Archive for April, 2010

Absurd Laws: Gov’t Protects Us From Ourselves

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Received this from an industry source yesterday.

Approving the first local ordinance of its kind, supervisors in Santa Clara County, CA, have banned restaurants from giving away toys and other promotional items with high-calorie children’s meals. Passed in a 3-2 vote this week, the limited ordinance targets any meal that contains more than 485 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium or certain percentages of fat or sugar. “This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, in a meeting on Tuesday.

Because the ordinance only applies to unincorporated neighborhoods like Stanford and Burbank, the majority of San Jose-area restaurants won’t be affected by the law. Hoping the fast-food industry will voluntarily begin offering more healthy kids’ meals, supervisors have decided to allow a 90-day grace period before the ordinance is enforced. Eventually, the ordinance calls for a $250 fine for the first violation, $500 for the second and then up to $1,000 for subsequent violations.

So whatever happened to personal responsibility? It’s my job as a parent to raise my children. To educate my children. To protect my children. And yes, to feed my children. But the government has decided that we’re so easily duped by “prizes” that we’re unable to make the best decisions for our children. And understand that this is just the beginning of our new nanny state. This might be one small law in a county in California, but that’s the road that we’re traveling. And I don’t like where it’s going. Let’s hope that at some point soon, common sense can prevail.

Big Brother, leave my prizes alone.

Sports Roundup — April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Lots of little things going on with our local teams. So let’s dig in.

High School Star Terrance JonesJones to Announce College on Friday
The Jayhawks appear to be in the middle of the Terrence Jones sweepstakes. Jones, the 13th ranked high school basketball player by Rivals.com, plans to announce his college choice on Friday. Jones is friends with KU’s other recent recruit Josh Selby, Rival.com’s 4th rated high school player. Selby was openly recruiting Jones a couple weeks ago at the Jordon Brand Classic. Jones made his official recruiting trip to Lawrence this last weekend. A commitment from Jones would give the Jayhawks a top five recruiting class, and likely launch them back into the preseason top ten.

Henderson to Visit Chiefs, Then Not So Much
John Henderson, the huge defensive tackle who was recently released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, announced on 610 Sports the other day that he was planning a visit to the Chiefs this week. The news was picked up by other media outlets, only later to be proclaimed inaccurate. It appears that Henderson is not headed to KC at this point in time. Makes you wonder how these things happen, though we’ll never know for sure.

Kansas City ChiefsChiefs Draft
Now having had a week to reflect on what the Chiefs accomplished in the draft, I think it’s clear they drafted some needs that were not the same needs the experts expected. But needs nonetheless.

1. Safety was one area of need that everybody agreed the Chiefs needed to fill, and they did so with Eric Berry. Opinions differ on whether or not you should ever draft a safety this high. But if Berry becomes a ten year starter for the Chiefs, I don’t think anybody will be complaining. Personally, I think this was a pretty safe pick. At worst he’ll be an improvement over what we’ve had. And at best he’ll be a star.

2. The Chiefs had no legitimate candidates for kickoff and punt returns. You can’t risk your starting running back, Jamaal Charles, in the return game. Now they have two legitimate return threats with Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. Todd Haley referred to their need for a returner as a “must” and not a “need”. Second hole in roster filled.

3. Haley said they had McCluster rated as one of the top running backs AND one of the top wide receivers in the draft. Reports out of Philadelphia were that the Eagles were planning to draft McCluster high in the second round. The Chiefs had no clear option for a slot receiver, and badly needed to infuse some speed into their receiving corp. Accomplished.The Chiefs will find creative ways to get McCluster on the field. I expect him to play a lot.

4. Pioli talked about the number of plays that the defense lines up in the nickel, and that league wide the average is around 55%. Last year our nickel corners were awful. Arenas will project to play in the nickel, and has a good skill set to cover in the slot. Another hole filled.

And in general, Pioli and Haley both talked about the the Chiefs lack of team speed. These three guys improve our speed considerably. So the top three picks filled what the Chiefs believed to be their four biggest holes in their roster.

Kansas City RoyalsRoyals
The Royals are tough to watch right now. They’ve stumbled out of the shoot with an 8-13 record, and now will be playing the Rays in a four game series. The Rays are one of the hottest teams in baseball with a record of 16-5.

What’s amazing is that the Royals have played well offensively, their defense is improved, and other than Gil Meche, the starting pitching has been consistently good. But their bullpen is the WORST in the league. The Royals have already amassed eight blown saves from their bullpen, and only one of those was from the closer, Joakim Soria. If the Royals pitch a bit better out of the pen, and blow only half of those games, they’re now 12-9, and KC is feeling good about themselves. Instead, we all cringe every time a reliever enters the game.

