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      Smack Zone — Smack Talk

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      God, NFL Kickers Suck Now

      By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor After Week 4 of the NFL season, one thing sticks out like a thorn: Kickers are bad. Kickers are really bad. Sure, the NFL made the extra point harder by moving it to the 15-yard line, but is that really an excuse for missing so many field goals?? The extra point has already been missed more times this year than all of last season*! Josh Scobee, who missed two critical field goals last Thursday in the OT loss to the Ravens, was promptly cut the next day. The kicking game is so bad after Sunday that a number of teams are calling Scobee in for a try out (he is injured and will need a few weeks to heal). Teams are willing to bring in Scobee, who is injured and missed two kicks last week. That has to be a blow to the egos of all these kickers missing left and right (pun intended). There might only be five good kickers remaining in the NFL. By good, we mean when they line up for a kick, they have an 85 percent chance of making it. It’s gotten that bad. The Saints kicker missed a potential game-winning kick at the end of the fourth quarter. Josh Lambo of the Chargers missed an easy field goal with no time remaining in a tie game. Lucky for him, Cleveland did a Cleveland thing and was offside. He made the game winning kick following that. (That guy in Jacksonville missed a bunch, too, but it's Jacksonville so who cares besides Gus Bradley? You know, GUS BRADLEY? He's the Jaguars coach. Gus. Bradley. Nothing? You need to read more.) Nobody for sure knows why kickers are struggling so much. Yes it is a lot of pressure to make a kick, but these guys are professionals. If you have a knack for kicking something, call an NFL team and see if you can try out. About half the league is looking for kickers. Don’t worry if you don’t make it or get cut, another team will be looking for you. *Including two by now-former Bucs kicker Kyle Brindza, who was released even as we wrote this post.

      Only Time and Touches Can Stop Fournette (We Already Know EMU Can't)

      Week five of the college football season is shaping up to be the best so far. There are so many marquee matchups. More on that below, because one game stands head and shoulders above ANYTHING the rest of the country can conjure. Eastern Michigan at Louisiana State University. Wait. What? Let us explain: Earlier this week, Herschel Walker said that he thinks Leonard Fournette is a better running back in college than he was. Walker is regarded as one of the top college players of all time, and a winner of the Heisman trophy. For him to say Fournette is better makes us think HARD about it. And you know what? Walker might have a point.

        Fournette is averaging over 200 yards a game so far. He is so good, he has many people saying he should sit out next year to not hurt his draft stock *cough cough Marcus Lattimore*. There are a few worthy candidates for the Heisman this season, including RB Nick Chubb of Georgia, QB Jared Goff of Cal, and any given Ohio State Buckeye skill player. Fournette needs to keep his torrid pace to be the first non QB to win the award since Mark Ingram in 2009. We aren’t talking another 200-yard, 2 TD game here. No. We want to see Fournette go off for 400 yards and 6 TD. Just absolutely demolish that Eastern Michigan defense. Against weaker competition, he needs to be the dean of Ball-So-Hard University. Come Saturday night, we fully expect Fournette to run wild and take even more of strangle hold on the Heisman. Apparently, EMU's defense sucks. Like, really sucks. So, his biggest competition Saturday night could very well be his playing time and touches. Just give him the damn ball, LSU. Just let him do him. Oh, as we mentioned, there are a FEW other things to watch besides Fournette’s assault on the college football history book. Here’s a quick look at the games we’ll be watching: No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma: They battle to see who will finish behind TCU and Baylor. No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana: This will be Cardele Jones’s first true road game, and if this was Indiana basketball, he might have to worry. IU football? Not so much. Probably. No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida: The Rebs bring their championship hopes to Gainesville, where the Gators might have to rely on another fourth-quarter meltdown in order to win. No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia: This will be the first time Bama is an underdog (+1.5) in five years. Let the panic ensue! No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson: Hopefully no ND more players get injured before the game or they might have to forfeit. Feeling lucky? Want to prove your prognostication prowess? Play the Smack Apparel weekly picks contest. You could win Smack Apparel t-shirts and bragging rights.    

