Monthly Archives: January 2013

AFC Championship Game Preview

By Kevin York

Well, this isn’t the game any of us thought it would be two weeks ago, or even one week ago. The Ravens weren’t supposed to be here. This was supposed to be another Brady-Manning classic, but Baltimore crashed the party. So instead we have a rematch of last years AFC Championship, a game which was actually a class in and of itself; however, I have a feeling this game will play out much differently than last year when many felt Baltimore outplayed the Patriots, yet Brady and company stole the game.

Photo Credit: (Matt Slocum/AP)

Photo Credit: (Matt Slocum/AP)

Baltimore Ravens
The big story with Baltimore this post season has been Ray Lewis and the going away party his teammates are throwing him, but the storyline that hasn’t received as much attention, and I think it actually the bigger one, is the change at offensive coordinator that John Harbaugh made near the end of the season. Since taking over for the fired Cam Cameron, Jim Caldwell has totally changed the dynamics of this offense. He has confidence in quarterback Joe Flacco and lets him throw the ball downfield. This isn’t the same conservative, sometimes even tentative, offense we saw most of the season. Earlier this week, Don Banks over at Sports Illustrated wrote a nice article looking statistically at just how much of a positive affect Caldwell has had on the offense. As Banks notes, “the Ravens under Caldwell have averaged 450.8 yards of offense and 28 points over their past four games, with superb balance (188.8 yards rushing and 262.0 passing).”

I expect Caldwell to open things up and show some new plays, maybe even new formations, in an attempt to confuse New England. Remember, Caldwell is very familiar with Bill Belichik and the Patriots from the many years he served as an assistant on Tony Dungy’s Colts staff. He is well aware of what he’s facing and how he’ll have to outsmart the Patriots’ mastermind.

We won’t see Baltimore try and run the ball a lot. New England has big, strong linebackers that are very good at stopping the run and crashing into gaps. I expect them to go to the air more and attack New England’s weaker secondary. That may open the run later, but I think we’ll see Flacco really air it out early.

Baltimore’s defense has played well enough to win this postseason, but make no mistake, this is not the Ravens defense we’ve seen in the past. They’re older and slower, and may be a little tired. They’ve been on the field a lot in their first two playoff games and will now be facing one of the best offenses in the NFL a week after a tiring overtime thriller in Denver.

The Ravens will likely struggle to defend the New England passing attack. The Patriots have added a few wrinkles this year that they didn’t have last year, like the faster Brandon Lloyd who really came on late in the season. The New England offensive line has also protected Brady better than last year. With Baltimore’s pass rush not being quite as good as last year, that’s a recipe for a real problem for the Ravens defensive front. With the ways New England has used their running backs lately, the Ravens front seven are certainly facing an athletic disadvantage. They don’t have a linebacker fast enough to line up opposite Shane Vereen if he slots out as a receiver.

Photo Credit: (Steven Savoia/AP)

Photo Credit: (Steven Savoia/AP)

New England Patriots
In contrast to Baltimore, New England is exactly where we all expected them to be at this moment in time. This year’s Patriots team seems like a team on a mission. That’s naturally the kind of mentality that Belichik instills in them, but it just feels even more workmanlike this year, and specifically over the second half of the season, than they have in years past. The Super Bowl loss to the Giants last year was a black eye for this team, something that deep down I think they’re a little embarrassed and ashamed of. Twice now, they’ve lost Super Bowl games to the Giants that they should’ve won. Different makeups of those two teams, yes (in fact, very few people from that 2008 team were still playing for the Pats last year ), but I’m sure last year’s team certainly felt somewhat linked to the earlier one.

New England’s offense is one of the strongest in the NFL and has been for some time. As the season went on it seemed like they continued to add new dimensions to it, even as starters went down to injuries. The latest example was last week against Houston when Shane Vereen, filling in for Danny Woodhead, emerged with a breakout performance, both in the running game and passing game. It’s really remarkable how well Belichik and his staff develop players. New England is showing that it’s the deepest team in the league.

Tom Brady will have a big game. All week people have been discussing how he got outplayed by Joe Flacco last year. Mike Greenberg said that last year he was simply average in the playoffs. That type of stuff motivates this guy and I think it’ll fuel his fire on Sunday.

The Baltimore defense opens up a lot of opportunities for the Patriots. For one, the Ravens really only have one strong, consistent pass rusher in Paul Kruger. That means lots of time for Brady to sit in the pocket and make his way through his progressions until he finds an open receiver. He will be able to pass the ball on this Ravens secondary. The other opportunity is using their running backs in unique ways – lining them up in the slot or even out wide.

Aside from Aqib Talib, the New England secondary could be exposed by Joe Flacco. The unit is solidly built to contain Ray Rice and the Raven run game, but they’re not quite as astute in pass coverage. I think Baltimore will try and attack the middle of the Patriots defense in the passing game because New England’s linebackers (Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower) aren’t particularly quick. New England will have to make up for that by playing a zone and not leaving those guys alone on an island.

The Final Word
At some point a team can’t survive on emotion anymore and talent comes into the equation. I think this week is when that happens for Baltimore. Up and down the rosters, New England is the stronger team at every position except running back. Talent wins out this week as New England punches its second straight ticket to the Super Bowl. This game won’t be as close as last year when it came down to the very end for the Patriots to win, but it also won’t be the blow out that some are expecting. I think we’ll see New England win by around ten points or so.

You can read The Couchletes’ preview of the NFC Championship game here.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

NFC Championship Game Preview

By Kevin York

I debated on if I should write game previews for the NFC and AFC Championships. After all, the last time I did this, and first time I did a preview on this blog, it didn’t work out so well, did it? Oh well, life goes on. At least after I spent Saturday night and Sunday angry, bitter and constantly muttering about how the Packers didn’t prepare the right way, how ridiculous it was that they weren’t prepared for San Francisco since even I knew how San Francisco would attack them. I mean, if I’m a sports blogger I’m supposed to make irrational statements like that, right?

So, yes, it’s time to move on and do another preview. This one may even be better because I don’t have any emotion behind it…other than hating the 49ers.

