Behind The Sticks
Shots With MZE
Behind The Sticks
Shots With MZE
My Drink of the Week: Vieux Carre
Welcome to Week 9 Blitzers. Two things I love about being a bartender are serving drinks that people enjoy and people watching. First, the guys over at Blitzed NFL gave rave reviews to last week’s Purple Viking. Giving it a 9 out of 10 on the Blitzed Barkeep’s Booze scale, it led to some very questionable, albeit hilarious statements from our Blitzed Crew. If you missed it, check out this week’s podcast featuring a great guest Sir Yacht - an internet ranting sensation and die hard Browns fan.
The second thing I enjoy is how you get to people watch, or in this case, listen. You get to see people transform from sober to drunk as the night proceeds and it’s because of the drinks you make for them. I felt like that’s what happened on the podcast this week with the guys as the drinks continued to flow. It was entertaining to hear the show go on as they enjoyed the Purple Viking more and more. It was eerily similar to watching the teams from Florida this season as their once promising seasons have taken a clear detour from happy hour into the dreaded late night shot taking. My apologies to the Dolphins, Jaguars and Bucs fans but your teams efforts seem to be a bit frightening lately.
Speaking of frightening, it’s Halloween Week! I love Halloween. People come to the bar in costumes and flirt with each other because someone is dressed up like a sexy devil or muscle bound super hero. Then the lights come on, the make-up and masks come off and reality sets in. Once attractive costumed-clad patrons are now middle-aged divorcees with muffin tops and Dad-bods. Decisions are beginning to be questioned and definitely blamed on the booze. That being said, this Barkeep also saw plenty of tricks and treats come out of the NFL in Week 8. No, I’m not talking about TP-ing Bill Belichick’s house or throwing eggs at Tom Brady’s car (that was already done by our Blitzed Rookie two nights ago - also blamed on the vicious Purple Viking). Here were some Halloween specials that got my attention:
Green Bay Packers vs La Rams - TRICK
The Packers have one of the greatest 4th quarter artists of all time in Aaron Rodgers. We were denied seeing his magic due to a disgruntled WR-turned-RB-turned-returner-turned-Raven (shocking that he was traded shortly after the game) disobeying his coaches’ requests to kneel. Yep, you guessed it. Like your buddy who takes that last Tequila shot after being told they shouldn’t, he runs the ball out of the end zone, vomits it up to Rams, and ends the chances to win the game for the upset-minded Packers.
Houston Texans vs Miami Dolphins: TREAT
After a dismal 0-3 start, the Houston Texans ‘puke and rallied’ back to life with 5 straight wins and now have a 1.5 game lead in the AFC South. Deshaun Watson put on his Sherlock Holmes costume and solved the Miami Dolphins defense to the tune of 16/20 for 239 yds with 5 TD passes. That’s right, he had more TDs than incompletions. Lamar Miller even looked like his old self (133 yards, 1 TD). Just when it appeared a negative could come out of this game with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins’ drinking buddy Will Fuller (torn ACL), the front office reloaded and traded for former Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas. Isn’t it great when you have that one friend show up just when things get rough to keep the party going?
Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers: TRICK
Halfway through the 3rd quarter in the Cleveland- Pittsburgh game, Pittsburgh had just forced a safety which means that Cleveland had to free kick. The problem here is that no one on the Pittsburgh return team knew that you had to field the ball on a free kick, allowing the ball to roll 10 yards behind any Steeler on the field. The Browns jumped on the Pittsburgh gift, scoring shortly thereafter and cutting their deficit to 16-12. I tried telling Pittsburgh not to open that bar tab with the brand new credit card but they didn’t listen. Hey, free gifts and shots for everyone apparently. Fortunately they closed out their tab before doing any more damage and won the game 33-18.
What’s sure to be a TREAT this week, is my game of the week. Last week, I didn’t give enough credit where credit was due and I picked against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (6-1). This week they have a chance to knock off the Rams (8-0) as two high flying offenses go head to head. Both teams score over 30 points a game (LAR- 33.0 and NO- 33.4 to be exact), both offenses average over 400 yards a game (LAR- 455.5 and NO- 400 even) and both are right around 300 yards passing per game. This is a great game for a New Orleans classic drink, don’t you think?
Vieux Carre (VEEOO ka-RAY):
3/4 oz Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Cognac
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 tsp Benedictine liquor
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Lemon Twist for garnish
Blitzed Build: Place the whiskey, cognac, vermouth in a mixing glass. Add the Benedictine liquor, then both bitters. Fill the mixing glass halfway with ice. Stir with a bar spoon until chilled (approx. 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Rub lemon twist around the rim and drop into the cocktail for garnish.
