The Haphazard Blog

Archive for September, 2010

Patriots vs. Bills Recap

by on Sep.26, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

I’d say this game played out as I expected. The offense would put up points and the defense would give up points. I didn’t buy too much into the idea that the Patriots would blow out the Bills. It would really take one or two non-offensive TDs for them to really blow the game open. I really think the defense we saw from the second half of the Bengals game through the Jets game is the baseline for the defense. I continue to hope they improve as they play, but that remains to be seen. The offense is good and they just have to find a way to get the job done.

Aaron Hernandez has looked really good these last two games. He is a great target for Tom Brady. I like that he almost always cuts back to the inside and isn’t afraid of contact. It’s scary that he will only get better.

The defense continues to help opposing quarterbacks. CBS ran a stat that said the Bills had failed to convert their last 40 3rd and 10 or longer. So of course when the Patriots had them at 3rd and 18, the Bills got the 1st down pretty easily. There was no pass rush and no coverage. As much as Bill Belichick empasizes that pass defense is a combination of the pass rush and coverage, the Patriots are inconsistent at both once again. They desperately need to find an OLB who can put pressure on the QB. I noticed that Belichick has a play calling sheet in his hand. I wonder if he was calling plays for the offense or defense?

Although the Febreze commercial highlighted the Patriots loss to the Jets, I was amused that they said Mark Sanchez was able to win the game with Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller while ignoring Braylon Edwards who was arrested for DUI (and now will apparently claim antibiotics caused him to blow a 0.16).

It was at home, but we got to see Clutch Brady show up at the end of the half to move the team down for a quick FG. Later, we saw him run the ball for a 1st down and emphatically assist the referees in signaling the 1st down. I’ve been waiting to see him run with the ball since last season. It was good to see  him do that with so much room. Last year, he would’ve still tried to dump the ball off to someone.

I think I saw the reason why Brady doesn’t pass more to Brandon Tate on the second touchdown pass to Randy Moss. Moss beat double coverage and Brady through the ball to him deep. Tate also decided to run towards the ball bringing another defender with him. I can’t imagine they drew up a route that had two people running to the same location and I seriously doubt it was Moss who made the mistake. Brady has to be able to trust his receivers will go where they are supposed to go.

That TD they gave up on the kick-off was bad. They’ve been covering so well all pre-season and to start the year. It let the Bills get right back into the game. I still wonder if Stephen Gostkowski is fully healthy. On 2 drives, the offense killed them with penalties before they even got started. They have to be more disciplined, especially when they go on the road. They made it very likely to go 3 and out (and they did).

Chung still continues to look like the best guy on defense with Vince Wilfork. His decision to run the interception out of the end zone didn’t seem like smart situational football, but he did get an interception at a critical point. Danny Woodhead had 2 good runs on draw plays; a Kevin Faulk specialty. That’s an important hole to fill with the loss of Faulk. We’ll have to see how he handles pass protection against blitzers. Best of all, the Patriots were able to close out the game. A big test next week at Miami before they have their early bye week.

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New England Patriots Musings

by on Sep.25, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Some random thought on the Patriots.

No one should be up in arms about Tom Brady calling the home crown “friendly”. They are quiet most of the game and don’t do much to help their team. I don’t understand the phenomenon. You pay all that money for tickets, parking, tailgating and food and you leave early to beat traffic? Aside from teams that can’t sell out (this is probably even debatable), the Patriots fans who attend games collectively suck. For the 2009 season, and this season so far, the team can not be fully trusted to keep a lead and win a game when they are leading. Fans really should stick around to the end and lend a hand. My recommended solution is for Kraft Sports to produce a video like Blue Man Group did with their How to be a Rock Star tour, replacing what to do to be a rock star with what to do as a fan (yell when the opposing offense is at the line of scrimmage, yell even louder on third and fourth down, keep quiet when the Patriots are on offense, support the team the whole game). Basically, teach the fans how to be real fans since they either don’t know or can’t be bothered. Mix in players talking about how other fans being so loud made it hard on them. Play this video before the game and during half time. Chop up the “moves” and play them during TV timeouts.

ESPN posted a Madden simulation of the Patriots vs. Jets game last week and I know as I read it, I laughed at the outcome and the manner in which the Jets came back to win. As it turned out, they had it almost right except they gave the Patriots too much credit on offense in the second half. Otherwise, the Jets came from behind and Sanchez had a big game. This week they predict a 42-13 destruction of the Bills.

Losing Kevin Faulk is a tough blow. They didn’t have him for 8 weeks in 2005 and they were up and down through that stretch. I think it’s a loss they can overcome, but it just adds another problem to a team that seems to have a lot of them. The main concern I would have is Brady’s pass protection. Faulk would rarely get beat or blown up despite his size. He would lay his body on the line to take on a blitzer to keep Brady clean. Is there anyone else they can count on every time like they could with Faulk?

