Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 NFL Awards

"And just like that. As mysteriously as he arrived, he was gone."

The same can be said about this year's NFL season. After a busy off-season filled with QB (Robert Griffin III) v. Head Coach (Mike Shanahan), old faces (Andy Reid) in new places (Kansas City), a lawsuit against the league that was eventually settled, and same story, different year with the Cowboys, we finally kicked off the 2013 NFL season in Denver with Peyton Manning starting his MVP campaign with a record-tying 5 TDs (and zero INTs) against the defending champion Baltimore Ravens, which proved to be indicative of the Ravens season after their second Lombardi trophy as a Baltimore franchise. On the opening Monday night game, we saw the Chargers reminisce their glory days with Norv Turner while allowing the Texans to storm back from down 28-7 to win one of their two games this year.

Today marks the first Monday after the regular season, and while it is commonly known as "Black Monday", there are 12 teams whose playoff runs are about to take off towards a trip to East Rutherford for Super Bowl XLVIII and the other 20 will be facing questions on whether their coaching staff, starting QB (or lack thereof), and front office is in line to improve upon missing out again next year.

These players helped shaped a great 2013 NFL season, regardless of the black eyes the NFL continues to hand down with head-scratching decision making and new "rules" to help protect players.

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year


Kiko Alonso - LB - Buffalo Bills
Sheldon Richardson - DL - New York Jets
Eric Reid - S - San Francisco 49ers
Alec Olgetree - LB - St. Louis Rams

Alonso will likely be the runaway winner, leading all rookies and finishing third in total tackles, while also grabbing up 4 INTs, and notching 2 sacks. Richardson played very well for a very good Jets defensive line, recording 12 tackles for loss along with 77 tackles, good for fourth on the team. Reid may be overlooked because of all the other studs the 49ers have on defense, but he finished third on the team in tackles, third in pass defenses, and second in INTs on a team that allowed only 221 yards passing per game. Olgetree deserves some fanfare as well, but he will likely be overshadowed by his teammate Robert Quinn. Olgetree racked up 117 tackles to go along with 6 (!) forced fumbles which is third behind ... Robert Quinn and Robert Mathis. Along with 10 pass defenses, I would say the combination of Quinn and Olgetree will be a force for the Rams in the coming year.

Winner: Kiko Alonso

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year


Cordarrelle Patterson - WR - Minnesota Vikings
Eddie Lacy - RB - Green Bay Packers
Keenan Allen - WR - San Diego Chargers
Le'Veon Bell - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers

Patterson and Lacy will be your two spotlight players amongst the voters, but Allen was the Chargers only real threat at WR all year for Rivers, and had 8 catches for 5 TDs in a three game span to help propel the Chargers into the playoffs, to go along with 1,046 receiving yards. Bell, while only playing in 13 games this year, set a Steeler record for most scrimmage yards by a rookie, only lost one fumble, and caught 45 balls for 399 yards to go along with 860 rushing yards. A full, healthy year will likely see Bell as a top 5 rusher. Patterson is a speed demon, and was the only player this year to have 2 return touchdowns. He finished second to Devin Hester in return yards with 1393, but had 9 fewer returns than Hester and averaged 32.4 yards per return, leading the league. While he was only able to catch 45 balls for 4 TDs, we have to think that the QB situation in Minnesota was the only thing holding Patterson back. All Eddie Lacy did was rush for over 1100 yards, score 11 TDs (third in the league behind Lynch and Charles), and also only lost one fumble.

Winner: Eddie Lacy

NFL Defensive Player of the Year


Robert Quinn - DE - St. Louis Rams
Robert Mathis - LB - Indianapolis Colts
Luke Kuechly - LB - Carolina Panthers
Lavonte David - LB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Too many great defensive players this year to narrow down to four, so this category will vary quite a bit amongst writers, but I picked out four players who stood out the most to me. Quinn and Mathis are almost the same person. They both had 19 sacks (19.5 for Mathis) and finished 1-2 in forced fumbles. While Quinn was on a team that didn't lead a whole lot, it is pretty impressive that he was able to amass that many sacks. Kuechly, last year's defensive rookie of the year, didn't lead the league in tackles again this year, but that may be because of an improved defensive line for the Panthers, but he was still manage to finish fourth with 156, back-to-back years with 150+ tackles, and 4 INTs. He is the best player on the top defensive team and that usually helps the player's case for post-season awards. Lavonte David, behind all the smoke that has been looming around football in Florida these past few months, has been putting the hurt on all his opponents. Second among linebackers with 5 INTs, along with 2 forced fumbles and 144 tackles on a bad team. Add on 6 sacks, and I think David makes a strong case.

