Archive for December, 2009

I am NOT taking a leave of absence – just a vacation

I’ll be off the rest of the year. Such a declaration would be more dramatic if made on Labor Day, but guess who waits until the calendar is about to turn before trying to use up all his vacation days? Moron = me.

Leave of absences being all the rage, I  did want to say this. I don’t understand how the health issues Urban Meyer faces were serious enough to make him fear for his life Saturday but not so serious as to prevent him from deciding Sunday he’ll be OK to coach in 2010. His about-face won’t have much impact on Florida; I hope it doesn’t have a deleterious effect on Meyer.

Before I sign off, I need to re-tell a story: I spent last New Year’s Eve in a hotel room in Orlando wondering why more folks weren’t sitting home reading this dumb little blog. It was a major deal to me because I was hoping to reach two million page views on the year.  We ended up at 1.976 million, this despite the best efforts of various daughters and nieces who paused during their own New Year’s Eve …

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If Matt Ryan isn’t Peyton Manning but Eli, is that enough?

Everybody's happy when Matty Ice throws a touchdown pass. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Everybody's happy when Matty Ice throws a TD pass. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Regarding this Falcons’ season, only one question remains, and it will be answered next week in Tampa. Regarding the Falcons as a team, a question has arisen, a question we didn’t figure we’d be asking. But here it is:

What if the franchise quarterback isn’t quite a franchise quarterback?

We stipulate by saying that, if on the day Matt Ryan was drafted we’d have known the Falcons would be 19-10 (and 13-1 at home) with him as a starting quarterback, we’d have swooned on the spot. And we spent all last season swooning. But the greatest rookie quarterback in league history — and that’s what he was — hasn’t been the greatest sophomore quarterback in NFL annals.

Sunday was another installment in Ryan’s good-but-not-great season. He completed barely half his passes and had to hit on his final five to manage that. He threw three touchdown passes against no interceptions, but he was sacked three times and …

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Live from the Dome, where consolation is available

The Dome pulses with energy at 11:43 a.m. Or not. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The Dome positively pulses with energy at 11:43 a.m. Or perhaps not. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The Falcons can’t make the playoffs. You know that already. They can, however, get to 9-7. Which would be huge. But you knew that, too.

Beyond that, I don’t have much for you. Inactives haven’t been announced. The opponent, Buffalo, has 18 men on injured reserve. Brian Brohm is expected to start quarterback, which could make this an all-Petrino day if Matt Ryan can’t go the distance. (Both Brohm and Falcons backup Chris Redman played for Bobby P. at U of L, as you also know.)

Speaking of which: I’ve seen Petrino’s name listed as a possibility for the Florida post. At such times I ask myself, “Who makes these lists?” He’s a good coach who’s bad with people. That wouldn’t fly at UF. He’s never in anything long-term, as the Falcons know too well. The only chance Petrino would have to coach the Gators is if the first 10 choices turned Jeremy Foley down. Which they won’t. It’s the best job in …

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Urban Meyer reminds us there are bigger things than games

Urban Meyer near the end of the SEC championship game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Urban Meyer near the end of the SEC championship game. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The funniest thing Vince Dooley ever said wasn’t funny at the time. It was as serious as a coronary. Because that’s what Dooley thought he was having.

Oct. 17, 1987: Georgia had contrived to fall two touchdowns behind in Nashville, and the head coach began having chest pains. And Dooley said to himself: “I’m having a heart attack, and we’re losing to Vanderbilt.”

The next day he was at Emory, where he would undergo angioplasty. He was back on the sideline the next Saturday, when the Bulldogs — who had rallied to beat the Commodores one week after losing narrowly to Tommy Hodson and LSU — would need a late touchdown to subdue Kentucky. Some life, huh?

“We won one for the ticker,” a merry Loran Smith said afterward, but it must be noted that Vincent Joseph Dooley coached his last game not 15 months later. At age 56. And he’s still alive today.

The best coach in the country is stepping aside not …

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Bradley’s year in picks: Good on Tech, bad on the Vols

Who saw this coming? Why, yours truly. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Not to say I told you so … (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It was the best of years, it was the …

OK, that’s a a lie. It wasn’t the best of years, prediction-wise. It was only OK. I’ve had better. I’ve also had worse. (Lots worse, as you know.) And our annual Accountability Scoreboard begins with the obvious high point:

I picked Georgia Tech to go 10-2 and win the ACC title. It went 10-2 and won the ACC title. I was wrong about the the games Tech lost — I had the Jackets succumbing to Florida State and, for reasons I’ll never understand, Vanderbilt — but I was, big-picture-wise, dead on.

Regarding Georgia, I wasn’t dead on. But I was pretty darn close. I had the Bulldogs going 8-4, which many among you insisted was way too low. They went 7-5. Until the season’s 11th game, I had picked every game save one (Tennessee) correctly. Then things went ka-blooey. Georgia lost to Kentucky, which I didn’t think could happen, and then it beat Tech, which I insisted would never happen.

