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Author Topic: I love Willie ... BUT  (Read 3564 times)
altimusprime
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« on: Aug 18, 2007 at 13:02 »

My gut tells me that Willie is a top back. Speed, some power, I think he is a fine back. His final rushing numbers were good.

But I was under the impression that rushing totals (per game) of 20, 57, 47, 46, 22, 61 and 29 within one season for a back means he is NOT a top back. Seven games out of 16 that look shitty does not equal a top back. Plus the 8th lowest was 70, also not great. So 8 games, half a season, was comprised of rushing totals 20, 57, 47, 46, 22, 61, 29 and 70.

He had two games over 200 and another 2 over 130.

Outside of those 4?




 





 
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 18, 2007 at 13:49 »

I think FWP made a lot out of nothing last year.  In the games where he struggled, we had no passing offense (maybe to the other team) and very inconsistent o-line play.  Top backs can sometimes overcome those obstacles, but when there are nine defenders keyed in on a RB and the o-line has no chance to stop him, his stats in those games aren't going to be good.
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 18, 2007 at 14:46 »

You'd also have to account for the score progression in those games.  Hard for a back to go over 100 when you're playing catchup in the second half.

To look at the numbers just in terms of yards rushing is misleading and oversimplified.
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altimusprime
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 18, 2007 at 14:46 »

Ok. Thanks for the info.  I don't know as much about football as a lot of you guys. I just looked at raw stats and saw a lot of small totals.

Other factors probably made things harder on FWP than stats could ever show.

I guess I just never would have figured that top backs would rush for less than 58 yards 6 times in a season very often.

My gut DOES tell me that FWP is a top back. I just got concerned after seeing his game - to - game totals.

Less than 58 six times?  I certainly hope it was because of other factors. And I guess it was. Looking at his season totals, it's obvious that the guy piled up some fucking yardage. He is not lacking in talent.




 
 
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 18, 2007 at 14:54 »

You have to take into account the number of carries for FWP in most of those down games. Jax- 11 carries, SD- 14, Den- 14, Cle- 16, Bal- 10, Bal- 13. In case you didn't watch the games last year, the OL totally struggled to both protect BR and keep tacklers out of the backfield for FWP. The team was taken out of their offensive gameplan straight away by falling behind early in all those games (except Cle). Teams knew BR was struggling and stacked the box against FWP to make BR throw it. As for games like the Atl one (20 car, 47 yds) and TB ( 22 car, 61 yds), even LT has 2-3 down games a year. Let's see what happens this year when the O tries to stretch the field vertically and laterally to create more room for FWP. It all comes down to OL though. I've only seen 2 players capable of running wild behind a terrible OL, Sweetness and Barry. And certainly FWP isn't playing at that level................ ................yet
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 18, 2007 at 16:23 »

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You have to take into account the number of carries for FWP in most of those down games. Jax- 11 carries, SD- 14, Den- 14, Cle- 16, Bal- 10, Bal- 13. In case you didn't watch the games last year, the OL totally struggled to both protect BR and keep tacklers out of the backfield for FWP. The team was taken out of their offensive gameplan straight away by falling behind early in all those games (except Cle). Teams knew BR was struggling and stacked the box against FWP to make BR throw it. As for games like the Atl one (20 car, 47 yds) and TB ( 22 car, 61 yds), even LT has 2-3 down games a year. Let's see what happens this year when the O tries to stretch the field vertically and laterally to create more room for FWP. It all comes down to OL though. I've only seen 2 players capable of running wild behind a terrible OL, Sweetness and Barry. And certainly FWP isn't playing at that level................ ................yet
I'm glad we went out and adressed our O-line issues through the draft.

Oh wait.
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 18, 2007 at 16:37 »

Agree, it tells you almost as much about the O-line as it does about FWP.  I think if FWP had been playing consistently in the rush happy 15-1 season in 2004, you would have seen more even game totals.  

For example, Clinton Portis has similar seasonal numbers to FWP over 4 years.  In most years, he was consistently around 100 yds/game, but in 2004, he had a year that looked a lot like Willie Parker's.  And last year, his totals looked more like Willie Wonka.

