Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, August 15, 2021 7:38 pm

Colts 21, Panthers 18

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 7:38 pm
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As you might expect of the first preseason game, it was ugly; at one point each team had 7 penalties, and that was before Carolina’s third-string O-line committed false starts on three consecutive plays.

The starters didn’t play on either side of the ball, so today was an opportunity to get a hard look at the second- and third-stringers. Primarily for the Panthers, that meant no Sam Darnold or his likely offensive weapons. Whether Darnold will outperform his time with the Jets and become the franchise QB the Panthers need will remain unsettled for at least another week.

The second-string defense had some really good moments. DEs Yetur Gross-Matos and Marquis Haynes, who started, had some excellent play between them, including a strip-sack and fumble recovery by Gross-Matos. The secondary looked good in spots as well, although it gave up 116 first-half yards; safety Kenny Robinson had the team’s only interception. Daviyon Nixon and Bravvion Roy both showed they could play at DT. Linebacker depth remains a concern. And Frankie Luvu forced a turnover by sacking Colts QB Jacob Eason deep in his backfield on fourth down.

P.J. Walker had a decent first half at QB for the Panthers. He was only 10-for-21, but he racked up 161 yards passing, a decent half’s work, and didn’t turn the ball over. He hit rookie second-round pick Terrace Marshall three times on five targets, and Marshall converted for 88 yards, looking about as spectacular as he did in Draft Night tape. Will Grier in the second half was a significant drop-off from Walker, going 6-for-10 for 31 yards. Were it up to me, Walker is the backup and Grier ends up on the street. In O-line news, Brady Christensen looks like he’s at least good enough to back up Taylor Moton at RT (if Moton doesn’t end up moving to LT). Other than him, though, the O-line play was not good, particularly in the second half, which will not assuage fans’ fears that last year’s anemic run game and inadequate pass protection will recur. In fairness, the line likely would have looked better if G Dennis Dailey had played with the second team, but he was excused for the weekend to tend to a family matter.

Rookie RB Chuba Hubbard looked good in the first half, getting seven carries for 80 yards, most of which was on a 60-yard run on third and short. He ran into the pile, which consisted of collapsing Panther O-linemen, then bounced back out and around right end. He should have made it to the end zone, but one of the fleeter Colts caught up with him.

Thomas Fletcher, who’s being given a look at long snapper, gave the team no reason to replace stalwart J.J. Jansen with him, but he did recover a fumbled punt. For kicker Joey Slye, every kick was an adventure. He missed a 60-plus-yarder, although he was not short, and he missed an extra point. A couple of his field goals were just inside the uprights.

Without a single starter on either side of the ball, it’s difficult to make any sweeping pronouncements about the state of the team. The practices this week with the Baltimore Ravens, and the game next Saturday in which the starters will play, should give us a much better picture.

Afghanistan was never winnable

Filed under: Reality: It works,Say a prayer — Lex @ 5:26 pm

The news from Afghanistan today in the wake of the American troop pull-out is grim: The Taliban have taken the national capital, Kabul. The U.S. has dispatched 2,500 Marines and soldiers to assist in the evacuation of U.S. Embassy personnel and dependents. Meanwhile, Afghan soldiers and political leaders are surrendering to the Taliban or fleeing to Kabul in hopes, probably vain, of being evacuated by the U.S.

Anyone who was around for the fall of South Vietnam in 1975 knows how this is going to go. I was around for it, not least because my ninth-grade health teacher, Larry Byers, had served a tour in Vietnam and had, arguably, an extracurricular interest in what was going down. He devoted several of our classes to watching TV news about the North Vietnamese advance on Saigon and the hurried American attempts to abandon the place, rather than on the regular health curriculum. Neither I nor, so far as I recall, any other boy in that class felt cheated.

So what puzzles me today is why so many people who were around for the fall of South Vietnam didn’t see this coming.

The reason the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001 — or at least the reason the government gave us — was that the Taliban in Afghanistan was protecting Osama bin Laden, who had, with a lot of Saudi help and money, planned and launched the 9//11 attacks. So, on the surface, it seemed logical to go in and pursue bin Laden and his Taliban protectors.

Thing is, the Taliban were mostly the same guerillas the U.S. had armed to try to expel Soviet invaders during the 1980s. They succeeded, but that didn’t mean they were U.S. allies. For all that, Afghanistan remained very tribal, with only a loose central government. The best the U.S. could have hoped for, the only thing that might have had a chance of looking like a victory, would have been to pop into the country, kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and pop right back out, letting the devil take the hindmost.

That is not, of course, what happened.

Bush allowed bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora in 2001 by sending Afghan units after him instead of well-trained, well-supplied U.S. military units. And with that escape went any chance of anything that the U.S. could point to as a victory in Afghanistan. Bush should have evacuated the country then and there.

His next best option was to take that time to work with Afghanistan to try to stand up a competent Afghan army and national police force. Whether that was doable under any circumstances was arguable at best. It clearly was never going to be doable if, after occupying Afghanistan, the Bush administration and the military immediately turned their attention and resources to the invasion of Iraq (under the, shall we say, mistaken belief that Iraq was preparing to use weapons of mass destruction). I’m not sure when soldiers on the ground first decided that the war was unwinnable, but they definitely had by the time bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan — more than a decade before we finally withdrew.

This is going to be awful for the Afghan people, particularly women and girls. But it’s too late for us to mount a military offensive to drive the Taliban back into hiding. America has along since tired of fighting this war — both service members and the public at large, except for some of the generals, who, remember, have been lying to us for years about how that war was going. No, the time for doing something passed long ago.

Thursday, August 5, 2021 12:08 am

Friday Random 10, Wednesday-after-class edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 12:08 am
Tags:

Steely Dan – Bad Sneakers
Replacements – Shooting Dirty Pool
Blink 182- Josie
Graham Parker – Don’t Ask Me Questions
R.E.M. – Walk It Back
Dictators – Faster and Louder
Mudcrutch – Love of the Bayou
Pressure Boys – Hallow’s Eve
Wilco – More …
Tonio K – The Ballad of the Night the Clocks All Stopped (and the Government Failed)

lagniappe: LMNT: Hey Juliet

lagniappe lagniappe: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Chicago, 1/16/2009: Thunder Road

Tuesday, August 3, 2021 12:21 am

Friday Random 10, Monday late night edition

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 12:21 am
Tags:

R.E.M. – Shaking Through
Commodores – Brick House
Lyres – Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby
Sarah Siskind – Falling Stars
The Hold Steady – The Weekenders
Hindu Love Gods – Walking Blues
Roy Orbison – Working for the Man
Connells – Something to Say
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Comin’ Home
U2 – Stuck in a Moment

lagniappe: Scarface – Money and the Power

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