So, Uhh, I Guess Sports Are Over For Now

Crazy damn times, huh?

Also, does anyone else get the feeling we’re embarking on a new, horrifying normal?

Let’s run it down here. For starters (and OBVIOUSLY most importantly), the Dragons’ season has come to an end. YOU HATE TO SEE IT YOU GUYS! Now we’ll never know if that second-half run I was predicting would’ve come to pass! Oh well, at least we’ll always have detesting Brandon Silvers.

The NBA is shut down for a while. MLB looks to be starting its regular season a little later than expected. I think NHL is on a break, as is MLS, and someone even told me that golf is out!

Of course, the big one for me is the NCAA Tournament being canceled. I go on an annual trip to Reno for the opening weekend of March Madness and it’s easily the most fun weekend of the year. My flights and rooms were reserved, my Drink Bracelet was purchased (all you can drink, all 4-day weekend long, during the college basketball action, for a total of $165), my PTO is set in place. It was all going according to plan! And then the rug was pulled out from under me.

My friends and I are coping as best we can. We’ll have some local get-together set up hopefully. But, obviously this is fucking weird.

It never made sense to postpone the NCAA Tournament to May, even with all the money at stake. There are too many college seniors and underclassmen who are declaring for the NBA Draft this summer; you think they’re going to participate in some dopey tournament this close to seeing their lifelong dreams being realized? No way! So, right there, you lose a significant portion of your talent pool, which ultimately fucks up how the teams are seeded (because if they’re seeded according to how they played WITH those future pros, then obviously they’re going to be seeded incorrectly).

Plus, you know, I probably can’t make it to Reno in May. I likely won’t have the PTO saved up, and I’ve been looking forward to this mid-March week off since the turn of the new year! I refuse to change my whole mindset and resume working!

I don’t even know how to … like function? I mean, it’s not like March is the busiest sports month for me anyway, but the NCAA Tournament is a big deal! The first two days (not counting the play-in games) are the best two days in all of sports! And yeah, it’s not like I was necessarily looking forward to the 2020 Mariners, but I did have tickets to the opening day game! That’s something that’s still fun to go to, regardless of how shitty they are!

I wouldn’t say my life is turned upside down by this news (it’d be a lot worse if we were smack dab in football season), but usually the first thing I do when I turn on my TV is find sports, and leave it there until I find something that I REALLY want to watch (usually, I settle for whatever sports I turned it to initially). It’s always great for background fodder; sports’ presence in my life is much more significant than I realized before they just went away.

And, obviously, concerns over the virus have me second guessing plans in the rest of my life. I’d like to go see a movie today after work. I said the same thing to myself last Friday, and ended up staying in and watching a movie at home instead. Now, of course, the movies being released this time of year aren’t the greatest, but that’s never really stopped me before! Maybe it’s because I’ve been working from home, and it’s super easy to continue staying at home when the working day is done (Oh Steve’s just wanna have fun!).

But, also, that little nagging concern – what if you get sick at that movie – is always there. Wasn’t enough to keep me from Reno if the NCAA Tournament was still happening, but … LOOK OVER THERE, BEHIND YOU!

*Runs serpentine away from my own failed logic*

I mean, what do we do now? Watch the fucking news? Those fucking scavengers, whipping everyone into a frenzy where they’re so paralyzed by fear that all they can do is hunker down on the couch and keep watching more news, hoping and praying that things get better before they get worse. Fuck that!

I say, put those sports-viewing energies to better use. Rent movies, watch comedy specials, read books, go get whatever creative project you’ve been meaning to do and get started on it right away! Learn how to knit, write that short story, buy Pro Tools and become the world-famous D.J. you were always meant to be!

Binge-watch Cheers!

In closing, I don’t know what I’m gonna write about on here, but I figure I’ll start getting antsy at some point. Get ready for some strange, loopy shit! Seattle Sports Hell might just turn itself into an Aerosmith Fan Blog for all I know! Steve In An Elevator!

I dunno, we’re just spitballin’ here. I’ll do better.

We Were About To Riot Until B.J. Daniels Finally Took Over For The Dragons

Too little, too late to beat the BattleHawks – as the Dragons lost 23-16 – but it was a furious and (finally!) entertaining comeback in the second half to pull it to just the one score (and cover the 11.5-point spread!).

