The season grades are out on our 2 opening day starters at inside linebacker, and as was clear to the naked eye they are not pretty. Given that both Jones and Hawk are highly paid through next season and the team saves $3.5 million (Jones) and $3.25 million (Hawk) by cutting them, can anyone provide a scenario whereby one or both of these guys is back next year? I know that Hawk has some fans but I for one will be shocked if either one of them are still on the team in 2015.
A.J. Hawk: It was sad, really. Hawk, a durable, contributing part of this defense for eight years, hit the wall. Hawk had been slipping but it was never this bad. Despite playing 71.6% of the downs, he didn't have a single tackle for loss after averaging 3.44 from 2006-'13. Largely because he couldn't run anymore, he allowed a LB-high 4½ passes of 20 yards or more. One reason he missed just four tackles was the fact he couldn't get to plays. He had just five pressures in 77 blitzes. When he did make it to the right gap, blockers and backs frequently surged right over the top of him. Even Hawk's ability to think on his feet deserted him on Seattle's fake FG-TD pass when he didn't stay as deep as the deepest receiver. Ted Thompson has to admit the tape doesn't lie. They'll cut Hawk, save $3.5 million against the cap and bring in a flock of new ILBs. It's possible someone like Rex Ryan might sign Hawk for the minimum to make calls for a complex system. Grade: F.
Brad Jones: The Packers will move on from Jones as well; his expected release will amount to $3.75 million in cap savings. So satisfied with his LB rotation down the stretch, even Mike McCarthy couldn't fool himself any longer and replaced Jones as his dime LB with Barrington in Seattle. After playing 68 of 70 snaps with a bad thigh injury in the opener, Jones was put down for three weeks before returning in bit roles here and there. Despite 17.4% playing time, Jones drew five of the ILB's seven penalties. The heavy-legged Jones, still able to strike a blow and play special teams, has lost too much quickness and change of direction. He is a tough guy. Grade: D-plus.
Time finally caught up with the franchise's all-time leading tackler. Hawk worked in the heart of a run defense that was giving up a league-worst 153.6 yards per game at the bye week. As an every-down player, Hawk appeared slow in coverage on plays like Kyle Rudolph's 23-yard completion for Minnesota in Week 12. The Packers eventually replaced him in the nickel with Barrington and in the dime with Jones. He averaged 20 snaps per game in the final month playing strictly in the 3-4 base defense. When Matthews exited briefly against Seattle, the defense gushed yards when Hawk re-entered inside. He maintained that he wasn't injured and finished his ninth year with the Packers with 89 tackles and a half-sack. He was frozen on Jon Ryan's touchdown pass to Garry Gilliam off a fake field goal. Durability will be his legacy if the organization chooses to part ways with him this offseason.
Jones' inconsistency and propensity for penalties hurt the Packers. He missed three games with a quad injury following an atrocious performance in the opener against Seattle in which he had four tackles with three misses. Jones never regained his starting job, finishing with 18 tackles. He played in the dime late in the season before giving way to Barrington in the NFC championship game. Inexplicably, Jones had a team-high six defensive penalties despite playing only 217 snaps. Three came after the defense successfully stopped the opposing team on third down. Jones had a 9-yard sack of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill on second-and-11 erased with illegal use of hands and scrapped a Peppers/Matthews sack in the opener because of an illegal contact penalty. He blocked a field goal against Atlanta and forced a fumble in the NFC championship game, but Ryan told MMQB.com that the Seahawks tried a fake field goal because Jones was on the field and his tendency was to sell out for a block.
Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of January 26-February 1, 2015. Unfortunately, the football season ended last week, and the Brewers don't begin their annual slide into medioctiry until pitchers and catchers report in a couple weeks. Until then, you're going to have to content yourselves with some good old movies. There's one more night of Robert Redford and one more night of Neil Simon, and then on February 1 begins the annual 331 Days of Oscar. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioend.
For those of you who do want a little bit of baseball, however, why not watch Mr. 3000, which is airing several times this week: Monday at 2:40 AM, 12:05 PM, and 10:00 PM on Encore Black; and Thursday at 6:00 AM and 5:35 PM on Starz Edge. Bernie Mac plays Stan, a baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers who retired when he got his 3000th hit, and went into business as "Mr. 3000". However, it's determined several years later that the official scorers and archivists got things wrong, and Stan retired with only 2997 hits, three shy of the milestone. Since Stan was popular with the fans, the Brewers bring him back for September call-ups to try to get those three hits. Stan's abrasive personality, however, causes problems between him and the other players, so as Stan tries to get the 3000th hit for real, he also learns a few life lessons along the way. Angela Bassett plays a reporter, and any number of sports names have cameos, both players (Ron Darling), reporters (Peter Gammons) and announcers (Dick Enberg).
