Week Seven NFL Power Rankings: The Saints Go Marching On

Another week down and another crazy shake-up in the rankings. The Bears and 49ers faced reality checks, and I finally gave the Bengals the ounce of credibility they deserve. Due to midterms, I’m keeping the intro short and sweet this week.

Raiders Draft Football

Get used to that seat, JaMarcus. You'll be keeping it warm for a while.

On to the rankings.

32 (32) – Rams:
Poor, poor Steven Jackson. 143 rushing attempts on the season and still no touchdowns. Somebody give this man a hug.

31 (31) – Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay can now say they suck in two countries, which is probably more exciting than watching Josh Johnson try to throw a football.

30 (29) – Browns:
In his five games since taking over for the disgraced Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson has posted QB ratings of 30.9, 68.8, 15.1, 51.0, and 36.4. With a completion percentage of 44. Did Quinn beat up the GM? What does he have to do to get back on the field?

29 (27) – Chiefs:
On the bright side, that was an amazing touchdown catch by Dwayne Bowe. Unfortunately, it was their only one.

28 (25) – Raiders:
Andre Ware, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Rick Mirer, Cade McNown, Jim Drunkenmiller, Todd Marinovich, Joey Harrington, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell. Not a good list to be on.

27 (29) – Titans:
Best PR move of the week goes to Jeff Fischer wearing a Peyton Manning jersey to a charity event: “I just want to feel like a winner.” Classic.

26 (28) – Lions:
Cancel your plans and clear your schedules for this Sunday. You don’t want to pick up the in-laws from the airport anyway. Why? St. Louis comes to town. I can barely wait.

25 (22) – Panthers:
Jake Delhomme’s three interception performance on Sunday actually raised his QB rating for the year. Sad. Hey John Fox, Delhomme sucks, your backups are worse, and you have two of the best running backs in the NFL, don’t you think it’s time to try the wildcat? There couldn’t be a better situation.

24 (26) – Redskins:
“I had to go to the senior center and cancel my bingo calling,” said the 67-year-old Sherm Lewis, who last worked in the NFL with the Detroit Lions during the 2004 season. “And I had to cancel my Meals on Wheels today.” This team is a joke. Need I say more?

23 (23) – Seahawks:
Has there been a team more decimated by injuries in any sports the last two years? Other than the New York Mets this year, I can’t think of any. Brutal. I actually kind of feel bad for them, except for when they play the Niners.

22 (24) – Bills:
Did you know Ryan Fitzpatrick has won his last five starts? Me either. Unfortunately, I don’t think that stat alone is going to make Terrell Owens feel any better. Oh well, T.O. is probably working on his next reality show anyway.

21 (21) – Jaguars:
Jacksonville plays the Titans and Chiefs in the next two weeks, teams with a combined 1-12 record. Can you imagine the Jaguars as a 5-3 team? Even if it happened, it would just be a façade because four of their five wins would be against teams with a combined one win (Rams, Chiefs, Titans twice).

20 (20) – Dolphins:
If you’re going to blow a 24-3 lead at home, it might as well be to the Saints. In fantasy news, is it time to take Ricky Williams seriously as a legitimate starting running back? I think it might be.

19 (11) – Bears:
ESPN seriously can’t find somebody better than Jeffri Chadiha to do their NFL Power Rankings. Here’s his weekly gem: “The Bears are 1-3 on the road this season. That doesn’t bode well for their future.” I appreciate all the hard work and analysis you put into that one, buddy.

18 (10) – 49ers:
You know things are bad in San Francisco when Mike Singletary turns to Alex Smith to be the savior. At least Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree are fun to watch.

17 (19) – Jets:
ESPN’s Michael Clayton: “Mark Sanchez showed great hot-dog security in not fumbling the dog he ate in the second half of the win over the Raiders on Sunday.” Take it down a notch, cowboy, you’re trying too hard.

16 (18) – Texans:
Gun to your head, who has the most passing yards and TDs in the NFL? 99% of people would guess Peyton Manning. And 99% of people would be wrong. The answer? Matt Schaub.

15 (13) – Chargers:
San Diego’s wins are against Oakland, Miami and Kansas City. Their losses are against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Denver. Just beat one good team and I’ll believe in you, that’s not too much to ask for, right?