This week’s Blitzed Barkeep recommendation literally translates to ‘the French Quarter’ and is a staple drink when one visits the amazing city of New Orleans. Let’s pretend we’ve had one too many Vieux Carres and simulate the game. Drew Brees, back at home, decides to celebrate his new records with the fans on Bourbon St. the night before the game. He doesn’t arrive back home until 4am and shows up to the Superdome smelling of Hurricanes and Sauzeracs. The Rams, realizing Brees isn’t in any shape to throw the ball, stack the box with their now seven former 1st round draft picks and bottle up dynamic duo Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Backup Teddy Bridgewater is forced into action as Drew Brees is too busy lifting his jersey and flashing his shoulder pads for black and gold beads from the fans. A Dixieland band somehow finds its way onto the field and plays ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ over and over. The Rams pick off Bridgewater three times, overwhelm the partied out New Orleans Saints on both sides of the ball and move to 9-0 by the score of 42-7.
It seems that was all a drunken dream. These smooth Vieux Carre’s can lead to some wicked hallucinations. Drew Brees just doesn’t seem to age and he continues to light up the stat line every week. New Orleans is one of the hottest teams in the league and is at home where they have a clear home field advantage behind the rallying ‘Who Dat’ cry. I learned my lesson by going against them last week in Minnesota. Los Angeles is really, really good but they have been tested of late. I think this is the week they suffer their first loss and the ’72 Dolphins can finally pop that champagne bottle. Final score: New Orleans 40, Los Angeles 33.
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Tune in to the Blitzed NFL podcast this Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week and recap all of the action during Week 9.
The Blitzed Barkeep is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro from Bills Mafia. You can follow Blitzed Barkeep on Twitter here.
Trade Deadline Edition
NFL teams are trading players at a higher rate than ever before. While trades still don’t happen as often as they do in other professional sports, NFL general managers are starting to warm up to the idea of rebuilding their rosters despite the high risk of “losing” the trade.
This season’s trade deadline is fast approaching. All trades must be submitted by 4 p.m. ET on October 30.
We’ve already seen some trades go down well before the deadline. Some pretty good players like Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Carlos Hyde, and Amari Cooper have already been dealt. Such early action is a good indication that teams have accepted their places as “buyers” or “sellers” this season.
Some really big names have been circulating in the Twitter-sphere of trade gossip as well. Superstars like Patrick Peterson, Le’Veon Bell, and Demaryius Thomas have been heavily rumored to be dealt by next week’s deadline.
Please go find a chair if you are not near one already. I want to make sure you’re sitting for this next part because it truly is shocking: not everything you read on Twitter is true. The Cardinals, Steelers, and Broncos have all shot down these rumors and there is nothing credible to suggest that any Blockbuster trades (are they called Netflix trades now?) will include these three players.
So, what trades might happen?
Here are five trades that my opposite-of-expert scouting brain has come up with that are realistic, fair, and mutually beneficial to both teams involved.
5. Shane Ray, Broncos Edge Rusher, to the L.A. Rams
Broncos edge rushers Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb have respectively gotten the 2nd and 6th most sacks in the NFL this season. That leaves their teammate Shane Ray on the bench for most of the game, despite him being a good enough to be a starter for many other teams. Because of the vast depth at the position, the Broncos won’t extend Ray’s contract. It seems like their 2015 1st round pick is playing out his last season with the team.
The Rams defense is loaded with All-Pros like Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh in the trenches and Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib up top. However, their guys in the middle are pretty average. Before he was traded to the Bears, the Rams offered a 1st round pick for Khalil Mack even though they did NOT want to sign him for a long-term deal. Giving up a 1st round pick for ONE SEASON of an elite pass rusher.
So how much would they give up for one season of a good, albeit not elite, pass rusher? Not a ton, but even a late-round draft pick makes sense for both teams. It would be an upgrade in the Rams pass rushing department and the Broncos are going to lose Ray regardless, so they may as well get some value for him.
Ray’s best seasons were with current Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips at the helm of Denver’s defense. Phillips definitely knows how to maximize his talent. How about this 7-0 Rams getting better at rushing the passer? YIKES.
4. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver, to the Philadelphia Eagles
Let’s start with a quick summary of the Devante Parker drama going on in Miami:
Parker didn’t play last week and Dolphins coach Adam Gase blamed Parker’s health as the reason. Parker’s agent disagreed that his client was injured—to say the least. Parker’s agent said “Coach Gase is incompetent—period—and not telling the truth when it comes to DeVante…” in regard to his health.
Parker did say that his agent is his own man and he disagreed with his statement but…sheesh. It has to be quite awkward in that locker room at the moment.
Parker hasn’t really lived up to the billing of a former 1st round pick since being drafted by Miami in 2015. So far, he’s put up average statistics with about 55 catches, 700 yards, and 3-4 touchdowns per year. That’s not bad, he just hasn’t lived up to the elevated expectations of a 1st rounder. He’s still a 25-year-old freak athlete with a 6’3” 209lbs frame, a 36.5 inch vertical, and 4.45 second (!) 40-yard dash.
The Eagles offense hasn’t fully clicked since Carson Wentz came back from his ACL injury. They need some speed and playmakers if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champs and Parker might be a perfect fit. His speed and athleticism with Wentz’s strong arm and Doug Pederson’s creativity seems like a win-win for both parties.
