Friday, November 20, 2009

Take a Knee, MJD

I'd really like to update this blog more, but about 47.2 college papers get in the way every week. Seriously, I'm dying to burn through my thoughts on the Jags/Jets game (which I attended!) and the angstiest fans around. Seriously, listen to Jets Radio after a loss--all the call-ins pretty much follow the same formula: "Wana wana waaah! Our team sucks. Not even our defense is good anymore. Why does Brett Favre have to be an MVP candidate THIS year?" Better yet, the radio announcers maintain this cute sense of hope throughout the hole ordeal: "The Jets haven't clicked yet. But it can still happen, and maybe we'll click next week up in New England. Everybody in that locker room just needs to stop looking around at each other and take it upon themselves. Then things'll click. Or maybe they won't click till next season, I dunno."

Anyway, I thought it'd be worth my while to throw in my dice on Maurice Jones-Drew's controversial kneel down at the 1-yard line. My dad and I watched him stumble from our seats down around the 10, and my initial reaction was to slam the panic button. Since MJD's legs normally never stop churning, I thought he tore his ACL or something. As a life-long Jags fan, I've seen Fred Taylor go down more than enough times, and I've come to expect unfortunate injuries.

Thankfully, 'Mighty Mouse' (or 'Pocket Hercules' or 'Bowling Bowl' or whatever the NFL analysts insist on calling him) only took a knee to kill the play with around a minute left on the clock. Once I realized this, I thought it was brilliant. Our defense is gassed, but now the Jets won't get the ball back. Perfect.

Perfect in theory. Coach Del Rio executed the closing minute terribly (even though the Jags did win the game).

See, when you have timeouts, a couple downs to blow, and an opportunity to kick a field goal at the end of the game, there's a textbook way to handle it:

1) Kick the ball on 3rd down, not 4th - If there's a botched snap, at least you have one more try.

2) Leave at least 10 seconds on the clock - This goes hand in hand with #1. If you do botch the snap, at least there will be time left on the clock to allow for one more play. And you know what? If you do make the kick on one try, there's only about five seconds left. And, oh by the way, the Jets' biggest kick return threat, Leon Washington, is on IR.

3) Make sure you have a timeout left - If I remember correctly, they did have a timeout left, but Del Rio ignored my first two points anyway.

So why did Del Rio force Josh Scobee to kick on 4th down with just three seconds left on the clock? He wasn't thinking. And that's why there's debates going on about the MJD-Knee. If Del Rio performed like a clock management maestro, only MJD's fantasy owners would be complaining. Regardless, I loved the call. It just could've been handled better.

Oh, and how about my boy, Mike Sims-Walker? Here's a stat: The Jags are 5-1 this season when MSW gets the start. Give him two years, and he'll be in the Pro Bowl.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mike Sims-Walker, the Lifeforce of the '09 Jags Offense

In case you missed the Week 5 score ticker, know that "Jacksonville 0, Seattle 41" rolled across the bottom of television screens everywhere. No, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't the worst team in the NFL (though "worst defense" is one more bad game away from becoming accurate), but something was definitely missing this past Sunday, just one week after a 37-17 beatdown of the Tennessee Titans.

That something goes by the name of Mike Sims-Walker, the Jaguars' 6-foot-2, 3rd-year receiver out of Central Florida. In the two games he has started, the Jags outscored their opponents 68-41. Over this past weekend, when Coach Del Rio benched Sims-Walker due to an unknown "team violation," the Jaguars did nothing but surrender a fat 41 on the scoreboard.

Now, one could argue that the Jags' offense struggled due to a lack of preparation (Sims-Walker's deactivation came right before game time), but I believe there's a deeper issue: This Jaguar offense can hardly function without MSW.

First of all, consider the state of the Jaguars season before MSW becomes a starting wide out--just as receiver Troy Williamson goes down with a shoulder injury. The Cardinals are romping, the Jags are wallowing around with no credit other than a silly Scobee field goal, and no one is making plays. Sound familiar? Of course it does. It's the same story Jaguars fans suffered through this past weekend. Without Sims-Walker on the field, opposing defenses stack the box and key in on running back Maurice Jones-Drew, forcing Garrard to throw to his choice of Torry "Better Days" Holt or Marcedes "Maybe-I'll-Catch-This-One" Lewis. In other words, Garrard is better off scrambling for 6-yard gains.