14 (17) – Cowboys:
Miles Austin, the undrafted wide received out of Monmouth, is the sole reason the Cowboys have a winning record. He already has almost double the entire yardage from the first three years of his career. Not too shabby.

13 (16) – Cardinals:
Arizona plays Carolina, Chicago, Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee in the next five weeks. There’s a legitimate chance the Cards could be 9-2 heading into a crucial week 13 matchup against Minnesota.

12 (9) – Falcons:
Hey Matthew Berry, Michael Turner’s looking pretty good, huh? He’s currently ranked 11th behind Ricky Williams, and even Fred Jackson has over 150 more total yards.

11 (14) – Packers:
Green Bay went an entire game without giving up a sack. Definitely good news, but it would be a little more convincing if they weren’t playing the Lions.

10 (12) – Eagles:
Philadelphia actually got outgained by the Redskins. Good thing Andy Reid bought the Costco pack of Butterfingers so he could afford to give one to Antwaan Randle El.

9 (9) – Ravens:
In contrast with recent history, Baltimore has the third highest scoring offense in the AFC and sixth in the NFL, thanks to the emergences of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. But Denver will provide a huge test this week. A loss would put them at 3-4, with two games still looming against Pittsburgh.

8 (15) – Bengals:
Ok, a 35-point blowout of a playoff-caliber team does a little bit to convince me that Cincinnati is for real.  I still can’t believe Cedric Benson is the NFL’s leading rusher.

7 (6) – Giants:
I’ve been waiting all season to say this: Hey Eli Manning, never go full retard.

I have unhealthy man love for Drew Brees. 6 (7) – Steelers:
That Lamar Woodley fumble recovery was eerily reminiscent to the one a few years ago against the Colts in the playoffs.

5 (5) – Patriots:

I really want to believe the 2007 Patriots are back, but until they do it to a team with a win, I can’t believe it. At Indy in two weeks will be a telling game.
4 (5) – Broncos:
If Denver beats Baltimore this Sunday, you can just go ahead and give him the Coach of the Year Award on the field after the game.

3 (1) – Vikings:
Brett Favre looked a lot more like the Brett Favre of recent memory than the one from the first six games this season. Maybe he forgot he has the best running back in the NFL in his backfield. Speaking of Adrian Peterson, that was one of the best hits I have seen this season.

2 (3) – Colts:
I’m scared that the Colts are going to absolutely destroy my Niners this weekend. Please NFL Gods, have mercy.

1 (2) – Saints:
The Saints are winning games they never would have won before. And how cool was it to see Reggie Bush make one of his signature plays from his USC heyday by jumping a legitimate five yards for a touchdown?

Shameless plug:  If you made it this far, please share this blog with friends, family, or even people you don’t know or don’t like. Thanks!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

NFL Power Rankings Week Seven: Vikings Ride Brett Favre Mojo

This was one of the worst sports weekends of my life. The Oregon Ducks had the week off, the 49ers were on a bye, the A’s are long gone, and it’s still preseason for the Warriors and the Sharks (wait, we’re two weeks into the NHL regular season already? I had no idea).

Thinks the Chiefs are regretting that Jared Allen trade now? Hell, they probably regretted it the moment they made it.

Thinks the Chiefs are regretting that Jared Allen trade now? Hell, they probably regretted it the moment they made it.

Without the privilege of watching my beloved Ducks on Saturday, I was forced to watch something only one step below water boarding on the torture scale—Big Ten football. Iowa-Wisconsin, Ohio State-Purdue, Penn State-Minnesota? Gross. And by the way, what’s Michigan doing playing an FCS team in Week Seven?

It was so bad I chose to write my four-page philosophy essay instead. The only reason I retained my sanity through the weekend was the NFL Red Zone channel.

But all will be made up for next weekend, when I travel to Seattle for the first time to support the Ducks in Husky Stadium. Who cares if my seats are in Lake Washington.

On to the rankings.
32 (32) – Rams:

Somebody please tell me why the Red Zone channel kept flashing back to this game during the last few minutes of the Ravens-Vikings game? Really. Did anybody outside of St. Louis or Jacksonville care? Hell, did anybody in St. Louis or Jacksonville care?

31 (30) – Buccaneers:

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they lose to Jake Delhomme’s Carolina Panthers. At home. The only bright spot was Cadillac Williams’ performance, because now my roommate can shut up about him being the reason why his fantasy football team is 1-5.  Your QB is Mark Sanchez! Cadillac isn’t the problem.