The Eagles offered a 2nd round pick for Amari Cooper so they are staying aggressive enough to give up future pieces for an instant impact play maker.
3. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver, to the Carolina Panthers
Larry frickin’ Legend. The nicest and most likeable guy in football is stuck in the desert playing for the worst team in the NFL. At 35 years young, Fitzgerald might not have much time left to win his first ring before retiring.
However, Fitzgerald might be beating father time as well as he’s beaten every NFL cornerback for the past 15 years. His last three seasons—as a 32 through 34-year-old—Fitz has averaged 108 catches, 1,130 yards, 7 touchdowns, and made the Pro Bowl each year. That’s remarkable high-level consistency for any wide receiver, let alone somebody his age.
Panthers are legit contenders when Cam Newton plays as well as he has been this year. Their offense never replaced Kelvin Benjamin (don’t laugh, Bills Mafia, he was good there) and Fitz is the perfect big and reliable target for Cam’s arsenal.
Please, Arizona, Fitz is too nice to ever ask for a trade, but that doesn’t mean you should let him burn in your dumpster fire.
2. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback, to the Jacksonville Jaguars
I defended Blake Bortles and thought he was a franchise quarterback. I was wrong. It takes a big man to admit a mistake and today I am that big man. Credit to me.
However, the Jags can’t just quit. They upgraded at running back by getting Carlos Hyde and now have to upgrade at QB. They have to try their best to capitalize on the most talented defense they’ve ever had.
They have to move on from Bortles. Just because he led the team to the AFC Championship game last year doesn’t excuse his horrible play. Mark Sanchez led the Jets to two AFCCGs and I’m sure every Jets fan wishes they moved on from Mr. Butt Fumble earlier.
It pains me to say this because I’ve always thought of Bortles as the Tom Brady antithesis. He is relaxed, funny, not yelling at everybody, and enjoys being a simple guy who cracks open beers and eats too much pizza. Unfortunately, he also can’t win five Super Bowls.
The Jags need to replace the Tom Brady antithesis with the Tom Brady killer: Nick Foles.
Our good friend Brandon Perna awards a “Big Dick Player of the Week.” That’s probably why Foles’ teammates call him “Big Dick Nick.” Foles won another big award—Super Bowl MVP—just eight months ago by defying the odds as a backup quarterback and leading the Eagles to a shootout victory over some team from Massachusetts.
While his career has had some ups and downs, he’s always played well under the right circumstances. In 2013 he put up a ridiculous 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in ten starts before getting hurt. That potential plus a Super Bowl MVP is one hell of an upgrade for the Jaguars in their fight for a very winnable AFC South Division.
1. Derek Carr, Raiders QB, in exchange for Eli Manning, New York Giants QB
As you read on Shots with MZE, the excellent @GMFB_MZE broke down Jon Gruden’s strategy of having three 1st round draft picks.
Chucky might be able to get another 1st round pick by trading away quarterback Derek Carr. Carr is a young player who’s made multiple Pro Bowls and led the Raiders to a 12-4 record just two years ago. Naturally, this type of résumé has no place in Gruden’s plans. Like Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, Gruden is itching to ship off his proven young talent in exchange for the possibility of drafting somebody who might be talented.
Eli Manning is well past his prime and is too slow to play quarterback in the modern NFL. Or, as Gruden (likely) thinks, he’s perfect. Eli could join recent Raiders acquisitions Jordy Nelson, Doug Martin, and Reggie Nelson in a team that would have been really good when Gruden stopped paying attention in the Monday Night Football booth in 2014.
The Giants defied expert opinion (and basic common sense) by drafting running back Saquon Barkley with the 2nd pick in last year’s draft. Their reasoning did make a little bit of sense: if Eli is still a franchise quarterback, surrounding him with elite weapons like Barkley and OBJ is their best chance at winning a ring in what could be Eli’s last season. In hindsight to them, and foresight to everybody else, that reasoning was wrong.
Eli’s decline this season has been pretty sad to watch. The Giants are now forced to replace him and are widely projected to draft a rookie quarterback in next year’s 1st round. Carr may just be the perfect solution for them instead. Even though it would cost a 1st round pick and a franchise legend in Manning, it seems well worth the risk. That 1st round pick would be used on a quarterback regardless.
The Scout is a Broncos fan and a #TeamBlitzed All Pro. You can follow the Scout on Twitter here.
Welcome to Week 8, Blitzers. Last week I gave the guys over at Blitzed NFL a Bengal Tiger Martini to review. I have to admit, from a bartender’s point of view, the Blitzed crew's analyses of the drinks were pretty good. However, not everyone is going to enjoy the drink you make (more on that later). The Coach’s assessment of Drew Brees brought a little tear to my eye. No, it had nothing to do with me rubbing my face while cutting lemons for my shift behind the bar. Brees is worthy of every accolade he has accomplished in the NFL and more. In case you’re living under a rock, here are his career stats:
Even better, he has more yards passing than Tom Brady and to this barkeep, anyone who has more than Brady of ANYTHING and didn’t cheat to get it is alright in my book. On top of that, he joined the illustrious 500 TD club this past weekend. So tonight Mr. Brees, your tab is on the Rookie's host replacement last week, the Sub, because his review of my Bengal Tiger Martini left a little to be desired for this Blitzed Barkeep.