Photo Credit: (Denis Poroy/Associated Press)

Photo Credit: (Denis Poroy/Associated Press)

Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are in an odd position of being the number one overall seed, playing at home, yet being the underdog. They’re the higher seed. And it’s not like they have Peyton Manning playing for them or anything (too soon?).

In all seriousness, Atlanta started the season on fire and were the last team in the league to take a loss. Yet, there was just something about them that didn’t seem complete. No one seemed to give them the same type of respect that another team might receive for accomplishing the same feat. Even looking back at our NFL Power Five that we did throughout the season and posted to our Facebook page on a weekly basis, I could see a clear bias against the Falcons. It’s like we found ways to rank other teams ahead of them, even teams with more losses.

So why the bias against the dirty birds?

In all honesty, I think it’s because the Falcons are a team that flies under the radar (pun intended). There’s not a lot of hype about them. They’ve really taken on the model of their head coach. They’re pretty workman-like in their style and they don’t do much to draw attention to themselves. They have an offense that can be high powered with Matt Ryan connecting with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez. On the other hand, they have an offense that can also grind it out behind the running of Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. In fact, it often seems to be one or the other. For some reason they struggle to find a balance blending the two, as head coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter sometimes appear to forget they have such a strong running game and shy away from it.

Nonetheless, the offense has the potential to be powerful. Matt Ryan improved greatly from last year to this year and I think defenses had to respect him more. The playoff win last week really got a monkey off his back so I expect him to play a bit looser this week. He showed a lot of poise by driving the Falcons into position for Matt Bryant to kick the game winning field goal – especially after the Falcons had a significant lead which they’d blown earlier.

On the defensive side of the ball, I think Atlanta’s pass rush is pretty underrated. The front four applied some nice pressure to Russell Wilson last week against a Seattle offensive line that has played very solidly all year long; however, that front four, front seven really, struggled to defend Cam Newton as a runner in two meetings this year. On Sunday, they’ll face a similar quarterback in Colin Kaepernick so he could certainly create some problems for them.

Atlanta’s secondary is a solid unit, but they raised some questions with the way they allowed Seattle back into the game last week.

I still think their defensive game plan comes down to containing Kaepernick. Green Bay wasn’t able to do it. The Falcons use a base 4-3 defense while Green Bay was using a 3-4. Is the 4-3 better suited to defend a running quarterback attacking you with a read option? I’m not totally sure. I think it’s more dependent on your total team speed. Is Atlanta a faster overall defense than Green Bay? Maybe a little, but they don’t jump out at me as blazers.

Photo Credit: (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle

Photo Credit: (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle)

San Francisco 49ers
I think San Francisco is the heavy favorite. Yes, they are going cross country and playing in a very, very loud indoor stadium, but they’ve been playing much better than Atlanta as of late. While Atlanta struggled with Seattle, San Francisco put on a convincing second half against Green Bay and handedly beat them.

When you look at San Francisco’s offense, it jumps out at me that this unit is now the strength of the team. I mentioned that in my initial thoughts after the divisional round games, but I really can’t get over it. When I look at the weaknesses and potential vulnerabilities of that team, I now see less with the offense than I do with the defense. The element Kaepernick brings with his running has really evolved their attack. He brings something different than a running quarterback like Robert Griffin. Kaepernick has a bigger body, so he appears to be a little more capable of sustaining hits, but more importantly, he looks to throw as he’s rolling out. Now, his field vision can use some work, but when a guy’s running like that, a defense doesn’t really have as much time to focus on where his eyes are looking as he’s going through his progressions.

On a side note, I find the increasing use of the read option by NFL teams very interesting. The option is an offensive play that was actually used for years by teams that had inferior talent, either in size or speed or both. It was a way of tricking the defense and using some sleight of hand to gain an advantage over a team that had more talent than you. That’s the reason that in college football, a team like Air Force is able to compete with teams that have much more size, speed and strength. Air Force traditionally has run not just an option, but a triple option offense (My high school football team, consistently ranked near the top of our division, played one conference team every year, the same one, who ran a triple option offense. It was always one of the hardest games to prepare for even though they were never one of the best teams we’d play. The offense is a pain in the ass to defend and speaking from experience, it really does take away a team’s speed and size advantages). They have to because they don’t have 300 pound linemen. Those guys can’t do the necessary military drills and exercises if they’re that huge. Knowing that history associated with the option offense, I find it somewhat ironic that it’s now being used by NFL offenses to further utilize the speed (and with Kaepernick, the size) of skilled offensive players as an advantage rather than using it to combat larger and faster defenders. In high school I always sort of viewed those running the option as unable to run a “real” offense.

My thoughts on San Francisco’s defense are well versed on this blog. I don’t think they’re quite as good as everyone else seems to think are. However, against Atlanta, I think they match up pretty well. The only potential difficulty they could face is the running game of Atlanta. The 49ers haven’t been quite as good against the run late this year as they were last year and at the beginning of this season. In fact, the Packers even did a decent job of running the ball on them and they don’t have a star running back. Atlanta has a nice mix of power and speed with Turner and Rodgers. That has the potential to create problems for San Francisco because it could pull one of their two safeties into the box to defend the run, opening up Atlanta’s passing game. Against Green Bay it was easier. You dare the Packers to run on you and leave two safeties back, out of the box, to make sure you can defend Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. It’s not quite as easy with Atlanta. Vic Fangio will be forced to make more decisions with his defensive schemes, probably bringing Donte Whitner in to support stopping the run.

The Final Word
So who’s going to win? That’s right, I’m actually going to predict a winner. Now that my team is out, I have no qualms about predicting a winner.

All the momentum in the world is with San Francisco right now. They’re the hotter team and probably the stronger team at this point. It would take someone out of their mind to pick Atlanta to win this game. That’s exactly why I heavily considered it. It’s just a gut feeling, one of those scenarios where you just know the game won’t play out like everyone predicts it to. I think Atlanta will actually be the looser team since all the pressure is on San Francisco. Atlanta knows no one thinks they can win this game. They’ll use it as motivation all week and I think it’ll push them to come out hot. If they get a big lead, that’s the recipe needed for beating San Francisco. Trying to come from behind takes some of Kaepernick’s abilities away from him because it doesn’t allow him to be quite as free with his decision-making. You can’t use a read option offense when you’re down two touchdowns or more. Let’s also not forget that this week Colin Kaepernick made his first appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The SI cover jinx is well documented. Seriously, look at that list. It’s long. Way longer than I realized. Let’s also not forget my past comparisons of Jim Harbaugh to Rex Ryan. It would be the ultimate validation of my comparisons for Jimmy to lose his second straight conference championship in only his second season (Rex’s Jets lost two straight AFC championships in his first two years).

