Friday, March 14, 2008

The Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG has been updated!!!

The subject dealt with is a clarification of my usage of a variety of certain terms pertaining to jurisprudence -both in their past usage as well as the long planned and upcoming exposition on a necessary third way in politics. Though more could be noted, that is all I have time for presently.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Points to Ponder:

We live in a great and free country only because our forefathers were willing to wage war rather than accept the peace that spells destruction. [Theodore Roosevelt]

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On the Seahawks, What They Need to Do To Get Back to the Superbowl, and Offseason Moves Made Thus Far:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I noted some time ago on various occasions the intention of writing on this subject but time has not allowed for me to do so prior to this time. And as my original template would not completely cohere with what has transpired thus far, I will note briefly what I originally intended to say and follow it up with if the Hawks had or had not followed what I was going to recommend.

To start with, I did not buy the common argument that the decline of Shaun Alexander at running back was irreversible for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the Seahawks offensive line is not the same now as it was when Alexander was a prolific runner. This does not mean that they would not need help in this area but my original focus was rebuilding the offensive line, adding a defensive lineman, drafting a running back in the upcoming draft, and perhaps sign someone to share running back duties in this area with Alexander and consider releasing Maurice Morris.

Specifically, on the offensive line, Chris Gray needed to be retired or kept in a significantly reduced role, Walter Jones needs to heal in the off season as he was hurt all year and a shell of his former self as a result. The loss of Steve Hutchinson to Minnesota after the 2005 season was unfortunate and a player of his caliber needs to be signed for the offensive line along with re-signing offensive tackle Sean Locklear. I viewed it as necessary to re-sign kicker Josh Brown and retain cornerback Marcus Trufant, get a solid guard to help take some of the pressure off of Walter Jones on the left side of the line, and also to get a good tight end who can block and catch passes to give the offensive a dimension it lacked the past couple of years generally speaking. Of course this was my mindset before coach Mike Holmgren announced that this was his final season.

Those were my thoughts before I started putting together the thread you are now reading from this point onward. And since those sketched notes (which I merely assembled into a coherent sequence of paragraphs above), some moves have happened by the Hawks which bear noting here -both of a coaching and a player standpoint.{1} For one thing, they put the franchise tag on Marcus Trufant which was a good move as it basically retains him at the cost of draft picks and other compensation if another team were to try and get him. They lost kicker Josh Brown who signed with St. Louis so they will need to replace him with a similarly quality kicker -someone who can hit clutch 50 yarders in close games. As far as who is available at the moment, I do not know admittedly but they will need to find someone.

The Hawks did re-sign Sean Locklear which is good and they also signed tight end Jeb Putzier so they got a competent tight end which solves the problem at that position which has for a couple of years been problematical. As far as offensive linemen go, I was hoping they would sign guard Alan Faneca of the Pittsburgh Steelers but they did not do that and he was eventually snatched up by the Jets. Nonetheless, they did sign a good Pro Bowl guard in Mike Wahle{2} so that will help in solidifying the left side of the line and giving Jones some much-needed help.

On the running back front, the Hawks signed former Detroit Lion running back
T.J. Duckett to a five year contract. This was done presumably for short yardage situations as his 252 pound frame would address an area that the past two years has been a problem: converting on third and fourth down with short yardage when it is probable that the team will try to run the ball. Duckett could also play a bit of fullback as well so he is a good utility acquisition to the team so thank you Kevin Tierney for your Lions letting him go ;-) But that is not all.

The Hawks have also come to an agreement with former Dallas Cowboys running back Julian Jones in a move that shows that they do not intend to address the running back issue through the draft. This unexpected move almost certainly makes Maurice Morris{3} expendable since he was unable to carry the team when Alexander struggled with injuries last year and a championship team needs a potential starter who can do that in the event of injuries to insure that there is not only balance to an offense but also that they can give their defense some rest in a way that a team that relies far too much on the pass cannot effectively do all that often.{4}

The following notes will complete this review of the Hawks moves thus far. It is essentially a thread I threw together the other day on a Seattle Times discussion site when I saw far too much bashing of Shaun Alexander by folks who obviously do not know football all that well.

Other than Alexander's getting hurt the past two seasons (which affected his productivity: DUH!!!), what is the single biggest reason the running game has suffered folks??? It is obvious that many of you dumping on Alexander do not get it so I will tell you: the offensive line and the fullback spot.

The offensive line suffered from the loss of Hutch after the 2005 season and the running game in 2006 suffered from Alexander missing a good chunk of the season and Morris showing he was not capable of picking up the slack. Last year Alexander played with a broken wrist and also a sprained knee -as someone who had knee problems myself in years past let me tell you it makes it damn hard to run. And losing Mack Strong at fullback did not help either as Alexander would be the first to tell you that Strong's ability to block was generally under appreciated. (Not to knock Weaver but he is not Strong -though I am sure he will have a better year this year after getting thrown to the wolves when Mack had to retire after the injury in the Steelers game.)