Winner: Robert Mathis

NFL Offensive Player of the Year


LeSean McCoy - RB - Philadelphia Eagles
Josh Gordon - WR - Cleveland Browns
Peyton Manning - QB - Denver Broncos
Jamaal Charles - RB - Kansas City Chiefs

McCoy led the league in rushing, Gordon in receiving, Manning in passing, and Charles in total touchdowns. These are just "default" candidates either. Each had a very impressive year, so picking out the most impressive year is the task. McCoy, while leading the league in rushing with 1,607 yards, "only" got 9 rushing touchdowns, but had an impressive 10.4 yards per reception along with 2 touchdowns while leading the league in scrimmage yards. Josh Gordon blew away everyone over a three week stretch. In games 10-12, Gordon had 649 yards over 31 receptions and 4 touchdowns, setting an NFL record for most yards over a three-game period. He finished the year with 1,646 yards with 3 starting quarterbacks. Jamaal Charles only led the league in total touchdowns this year with 19 (12 rushing, 7 receiving) and had an explosive game against Oakland with 4 receiving touchdowns on 8 catches and 195 yards, and finished second in scrimmage yards. Manning's year, by far, was the most impressive. 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns (both single-season records), 68.3 completion percentage, and 115 quarterback rating (not sure how this was worse than his 121.1 in 2004). This makes the second time he's broken the touchdown record and became the first QB since Dan Marino in 1984 to hold the passing yards and touchdowns record.

Winner: Peyton Manning

NFL Coach of the Year


Ron Rivera - Carolina Panthers
Andy Reid - Kansas City Cheifs
Bruce Arians - Arizona Cardinals
Bill Belichick - New England Patriots

Had the Cardinals made the playoffs, Arians would have won his second consecutive coach of the year award, with two different teams. Rivera was on the hot seat at the end of last year, and many wanted him fired, but survived an offensive coordinator turnover, drafted very well on the defensive side of the ball, and this team is the number two seed. Reid would be a lock if the Chiefs didn't flounder against the Broncos and Chargers, but getting back into the playoffs is a good pitch. Belichick is as deserving as anyone, considering they've been without two of the best tight ends in the game most of the year, dealing with the loss of Wes Welker, and still just a win away from the top seed. Getting a first-round bye was huge for this team, who has a lot of new pieces, so props to the entire coaching staff for getting this team back into high-octane form.

Winner: Ron Rivera

NFL Most Valuable Player


Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos
Tom Brady - New England Patriots
Jamaal Charles - Kansas City Chiefs
Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints

Brady is very deserving of this award, and part of me wants him to get this one, but it will likely be Manning again. Brady has carried the team on his back, 5 comebacks, including one over the Broncos, and a number 2 seed. His coach got snubbed for coach of the year, but I vote for Brady for MVP.

Winner: Tom Brady

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Candidates for Texas Head Coaching Job

Just in case Mack Brown does indeed step down in the next 48 hours (and if you are not buying Saint Nick leaving T-Town), I've scoured the Interwebs for the next head coach of University of Texas Longhorns. Hard to pick just one...

Coach from Old Spice Commercial

Nobody Wants to Hear That Story Again

Although he is aged well beyond what we've come to expect out of a "new" head football coach, I suspect the press conferences will go very well when he begins by drawing, yet again, on the white board what exactly went down on that mild summer night outside of White Lake, New York in 1969.

