Saturday, January 29, 2011

Packers vs. Steelers Defense Notes (With Videos!)

Before we get started on the full lineup of what’s going to happen against the Steelers when the Packers are on offense, I’d like you to watch this video:

This is Troy Polamalu, who is for my money the best defensive player in the game today. He covers like a cornerback, hits like an elephant and has short-area quickness that is totally unmatched. You can see it on that video; the Ravens are running a three-step drop, for crap’s sake. And Polamalu is still fast enough to sack Flacco. Oh, and did I mention his ridiculous ability to pick off the football?

The laws of physics have a blind spot. This guy violates the no-hair theorem and acts like a black hole. When the Packers scored 36 points against Pittsburgh last year, Polamalu was out with an injury. Aaron Rodgers will have to account for No. 43 on every single play.

Fortunately, the Steelers don’t have elite cornerbacks by any stretch. Bryant McFadden, Willam Gay and Ike Taylor are very beatable, as Rodgers found last year. McFadden in particular was torched by Greg Jennings when he was a Cardinal, in the Packers’ wild-card loss. The Packers will try to get James Jones in one-on-ones on the outside with the Steelers’ corners. If they try to work the deep middle of the field, though, look out. The Steelers have perfected Dick LeBeau’s zone-blitz scheme, and FS Ryan Clark forms an able complement to Polamalu.

The front seven, if anything, is even better. OLBs James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley rival have no equal among 3-4 linebackers, and may be the top pair of pass-rushers in the NFL (their closest rivals are in Indianapolis). The Packers probably won’t see outstanding 3-4 end Justin Smith, whose torn tricep is still getting back to full strength, but NT Casey Hampton is an immovable object in run defense. He’s short, in his tenth season and doesn’t rush the passer, but he simply will not budge against the run. The Steelers allowed a stupidly low 62.8 rushing yards per regular-season game, mostly behind Hampton.

In other words, the Packers will assuredly be passing to set up the run. All of Mike McCarthy’s old standbys-the deep out, the run-pass option, the screens to Brandon Jackson, the delayed runs to Jackson out of the shotgun, the WR screen on the outside-we’ll see all of these, particularly early on. The key won’t be running the ball all over the Steelers with James Starks, but finding that run-pass balance that McCarthy has walked so well through this postseason. It’s all about keeping ‘em honest.

The matchup that will obviously be a key to this game is Bryan Bulaga, the Packers’ rookie RT who has improved greatly in recent weeks, against Woodley. McCarthy can help Bulaga with a certain extent by chipping Woodley with the TE or RB, but running the ball will be far more effective as a panacea to the pass-rush. If the Packers want to get running room up the middle, they might have to resort to old-school counter and trap plays.
The Steelers ranked second in total yards allowed during the regular season (276.8/game), 12th in passing yards (214.1/game) and sacked the quarterback forty-eight times, the most in the league. Opposing QBs had a passer rating of 73.1, lowest in the league besides the Packers. But for all that, I think that Aaron Rodgers can do what elite quarterbacks have been able to do to the Steelers during this 2010 season: he can pick apart their secondary. I foresee a Packer victory, 31-24.

(This might be better on Vimeo.)

I’d like to put in here one word about Big Ben Roethlisberger that didn’t make it into the last note. Roethlisberger possesses inhuman ability to extend the play and make the Steelers’ lousy O-line look better then it is. He can make all the throws, has great arm strength and is as clutch as they come. But he has been very prone, in seasons past, to the lousy interception and game-killing sack. He takes far too many hits as well. Big Ben threw merely five interceptions this year, but has 86 overall in just seven seasons. If he throws errant passes into the Packers’ opportunistic secondary, that could be the difference in this Super Bowl.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Packers vs. Steelers: Defense Week

The first thing is, despite the records of these two defenses and how spectacularly stingy they’ve been in giving up points (Pittsburgh was best in the NFL, allowing just 14.5 PPG; Green Bay trailed them by half a point), this could be closer to a shootout then everyone is predicting. The Packers have been the best team in the playoffs at just 17 points/game, while Pittsburgh allows 21.5, but these two defenses are built in the same mold. Pittsburgh has better safeties and a better LOLB, Green Bay has better corners and ILBs, but both these teams are built in the Pittsburgh style.