None of this is to say that the other signings of Duckett and Jones are not good -heck with Duckett we have a short yardage specialist which saves on running back wear and tear. And with Jones, we have another solid runner and someone who could compete for the starting job with Alexander. But more importantly are the signings for the offensive line -a Pro Bowl guard to play alongside Walter Jones, re-signing Locklear, and getting a competent tight end in Putzier.

But do not rule out Alexander yet. He was not the league MVP in 2005 by accident and he had a solid offensive line and an experienced fullback which helped him both that year and in previous years where he was highly productive because (guess what???) running backs not named Barry Sanders need that stuff to be good.

The offensive line was lessened in 2006 with the loss of Hutchinson and was weaker still last year due to the retirement of center Robbie Tobeck and injuries to key players (such as left tackle Walter Jones and new center Chris Spenser) and also age (read: 37 year old Chris Gray at right guard). The signing of former two time Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle will be a marked improvement over what we have had the past two years. The addition of competent tight end Jeb Putzier will also help in an area which has been a problem since Jerramy Stevens forgot how to catch the ball in 2006 and Marcus Pollard did not pan in 2007.

There are a lot of factors here and it is not because Alexander suddenly became crappy. He may not be the player he was in 2005 (age has a way with all of us to some extent) but he can still be plenty good if he can have a productive recovery in the offseason and stay healthy. And with Jones on the team along with Duckett for hard grinding short yardage stuff, we will not have to worry about Alexander having to carry the full load this year if he stays on the team and is given a chance to compete for the starting spot.

I like the idea of Jones pushing Alexander and there are two possibilities here if Alexander stays, either he wins the starting spot and Jones backs him up or Jones starts and Alexander plays backup. If Alexander starts, we have a solid starter at backup in Jones who at 26 has youth on his side. And even if Jones were to earn the starting spot, who would you prefer at backup: a former (and possibly future) monster yardage guy and MVP (Alexander) or a guy who cannot cut it as a starter and anything more than a spot runner (Maurice Morris)???

With Duckett for short yardage situations and some fullback duties, I would say aloha to Morris and give Alexander a chance to prove wrong all the morons who blame him for the non-existing running game last year instead of looking at the big picture. And not just because of the money he will have to be paid anyway. Having Jones there will push Alexander in a way that Morris could not because (unlike Morris) Jones is a quality running back and potential full time starter.

I am liking thus far what I am seeing in the moves made by the Hawks in this off season!!!

And with that note, that concludes this look at what the Hawks have done thus far in positioning themselves for a possible Super Bowl appearance (and victory) next year in what will be Mike Holmgren's swan song as coach. Suffice to say, so far so good but not enough has been done yet for me to make any bold predictions of even getting to the Superbowl let alone actually winning it. But that is all I have time for and plan to say on these matters for now.

Notes:

{1} I do not intend to discuss the coaching part of it except to say that I am glad they have a new offensive line coach after the problems of the past couple of years.

{2} After releasing offensive lineman Tom Ashworth who could not make the transition to guard that they had hoped when signing him in 2006.

{3} My guess at this point is that Jones and Alexander will compete for the starting spot.

{4} I say this because a team who can run the ball effectively is capable of eating up time of possession which is beneficial in that (i) it allows your defense to get more rest which keeps them effective in the second half of games most notably in the fourth quarter and (ii) it keeps the other team's offense off the field which limits their ability to score.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Miscellaneous Threads Worth Reviewing:

Here are a few that are of interest to me at the present time...

Chinese Hackers Got into the Pentagon (CNN)

Hopefully if this is true they either (i) did not find anything of particular sensitivity and (ii) if they did that they are freelancers and not working for the Chinese government. What else can I say??? Moving on...

At Charter School, Higher Teacher Pay

I have for years viewed the idea of charter schools with favour and the above article outlines why they could be a possible remedy for not only better education of kids but also for the problem of low teacher salaries. Or to quote a bit from the article:

The school, which will run from fifth to eighth grades, is promising to pay teachers $125,000, plus a potential bonus based on schoolwide performance. That is nearly twice as much as the average New York City public school teacher earns, roughly two and a half times the national average teacher salary and higher than the base salary of all but the most senior teachers in the most generous districts nationwide.

The school’s creator and first principal, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, contends that high salaries will lure the best teachers. He says he wants to put into practice the conclusion reached by a growing body of research: that teacher quality — not star principals, laptop computers or abundant electives — is the crucial ingredient for success.

May their tribe increase is all I can say. And finally...

McCain Clashes With TV Reporter (Breitbart.tv)

Good for him!!! One thing that is really annoying is idiotic journalists who raise issues which were beaten to death in years past over and over again. The proper term for this is "fark" of which I will publish a long-planned "points to ponder" installment on (possibly tomorrow).

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