TCM is spending much of Monday morning and afternoon in Paris. A movie that I think hasn't aired on TCM in about six years is Zazie dans le métro, at 9:45 AM. Zazie (Catherine Demongeot) is a 10-year-old girl who lives in a small French town with her divorced mother, except that Mom is always going off with sone new boyfriend or antoher. To be able to do so again, Mom drops the daughter off with Uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret, later of Cinema Paradiso among others), who lives in the big city of Paris. Zazie, not having been to the big city before, dreams of riding the Métro. There's only one problem. When she gets to the Métro station, she finds that it's been shut down because all the workers are on strike. Zazie responds by turning the city upside down. This film has been described as a Looney Tunes cartoon come to life, and is at times extremely absurd. If you like absurdist film, you'll love it; if not, you may find the movie a bit too over the top at times.
TCM is celebrating the birthday of actress Donna Reed on Tuesady, with a series of her lesser-known movies. This starts at 6:00 AM with The Getaway. Robert Sterling plays Jeff, a hoodlum who gets himself arrested and winds up in prison with Sonny (Dan Dailey!) who is the big gang leader. Jeff helps Sonny break out of prison, but it turns out that Jeff is doing this because he's an undercover agent trying to get Sonny's gang! Complicating matters is Donna Reed's character. She's Sonny's sister, and wants him to give up being a gangster. However, she also begins to fall in love with Jeff, with gets Sonny angry, and makes Jeff's job more difficult. If this one seems familiar, it's because it's a very close remake of an earlier MGM film, Public Hero #1, that starred Chester Morris in the Jeff role, and Jean Arthur as the girl.
Tuesday night is the final night for Star of the Month Robert Redford. Among his films airing on this final Tuesday in January is The Candidate, at 8:00 PM. Redford plays young lawyer Bill McKay, who has name recognition because his father John (Melvyn Douglas) was the former Governor of California. There's a US Senate election this year, and popular incumbent Senatur Jarmon (Don Porter) is running again. Nobody running against Jarmon has a serious chance, so the party nominates young McKay as a sacrificial lamb. He, figuring he's got no chance anyhow, decides he's going to run his campaign based on princilpe -- there's a novel idea! Amazingly, McKay's campaign starts gaining traction, and there's a chance he might win -- if he can tone down some of his more outspoken points. Will McKay compromise in order to win? Watch for a cameo from Natalie Wood.
Richard Attenborough died last August and gets a night in the spotlight on TCM this Wednesday, concluding with The League of Gentlemen, at 5:00 AM Thursday. Note the absence of the word "extraordinary" in the title; this is a much better movie. Jack Hawkins plays a British Army colonel who's been cashiered from his position in the personnel office. He wants to get back at the society that treated him badly, and he has in mind a bank robbery! To do that he needs men, and his access to the military personnel files enables him to get a bunch of men who are all morally compromised and therefore willing to join him. So they train at an isolated country estate for the heist and then pull it off, except that since this is the era when you expect something to go wrong in the end. Seeing exactly what goes wrong and ultimately sinks the plot is interesting and not what you might expect. This one is a really underrated little heist film.
I movie I haven't mentoined in quite some time returns to FXM Retro this week: Holiday For Lovers, at 1:15 PM Thursday. Clifton Webb plays the typical American father, with a wife (Jane Wyman) and two daughters (Jill St. John and Carol Lynley). The elder daughter is studying sculpture, and she goes on a foreign study term to Brazil. There, she shocks her parents by telling them she's met Barroso, the man of her dreams! The parents can't let their daughter ruin her life by marrying some man she barely knows, so they follow her to Brazil to dissuade her from making any rash decisions. Paul Henried plays Barroso, although it turns out that the daughter has actually fallin in love with his son, who is even worse in Dad's eyes. The family travels around South America, and the younger daughter meets a US serviceman and falls in love with him, complicating Dad's life. If only the story could be as good as the establishing shots.
Actor Rod Taylor died at the beginning of the month, so TCM is finally getting around to having a memorial programming tribute before 31 Days of Oscar begins. That tribute comes on Thursday in prime time, and contains five films: First, at 8:00, Taylor plays the time traveller who finds Earth had devolved 800,000 years in the future in The Time Machine. Next, Taylor finds that the avian life in Bodga Bay, CA doesn't like him or girlfriend Tippi Hedren in The Birds, at 10:00 PM. At 12:15 AM Friday, Taylor plays a love interest to Jane Fonda in the comedy Sunday in New York. Taylor plays Irish playwright Sean O'Casey under a pseudonym in the turbulent years that led up to independence in Young Cassidy, at 2:15 AM; and Taylor gets to do a romantic comedy opposite Doris Day in The Glass-Bottom Boat at 4:15 AM.