      Celebrate! (For tomorrow, most of you will lose)

      Is there anything in sports more fleeting than the thrill of a post-clinch celebration in baseball? The players deserve it. That's for damn sure. Baseball season is ridiculously long, ridiculously grueling. It's a lifetime of frustration and heartache and sleepless nights and general bullshittery compacted into a horrible, emotionally draining six-month period. That's how it is for the WINNING teams. So, sure. When you clinch that playoff check, go crazy. Let the beer and champagne flow. This game's fun. Let's have fun out here, OK? It's fun, God dammit. Just understand this: Pretty soon, almost every one of you will be crying into that beer. Or, if not crying, punching the hell out of your locker after you get your asses run out of the playoffs just. Like. That. It's quick, man. One minute, you're on top of the baseball world. Just look at A-Rod in that embedded SportsCenter tweet up there. Doesn't he look happy? Doesn't he look cold? Well, pretty soon, chances are he and his Yankees teammates will not be happy. And they won't be cold, because they'll be on vacation on some beach somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean. Or Hawaii. Vegas, maybe. Wherever. Where they won't be is in the World Series, probably. Because that? That is hard. Only one team will get to throw that party in early November or late October or Christmas, or whenever the hell the World Series ends these days. That's next week's bad news, though. Today is for the happy. Let's give these guys room to celebrate, if only for a little while. Here, then, is a compendium of post-clinch celebrations so far. We still have two more coming, because someone is going to win the AL West, and someone is going to clinch the second AL wildcard. Here's what we've got going into the weekend, though. It will have to suffice for most of them. Who do you think did it best this year? Mets, NL East: Michael Conforto's celebration POV is epic on Deadspin. Cardinals, NL Central: Just like St. Louis, the Cardinals celebrate NIIIIICE. Dodgers, NL West: L.A. got to rub it into the World Series champions and HATED rivals, the Giants, by clinching and celebrating in San Francisco. Doesn't get much sweeter. Cubs, NL wildcard: With Jake Arrieta pitching against the Pirates in the wildcard play-in game, we get the feeling the Cubs will live to celebrate once more. Pirates, NL wildcard: We are family! (For one more game only. Sorry, Buccos. Two words: Jake. Joe. Two more words: Good. Bye.) Royals, AL Central: Party like it's 1985! Blue Jays, AL East: Good party, eh? Munenori Kawasaki thought so. Yankees, AL wildcard: Yay. We won.      

      The Parcells Effect

      [caption id="attachment_1209" align="alignright" width="300"]Parcells Little-known fact: In 1978, Bill Parcells helped shape young military minds as the head coach of the falconing team at the Air Force Academy.[/caption] By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor The Giants meet the Bills Sunday in Buffalo. Twenty-five years ago, these two teams squared off in Tampa for an epic Super Bowl XXV. We hear Scott Norwood still can’t find a house anywhere in Buffalo. With the game this weekend, we thought it would be fun to stroll down memory lane and take a look at the career of Bill Parcells and his historical impact on pro football.

      1. The Big Tuna -- if this isn’t the best nickname in football, we don’t know what is. He received this name while he was on the staff with the Patriots, because, well ... he had the shape of a tuna. The nickname has stuck ever since, and has become a household name over the years.
      2. Gatorade bath -- when a team wins a big game, either a championship or a massive come from behind win, the players usually dump the Gatorade cooler all over their coach. Bill Parcells was the very first coach to have that happen (yes, we know some claim that Mike Ditka was first in 1984, but we choose to believe that Parcells got it first a few weeks before that. Besides, Harry Carson made it famous two years later, so Tuna owns it). Clearly, Parcells is the ultimate trend setter for coaches. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtODeVwJ0XY] 3. Legendary coaching tree -- Parcells recruited so many great coaches under him, many are now head coaches in the NFL. The tree includes Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Todd Bowles and Mike Zimmer. Belichick, Coughlin and Payton have all won Super Bowls as head coaches. If it weren’t for Parcells, Belichick might not even know how to spy or oversee the proper deflation of footballs. [caption id="attachment_1213" align="alignleft" width="283"]Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV. Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV.[/caption] 4. Impact of a team he never coached -- we all know the effect he had on the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. But what about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? He had an agreement to become their coach in 1992, but then decided it wasn’t right for him. Although Tampa has won a Super Bowl since, this franchise has mostly been at the bottom of the league. Who knows where they would be right now if the Big Tuna decided to make landfall in the Bay area? (Oh, and bonus what if: Remember when Payton was suspended for that whole Saints season after Bountygate? Guess who he wanted to coach the team in his absence. Yep. Tuna.)

      The Greatest Question of the Age

      [caption id="attachment_1204" align="aligncenter" width="800"]We can't decide. You? We can't decide. You?[/caption] Meh. It's probably six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. While you contemplate the implications, why not give our weekly football picks contest a try? Enter for a chance to win Smack Apparel merch. Click here to register and record your picks.