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Extra Points

Jerry Brewer explains the thinking behind his columns and invites readers to express their views on the sports world.

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September 30, 2008 11:28 AM

How does the crow taste?

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Not bad, actually.

Naturally, there has been plenty of discussion about today's column, both in my e-mail inbox and on this blog.

The column is self-explanatory. It's an admission that I misjudged the situation with Tyrone Willingham last year when I advocated bringing him back for this dreadful season.

As I said in the column today, I don't regret it. I thought it was the fair and right thing to do at the time. But I was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And considering what a big deal that piece became last December, it's only right that I don't try to pretend I didn't write those words. It's only right that I admit what the error.

I'll always hold myself accountable to you. You deserve it as readers.

Now, I know there's been plenty of debate of whether to keep Willingham for the entire season. So, my challenge to you is to explain why you're for or against Scott Woodward's inclination to keep Willingham the entire year.

If enough people comment, I'll put the pros and cons in a blog post later this week, so that we can put the lists up against each other and leave it to you to decide which argument is stronger.

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September 29, 2008 3:10 PM

For those who think I won't say I'm wrong in print ...

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Be sure to check out tomorrow's column. I'm not going to hide in some dusty corner, PeteTheChop. And I'm not going to write something I don't believe just to stay on the pro-Willingham side and support my previous misjudgment. That's not my style.

Call it flip-flopping or seeing the light or being fed up with the losing or whatever. I don't care. In sports, all opinions tend to change once the results accumulate.

And also, to address your other question, PeteTheChop, I've never been on board with the idea that missing out on the chance to hire Jim Mora was an irredeemable mistake. There are a lot of true college coaches who can win here. (They likely won't have Mora's ties to the program, however, unless UW can convince Gary Pinkel to take the job.) The question is whether the Huskies can convince one of them to come.

One final thought: I'm never on any bandwagon. I think for myself. I don't want to be on the Bash Willingham Bandwagon, just as I didn't want to be on the Keep Ty For His Entire Contract Bandwagon (a much, much smaller group). I don't write to be accepted by any group. I'm not a screamer, either, so I'm usually the last one to rant uncontrollably. I just write my opinion.

If I'm right, I'm right. I won't gloat about those.

If I'm wrong, I'm willing to admit it. And not just in cyberspace.

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September 29, 2008 8:45 AM

When will the Huskies win a game?

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Sorry I couldn't do a Husky recap Saturday night. I was in the process of moving. Moved all day Saturday and finished up after covering the game. The way the game went, I probably should've just skipped it and kept on hauling boxes.

I don't need to tell you what you already know. This is pathetic. In every way. For Tyrone Willingham, it's over.

For me, someone who advocated giving him one more year, I was wrong.

Continue reading this post ...


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September 26, 2008 6:00 AM

Crystal Helmet, Week 5

Posted by Jerry Brewer

College picks

Washington 28, Stanford 24
Why: After playing Oregon, BYU and Oklahoma, this game will seem so much easier for the Huskies. True to form, they will do some silly things, but they are desperate, so they will win this one.

Oregon 37, Washington State 10
Why: In a matchup of quarterback attrition, the Ducks will turn to their superior ground game to dominate the Cougars.

California 28, Colorado State 17
Alabama 24, Georgia 21
Penn State 31, Illinois 21

NFL picks

New York Jets 21, Arizona 13
Tampa Bay 17, Green Bay 14
Minnesota 10, Tennessee 6
Dallas 38, Washington 14
Philadelphia 24, Chicago 16

Last week: 7-3
Season to date: 28-12

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September 24, 2008 8:27 AM

Powerless Rankings: Yell at reporters at your own risk

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Our weekly tracking of the 10 most absurd, disappointing or unfortunate stories in sports:

10. Marc Bulger
Comment: The desperate St. Louis Rams have benched Bulger and will start Trent Green at quarterback now. Yes, Scott Linehan, that's the answer to saving your job.

9. Stephon Marbury
Comment: Will the Knicks cut him or not? And which punishment is worse: Getting banished or being forced to play for the Knicks?