Interesting point by altimus, but I wouldn't read too much into the game-to-game stuff for another couple of years.  

FWIW, another back that consistently has this type of low-high rush total pattern in all years is Jamal Lewis.  I hope I'm right on this and that he sucks eggs in Clevehole, but my contention was that Lewis was never a true power back in the pros.  He was more like Chuck Muncie, a big back that had quickness and speed.  When some of that left via wear, tear, and prison, you end up with a generic 3.5 yd/carry back.  

 
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 18, 2007 at 18:08 »

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I'm glad we went out and adressed our O-line issues through the draft.

Oh wait.
If Faneca leaves after the season, we may have an awful o-line next year.  I think we're going to have to address those concerns both through the draft and possibly a FA singing.  I'm really hoping to see a lot of progression from Kemo, Starks, and Colon this year to make me feel a little bit better about the future.
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altimusprime
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 21, 2007 at 16:23 »

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You have to take into account the number of carries for FWP in most of those down games. Jax- 11 carries, SD- 14, Den- 14, Cle- 16, Bal- 10, Bal- 13. In case you didn't watch the games last year, the OL totally struggled to both protect BR and keep tacklers out of the backfield for FWP.

Ok. I'm willing to buy that he had low rushing totals some times because of other factors, like teams stacking the line or because of BR struggling or poor OL play.

But if the argument is that he just had too few attempts? Well then surely he had good yds./att, right? I mean, if it was just a case of too few attempts....

You pointed out Jax, Den, Cle, SD, Balt and Balt again. For Den and SD, I agree with you.
BUT:


jax  11 att for 1.8 yards/att

cle   16 att 2.9

Bal  10 att for 2.2

and Balt again 13 for 2.2 yards/att.



So for almost half of his games his rushing totals were ick. And for most of the ones you pointed out as him having too few attempts he did shit for the attempts he DID have.

I hate playing devil's advocate when it comes to Willie, since I like him, but it's very easy. Dudes who know more about football than I do have explained that there were factors out of his control that held Willie back. And he STILL ended up with a fine rushing total. But I would feel a lot better if he could put up consistent real estate game to game. And maybe he will if given a decent OL and good play from BR.


6 times he put up 2.9/att or less. In almost half of his games, his total ydg was less than good.


Maybe it was the OL, maybe it was BR, but he was NOT an elite back for half of his games last year.  Were his att limited because they were behind? Then shouldn't the other team NOT expect them to run? Were they behind and that limited his ATT or was he ineffective and they fell behind?

No one can argue that Willie has tons of talent. But it's also hard to argue that he was consistent last year. That said, my prediction for this season is that he gains consistency and blows away his previous season high in yardage.









 
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 21, 2007 at 17:32 »

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You have to take into account the number of carries for FWP in most of those down games. Jax- 11 carries, SD- 14, Den- 14, Cle- 16, Bal- 10, Bal- 13. In case you didn't watch the games last year, the OL totally struggled to both protect BR and keep tacklers out of the backfield for FWP.

Ok. I'm willing to buy ...
 
You're talking about some of the toughest, slobber-knocking defenses in the league with Jax and Balty twice.  Hey, look back at what Tomlinson did against the
Steelers last season:  13   attempts for 36 yards (2.8 ypc).  Furthermore, he had 8 receptions for a measly 34 yards.

It matters who you're playing and the Steelers generally play a tough, run-stopping schedule.  Go look at how well other RBs did against Jax and Balty.  I'd wager that FWP is in the pack.


 
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 06:46 »

Also, I think if you study running in the NFL historically, that the more you run, the longer the runs get as you tire out the opposing D.

I bet there were plenty of first half's where Bettis was gaining only a couple per, but in the second half, as the defense tired, those runs start to get longer, raising the average/carry.
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 08:06 »

I fall somewhere in the middle here.

I don't find convincing the argument that, in those games where Willie put up low rushing totals, it was because he had few carries and that, had he gotten enough carries, he would have somehow "worn down the defenses" and finished with a stronger game.