I …

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UGA in Shreveport: A low point, but also a needed jolt

Here's proof Willie Martinez realized rushing the passer was legal. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Here's proof Willie Martinez realized pass-rushing was allowed. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Winning doesn’t educate. Winning endorses. Human nature holds that a winner doesn’t ask, “What can I do better?” but says instead, “Why change what works?”

Mark Richt is human. Even in the disappointment of 2008 — Georgia started as preseason No. 1 and landed in the Capital One Bowl — he had his talking points down. And when the Bulldogs beat Michigan State on Jan. 1, 2009, to finish 10-3, he trotted out TP No. 1: Six 10-win seasons out of the past seven was “pretty stinkin’ good.”

In his self-defense, Richt missed the obvious: That something was rotten in the House of Bulldog. All you had to do was screen a video of Richt’s 2002 team followed by one of the 2008 aggregation to see the difference. In 2008 Georgia had more talent but wasn’t as good.

The 2009 season will go down as the worst under Richt, but it many ways it was the best thing that could have happened. As the losses …

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Guessing what Tech’s juniors will decide, draft-wise

It'll be a tug-of-war decision for Bay Bay. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It's a tug-of-war decision for Bay Bay. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Signing Day is big every year, but Feb. 3, 2010, won’t have nearly as much to do with the state of the Yellow Jackets next season as what happens in January. Because four  juniors have decisions to make, and what they decide will in large measure to determine if Georgia Tech is again a Top 10 team next season.

That in mind, here’s a rundown of the four, with the accompanying Bradley Best Guess — which isn’t to be confused, as we know, with a good guess — as to what they’ll choose:

Morgan Burnett, safety: Rates No. 2 to Tennessee’s Eric Berry on Mel Kiper Jr.’s ESPN.com Insiders list of junior safeties. (Link requires registration.) Doesn’t crack Scouts Inc.’s list of top 100 prospects. (Link also requires registration.) Didn’t have a very good season — nobody except Derrick Morgan among Tech defenders did — and would surely benefit from another year on campus. Bradley’s Best Guess: He stays.

Jonathan Dwyer, …

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Out of the playoffs, the Falcons still can take a giant step

This will sound strange, but strangeness and the Atlanta Falcons walk — or, to be more precise, stumble — hand in hand. The 2009 Falcons can’t make the playoffs, and the playoffs are the primary goal every year for every NFL team. Except this team, this year.

The Falcons have made the playoffs before. They were there last season. They’ve been there nine times. Heck, they’ve even graced a Super Bowl. (Though that trip ended disgracefully, what with Eugene Robinson getting arrested.) But the Falcons have worked 43 seasons — this is the 44th — and have yet to break .500 two years running. So long as that curious factoid is attached to this franchise, it will be the first thing we think about when we think about the Falcons.

Among NFL teams that have been around for a while, the Falcons are alone in this ignominy. The Carolina Panthers haven’t been back-to-back winners, but they opened their doors in 1995, not 1966. The Houston Texans and the new Cleveland Browns haven’t, either, …

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Troy Glaus to the Braves? To play 1B? Whatever, dude

OK, there’s the second move. And it’s Troy Glaus. Excited now?

Me, neither.

Signing a guy to play first base who has barely played first base and who’s coming off shoulder surgery merely underscores the prevailing thought from yesterday: That the Braves can’t operate at a high-dollar level. They have to find guys on the cheap — post-operative guys — and shuffle them around.

Troy Glaus is a big bopper only if we’re in a time warp. He last topped 40 home runs in 2001. He has had one 100-RBI season since 2002. (Though he did drive in 99 in 2008.) Maybe he’s the bridge to Freddie Freeman in 2011, but he’s not much more. He’s a career .255 hitter who gets hurt a lot, and this will be his fifth different team in seven seasons. And he’ll be playing a new position.

Give Frank Wren credit for being creative. He found a bat that none of us had really considered. But it’s possible that none of us had considered Troy Glaus as a first-base fit because he isn’t. When you introduce Glaus as …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Vazquez-for-Cabrera discussed & dissected

Javier Vazquez, we hardly knew ye. But we liked what we saw. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Javier, we hardly knew ye. But we liked what we saw. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

You’ve heard what Frank Wren had to say, and maybe you’ve even read my cool-headed thoughts on the matter. Today we leave it to outsiders. Or, in point of fact, to folks like ESPN.com’s Insiders. We start with the estimable Keith Law, who says the Braves didn’t get completely fleeced. (Link requires registration.) Writes Law:

“The key player in this trade for Atlanta is Arodys Vizcaino, who becomes one of the top five prospects in the Braves’ system and gives them a trio of potential No. 1 or No. 2 starters in the low minors with Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado. Vizcaino, who pitched at short-season Staten Island this past season, has a live fastball that sits 91-93 mph and touches a little higher. He throws a curveball that flashes plus and should miss bats at the big league level when he reaches it. He already has good feel for pitching and just needs experience and a little cleanup in his …

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