God, I can’t wait to bet on the XFL in a couple weeks …

The Dragons’ first half offense was a fucking trainwreck of epic proportions. And yet, we were somehow only down 11-3 early in the second quarter thanks to some pretty stout bend-don’t-break defense. Until the BattleHawks ripped off a 7-minute, 78-yard touchdown drive to make it 17-3 at half.

That’s when Jim Zorn finally did what I didn’t think he had the guts to do: bench Brandon Silvers’ incompetent ass! 4 for 10 for 27 yards; 4 punts in 5 possessions (the lone field goal drive started at the St. Louis 45-yard line), so not exactly an inspiring performance.

B.J. Daniels came in and immediately looked 1,000% better. The Dragons’ first drive ended in a punt (thanks to a clear drop by Keenan Reynolds), but after that the offense was humming along nicely.

A Dragons TD made it 17-10. After giving up a field goal, the Dragons pulled to 20-16 (there was some confusion about why Zorn chose to go for three after the score; I’m STILL not convinced he knows basic math, but God bless him, he’s doing his best out there … without an offensive coordinator, no less!).

That bend-don’t-break defense gave up another field goal to make it 23-16, which left the Dragons with a primo opportunity to take the lead. Unfortunately, another promising-looking drive this time ended up with an interception down the middle of the field. There was still nearly four minutes left in the game, but the defense for the life of ’em couldn’t stop the BattleHawks, who ran out the rest of the game in pretty impressive fashion.

At this point, there’s just no damned excuse for Silvers to be back in the starting lineup next week. I’ve been saying all along: the XFL needs to dedicate itself to RUNNING QUARTERBACKS! Oh, by the way, you’re telling me Houston’s quarterback is the MVP frontrunner … and he just so happens to be exactly the type of quarterback I’m talking about?

LET B.J. COOK!!!

Dammit anyways.

Here’s my XFL Power Rankings as we head into Week 5:

  1. Houston Roughnecks, 4-0
  2. St. Louis BattleHawks, 3-1
  3. Dallas Renegades, 2-2
  4. D.C. Defenders, 2-2
  5. New York Guardians, 2-2
  6. Los Angeles Wildcats, 1-3
  7. Seattle Dragons, 1-3
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers, 1-3

Houston is running away with this league, which is unfortunate timing because this week the Dragons head there. If B.J. Daniels is starting, I give us a fighting chance. If it’s back to Silvers, they can’t make the spread high enough, give me the Roughnecks all day.

St. Louis looks strong all across the board and they more than deserve to move up in the rankings. The Defenders, on the other hand, just lost to the erstwhile-winless Vipers, so bump them down (the Defenders are 2-0 at home, 0-2 on the road, for what that’s worth). The Renegades leapfrog the Defenders for playing Houston pretty tough last week. The Dragons move down closer to the absolute cellar because I’m still moderately afraid I haven’t seen the last of Silvers (it’s FUN having a terrible Seattle sports whipping boy again!). Tampa got the surprise shutout of the Defenders, but I still need to see more.

After this week, the schedule gets a lot easier for the Dragons. So, I don’t want to say all hope is lost just yet, but we’ll need to rip off a significant winning streak to get into the playoffs.

The downside is: it’s the top two teams per division who make the playoffs, and the Dragons share a division with the Roughnecks. Granted, we get two cracks at them (but that’s also a bad thing, if they go undefeated).

The plus side is: we also get two cracks at the Wildcats, who don’t look amazing. If we beat up on the teams we need to beat up on, then it’s just a matter of leapfrogging the Renegades. At that point, it’s just a playoff game against (probably) the best team in the league.

No big whup.

The Dragons Fell Apart In The Second Half, Lost To The Renegades

As expected, with another week to rest his injured ankle, Brandon Silvers played better against Dallas than he did against Tampa. Also as expected, he still wasn’t all that great, and the Dragons blew an opportunity to improve to 2-1, in a 24-12 defeat.