How do you fix this? I’m not sure it’s fixable right now. Hopefully a couple guys will come around and pitch better. But if this continues, the Royals will need to decide if they want to call up some of their younger players in the minors who may not be ready for the big leagues. At least then you’d be developing your younger pitchers instead of watching this group of veterans undermine everything else this team is doing right.

Chiefs Draft, Day Two

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

I think I’m going to be in the minority on this, but I love what the Chiefs are doing in the draft. The Chiefs have drafted five players so far, and have filled some gaping holes in their roster. And they’ve filled them with good football players and great character guys. All five were team captains with outstanding personal resumes, as well as football resumes.

Safety: Last year the Chiefs were continually burned deep. Mike Brown could no longer cover wide receivers. And Jon McGraw is a fine special teams player, but is not a starting safety. The Chiefs had nobody who should start opposite Jarrad Page. And the Chiefs draft Eric Berry, an outstanding football player and outstanding athlete. He’s graded as one of the best safeties to ever be drafted. We’ll see how it translates to the NFL, but the expectation is that Berry will be a ten year starter, and make his way to a few Pro Bowls.

Dexter McCluster from Ole MissSlot Receiver: The Chiefs have competent starting receivers with Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe, but no clear choice to line up in the slot. So they draft Dexter McCluster near the top of round two. He was listed as a running back which left me scratching my head over the selection, but the Chiefs see him as a slot receiver. For Ole Miss, McCluster played running back, wide receiver and ran the “wildcat” formation as the quarterback. He was incredibly productive. He’s versatile. He’s fast. And the  Chiefs think they’ve found their “Wes Welker” with McCluster. He’s the size of Dante Hall, and could also impact the return game. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will find ways to get McCluster on the field.

Nickel Corner: Though it wasn’t high on our radar, it should have been. The Chiefs tried a number of guys last year in the nickel. All were torched. Enter the Chiefs second second round pick Javier Arenas. At Alabama, Arenas was a fine corner back. He’s fast. He’s versatile. A good tackler. And an effective blitzer. Like McCluster, he’s not very big. But he has a good skill set to play the nickel. He’s tough and smart. And he was one of the premier return men in the country.

Kick and Punt Returner: Last year Jamaal Charles was pretty effective on kick returns, but the Chiefs never found a threat to return punts. And once Charles emerged as the starting running back, the Chiefs needed to look elsewhere for kick returns. McCluster will certainly get a chance to show what he can do, and looks like he offers similar abilities to a Dante Hall or Darren Sproles. And did I mention that Arenas was one of the premier return men in the country? It seems that this problem has been solved.

Offensive Line: Most of us had wanted the Chiefs to draft an offensive tackle. It appears the Chiefs are pretty happy with Branden Albert and Ryan O’Callaghan. Both played better as the season progressed last year. Early in the third round, the Chiefs picked offensive guard Jon Asamoah, who was rated by ESPN as the second best guard in the draft. Asamoah is another fine player and outstanding person. And one of the things the Chiefs liked best about him is his versatility. Though he played guard in college, he often practiced at center. Asamoah may not play much as a rookie, but he adds quality depth. And as Waters and Wiegmann are approaching the end of their careers, he will eventually get the opportunity to start. My guess is that it will be sooner rather than later. If he doesn’t crack the lineup this year, I bet he starts in 2011.

Tight End: This is another position the Chiefs struggled with last year. Early on the Chiefs featured Sean Ryan, but then phased him out as the season progressed. The Chiefs picked up Leonard Pope, who failed to distinguish himself. And Brad Cottam made a few plays before ending his season with an injury. So the Chiefs move up to the bottom of the third round to draft Tony Moeaki from Iowa. He’s big. He can catch the ball. And he knows how to block. He had a few injuries early in his career at Iowa, but started 10 games as a senior. Moeaki will likely compete with Cottam for the starting job at tight end. And my guess is that Moeaki will play a lot this year.

So what have we learned about the Chiefs this week?

1. The Chiefs like Matt Cassel. Several experts kept expecting the Chiefs to draft Jimmy Clausen. This never made sense to me. And the Chiefs obviously had the opportunity to draft Clausen later in the draft where he would have been a good value — if you wanted a quarterback.