Let’s move on. Week 7 was so full of shenanigans it makes your Blitzed Barkeep think that some of the players snuck booze into the locker room before the game just to spice things up. First, you had the Fail Mary by Trubisky and Da Bears came up just one yard short. Solution? Make your drink a little stronger and throw the ball INTO the end zone. We all wanted a victory for you against the Evil Empire.
Next, argue all you want, but I salute you Tennessee Titans. Down one point, you took your shot and went for two to win the game. I don’t agree with the play call but kudos to you for going after the prettiest girl in the bar. Next time, have a better pick up line and you may come away with the win.
Finally, there’s the ugly quarterback situation in Buffalo that every NFL team is envious of. NOT. So far they’ve had two freshman and a guy who graduated college 10 years ago try to hang with the Seniors from the frat house. Long story short, it’s usually going to end with one person holding someone else’s hair over the toilet while the lightweight pukes up the happy hour appetizer. No team’s fan base should be subject to this kind of mismanagement but hey, at least they like to drink!
Speaking of drinking, this is ‘Behind the Sticks’ after all. There’s a rematch of a game this week that caused plenty of fans to do plenty of drinking. Allow your Bartender take you back in time to January 14, 2018. With :10 seconds remaining in the NFC Divisional Round game, the Minnesota Vikings were down 24-23 at their own 39 yard line. Case Keenum hits Stefon Diggs down the right sideline for a 61 yard miracle touchdown on a 3rd and 10. Final score 29-24 Minnesota. In honor of this improbable miracle, this week’s Blitzed Barkeep Game of the Week is Sunday Night’s New Orleans Saints (5-1) vs the Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1) rematch. What better way to relive this epic finish that to indulge a few.
The Purple Viking
1 oz Southern Comfort
1 oz blue curacao liqueur
1 oz blueberry liqueur
1 oz sloe gin
Splash: lime juice
Splash: sour mix
Blitzed Build: Combine ingredients EXCEPT soda in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a high ball glass (or a rocks glass) over rocks, garnish with a lemon. Top with club soda and serve.
The next Blitzed Barkeep recommendation comes from land of the Purple People Eaters. Unlike last week, where I recommended the Bengals - Chiefs game, I think this could be one of the games of the year.
However, let's partake in the deliciousness of the Purple Viking and simulate the game. Gone from last year’s Miracle in Minnesota is Case Keenum. Clearly, if they still had him in Week 3, they wouldn’t have been throttled by the my offensively intimidating Buffalo Bills 27-6. So, the fact that the Vikings made the mistake of letting Keenum go to Denver and instead opted to sign the less talented, more expensive Kirk Cousins, the New Orleans Saints come marching into town, exact their revenge from last year and run up the score 45-3. Minnesotans run into the street after the game, drunk off the many Purple Vikings they’ve now consumed and begin to channel their inner ancestors of Erik the Red and Leif Eriksson. Minneapolis is in shambles, Viking Horn Helmets and togas are strewn everywhere and semi-naked fans are passed out in disappointment while the city burns behind them.
The real story here is that Minnesota signed the coveted free agent that everyone wanted and he’s performed admirably. Case Keenum is struggling to replicate the success he had in Minnesota. This is a primetime game in Minnesota where the fans will be Skol-chanting as loud as ever before. I do not think they will need a Minnesota miracle, nor do I think it will come down to a fluke missed tackle by New Orleans. Drew Brees and company, I love you but I think your winning streak ends here. This Blitzed Barkeep thinks that Minnesota will be victorious 31-27 in a very entertaining game. Purple Vikings for everyone!
Well Blitzers, that’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. Remember to tune in the Blitzed NFL podcast this Tuesday to hear the guys review this week’s drink of the week and recap all of the action during Week 8.
The Blitzed Barkeep is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro from Bills Mafia. You can follow Blitzed Barkeep on Twitter here.
First Round and Down
Raider Nation was all a-buzz when Jon Gruden came back to run the show. “Chucky’s Back!’ was the sound ringing throughout Oakland and the Raiders were going to rule once again. His first big move? Say good bye to Khalil Mack while grabbing first-round picks in 2019 and 2020 as well as a 2019 sixth-round choice and a 2020 third. Raiders’ fans immediately began yelling, “Chucky’s whack!”
This week the Raiders sent their number one receiver, Amari Cooper, to the Dallas Cowboys for yet another 2019 first-round choice as Chucky continued his now-not-so-secret-rebuild. With Chucky collecting first-round picks the way kids collect trading cards, I began to wonder if other NFL teams tried this strategy of amassing picks, like your sister used to with Halloween candy, and if so, how did it work out for them?