I don't get this argument. In those games -- particularly against Jax, SD, and Balty -- Willie was getting NOTHING done. How can you blame the coaches for not giving the ball to him more in those cases when the running game wasn't accomplishing anything at all?

Anyway, I'm not saying that it was Willie's fault. But some combination of Willie and the run blocking was getting miserable results in those games.

And I don't quite buy the idea that, because these were elite run defenses, that it's no big deal. Good running games did better than we did against those units. But I think that our running game -- the overall season numbers be damned -- wasn't all that good last year.

The running game had good games against, let's see, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Carolina -- lots of bad teams. Against good running teams, we were stuffed and dominated.

So while Willie's one of my favorite players and I think a good back, I share the original poster's skepticism that our running game is fine as long as Willie's healthy. The running game has to perform better than it did last year -- and whether that means Willie needs to get better, or the line's play, or our schemes -- whatever.
 
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 08:27 »

I think the problem with some of Willie's poorer performances last year was Whiz had no counter for the run blitz on early downs.  Screens were really hit or miss, and the predictable tendencies for the offense made runblitzing a no-brainer for opposing DCs.  Whiz loved the play action, and Willie sucked at blocking.  Not a good pairing.  Get him before he gets going, and if it's play action- better yet.  Haven't got to see it yet, but Parker is said to have improved his blocking, and with Arians' contra-tendencies emphasis this, hopefully that'll take away most of our oppenents D gameplans this year.

The only other thing with Parker that I'd like to see him get better at is looking for the cutback.  He's fast, but he's not shifty, and when he bounces out it's always with the flow.  Never against it, not unless by design, which they did with some success at times last year.  Lot of times it seems when you see the D bunching in the direction of the flow, that cutback opportunity is there and he never sees it.
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 08:46 »

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Agree, it tells you almost as much about the O-line as it does about FWP.  I think if FWP had been playing consistently in the rush happy 15-1 season in 2004, you would have seen more even game totals.  

For example, Clinton Portis has similar seasonal numbers to FWP over 4 years.  In most years, he was consistently around 100 yds/game, but in 2004, he had a year that looked a lot like Willie Parker's.  And last year, his totals looked more like Willie Wonka.

Interesting point by altimus, but I wouldn't read too much into the game-to-game stuff for another couple of years.  

FWIW, another back that consistently has this type of low-high rush total pattern in all years is Jamal Lewis.  I hope I'm right on this and that he sucks eggs in Clevehole, but my contention was that Lewis was never a true power back in the pros.  He was more like Chuck Muncie, a big back that had quickness and speed.  When some of that left via wear, tear, and prison, you end up with a generic 3.5 yd/carry back.
Nail on the head there.  Our OL worries me, frankly.  How's that spread O gonna work if we gotta keep a FB and a TE in to block on passing downs?  Sheesh.  And Willie, he can do it all, but not if his leads are getting abused.  
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altimusprime
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:20 »

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Agree, it tells you almost as much about the O-line as it does about FWP.  I think if FWP had been playing consistently in the rush happy 15-1 season in 2004, you would have seen more even game totals. 

For example, Clinton Portis has similar seasonal numbers to FWP over 4 years.  In most years, he was consistently around 100 yds/game, but in 2004, he had a year that looked a lot like Willie Parker's.  And last year, his totals looked more like Willie Wonka.

Interesting point by altimus, but I wouldn't read too much into the game-to-game stuff for another couple of years. 

FWIW, another back that consistently has this type of low-high rush total pattern in all years is Jamal Lewis.  I hope I'm right on this and that he sucks eggs in Clevehole, but my contention was that Lewis was never a true power back in the pros.  He was more like Chuck Muncie, a big back that had quickness and speed.  When some of that left via wear, tear, and prison, you end up with a generic 3.5 yd/carry back.
Nail on the head there.  Our OL worries me, frankly.  How's that spread O gonna work if we gotta keep a FB and a TE in to block on passing downs?  Sheesh.  And Willie, he can do it all, but not if his leads are getting abused.
And for the record, I'm way more concerned about the OL than FWP. I have some concerns over His Fastness (ew - how douchey am I?) but like I said earlier, I'm kind of playing devil's advocate a little. The OL scares me more and I see it as the team's biggest question mark. D backs concern me a little, too, but not as much.