All that said, as much as I’d like to pick against San Francisco, I can’t do it. There’s a simple reason that I can’t do it. I want San Francisco to lose. That, of course, means they will win. Buy your tickets and book your Super Bowl flights, Niner fans.

You can read The Couchletes’ preview of the AFC Championship game here.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

The Ray Lewis Double Standard – The Ray-Ray

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Nick Wass/AP)

Photo Credit: (Nick Wass/AP)

I like the Ray Lewis story that’s evolved during this NFL post season. Right before the playoffs started, he announced this is his last season. It’s served as quite the motivator for his team. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a player whose presence on the field has done more to motivate and inspire his team.

“I have to make this catch. For Ray.”

“I need to knock down this pass. For Ray.”

You see it all up and down the Ravens roster. These guys really, really want to win for Lewis. Either that or they’re scared of the wrath of Ray after a loss. Either way, they don’t want to let him down. His teammates want to give him one more run, one more Super Bowl appearance, maybe even one more ring.

Lewis is one of, if not the best, linebacker to ever play the game. He’s a definite first ballot of famer, but people tend to forget the issues he’s had with the law. Prepare yourself, this is kind of a touchy subject. Or at least I think it must be given the silence arounf it. No one ever talks about his obstruction of justice conviction and involvement in a murder charge (you like that old school SI article I just linked to?). But why don’t we talk about it? When we talk about Mike Vick, dogs come up. When we talk about Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or now Lance Armstrong, steroids come up. Pete Rose? Gambling. When we talk about Plaxico Burress…wait, do people actually talk about Plaxico Burress?…whatever…we talk about an idiot that shot himself.

What I’m saying is that in most cases, when a pro athlete has become involved in, or sometimes even just accused of, something criminal (or in the case of Rose, something millions and millions of people do legally every day in Vegas), they become tied to that incident. Not quite synonymous, but it’s definitely part of their story that’s frequently brought up. We don’t we do that with Lewis though. Seems kind of like a double standard, doesn’t it? Because of his positive affect on the Ravens franchise, the city of Baltimore and the game of football, I think the media and fans have given him a pass on bringing it up when discussing him. They give him a Ray-Ray. That’s right, I just coined a new term. Give it time, you’ll hear it in real life.

“But daaaad, Jake’s curfew was 11 when he was 16, why is mine 10? Why are you pulling a Ray-Ray?”

I’ll leave you with this Ray Lewis video. To be honest, the whole reason I wrote this post was just so I could link to this video. Enjoy. And you’re welcome. Instant classic.

Ray Lewis’ Ray of Light by TV Funhouse (sorry I didn’t embed the video…we encountered some technical difficulties with it)


By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Thoughts on the NFL Divisional Round Playoffs

We’re now down to the last four teams in the NFL playoffs. Baltimore, San Francisco, Atlanta and New England. It was an entertaining weekend of games. The Ravens-Broncos overtime thriller was an instant classic and a game that Denver fans, and Peyton Manning, will likely want to forget quickly. The Broncos, huge favorites, really blew that game. Green Bay-San Francisco was close, at least until the fourth quarter, but nonetheless a much more competitive game than their first encounter in week one. This game didn’t turn out at all the way I wanted and I now have to live with it. I may never write another Packers preview as a result. Seattle-Atlanta looked like it would be a rout early, but the Seahawks, as they’ve done all season, refused to give up and made it quite an ending, though they ultimately blew their chance to steal a win. That game may have ended even more exciting than the Baltimore-Denver game. And finally, New England showed how strong, and deep, they really are by winning a game with Houston that never really appeared competitive after the Pats scored their first touchdown.

We’ll have previews of the AFC and NFC Championship games later this week, but here are my initial thoughts after watching the four playoff games this weekend:

— Peyton Manning could be the best regular season quarterback ever, but man, that guy has a tendency to come up short in the playoffs. It just feels like a really high number of times that he’s been the higher seed and lost. He’s such a good player and an all around good guy that I feel sorry for him.

— Speaking of him being a good guy, I appreciated hearing that Manning waited around for an hour and a half after the game to privately congratulate Ray Lewis. That’s a class act.

— The Ray Lewis story is having quite the final chapter. I can’t believe how much he’s inspired this Ravens team. It sounds ridiculous, but his presence on the field does wonders for improving Baltimore’s chances of winning a game.

— Enough criticism of Joe Flacco. He’s shown over the past two post seasons that he really is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. I’d take him in a playoff game. Last year he outplayed Tom Brady, this year he outplayed Peyton Manning. You can’t ask for much more than that.

— Baltimore still has a good defense. They don’t quite have the same pass rush they’ve had in the past, with Paul Kruger being the only really consistent pass rushing threat, but it’s still a solid unit. They may not have ranked that way this year, but remember, they had a ton of injuries and those injuries were to main contributors (Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed). Everyone’s healthy now.

— The San Francisco 49er offense may have become the team’s strong suit. With the difficult to defend new read option dimension that Colin Kaepernick has added, I really think this might the case. While the defense is still solid, I don’t feel like they shut down the Packers defense as much as they did in their week one meeting. In fact, the Pack did more to shoot themselves in the foot. Their turnovers were more a result of their own mistakes than any forcing the San Francisco defense did. And it was the Niner offense that capitalized on those Green Bay mistakes.

— Frank Gore quietly continues to be a huge contributor to the 49ers offense. He’s not the most vocal or showy player, so doesn’t command the same mainstream media attention as others on their offense, but he is the rock of that unit. Would you be surprised to know he gained 119 rushing yards against the Packers? I watched the entire game and was surprised by it. He quietly just gets his job done.