30 (25) – Titans:

This team couldn’t find an identity—until this week. They are now officially the best worst team in the AFC. And after witnessing Derek Anderson’s appallingly dreadful performance last week, Kerry Collins had to one-up him. He threw for negative seven yards in 12 attempts. Seriously. How bad can Vince Young be?

29 (27) – Browns:

Just so you get a sense of how truly pathetic Cleveland is, their top performer, according to the Yahoo! Sports box score, was fullback Lawrence Vickers, who had one touch for one yard.

28 (26) – Lions:

Scrappiness can only take you so far when you have almost zero talent. Jim Schwartz is a good coach, but can you really expect them to score even once when their QBs are Dante Culpepper and Mike Stanton and their number one wide out is Dennis Northcutt?

27 (28) – Chiefs:

That’s an odd way to score 14 points. Four field goals and a safety.

26 (24) – Redskins:

Washington has faced a winless team in every single game so far and they are still 2-4. If that doesn’t deserve firing, then I don’t know what does.

25 (31) – Raiders:

This could be the biggest upset in the history of survival football. Servers are still crashing as we speak.

24 (28) – Bills:

You force seven turnovers and still need overtime to score 16 points? Something tells me the Jets lost this game more than Buffalo won it.

23 (19) – Seahawks:

Fourteen total rushing yards. 0-11 on third down. Five sacks allowed. Seventeen minutes of possession. Talk about a bad football team. The bye week couldn’t come at a better time.

22 (23) – Panthers:

Why wouldn’t teams stack nine in the box? Jake Delhomme now has thrown 14 interceptions in his last six games and has a 56.8 QB rating for the season.

21 (22) – Jaguars:

The Jags were 11-16 on third down, outgained the Rams by 230 yards, and had only three penalties for 15 yards, yet still needed overtime to beat the least talented team in the NFL. How does that happen?

20 (17) – Dolphins:

The home team coming off of a bye week theory gets a big test this weekend when the Saints come to town. Not buying it.

19 (11) – Jets:

Congratulations to Mark Sanchez for becoming the first two-time winner of the weekly Simple Jack Award. Hey Mark, never go full retard.

18 (21) – Texans:

Houston made the Bengals look like, well, the Bengals. Matt Schaub has become a fantasy must-start every week.

17 (18) – Cowboys:

The epitome of mediocrity. 3-0 versus losing teams and 0-2 versus winners. Fantasy note: I am never drafting Roy Williams again.

16 (20) – Cardinals:

What is Arizona going to do when they play a team that takes away the pass? Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower are getting it done less than my food situation at home. I’ve been living off of Power Bars and instant oatmeal packets for two weeks. College.

15 (10) – Bengals:

This is what Jeffri Chadiha had to say about Cincinnati in ESPN’s power rankings this week: “Matt Schaub shredded them in their loss to Houston.” Thanks for all the hard work and insight you put into that one, Jeffri.

14 (16) – Packers:

And if his analysis of the Bengals wasn’t enough, Chadiha had this to say about Green Bay: “They still haven’t found a way to protect QB Aaron Rodgers.” ESPN, you seriously can’t find anyone better than this guy?

13 (15) – Chargers:

I hate fantasy football. Losing by three coming into Monday Night’s game, I owned Eddie Royal and Darren Sproles. Thanks to the amazing score settings in my lone remaining undefeated league, I received a total of 1.40 points from the duo, despite a combined three return touchdowns. Is there any activity more popular than fantasy football that causes so many complaints?

12 (6) – Eagles:

Is there anything more embarrassing for a head coach than losing to JaMarcus Russell? I can’t think of anything.

11 (13) – Bears:

Another gem from Chadiha: “Red zone problems killed them in a loss to Atlanta.” My freakin’ 11-year-old brother could have told me that.

10 (12) – 49ers:

Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Michael Crabtree is starting!! Yeah, I’m kinda excited.

9 (9) – Ravens:

Baltimore almost completed the greatest comeback of the season. Too bad almost counts for diddly squat. We almost made the playoffs. I almost won the lottery. They almost successfully completed your kidney transplant. You get the idea. Almost isn’t good.

8 (8) – Falcons:

Atlanta and New Orleans could be the most exciting division race this season. Their Week Eight will tell us a lot.

