Jerry Brewer explains the thinking behind his columns and invites readers to express their views on the sports world.
October 31, 2008 10:12 PM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
USC 59, Washington 10
Why: A 46 1/2 point spread? Craziness. But the Trojans are going to get there. Their stable of running backs will run for 300 yards, and quarterback Mark Sanchez will chip in with an efficient performance.
Stanford 31, Washington State 6
Why: The Cardinal can't put up 50 or more on the Cougars, can they? I don't think their offense is explosive enough, so I'll call for what the Cougs should consider a moderate blowout. They'll only lose by about four touchdowns this time.
Oregon 31, California 29
Texas 48, Texas Tech 28
Florida 24, Georgia 20
Philadelphia 28, Seahawks 21
Why: The Eagles are too talented and aggressive for the Seahawks, who will definitely be without defensive end Patrick Kerney (and Matt Hasselbeck and Deion Branch) and might be missing fullback Leonard Weaver and linebacker Lofa Tatupu. But if Andy Reid drops his pants at halftime, it's anybody's game.
Tennessee 20, Green Bay 17
New York Giants 24, Dallas 13
Indianapolis 28, New England 19
Pittsburgh 17, Washington 14
Last week's record: 7-3
Season to date: 59-31
October 29, 2008 1:52 PM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Our weekly tracking of the 10 wackiest stories in sports:
10. Greg Oden
Comment: After the long wait, The Next Great Big Man couldn't even get through his first game without injuring himself. What's his body got against him?
9. Lute Olson
Comment: The Arizona coach is retiring after an on-again, off-again past year with the Wildcats. The reason for the drama: Olson reportedly suffered a stroke last year. Let's wish him well as he leaves basketball.
8. Staph infections
Comment: It's a new mystery in sports, especially in the NFL. Why are so many players -- prominent players -- getting staph infections? It's a medical dilemma that transcends sports, actually. Doctors are perplexed.
7. Isiah Thomas
Comment: The overdose was scary enough. But to try to cover it up by using your own daughter? Zeke remains one shady character.
Comment: The NFL has a drug controversy, involving some water pills that are considered a steroids masking agent. ESPN.com reported that the number of violators may be more than 15. Uh oh.
5. Mike Singletary vs. Vernon Davis
Comment: Can't get enough of Singletary's rant. Feel privileged to say I covered that game. But a question: How does the coach top that the next time the 49ers get walloped?
4. World Series rain
Comment: Just when you thought Phillies-Rays couldn't produce any history, ha, it pours. Anybody up for considering a neutral site, good weather Series in the future?
3. NBA-less in Seattle
Comment: Yes, it's sinking in big time now. No, it won't feel normal for a long, long time.
2. Jim Mora's silence
Comment: The Huskies have a coaching opening, the fans overwhelming want Mora, but the Seahawks' coach-in-waiting is trapped in a tough position. So, he's handling it by ignoring it publicly. Is he leading on the UW or giving the Huskies the silent go-ahead sign?
1. Tyrone Willingham
Comment: R.I.P. -- in six long, grueling weeks.
October 28, 2008 9:10 AM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Well, you actually have six more weeks for the hugs and well-wishes, but I doubt that many people will take the opportunity.
Here's my column on the situation. At its core, the piece was about how Tyrone Willingham turned a generous last chance into a catastrophe -- and how frustrating that turned out to be for people (myself included) who thought he'd do more with the opportunity.
Read Steve Kelley's column, too. If I spoke more from the vantage point of people who thought retaining Willingham last December was a good move, he writes from the perspective of people who wanted him gone.
He was right. I was wrong. But then, I've already written that column.
Moving on, I have a question for you: Would do you want to be the next coach?
You saw the nice list that Bob Condotta put together of potential candidates: Jim Mora (Seahawks coach-in-waiting), Gary Pinkel (Missouri), Pat Hill (Fresno State), Lane Kiffin (ex-Raiders coach), Chris Peterson (Boise State), Will Muschamp (Texas defensive coordinator), Dave Christensen (Missouri offensive coordinator), Jeff Tedford (California) and Mike Leach (Texas Tech).
Two questions, actually:
1. Who on that list do you really like and why?
2. Who else would you like to see included?
I've babbled enough about this situation. This thread is open for your take.