8. Plaxico Burress
Comment: The Giants have given their top receiver a one-game suspension for skipping work Monday. Good sign for the Seahawks. At last, after weeks of wideout peril, the Hawks will benefit from an opponent being shorthanded.

7. New York Yankees
Comment: First, Yankee Stadium closes. Then, the Yankees fall out of playoff contention for the first time since 1995. What's a bereaved franchise to do? Move into a $1.3 billion new ballpark, of course.

6. Mariners
Comment: Tonight, they will try again to become the first MLB team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games. Good luck.

5. WSU quarterbacks Kevin Lopina and Gary Rogers
Comment: Nothing lighthearted or snarky about this one. In a single game, two Cougar quarterbacks suffered spine injuries. As gruesome back injuries go, they were both fortunate it wasn't worse. Here's hoping their recoveries go well.

4. Greg Robinson
Comment: Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross says of his 8-31 football coach, "It isn't working out." Thanks for the insight. Quick question: If Robinson were 11-28 instead, might Gross have stolen from Scott Woodward and called his coach fabulous?

3. Matt Millen
Comment: The good news is, after a 31-84 record, Matt Millen is finally done doing damage to the Detroit Lions. The bad news is, if you're an inept leader, your reason to convince yourself of job security ("Well, I'm not doing worse than Millen, and he still has a job.") has vanished.

2. Mike Teel
Comment: Not sure what is worse. The Rutgers QB punching a player or his coach ignoring the issue? The blossoming Scarlet Knights program is officially beyond the lovable phase.

1. John Herrera
Comment: Here's another sign the Al Davis regime is beyond redemption. Herrera, a Raiders senior executive, verbally accosted San Jose sports columnist Tim Kawakami this week. Advice to Herrera: If you want to yell at a reporter, don't do it in front of five television cameras.

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September 23, 2008 3:44 PM

The Agenda: Storm playoffs, Mariners infamy and a Husky must-win (again)

Posted by Jerry Brewer

I have a sportswriter friend on the East Coast who loves music. He would go to five concerts a week if he could. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the industry that rivals his sports acumen.

Once, he flirted with pursuing a job at a music magazine. He decided against it. Shocked, I asked him why he would bypass such a sweet gig.

"Because I don't want to wind up hating music as much as I hate sports," he said.

Unfortunately, this business beats the joy out of some journalists. I've promised myself to never get to that point. If I ever hate sports, I will quit writing about them and move onto something else.

But there are moments when I must check myself. I have to remind myself of what a wonderful job this is. Because this is a job, I also go through periods of fatigue, so I have to pinpoint the things that make me most excited and wring out all the enjoyment.

Often, I find myself going to basketball for that joy.

Which brings me to the Storm.

Seattle's only pro basketball team (Sonics, RIP) plays a deciding Game 3 tonight at KeyArena against the star-studded Los Angeles Sparks.

It's not my day to write a column, but I'm excited to watch this game. I love basketball, and therefore I appreciate what this team has accomplished this season.

A couple of weeks ago, I was the moderator for a Title IX discussion sponsored by the Northwest Women's Law Center. Anne Levinson, one of the Storm's part owners, was a panel member. During this horrid sports year, the Storm has easily been the winningest pro team in town, so I asked Levinson if she felt her team was respected in that manner.

She grinned, asked if we were taping this discussion (um, yes) and then went into a very eloquent, balanced conversation about women's sports and media recognition.

Obviously, it's not where Levinson wants it to be, but at the same time, he understands how media organizations must feed the incessant desire for information that fans crave for the most popular team sports (college football, NFL, MLB, men's college hoops, NBA). She just wants to her team to get more coverage.

If the Storm owners continue to show this kind of commitment to winning, the Storm will carve a bigger place in the sports media landscape.

As I told you last week, this team is worthy of your attention. If they win tonight, they inch closer to a championship that would've seemed probable before the new owners took over in early January.

Before then, Clay Bennett still owned the Storm. Before then, it seemed like they would be collateral damage in the fight over the Sonics.