7 (14) – Steelers:

Big Ben is back, thanks to the re-emergence of one of the toughest football players in the NFL: Hines Ward. Man, does he play football the right way.

6 (4) – Giants:

The Saints stomped Eli Manning and the Giants so badly, that New Orleans even let Mark Brunell onto the field. Yes, that Mark Brunell. The one who hasn’t attempted a pass since 2006, and is making just under $5 million this season. Seriously.

5 (7) – Patriots:

This game looked eerily reminiscent of 2007. Have Tom Brady and the boys finally got their mojo back? We won’t find out until they play Indy in Week Ten, but it will be fun to see how many points they can put up at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Is 60 out of the question?

4 (5) – Broncos:

Josh McDaniels for Coach of the Year. That is all.

3 (3) – Colts:

I don’t have anything new to say because of the bye, so I’ll just repeat what I said last week:

The only thing better than Peyton Manning is this article from CNN. For all guys past puberty, Christmas just came early. This could transform college campuses, save marriages, and possibly bring world peace. Seriously, guys, you want to read this.

2 (2) – Saints:

Drew Brees passed for 369 yards and four touchdowns and I was still outscored by my opponent’s QB. I would be mad if I didn’t have such crazy man-love for Tom Brady.

1 (1) – Vikings:

I think someone brainwashed Brett Favre into thinking it’s 2001. He cannot possibly still be this good. So far, this is statistically the best season of his career. Wow.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Pac-10 Preview Week Seven: Watching from the Sideline

Ahhhhhh gotta love 'em.

Ahhhhhh gotta love 'em.

No matter what happens this weekend, I can 100 percent guarantee that it will not come even remotely close to the last five weekends.

Not even if I go to the best party ever. Going undefeated in beer pong? No big deal. Breaking ankles at the Rec Center? That’s an everyday occurrence. Hooking up with the hottest chick on campus? Well, that one I can’t do till winter term (when my girlfriend gets here)—among other reasons.

So why will this weekend pale in comparison to any other this fall? It will be the first Saturday since Sept. 12 without an Oregon Ducks football game.

So what is a Duck fan to do?

Spend the weekend watching inferior college football teams and hoping for the teams ahead in the rankings to drop faster than Mike Singletary’s pants in the 49ers’ locker room.

But fortunately, next weekend will more than make up for it. I’ll be making my first journey up to Seattle to watch the Ducks in Husky Stadium. Best $46 I’ve ever spent.

With no Oregon game to preview today, I am relegated to the rest of the Pac-10.

Once again, the Pac-10 has failed to deliver multiple national title contenders. With Cal being a shocking disappointment and USC once again losing to an unranked team, there is more mediocrity than ever.

With all the parity in the conference, only one team has started to separate itself from the rest of the pack—Oregon. But keep in mind, the three teams the Ducks have played so far are 0-8 in the Pac-10. Washington and USC will make or break the season for the Autzen faithful.

On to this weekend’s games.

Washington at Arizona State

I’m still trying to figure out this Sun Devil team. I’m not sure if they’re decent or flat-out bad. They blow out two awful teams at home, as expected, and then lose by a field goal at Georgia, a loss that looked a lot more impressive then than it does now.

Arizona State outplayed Oregon State on paper, outgaining the Beavers 406 to 295, but the three fumbles killed them. But more embarrassing than either of those losses was the 27-14 win over Washington State. Unless you have seen the Cougars play, you cannot appreciate how truly bad they are. Anything less than a blowout is officially a disappointment.

Meanwhile, the Huskies have regained a bit of their momentum after the Stanford loss by putting a solid game together on the road at Notre Dame and then a miracle win against Arizona. With a big matchup looming against Oregon next Saturday, it will be interesting to see if the Huskies let down against a lesser team.

Prediction: Washington 34, Arizona State 17

Cal at UCLA

There is a legitimate chance that at least one of these teams will end up not bowl eligible.

After starting the season scorching hot, the Golden Bears have fallen flat on their face. Granted, at Oregon and home against USC is an almost unfair way to start Pac-10 play, but it looked as if Cal didn’t even bother to show up to either of those games. They didn’t score a single touchdown and were outscored 72-6.

But don’t worry, Cal fans, you can still make the Emerald Bowl.

