Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kansas City Chiefs 2010 Madden-ness Ratings

Since so much of my football knowledge has been attained from simply playing the video game, Madden, deep into the hours of the night, I thought I'd take a stab at playing Jesus (Spanish dialect) and rating the Chiefs assets going into the 2010 NFL season.

A quick tangent on the Madden series of football games: Once upon a time I always prided myself on the fact that no matter how old I grew, I would never stop playing video games, especially Madden (and to a lesser extent NCAA Football). Painstakingly, I am now one of these yaps that just can't find the time to sit down and enjoy an hour of scheming and exercising my instincts to the fullest en route to a Madden victory. Where have I gone wrong? What is this phenomenon that separates adults from video games? Is it an imagination drought? I find myself missing it, but don't reach near the same level of satisfaction as I once did. In spite of this, I still find little John Maddens coursing through my veins. In fact, a good majority of my football knowledge (mostly random and useless), whether it be play design, name recognition around the league, or specific players' Alma Maters, comes from my Madden anthology, ranging from 1999 to 2009.

The results of this exercise are two-fold: a. A quick action judgment on all of the Chiefs players and playettes, b. My prognostication on what the final 53 man roster will look like after training camp has subsided. The ratings are based on a 1-100 scale ranging from Jamarcus Russell's work ethic to Ndamukong Suh's barbarity.

Matt Cassel- 81
Brodie Croyle- 71
Tyler Palko- 57

Running Backs:
Jamaal Charles- 88
Thomas Jones- 85
Jackie Battle- 73

Mike Cox- 64
Tim Castille- 62

Wide Receivers:
Chris Chambers- 83
Dwayne Bowe- 82
Dexter McCluster- 74
Jerheme Urban- 73
Quentin Lawrence- 60

Tight Ends:
Leonard Pope- 77
Tony Moeaki- 73
Jake O'Connell- 41

Offensive Line:
Brian Waters- 88
Branden Albert- 84
Ryan Lilja- 80
Ryan O'Callaghan- 76
Casey Wiegmann- 72
Rudy Niswanger- 69
Colin Brown- 68
Barry Richardson- 64
Jon Asamoah- 64
Ikechuku Ndukwe- 61

Defensive Line:
Glenn Dorsey- 86
Ron Edwards- 75
Wallace Gilberry- 74
Tyson Jackson- 71
Shaun Smith- 68
Alex Magee- 65
Garrett Brown- 62

Tamba Hali- 90
Demorrio Williams- 78
Derrick Johnson- 76
Andy Studebaker- 75
Mike Vrabel- 72
Jovan Belcher- 69
Corey Mays- 69
Cameron Sheffield- 67

Brandon Flowers- 91
Brandon Carr- 85
Javier Arenas- 74
Maurice Leggett- 70
Donald Washington- 64

Eric Berry- 80
Jarrad Page- 75
Kendrick Lewis- 71
Jon McGraw- 70
Dajuan Morgan- 62

Dustin Colquitt- 93
Ryan Succop- 90

Thy Dirkness

Chiefs' 5 Biggest Questions Pre-Training Camp

1. Does Matt Cassel have any Trent Green in him?

Cassel went through his share of struggles last year, but was consistently guided along with the understanding that he didn't have much help. That will not save him this year. I don't think the offense, or maybe I should say the passing game, was improved upon a whole lot from last year, but continuity and cohesiveness should be elevated. Trent Green went through the same struggles his first year with the Chiefs, leading the league in interceptions, before coming into his own his sophomore season. The team's success, as well as Cassel's future in the league, will hinge on his performance this season. Pairing Thomas Jones with Jamaal Charles should provide an astute running game to help keep the pressure off of him, while it remains unclear how much immediate help Jerhame Urban, Tony Moeaki, and Dexter McCluster will provide in the passing game this year. The weight of the offense will come down to Cassel, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, and head coach Todd Haley, with Cassel being the leader in the clubhouse for scapegoat if things falter.