2. The Chiefs viewed their areas of need differently than the fans and the experts. Everyone agreed that the Chiefs needed a safety. But the experts also felt like the Chiefs needed an offensive tackle, a nose tackle and linebackers. The Chiefs appear more comfortable with the players they have at these positions than we expected.

3. General Manager Scott Pioli wants high character guys. Jason Whitlock wrote a nice piece in the Star today about Pioli’s draft picks. All of these draft picks were leaders on and off the field in college.

4. And I think in general, though Pioli and Haley continue to say they need to upgrade the talent at a lot of positions, I think this draft shows that they like their players more than I expected. They didn’t spend two picks in the second round looking for immediate starters. Instead they picked role players who filled some holes. Time will tell if they’re right.

Chiefs Take Berry, Prepare for Day Two

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Safety Eric Berry from TennesseeIt wasn’t my prediction, but I’m very pleased with the result. Safety Eric Berry is a high-quality player and a high-character kid. I had mentioned Berry in a post as a possible draft choice for the Chiefs back in December. Several great stories on Berry in the Kansas City Star this morning outlining some of his personal and football accomplishments. Coming out of high school Berry was ranked as the number one defensive back by Rivals.com and Scout.com, and carried a 3.75 GPA. He was an immediate starter at Tennessee and started every game. In 39 career games he was flagged for one penalty — and that was his freshman year. Berry fills the biggest hole on the Chiefs roster. When the Chiefs decided not to pursue any of the free agent safeties on the market, I guess it should have been clear to us then that Berry was already high on the Chiefs radar. Good job Pioli. I think Berry will be a great Chief and ambassador to our community.

Rounds Two and Three
The Chiefs have three picks tonight in rounds two and three — picks 36, 50 and 68. Still some first round talent on the board. ESPN.com in their updated mock draft for these two rounds is predicting that the Chiefs will draft:

#36: OT Rodger Saffold from Indiana
#50: DT Terrence Cody from Alabama
#68: TE Dennis Pita from BYU

I’d be good with the Chiefs getting an offensive lineman and a nose tackle tonight. I’m not sure that Cody will last till the middle of the second round, and might be worth taking with the Chiefs first pick tonight. I also really like OLB Sergio Kindle from Texas, and would not be disappointed to see the Chiefs grab him at the top of round two. So if the Chiefs go defense with their first pick tonight (Kindle or Cody), then you’d think they might look to the offensive line with their next pick. If they don’t like the available tackles, two names to watch are OG Jon Asamoah (6-4, 305) from Illinois and OG Vladmir Ducasse (6-4, 332) from Massachusetts. They are the two top-rated interior linemen still on the board.

Other Thoughts on Round One
Overall I thought most of the teams made picks that made sense given what was on the board, and each team’s needs. But I can’t even imagine what the Jaguars were thinking drafting DT Tyson Alualu at number ten, or what the Broncos saw in Tim Tebow to take him at 25. Tebow is the type of kid you’d like to root for (though I’ll never root for Denver). I just don’t see him ever as a great NFL quarterback. And why would you ever draft a quarterback in the first round unless you were CONVINCED that he’d make a great NFL quarterback? We’ll see what happens, but I’m not sold that Denver and their staff know what they’re doing.

My favorite move of the night? Probably the Chargers jumping up to draft RB Ryan Mathews. It was aggressive. And when you already have a lot of talent like San Diego, but a glaring hole at an important position like running back, you need to go get your guy.

Big 12 Rocked the House
And congrats to the Big 12. Wow. The top four picks and five of the top six all coming out of the Big 12. I will say that I was very impressed with both Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. They were humble, polite and well spoken. Both came across as very sincere and nice young men.

Jayhawks Land Sophomore from Plano

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Future Jayhawk Zach PetersWow. The Jayhawks are recruiting them young. Zach Peters, a 6-9, 235 pound high school sophomore from Plano, Texas, has verbally committed to Kansas. Peters is widely considered one of the “crown jewels” of the class of 2012.

“First off, I love Kansas basketball. It’s one of my favorite teams to watch. I’ve always grown up watching the Jayhawks,” noted Peters, whose grandmother is from Hoyt and great-grandfather is a KU grad. He still has several relatives living in the Topeka area.

“Most of all, coach (Bill) Self and (Danny) Manning are two of the best coaches in college basketball. I feel I can trust them and feel I can benefit Kansas the most, and they’ll help me benefit Kansas the most. I feel comfortable in Lawrence, and it’s the best place for me.”