UCLA, meanwhile, would be lucky to make the Las Vegas Bowl. Needing three more wins to gain bowl eligibility, the Bruins still have to play Cal, Arizona, Oregon State, Washington, and USC. Assuming they beat Arizona State and Washington State, I don’t know which team they could beat for that elusive sixth win.

Prediction: Cal 24, UCLA 17

Stanford at Arizona

This probably isn't PC, but he looks like a homosexual ostrich.

This probably isn't PC, but he looks like a homosexual ostrich.

Just when I start to buy the Cardinal, the Quizz Show comes along and stumps Stanford. I still like the direction Jim Harbaugh has his team heading, but a Rose Bowl appearance this year looks out of the question.

They certainly have the pieces, with Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart, and Ryan Whalen, but it seems like they don’t have the mentality of a winner—which makes sense, considering they haven’t been good since the beginning of the decade.

Arizona has a pretty impressive résumé, with their only slip-ups coming on the road to an extremely overrated yet undefeated Iowa team and to the Huskies in a heartbreaking loss in Seattle.

This will probably be the most competitive game of the week, because I think both of these teams are stuck in “good but not great” purgatory.

Prediction: Stanford 31, Arizona 28

USC at Notre Dame

I am so tired of this matchup. It hasn’t been close since the famous “Reggie Bush push” in 2005, and the Fighting Irish haven’t been half as good as the hype in over a decade, despite being given every advantage by the NCAA. Jimmy Clausen is for real, but they haven’t had a dominating win all season. I don’t think it starts here.

The Trojans, although overrated at No. 6, have so much talent that they can get by with only mediocre quarterback play. But for USC to be taken seriously as a title contender, Matt Barkley will have to show that he can make plays and not just be a game manager. Maybe he can learn a thing or two from his QB counterpart and fellow No. 1 overall recruit on Saturday.

Prediction: USC 34, Notre Dame 24

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Third Quarter Hat-Trick Propels Oregon Ducks Past UCLA Bruins

Chip Kelly must be one hell of a motivational speaker.

After being held scoreless in the first half—for just the second time since 2007—the Oregon Ducks overcame their three-point deficit faster than you could say “LaMichael James for Heisman in 2010.”


This about sums it up.

This about sums it up.

Kenjon Barner took the third quarter kickoff back 100 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. And then just 13 seconds later, on the Bruins’ first play of the half, Talmadge Jackson stepped in front of Terrence Austin, picked off Kevin Prince’s pass, and ran it back for 32 yards.

Those two plays epitomized the Ducks’ season so far—winning with defense and special teams.

But they weren’t done yet.

Just two plays after Jackson’s interception, Kenny Rowe knocked the ball out of Prince’s hands on a scramble, and Oregon recovered.

Now that the offense finally had the ball, they were ready to join the party. On third down, Nate Costa found Jeff Maehl on a quick slant pass in heavy traffic, but broke through to race 20 yards into the end zone.

Hat trick: complete.

That touchdown throw, the first of Costa’s career, was the first touchdown pass caught by an Oregon wide receiver this season.

Special teams. Defense. Offense. Three touchdowns in under four minutes. In the end that’s all the Ducks would need, as they went on to win 24-10.

“The fire that everyone had in them just ignited,” Costa said. “We got on a roll and started saying, ‘We’re going to put these guys to sleep.”’

Costa, who was making the first start of his career, replaced Jeremiah Masoli, who sat out with an MCL sprain.

Costa wasn’t spectacular, but he didn’t need to be. The Ducks ran the ball at will against the Bruins. Led by speedy freshman LaMichael James, the Ducks totalled 222 rushing yards. James had 151 of those. Barner added 50.

James, who is establishing himself as one of the premier running backs in the conference, was absolutely electric. The Texas native put on a juking spectacular for UCLA, spinning his way out of trouble and into daylight several times.

His best run came after UCLA pinned Oregon at their own one-yard line in the first quarter. With the Bruins stacking eight in the box, Costa handed off to James, meeting several defenders at the goalline. Averting disaster, James first spun out of the grasp of a lunging tackler, and then spun back around three Bruins into the open field.

The only thing that stopped James from a 99-yard touchdown run was himself, as he outran his blocker and collided with a UCLA defensive back at midfield.

“That’s what our team does,” coach Chip Kelly said. “They feed off each other. When somebody makes a big play, the other guys feed off that. These guys have a great attitude, a great chemistry right now. It’s fun to be around them.”