Coach from Aflac Commercial

He's Gonna Help Us Turn This Thing Around in the Second Half

In the first 8 seconds, the coach admits he is not a real leader, and thus brings in a duck to help turn the team around for the second half. Of course, instead of the Aflac duck, he would have to bring in Bevo, who would say just as much (and bring as many "grown man tears") as the duck did.

Robin Williams from Snickers Commercial

Let's KILL THEM, with kindness.

It is not everyday you get a prospective coach who has played a cross-dressing nanny, president, alien, Peter Pan, psychopath, and physician in previous realms of life, but Robin Williams (as long as he is hungry) is the perfect coach to take over for such a prestigious football program.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

AT&T "Next" - The Dollars and Sense

AT&T has followed up on T-Mobile "Jump" device upgrade program, where you have the ability to upgrade a device every 12 months, with "Next". I won't go into too any detail on the T-Mobile side, but I will break down several scenarios for users wishing to utilize the program.

Let us look at the pricing scheme of the iPhone:
On-Contract Price Off-Contract Price Monthly "Next" Fee Costs after 12 Months Overhead from "Next" Fee*
iPhone 5 16GB $199.99 $649.99 $32.50 $390.00 $191.00
iPhone 5 32GB $299.99 $749.99 $37.50 $449.99 $150.00
iPhone 5 64GB $399.99 $849.99 $42.50 $509.99 $110.00

*This is the On-Contract Price subtracted from the Costs after 12 Months

Notice that the overhead costs become cheaper as the phone's price increases. Essentially, instead of waiting a year for your upgrade, you pay the overhead costs to get it now. I liken this to a layaway for a phone. Over time, you pay a little more than what you would if you bought it at the appropriate time you could pay for it all at once, but, the key difference between the T-Mobile and AT&T plans are there is no down-payment for AT&T. I imagine that the taxes are included with your monthly bill, but I cannot confirm this, but I would imagine the sales tax has to come in to play. So depending on your area, you could pay more in sales tax on top of the monthly charge. Update: If I would have kept on reading the AT&T site, I would have seen this: "You only pay taxes up front ...
". Yes, you must pay you respective taxes up front.

So, here are a few things to consider:

  1. The more expensive the device, the less overhead charge you pay over the next year for the upgrade. If you bought an iPhone 5 at release on-contract, and wanted an iPhone 6/5S, you can wait another year, and pay $199 (or $99 if the iPhone in 2014 has released) up-front, extend your contract, while the iPhone 6 is released. If you do utilize the "Next" program, you will end up paying almost double what you would normally have had you waited the 2 years, unless you opt for a higher-priced device.
  2. If you decide to get a new device after 12 months, your current device on the "Next" program must be traded in. So, if you break your phone, you are financially responsible for it. Unlike a contract renewal, you just "wait out" your contract duration and then buy a new phone, without worrying about the previous one. This case, you are on the hook for the full, off-contract price of the device if something happens to it before your trade-in period (between 12 and 20 months).
  3. After 20 months, the phone is yours, and you no longer have a service fee to pay. Essentially, you bought the phone off-contract and paid for it over 20 months. This is especially nice if you just want to wait the normal 2 years for a new device, you can take the money you have been paying for the last 20 months (anywhere from $32 to $42) and save that over the next 4 months, and help pay for a traditional upgrade device (or fully pay for one, depending on your selection).
In conclusion, this is a nice program for those who want the newest phone every year, and don't mind paying for that privilege. Just be careful, if you do utilize the program, to read the terms and conditions. You can visit the official AT&T Next web page for more information.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What I Learned About Xbox One

1) Always-on Internet

Perfectly fine option, but should not be required. If I want to play games without a disc, I can understand the need to keep the license refreshed every 24 hours. However, if my Internet goes down with U-Verse, so does my TV. What can I do with my Xbox One then? Although I am unclear if I can play games I bought digitally offline (why shouldn't I), I know that I can't play disc-based games, even if I can prove the disc is still in my possession. I can't take advantage of any TV-based functionality, and I am also not sure if digitally downloaded movies from Xbox will work offline. My options are to a) watch a Blu-Ray movie, of which I have a whopping two movies or b) play music or movies local to my network, e.g. from my Windows 8 desktop or whatever I thought to save locally to the Xbox. Both of those options are likely very slim, simply because I don't buy a lot of movies and music. Without Internet, my gaming and media console is now a very expensive Blu-Ray player. Think about the $499 price tag (plus tax), the absurd Xbox Live membership (I still buy mine for under $50/year, but still), games and accessories, and we are talking well over $600 for a machine that is designed to be incapable of its primary purpose simply because I do not have Internet. Strike one.