Read more about Peters: LJWorld | KC Star

Rumors That Chiefs-Niners Could Swap Picks

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

A new rumor floating online has the Chiefs and 49ers possibly swapping picks. The 49ers have two picks in the first round — number 13 and number 17 — and may want to trade up to draft QB Jimmy Clausen. From ESPN.com: “One possibility that jumps right out at us is the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners have two picks in the teens, are enamored with Clausen and have a new man at the head of the front office who might be looking to make a signature transaction. Of course, it might be more logical for the Niners to hang on to both of those picks because they’ll likely be able to get two starters instead of one, and Clausen is considered a risky pick by some. But Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News is on board with this suggestion. He even suggests that the Niners might be able to get a second-rounder back from the Chiefs. That would mean the Niners would pick at No. 5, No. 36 and No. 49, with the Chiefs picking at No. 13, No. 17 and No. 50 (from Atlanta from last year’s Tony Gonzalez deal). On the surface, this seems to make some sense for both sides, since the Niners will get Clausen (if they do want him that badly), and the Chiefs will be able to plug two of their many holes with impact players drafted in the teens.”

Final Comments on Chiefs 2010 Draft

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Kansas City ChiefsThe draft starts in a couple days. I’m actually enthused about the new format. Round one Thursday night. Rounds two and three on Friday night. And the remaining four rounds on Saturday. The Chiefs have eight picks: one in the first, two in the second, one in the third, one in the fourth, and three in the fifth.

Most mock drafts have the Chiefs picking an offensive tackle (Okung, Williams or Bulaga) or safety Eric Berry with their first pick. A few, including my own mock draft, have the Chiefs ending up with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. I’d be OK with any of these picks. And I’d be even better if they could move down a few slots and still get Berry or one of the offensive tackles.

Top priorities for the Chiefs: improve their offensive line (potential starter or add depth / future starter), improve their defensive line (in particular a true nose tackle), draft a starting safety, and find a kick returner. If they can do these four things, the draft will prove to be successful.

Polls on Health Care Bill Continue to Drop

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Dr. ObamaTo quote Dick Morris, “Obamacare is a gift to the Republican Party that keeps on giving.” President Obama and the democrats had expected that as time elapsed, Americans would look more favorably upon the healthcare bill. So far, that hasn’t proven to be the case.

From Rasmussen Reports earlier this week: “Three weeks after Congress passed its new national health care plan, support for repeal of the measure has risen four points to 58%. That includes 50% of U.S. voters who strongly favor repeal.” The post goes on to report that “Forty-seven percent of voters believe repeal of the health care bill will be good for the economy.”

And Real Clear Politics shows an average among the polls at 40.2% in favor of the health care plan and 52.5% continue to oppose the health care plan — a spread of 12.3 points. All polls featured in RCP show that more Americans oppose the bill than favor the bill. The narrowest spread is three points from Gallup, who typically has shown more support for the bill than most other national polls. The largest spreads are from Rasmussen (20 points), CNN (20 points) and CBS (21 points). For CBS in particular this is a significant swing where they had the polls at only a four point spread March 22-23. In case you’re curious, FOX News has the spread at 15 points, closer to the RCP average than you might expect.

My NFL Mock Draft

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

NFL logoThis is an exercise in futility only. My first time doing a mock draft. And if I’m correct on more than a dozen picks I’ll be shocked! This assumes no trades, though there’s been a lot of speculation that we could see more trades than normal this year.

St. Louis Rams (1 – QB Sam Bradford): I can’t imagine the Rams doing anything else. They’ve cut QB Marc Bulger, and all signs point to Bradford.

Detroit Lions (2 – OT Russell Okung): Most mock drafts have the Lions taking DT Ndamukong Suh. But this could shake up a few draft boards early. Lions need to protect their young QB and pick the best OT in the draft.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 – DT Gerald McCoy): Bucs faced with a tough choice between Suh and McCoy, but choose McCoy as a better fit for their defense.

Washington Redskins (4 – OT Trent Williams): The Redskins are disappointed that Okung is off the board and take Williams. Shanahan needs to protect QB McNabb and must replace the retired LOT Chris Samuels.

Kansas City Chiefs (5 – DT Ndamukong Suh): Chiefs have no choice but to draft Suh, the top player on their board. They certainly won’t reach for the third best OT in the draft. And they won’t take safety Eric Berry over Suh. Here’s hoping that the Chiefs can trade down with both Suh and Clausen still on the board.

Seattle Seahawks (6 – S Eric Berry): Seahawks happy to see Berry fall to them. Berry will be an impact player.

Cleveland Browns (7 – Jimmy Clausen): Browns need to solve their problems at quarterback, and I can’t imagine they believe that Jake Delhomme is a long-term answer. Clausen would be a good fit in Cleveland.