2000 New York Jets (4 #1’s) This team went balls to the wall grabbing four first round picks. Shaun Ellis, DE from Tennessee, was taken at 12 and had a long career with the Jets. John Abraham, LB from South Carolina, was taken immediately after Ellis at 13. He had 50.5 sacks in his six years with the team. Chad Pennington was next at 18. Chad may have had the best hair of any Jets QB ever taken (apologies to Sam Darnold) and was probably a better NFL QB than Joe Namath, but I digress. The last of the four first rounders was Anthony Becht, TE out of West Virginia. Becht never quite panned out but hey, three out of four is solid. Zero Super Bowls.
1967 Minnesota Vikings (3 #1’s) This team took Clint Jones second overall. Some scout surely lost his pension over this. They then chose Gene Washington with the 7th pick. Gene was serviceable if not spectacular. Then at number 15 the Vikings took some kid out of Notre Dame named Alan Page. The verdict on this pick is Hall of Fame choice. Zero Super Bowls.
1975 Los Angeles Rams (3 #1’s) The Rams didn’t pick until nine this season. They took Mike Fanning, a DT from Notre Dame with that pick. At 11 they chose G, Dennis Harrah, and then T Doug France out of Ohio State at 20. Not exactly household names or even household cleaners. Zero Super Bowls.
1976 New England Patriots (3 #1’s) The Patriots with three first round draft picks? The Hoodie would not approve. With the 5th pick that year they took future hall of fame CB, Mike Haynes. Pete Brock, a center out of Colorado was their pick at 12, and Tim Fox, a safety from Ohio State was taken at 21. Aside from Fox’s incredible hair and ‘stache, they could have stopped at five. Zero Super Bowls.
1983 San Diego Chargers (3 #1’s) “Air Coryell” had three picks in this draft and used two on defense, taking Billy Ray Smith, Jr., a LB out of Arkansas (of course he came out of Arkansas) at the 5th spot. They grabbed Gill Byrd, DB from San Jose State, with the 22nd pick. Gary Anderson, Arkansas RB, was their offensive player chose with pick 20. Byrd had a nice career, garnering 42 INTs. Anderson had one good season in 1998 when he gained over 1,100 yards on the ground. Billy Ray’s name was as good as the Chargers got out of him. Zero Super Bowls.
1988 Oakland Raiders (3 #1’s) So Chucky’s not the first Raider head to accumulate picks. The 1988 team took Tim Brown with the 6th pick that season. DB, Terry McDaniel, out of Tennessee, was their pick at nine. The final pick was Scott Davis, a defensive end out of Illinois, at 25. Brown is in the Hall of Fame. McDaniel and Davis may have taken a tour of the place at some point. Zero Super Bowls.
1991 Dallas Cowboys (3 #1’s) The Cowboys teams of the 90s were darn good. This draft helped them establish themselves as they chose Russell Maryland number one overall. He played five seasons with the ‘Boys and was a mainstay on the defensive line. Alvin Harper came to them at 12. Kelvin Pritchett, Tennessee DE, was drafted at 20 and immediately shipped to the Lions for picks in latter rounds that netted Dallas Dixon Edwards, James Richards and Tony Hill. Three Super Bowls.
1995 Carolina Panthers (3 #1’s) The expansion Panthers had the 5th, 22nd, and 29th pick of this draft. They chose Kerry Collins, Tyrone Poole, and Blake Brockermeyer, in that order. Collins had a decent career in the NFL and led the Panthers into the playoffs. Poole’s career ended up on the shallow end and Brockermeyer’s name was longer than his career. Zero Super Bowls.
2001 Los Angeles Rams (3 #1’s) Damione Lewis at 12, Adam Archuleta at 20, and Ryan Pickett at 29. There is really no need to go into detail here. May God have mercy on their souls. Zero Super Bowls.
2013 Minnesota Vikings (3 #1’s) The 2013 draft saw the Vikings (MY Vikings) grab three first round picks, all at the back end. Sharrif Floyd was taken 23rd but a torn meniscus cut his career short. At 25, they got a CB out of Florida State named Xavier Rhodes. So far, so good for this guy, right? They had one more pick at 29 and got return specialist, Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee. While explosive on kick returns, he never quite fit with Mike Zimmer and is now with the Patriots where he’ll probably get a Super Bowl ring thus shortening my life by another five years. Zero Super Bowls (so far).
2017 Cleveland Browns (3 #1’s) The Browns are the most recent team to make three first round picks. Myles Garrett was number one overall, Jabrill Peppers went 25th, and David Njoku was taken at 29. The jury is still out on these picks but expect them all to be playing elsewhere within two years because, Browns. Zero Super Bowls (so far).
So you can see having a bunch of choices in the first round isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Out of 11 teams, only the Cowboys had any Super Bowl wins to show from this strategy.
So accumulating #1 picks is kinda like being the first one in the doughnut shop. You have your choice of all these amazing-looking doughnuts but then you inevitably buy one with the disgusting maple filling that made the cavities in your mouth hurt, but you eat it anyway because you paid for it? When all you really needed was a warm glazed to satisfy your needs. Mmm, warm glazed. They should name that doughnut the ‘Mack’.