— Michael Crabtree has emerged as a top receiver in the game. Going into that game, Green Bay knew that he was one of Kaepernick’s go to guys, and they still couldn’t defend him, knowing it was coming.

— Green Bay didn’t appear to have much of a competitive game plan on either side of the ball. They apparently didn’t read my analysis post from last week because they didn’t appear prepared for many of things I called out. They ran very few screen passes (and I don’t remember any outside screens) on offense and on defense, they didn’t look prepared for Kaepernick’s outside running, which is especially odd since they put together a game plan exactly a week ago to shut down Adrian Peterson’s outside running (and were effective).

— I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new defensive coordinator in Green Bay next year. Dom Capers’ unit has not performed well for the second season in a row now. It’s the achilles heel of an otherwise pretty good team. Sure, personnel is some of it, but I think scheme is part of it too.

— Seattle had quite the year, but came up just short. That’s still a great team and one that I think over the next couple years will become the team to beat in the NFC West. They’re younger than San Francisco and won’t face some of the free agent questions that the Niners will in the offseason.

— Good for Matt Ryan. He’s a good guy and it’s nice to see him get this playoff monkey off his back. Same with Falcons head coach Mike Smith and tight end Tony Gonzalez. Those are three of the classiest guys in the league.

— Pete Carroll’s got to be wishing he had not taken the time out to try and ice Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant at the end of the game. Bryant ended up missing the attempt (which then didn’t count) and Carroll proceeded to complain to the officials about being awarded the time out. Not sure what you were complaining about Pete. FOX clearly had you on tape calling the timeout.

— The Georgia Dome is LOUD.

— Most people think the Packers (Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jermichael Finley) or Patriots (Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Julian Edelman, Danny Woodhead, and now Shane Vereen) have the best group of receivers in the league. Top to bottom, they probably do, but does anyone have a better 1-2-3 combination than the Falcons have in Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez? Throw in Harry Douglas and that’s a pretty good receiving corps. They’re vastly underrated.

— San Francisco should have a more difficult time preparing for Atlanta’s offense than they did preparing for Green Bay’s last week. In the passing game they’re similar, but Atlanta has the running game that Green Bay doesn’t with the combination of Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers (as long as they don’t forget about it, which for some unknown reason they’re prone to do at times…).

— New England is the deepest team in the league. They’ve faced quite a few injuries to key contributors this year, yet their play doesn’t drop off. Danny Woodhead gets hurt on his first play of the game and New England turns to Shane Vereen to fill Woodhead’s role. He looked awesome and we’re now left wondering, where was this guy all year?

— New England’s running game has really developed this season. Ridley and Vereen looked good against a Houston defense that was supposed to be one of the best in the league.

— Speaking of Houston’s defense, what happened to them? They looked horrible. They couldn’t stop New England at all.

— Tom Brady now has the most playoff wins of any quarterback in NFL history as he surpassed Joe Montana on Sunday. In the Brady-Montana debate about who’s the best quarterback ever, I think Brady keeps doing his part to provide us with a definitive answer. The guy’s money and the case is closed in my book.

NFL Playoffs – Divisional Round: The Couchletes Pick ‘Em

With only one “surprise” last week, we saw our picks net out in a tie between Kevin and Ryan with four correctly picked games. The lone surprise wasn’t really a surprise at all with Seattle trekking East to Washington as a Wild Card and soundly defeating the NFC East division champion Redskins 24-14 in a game that brought with it a devastating knee injury to Skins quarterback Robert Griffin III. It seems everyone except the Redskins saw that coming and it’s a shame, really, that such a talented guy has to end a great rookie campaign like that, but that’s football.

The divisional round of the playoffs brings arguably the most exciting games of the year. The matchups are strong, the best quarterbacks are still in it (Brady, Manning, and Rodgers) and we feel we’re in for some surprises, especially with the hottest team in football, the Seattle Seahawks, taking their talents to Atlanta in a showdown between two potent offenses and one outstanding defense that matches up better with Atlanta’s offensive threats than any team left in the tournament.

Game on!

Match-up Kevin Ryan Rahul Hoa Mark

The Evolution of the NFL Cornerback

By Ryan Lack

Much has been written about the evolution of football and certain positions. These changes in some respects have been forced (e.g. player safety) and some of it has simply been a result of the modern athlete getting bigger, stronger, and faster over time.

One position that never seems to get much pub as a very crucial one on the field is cornerback. It’s a passing league now and the cornerback position may be the single most important one on any defense, and increasingly the hardest to play. But while wide receivers are getting bigger and faster, the corners have stayed the same size, mostly. The position itself needs to change now. Due to numerous rule changes that mainly serve to protect wide receivers, league cornerbacks are now forced to treat wideouts like they would a girl on a first date – they can’t touch them and can barely look at them witout drawing flags. To accommodate this favoritism the make-up of corners needs to evolve.

The solution is pretty straight-forward, right? Just go after bigger corners to match-up against these bigger receivers. As simple as that sounds it’s much more difficult to turn into reality.

The main challenge in this growth of such an important position is a lack of agility and speed the bigger the player gets. The average cornerback in the NFL is 5’11”, 195lbs. That’s not very big but these guys are typically some of the fastest players on their teams. So, what they lack in size they make-up for in speed; however, a speed advantage is only as valuable as your ball skills, and lacking height hurts.

“Out of the 169 cornerbacks who were on NFL rosters as of last Tuesday (September 2012), only 53 of them were 6-0 or taller.” – National Football Post

Being sub-six-feet tall going up against someone like a Calvin Johnson at 6’5″, 240lbs. isn’t what you’d call a favorable match-up. To expect the average cornerback to defend him well isn’t realistic and this has played out on the field with Johnson becoming an absolute superstar in the last few years. Now granted, they don’t call him Megatron for nothing – the guy is a freak – but more and more the size discrepancy is what is really hurting pass defenses. You can’t double-team everyone all the time.

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of 6’3″+, 215lbs. players aren’t being steered toward being cover corners. If they’re choosing defense over the glitz and big money of offense they’re either a hard-hitting safety that can’t cover or … well, not on defense at all. Especially at that size and bigger, the players lack the agility and speed, mostly the agility, to cover to the degree that is needed. These bigger guys can’t turn their hips in coverage as quickly as they need to the bigger they are, which is why there are so few of them that are successful in the corner spot.