October 26, 2008 8:26 PM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Seahawks 34, San Francisco 13
Five observations on the Seahawks improving to 2-5:
1. Leonard Weaver needs to get the ball more. As a fullback, Weaver's job is to do the dirty work. He must block. He must leave the glory to the tailbacks. But after watching him show his jets during 43- and 62-yard touchdown receptions, you can see how uniquely talented he is. Weaver finished with four receptions for 116 yards. The Seahawks must find ways to showcase his athleticism more, especially with the receiving corps still tattered.
2. You know an opponent is bad when the Seahawks rush 28 times for 39 yards and still win by three touchdowns. The run game was out of sorts again, and next week the Seahawks play the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the ninth-best run defense (89.4 yards per game allowed) in the NFL. I think that game might be as simple as this: If the Seahawks manage 100 yards on the ground, they win. If not, expect a return to losing.
3. Seneca Wallace deserves credit for managing the game. He wound up with 222 passing yards, but that stat is a little deceiving, especially when you consider that Weaver's 62-yard reception came after the game had been decided. Nevertheless, Wallace followed up a horrible performance against Tampa Bay with a credible one in this game. I thought getting the ball to Engram early was a big key for him in this game.
4. The D gets a B. The Seahawks still allowed too many yards (388), but they made the big plays they've been lacking. They forced four fumbles, though they just recovered one. Josh Wilson's interception was only the Seahawks' second INT of the year. And the D didn't give up the lead to San Francisco this time. The undervalued defensive player of the game: tackle Rocky Bernard, who finished with two sacks and looked more active than he has all season.
5. Lofa's jinxed season continues. Add a strained groin to middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu's list of injuries. Already this season, he's hurt his knee, his hand and suffered a concussion. Now, his groin injury could plague him for several weeks. It's just been one of those seasons for Tatupu. His injury misfortune has contributed more to the defense's problems than we probably realize.
October 26, 2008 12:39 PM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Notre Dame 33, Huskies 7
Here's a link to today's column. In a nutshell, it's about why I think every Saturday this season has turned into what I refer to as GroundDawg Day: Willingham's failure to build a team around Jake Locker properly. Now that Locker has been out for a month, we're finding this team is even more feeble than originally thought -- and they were pitiful in the roughly three-and-a-half games that Locker played.
Instead of overanalyzing what you already know -- the Huskies are really, really bad -- I figured this would be a good time to show how my column changed from a first-edition rant trying to express the exasperation of watching this team to a more thoughtful, complete and even useful second-edition column.
When covering these games, I generally have two deadlines. On Saturday, the first was at 8:10, or roughly when the game ended. For that edition, I write what we call, in the newspaper, a running column. I'm writing my opinion as the game unfolds. For the final edition, my deadline was 10:10 p.m. on Saturday, so I got to do interviews and rethink and revise my viewpoint. So look at this first-edition column for evidence of how dramatically things can change in two hours:
I've got nothing.
I'm as empty as the student section as I type these words. It's the third quarter of another Washington shellacking, Notre Dame middle linebacker Brian Smith just engulfed Husky quarterback Ronnie Fouch, and the game's worthlessness has gagged the Husky Stadium crowd once again.
The heavy boos were used at the end of the first half, when the Huskies trailed 17-0, and now the atmosphere is indifferent, save for the cheers of visiting fans.
The storyline hasn't changed all season. Before the game, a friend suggested I try an experiment: Pre-write the column and then see if it held up during the game. It was a nice idea considering every Saturday is now GroundDawg Day, but I considered it an insult to the spirit of competition.
Well, spirit of competition be damned. This game went precisely as anticipated. It was another indigestible showing, with some extra heartburn on top.
Here's the fresh distress: The misguided notion some had that Fouch was a better quarterback than Jake Locker should've been pitched into the trash can after his historically bad outing.
And, oh, in case you're still tracking it, coach Tyrone Willingham clinched his fourth straight losing season as the Washington coach. It means you can remove the "probably" and "likely" from statements about his job status. Without question, he will be fired. The drama started leaking out of that balloon weeks ago, but it's officially unofficial now.
After a 33-7 loss to Notre Dame, the Huskies fell to 0-7 this season. Dating back to last year, they're on a nine-game losing streak. It's over, so over, and we've got five more of these things left.