2. Is Branden Albert a legitimate NFL Left Tackle?

Albert's struggles seemed to have stemmed from his enforced diet plan handed down by authority last training camp (which is starting to seem like more of a tone-setting message from Haley with long term implications with a few accepted short term pitfalls- Albert being one of them). His performance improved as the season went on (and as Grandma Larry got further away) along with the rest of the offensive line. Most pundits had the Chiefs selecting an offensive lineman, presumably a Left Tackle, with their first pick in this year's draft. They put a lot of faith in Albert by ignoring the supposed best Left Tackle prospect in Oklahoma State's Russell Okung. Interior help was added in free agents Ryan Lilja (projected starting RG) and Casey Weigmann (I envision him in a backup role), which puts the pressure on the outside pair of Albert and Ryan O'Callaghan. Best case scenario is that Albert was playing below preferred weight, which Haley figured out and now knows how to use him best (remember he was ahead of schedule as a rookie). Worst case scenario is that he is playing out of position and they waited one year too long to pull the trigger (which might seal Cassel's fate in the process).

3. How quickly can Eric Berry develop?

Look, I think Berry is going to eventually become a stud (most highly drafted safeties do, plus the fact of working with defensive guru Monte Kiffin at Tennessee last year), the only question in my mind is when. The defense is undeniably void of playmakers. Tamba Hali is probably one, and well, lets just leave it at that. The success of our defense may be dependent on his development rate (due to the inexplicable decision to not target another rush Linebacker). The other hope is that defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will implant more exotic schemes to help hide the lack of talent in the front seven. Otherwise, it may be up to Error Bear, which is an awful lot to ask out of a rookie, no matter how promising he may appear to be.

4. What position will Glen Dorsey play?

Rumblings in the offseason revolved around a potential position switch moving Dorsey to the Nose Tackle position of the three down linemen. It doesn't make sense to me. I get that they might be trying to make room for 2009 draftee Alex Magee (remember him?) at Defensive End, but Dorsey simply isn't big enough. We have a position to fill at the Nose, and this move might maximize our talent on the field, but I think the negatives still outweigh the positives. We were pushed around enough with much bigger Ron 'The Dawn' Edwards squatting up the gut. The fact of the matter, is that everybody at One Arrowhead Drive is praying that Dorsey and fellow first round disappointee, Tyson Jackson, make significant improvements this year, or changes will have to be made. There is entirely too much money tied up in the two of them for what little production they are providing. It's tough to tell whether the rumors of the switch were a media creation or actual thinkings of the Chiefs brass, but there is little question that improvements along the defensive front are essential to the Chiefs' chances of fielding a defense worthy of contention.

5. How much of an impact will Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel make?

Championship experience. That's what General Weis and Colonel Crennel bring to the table. They have designed schemes, made gameplans, and called plays in the biggest game of them all (multiple times). If there was one thing the Chiefs were missing last year, it was an ignorance of what it took to win games. The team is/was young, the coaching staff new, and the veterans that have been around haven't seen many games go their way. Weis and Crennel could bring a sense of culture shock to the team. There is absolutely zero question that these two will be an upgrade from who we had dialing up plays in 2009, but how quickly will we see the results? I almost wander if Pioli threw Haley into the fire by overfilling his plate with responsibilities to show him exactly what it took to be successful, and to shrink his head in the process. It's entirely possible that 2009 was completely thrown away to lay a foundation for the future, which I'm totally cool with since last year is long gone, and we're on to 2010. I'll put it this way- If I were a casual observer of the NFL as a whole, Weis and Crennel would be the line of reasoning for projecting the Chiefs to be a surprise team this year.

El Jeffeness

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Top 25 Favorite Athletes of My Time

We have reached the dead zone of the sports season, with no big sports currently in season (Huh? Base what?). I thought I'd throw together a list that might interest my adoring fans (all two of them). There isn't much of a defined criteria to the list, other than how they stand in my mind, and that I must have been cognizant of them while the player was in their prime. You might notice that the list is littered with Chiefs, Huskers, and Jayhawks. Well...yea, they are my favorite teams. If you don't like it, make your own list. Accompanying each player will be a one word (and only one word) description that I deem to be most appropriate. I'm bound to forget somebody in the process, so I leave the list open to future editing. For now, here's the list...