Now, they're in the playoffs with a roster of women's hoops legends. Now, they have a chance to give Seattle an unlikely label in this brutal sports year.

Champion.

I'll be watching. By paying attention, I'm guaranteed not to hate sports.

COUNTDOWN TO 100: Though I haven't written about the Mariners in quite some time, I've been following their meltdown from afar. Today, they can make history.

They can clinch their 100th loss of the season. If you've been boycotting them, then you should be warned that they will become the first MLB team to have a $100 million payroll and lose 100 games.

There's only one thing to say.

Congratulations.

No, really, it's quite an accomplishment to be this bad. The Mariners were actually trying to win this season. Something went wrong, eh?

I'm planning to write some kind of season-ending column this week. Maybe I'll look forward. Maybe I'll write one final report from the ditch this team has been in all season.

I'm just ready for the offseason drama to begin. New GM? New manager? More leadership changes?

It will be far more interesting than the regular season.

CRUCIAL GAME, PART IV: Another must-win game for the Husky football team? Considering the state of this 0-3 team right now, shouldn't we just stop using the must-win tag?

The truth is, even if the Huskies win against Stanford on Saturday, they have a lot of stabilizing left. They have a must-win Pac-10 season, basically.

I keep coming back to the wise words of a reader who e-mailed me earlier this season. Regarding Tyrone Willingham's job status, he said you must look at it like Willingham is already fired, and his job is to earn it back over the course of the season.

That's a great way of capturing the situation.

I will be covering Saturday's game. Against a manageable foe, we should learn for certain whether the Huskies are fatally flawed or victims of a rugged schedule.

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September 22, 2008 3:51 PM

North/South, East/West: Will the Huskies ever get a sack?

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Besides the 0-3 record, the Huskies' most ridiculous stat so far this season is that the defense has yet to record a sack.

It's unreal. You'd think the Huskies could stumble into a sack during garbage time or something. But no.

And it's not one of those weird stretches in which the Huskies are getting good pressure on quarterbacks but somehow failing to tackle him. The defense has barely sniffed opposing quarterbacks. The way things are going, if any QB has a formal party immediately after playing the Huskies, he might as well just wear his tux on the field. There's no cleaner place for a QB to be right now.

The young Husky defensive line gets too overpowered to do anything, especially apply pressure. None of the linebackers are that caliber of playmaker. And whenever the Huskies blitz, they are a half-step late at best.

Like most aspects of the first three games, we're left to wonder whether superior competition skewed the Huskies' pass-rush efforts or whether this team is terminally bad at it. We should get more clarity on this issue Saturday against Stanford, but it's safe to bet the Huskies will struggle in this area all season.

"I want some sacks," linebacker Mason Foster said. "We've got to get sacks. It helps you win games. We've got to get pressure, or else every game will be a long game."

Gaze at Stanford's stats, and you realize this is not just a talent issue. The Cardinal still aren't blessed with great athletes on defense, but they still have 12 sacks already this season. That's because Stanford plays an attacking, blitzing system.

Meanwhile, the Huskies can't figure out if they want a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme.

Considering the Huskies' defensive tradition, it's really annoying to spend all this time talking about the basics of playing defense, isn't it?

Keep an eye on this issue Saturday. If the Huskies can pressure Stanford QB Tavita Pritchard, who possesses good mobility, they'll put together their finest defensive performance of the season. If not, the Huskies better be prepared to win a high-scoring game.

Can the Seahawks beat the New York Giants after the bye week?

Here's how quickly things change in the NFL: Last week, we were wondering if the Seahawks could lose to the St. Louis Rams, the worst team in the NFL in my opinion.

This week, in the afterglow of the Hawks' first victory, we're wondering if they can go to Giants Stadium after this bye week and beat the defending Super Bowl champions.

Well, the Seahawks figure to get receivers Bobby Engram and Deion Branch back for that game. And despite all the injuries on offense, the Seahawks have scored 67 points over their past two games.

But here's the problem with expecting the Seahawks to win in New York: Have we forgotten how different this team is away from Qwest Field? Have we forgotten how familiar the Giants are with Julius Jones, a former Dallas Cowboy?

