Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NHL Lockout

I'm having a terrible dilemma. I love hockey, the NHL and specifically the Buffalo Sabres. The league reportedly made over 3 billion dollars last year. The TV contract is the most lucrative in league history. More fans are watching NHL games than in a generation. The Winter Classic is an unqualified success. The NHL is doing great business these days.

But the NHL is locked out. Again. The players and the league are fighting over how to divide the revenue. As people like to say it's millionaires fighting billionaires.

As I said above the league doesn't face the systemic problems it faced in 2004. Most of the teams are doing fine. 10-12 teams are doing amazing business. The game itself has some issues. Predatory hits and fighting are still causing players to suffer brain injuries. The league has some issues but nothing that justifies burning another season in a lockout.

So my dilemma is this. How do I not run back to the NHL after it resumes? Watching Sabres games is one of my favorite things to do. Since my childhood I've loved watching my team. I have a Sabres mini pack. I have their logo tattooed on my leg.

How do I get my hockey fix and tell the NHL it is NOT OK to lockout again? When the NHL fights its players like this it's the fans who get hurt. Yet they do it because they know we'll run back with our wallets open.

They won't stop until the fans take money from the owners. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

No we Chant

I had a thought about Chan Gailey today that I found infuriating. Now I'm not a football coach so many of the details escape me. I played little league and have watched the NFL my whole so I feel I have a pretty good idea what football is all about. I think some of the best teams are the best managed. It's true in all sports but especially in the NFL. The teams are so bloated with players, coaches and other staff that organization is a major key.
The Bills obviously have a problem with this. Having a 94 year old, absentee owner can't help.
More to the point of the coaching are my feelings about Chan Gailey. At first I liked the idea of hiring Chan. He's a guy with an okay record in the NFL who has a history of working well with average quarterbacks. He also is a details guy. He wants his teams good in the fundamentals. I love that. I want to see a team out there that at the very least won't commit a ton of penalties or waste timeouts. To Chan's credit this has mostly been the case. I know this last week's loss to New England, where they committed a near team record number of penalties, is an outlier. For the purposes of this entry it's mostly moot.
What's bothering me most is Chan's inability to adapt his game plan. The Bills do not blitz the quarterback. Their defense is 32 in the league but Chan will be damned if he is going to change the blitz  to mix it up. He says he's protecting his inexperienced corners but they're getting burned on a regular basis already, so what's the point? Maybe if these opposing quarterbacks were lying on their backs more often the corners would be fine. Chan Gailey is coach so I guess we'll never find out.
CJ Spiller became the first running back in 60 years to be averaging 7.6 yards per carry after 60 carries. This last game against the Patriots he actually averaged 7.8 yards per carry! Will Chan give it to him more? Nope. He's decided to spilt time with Freddy Jackson who is averaging 4.0 yards per carry. Don't get me wrong, Freddy is great! He crushes defenders and always seems to get 2 or 3 yards more than he should. But to neglect a weapon like Spiller who only got 9 carries last week is downright criminal!
CJ Spiller is 14th in the league in rushing but has at least 36 fewer rushes than every running back in the top 20! Of the 4 backs immediately ahead of him on the list, 40 yards separates their rushing totals. The other 4 backs average 45 more carries than Spiller's 87. That's right, 50% more carries. Keep giving him 9 carries a game Chan.
Last year Chan's system took the league by storm! Injuries and Chan's inability to adapt his scheme to changing defenses cost the Bills a lot of wins and maybe a playoff spot. This year he, and his faith in an average QB's arm as opposed to 2 exceptional running backs, has cost them at least 2 more wins. Every week after they loose he says the team doesn't execute. Shouldn't the coach make changes when players are failing to execute his plan? Aren't there always generals depicted in war movies who will never change the attack plan despite overwhelming loses?
Despite the worst defense in the league the Bills should still be 5-5 and 1 game out of the division lead and wild card. Instead they're staring at a blacked out Thursday night game (which I was suckered into buying tickets to), another 5 to 6 win season and another 10th overall pick. The 10th pick will not get an Andrew Luck and the Bills run of mediocrity will continue.