short over 3rd and long because the Patriots pass defense has left a lot to desire so far. Looked like the Dolphins decided if they can’t cover 3rd and long, they probably can’t cover 3rd and short. The Patriots did eventually force a punt and it was good to see Wes Welker back there to return the punt. It was a positive sign that he is still doing well in his recovery. (He did also tell ESPN that he definitely was not back to 100%, plus he really hates the brace.) Unfortunately, he muffed the punt and it looked like he was tackled awkwardly. Fortunately, he was able to get his leg out of the turf and bounced back up. But it was scary for a split second.

They decided to start Vince Wilfork at defensive end. They moved him to that spot during the Ravens playoff game last year because Jarvis Green was getting run all over. This time, it seemed like they wanted to discourage Miami from running to the right from the beginning (they only tried 5 times). It makes sense if the plan is to put their best outside linebacker on the opposite side. My thinking is they don’t have 2 guys who can set the edge. so they have their best defensive lineman take care of it on one side.

On another 3rd down play (this time a long one), Brandon Spikes points to Davone Bess as no one covers him and he catches the ball and runs for an easy 1st down. Looking like it was going to be a close game and long night for the defense.

This doesn’t seem to happen often, but ESPN mentioned that BenJarvus Green-Ellis had never fumbled the ball (147 carries) and somehow, he didn’t fumble it the whole night.

I made a note to find out where Cameron Wake was drafted, but they mentioned during the game he was an undrafted free agent. Looking into it further, the Giants signed him in 2005 and cut him. He played in the CFL in 2007 and 2008 and then after he was one of the best defensive players for 2 years a bunch of NFL teams wanted him. I’d say he fits the description of a “high motor” guy. I also finally understood what “speed to power” means (between Playbook and ESPN).  Wake gets going fast at Sebastian Vollmer and just powers right through him pushing him backwards and then tosses him aside to get a hit on Tom Brady.

Rob Ninkovich was struggling with setting the edge in the run, but came up big dropping into coverage and picking off a pass for Brandon Marshall. Later in the game he made a great interception by stretching out to grab it. Very Tedy Bruschi-esque with those plays (and the sack later).

That pass to Randy Moss was so close for a touchdown. It definitely seemed like it was catchable at the time, but in retrospect, he had to turn and get his hands on it in very little time. He makes catching the ball look so easy, you just expect him to catch that. (Following his trade, Vontae Davis said Moss said that if Brady didn’t throw such a wobbly ball, he would’ve caught it. Probably true.)

Not sure the Patriots could’ve started the half any better than a kick return for a TD, a 3 and out on defense, a punt block for a short field and the offense cashing in with another TD. Huge swing of momentum for the Patriots. To the Dolphins credit, they took the ball right down the field (the Patriots laughingly fell for a screen pass (not realizing it was way too easy, especially for them, to get a path to Chad Henne) on the way) to get a TD themselves. I think it was at this point where I felt really good about the Patriots. They had a great drive to score another TD. The Dolphins had a real good chance to get the momentum back, but I think this drive showed the Patriots weren’t going to lay down on the road (finally). It looked like after this TD that Brady was telling everyone to get set for a 2 point play. I thought it was way too early for that (and Ernie Adams was smarter than that). Either I misunderstood what Brady was doing or they thought better of it and kicked the extra point.

From there, the game really got out of control. Pat Chung found a crease right between 2 guys and blocked a field goal that they ran back for a TD. (Somehow he wasn’t the AFC special teams player of the week.) For good measure he ran an interception back for a TD as well.

As mentioned in a previous post, Randy Moss was traded during the bye week. There were no other players involved and the compensation did seem low to me for a player of his caliber. I was expecting at least a 2nd round pick, especially to a team in win now mode like Minnesota. Also weird was that they didn’t extend his contract. He’s in the same exact position he was in with the Patriots as far as his contract goes. My thought was given the compensation (Patriots got a 3rd and had to send a 7th to the Vikings) a lot more was going on behind the scenes. It looks like they all agreed to play nice, so we probably won’t ever know what the reasons were. I’d guess it was a lot of things between his attitude and his place in the offense. A few people felt during the Jets loss that Brady was forcing balls to Moss with better options available. Time will tell if this was a good or bad idea. Was Brady forcing the ball to Moss to keep him happy? Was he not looking for the open receiver? I will say that he was right back at hos locker for his weekly interview (instead of the podium).

And now this week the Patriots brought back their old friend Deion Branch. He adjusted his contract for 2011 to come back, but they will be paying him basically what they were going to pay Moss. It seemed like a necessary move considering they traded their #1 WR and needed someone to add back onto the depth chart (or rely on Taylor Price who has been inactive all season). Although the compensation seems to say it (4th round pick to get Branch) it’s far from an equal swap on field. The operative word being on field. He should be able to get up to speed enough to contribute Sunday. I think these moves have a lot of people wondering if the Patriots will be returning to their Super Bowl days when Brady’s favorite receiver was the open one. I’d say the offense is a lot better now than then, but the defense has a long way to go to be as good as the ones they had then.

One thing is clear, this will be an even more interesting season than I thought before, and the NFL seems to be wide open for almost any team to make it to the Super Bowl.

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