What has happened to the Patriots in the second half? I talked about the collapses at the end of the season. There is an ESPN article that sums it up by the numbers. The offense isn’t producing and the defense is also suffering. I think the Patriots have to produce a better offense in the second half. They need to be able to run down the clock so that the defense is spending less time on the field. People are quick to blame the defense (and there’s no question they didn’t play well) in the loss to the Jets, but the offense scored zero points and turned the ball over three times. They had the ball for 10 minutes to the Jets 20 minutes. The defense forced 2 punts, allowed one field goal and two touch downs. Certainly not great, but they got no help from the offense. The defense is simply not lights out or smothering. They have a very difficult time getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. As I mentioned in my previous post, the defense has an incredible ability to make the opposing QB look like a hall of famer (and the numbers bear that out).

So far, things are going as I predicted with the growing pains. I didn’t expect them to look so good against Bengals or so bad in the second half against the Jets. We’ll see how the progress as the season goes. They have a lot of good teams to play this year.

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Patriots vs. Jets Recap

by on Sep.19, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

It started out well, but it didn’t end well.

The announcers said the Jets won the toss and elected to kick. I thought it couldn’t be true, because then the Patriots would also choose to receive in the second half, making the Jets idiots. The Jets got the kick-off in the second half, so the announcers were wrong.

Tom Brady is back. I was sure he was before, but after today, there’s no question. His ducking under Kyle Wilson avoiding a sack while keeping his eyes down field to hit Welker on the other side is classic Brady.

Stephen Gostkowski has missed 3 FGs in a row now. He’s a career 85% kicker, so that means he’d have to make the next 17 in a row to stay at 85%. His kickoff also seemed like they were short (he has been good at getting touchbacks) so it has me wondering if he’s injured.

The announcers seemed to say it was clear the ball hit the ground on Patrick Chung’s interception, but at least to me, there wasn’t indisputable visual evidence of it on the replay review. Regardless, they overruled it and what could’ve been something else to continue Mark Sanchez’s woes was for not. The Patriots did still get a 3 and out, so at the time, things were looking up. Also, Chung has made a very impressive improvement in his second year. He looks like the best guy on the defense.

Tully Banta-Cain continues with the stupid penalties. What a pointless late hit he made. This defense has an incredible ability to make opposing offense and QBs look so good. And to think, I was thinking this during the second quarter before the Patriots allowed the Jets to do whatever they wanted and see the resurrection of the Sanchize and Braylon Edwards catch everything thrown his way.

That TD catch by Randy Moss was simply amazing. I thought the ball was overthrown with him only putting one hand up to grab it, but he was just catching it with ease. Of course, Darelle Revis grabs his hamstring and isn’t seen from again. It’s kind of funny the game was going much better for the Patriots with him in then with him gone. $32M for 2 years. :)

Brady threw a great pass to Antonio Cromartie. Moss was more of a defender in the second half than a wide receiver. I have no idea what happened to the offense in the second half of this game. Where were all the receivers besides Moss? Wes Welker (I noticed he played sparingly after taking that hit), Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, Alge Crumpler and Rob Gronkowski? It was just 3rd and long followed by deep pass after deep pass. There was nothing underneath? The Jets took away all the supposed weapons in New England’s offense without their best CB? If that’s the case, then there are big worries on offense now. Why did they wait so long to go hurry up and break out the screen passes? Was it only working because the Jets were playing soft with a 2 TD lead? I didn’t see them at least try (and fail). Did the Patriots quit at the end? They had 2 timeouts, the Jets were in 2nd and long. Stop the clock after 2nd and 3rd down, they punt, you have over a minute left. Sure it’s a long shot, but you don’t even try?

I figured the game was over on the second pass interference by Darius Butler. They weren’t stopping the Jets. I guess this is the defense I expected to see in the first game. I’m not going to panic (just as I didn’t anoint them after the win last week), but this was a bad loss. They were outplayed the last 3 quarters, especially the second half. It was the same problems as last year. Road collapses after halftime. It’s only week 2 and just between the Patriots and Jets games, it’s a nice circle. The Patriots beat the Bengals, the Bengals beat the Ravens, the Ravens beat the Jets and the Jets beat the Patriots.

Back to the drawing board, and it’s going to suck being the Buffalo Bills next week.

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My Plate Is Overflowing

by on Sep.19, 2010, under Computer Hardware, Entertainment, Football, Life, Patriots, Sports, Technology, TV

It seems like my todo list is endless now. I’ve been working long hours on a project with a tight time schedule. It’s a good project, but it does take a lot out of you to work so many hours a week. It makes me think about people who work two jobs to support their family. To do that week in and week out (and I’m sure at least one of those jobs is one they don’t particularly like) just shows their commitment to their family. It’s mentally and physically taxing. I’m fortunate to have a job that’s pretty much 40 hours a week the majority of the time.