Until next time, enjoy the games, enjoy a brew, and Eff Tom Brady.
Mike Zimmer's Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan from Pennsylvania and is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro. You can follow him on Twitter.
Welcome to Week 7 Team Blitzed! We’ve blinked and the NFL regular season is nearly half way complete. Perhaps the better way to look at it is that certain NFL fans - I’m looking at you Raiders, Giants, Colts, and Cardinals fans - are coming around from a wicked drinking binge to begin the season and realizing they’re already looking forward to next year with one hell of an ‘18 hangover that no amount of Gatorade or Tylenol will cure.
Niners fans, I feel for you. You’re that guy that comes in the bar with the beautiful, amazing, well-put-together date that everyone is jealous of. But after a couple drinks and a shot or two, or in NFL terms an ACL tear or two, she gets a little sloppy, loud and starts to belt out a terrible karaoke version of ‘I Would Do Anything for Love’ by Meatloaf. Now, no one at the bar wants to be you anymore. Sure, everyone is rooting for you to overcome the injuries, but if you expect to do the same thing to the Rams that you did to the Packers last week, then I definitely over-served you and it’s time to go - and please take your off-key, hammered girlfriend with you. Ariana Grande, she ain't.
But I digress. The reason the Rams are the only remaining undefeated team is because the Kansas City Chiefs ran into the annoying buzz-saw called the New England Cheatriots… er Patriots on Sunday Night Football. The Chiefs offensively were impressive. They racked up 446 yards on 53 plays and averaged an unreal 8.4 yards per play. Mahomes is the real deal. The defense is another story. Clearly they’ve been pre-gaming with Raiders, Giants and Colts fans because they have yet to show up for a game. Additionally, the refs were obviously drunk because they didn’t call a single penalty on the Patriots all night.
The Chiefs (5-1) have truly impressed me, even against the hated Patriots and for this reason I have chosen their matchup with the Bengals (4-2) on Sunday Night Football as my Blitzed Barkeep’s Game of the Week. The Bengal’s defense is currently ranked 29th in the NFL allowing 409.2 yards per game. Their pass defense is also on pace to set the team record for yards allowed in a season, having given up 1,818 passing yards through 6 games already. These all seem like reasons why the Bengals are going to be tossing a few back after this game is over. So, what would your Blitzed Barkeep recommend to ease the pain that Patrick Mahomes and Co. could potentially put up at home this week on the Bengals? Funny you should ask…
The Bengal Tiger Martini
1 ½ oz Brandy
½ oz Cointreau (orange liquor)
½ oz Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liquor
1 oz pineapple juice
Directions: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass (or a rocks glass) and serve.
Blitzed Build: Freeze Chocolate syrup stripes inside the glass for ten minutes prior to serving to create a Bengal Tiger effect.
The first Blitzed Barkeep recommendation comes from Cincinnati. The feeling here is that the Bengals are in for a long night Week 7. Let’s play devil’s advocate, pour yourselves one and close your eyes for a second though. The drink has almost the same color hair as the Red Rifle Andy Dalton. He did send a team to the playoffs last year (not his own, however - Buffalo thanks you Mr. Dalton) so he performs well under pressure and on the road. As I said before, KC doesn’t really play defense so if the Bengals can convince the refs to come drinking again, they may have a chance! A stop here, a turnover there and we have a Bengals upset on the road, 35-34.
Apparently two or three of these martinis make you delirious. The reality is that the Chiefs simply have too much firepower for this Bengals defense to overcome. This bartender has been around long enough to know that no amount of alcohol will give this Bengals offense confidence to keep up and the Chiefs will want payback for last week’s loss. Without drinking any Bengal Tiger Martinis, I’ll take Kansas City in this one 45-31.
That’s all from your Blitzed Barkeep for now. Remember to drink responsibly, take Brady’s name in vain and always give your keys to a friend if you’ve had too much. And make sure you tune in to Blitzed NFL on Tuesday to hear the guys review the Bengal Tiger Martini.
Follow the @Blitzed_Barkeep on Twitter
Blitzed Barkeep. You can follow Blitzed Barkeep on Twitter.
Scouting Report Awards
On this week’s Blitzed NFL podcast, you heard great ideas for some awards that the NFL should implement. A Cy Young for quarterbacks, an award to honor great defensive minds like Luke Kuechly, and an award to honor the guys in the trenches like Joe Thomas or Travis Frederick..
So, let’s make awards that assign real value (or lack thereof) to players and also make it easier for casual fans to appreciate the nuances of the game. Only six weeks into the season is a bit premature to hand out awards, but let’s take a look at the early candidates for the prestigious, historic, and first annual Scouting Report Awards.
The "Stats are for losers" Award
The first award comes to us from a fellow NFL scout, Mel Kiper Jr. When defending Josh Allen’s alarmingly low 56.2% completion percentage, Kiper simply stated “stats are for losers.”