Dirkness' Top 25 Favorite Players:

1. Priest Holmes- Stoic
2. Tommie Frazier- Electrifying
3. Dirk Nowitzki-
4. Ndamukong Suh- Ndominant
5. Scott Frost- Toughness
6. Trent Green- Polished
7. Darnell Jackson- Radiant
8. Will Shields- Admirable
9. Mario Chalmers- Clutch
10. Brandon Rush- Bong
11. Tony Richardson- Selfless
12. James Hasty- Unforgiving
13. Barry Sanders- Jawdropping
14. Rich Gannon- Determined
15. Donnie Edwards- Arrowhead
16. Tony Gonzalez- Touchdunk
17. Nick Collison- Handy
18. Seneca Wallace- Mancrush
19. Paul Pierce- Perseverant
20. Mike Brown- Lurking
21. Kevin Durant- Icey
22. Ricky Williams- Fascinating
23. Willie Roaf- Gargantuan
24. Zinedine Zidane- Heady
25. Latrell Sprewell- Ghetto

Near Misses (they don't earn the effervescent describing word):
Zac Taylor, Steve Nash, Russell Robinson, Charlie Ward, Jason Dunn, Ben Wallace, Brian Waters, Joakim Noah

OMISSION LIST (where I'd rank them):

Derrick Thomas- #10
Kimble Anders- #21
Scott Hall- #23
Pat White- #25

I hereby declare after this last that it is indeed football season, which I will be attacking from multiple angles this year. If anybody has any ideas or suggestions for possible weekly write-ups on the Chiefs, Huskers, Big 12, NFL, or all of College Football let me know. I got a few ideas in the works already, with plans on expanding the empire to new mediums. Check back later this week for Chiefs preview action as they head into training camp, which begins Friday. I could not be more excited.


Friday, July 9, 2010

LeBronker's Decision/World Cup Final Intersplice

I decided to break down two of the world's biggest events of all time into one tiny write-up because a small slice of that genuine childhood love of sports that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart went to wayside. I want to make sure all the kids out there know the vast differences between the two events, one pure and beautiful, the other manufactured and ridiculous. One occurs on the field in front of tens of thousands of crazed fans within the culture of South Africa, while the other takes place in front of 30 seemingly random selected children in the home of the Sports Tabloid Machine. One consists of 22 athletes pouring everything they have in pursuit of greatness, while the other consisted of two guys playing 22 questions that didn't even reveal any juicy details on LeBrEgo's past sexual experiences. One enhances peace and togetherness of humankind, while the other enhances the brand and ego of quite possibly the biggest brand and ego of all LeMankind. One represents the beauty that can still be found in sports if you look hard enough, while the other epitomes everything the Evil Empire wants you to think sports are about. The two events are, of course, the final of the World Cup and The Lecision, one a preview, while the other a reaction. Since organization is the hardest writing skill to retrieve in a funk, these will be thoughts randomly thrown down with obstensibly no order (or is there?), and if you don't like it, than blame LePunk and his misshapen, headbandless dome.

ESPN Sports~ LeBunk started out the interview like it was a crucial Game 5 of a playoff series, answering the question, "What have you been up to this summer?" with a response of, "This whole free forward to it." Maybe Jim Gray was sleeping with his mom too...

Real Sports~ Spain absolutely dominated Germany in the semifinal game. Germany had but one good chance to score, while the Spangaloid almost banged home two alone with his oversized Cro-Magnon cabasa. Spain had yet to impress in the Cup until this waxing. It was extremely reminiscent of the Euro 2008 Final that saw Spain dominate in 1-0 fashion. Dirkness concludes their possession style of play matches up very well against Germany.

ESPN Sports~ LeBum might've summed up our generation's efforts best with his choice of taking the easy way out and playing with his friends, deserting the challenge at hand with the Cavaliers, and ignoring the ultimate challenge of going to play for the Knicks. With this choice he can never, ever, EVER enter the discussion for greatest player ever barring unforeseen circumstances (like a Wade injury). Even with eight titles won in a row, he could never take full credit and declare the team his (and would always be one behind Wade).

Real Sports~ The Dutchformation into a bunch of flopping, whiny blokes has been one of the more intriguing storylines of the World Cup for me. I'm convinced the country will call the tournament a failure if they don't win on Sunday because of their style of play. Johan Cruyff, legendary member of their 1974 team that lost in the World Cup Finals, has predicted a Spain victory and all but admitted he's cheering for Spain because of their style of play. And you thought LeBron was a traitor?