Silvers threw for 204 yards on 62% passing, but there was yet another baffling interception, and he looked as incompetent as they get in the second half, as the Dragons were shut out for the final two quarters. Multiple people have said – on broadcasts and such – that Silvers has a “strong arm”, but I think that’s just a thing people say about you if you play the quarterback position. Saying Silvers has a strong arm is a lie, and therefore a totally meaningless phrase, because there has been zero evidence of that in the three games I’ve seen him play. On at least two different occasions in this game alone, he had guys WIDE OPEN for big gains, and if he had the arm strength to throw those balls on a line, the Dragons would’ve scored considerably more than what they managed. And that’s not even factoring in the two failed two-point conversions. It looked like we ran the same play both times, and it looked like he threw it to the same spot on the field, both with the same result: the ball getting there late and batted away by the defender.

Maybe since Silvers seems to THINK he has a strong arm, everyone just goes along with it because they want the XFL to succeed (and the only way to do that is if the quarterback play isn’t totally inept). I mean, every time he tries to load up for a deep ball, it looks like he REALLY has to jump-skip into it and give it all he’s got. There’s nothing smooth or fluid about him at all. He does nothing well, and a lot of things poorly, and I fucking KNEW we’d be here sooner or later. Jim Zorn, WHAT ARE WE DOING?! You’ve got a readymade leader and gamer in B.J. Daniels at your disposal, who – if nothing else – should be able to scare enough defenders with his legs to move the ball. Even if he isn’t the most accurate passer, I mean, what have you seen from Silvers that leads you to believe accuracy is anything he even remotely possesses? I would expect Daniels to probably struggle early in games, but come alive in the fourth quarter once he’s properly warmed up and in the flow of the game. And, at this point, I think that’s going to be significant if you want to see the Dragons actually win games (and vastly more important if you want to see the Dragons play exciting, fun, watchable football games).

What I’m most disappointed in, after three games, is how the Dragons are totally incapable of relying on their running game. Hard to blame defenses from loading the box and daring Silvers to beat them deep. But, too many times you see the Dragons’ running backs get totally stuffed on first or second down, putting them in a spot where they NEED competent quarterback play, and they’re just not getting it done. The offensive line is what it is – I don’t think there’s anything that can be done about that (this was always going to be a situation where the defensive lines – throughout the league – were vastly superior to their counterparts, given how few pro-style offenses you see in college) – but the Dragons’ running backs look TOO small, and TOO slow. I don’t mind small if you’re speedy, but these are all guys who look like they peaked in high school and never really grew into their adult bodies.

As for the Dragons’ defense, once again, no notes. Great job! They were tuckered out in the second half as things got away from this team, but that’s mostly thanks to the offense repeatedly shitting the G.D. bed. This unit is still generating turnovers at a fantastic clip, and playing the consummate bend/don’t break type of style we’re accustomed to around these parts (with another GREAT goalline stand to prevent a TD).

Credit where it’s due, getting back to Silvers: his two TD passes were pretty great, especially that first one to Austin Proehl with, like, three guys in his face. It was perfectly timed, perfectly thrown, and I think that’s what this team was expecting MORE of when they named Silvers their starter. But, he’s not playing this way nearly enough. The vast majority of the time, he’s playing timid, he’s chucking the ball straight into the turf, and those check-down passes seem to be his first, second, and third reads.

That was a game the Dragons should’ve won. This is a defense that – while it won’t carry us – is a viable squad that can keep us in every game. But, we need SOMETHING consistent out of the offense, and we’re simply not getting it, based almost exclusively on shoddy quarterback play.

In looking around the XFL, a lot of shake-ups around the league! Here’s your Seattle Sports Hell XFL Power Rankings as we head into Week 4!

  1. Houston Roughnecks, 3-0
  2. D.C. Defenders, 2-1
  3. St. Louis BattleHawks, 2-1
  4. Dallas Renegades, 2-1
  5. Los Angeles Wildcats, 1-2
  6. Seattle Dragons, 1-2
  7. New York Guardians, 1-2
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers, 0-3

The Roughnecks are 3-0 and their offense has looked GREAT for three straight weeks. Trouble is, their defense appears to really stink. But, as the only team that has reliably put up points in every game thus far, that’s a huge leg-up over the rest of the league. If they can get their defense to settle down even a little bit, they might run away with it (at the very least, I expect them to play in the championship game). If nothing else, bet the OVER in every Houston game and watch your winnings pile up!

D.C. lost their first game, getting drubbed by the Wildcats in L.A. I’m going to chalk this one up to a bad game by the Defenders and not worry about it. They had to go all the way across the country, and the Wildcats have proven to have at least a semi-competent offense, so it’s not totally shocking.