When Dom Capers was remaking the defense in summer 2009, the popular term for his efforts was that the Pack became Pittsburgh West. Capers served as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator in 1992-1994, when Dick LeBeau was first coming up with his fire-zone blitzes. The bottom line is that, for all of Capers’ creative blitzing and zone drops, the odds are that Ben Roethlisberger has seen most of the material. There aren’t many secrets here. Expect Big Ben and Rodgers to have an easier time with the defenses then they had last week.

The performance of Rashard Mendenhall against the heralded Jets defense last week-27 carries, 121 yards and a TD-would seem to be worrisome against the Packers’ middling ground game. However, the Packers’ run defense has actually improved in the playoffs, holding LeSean McCoy (Eagles), Michael Turner (Falcons) and Matt Forte (Bears) to a combined 155 yards on 39 carries, or 3.97 YPC. This represents a vast improvement over their per-carry average of 4.5 in the regular season.

Two more rushing items of note:

-In the case of Turner, the Packers (who were able to contain his inside rushes in both meetings) built a big lead on Atlanta and forced the Falcons to abandon the run. This may not be the greatest strategy against Roethlisberger, but Mendenhall typically rushes on inside zone plays of the type the Packers run all the time. Anchored by B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, the Packers’ run defense inside has been relatively stout all season. Against a relatively weak Pittsburgh interior that might lack Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, there’s no reason to think that the Packers will have serious trouble with Mendenhall inside.

-While Matt Forte didn’t have a spectacular rushing day, he did catch 10 passes (mostly check-downs) for ninety yards. LeSean McCoy also had four catches for 36 yards. Packers fans shouldn’t be worried about Mendenhall catching the ball (23 regular-season catches, 167 yards), but third-down back and former Viking Mewelde Moore may present problems for the Green bay LBs. Mendenhall does have three catches this postseason, for 45 yards.

Speaking of LBs, whether it’s Frank Zombo, Erik Walden or Robert Francois, the Steelers will attack the Packers’ LOLB and try to get TE Heath Miller matched up on them in coverage. Walden hasn’t had success rushing the passer since Week 17, so it’ll be up to Capers to manufacture pressure with Matthews. However, with an extra week of preparation, Capers should be able to move Matthews around more then he normally would.

The other part of that equation is that the Steelers are playing with their backups at left and right tackle. The guards aren’t that great, either. Cullen Jenkins and Raji should be able to get consistent pressure in the pocket on Big Ben against them and whatever center plays. Clay Matthews terrorized Roethlisberger last year, sacking him twice and forcing an apparent fumble on a would-be third sack (it was ruled an incompletion). Against backup tackles, he should be able to do the same this time.

The key for Packers rushers is to attack the ball first, then the QB. Roethlisberger is extremely good at getting the ball out even with defenders draped all over him. The Packers haven’t forced many fumbles by the QB this year, but their best course of attack might be to go for the fumble here.

The battle between Hines Ward and Charles Woodson in the slot should be a great one to watch. The Steelers will try to set up mismatches with their five-wide sets, as on the last third down that beat the Jets in the AFC Championship. The combination of Tramon Williams, Woodson and Sam Shields is extremely solid, but Jarrett Bush has been the same old Bush at dime back. It’s hard to forget Mike Wallace beating him in single coverage in the last meeting for a 67-yard TD on the first play of the game. If the Steelers spread the Packers out and Roethlisberger can extend the play in the pocket (as he is really, really good at doing), look out below.

I rag on Bush a lot, but it’s only fair to give him credit for an amazing job on special teams last week. Both he and Masthay essentially won the field-position battle for the Packers. While the Steelers don’t have a Devin Hester or an Eric Weems returning the ball, containing their returners will be a priority for the Packers nonetheless.