To some extent, Kiper is right. Like the guys said on the podcast, players like Kuechly and Joe Thomas affect the game as much as anybody on the field. It’s simply a product of their respective positions that they don’t put up stats to make it easy for casual football fans to follow and appreciate their greatness.
The NFL’s MVP award confuses stats with true value.
Here is the watchlist for the award that crowns the most valuable NFL player who won’t receive any MVP consideration:
1. David Bakhtiari, Green Bay Packers Left Tackle
Aaron Rodgers can see every field part of the field except one: his blindside. Remember when Rodgers got hurt last year? It was ugly, and the Packers season immediately ended. Bakhtiari, as a left tackle, protects Rodgers from blindside sacks. He also does a damn good job. Pro Football Focus rates Bakhtiari as the #1 left tackle in the NFL. With Khalil Mack in the division now, Bakhtiari is as valuable to Rodgers’ health, and the Packers success, as anybody.
2. Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys Cornerback
It’s easy to judge cornerbacks on interceptions and pass break ups. So how do you judge a cornerback who is so good he never even gets a chance to intercept the ball? Despite always covering the best receivers, Jones has only been targeted roughly three times per game. He’s covering receivers so well that quarterbacks won’t even look at him. No stats to show for it, but Byron Jones has been the best corner in the NFL so far.
3. Joe Jones, Denver Broncos Special Teams Specialist
Seeing the punter come onto the field is a great time for fans to grab a beer and hit the bathroom. But for the teams on the field, it’s no break in action. Great special teams are the difference in your offense needing to gain 90 yards or only 50 yards. Joe Jones is the NFL’s #1 special teams player according to Pro Football Focus. He’s always the first guy down the field and he blocked a punt this season, a rarity in the NFL.
The Matt Flynn Award
Trivia: who is the only quarterback in Packers history with 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in one game? Farve? Nope. Rodgers? Nope. Only Matthew Clayton Flynn has accomplished such a feat in the green and yellow.
In his first career start during a meaningless Week 17 game against backups, Flynn shattered the loaded Packers record books to end the regular season. Despite playing only one (1) good game in his career, Flynn signed a three-year, $26 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks the following season.
Flynn is just one of many guys in a quarterback-desperate league to leverage a small sample size into a large contract.
Do NOT let your brain get tricked into thinking these guys are legit QBs, no matter how big the contract will be:
1. Brock Osweiler, Miami Dolphins Quarterback
Brock Lobster stunned the world in Week 6 by passing for 380 yards and three touchdowns en route to upsetting Da Bears. Although Brock has routinely proven to stink, NFL GMs have the memory of a goldfish. This summer, Brock will only be seen as a 6’7”, 27-year-old quarterback who beat Khalil Mack and the NFL’s best defense.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback
Fitzmagic (seen here asking a fan if he knew he went to Harvard) lit the league on fire while starting in place of the suspended Jameis Winston the first month of the season. As always, he shines just enough to go get a new contract somewhere else. He’s old, he’s past his prime, and he was never that good to begin with—Jon Gruden cannot wait to overpay him.
The Copycat Award
“The NFL is a copycat league” is both the most used and most accurate cliché in the NFL. When a team has success using an innovative method, every other NFL team will copy them.
Some trends are so widely adapted that it changes the sport of football forever, such as Bill Walsh’s west coast offense. Some trends are gimmicky and get snuffed out by smart coaches in a hurry, like the wildcat offense.
Here’s the watchlist for the NFL’s next big trendsetter:
1. The Next Sean McVay
There used to be a mold for how NFL head coaches were hired. “Rookie” head coaches were usually guys in their late 40s or early 50s with lots of experience and success as a defensive coordinator for a good team. Defense wins championships.
McVay never fit that mold. The Rams hired him as a 31-year-old (younger than a lot of his players) after two pretty average years as an offensive coordinator for a pretty average Redskins team. Breaking the mold worked. McVay won NFL Coach of the Year in his first season and now the Rams are the only undefeated team in the NFL this season. He’s a young, offensive minded coach who wants to incorporate the spacing and pace of the college game into the NFL.
Next offseason, due to the Rams success, there will be lots of brand-new head coaches who still get carded at bars.
2. Not Valuing Running Backs
The Steelers are playing without one of the best running backs in the NFL, Le’Veon Bell, due to a contract holdout. Bell wants $17 million per year and the Steelers don’t want to pay a running back that much money.
Long story short, the Steelers are right. James Conner, Bell’s backup, not only has more yards and touchdowns through six games than Bell did last season, but he’s also only costing the Steelers $529k this year.
It’s not that Bell isn’t great, he is. He’s unquestionably better than Conner even. But running backs simply aren’t worth anywhere near $17 million or high draft picks.
Last year, Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette were drafted in the top ten. Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt were drafted in the third round. This year, Saquon Barkley was drafted #2 overall. Phillip Lindsay was undrafted and has more yards than Barkley.
These running backs are elite players, but NFL teams (besides the Giants) are starting to realize that you can come close to matching elite running back talent through only a fraction of the price.