I have yet to fully catch up after my vacation last month. My MacBook was buried under 3 weeks of mail and bills. I finally got through all that so my desk is actually clean. I hate when my desk is covered with stuff that needs to be taken care of or put away. I still need to go through all the pictures from my vacation and put some of those online.

My DVR still has shows on it from when I was on vacation. Between work and physical therapy, I’m recording more shows than I can watch. The positive out of it is I’m dumping marginal shows this fall. Hopefully between the canceled/ending shows last season, shows I dump this fall and the new shows this fall, I end up with less to watch.

I have managed to watch sports live at least. West Virginia is 3-0. They had an incredible comeback against Marshall (avoiding their first loss to them) last week. I thought they were done when they went down 14-3. I suppose I had some hope of a comeback because I did record the rest of the game and checked in between shows. I was able to tune back in on their TD drive to make it 21-13 and watch the rest of the game to see them pull off the win. I got to miss the suckitude in the middle. Yesterday, they looked better to start the game. Looking similar to the Patriots against Cincinnati to really jump on Maryland in the first half. Then Maryland was making a game of it before WVU had a 9-minute drive to put the game out of reach. It’s nice to see a QB who can pass the ball. It’s been a long time (since Marc Bulger I believe) since we had a guy who can throw the ball accurately and stand in the pocket.

Needless to say, I was surprised by how the Patriots played on defense last week. It was just one game, but they had a great game plan and the young guys executed it about as well as anyone could expect. It certainly adds a new level of anticipation and excitement about the 2010 team’s potential. Hopefully it’s not just a tease. A good test this week against a team with a very good, attacking defense. This will be a real test for the offensive line. If the game was in New England, I’d feel real confident the Patriots will win. I guess I’m still skeptical that the defense is as good as they were last week. I don’t think New England will try that whole whiteboard nonsense again this year. They will have Welker (he had a huge game in the only one he played vs. the Jets last year) and possibly Edelman who is a lot better than he was in week 2 last year. It’s going to be another test, but I think New England will win a close game because the Jets defense is better than Cincinnati’s.

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2010 Patriots Season Is Coming Up

by on Sep.12, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

The 2010 New England Patriots season is kicking off today. Predictions are fairly wide for them this season. Records from 8-8 to 12-4. Missing the playoffs, wild card or division winners. I didn’t see any predictions of them winning the Super Bowl or even making it there. It seems like the Patriots like it this way. I wonder if there are people in the locker room who can really pull off the “nobody believes in us/no respect” card as well as they did a few years ago.

Getting down to actual football, I think the offense will be better this year. Brady looks like he is standing tall in the pocket to start this season. There’s a lot of hope in the revamped tight end group (fans might remember Chris Baker had a good pre-season last year and didn’t do much in the regular season) and they looked the part so far. Is the pass catching tight end finally back in New England? They are pinning their 3rd/4th WR hopes on Brandon Tate.

There still isn’t a lead running back, so the hope is Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor stay healthy (not likely). Laurence Maroney simply han’t lived up to his draft position. Watching All-Access for this week, they had some clips of Bill Belichick teaching Chris Taylor techniques for running. He was saying he was making good decisions but was revealing the too early. He needed to make his move later to ensure the blocks hold up. By revealing his move early, the defenders are able to adjust. Made me wonder if that’s what Maroney does and why it seems like the defenders get to him quickly. I always thought it was the line and he had no chance (when he wasn’t dancing).

This leads to the offensive line. It was exposed in the worst possible manner in Super Bowl XLII. Now the best lineman (Logan Mankins) is staying away in a contract dispute. Dan Koppen has reportedly gotten stronger. We will have to see how they play in the regular season with a player who played a backup role in the past.

The defense is much more of a mystery this year. I’m encouraged that they are finally going with youth and a trial-by-fire (they didn’t have much of a choice with the injuries mounting during traing camp and pre-season). There are big question marks on the defensive ends. The Patriots were run all over by the Ravens to end the season and they are short another top lineman this year. How will the new defensive ends hold up?

There are also questions at outside linebacker. They have to have guys who can stand up to the run and keep the running backs from getting around the corner. That was another issue last year and a guy who was a backup 4 hears ago is starting along side a career special teamer. We have yet to see the rookie Jermaine Cunningham take a snap. A lot of hope is falling to him.

The secondary is the youngest in the league. This will be a true on the job learning for 3 of the 4 guys back there. It worked way back in 2003 for Eufene Wilson, but he had Rodney Harrison and Ty Law as teammates. I could see a lot of Cover-2 played while the corner backs get their legs under them playing man-to-man and bump-and-run coverage.

Finally, special teams should be improved in the kicking game this year.