It’s much the same as what we’re seeing with the quarterback position – Cam Newton, RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, and even Vick as one of the first ones, are getting faster, smarter (not always), and developing stronger, more accurate arms. This has been discussed and covered by the media at great length during this year’s playoffs, yet it’s astonishing they haven’t yet taken a closer look at how evolving other positions could be changing the game. Instead, the quarterback infatuation has continued, but with the injury suffered by RGIII perhaps the evolution of the quarterback isn’t as wide spread and, more importantly, smart as the media would like us to believe.

The Seahawks seem to be the only team developing bigger, faster, stronger corners and it’s a model more teams need to adopt instead of focusing so much on how mobile their quarterback is or could be. Yes, it’s difficult to find players in this mold that still have all of the key features of a good corner but they are out there. It really just comes down to the team making a commitment to addressing it in the right way.

The two Seahawk corners here are Richard Sherman (6’3″) and Brandon Browner (6’4″). This isn’t to say that just because they’re big they will be more successful, but I sure do like my chances better with two young and tall corners back there covering the two best pass-catching threats the other team has than someone that’s 5’11”. Teams will say it’s hard to find these big guys but Seattle did it through the draft, not free agency. It’s further proof that the modern NFL player is evolving. Even as they change it’s still on the teams to apply these big bodies in the appropriate spots and in the right schemes.

Surely, entering this season no one thought we’d be pointing to the Seahawks as a blueprint for how to do anything right (Screw you, Pete) but here we are. The bigger corner may not be feasible for every team in the league given there are so few but if more teams aren’t looking at how to get bigger at the position they’re going to get left behind.

We have the pleasure of seeing this theory in motion this weekend as the Seahawks take on the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs. This game will pit Sherman and Browner against arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the game in Julio Jones and Roddy White, two fast, agile big bodied receivers that pose a threat to opposing defenses whenever they step on the field. These match-ups will certainly pose a huge challenge for the two cornerbacks and it’s something we’re all looking forward to watching. It may prove out to be the truest test these two corners have been faced with this season, and how they perform can and most certainly should set the tone for how the position is viewed and cultivated across the league for years to come.

Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack

The NHL is Back (That Means Hockey Hair)

By Kevin York

The NHL is returning. Some people are rejoicing, others are still mad about the lockout and insist they won’t watch in protest (to them I say, you should’ve written a letter to Gary Bettman to speed up negotiations. After all, it worked for me), and then there’s a group that just doesn’t care and may have no idea that we’ve missed over half of the NHL season. Whichever group you fall under, I think you’ll enjoy something we found and had to share.

A friend showed this to me and I loved it. Partially because it’s hilarious and partially because, as I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I have a fondness for athletes with long hair. Yes, that’s weird, but not quite as weird as the fondness fellow Couchlete Rahul Chhabria has for my hair.

Former professional player Jeff Serowik and his team at Pro Ambitions Hockey, Inc. put this little video together. Why? I have no idea. Ryan thinks it’s just bizarre. Doesn’t really make me want to go to hockey camp. It does make me want to grow out my salad though (you’ll get that reference after watching the video). And dance. On ice skates. See what you think.


By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york

Preview and Analysis: Packers vs. 49ers, Round 2

By Kevin York

<The introduction to this preview was published on January 8, 2013. To read it, you can visit this link.>

Here it is. I said yesterday that I would break one of my own sports superstitions to write this analysis and I’ll keep my word. You’ll see that there actually isn’t much trash talk in this post, but as I mentioned, my superstition is even weirder since it includes any criticism of the opposing team as part of it. I’ve just always preferred to do my talking after the Packers win a game instead of during the lead up.

So without further discussion of my odd Packer support preferences, here’s my preview and analysis to this weekend’s Packers vs. 49ers divisional playoff game.

Packers offense
Overview: Green Bay has struggled with consistency all year on offense, partially due to injuries. They finally seem to have everyone healthy (Jordy Nelson has said he will play this weekend), which is very important for them. The offense is lethal with all its weapons and can be extremely difficult to defend.

— In week one, Green Bay seemed to go against its bread and butter, the passing game, in favor of establishing the run. In this second game, they shouldn’t even attempt to establish the run early on. This year has shown that the 49ers secondary is pretty suspect. That unit received a lot of credit last year and I said the entire year that it was overrated. People are finally listening to me now. Rodgers and company need to attack the secondary hard. Carlos Rogers isn’t capable of man coverage against speedy receivers like Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Green Bay needs to try and put him on an island. Conversely, the San Francisco corner opposite Rogers, Tarell Brown, isn’t any better. I was watching the Niners-Pats game with Ryan, a big time Niners fan. It was a Sunday Night NBC game so in introducing the defense they let the player introduce himself with the talking headshot. Ryan didn’t even know Brown, who was representing the Niners in classy fashion wearing a beanie pulled low over his eyes. “Who is that? Did they pick this guy up on the way to the game?”

Dashon Goldson, the San Francisco free safety, plays more like a hard hitting linebacker, not a guy capable of independent pass coverage against a spread look. Pure and simple, I think he’s a headhunter. The strong safety, Donte Whitner, was shunned by Buffalo before San Francisco picked him up. There’s probably a reason for that. In Buffalo you need to defend the high powered pass attack from Tom Brady and company to compete in that division. He didn’t help, so they let him walk. Last year, when Whitner got a lot of credit for his improved play, he was playing against weak quarterbacks in the NFC West. This year, he’s had to contend with Russell Wilson and a healthy Sam Bradford. What teams did San Francisco struggle with this year? That would be Seattle and St. Louis along with New England and the New York Giants (Eli Manning)… Spreading the field and forcing the Niners into man coverage against four, or even five, receivers will make for a difficult night for their secondary.

— Once the passing game is established, THEN Green Bay can use its newfound running attack. The pass will open up the run. I really like Green Bay’s new running back, DaJuan Harris. As Cris Collinsworth stated over and over and over in the playoff game against Minnesota, he likes the energy Harris brings. I do too, but more importantly, I like the decisiveness. Too many backs in the league want to dance left and right and even backwards indecisively waiting for a hole to open. It’s like watching a kid in a candy store not sure which one candy bar to pick. Harris makes a decision and proceeds with a full head of steam.