I've got nothing.
I'm spent. There's not a single compelling aspect of this football team. There's little you can learn about the Huskies, besides their ability to keep getting up after poundings. They're a team about nothing, sadly.
They're young men with seemingly good character. They don't appear to have quit on Willingham, either. But they've shown meager progress since the first game, and they play like they know they can't win, which is the worst funk in sports.
In their latest effort to sedate us, the Huskies didn't cross the 50-yard line until 6:03 remained in the game. Fouch finished the first half with this line: 1 of 9 for five yards.
At halftime, he had more sacks than completions. Jared Ballman had more punts than the Huskies had passing yards. Washington ran 26 plays in the first half and produced only 38 yards.
If Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen hadn't been uncharacteristically inaccurate, the Irish could've led 31-0 at the half. They toyed with the Huskies all game, same as many other opponents have. The Huskies have been relegated to trying to make the best of a foe's disinterest.
Washington scored late in the game on a Fouch touchdown pass to D'Andre Goodwin, but it felt like a shutout nonetheless. For anyone who criticized Locker heavily before his injury, please review this game if you can stand another bite.
It proves that Locker, though still lacking the accuracy of an elite quarterback, wasn't a problem for this offense. It proves that he was the only thing the offense had going for it. Without the threat of his scrambling and playmaking, opposing defenses don't have to respect the Huskies at all.
They can blitz Fouch like crazy. They know they can stop the run. With the Washington defense incapable of controlling a game, the Huskies are a blowout waiting to happen.
It's hard to believe that it can be that simple for a major-college program, for a school in a Bowl Championship Series that boasts a proud tradition. The Huskies are so easy to figure out – and so hard to watch.
I've got nothing.
I'm like Willingham on fourth-and-two with my team behind 24 points in the third quarter. He elected to punt in that situation, which elicited more boos. At the end of his run, his unbending approach is proving to be his downfall.
The Irish fans remember that approach well and were happy to contribute to the coach's misery. Willingham clinched his ouster against the team that fired him four years ago.
It was another sad, sad performance for a school that has witnessed too many lately, and the real disappointment is that we've only begun the second half of this disastrous season.
As a fan exited Husky Stadium, she uttered words that would've been reason for banishment just a few years ago.
"At least it wasn't a shutout," she said.
Technically, it wasn't. But get real: Washington showed us nothing once again.
So there's no use being too fancy with the analysis. The Huskies are awful, nothing else. We're watching them lumber toward a sad conclusion, nothing more.
So, if you compare the two columns, you can see that I became less frustrated over the two hours between editions. For me, that first-edition column was way too emotional, but given the time constraints, I just had to go with it. I prefer a thoughtful, analytical approach with some punch to it.
When I was rewriting, I wanted to emphasize two points much better: that Loss No. 7, that a fourth-straight losing season, means the Willingham era is over, even though athletic director Scott Woodward is letting this train wreck continue until the end of the season. And that Locker's absence and Willingham's inability to build a complete team are making the team sink even lower.
Yes, with a more inexperienced squad, with receivers that didn't drop passes, Ronnie Fouch would be a solid backup quarterback. But he's not better than Locker, never will be. Fouch is a game manager, not a game changer. No disrespect to Fouch, who's a terrific kid, but that's the truth.
October 24, 2008 1:17 PM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Last week represented a first in the two-month history of Crystal Helmet. I had the polarity of a presidential election: a perfect 5-0 picking college games and an imperfectly perfect 0-5 on the NFL.
For those who consider me more of a pro guy, take that.
Then again, you could say I got lucky on the colleges and proved that I don't know the NFL, either. So, um, never mind.
New week, new predictions. Let's see if I can have a more balanced performance this time.
Notre Dame 42, Washington 16
Why: The Irish can throw the football well, with quarterback Jimmy Clausen hitting receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. That should be enough to shred the hapless Huskies defense. Tyrone Willingham will clinch his fourth straight losing season at Washington -- therefore reaching absolute certainty he will be fired after the season -- against the team that previously canned him.