Can the Seahawks beat the Giants? Of course they can. Should they? Probably not. But if this team wants to redeem itself for losing its first two games, this is the kind of game it needs to win.

Both teams will be coming off byes, so they'll be equally fresh.

The deciding factor in that game figures to be the Seahawks' newfound rushing attack vs. the Giants' steady run defense. The Giants rank eighth in the NFL in stopping the run (84.7 yards). The Seahawks average nearly twice that number.

This game will be a better gauge of the Seahawks' improved ground game.

Quotable

"Against Oregon, we hardly ever had to deal with the O-line. They just ran over us." -- Husky defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, explaining why the Huskies didn't record a sack against Oregon.

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September 22, 2008 12:09 AM

Seahawks recap, Week 3

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Seahawks 37, St. Louis 13

Five observations from the Seahawks' first victory of the season:

1. Run-first approach spurring the offense. Last season, when the Seahawks couldn't run the ball, coach Mike Holmgren shifted his focus to a pass-happy philosophy and guided his team to the playoffs. Now, he's doing the exact opposite. The Seahawks have too many issues in the passing game because of injuries, so the coach is playing off his running backs and a recharged offensive line.

After Sunday's 245-yard rushing effort, the Seahawks jumped to fourth in the NFL in rushing offense (166.3 yards per game). Since that terrible performance in Buffalo, the Hawks are averaging 207 rushing yards their past two games. Julius Jones has been a treasure, with performances of 127 and 140 yards during that span.

But it hasn't just been great running from Jones. This offensive line is looking good, too. This group is more physical. Obviously, Mike Wahle has been a nice impact, but I also like the contributions of right tackle Ray Willis. Since he's replaced the injured Rob Sims, he's brought some nastiness to the O-line.

Will the Seahawks be able to pound away with the run against elite competition? It remains to be seen. But these are positive signs.

2. Deon Grant is back. After the game, Grant admitted that he hadn't played with his usual passion in the first two games. He can't explain why, but he made an announcement: He's back.

After watching him fly all over the field in this game, there's no doubt he's right. Grant was fantastic. He intercepted a pass and should've had a second pick late in the game. He had some big hits. He was great in coverage. And throughout the game, he was jawing at opponents, dancing, having lots of fun.

Grant is an emotional leader for this team. It's no surprise that the defense played with more swagger Sunday.

"I wasn't playing with my normal energy," Grant said. "Not anymore. That's the end of all that."

3. Scott Linehan should be fired. The Rams aren't responding to their coach. They can't run the ball. They can't pass. Their defense is even worse. The Rams don't even seem to like Linehan. You'd think a team with Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Stephen Jackson would be more competitive, but they're not. And Linehan has a hands-in-the-air approach to all the misery. He doesn't seem confident in anything he's doing.

The season is only three games old, but it's time for a change.

4. Billy McMullen has staying power. In two games with the Seahawks, McMullen has caught seven passes for 124 yards. He's been solid, which is a specatacular feat for a Seahawks team down on receivers.

McMullen couldn't make the cut in Washington, but his knowledge of the West Coast offense is paying dividends. Imagine McMullen as the No. 3 receiver on a team with Deion Branch and Bobby Engram. He's not particularly fast, but he gives the Seahawks a physical presence at wide receiver. And he's improving quickly.

5. Bye week comes at a great time. Now the Seahawks can get healthy before facing the New York Giants in two weeks. It was good to see a glimpse of the real Seahawks, and now we'll see if they can get even better with the likes of Deion Branch and Bobby Engram likely to return.

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More from this blog

Recent entries

Sep 30, 08 - 11:28 AM
How does the crow taste?

Sep 29, 08 - 03:10 PM
For those who think I won't say I'm wrong in print ...

Sep 29, 08 - 08:45 AM
When will the Huskies win a game?

Sep 26, 08 - 06:00 AM
Crystal Helmet, Week 5

Sep 24, 08 - 08:27 AM
Powerless Rankings: Yell at reporters at your own risk

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