 
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altimusprime
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:21 »

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I think the problem with some of Willie's poorer performances last year was Whiz had no counter for the run blitz on early downs.  Screens were really hit or miss, and the predictable tendencies for the offense made runblitzing a no-brainer for opposing DCs.
That makes a lot of sense to me.

 
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:23 »

Yeah, O-line is good cause for worry.

I think that, if all goes well, they can be merely an above-average unit.

But I think the potential is there for total disaster. Which could have widespread implications -- like ruining Ben's confidence at a critical moment in his career.

We're a pro football team with one Left Tackle on the squad -- and even he is really a RT.

WTF Colbert?
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 09:46 »

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Our OL worries me, frankly.  How's that spread O gonna work if we gotta keep a FB and a TE in to block on passing downs?  Sheesh.  And Willie, he can do it all, but not if his leads are getting abused.
This seems like a recurring theme for the past, oh I dunno, 2, 3, 4 years, at least?  I mean, how many running jokes have we had about the line over the years?  

Uh, this just in...another FA lineman doesn't interview with Pittsburgh.

I remember thinking when Mahan was coming in for a visit that Pittsburgh signs FA linemen almost as often as they replace their head coach.  Almost every year since '03 or '04, you could say that the line was a concern (or at least, it was clearly going to be a concern in the near future), but every damn year passed and they did virtually nothing to address the growing 800 pound gorilla in the room.  Every year seemed to be a patchwork approach to the front five.  Guys left and they'd plug a guy here and there and you'd usually see a dropoff in performance.  

When they're not spending on FAs and the highest they're willing to go on a lineman in the draft is a late Day One pick (consider that Simmons was the last R1 pick and that was five years ago), you figure that sooner or later it's going to catch up with them.  If one of those later round guys actually develops into a serviceable starter, it helps to stem the tide a little, but Pittsburgh really hasn't had that.  Starks looked like he might be the exception, but losing a starting spot this year isn't going to help his case.  Hopefully Colon can buck the trend and stick in his place.

The fact that they've only got 2 starting linemen from the last 7 drafts doesn't bode well for the immediate future.  And, none of the others that are on the roster look like they're breaking the starting lineup anytime soon.  Couple that with 2 FA signings over that timespan and you've got a line that's rapidly aging with no real solid prospects waiting in the wings.

Maybe this year will finally be the year when they make some big moves?  A R1 pick?  A solid FA signing?  Both?  With Faneca likely gone; Smith getting another year older; Mahan needing to prove he can hack it as the starting OC; ditto Colon at RT; Starks is probably gone too; and Simmons, probably (hopefully??!!...can't believe I'm saying that...) getting extended, there's the prospect of having a lot of turnover to a group that needs a lot of work as is.

Scary.  Shit.
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 10:00 »

Yeah I'd say that the last time we had a rock-solid line around here was when we had Gandy at LT.

Not saying we should have re-singed him, but when he left he should have invested something significant in another LT instead of moving Marvel over and playing musical chairs with the right side of the line.

As for the lack of FAs or high draft picks invested in the line, evidently the team believes it can draft these guys on Day 2 and coach 'em up.  
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 10:19 »

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As for the lack of FAs or high draft picks invested in the line, evidently the team believes it can draft these guys on Day 2 and coach 'em up.
I suppose.  The only real problem with that is that isn't how they did things during the late 90s and early 00s when that front five was solid.  At one point, that group had a bunch of 1st rounders and top talent.  Gandy, Hartings, Smith, Faneca, Simmons were all first rounders, I think.  

You simply can't go from that to trying to mold marginal players into good or great players and expect to maintain your dominance.

Where's the next stud lineman on their roster?
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« Reply #20 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 11:21 »

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I think the problem with some of Willie's poorer performances last year was Whiz had no counter for the run blitz on early downs.  Screens were really hit or miss, and the predictable tendencies for the offense made runblitzing a no-brainer for opposing DCs.
I remember a lot of us saying this last year.  We also talked about how Whiz didn't have any quick-hitters against the pass blitz, either.