ESPN Sports~ What effect has the Lecision had on the supporting cast of characters:
-Dan Gilbert: May have dished out the biggest public thrashing I have ever heard, especially one coming from a suit. The quick highlights used by the Cavaliers owner: "narcissistic, self-promotional," "cowardly betrayal," "shameful display of selfishness," "heartless and callous action," and my personal favorite exclamation, "Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there." Ah huh...
-Mario Chalmers: Things are looking great for the only guaranteed player to be joining The Best Three Friends that Anyone Could Have. I would charge LeDong 2.4 million dollars, a guaranteed invitation to any of their parties, and to have him declare who the real best basketball player in the world was...MARIO!
-Chris Osh Kosh B'gosh: The world still won't find out how much they were shammed into thinking he's actually good. He's not.
-Dan LeBatard: Suddenly sitting on top of the world....BAM!
-The Miami Heat fans: Hello? Are you there? What's that? Oh noooooo another flippin' white-out?!?!

Real Sports~ We are left with one final chance to watch the best player of the tournament, Diego Forlan, in the 3rd place game against Germany. His running mate, Luis "Crazyhands" Suarez, will be returning from a suspension for some sort of irrelevant action, I can't really remember. I think Germany will be extra motivated after the shellacking they took from Spain and will out-Europe the Big Gays, 3-2.

ESPN Sports~ I envision several veterans that want to win to sign with the Heat for way below their market value (like Mike Miller babe already and possibly even Shaq). I think this leads to a pretty dominant team that wins somewhere between 65-70 games next year. I think they meet the Lakers in the Finals over the too-old Celtics and the not-quite-ready Thunder. I'll take the Lakers over the Heat in the Finals thanks to an uber-motivated Kobe.

Real Sports~ The clash between the two historically best soccer countries that have never lifted the Cup, which should provide an extra tension in the World's biggest game. Spain could pull off an impressive feat by winning the 2008 Euro followed by the 2010 World Cup, thus supplanting them as one of the better teams of all time. Netherlands could prove, along with Italy in 2006, that extra-flopping does lead to bigger and better things. My alliances heavily favored Netherlands going into the tournament, but have been betrayed by their style of play. It goes against my morals to cheer on the favorite, which I believe Spain to be. Honestly, I'm not sure who I'm going to cheer for yet, but what I do smell is....

PreDirktion: Spain over Netherlands, 2-0
Golden Boot: David Villa (scores his 6th goal to break tie between he and Wesley Sneijder for Cup's leading scorer)

His Schweinsteigerness

Thursday, July 1, 2010

World Cup Quarterfinals

Now that The Pretenders have been separated from The Supremes (give me the Supremes any day!) it's time to get down to some real futbol (Cue the Rugrats theme song). We have two potential all-time classics, a David vs. Goliath matchup, and a match that will see its winner fit comfortably into Cinderella's slipper. Three of these clashes will involve the dominant South America vs. the disappointing Europa, so pick your racial allegiances now. Before we get to my predirktions, let me first rant about the Evil Empire's efforts to ruin the World Cup for all of us.

Dirkness has long referred to ESPN as the 'Evil Empire' and its for reasons like we are seeing with their coverage of the World Cup. All we heard about last week was the controversies surrounding missed offsides calls, disallowed goals, and goalline technology. Why can the games never be enough for ESPN? Can our nation's attention only be held by tabloid-like coverage? Can't they develop a different channel focusing purely on off-the-field news for those who want it? I, for one, do not want it. I can hardly stand to turn ESPN on anymore in fear of hearing the names Brett Favre, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, or Ben Roethlisberger. Does anybody really think the officiating has been worse at this World Cup than any in years past? It hasn't. Not to mention most of the complaints are heard from a match that finished 4-1! And if you tell me that a goal would've changed everything, you get a vuvuzela blown up the arse, I get it. Lets judge teams and players on how they react to misfortune. Mexico completely folded. As did England. United States handled it relatively admirably. I really enjoy examining the parallels between soccer and life, and think it's a somewhat accurate representation. Sometimes, you face bad breaks, but is it best to then complain about it and ask why a million times over? No, its best to regather yourself, and refocus your energy on how to overcome it. This is the true test of man, where you'll find out what you're really made of, and when you see your true character shine through. The bottom line, is that I bet the team that comes out victorious in this World Cup will prove tough minded enough to overcome a few bad breaks along the way. Oh, and ESPN is trying to ruin sports.