— Screen passes have worked well for Green Bay over the past few weeks and will be needed against a hard charging pass rushing team like San Francisco. Aldon Smith is a pass rushing specialist and this is a way to use that against him, especially with how well the Packer receivers have been blocking.

49ers Offense
Overview: San Francisco’s offense has evolved quite a bit this year, especially after making the move to Colin Kaepernick (a move that I think will still come back to haunt them…). He brings a different element to their offense. Everyone seems to think it’s downfield passing. [It’s not, it’s bad decisions, as he showed against Seattle. Ok, this isn’t really part of the analysis. Sorry, but I had to squeeze that in…] That’s certainly part of it, but I think the more appealing aspect (not for me, but for San Francisco fans) is his running ability, which can put a lot of stress on a defense.

— Green Bay showed against Minnesota that it can stop the run, but that was against a running back. I think they will contain Frank Gore on traditional run plays, but containing Kaepernick on read options and non-traditional run plays is another thing. A quarterback like Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III makes it difficult for a defense to contain the pocket. The read option play makes it even more difficult because you essentially need two defenders focused on containment – one on the quarterback and one on the running back. That takes away two pass rushers, so when San Francisco runs the option with a pass as one of the options, it sees success and also forces the defense to stay honest with the pass rush. Run some planned quarterback run plays so that Kaepernick can get comfortable. Don’t forget, he’s young and this is his first playoff game. Although it’s at home, it’s still a different feel and a different kind of pressure than he’s faced yet.

— San Francisco should move the pocket on Green Bay. Kaepernick has a lot of scrambling ability and Green Bay’s interior defensive lineman aren’t particularly fast. Moving the pocket away from Clay Matthews and forcing him to try and chase Kaepernick down from behind scares me.

Packers Defense
Overview: Green Bay shocked me by showing against Minnesota that defensive coordinator Dom Capers can actually develop a game plan to stop a team. He hasn’t shown it all season long. Of course it helped that Joe Webb was playing instead of Christian Ponder. I’m sure Mark never thought he’d be wishing Ponder was under center. The Packers looked good, but let’s remember that Minnesota was forced to be one dimensional on offense. Joe Webb looked astonishingly awful and the Vikings never even ran any plays that catered to his strengths after the first drive. They may have been better picking someone out of the stands to play quarterback.

— As with their defense of Peterson, they’ll need to be patient in defending Kaepernick and stick to the plan. I think using the same pocket containment they used against Peterson could work with San Francisco. Kaepernick likes to take off on outside runs, force him to stay inside and run into the beef of Green Bay’s defense – B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett. Try and move the pocket with San Francisco as it moves it (and Niners will definitely do that, they’ve done it all year). Kaepernick looked utterly confused when Seattle forced him into staying in the pocket more and he made some mistakes. Look at Seattle’s game plan and copy it. Kaepernick is young and inexperienced. He can be forced into mental mistakes.

— The Green Bay secondary is pretty good against the pass. Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward are solid in coverage, but the defensive front needs to apply enough ‘smart’ pressure to not put the secondary in situations where they’re stuck in coverage too long. I say smart pressure because Kaepernick wants to feel a pass rush because it makes it ok for him to leave the pocket and scramble. He wants a reason to run. The Packers will need to rush him differently than they do a Jay Cutler or Matt Stafford. Kaepernick has an ability to extend plays and that would put the Packers corners, good as they are, in a difficult situation.

49ers Defense
Overview: We saw some weaknesses from this defense this year. Everyone raved about them last year and I questioned their depth. This year we discovered they aren’t really that deep. They should be back to near full strength for this game, but even a healthy squad could have the deficits they’ve shown this year exploited by a powerful Green Bay offense.

— The key is Justin Smith. All the accolades went to Aldon Smith this year since he started the season hot and appeared on his way to breaking the single season sack record. He didn’t end up breaking the record, but still received plenty of talk about being a defensive player of the year candidate. I didn’t think it was warranted and he didn’t receive my vote. In fact, he didn’t even receive a second or third place vote from me. Why? Because he wasn’t even the best defender on his own team. In the last three games of the season, when Justin Smith was hurt, Aldon recorded exactly zero sacks. The key to his success is his teammate, Justin. Aldon is a pass rusher, that’s it. He’s not very astute against the run and it makes him an incomplete defensive player. Now that he has Justin back, he should be back to applying more pressure, which could give Green Bay issues. The Niners just need to hope that Justin is healthy enough to help.

Green Bay’s offensive line has gotten a lot of criticism for the sacks its given up, but I don’t think they’re as bad of a unit as people have painted them. Since benching Jeff Saturday at center in favor of Evan Dietrich-Smith, the unit has played at a much improved level. They did an adequate job against Minnesota, a solid defensive front, but the Vikings don’t have the same firepower as San Francisco. The Niners will have to test rookie tackle Don Barclay and his counterpart on the other side of the line, Marshall Newhouse. The outside rush will be key for them because it will force Green Bay to keep a running back, probably fullback John Kuhn, in the backfield to help block instead of using that position outside to line up as another receiver. The interior of the Packers line – Dietrich-Smith and guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton are pretty strong, so focus on the outside rush. The pass rush will help the Niner secondary that may struggle with Green Bay’s fast receivers.

— Given Green Bay’s passing strength, San Francisco will be forced to be timely and picky with when it blitzes inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. Those two could be forced to stay home and help in pass defense. They’re much more needed there than helping with pass rushing by blitzing. Aaron Rodgers is very good at picking apart blitzes. Leaving Bowman and Willis home will also help the Niner secondary by allowing them to play zone pass coverage instead of leaving their corners and safeties on islands defending in man coverage. I think San Francisco would be better off playing zone coverage against the Packers. They did this in week one.