St. Louis is 2-1, with their only defeat a narrow loss in Houston. They’ve played tough and found ways to prevail in the clutch. This week, they absolutely dismantled the Guardians at home, and they look like one of the three challengers for the XFL championship. A lot of football yet to go, but don’t sleep on the BattleHawks.

Dallas, L.A., and Seattle all seem to be in that next tier down. I wouldn’t rule out the Renegades totally, but I also wasn’t super impressed with them (in spite of having Landry Jones as their QB). Jones looks over-paid and OVER-RATED (he also looks like he doesn’t come close to giving a shit, that this is an easy paycheck on his way back to being a backup in the NFL; the cheesiest job where you never really have to play). I’ll be curious to see if L.A. can parlay this victory into a nice little streak.

The Dragons, of course, look like they’re trending down to that bottom tier with the Guardians and Vipers, who look totally inept (New York & Seattle both have just one win each, over the winless Vipers, so that explains that). I’d expect the Dragons will stay down in the bottom two or three as long as Silvers keeps being Silvers.

The Seattle Dragons Get Their First Victory In Seattle Dragons History

The Seattle Dragons hosted the Tampa Bay Vipers and came away with a 17-9 victory.

It was ugly for the entire first half, and most of the game, but the Dragons were able to make some plays in the third quarter to put it away. Brandon Silvers is still a mixed bag, to put it nicely. He gave up his second pick-six in consecutive games, while only completing 39% of his passes for all of 91 yards, 68 of which came when Keenan Reynolds broke free down the middle of the field for a touchdown to pull the contest to 9-6.

The defense, however, was pretty stout throughout. We had four sacks and three picks, including one with the Vipers backed up near their own goalline for an easy defensive TD. That and the 2-point conversion put us up for good at 14-9, with a late field goal to add insult to injury.

The Seattle crowd was predictably into it, pushing attendance to nearly 30,000. It’s cool to see some of that crossover with Seahawks fans, and the XFL’s faith in this market being rewarded accordingly.

You could argue the weather was crappy, and thus the reason for most of our offensive miscues. But, Silvers has to be better, plain and simple, or else we need to put B.J. Daniels in charge. I mean, the more Silvers sucks, the more the fans are going to call for a change!

On the Tampa side of things, I’d seriously consider going with their own backup quarterback, who looked way more mobile. Running quarterbacks should be eating this league for breakfast; if I were in charge of a team I wouldn’t even consider a guy unless he had wheels to escape the pocket and run for large chunks of yardage down field.

Like last week, I didn’t watch much of the other action around the league, but I’ll say this much: the Defenders look like the clear frontrunners on both sides of the ball. If sports betting were legal, I would’ve put whatever equity we’ve got left on the Taylor Family Farm on them to win it all. Feels like a no-brainer.

As a quick aside, here’s the Seattle Sports Hell Official XFL Power Rankings:

  1. D.C. Defenders
  2. Houston Roughnecks
  3. St. Louis Battlehawks
  4. Dallas Renegades
  5. Seattle Dragons
  6. New York Guardians
  7. Los Angeles Wildcats
  8. Tampa Bay Vipers

I don’t know how playoff seeding is gonna work, but if it’s possible, give me D.C. vs. Houston in the finals. I think everyone in the 3-6 range are pretty even. L.A. and Tampa look pretty bad so far (admittedly after only 2 games).

I can’t wait to get to Reno next month and put all my money on this league. Without knowing the line of the Renegades/Wildcats matchup, it looks like maybe 3/4 games went under again, for the second week in a row. I’m sure the oddsmakers will have it sorted out by next month, but it’s definitely something to watch.

The Seattle Dragons Lost Their Opener, The XFL Looked Okay

I’ll admit it, I slept in on Saturday and missed the first hour or so of the action. But, the Dragons hung tough! They were in it for about three quarters, then the back-breaking pick-six really ended any threat.

I thought Brandon Silvers looked okay. For what it’s worth, I didn’t love the offensive scheme – it seemed to lack much of a deep play aspect – and I thought the play-calling was suspect. For the life of me, I don’t know why we kept going for 1 on the point(s) after touchdowns, when it’s nearly impossible to run in those situations, from the 2-yard line. The defense is just going to run blitz and let the quarterback try to beat them one-on-one. I would be passing for every PAT and I’d be going for 3 every single time. I’m sure the analytics nerds would be with me on this one; but these are re-tread NFL, CFL, and college coaches who couldn’t find work anywhere else, so I’m sure anything even REMOTELY analytical is going out the window.