Jags fans, it's clear as day: Mike Sims-Walker is the receiver we've been praying for since Jimmy Smith retired following the 2005 season. After the string of failed experiments that included the friendly faces of Reggie Williams, Troy Edwards, Cocaine Jones, Dennis Northcutt, Jerry Porter, and Troy Williamson, we finally have a guy who can not only get open, but also wrap both hands around the ball and record a mythical stat-figure known as a "catch." And better yet, MSW records these "catches" consistently.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Halloween II Review

Having never seen the original Halloween II, I had hardly any idea what to expect from Rob Zombie’s sequel to his 2007 remake of the classic horror film, Halloween. Obviously, the excessive gore and uninspiring characters from the remake would likely return, but I expected more from the second time around. With nearly two full years of downtime between the two remakes, Rob Zombie would surely learn a thing or two about creating a tight plot and terrifying atmosphere, right?

Halloween II’s most intense scene erupts about twenty minutes into the film. While taking refuge in a security station from the near-invincible psychopath Michael Myers (Tyler Mane), protagonist Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) hides underneath a desk and braces for the worst. Within seconds Myers shreds the windows of the security shack and tears himself an entrance through one of the side walls (though he would have found less difficulty in breaking down the rickety front door). Laurie finds herself held in check by a floor covered in shattered glass, and she screams and wails as Myers closes in. He prepares to send her to the other side, and there is no conveniently-placed hero around to stop the madman. Things are truly grim, and Myers readies his ax. It’s over this time for Laurie. It’s… it’s… actually the moment she awakens from the nightmare. Yep, one of few decent scenes in this “horror” flick doesn’t count.

Despite falling under the horror movie genre, Halloween II consistently fails at instilling scares into its viewers, and for a variety of reasons. First of all, Myers’s unwarranted overload of violence vitiates the terror associated with a life being taken. If sneaking up on a nurse and knifing her from behind is horrific in its own right, why would you follow it up with a minute-long corpse stabbing extravaganza? Perhaps, is it to show how twisted this emotionless murderer is? Nope. Zombie simply wants to cover all of his stock characters in a healthy layer of scarlet syrup—you know, because it might stir up enough negative publicity to convince a few thousand 14-year-olds to sneak in and marvel at all this R-rated overkill.

The greater issue that keeps Zombie’s brand of terror from succeeding is the fact that Halloween II’s characters are always either stereotypical or forgettable. Overprotective fathers and party-hungry teenagers run rampant, while moviegoers yearn to care about or at least relate to any of the major characters. However, viewers should be able to cut into common ground with the trite breakfast table dialogue that plagues the lips of the characters throughout the movie. And for those who desire some fresh lines of chatter, fear not, for there are a handful of scenes where Laurie and her over-the-top friends trade enough filthy banter to make any high school trophy girl seem clean by comparison.

Beyond the iconic psychopath and Laurie, the only other face worth mentioning is Myers’s former psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). After suffering from an attack at the end of the 2007 remake, Loomis returns, but he unfortunately ends up feeling tacked-on in this sequel. The majority of his scenes involve him promoting his new book (which examines the life of Michael Myers), and it isn’t until late in the film when he or his book proves to be relevant to the overall story.

The main storyline itself is straight-forward for the most part. Michael Myers, who was presumed dead at the conclusion of the 2007 Halloween remake, magically reawakens in the back of an ambulance and escapes. As a result his body is never found, and Laurie has trouble coping with the fact, even a full year later. As October 31st approaches, Myers runs into a hallucination of his deceased mother (Sheri Moon Zombie). Mom asks her beloved son to bring Laurie “home” by Halloween, and he sets off to hunt down the poor girl. While Myers moves out on foot for the town of Haddonfield, Laurie finds herself attending therapy sessions and dealing with nightmares and hallucinations that relate to her previous encounter with Myers. The rest of the plot stumbles down a humdrum path, before “climaxing” with a nonsensical scene that attempts to be clever, but instead reeks of cheesy ideas and loudmouthed chaos.

All things taken into account, Halloween II is not the worst movie of the summer (In other words, it’s not BrĂ¼no), but it is certainly not worthy of the typical admission price. When a film draws its appeal almost entirely from its associations with a semi-popular heavy metal star and a 31-year-old movie of the same name, then maybe it isn’t meant to stand on its own. Rob Zombie himself still has a lot to learn about screenwriting and directing, and the fact that he relies on remaking classic horror films makes this evident.