2) Game Lending and Reselling

This one lead a lot of people to scratch their heads, because the initial impression was that Microsoft would charge YOU to resell your game to someone, including GameStop. This is not the case, but there are still some puzzling caveats and a scary, open door does exist. Microsoft requires you to deauthorize the game you want to part ways with from your account, which makes sense, because it installs to your hard drive. GameStop will then buy it, as usual, and resell that to someone else. That could seemingly happen many times. However, if you decided to let a friend have a game, two requirements must be met: 1) They have to be a friend on your Xbox Live for at least 30-days (strange) and 2) this action can only be done once (even more strange). I get the idea behind the fact that game companies want to keep revenue close to their chest, and not resellers, but Microsoft may have overstepped here. This means you won't be selling your old games on eBay or anymore and even if you did, you may not be able to play it if it has been given away once already. Granted, 90% of the games I buy are brand new, and that may be once or twice a year. I won't give Microsoft a strike two just yet, because I think they are also looking at this method to drive DOWN the price of new games, so buying a used game isn't as enticing as it once was. The "scary, open door" here is that Microsoft will allow third-parties to charge a fee to trade-in a game. I am not 100% clear on whether the reseller (GameStop) will pay the fee, of if the end-user trading in the game pays that fee. Either way, it is an awful way to allow money-hungry companies like EA to milk more money out of its consumers and partners. As I am really unclear how this could work, and since Microsoft isn't forcing anyone to follow this model, I can live with it, simply because I don't trade in games (anymore) and I only buy a game or two per year.
UPDATED: From Paul Thurrott, Xbox One games will retail for $59.99 and that might make this another strike.

3) Game rentals

At time of launch, Microsoft has no plans for game rentals. Redbox, who currenlty rents out games for $2/night will not have any Xbox One games available. I don't see this changing either, unless one of two things occur: 1) Redbox does digital rentals that are simply given to you via email or text message or 2) Redbox signs a deal with Microsoft and gains access to specialy-made game discs that cannot be installed or resold. The issue with number 2 is those games will not be able to be sold, like Redbox currently does for their used games. Also, it will likely drive up the price of rentals if those games are forever doomed as rentals, because they hold zero market value outside of Redbox. At least currenlty, they take real game discs that can be sold just like any other game. The first option seems viable, but I imagine Microsoft handling digital rentals their selves, if that route is taken (no word on if that would be available). I am sure that Microsoft is looking hard at this situation, because Redbox buys a lot of games, and will not be able to buy any if something isn't worked out. They fact that they have no plans to support this at launch, when no one will be able to afford a game retail after purchasing a new Xbox One (see #4) will mean we have to watch a lot of TV to get any use out of it. Strike two three.


4) $500 is the price of a computer

I recently built a gaming PC for about $800. That included a 24" monitor. If you built a gaming experience with Xbox One, you are looking at over $600.

  • $499 + tax

  • Xbox Live $60

  • One game $59.99

  • Extra controller $50?

  • Total: $645 + tax

Don't forget that since Internet is required, just add that to the cost, although you likely already have connection. The price is way too high to be worth it, considering the question marks behind the antics. For $399, I should get this console with a year of Live. For $499, I should get much more. Strike three four (I know there are really only three).