The only other XFL action I saw was the end of the Dallas/St. Louis game on Sunday. That game was a snooze, and the other two games were complete blowouts, so I don’t know if we have a real good handle on which teams are the best. I’d venture to guess that D.C. is pretty high up there, based on their quarterback play and their defense.

If we can figure out over the course of the next month which defenses are elite, we’ll figure out how to bet in this new ecosystem. D.C. looks like they have a strong defense. Seattle looks better than expected (if you expected them to be in last place). Tampa looks atrocious apparently (and a lot worse than expected).

For what it’s worth, it looks like only one game hit the OVER. I think a lot of prognosticators were expecting teams to go for 2 or 3 more on those PATs; and, you know, I think they expected defenses to be truly terrible when you factored in all the rule changes.

Speaking of which, I liked most of what the XFL had to offer in that department. I liked the new kickoffs. I like all the punt rules (really anything that encourages teams to go for it on 4th down more often). I generally like the PAT offerings, but I would say if you’re going to give them the option of going for 1, put it at the 1 yard line (and keep everything else the same). That way you could FEASIBLY expect a team to actually run it in.

I won’t say the weekend was a disaster for the XFL, but it was very far from a triumph. It sounds like the ratings and attendance numbers were okay, but as I said before, I would expect those to drop as the season goes on. This weekend was all about the novelty and the possibility of watching a trainwreck. Now that we know it’s not really a trainwreck – but just kind of okay – most football fans will be able to throw up their hands and say, “It was what we thought it was.”

As for the broadcast, it was a little much. I sort of liked hearing the play calls come in, and having the announcers explain what it all means. But, even when they heard the play come in, the announcers didn’t seem to have a great success rate actually predicting the play. Also, I mean, it’s gotta be pretty easy to have someone on the opposing team watching the game on TV and relaying it to the defensive coaches, right? If you’re allowed to be in the ear of players all the way through the snap … I dunno. If you’re worried about the integrity of XFL games, I guess you’ve got some life choices to make sooner or later.

I didn’t care one bit for the sideline interviews during the game. I don’t care what the players think, and they really have very little to say anyway. 1 out of 10 times you might get a thoughtful or interesting answer, and that’s just not a great ratio. And, what was with the sideline reporters just standing there and holding their mics out when the players posed and celebrated after a big play? It’s awkward, man! Give it a rest!

What the XFL needs is the offenses to pick it up in a significant way. I keep coming back to that thought, to which my counter is: if football fans only watched for the offense, why wasn’t the Arena Football League a bigger success? I can’t answer that. I really enjoyed the Arena league! I thought it was fun and exciting and different-enough to feel more like a basketball game played with footballs. But, I do believe you need defense to be successful in this environment. You just need something that’s not a 15-9 slugfest, or a 23-3 rout.

The Seattle/D.C. game was probably the best of the bunch. If we can just open up the playbook a TAD, I think they’ll do an okay job of holding down a decent percentage of viewers from week one.

Seattle hosts Tampa this week. Tampa is favored by 2 to 3 points, depending on where you look. Tampa was one of the heavy pre-season favorites, so they might still be riding on that gravy train. I just can’t see how a team that only scored 3 points is going to fly all the way to Seattle and put up much of a fight. But, they’re the experts and I’m not, so while I’ll defer to them, I think I’d bet at least 25% of the Taylor Family Farm on Seattle to cover.

Are You Ready For Some XFL?!

When I first heard that the XFL was coming back (my fingers keep wanting to type XLF, which sounds like the 2020 reboot of ALF, starring his derelict, estranged son he didn’t know about until later in life), of course I immediately dismissed it. The XFL was dumb in 2001, and surely it would be dumb now!

Then, when I heard Seattle was getting one of the inaugural eight teams, I don’t know if there’s a word to describe my feelings, so I just came up with one: bewildertained. I’m bewildered that this is happening in the first place, but I’m thoroughly entertained that the Seattle Dragons are a thing, and that I get to write about them on a weekly basis for the next however many weeks!