Texas 45, Oklahoma State 28
Ohio State 17, Penn State 13
USC 38, Arizona 24
Oregon 30, Arizona State 20
(Bye 70, Washington State 3)
San Francisco 20, Seahawks 17
Why: If Matt Hasselbeck were playing, I'd pick the Seahawks. But he's not, and the 49ers will play hard for interim coach Mike Singletary now that Mike Nolan has been fired. Like their meeting in Week 2, this game could come be decided by a field goal on the final play.
Dallas 24, Tampa Bay 20
New England 28, St. Louis 14
New York Giants 19, Pittsburgh 14
San Diego 28, New Orleans 27
(Staph infections 17, Superstars 0)
Last week's record: 5-5
Season to date: 52-28
October 22, 2008 9:53 AM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Our weekly tracking of the 10 most absurd, disappointing or unfortunate stories in sports:
10. P.J. Carlesimo, the event planner
Comment: Sorry interrupt you with Thunder, but Carlesimo made a bold prediction that 15,000 fans would show up for an open practice Monday. He was off -- by 12,000. At least he felt a desire to sell his team to the public, which the Raiders refused to do when the Thunder was named the Sonics. (Sigh.)
9. Sunday Night Football
Comment: It's the new Monday Night Football, supposedly. But not this past Sunday. Bucs-Seahawks was the lowest-rated televised Sunday or Monday night game ever, according to Sports Business Daily. If you watched it, you know why.
8. Darius Miles
Comment: The Boston Celtics cut him, halting his comeback pursuit. The C's did go out of their way to say he was a decent guy, which was a first. At least he accomplished something.
7. Kellen Winslow
Comment: He's been suspended one game for ripping the Browns organization and revealing they tried to hide his staph infection. For once, though, I think the loud-mouthed tight end has a point.
6. Larry Johnson
Comment: Continuing with the suspension theme, the NFL is investigating Johnson for allegedly assaulting a woman and may punish him. Even if they don't, Kansas City coach Herm Edwards is considering benching his running back for a second straight game. And to think this guy was one of the best three RBs in the game two years ago.
5. Seahawks backup QBs
Comment: If Matt Hasselbeck can't go again this week, which do you prefer: Charlie Frye's 6-14 career record as a starter or Seneca Wallace's hesitant play? Can the Seahawks give safety Brian Russell a start?
4. Jerry Jones
Comment: First, the owner foolishly signed Pacman. Then, with his team's secondary in a crisis, he hands over a fortune (money and draft picks) for wide receiver Roy Williams. No surprise, the Cowboys are fading fast.
3. Mike Nolan
Comment: He's out as the San Francisco 49ers coach. A throwback era has ended. It's a sad day. Suits on the sideline are truly in the past.
2. Traitor Brett
Comment: This story on Brett Favre should be getting way more attention. He denies that he leaked information on his old Green Bay Packers to Detroit, and the story will end there. No punishment, nada. Nothing except tarnish on his Packers legacy.
1. Lou Holtz
Comment: Repeat after me: Never, ever, ever, ever use Hitler in sports dialogue unless you are referring to Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics. Especially if you work for ESPN. Got it?
October 21, 2008 11:57 AM
Posted by Jerry Brewer
Remember the Mike Singletary Stare?
Well, there's a good chance we'll be seeing plenty of it Sunday when Mr. Intensity coaches his first game as the San Francisco 49ers head coach.
The Seahawks are now a factor in the NFL's shocking news of the week. Mike Nolan and his sideline suits are out; Singletary and his … well who knows what he has to offer as a head coach … are in. Finally, an opponent with more worries than the Seahawks.
This ought to be very interesting.
As someone who grew up admiring Singletary, I hope he fares well. As someone who's tired of covering losing football, I'm wondering if the Seahawks will use the 49ers' turmoil to their advantage and get their second victory of the season.
Oh, and that's two NFC West head coaches axed in the first half of this season. In addition, Mike Holmgren is walking away at the end of this season.
Coming soon: Ken Whisenhunt, dean of NFC West coaches.
Oct 31, 08 - 10:12 PM
Crystal Helmet, Week 10
Oct 29, 08 - 01:52 PM
Powerless Rankings: Overdosing on Husky drama
Oct 28, 08 - 09:10 AM
Bye-bye, Ty; hello who?
Oct 26, 08 - 08:26 PM
Seahawks Recap, Game 7
Oct 26, 08 - 12:39 PM
Husky recap, Game 7