5) TV and Multitasking

TV is not a big deal for me but a cool addition. The fact I can watch TV and play Xbox is cool. Also, the ability to Skype and play, listen to streaming music and play, or simply look up a strategy guide, all on one screen, is reason enough to justify the costs. The deal with the NFL is also a plus, and the continued push to add content to their subscription model makes me excited. Too bad it was already strike three four.
6) Will not play Xbox 360 Games
Just to beat a dead horse, the Xbox One has shifted architectures. For those unfamiliar, the first two Xbox consoles were powered by a PowerPC-based CPU, which is the same architecture Macs were powered with before they switched to Intel chips. Xbox One will be powered by an x86 processor, or what you commonly see in PCs today. What does that mean for you? No Xbox 360 support. Although I have no knowledge of the development behind any of the Xbox games in the past, I would think, because of the flexibility of x86, that there could be a way. Emulation, for example, allows us to play DOS, TurboGrafx, NeoGeo, and even arcade games to this day. The emulation may not even be possible for several years, but I really, really hope that I can insert my Xbox 360 disc, and the Xbox One say "do you want to launch this Xbox 360 game? You will lose your ability to snap (multitask) and achievements will not be earned". There are several Xbox 360 games I have never, ever played, and if I decide I want an Xbox One sometime soon, I want to be able to play through the older library of games without having to switch to the 360. Now, that may seem rather lazy, but I already have two gaming consoles, and a third would be more than my current TV supports in HDMI inputs (Uverse box takes up one of three slots). I know that in the past, we couldn't play games on newer consoles. The SNES wouldn't play NES games, the N64 wouldn't play SNES games, Sega Saturn couldn't play Sega Genesis, and so on. We've seen technology shifts before, and this one is no different. The PS4 will also yield the same issue, as it has also shifted architecture. The WiiU is the only backwards-compatible system that is of the current generation. The WiiU also has Virtual Console, which allows for playing classic games downloaded from the Wii U store. Could we see the library of 360 games migrate over? I don't see why not, but I can understand if the development is focused on next-generation gaming, not previous ones.
Although the Xbox One is flawed with handling content (mainly games), I do believe it will be a great console. The pricing and handling of the Internet requirement will keep many people, including me, from purchasing it day one.
I outlined solutions to some of the issues I had above, but here is a quick recap:
Unless a specific game requires Internet to stream services and features, DRM should not require Internet if the game is a disc-install (simply insert the disc) or a digital download (I can't share that download anyway, so let me have no DRM check). Game discs should be the more expensive option, and digital downloads should be at least $5 cheaper, since it will be strictly locked to my system. Game rentals could be handled in the cloud. Redbox could link to your Xbox Live account, give you a rental disc, you take it home, install the disc as you play, and Redbox will communicate with the Xbox servers how long you have to play the game. Once that is up, you can set it up to automatically renew your rental or just hault gameplay. Digital rentals would work the same way, except without the need for a disc and Redbox would simply email or text you a code to redeem for a 24-48 hour rental. Drop the price to $399 with a Kinect, and include a year of Xbox Live. If I buy a $499 model, I should get an extra controller or game of my choice.

Monday, December 31, 2012

NFL Season Recap

I have not written about the NFL, much less anything else, in a long time, but today, a lot of talk on Twitter has caused me to express my thoughts and opinions on a much more robust medium. I have a few talking points to address as the end of the NFL regular season came upon us with yet another Cowboys loss.

1) The MVP Discussion
This one is tough, but I will try my best to put aside my bias for Peyton Manning. Adrian Peterson had an amazing year. I would say he would be MVP without question, but there are a few things you have to remember. First, Peterson did not score a TD in 7 out of 16 games. With an offense that leaned on Peterson as much as it did, he did not finish with a crazy number of scores. Granted, the Vikings had the same number of losses in games he did score a TD (6-3) than when he didn't (4-3) and his team only scored under 20 points once when he didn't score, but accounting for 12 touchdowns on the year, in a league of high-octane offenses, doesn't quite give him the advantage. But, you always have to look at the "rest of the story". Christian Ponder only passed for 2900 yards and 18 TDs. That is 30 TDs accounted for by Ponder and Peterson. Not quite 2 per game. Which is why the Vikings lost 6 games, 3 of them being where they scored 17 or fewer points. Minnesota finished 31st out of 32 teams in passing offense. The Jets were a better passing team. Peterson did work. 2,097 yards accounted for more than half of the Vikings 10 wins, especially the playoff-clinching performance against Green Bay in Week 17. Without Peterson's efforts, they would likely be the worst team in the NFL, right above Kansas City.

Peyton Manning, on the other hand, inherited a good team that had an unusual quarterback situation the season prior. Tim Tebow, who was not in the top 20 in yards, completion percentage, or touchdowns (while only starting 11 games), led the Broncos to an 8-8 record, AFC West title, and first-round playoff victory against Pittsburgh. Yet, people hold that up against Manning as a negative, although Manning has only led the Broncos to a 13-3 season, top seed in the playoffs, while on an 11 game winning streak in which they won by 7 or more points in each of those victories. And then, the strength-of-schedule is plastered on Manning and the Broncos, playing in a bad division and benefiting from an easy, end-of-season schedule. They are 28th in terms of opponents' winning percentage. The bottom five team in 2011 in terms of strength of schedule where Green Bay, Houston, New England, San Francisco, and New Orleans. All playoff teams, two conference championship game attendees, and one Super Bowl team. Baltimore (23rd), Pittsburgh/Cincinnati (tied for 19th) and New York/Denver (tied for 8th) round out the other playoff teams. SoS does nothing for playoffs. This is not college football or basketball where your opponents' records and quality wins matter. Yet, Manning cannot be the most valuable player because his team didn't have a tough schedule. Heisman voting, yes, it matter. MVP voting, no.

If I were to cast my vote, it would have to go to Peterson. Manning has more around him than Peterson does, and the Broncos are a more complete team than the Vikings are, and they are both in the playoffs, which spells well for the Vikings, who hope to make it the 3rd straight NFC wildcard team to win the Super Bowl. Manning would have blown the field away any other year, but this is surely Peterson's year.

2) Rookie of the Year - Offense

Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III. Russell Wilson. All three are rookies, all three are in the playoffs. Griffin is the only one to win the division, thus hosting a playoff game against Wilson. Luck, who inherited a 2-14 team fresh off a turnover in personnel, coaching, and front office staff, muscled his way to a 11-5 record, capped off with an emotional win in Indy against the Houston Texans, shattering their hopes of a top seed. All three have the ability to win it. No one else is in the picture. I think you have to look at expected performance versus actual performance to get the real story.

Wilson was drafted in the third round, and not expected to be the opening day starter with newly signed Matt Flynn in that spot. Wilson beat out Flynn, and started Week 1, as well as the rest of the games. He posted outstanding home numbers (8-0, 17 TDs, 2 INT) and went 5-0 in December, and was helped out by the league's second best rusher in Marshawn Lynch, the league's best total defense, and, arguably, the best home field advantage. I almost have no qualms against Wilson, other than in the five losses, he threw 5 TDs and 6 INT. His completion percentage is pretty good, but threw 9 TDs and 8 INT on the road (3-5 record). But, that if nitpicking for sure. He is a legit candidate.

Griffin came into the NFL a very hot commodity. Heisman trophy, 2nd overall pick, Redskins traded a lot to get him, and he lived up to all the hype. His play on the field is very quick, decisive, and well ahead in terms of his maturity. But, his team was 3-6 after 10 weeks, and it was not a good outlook for the playoffs. After a 7 game winning streak, the Redskins won the NFC East. Griffin, along the way, missed the latter parts of an overtime win against the AFC North Champion Ravens, and the entire game against the Browns. Griffin was not the same player after the Ravens game either, throwing for 298 yards and 2 TDs against the Eagles and Cowboys combined, but still led his team. Jon Gruden thinks Griffin is the best QB prospect to ever walk the Earth, but the kid still has things to learn. He runs way too much, and took a few too many hits. He has a bright future but he does have a risk factor. The Redskins also benefited from Alfred Morris, a rookie running back who did wonders for Griffin when the defenses were zeroed in on Griffin. Washington, although a porous pass defense, was a top rush defense. Griffin is also a very legitimate candidate.

Luck, who was the top pick for the Colts to replace the cornerstone of the Indianapolis franchise post relocation, Peyton Manning, was highly regarded as one of the best prospects at quarterback since Manning. Luck inherited the worst team in the NFL in 2011, a turnover in coaching staff, general manager, and a good chunk of roster, put forth a solid effort in squeezing out 11 wins, when the prediction for most was 5 or 6. Comeback wins against Minnesota, Green Bay, and Detroit as well as an 9-1 record in games decided by one possession proved that Luck has the intangibles to thrive in the NFL. Luck led the Colts on 7 4th quarter comeback/game winning drives through 15 weeks and overcame his own mistakes (3 INT against Detroit and 2 against Tennessee) and managed to put his team in the win column. Luck's stats, other than passing yardage, are dim in comparison to Wilson and Griffin, but Luck definitely has less to work with on both sides of the ball. The Colts ran on a lot of heart, which made up for their lack of talent in most areas, and have a young team capable of great things. The Colts are the bottom rung in rushing offense and defense, something the Seahawks and Redskins have not been burdened with, and just like Peterson overcoming the second-worst passing offense in the Vikings, Luck has overcome a myriad of circumstances to march into the playoffs.

That said, Russell Wilson is your offensive rookie of the year.

3) Hot Coaching Jobs and Prospects

Jon Gruden. Bill Cowher. Chip Kelly. Nick Saban. Names that have been circulating the coaching market for quite some time, some more than others. With Black Monday under way, 8 NFL head coaching positions are open, with more to come. I won't try to play matchmaker with the coaches and where they should land, but I will try to explain why these names are the best options when it comes to leading an NFL team

Gruden is one of the most overrated persons I know. I highly dislike him on Monday Night Football, I highly dislike him as the Tampa Bay coach, although he won a Super Bowl with Coach Dungy's team, and I highly dislike his perception as a quarterback-centric coach. His perceived knowledge of quarterbacks is baffling. I never understood the love for Jon Gruden other than name recognition in the college football scene. In the NFL, I don't think his shtick will work anymore. He went through quarterbacks like underwear in his gasping breaths at Tampa:
Brian Griese
Chris Simms
Bruce Gradkowski
Tim Rattay
Jeff Garcia
Luke McCown

I think his eye for talent is off, and I think he is best served staying in the booth. If an NFL team agrees to a contract for him to be the head coach, I don't see why he would get more than two years if other teams are firing their coaches after two years. Sorry Jon. You may be a great guy, but I don't see you as a coach again.

Bill Cowher. I have always had the utmost respect for him, so I probably won't sound as harsh towards him as I was Gruden. But, yet another coach that I find a bit overrated. Two Super Bowl appearances and one win in 15 seasons as head coach of the Steelers, which is one more than Andy Reid has. Missed the playoffs 5 times in that span, and probably would have been without a Super Bowl if Ben Roethlisberger had not come around. Yet, I still think he can get a coaching job nearly anywhere he pleases, if he were to choose. I think this is another person, along with Tony Dungy, who is happy with post-coaching life. Television keeps him busy, and he adores his family. I would love to see him on the sidelines again, but I think too many teams would overpay for him, and too much expected out of him too soon.

Chip Kelly is an interesting person. 5 years ago, he would have never been mentioned as a coaching prospect. The league was still dominated by pro-style offense, solid running games, and good defense. Although Kelly has produced great results on the field in terms of quarterback play, rushing offense, and opportunistic defense, his style would not have worked. Now, I think it would be welcomed. but only if he finds the right personnel. In the NFL, beggars cannot be choosers. The talent pool in the NFL is much slimmer than what the nation's high schools are producing, and he will have to work more towards the players he inherits than what he recruits to Oregon. He would fit in well with a small market team, but for him to end up in Philly would not work out too well. Carolina seems like a good fit, considering they have the offensive talent already in place. If he doesn't bite on a job this year, it may be too much for him to handle when more teams are switching to a more high-octane offense.

And then there was Nick Saban. He has had a few coaching stints before, as a coordinator in Cleveland with Bellichick to the head coach in Miami, he has seen his share of NFL locker rooms and film sessions. I think he knew what he was doing when he left Miami to coach Alabama, and he wants to keep it that way. Saban is a control freak. The NCAA fits his coaching style better. His defensive schemes would work well in the NFL, as you see so many Alabama players on the defensive side of the ball transition rather seamlessly to the NFL, but his demeanor and character will not bode well when he is trying to be a micro manager to 30 year-old men like he was with 20 year-old men. Heck of a coach, but I think he is smart enough to know his place is in the college ranks.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What I'm Working on for 2012

I've recently made a decision to switch over to Windows Phone 7 as my smartphone of choice, and am eagerly awaiting the Nokia Lumia 900 to be released on AT&T (allegedly) in March. Since that decision, I thought it would be of great benefit for me to download and learn the SDK, and luckily, it is Visual Studio, and with C# and Silverlight, of which I do have experience in C#. So, the past two weeks, I have been camped out on MSDN and several forums and message boards on how to get the bits and pieces of my first Windows Phone 7 application working, which is a Bible reader called MetroBible.

It is a simple, KJV translation reader that has a few features that are useful, but nothing too flashy as of yet. Best of all, the entire Bible is included in the application download, so no need for web access to use it, although services such as retrieval of the verse of the day and sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and eventual saving verses and notes to OneNote will require said access. Other than that, you can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation without web access.

Most people want the choice of translation, and I really hope to get to the point where I can prompt the user which translation they would like to download upon first run. However, I have just been using the SDK for two weeks now, and I still have a lot to learn about both the C# language and the inner workings of the Windows Phone APIs and functionality.

A video walk-through of MetroBible

I am also trying to tackle the early workings of a Twitter application, but it is one big mess of an application in which I've used code from tutorials, mixed with my own awful coding practices, and not having the best of luck getting everything to work and behave together.

Windows Phone development uses this interesting method of designing and previewing your layouts with a Model-View-Viewmodel, which is essentially a spiced up Presentation Model, and with Microsoft Expression Blend, I am able to create dummy data as I would retrieve it from Twitter, and work on the design aspects, which would be the most time consuming aspect of how elements react to taps and other user interaction.

Right now, I am a one-man team of Windows Phone development. I'd eventually like to get into some open- and crowd-sourced projects, in which I can learn much quicker than trying to come up with my own application ideas, and eventually implement and improve what is already out there. My plans right now do not include monetizing my applications, although that will be a possibility once I get a better feel on what my strengths are as a WP7 developer and what the WP7 users are willing to pay for an application and what type of application is in demand.

If you are a WP7 developer, either novice or expert, I would be willing to listen to any advice you may have, or if you would like to share some of your past or current projects, I would love to learn something new!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finally Building a Gaming Rig

I've shied away from PC gaming for the past 8-10 years mainly because of the surge in console gaming and the ease and accessibility of it. Xbox has probably been the single biggest killer to the PC gaming industry, because it is essentially a decent speced computer at the time of build, and can last for years under minor updates to the software, hardware refreshes, and the ability for developers to get the most out of the system.

I've been wanting a home theater PC for quite some time, and I have since settled for a Roku 2. But, I still have the desire to have a PC that is capable of 1080p output, 5.1 (or higher) sound output, and the ability to store a lot of full movies/TV shows, stream content, and also play some new FPS games (because they are much better on PC), as well as the library of Steam games I have acquired over the past few years.

So, I ventured out to and looked for parts.


Price + Shipping

AMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2GHz Quad core processor


ECS A885GM-A2 AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s ATX Motherboard


G.SKILL Value Series 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Memory


COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 ATX Mid-tower




ASUS VH232H Glossy Black 23" LCD Monitor


VisionTek 900357 Radeon HD 5670 2GB PCI Express 2.0 x16 Video Card


Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 Keyboard + Dell Laser Mouse


Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit




Just a few caveats: I wasn't looking to surpass $700 (all-inclusive) so I missed that mark by about $80. I am aiming for a middle-of-the-road rig, so the best $700 can buy. A few of the parts (GPU, memory) are budget-cutting choices, but I am hoping all the components will work together well. If you have any recommendations on my gaming PC venture, please comment below or hit me on Twitter (@kenosando) or Google+ ( or if you are old school, email me (