The XFL figures to be the most bewildertaining thing in my life through the end of April!

I’m also loving the fact that the Dragons might be legitimately the worst team in the league (at least, in the eyes of Vegas, as we head into the start of the season on Saturday). Of course we finally get included in something everyone’s going to take seriously for a while, and OF COURSE we’re going to be the laughingstock of it all!

Here’s what I know about the Seattle Dragons:

  1. I know Jim Zorn is the head coach. He had a 12-20 record with the Redskins over two seasons. We never could be sure if that’s because he’s bad at coaching, or if that team is bad at everything, but why can’t it be both?
  2. I know that Mike Riley is the offensive coordinator, and that every time he’s left Oregon State, he’s fallen on his ass, so that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
  3. I know someone named Brandon Silvers is the quarterback. He was at Troy in college, then played one season in the Alliance of American Football. He played some, but ultimately never distinguished himself against the likes of Johnny Manziel, Christian Hackenberg, and Zach Mettenberger.
  4. I know that B.J. Daniels is the backup quarterback, he’s only 30 years old, and will almost certainly be starting for this team by week 3.
  5. I know that Kasen Williams is the big draw, and that there’s a non-zero number of Seahawks fans who wish he was still with the team.
  6. I know other ex-Seahawks are also on the team, like Keenan Reynolds, Isaiah Battle, and Mohammed Seisay (among others, probably). Don’t remember those guys? I DON’T BLAME YOU!

That’s about all of the Seattle Dragons Wikipedia page I care to go through.

I don’t totally understand why Seattle has a team, other than to pad out the western half of the United States. Granted, Seahawks fans are pretty fervent, and Sounders fans are maniacal about their team, but the Seahawks are 40+ years old, and there was already a solid base of soccer fans in the area when the MLS came to town. I feel like, while Seattle certainly has an influx of young, intelligent professionals (exactly the type of people you want to cater to if you’re a new business), if the product is terrible and/or boring, I could easily see this market fizzle out in a hurry.

You can certainly be bad and entertaining, and that’s obviously what the XFL is doing with all their rule changes (quicker pace, shorter play clock, encouraging kickoff/punt returns as well as going for it on 4th downs), but other than having the stadium in place, Seattle seems like a terrible spot for this. Why wouldn’t you go after smaller markets with the potential for a stronger attachment? Seattle has sports up the wazoo. Los Angeles has even more. If I were running the XFL, I would’ve planted the bulk of the league east of the Mississippi, and probably wouldn’t have ventured any further west than Texas.

I think they got it right with the two teams in Texas, as well as St. Louis, D.C., and Tampa. I think you have to have one in Atlanta or New Orleans, one in Pittsburgh, and shit man, why not Green Bay? Or Milwaukee or something. Hit the old-school football towns. Even if you go with Chicago, you’re going to get devoted Chicagoans to buy in early and often!

I think most football fans will avoid it altogether. Bigger football fans will tune in the first week or two, but I fully expect the ratings to fall off in a big way by week 3, regardless of how good or bad the product is. I just don’t think there’s a market for second-rate football in the springtime. We have 32 NFL teams, each with 53-man rosters and 10-man practice squads. That’s over 2,000 players, not counting guys on IR and the proverbial Ghost Rosters out there, who aren’t signed, stay in shape, and join up with a team in need as injuries mount. The XFL is essentially made up of those Ghost Rosters. In other words: the football players not good enough to crack the Top 2,000 in America.

We’re probably heading in the right direction, but I think at some point the NFL has to relax its standards on having players stay in college for two years and allow high school players go directly to the pros. I also think that instead of an XFL, the NFL should just set up a minor league system a la baseball, and not allow any of those high school players into the NFL proper until they’ve played 2 years in the minor league system they’ve set up (or college, if that’s their choice). This way, the players who want to get paid CAN get paid, and the players who want to go to college can do that instead.

Why is this so difficult?

Anyway, I’m ready for the Seattle Dragons to STINK, and I’m ready to watch them stink every single week. I’ll be watching, if for nothing else, than to bone up on who to bet AGAINST when I go to Reno in mid-March. Here’s a hint: their team colors are navy, green, and orange, and they’re THE FUCKING DRAGONS!

What is this, the football league from Any Given Sunday?