When I was looking ahead to the matchup against UCLA, I saw the serious possibilty of a trap game.

Playing on the road in a stadium where they typically don’t fare well, playing without three of their four best defensive backs—Walter Thurmond, Willie Glasper, and T.J. Ward—and letting Costa make his first collegiate start made me weary of a potential upset.

But the Ducks quickly dispelled any notion of suffering their first Pac-10 loss. This team is 100-percent focused right now, living up to Kelly’s mantra of “one game at a time.”

With next week’s open date, Oregon will have time to rest up and get healthy before traveling to another difficult environment in two weeks—Husky Stadium.

Kelly brought along four quarterbacks to Saturday’s game, including Masoli and true freshman Daryle Hawkins.

“I thought it would be nice if Daryle could see Los Angeles,” Kelly said in some postgame levity. “Maybe Disney World on the way back.”

Let’s hope Hawkins doesn’t need to go anywhere near the Space Needle on Oct. 24th.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Live From The Chip Kelly Press Conference: “This Is Not a Football Decision”

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly made it clear this morning that the decision to possibly reinstate Legarrette Blount has nothing to do what he can do on the football field. Instead, he is wholly concerned in the character of his senior tailback.

Curious timing? Yes. But Kelly made the right move.

Curious timing? Yes. But Kelly made the right move.

Kelly announced that if Blount adheres to strict behavioral and academic “ladders”, there is a possibility he will gain an opportunity return against Stanford on November 7th.

“This is not a football decision, this is a human being decision. It’s about that individual,” Kelly said Friday. “And he’s got a lot of things he’s got to do.”

Under NCAA guidelines, Blount’s punch of Boise State player Byron Hout would have warranted just a one or two game suspension. But it’s what Blount did before and after the punch that proved to Kelly that Blount needed a major character improvement.

It is no secret that Blount has had off the field issues before, as he was previously suspended over the offseason and has had troubles with his academics. Those issues, combined with Blount’s actions leaving the field at Boise State, forced Kelly to make a swift decision to suspend him for the entirety of the season.

So that raises the question, why would Kelly suspend Blount for the remainder of the season if he had plans for a possible reinstatement? Wouldn’t an indefinite suspension be more appropriate for the future credibility of Kelly and the Oregon athletic department?

Not according to Kelly.

“Legarrette needed to understand there was a finality to it. I only used strong language to show LG the importance of the situation.”

Say what you will. Kelly flip-flopped. Kelly wouldn’t be considering a reinstatement if the Ducks were out of the BCS and Pac-10 races. Kelly isn’t experienced enough to make such a difficult decision.

But from sitting in the first row at the press conference this morning, I could see the honesty, integrity, and thoroughness in which Kelly handled the situation.

After the initial suspension, Kelly had no plan to reinstate him. He even expected Blount to pack his bags and take off back home. But Blount stepped up, took responsibility and stuck around. He even reached out to Kelly on September 4th, asking for Broncos head coach Chris Peterson’s phone number so he could call and apologize.

Two weeks ago, Kelly saw a possibility for reinstatement. The fact that Blount continued practicing with the team, while working on his off the field issues proved to Kelly his desire to remain a part of the Oregon football program.

Which is why after speaking with Tony Dungy, John Gruden, Harry Edwards, and several other notable NFL authorities, Kelly decided if Blount can do what he has put in place for him, he deserves a chance to play again.

But Kelly was very sure to emphasize that this is no guarantee.

“There’s a distinct possibility he’ll never play football here again,” Kelly said. “But the ball is in LeGarrette’s court.”

Kelly justified his change of heart on the suspension by saying, “if I only suspended Blount for 4 games, I couldn’t change it to 12. But this way, if he proves he deserves it, he can be reinstated, with the approval of Larry Scott.”

Which is also no guarantee. Kelly has not talked to Scott, the Pac-10 commissioner, but feels whatever he rules will be the correct decision.

Personally, I feel Kelly handled this excellently. He sent a message to Blount, and the rest of the team, that this behavior will not be tolerated. He also has given Blount a chance to earn back his reinstatement, something I feel Kelly will judge very carefully.

And now the ball is in Blount’s court to prove that he deserves a chance to come back and represent the University of Oregon as a football player.

According to Kelly, “discipline is about behavioral improvement, not about punishment.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine