Thursday, January 08, 2009

The week's happenings...

Eric Mangini is now the coach of the Browns.

Peter King pointed out something interesting here, and it appears Randy Lerner hasn't learned from past mistakes. The last time the Browns had coaching and front office changes, Lerner hired the coach he wanted, and then hired his personnel guy. The coach was from the Patriots' system (Romeo Crennel), and the general manager was plucked out of the Ravens' offices (Phil Savage). By all accounts the two didn't work well together, and, of course, Savage was forced to work with a coach who was not his pick.

Fast forward to today. Mangini, like Crennel, a product of the Belichick system, was hired by Lerner. There is no GM in place, but by all accounts it's going to be another guy out of Baltimore's front offices. Anyone else sense a pattern here?

Personally, I don't see Mangini being any more successful than Crennel was.

Pacman Jones may very well be done. I've said this before, but when the Cowboys think you're too much of a thug, then the only team left is Oakland. Even so, I'm not convinced he'll be allowed to play given the latest news hitting the wires.

Even if Jones gets off by copping a plea, in the NFL's eyes it will be admitting at least some culpability on the part of Jones who allegedly ordered a shooting. Roger Goodell made it perfectly clear that Jones was on a short leash. This has to be the last chance.

For Pittsburgh, home field advantage in the playoffs is a myth. With Ben Roethlisberger under Center the Steelers are 3-0 in road games during the playoffs, but they're only 1-2 at home. In the three home games Big Ben has thrown eight interceptions against five touchdowns. On the road he's thrown seven touch downs against only one interception. In the losses he's thrown for an average of 248 yards per game and the team has averaged 25.3 points per game while giving up 29.7 ppg. In the wins - 226.7 yards per game, and 28.7 ppg scored while giving up 17.3 ppg.

Those numbers confirm something I have always said about Roethlisberger - if the team gets into a shoot out, Big Ben is prone to the mistake that will kill the team. I just didn't realize that he was more prone to make that mistake at Heinz Field.

The Panthers have to be feeling pretty good about their match-up with the Cardinals this weekend. The Panthers went undefeated at home this season while Arizona went 2-6 on the road, beating only the lowly Rams and Seahawks on the road.

So the Sox will be signing Rocco Baldelli and John Smoltz according to reports. I like the signings. Baldelli could be a great help coming off the bench, and from what I've read, might be in better shape to play more than he did last season given that his condition was misdiagnosed.

I like the Smoltz signing. It's not a sexy signing, but with the top three of the rotation already set with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Sox already having Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny, and youngsters Clay Buccholz, Michael Bowden, and possibly Justin Masterson competing for the fourth, fifth, and swing-starter/long reliever positions on the staff, Smoltz will have a chance to get healthy and act as insurance on the pitching staff.

If I had to call it, by mid-season I think Masterson is the swing guy with the rotation looking like this -

Beckett, Lester, Dice, Penny, Smoltz/Wake (I figure there will be some time in the DL for Wake who has spent some time there each of the last two seasons).

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