That’s about all for now; I’ll have some more matchups later on in the week, this time concerned more with the Packer offense. Cheers!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Omar Khayyam and Some Links

When I was a little kid (say seven or eight), the very first movies/compiled TV shows/anything on VHS I watched were the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series. There were six video compilations of this show, which aired back in the 1960s, and they would just lampoon the living heck out of whatever they wanted-the Soviets, fairy tales, the Canadian Mounties, the World Economic Council (and their fight against the Box Top Badman), you name it. Then it got made into an awful, awful CGI movie, but we won't talk about that.

I bring this up because the professor in my Islam class asked last week what our first experience with Islam was. I said something inane and different, but what I remember was this Rocky and Bullwinkle episode that featured the "Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam". Bullwinkle enters this dirty, grungy model ship in some kind of toy boat racing event, whereupon it promptly sinks. Rocky fishes it out, and without its dirt, the boat is revealed to be the Ruby Yacht. I don't remember what happens next, and the Internet isn't giving up its secrets (all it says is something about a trip to India), but that wasn't the point. That was my first encounter with Islam.

Also, my grandparents live across the street from the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington D.C., or "the people with the cool green flag".
Of course, I was overjoyed with this cool cartoon, and I wanted to know more about the Ruby Yacht. So being a bookworm kid, I went to the library and asked the lady at the front counter where I could find said Ruby Yacht. Puzzled but compliant, she directed me to the adult section and gave me this gigantic book.
"That doesn't look like a moose and squirrel..."
I opened it, ready to see giant and possibly ancient cartoons of Rocky and Bullwinkle saving the world, and got The Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam, which is apparently 11th-and 12th-century Persian poetry. In my entire life I have never been so confused.

The show's creators apparently liked to deceive impressionable children with spectacularly obscure puns. I'm not sure I've forgiven Islam yet for taking away my moose and squirrel.

Moving on, we've got a couple of effects, er, links from the world outside. The Philadelphia Inquirer details how the new Tea Party congressfolk's efforts to slash the budget stop at the edge of the defense budget. See previous ranting that if you'd like to save money being spent unnecessarily, there are a lot of DOD programs to start with.

We also have a report from the Guardian about the concessions Palestinian leaders were willing to make in private, which contrasted sharply with their public stances, during the last few years of failed talks. Al-Jazeera is reporting. I'd welcome the disclosures if they looked like evidence that we were moving closer towards an agreement, but when the revelations include a discussion about moving Palestinian refugees to South America, it's hard to view that as progress.

Tune in soon for a deconstruction of some particularly obstinate global warming denialists!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nuclear Treaty Trivia That Only I May Care About

So the U.S. just signed a treaty with Russia that for some reason doesn't have to go through the Senate. It can be made merely by exchanging "diplomatic notes" between the diplomats of two countries, and in this case it's addressing potential collaboration between Russia and ourselves on civil nuclear issues. I think it sounds great in theory, but there's a few niggling issues that have come out in the press releases I read, that I'm going to discuss in this post.

Prominently Placed Disclaimer: Last semester, my semester-long research project was on the future of nuclear power in the United States. In the process of writing it, I became a nuclear geek, and now care about issues that are totally arcane to 'most anyone else. This post is a reflection of that, so before ye read on, be warned of its obscurity.

Still here? OK, good. The State Department (second link) says that the treaty will "facilitate cooperative work on reactor designs that result in reduced proliferation risk", as well as helping the two countries "explore new areas for collaboration".

This is a good thing in Russia, where most of the 12 RBMK reactors currently operating (an outmoded Soviet design; Chernobyl was one of these) need to be replaced. And the proliferation threat of research reactors in both countries, and indeed around the world, that use highly-enriched uranium (bomb fuel) will be made less dangerous by this treaty. But the civil benefits to US reactors are tenuous at best. With five separate designs currently being certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (at last count), and billions of dollars of federal grant money that Southern Company is waiting to use at the Vogtle site in Georgia*, bringing new voices and information into the design process only complicates everything.