— San Francisco takes a lot of pride in stopping the run. I think they need to come in with a game plan to stop the pass against Green Bay though, even if it means allowing rushing yards. The Packers won’t beat the Niners by rushing the ball, but they could take them apart by throwing the ball. San Francisco loves to play one safety up, the other back, meaning one safety in the box to stop the run, the other back in pass coverage. I don’t think they can do that against the Green Bay receivers, they’ll need to leave both back, which is exactly what they did in week one. That worked then, but keep in mind that Aaron Rodgers was playing extremely stubborn in that first meeting, insisting on trying to beat the San Francisco coverage deep. He’s proven over the season that he’s not as headstrong in his approach by checking down to receivers and letting the long ball open up itself. Nonetheless, the best way to defend him is with that two back safety approach. You don’t want to get beat deep by Rodgers and his fast receivers.

Green Bay Special Teams
Green Bay is ok with returning punts and kicks, with Randall Cobb and Jeremy Ross performing well, but it’s been an adventure with Mason Crosby kicking field goals this season. He’s been better over the past three games, but they haven’t put him in a situation where he could fail very big. It’s a very “kid gloves” approach and they’ll have to continue this tentative strategy against San Francisco.

San Francisco Special Teams
If there’s a kicker that struggled more than Mason Crosby this year, it was San Francisco’s David Akers. He’s looked atrocious at times, so much so that the 49ers signed free agent kicker Billy Cundiff last week. Of course, Cundiff was cut by the Ravens in favor of a rookie, so is he going to be better? Who knows, but at this point it can’t hurt to look. San Francisco’s returners, namely Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams, have made some mental mistakes, at times extremely large ones, in the return game over the past two years. I think their best bet is using LaMichael James to return punts and kicks. They started doing this more and more toward the end of the year and the rookie showed he can handle the responsibility.

So, that’s my analysis. I don’t think I even included too much trash talk in there, although I was sure to fit in several slights (Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith, the entire San Francisco secondary). I just couldn’t help myself once I got going. I’m sure this week will include plenty of trash talk between me and San Francisco fans, especially here at The Couchletes. Poor Mark will feel all left out. Better luck next year, buddy.

Now that I’ve got this analysis published, and I broke my superstition of not trash talking or criticizing my friend’s teams before they play Green Bay, I can spend the rest of the week debating my other sports superstitions I mentioned yesterday, my ban on wearing Packer jerseys on big game days. Do I tempt fate? On Saturday night I actually didn’t even wear a Packers shirt while watching the Minnesota game. Laundry kind of piled up on us and I realized all eight of the non-jersey Packers shirts I own were dirty. So I wore a Packers ballcap and a regular, non-Packer sweater. My Packers shirts all got washed on Sunday, but so did that sweater. Maybe I just wear that and my Green Bay cap again…

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york

Yes, I Will Write a Packers-Niners Preview (A Preview to my Preview)

By Kevin York

<You can read the second part of this post, the actual preview, here.>

Packers against Niners. The sequel. This time in San Francisco. I remember the first matchup in week one very well. It took place at Lambeau in a game that San Francisco won 30-22, a score that wasn’t at all indicative of how the two teams performed. The Packers looked absolutely horrible while the Niners looked much like they hadn’t lost a step from where they ended the season last year, a narrow loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship game. Going into that first game I was skeptical, yet optimistic. I thought the Packers offense would still be the great machine that it was in 2011 when it rolled over teams on the way to a 15-1 record. The defense on the other hand, that’s where the skepticism came in. That unit was nothing special in 2011, in fact it was actually downright bad. Like worst in the NFL bad. The Packers used their 2012 draft to address it though, adding young talents like Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward. I mean, they couldn’t be worse than they were in 2011, could they?

I came away from week one thinking that they may indeed be worse than the previous year. I didn’t expect the San Francisco offense to be anything special. It was the weak aspect of that solid San Francisco team in 2011, yet against Green Bay, the Alex Smith-led unit seemed to be able to do whatever it wanted. The game left me wondering if this Green Bay team would even be able to win the NFC North and if I’d have to endure endless narrative over the next five months here in San Francisco not only about the Niners beating the Packers, but about how they’re historic, unstoppable and Super Bowl bound. Yes, I was already hearing comments along those lines the day after the game and not just from regular fans, but from the meatballs on local sports radio around here. Yes, they really are that bad.

I also remember that week one matchup well because I watched the game with Hoa and Rahul, who are both, of course, 49er fans. They weren’t shy about rubbing the final score in, especially Rahul, who decided to take it a step further by writing a special post to me that scratched even deeper at my fresh wound. I tend to fly off the hook a bit when it comes to the Packers and retaliated almost immediately with a response.

After the Packers jumped to a big lead on the Vikings Saturday night and it slowly became more and more inevitable that the following weekend would produce a rematch of that week one confrontation, I began to consider writing a post analyzing the matchup. I was already forming tons of opinions in my head about the various strengths and weaknesses of the 49ers and where Green Bay could exploit its advantages and hide its weaknesses. I initially dismissed the idea though. See, I have this sort of rule that I follow. A weird one… I try not to talk trash in the week leading up to a game where my Packers are playing a team that friends support. I take it so far that I shy away from even making comments about their opponent, even simple things like, “Your offensive line is a mess of injuries right now, you’re going to have a real hard time defending Clay Matthews.” It sounds ridiculous, I know. After all, that’s what friends do to each other. They talk trash about their sports teams. I’ve done it before. That instance was not leading up to a Green Bay showdown though and that’s exactly why I try not to do it before a big game. As you may have sensed from my retaliation to Rahul’s Dear Kevin post, I have a hard time dealing with the reciprocating trash talk that comes my way afterward, if the Packers happen to lose one of these games. Directly after a loss I have nothing left to combat the jabs with other than stupid responses like, “If they had done what I said, we wouldn’t have lost! They didn’t have a good game plan!” So you know better than the coaching staff, huh, Kevin?