Looking back at his time here, I think Whiz was highly overrated by the football world.  Maybe not so much with Steeler fans, but the national media thought he was/is an offensive genius.
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« Reply #21 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 11:21 »

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As for the lack of FAs or high draft picks invested in the line, evidently the team believes it can draft these guys on Day 2 and coach 'em up.
I suppose.  The only real problem with that is that isn't how they did things during the late 90s and early 00s when that front five was solid.  At one point, that group had a bunch of 1st rounders and top talent.  Gandy, Hartings, Smith, Faneca, Simmons were all first rounders, I think.  

You simply can't go from that to trying to mold marginal players into good or great players and expect to maintain your dominance.

Where's the next stud lineman on their roster?
Oh, I agree.

I'm just guessing what the team's strategy has been.  
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« Reply #22 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 12:26 »

The scary thing is that if we aren't willing to pay Faneca -- who admittedly is gettin a little old -- then the FO is clearly not going to be willing to pay any other top-flight FA O-lineman.

Assuming that anyone top-flight is even available!  After last year's payday bonanza for a bunch of questionable OL players, I'd guess that many teams will just extend the contracts of OL guys that will be up, willing to pay now rather than suffer later.

We better hope that the OL depth in the 2008 draft is very, very deep.  
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« Reply #23 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 13:00 »

I think with Faneca, as with many other FA losses, it's age.  You get to that precarious nexus of increasing age, decreasing skills, increasing salary demands in the C$3... And not that Faneca's lost his edge in any big way, but I think the FO is clearly looking to restocking in the draft.  We go OLB in R1 and R2 in 2007, and will likely push hard for OL in 2008, same way.

2007 is good at OT, maybe less so at OG, but we'll see.

Hey, is Todd Fordham still out there?
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« Reply #24 on: Aug 22, 2007 at 16:20 »

The problem, imo, is calling Faneca a "top- flight OL" he was one of the best without question three, maybe even two years ago. But go back and look at the games last year. He was beaten.... often. The problem is Fanaca wants paid for "how good he's been"... not how good he is right now. And the Steelers just don't do that, no matter who you are. (see Lake, Carnell)

I disagree sometimes with the front office (not adressing the O-line or the secondary in the draft for instance) But they have gotten this one 100% right.  
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« Reply #25 on: Aug 23, 2007 at 14:31 »

I don't dispute that Faneca (at least the 2007 version) is a shadow of the 2004 version. However, is there any doubt that he is by far the best player we have on the O-line?  

I don't have a problem with the FO not signing him -- I understand the reasons, and agree with them. What concerns me is the (seeming) lack of urgency to REPLACE him...and the other members of this group of underachievers.  
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« Reply #26 on: Aug 23, 2007 at 15:02 »

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He was beaten.... often

i would attribute most of those occasions to the guy on his right having ceramic knees and the guy on his left smelling of icy hott all the time.

kind of hard to do you job when your helping out the guy next to you more often than not because they physically cannot do theirs
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« Reply #27 on: Aug 23, 2007 at 15:04 »

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kind of hard to do you job when your helping out the guy next to you more often than not because they physically cannot do theirs
That, and having to go to work with a "kid".  Plus now that Grimm is gone who's going to give "Big Red" his sponge baths after practice?
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« Reply #28 on: Aug 23, 2007 at 15:10 »

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[...] the guy on his left smelling of icy hott all the time.

 
Seriously, doesn't Marvel look like he's 40?

Everyone talks about him, too, like he's this really old player. He's 29!
 
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« Reply #29 on: Aug 23, 2007 at 15:13 »

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Plus now that Grimm is gone who's going to give "Big Red" his sponge baths after practice?
umm hello! Larry Zierlein ring a bell?  Little did anyone know that "email" was nothing more than pictures of fan's bright orange landing strip from"bath day with larry".  coincidentially, just happen to fall on the same day as "operation jock swap"
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