This whole site is just waiting for the go-ahead from the NRC.
I'm also not sure how transporting nuclear waste to Russia for reprocessing and storage is a net benefit for the US. Sure, we're getting rid of a dangerous and toxic commodity, but we'd also be shipping some of the ingredients for a nuclear bomb (including plutonium-239) to a country that we're simultaneously trying to reduce the risk of proliferation in! Plus, there are problems (most extensively detailed by the Nevadan government) with moving nuclear waste from any point A to point B, never mind all the way to Russia. Nuclear casks are heavy and difficult to transport, they can be vulnerable to terrorist attack, and the best method of transportation-train or road-will inevitably take the casks through a metropolitan area.** Shipping the waste outside the US would be expensive and likely insufficient to address the output of the 104 civilian nuclear reactors (~2,000 tons/year), never mind cutting into the stockpiles (~62,500 tons).

Finally, the reprocessing plants mentioned in the TPMDC article have some importance. We'd be shipping the waste to Russian plants for a reason: the U.S. has none of its own. Since Jimmy Carter essentially halted U.S. research into that technology, the only method of reducing the gross amount of nuclear waste*** that we know has languished. Shipping it overseas isn't the answer to the problem of waste, either from an energy standpoint (trying to establish a closed fuel cycle) or from a national security standpoint (why be dependent on Russia when we could have a domestic industry that does the same thing?).

It'd be good to put a reminder here that none of the issues I just mentioned are deal-breakers. From the standpoint of preventing nuclear proliferation, this is a series of great ideas. I just think that implementing parts of it-particularly the movement of nuclear waste, which is more my area-will be more difficult and problematic then it sounds on paper. Far from being a "vast new area of potential profit", shipping our waste to Russia might end up costing more money then it saves.

 *Vogtle's design, the AP1000, is in the process of being certified by the NRC. Under their new procedures, the design must be fully certified and approved before any construction can begin. After that, the company that's building the reactor can't deviate from that plan, increasing the pressure on the NRC to check it fully the first time around.

**This is nothing to be alarmed about under normal circumstances. Nuclear casks are extensively tested, in half- as well as full-scale, and are certified against casual release of radiation; in other words, if your car is stopped next to a cask-containing truck at a red light, you will not be irradiated. However, if the cask were to get in an accident, or suffer a fire or explosive event beyond what they're tested against, the damage to a city could be incalculable.

***Right, right, aside from shutting down the stupid plants altogether. But unless you've got the ability to replace 10% of the U.S.'s electricity generation capacity in your back pocket, not to mention 20% of the electricity we generate in a given year****, this is a bad idea too.

****Hooray, nested footnotes! Why does that 10%-20% thing make sense? Well, all power plants have what's called a capacity factor, or the percentage of the time they can be running at full capacity. To put that another way, if I'm running a coal-fired plant, every so often I have to load new coal into the plant, or I have to shut it down for maintenance. Those are the times when it's not running at full strength. Nuclear power plants by sheer megawattage make up around 10% of the U.S.'s total capacity to generate electricity; that is, if all the power plants in the country were on full blast, nuclear would pick up around 10% of the total^.

But that doesn't happen, because every plant has to shut down sometime. Nuclear plants only have to replace their fuel every 18-24 months (within NRC guidelines). That's when they perform maintenance. The record for continuous plant operation is something over 700 days. Long story short, nuclear power has a capacity factor over 90%, higher than anything else except hydropower. So it picks up the tab when solar or wind or natural gas can't.

Lay Off Jay Cutler. Now, Thanks.

I've never met the man, but if you're solely going off his public persona and/or the image he chooses to project in his interactions with the media and on the field, Jay Cutler is an arrogant, self-serving prick.

But if he's injured and cannot play, he is injured and cannot play.