Not long after Holiday for Lovers, Fox started production of Cleopatra, which was a huge financial drain on the studio, to the point that a lot of the other stuff the studio distribtued was cheap B material. An example of that which is a reasonably interesting movie is 13 Fighting Men, at 6:00 AM Friday on FXM Retro. The scene is somewhere in the South, immediately after Lee surrendered at Appomattax Court House. Grant Williams is leading his Union soldiers home, but unfortunately he's got one more mission to do, which is to deliver a shipment of Union gold, which he doesn't want to do because it's dangerous and dammit, his men want to get home. Sure enough, a band of Confederates led by Brad Dexter captures a spy who got the Treasury guy to the Union soldiers, and the Southerners decide they could use that money to restart their lives after the war.
There's one final night of Neil Simon movies on TCM's Friday Night Spotlight, which includes The Prisoner of Second Avenue, at 10:00 PM Friday. Jack Lemmon plays Mel, an executive living with his wife Edna (Anne Bancroft) in an apartment on the corner of 88th Street and 2nd Avenue, NY. That is, until he gets fired from his job, and his life begins to change. This is the era just before Gerald Ford told New York City to "drop dead", at least according to the headline, so anything that can go wrong in the city does: things in the aprtment building start to break down, and they even get robbed. But the personal life is no better, as Edna tries to get a job ot support the family and Mel begins to have a nervous breakdown. Not making matters any better is Mel's brother Harry (Gene Saks, who was normally a director) arrives from the small town to try to help out but only makes matters worse.
Sunday is February 1, which means the start of the annual 31 Days of Oscar on TCM, in which every film aired was nominated for at least one Academy Award. One that won the Best Picture is Around the World in 80 Days, at 4:45 PM Sunday. Based on the novel by Jules Verne, this movie tells the story of Phileas Fogg (David Niven), who has calculated that it should be possible for a Victorian gentleman such as he to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. So he wagers his friends at the gentlemen's club the princely sum of £20,000 -- a fortune in the 1870s -- that he can do this. Once the wager is made, he sets off with his valet Passepartout (Mexican actor Cantinflas who was huge in Mexico but never quite made it in English-language films) on a series of adventures. Along the way, he meets a cast of thousands; part of the fun is trying to recognize all the stars doing bit parts. Also, I don't rhink from my reading of the book 30 years ago that the characters ever went by balloon; that's purely made up for the movie and yet that's the scene that became most associated with the film.
Finally for the shorts on TCM. Those of you who like Pete Smith may enjoy Victory Quiz, which is sort of a historical curiosity. Produced in 1942 early in the US's involvement in World War II, it asks a bunch of multiple choice questions about military matters, and gives the audience (remember that this was intended to be shown in a packed theater) 10 or 15 seconds to answer the questions. Yell answers at the screen like you do when you watch game shows. Those of you who prefer the Traveltalks series get to go to Old New Orleans, at 9:38 AM Friday. This one looks at the city as it was back in 1940, before Tom Benson's granddaughter destroyed the place. Of course, James A. Fitzpatrick always looked at his subjects in a way that would interest the class of people that could travel there since he was a travel agent originally, but that's part of the fun. I can only imagine how much the nice restauarnts of today cost.
Wisconsin received word of its third decommitment in the 2015 class since Paul Chryst's hire early Thursday morning when Brandyn Lee announced that he had elected to reopen his recruitment.
A 6-foot, 168-pound receiver from West Hills (CA) Chaminade, Lee confirmed the news with BadgerBlitz.com, citing the philosophy of the new coaching staff.
"With the new coaches and their philosophy, it was not a good fit for me," Lee said. "Now I am looking to pursue other options. Right now I am open to all schools."
Lee, who committed to the Badgers this summer under former head coach Gary Andersen, spoke to Chryst in late December and seemed confident in his commitment.
"I talked to coach Chryst today and it was great talking to him for the first time," Lee said in a previous interview. "We got off on a great foot and I think the program is going to be better with coach Chryst there right now.
"It was a great conversation. We just talked about how my visit to Wisconsin went and getting the application in. It was really just about getting to know each other and about our families. It was just getting our relationship started."
During his recruitment, Lee also fielded offers from Washington State, Fresno State and Nevada. He has four remaining official visits, though no trips have been scheduled thus far.
With Lee off the board, Wisconsin has just commitment from a receiver (Andrew James) in the current cycle. The new staff has shown recent interest in Freddie Simmons (North Carolina State commit) and Obe Fortune, among others.
Lots of **** flying in New Orleans. As I understand it, for some time Tom Benson, who owns the Saints as well as the NBA Pelicans, had intended for ownership to be passed to his grandchildren, with granddaughter Rita in the lead. Tom remarried several years ago, and earlier this week it was revealed that he basically disowned the grandchildren and directed that his wife take over everything after his passing. The grandkids filed suit today claiming Tom has no mental capacity to transfer ownership as he did.
Evidently Rita is quite the harridan and, among others, is pretty much hated by Sean Payton and the Saints' GM.
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