Oakland Raiders (8 – OT Bryan Bulaga): Never to be deterred by potential character issues, Raiders draft the best OT on the board. That makes three OTs in the top 10.

Buffalo Bills (9 – NT Dan Williams): Bills had hoped for Clausen, but settle to fill a hole on their defensive line as they move to the 3-4 defense.

Jacksonville Jaguars (10 -DE Derrick Morgan): I could picture the Jags going in many directions here with the tenth pick. But at this point I don’t have a single pass rusher coming off the board yet. Morgan would help Jacksonville and their anemic pass rush.

Denver Broncos (11 – WR Dez Bryant): After trading WR Brandon Marshall, the Broncos have a hole to fill, and Bryant is still on the board.

Miami Dolphins (12 – DE/OLB Sergio Kindle): The Dolphins need to go defense, and improve their pass rush. They decide to choose Kindle over Pierre-Paul.

San Francisco 49ers (13 – CB Joe Haden): The 49ers are happy to see the best CB in the draft still on the board at number 13.

Seattle Seahawks (14 – RB C.J. Spiller): Having gone defense with their first pick, the Seahawks move to offense and take the dynamic Spiller.

New York Giants (15 – ILB Rolando McClain): The best inside LB in the draft and a fiery leader. A good fit with the Giants.

Tennessee Titans (16 – DE Jason Pierre-Paul): This could prove to be one of the steals of the draft. Fits in well with the Titans, and could become a sack machine.

San Francisco 49ers (17 – OT Anthony Davis): If Jimmy Clausen falls, I could picture the 49ers taking him here. But with Clausen off the board, 49ers add Davis to their offensive line.

Pittsburgh Steelers (18 – C/G Maukice Pouncey): Steelers need to improve their offensive line, and Pouncey just looks like a great fit here.

Atlanta Falcons (19 – OLB Sean Weatherspoon): I like Weatherspoon. He’s got a chance to be a real impact player in the NFL. Another option here would be DE/OLB Brandon Graham.

Houston Texans (20 – CB Kyle Wilson): Texans need to replace CB Dunta Robinson, and Wilson is a decent value here.

Cincinnati Bengals (21 – TE Jermaine Gresham): If WR Dez Bryant is still on the board, he’s the pick here. But instead the Bengals take the best TE in the draft. A good weapon in the passing game for Carson Palmer.

New England Patriots (22 – DT Jason Odrick): Pats have a history of drafting defensive linemen in the first round, and they still need to replace Richard Seymour.

Green Bay Packers (23 – G Mike Iupati): Packers need to upgrade the offensive line, and Iupai is best lineman on the board.

Philadelphia Eagles (24 – S Earl Thomas): Eagles go with the best player still on the board. Thomas could go considerably higher. Some mock drafts have him in the top 10.

Baltimore Ravens (25 – WR Demaryius Thomas): A big, physical home run threat, Thomas will help the Ravens passing game.

Arizona Cardinals (26 – OT Charles Brown): The run on OTs continue as the Cards take the best offensive lineman on the board.

Dallas Cowboys (27 – S Taylor Mays): Disappointed that they’ve missed out on all of the top OTs, Cowboys grab the top safety on the board.

San Diego Chargers (28 – DT Terrence Cody): Cody will be a great fit in the middle of their defensive line. This pick just makes too much sense not to happen.

New York Jets (29 – DE Everson Griffen): Another defensive weapon for Rex Ryan, Griffen is a fantastic athlete. Or they could go with Brandon Graham here.

Minnesota Vikings (30 – CB Kareem Jackson): Many have Jackson going much higher in the draft. The Vikings will be happy to see him still on the board.

Indianapolis Colts (31 – OLB Brandon Graham): Colts take best player still on the board. Graham could go much higher than this.

New Orleans Saints (32 – OLB Jerry Hughes): The Saints need to get more pressure on the QB, and Hughes could be a playmaker.

Selby Expected To Pick KU Today

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Kansas Recruit Josh SelbyAll signs point to Lawrence for Rival’s #4 player Josh Selby. According to a tweet from ESPN analyst Jay Williams, “Just heard from a little bird that chances are really good for Showtime Josh Selby to be in Lawrence, Kansas next year.”

Not as good of news for KU about Doron Lamb, who is expected to announce tonight that he’ll sign with Kentucky. Both Selby and Lamb plan to announce their decisions tonight at the Jordon Brand Classic.

That still leaves KU with a scholarship to give next year.