So to the cacophany of Chicago sports fans, commentators and NFL players who have piled on top of Jay Cutler for a variety of things--pulling out of the NFC Championship, not fighting hard enough to get himself reinstated to the game, having the temerity to get injured in the first place--honestly, fuck off.

Sure, it was the biggest game of his career and likely the biggest sports event in Chicago since... well, ever. Does that mean, as it seems to mean for some fans, that he is required to set aside his own health to try and win it?

Let's be clear, here. Cutler wasn't playing well at all. He overthrew Devin Hester at least three times, including on a deep ball over Green Bay safety Charlie Peprah that could easily have scored, took two sacks and threw an interception. He completed six of fourteen passes for 80 yards and no scores. So the issue isn't that Chicago's Super Bowl chances died when Cutler exited; indeed, Caleb Hanie performed far better then Cutler did. No, Chicago fans want to blame Cutler because... well, he didn't try hard enough. That's it, isn't it? Lack of effort. Of passion, heart, intensity, desire. Lack of spine. And, especially from current and former NFL players, lack of self-sacrifice, of putting your body on the line for something greater then yourself.

The medical examination revealed today that Cutler suffered a torn MCL. Unless I'm mistaken, there is no precedent for a quarterback playing through such a knee injury as that, which affects his ability to plant and throw the football. Phillip Rivers played through a torn ACL in a 2007 playoff game, but he had had surgery beforehand that allowed him to play. Cutler had no such luxury. He felt pain, "couldn't really plant and throw" and was pulled. Players around the league can shut the hell up about their injuries, what they played through and what Cutler would be expected to play through. They were not him, they were not there.

Lambast Cutler for his lousy play, his bad decisions, his attitude towards the media and sometimes the fans, his relationship with his coaches, anything you want. But not about the pain he felt and that prevented him from playing. That's fucked up.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pet Peeve of the Day: "Some People"

Depending on who you ask, I am either gifted with the opportunity to pursue my creative ambitions in a non-traditional academic setting, or I'm being lazy, worthless and shiftless in a place full of people that never worked an honest trade in their lives. Either way, I'm at a liberal arts college.

"Oh, Darling, isn't it avant-garde?"
Well, liberal arts colleges apparently have a habit of attracting them who say things like "Those people" when referring to folk that are wrong, biased and/or backwards. This just drives me crazy. We were discussing why Americans hold this and that horrible opinion of Muslims, and some girl starts chirping about how "they" were ignorant, or misled by the media, or just plain stupid. News flash: You're in this country with the rest of us, and just because you're sitting in a well-furnished room in an Islam class doesn't mean you get to look down on the dumb proleteriat, you ass.

Anyway, that's my pet peeve of the moment. Moving on, I've got a roundup of a few links:

From Der Spiegel, via the lovely Veronika Apfl, we have this tidbit about an owl who had too much Schnapps somewhere in Germany. The owl was reportedly found slurring its words and singing Bavarian showtunes in the parking lot of a local pub.,1518,740157,00.html
Its eyes are crossed!!
From POLITICO, we have the report of House Republicans rolling out a whopping $2.5 trillion in cuts to federal spending, which would be saved over the next ten years or so. I applaud the spirit, but no matter its status as the instant death of political ambitions, someone's going to have to tackle Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid someday. And let's not forget the sprawling defense budget. Neither of those things are addressed in the House's package, according to POLITICO.

Along the same lines, we have a column in yesterday's Washington Post by GOP presidential prospect Tim Pawlenty in which he lays the wood to Obama's rhetoric: The choice isn't necessarily between raising the debt limit and defaulting on our obligations. We can stop the budget ballooning in size. I don't like Pawlenty's Tea Party-esque shots--'Washington insiders say this can't be done', or empty words like "Set some priorities and then cut funding for just about everything else" but it's hard to disagree with his other points.

From a couple of days ago, we have a report from the GAO about what DADT was actually costing the government to enforce. Try upwards of $193 million over the life of the policy. You want a place to cut the defense budget, I found one!