I think if everything goes to plan, the Patriots will struggle to start the season, but won’t look like they don’t belong. They’ll get better and play their best football from Thanksgiving into the play-offs. The difference between this team and the 2009 team will be there is a higher ceiling for improvement, they are just starting at a lower level. It should make for exciting games this year, but a reduced level of frustration as the team improves. The second half/fourth quarter collapses should be a thing of the past.

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I Am Now a Mac Owner

by on Sep.06, 2010, under Computer Hardware, Life, Technology

Four or five years after I first considered getting a Mac (I was thinking a desktop tower back then) I now have a MacBook Pro, courtesy of my brother. I took it with me on vacation to the National Parks two weeks ago as kind of a trial by fire thing to learn the nuances vs. Windows with no alternative. This was partly derailed by how busy we were (out the door by 8 AM, back after 8 PM for dinner) and the poor Wi-Fi reception until the last night.

There are a fair amount of nuances that I have had to pick up. The command key is the equivalent of the control key on the PC. Made slightly more confusing is there is also a control key on the Mac. The multi-touch takes getting used to and anything requiring 3 or 4 fingers as gestures are out. I can manage some two finger gestures like scrolling, but pinch/expand requires 2 hands. I see the value in all these gestures, but it would be nice to have the option for some legacy touchpad stuff like scrolling by using the edges of the touch pad. Maybe alternative gestures for pinch/expand like double tapping and dragging from a corner for example.

Some other things that I had to learn was the symbol for alt key. For some reason, Apple makes heavy use of the symbol in the menus (to tell you what the keyboard shortcut for the command is) but then they did not print that symbol on the key itself. The other thing is the lack of the page up/down and home/end keys. Those keys are very handy when using web browsers or navigating documents. So that leaves me with the multitouch for page up/down or fn+arrow keys.

The Mac also has forced me to reconsider syncing stuff. Until now, I had my work PC that I used for dual purposes and a Windows laptop. I’d use remote desktop to gain access to my e-mail or webmail for my domain. Now with two operating systems and my desire to use the Mac for more than an interface to my PC (there is Remote Desktop for Mac), I’m rethinking my strategy. My first step will be to move my e-mail to Google Apps. This also ties into my newly acquired iPod Touch. It has mail, contacts, etc. So when I also get a smart phone in the future, that’ll be another thing to sync. Google Apps is looking like it will make the most sense. One obstacle is I will need to determine how large my mailbox is at this point. I have e-mail going back to 1996. In all honesty, I don’t really think I need to keep 99% of it, but I don’t know that I want to sift through it all either. I should investigate e-mail archival options.

I’ve managed to run iTunes on both machines using the same library. It will also let me sync from either machine. I’m going to start using iPhoto to manage my recent vacation pictures next. I also need to download the iOS SDK so that I can start to play around with making Apps for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch families. Also on the list is installing Windows 7 with Boot Camp (and eventually using Parallels) and getting an SSD. Eventually I will have moved my entire personal life over to the Mac. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it so far. I feel like I’m jumping on the bandwagon a little late, but oh well.

A couple quick comments on the iPod Touch. I’ve been using it for a couple days now and it’s also interesting like the Mac multitouch. I’m going to be a lot slower at typing on that than with a keyboard. I’m basically reduced to using one finger. I have also started to figure out that it seems I need to hit just a little to the right of what I want to avoid mistakes. Again, the pinch/expand gestures are a problem, and in this case more difficult because you normally wouldn’t have it on your lap or on a table when you’re using it.

It’s interesting that ~15 years ago, PCs were very difficult for people with physical disabilities to use and got easier with voice recognition, laser ice, trackballs and touchpads. Now there is a movement to gestures and multitouch that makes it more difficult again. The same thing is happening with video games. First there was the addition of tons of buttons and now the movement to full body movement. It’s interesting what computing power has done.

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Duke Nukem Forever: No Longer Vaporware

by on Sep.06, 2010, under Entertainment, Video Games

That was a lot of neglect, almost two months. It didn’t really feel like it has been that long since I blogged.

So the big news (not really big, but noteworthy to me) was that there was actually real progress and a demo of Duke Nukem Forever last week. Wired has the main details. It’s been almost 15 years since Duke Nukem 3D came out. It is crazy how long this game has been anticipated and despite it being written off as never happening, if it ever did it would still somehow live up to expectations and sell like crazy. Looks like it will be a cross platform game (PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3) as well.

The original game was a huge hit. It was a great single player game and even better multi-player one. The character was awesome (quite a bit like Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead, including some of his lines) and the timing was perfect. It came out over a year after Doom II and before Quake came out.  Lots of nostalgia thinking about those days. All the endless hours spent playing either over a null modem cable or dial-up.

I’ll be sure to get my copy as soon as it comes out.

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