Is a game preview involving my team really trash talk though? This is a professional sports site, isn’t it? I just give my perspective and analyze both teams. Right? Actually, no. First, this isn’t a professional sports site. It’s five guys who like sports giving their opinions, three of whom are Niner fans and one who cheers for the just disposed-of-by-my-Packers Vikings. We give each other crap, a lot of it at times. With me writing this preview, it would end up containing some jabs, especially since it’s a preview involving my team playing the team that I absolutely hate, the San Francisco 49ers. So you see, professional is something we probably can’t be considered. After all, there’s not much in our backgrounds that prove we actually know what we’re talking about. We just like sports and like to give our opinions. We’re regular guys with no sports experience, just like Skip Bayless, Mike Greenberg, Tony Reali, Jemelle Hill, Israel Gutierrez, Dan Le Batard… Hey wait, those people actually are professionals who are paid for their bad opinions, so maybe…

Weird sports superstitions are hard to let go of. I have a green home AJ Hawk Packers jersey (yes, it’s an odd selection of a jersey for a big Packers fan. I bought it his rookie year. I liked his Big Ten pedigree and his toughness. I thought that he was going to be a really good player. Truth be told, I also liked his hair. When he cut it this past offseason, part of me died, although he has played better this year with short hair. Oh well, I’ve still got Clay Matthews…) and a white Aaron Rodgers roadie. I love both of them, but I can’t wear either one for a big game. The team doesn’t play well when I wear one. Actually, that’s an understatement. They lose, plain and simple. The lone exception is when I tempted fate and wore the Hawk jersey for Super Bowl XLV and the Packers beat the Steelers. When I wore it the next year it had lost its luck and still hasn’t regained it. In fact, I wore that exact jersey in week one.

After some thought, I decided that it’s ok to write this preview. It’s time for me to outgrow my weird superstition. So tomorrow, watch for my preview and analysis of the Packers – 49ers divisional round game. To use the words of Mark, you can consider this a preview to my preview. Who knows, if this goes well maybe I’ll even break out of my jersey superstition.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york

The BCS National Championship: Who to Cheer for – The SEC or The Hypocrites?

By Kevin York

I face a real dilemma tonight of who to cheer for in the BCS National Championship game. Alabama or Notre Dame?

I hate the SEC. I have for as long as I can remember. I’ve grown tired of the conference’s arrogant, better than you attitude with which they approach football. I also despise what they’ve done to push us further and further toward a college football system where student athletes are paid. The SEC has a win at all costs attitude. There are a ton of examples over the past few years about situations where programs, and players, have acted in some not so ethical ways. The easiest, and probably most popular, to point to is Cam Newton, both at Florida where he was kicked out of school for stealing computers, and at Auburn, where reports were rampant that his father put out a pay for play call for any schools recruiting him. Those close to me know well my hatred for the SEC.

I grew up about 20 minutes from the University of Notre Dame. For 22 years of my life I lived in the media bubble that is Notre Dame football. I witnessed the local sportscasters and their perspective that the school, and more specifically, the football team, could do no wrong. No matter how bad the team was, even during the dark days of Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham, those guys were always talking national title. I grew weary of this extreme case of homerism.

The other thing that was prevalent around the area was an “holier than thou” attitude in regards to the football program. Academic standards, graduation rates, model citizenship were, and still are, all tossed around in regards to the Catholic institution’s football team. They may have had their struggles, but, as supporters would say, by god, they ran a cleaner football program than all those parolee SEC schools that sat at the top of AP rankings. For the most part, this was true. Sure, every now and then a rumor would surface (that would, of course, never be touched by the local sportscasters – that would be blasphemy against this great university!) that the school may have been a little lax with the grades of certain players so they could stay eligible, but on most counts it seemed to live up to its squeaky clean appearance.

When I was in college, a funny thing started to happen though. More rumors about the football program came out. I’m not talking about special academic treatment of players, I’m talking about deeper issues. Some include bar fights and alleged police assault, but others go even further and darker. When Brian Kelly took over the reigns of the program, these rumors reached all time highs, not only in number, but in darkness. These ‘issues’ never reached mainstream media though. The university’s PR program, the machine that it is, found ways to bury them. And for all the blind Irish supporters out there that want to say those rumors were unfounded and that’s the reason they never saw the light of day, I’ll reply with this: I’m in PR. I know that world and yes, what I just stated about the burial is exactly what happened.

This hypocritical nature that I sensed from the University was very bothersome. People around the country seemed to think this program and university were leading collegiate authorities on morality. I was pretty disgusted. Then in December, I finally saw it. A blog post in a leading national media outlet discussing some of Notre Dame’s dark issues. Even better, it was written by Melissa Henneberger, a Notre Dame alumni, writing for The Washington Post. Her post includes a link to an earlier story, written by her in March 2012, about some of the incidents I referred to earlier. Those incidents are sexual assault and rape, both reportedly tied to the football program and Irish players. Investigations into the incidents were conducted, but one of the victims is now deceased after committing suicide following the act and the other, as Henneberger put it, “decided to keep her mouth shut at least in part because she’d seen what happened to the first victim.” So the men thought to be responsible, and reported to be tied to the football team, were never charged with crimes. I’d love to say who one of the rumored players was, but don’t want to face a libel charge, so I can’t do that. I’ll simply say this, he’s gone on to bigger and better things than Notre Dame football.

One incident involving Notre Dame football that did receive a good deal of national attention was the 2010 death of Declan Sullivan, the team’s videographer. Sullivan was recording practice on a day in October 2010 from the top of a hydraulic lift tower, which was reported to be around 50 feet in the air. It’s common practice for football teams to record practice like this from a perspective this high. What’s not so common is to do so during a windstorm. Winds that day reached over 50 miles per hour. The tower Sullivan was recording from fell over, resulting in his death. What business did Coach Kelly have 1. having his team out in those conditions and 2. having Sullivan atop the tower?…

So back to the BCS title game. I’m left to choosing between Alabama, a team from a conference which I despise, and Notre Dame, an hypocritical program, one which I’ve grown to despise everything about. The answer to the question is actually not as difficult as I initially made it out to be earlier in this post.

Every college football program has its shadows, that’s for sure, but Notre Dame’s are of a different nature, dare I say a Penn State type nature? I mean, sexual assault, rape, suicide, wouldn’t you put those things on the same level as child molestation? I’m a Penn State fan and was disgusted by what went on there. I’m just as disgusted by Notre Dame. Sure, it’s very possible that there are bad stories about ‘Bama’s football team that could be told by someone who grew up 20 minutes outside Tuscaloosa. I don’t know those stories. I do know Notre Dame’s. Tonight’s decision is easy for me.


By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york