3. Pay. Your. Pass. Rushers.
Otherwise known as the Jon Gruden for Mayor Award in Chicago. Contrary to running backs, the pass heavy NFL is making pass rushers more valuable than ever. Khalil Mack looks like he’s worth every penny now that the Bears have the best defense in the NFL and the lowly Raiders can’t put a pinky on the quarterback.
The Survivor Award
Survivor isn’t just the most popular reality show in television history because fans care about who wins. It’s about the journey, not the destination. The fear of being sent home early creates a dramatic environment that pushes contestants to the edge.
The NFL is no different. The high stakes of chasing a Super Bowl ring, getting the next big contract, or just fighting to stay on the roster brings football players to the edge. We don’t just care about who wins—we are obsessed with the NFL because it’s the greatest reality show in the world.
Here’s the watchlist of who can win the reality contestant of the year:
1. Jon Gruden
Every reality TV show has a character whose self-destructive personality causes an epic meltdown for the whole world to see. What truly makes the NFL the greatest reality TV show is that Jon Gruden is the only such character who’s contractually obligated to remain with the program for 10 seasons. The details of the Raiders season were perfectly chronicled on the Blitzed podcast.
For now, I just want to say thank you, Jon Gruden. The Raiders train wreck has been a beautifully entertaining disaster.
2. The Cleveland Browns
There is always a loveable loser. Browns head coach Hue Jackson went into the season with a career 1-31 record with the team, the worst two-year span in NFL history.
The Browns were so bad that Bud Light scattered locked refrigerators full of beer around Cleveland, only to be opened upon a Browns win. The Browns were truly so bad, yet so lovable, that a massive corporation set aside its usual goal of appeasing shareholders just to be a part of the celebration if (not necessarily when) the Browns win a single game.
The Browns started the season with a tie. The 0-0-1 record was their best start since 2004. On September 20th, against the mighty New York Jets, the lovable losers were finally able to crack open the free Bud Light.
3. The Buffalo Bills
The battle to stay alive in both Survivor and the NFL separates the strong from the weak. Those who truly want it from those who don’t. The fiercest competitors on the planet going at each other’s necks just for a chance to stay alive.
The Bills also exist. Their season so far doesn’t quite align with the competitive intensity we’re used to in the NFL. The results, however, are hilarious:
So there they are, the first annual Scouting Report Awards. Who are the winners, you ask? I dunno. These are just fake awards I came up with while putting away a six pack last night. But that's the beauty of the NFL, no matter what happens, it's always entertaining for us fans.
The Scout. You can follow the Scout on Twitter.
Chiefs on dubious record pace
The 2018 Kansas City Chiefs are putting the Alex Smith checkdown days into their rear view mirror. Mahomes is now the man in KC. No 'Hill' is too steep to climb as they are legitimately in the 'Hunt' for a Super Bowl title (okay, I've hit my quota for puns). Obviously, offense isn’t an issue for this franchise. The other side of the ball, however, has more holes in it than a Michael Bay movie plot.
The Chiefs are poised to set the dubious record of most yards allowed by any defense in a season ever - 7,491 yards of offense, or over 4.25 miles. Hell, I've never even walked that far before. It's been said time and again that defense wins championships. But fear not, Chiefs believers, because that’s only partially true. In fact there were four Super Bowl winners that had mediocre to bad defenses. Now that's out of a whopping 52 championships, but remember what the immortal Lloyd Christmas always preached: "So you're saying there's a chance."
The 2006 Indianapolis Colts gave up 360 points during the regular season and over 5,300 yards of offense, ranking them in the bottom third of the NFL. Of course they were quarterbacked by a future Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning and had the second-highest scoring team in the NFL that season, so that may have helped.
One season later, the New York football Giants (Why do they keep saying that? There hasn’t been a New York baseball Giants since 1958. Let it go already, fellas.) took home the Lombardi Trophy with the 17th best defense in the league, outscoring their opponents by a grand total of 22 points on the year. Basically when they were good they were very good and when they were bad, they sucked like a Flowbee on steroids.
In 2009, a painful year in the NFL for yours truly, the New Orleans Saints had the 20th ranked defense for points allowed and 25th in yards allowed. Of course when you put a bounty on the opposing quarterback in the NFC title game…never mind. I can’t relive this.
My final example is the 2011 New York Giants, again. This plucky squad won just nine regular season games, allowed 400 points and over 6,000 yards of offense. They had a three-game stretch where they allowed 121 points (that's over 40 a game for you 'I hate math' folks). Somehow they pulled it all together come playoff time and dumped the Falcons, Packers, 49ers, and the New England Patriots. Rejoice!
So don’t fret too much about your porous defense, Chiefs fans, even though it ain't looking great at this point. There’s one statistic that should perk you up. No team has ever lost a Super Bowl by outscoring its opponents. Although I'm sure the Falcons could find a way.
Until next time, be well, drink plenty of fluids, and Eff Tom Brady.
Mike Zimmer's Ears. You can follow MZE on Twitter.