And the cool Wikipedia science-y link of the day: Black holes. "Black holes in fiction" is also a fun read.

I'm going to eat "those sandwiches". Later, blogosphere!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gotta Love Them Democrats

On the coming fight to keep the health care bill intact: "It gives us Democrats a further chance to talk sense into the American people." -Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, quoted in Politico. Well, gee, aren't we all just dying to have things carefully explained to us until we understand the rationale just as well as the politicians? After all, we can't oppose the bill because we dislike the expansion of government power, it has to be because we don't understand. Gah.

Look, the proposal to repeal health care will of course die in the Senate, and we'll have two more years of Republicans talking about how it erodes our national freedom and Democrats blathering about how nothing less will do. But the Democrats could at least pretend not to be talking down to the American people while they're selling it. Condescension is, after all, a surefire way to win support from a skeptical public.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I'm just back to college, and while that means I am seeing a great many lovely people who I haven't hung out with in almost eight months, it also means that classes are starting and blogging opportunities aren't as numerous as they otherwise might be. Also, I'm starting to gear up for Junior I.S., which I've just learned cannot in fact be a creative project, which throws my entire scheme that I cooked up over winter break into the garbage can.

You know, I'm looking out the window and feeling whimsical, and what the hell: I don't think I've ever in my life seen something and fallen in love at first sight. Books, maybe, and reading and all that, but looking at my favorite things of all, I don't think I can point to a single one that I didn't hate at the start. Classical music? Hated that. Hated playing it, hated the cello, hated listening to it, back when I was being made to do it. Nowadays it's my favorite genre (well, top two) and playing it is one of my great loves.

Wooster? Welllll.... I didn't hate it, but I didn't give a damn about it either. I wanted to go to the University of Minnesota, or maybe Madison, or even Reed College on the West Coast. Pretty much anywhere else. I'm not sure I even blinked when I got the acceptance letter from Wooster, much less jumped for anything, including joy. But six rejection letters later, Wooster was my best option, and I've spent a wonderful two years here (and a half in DC).

Writing? Sheeeesh. I used to despise the paper-writing process. When I was a freshman in high school, I had so much disdain for English classes that I'd populate my rough drafts with characters they mentioned in The Boondocks. I thought the whole "Brainstorm-Outline-Rough Draft-Final Draft" was just a bunch of meaningless assignments they thought up to torture you, rather then assist you, and cheerfully ignored them all. Now I'm an Engrish major, which means signing up to go through a whole season of the same, and surprisingly enough I don't hate the idea.

I'm not sure what it means that a lot of the things I've had the most fun with, I had to be dragged into kicking and screaming, except to keep a careful eye on the next thing circumstance makes me do that looks like the most boring, tedious, exasperating junk since the SATs. Might just be fun.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Collected Packers vs. Falcons Game Observations

-The Packers had a decent amount of success defending Turner when he tried to run straight up the middle. When he went to the outside on power plays, particularly to the left side and even more particularly when the right guard pulled across to the left, he had a lot of success. Sam Baker, their left tackle, was able to seal off the defensive end or whoever was there in nickel pretty frequently, and the OLB allowed himself to be blocked away by the FB or a TE. Bottom line was that they opened big holes for Turner on the edge. If the Packers can close those gaps on the edge, defending the run gets a lot easier.

Ryan looked good against the blitz, not getting rattled and finding his check-down man pretty frequently. He preferred to flip it to the RB or TE rather then scramble, but if you watch the film, he has a particular kind of delivery for those throws. He did it five times in the game. It’s like a little, lazy overhand flip that’s all arm. It works well, and he only throws it when there’s no defender around, but if someone gets in the neighborhood of such a lackadaisically thrown ball, that’s an interception waiting to happen.