On to the games....

Brazil vs. Netherlands

The Dominant Dungas vs. The Clockwork Orange. This should be a masterpiece of a game. The two countries most worried about style over substance, which makes me wander what other professional sports are like in Netherlands. Do they even keep score? Or is it just measured on who has the most fun? Is money even an object there? I have an entire fantasy land imagined in my head all based on this one belief of theirs. I plan on setting the mood for this match with scented candles, classical music, and Bob Ross paintings surrounding me. Oh, you were wanting actual futbol analysis for this? I think it'll take atleast two goals to defeat Brazil, the overall favorite, in this tournament. The scary thing about Brazil is that their defense is just as stout as their offense. The Dutch haven't played any top-tier teams, nor looked overly impressive in any matchup, but have Dutch Ovened every opponent to this point. This is my most anticipated match to this point by far. I really, really, really, REALLY want to pick Netherlands...

PreDirktion: Brazil 3, Netherlands 2 OT

Uruguay vs. Ghana

The Big Guays vs. Radiohead's "The Black Stars." Ghana had too much speed for the Yanks to handle in the Round of 16. It was a roller coaster of a game that saw Ghana dominate the first half, the States dominate the second half, and Ghana overwilhelm (Yieow!) them in overtime. I have little else to say about this game, so I'll share some random thoughts accumulated throughout the Cup...

~I absolutely love the announcing of the games. The first time I've felt that Beard n Stache were legitimately inferior to the professionals. They call everything how they see it, unafraid to call out anybody, and don't fill the air blathering about nothingness in effort to steal attention away from the game. My favorite phrase that they use is, "Good for the cameras," indicating that they embellished a play, making it seem harder than it was in actuality. Love it. Take note, Stache.

~I love the backwards cross that travels against the grain. It seems to find its way through the box more often than the aerial cross, leaving defenders hitting the breaks and reaching for the ball off their back foot. Keep an eye out for this play.

~People complain about flopping in soccer, but in actuality it is a way bigger problem in basketball, where fouls constantly interrupt flow of the game, while soccer just gets up and goes. There is no time to complain, or else the game has already passed you by, and you've hurt your team. It's all about flow of the game.

PreDirktion: Uruguay 1, Ghana 1, PK's: 4-3 Uruguay

Argentina vs. Germany

The Maradonians vs. The Fightin' Schweinsteigers. I must be watching more Germany games than any other team, because I find myself walking around constantly blurting out the names Schweinsteiger and Podolski. Now a regular part of my lexicon. Go ahead, say them out loud, your life won't be the same. Argentina's Lionel Messi has been the most dominant player in the tournament to this point. He's the only player I've seen that's able to singlehandedly control a game, reminiscent of Zidane from four years ago. Now if he just drops The People's Elbow on a Brazilian in the World Cup Final, the comparison really will be valid. The black eye for the Argentinians has reared its ugly head in the form of their goalie, Sergio Romero, who was inviting disaster against Mexico. My Germany breakdown begins with a video daily double which should be studied heavily for years to come...

The German coach seems way less ashamed of his actions than that backwards-hatted punk, Chase Daniel, who tries to hide it. The Wonder Coach doesn't even hesitate when spotted by his assistants. Ah, I love that the World Cup can bring together so many different cultures. The Germans have not lost their cold-bloodedness since, well, lets just leave it at that, and have been calling out the Maradonians all week. This one could get nasty. My predicted winner of the Cup vs. my predicted flop, I couldn't possibly change my mind now....could I?

PreDirktion: Nope, Argentina 2, Germany 1

Spain vs. Paraguay

The Kung Paus vs. The Lil' Guays. Paraguay outlasted Japan in a matchup of what may have been the two worst teams in the Round of 16. The announcers and analysts all but laughed it off. Meanwhile, Spain cracked the code of the Portugal defense, which had yet to allow a goal. David Villa has been the second best player of the Cup, so keep an eye on him. I'll support the Lil' Guays but give them slim chance to advance, with best hopes relying on penalty kicks. They're already satisfied.

PreDirktion: Spain 2, Paraguay 0

-His Nastiness