The only way to tackle Michael Turner that consistently worked was to grab him around the ankles. It’s not a good way to reliably tackle anybody, but time after time, people would hit Turner in the upper body or thighs and just slide off. This happened a lot when defenders were trying to catch him from behind, but the few times defenders were able to meet him in the hole, he could be stood up with a good old-fashioned hit.
(If a fight breaks out, there is no way I am not yelling "Falcon PAWNCH!!" at my TV.)

The Packers tried a couple of wrinkles-the no-huddle offense, inserting T.J. Lang as an extra TE-that are normally the Falcons’ turf, and neither of them worked that well. I feel like we let the Falcons dictate the game to us on offense, particularly in our extensive use of the Big Five package. Rodgers scrambled out of that a few times, and made hay out of the underneath routes, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable exposing him to the Falcons’ rush without at least a back in the backfield. We have to have a credible threat to run.

Speaking of the line, John Abraham was pretty much nullified by Chad Clifton. The Falcons rushed three and dropped eight, or four and seven, a high percentage of the time, and Clifton was able to take away Abraham (who had 13 sacks this year) pretty effectively. If he does to Abraham what he did to Trent Cole, the Falcons don’t have much of a pass rush behind him.

Our receivers looked noticeably faster on turf then they do on natural grass. Also, as poor as our tackling was at all levels of the defense (a major thing we need to do to win), the tackling in the Falcons’ secondary was just as bad. They were awful trying to get Jennings, Nelson and Driver to the ground. The Packers’ WR corps could have a big day running after the catch if that keeps up.

The Falcons aren’t afraid to run seven-step drops when they’re in unfavorable down and distances, such as after a sack. The Packers only got pressure a few times against a stout Atlanta line, and every time they blitzed, Ryan found an uncovered back or Tony Gonzalez in the flat. Dom Capers will have to manufacture pressure somehow, although in this game there didn’t seem to be many different blitzes that he used, nor complex ones.
Any day I get to use this picture is a good day.

The field-position game was an understated part of why the Packers lost the first time around. Sam Shields would get taken down around the 15 yard line, Tramon Williams fair caught the ball inside the 20 or actually went backwards on one abortive punt return, and penalties got the Packers moved back whenever they had a decent return. Getting the ball out to the 20, 25, 30, would provide a huge boost to the offense that they just didn’t get the first time around.

The Packers converted two third and ones on the only drive where they had success in that area. However, that was only by going way downfield to Jennings and Jordy Nelson, not to mention that running plays failed both times on second down. Not much to say about that, except if the Packers can run the ball against the Falcons, the entire offense will open up and their entire defense will be very beatable. Right now, they’re blitzing every play because there isn’t even the threat of a run, and when there is a run they shut it down. If Starks can give the Packers a running game worth a tinker’s damn, this Falcons defense will be a pretty easy matchup.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Predators of the Office Ecosystem

In our last foray into the wide world of the Office Ecosystem, we outlined the life cycle of the herd beast known as Paper, without which the entire ecosystem would cease to function. This time, we will attempt to detail some of these various behaviors, in order to illustrate for the scientifically inclined reader the peculiar nature of the beasts living therein.

As we discussed last time, Documents generally require some sort of material to bond them together upon their release from the Printer. Documents which travel in packs, called Position Papers, have greater genetic diversity and are thus much more likely to spawn new Post-It Notes. Single-Page Documents, meanwhile, are doomed (with only rare exceptions) to uneventful ignorage as Inter-Office Memos, which are inevitably seized upon by the alpha predators in this environment. I refer here, of course, to the Recycling Bin, the Trash Can and the Shredder, which we will discuss momentarily.

This bonding material can take many forms, and over time a variety of different organisms have evolved to fill this need. Banana Clips and Paper Clips will leech some nourishment from the Document when they are attached, but will also provide bonding material for the Documents. Once the Documents have been clipped, it is generally very difficult for multiple Clips to attach. Thus, the Clips which get to the Document first command a huge advantage over their competition. Many Clips have evolved bright, fluorescent plumage for this reason, even going so far as neon green or sickly pink to attract attention.

Their biggest competition is the Stapler, which is an ecosystem in itself. The Stapler attempts to root its offspring, or ‘Staples’, in as many documents as possible to ensure the best chance of survival. This organism will sometimes wander throughout the Office in hopes of securing the best possible Documents, and thus the most opportunities for their offspring to survive to adulthood (where they will become new Staplers, with the intermediate, adolescent stage of ‘pocket Staplers’ in between). The Staple Removers prey on this tendency, and rely on Staples as their largest food source; in fact, scientists discovered this menacing predator during a long-term ecological study of the Staple population in one Office. They were mystified when only a small percentage of the Staple population survived to adult Staplerhood, but the appearance of the Removers cleared up the confusion.

Staple Removers, besides eating Staples, assist another predator that feeds off of Documents. It has been theorized by leading scientists that the Staple Remover and the Shredder actually exist in symbiosis, with the one making its den near the other and preying on passing Documents. Noted vellogist Stephen McCoy has observed Staple Removers attacking Documents and removing the Staples, making them more vulnerable to the Shredder (which then gobbled up the Documents). The Staples’ removal makes the document easier for the Shredder to digest and throws the ‘sheaf’ of Documents into confusion, upon which the Shredder can capitalize. Trash Cans and Recycling Bins do not require such specialized treatment of their Documents, and are more prevalent in more Office environments then the Shredders. However, in official Office environments such as those in Washington D.C., Shredders thrive. This phenomenon is so far unexplained, as is the appearance of Burn Bags, which appear to feed off the Shredder’s waste products.

Other predators of Paper and Documents include Scissors, Hole Punchers and Binders (which can swallow entire reams of Paper whole, before spending months-often years-digesting them on a Shelf).

Pens and Pencils form their own segment of the ecological web. It is speculated that Pens compete with Ink Cartridges to dispense Ink onto Paper; however, scientific analysis has revealed that the two species dispense very different kinds of Ink. For example, Cartridges come in several different varieties (reddish, yellowish, blueish and black) which combine to form Printer Ink, which is nearly always black. Pens, meanwhile, dispense all different colors of Ink. We can tentatively say that the two species share a common ancestor, which we have dubbed Quillus featherii, or the Quill. However, absent the discovery of a fossil Quill, the genealogy of this piece of our history may remain forever unknown.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hello Again, Blogosphere

Okay,  so,  if I were a phenomenally awesome person I would preface this triumphant return (as if) to my blogspot page with some kind of adaptation from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song. As it is, I'd like to take a minute (just sit right there) and describe how I returned to my old Internet lair.

It's... probably immaterial to anyone but me, but there came a time where posting things on a Facebook page felt stultifying instead of helpful , depressing instead of inspiring. I'm not saying an equally impersonal page is necessarily any better , but at least I'm not putting all my content directly into Facebook and its copyright laws. I've written tens, probably hundreds of thousands of words over all my notes, that are nominally the property of Facebook and I'm not crazy about that. Photos, too.

So I've been working on this blog, here, and I think that's what I'll continue to do. Tisdel's Tirades will remain on Facebook in the form of that page, but the updates will come through here and be posted on there as links. That way, you don't have to have a Facebook account to find and/or comment on my stuff, and hopefully I can appeal to people outside my immediate circle of friends, which is I guess my main motivation. Please don't get me wrong here; I love that the people I love are at least in a position to read me, but I'd like to at least maintain the illusion that I can appeal to a broader demographic (i.e. the rest of the Internet). That wasn't gonna happen on the Facebook page.

Shoot, I'm even thinking of creating a Twitter account.

Okay. I don't plan to let this post stand on its own; there's a bunch of stuff I've got written that should be up here in the next few days. I'm flying back to Wooster, OH for my second semester (junior year) on Sunday, so there will undoubtedly be a break in service. We apologize in advance for the interruption. *bows*

Thanks for reading, everybody. Hopefully I'll put out content that's worth your time and interest.

-Andy Tisdel