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Posted: Friday October 31, 2008 10:26AM; Updated: Friday October 31, 2008 11:07AM
Dr. Z Dr. Z >
NFL MAILBAG

Z-Mail: Raider has cornered market and my dance with The Good Doc

Story Highlights

Nnamdi Asomugha shuts down half the field for the Raiders

The Browns, by their own doing, are fighting an uphill battle in my PRs

Me + Super Bowl VIII + Hunter S. Thompson + Biker Bar = Good story

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Raider cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha sees so little action, we had to go back to last season's archives to find this pass defensed.
Raider cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha sees so little action, we had to go back to last season's archives to find this pass defensed.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Dr. Z's Mailbag
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I'm returning to seriousness in my Emailer of the Week Award. No more good guy. Only deep thinkers need apply. Step up, Chris Guhin of Brooklyn because you have driven me to my charts, which is a world I much prefer to the one in which I have to spend most of my time. My charts don't yack on TV like schoolgirls. They don't find people like Joe the Plumber to quote. They don't make up lies and justify them in the name of politics.

They are nice, solid, silent, creatures ("just like you," says Flamante Rossa, whom I would advise to pipe down when I'm trying to be lyrical)...nice, silent creatures...ah, forget it, the image is blown now. Chris draws attention to a statistic about Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who, reportedly, has had eight passes directed at him in seven games.

He's shutting down a side of the field, Chris says, adding, "at what point do we discuss Nnamdi Asomugha as the best ever." Oh, you can discuss it all you want, but the two best I've ever seen are Deion Sanders and J.J. Johnson, the latter having gone through whole games without seeing any action whatsoever. Besides, I don't trust statistics such as that unless I keep them myself.

When a QB is merely throwing the ball away, under a rush, and it goes to a particular corner's side of the field, I don't consider that a pass thrown at him. Also, there's the question of whether he was in zone or man coverage. It matters. I remember one year I had a thing about the Giants' Phillippi Sparks. He was going to be my sleeper corner of the year, but they played so much zone in those days, I was really having trouble. So I used to phone him after games and recite each play involving him and he'd tell me what the coverage was. Yes, I did pick him.

And here's a big one, unique to my own system. When a game no longer is in doubt I don't record those kind of stats because they come in garbage time and thus are meaningless. My own stats are what I call, "competitive stats."

Here's what my charts show about Nnamdi. I've seen three Raiders games so far. Against Denver in the opener, one pass was completed against his coverage, a six-yard hitch to Eddie Royal. That was his only action. Against the Chargers on Sept.28, again, one pass was thrown his way, a forced incomplete to Chris Chambers. The Jets on Oct. 19 completed one, a hitch for no yards to Jerricho Cotchery. Asomugha stopped it cold. He also was guilty of a five-yard chuck penalty. And that's what I've got. Dr. Z All-pro credentials for sure, but best ever? Not yet.

PS: Glad you enjoyed my tips on the Oregon Wine Country...No, Linda, absolutely not. Absolutely not the reason I picked him for my award. The very idea.

• My little diatribe (see No. 2) on play calling and designation of blocking holes drew some holers, uh hollers, basically that everyone knows that even numbers mean right side and odd numbers mean left and the zero hole is over the center and the 2-hole is between guard and center, and so forth. Well, tell that to Capt. Marvin Roach, coach of the 1956 WACOM (Western Area Command) Rhinos, Rhine League Champs, US Armed Forces in Germany. He numbered it and designated it the way I described it. Someone asked him if it shouldn't be the other way around and he said there are no rules, and this was the way he wanted to do it. I think he'd just gotten through reading a Patton biography. But what the hell, we DID win our league although we were crushed by the eventual champs, the NACOM Black Knights, in the USAREUR quarterfinals.

Oh yes, almost forgot. This lengthy diatribe, complete with usual digressions, is in answer to the email of Clinton of Columbus, Ohio, who says he reads my column in class when he should be paying attention. Clint -- may I call you Clint? -- you never can tell when your professor just might throw in a pop quiz on my latest rankings. And you will nail it cold!

• Which brings us to the accursed rankings themselves. I know they inspire fury. I know they're not fair. But of the 1,500 or so letters to that affect, Dominic B. has chosen only one to illustrate the point. Therefore I will not give it the usual "wait 'til next week" tapdance; I'll try to answer it honestly and fairly.

Bob of NYC, showing remarkable restraint, makes the following point: The Browns beat the Jaguars, in Jacksonville yet, and still find themselves nine (9) (nein), a mind-boggling nine places below said Jaguars. "In three weeks this ranking will look foolish," he adds. Bob, you're a nice chap and I like the way you handle yourself, so I'm going to be brutally honest. Coming off a win at Denver and then the bye, the Jags were at 12, heading into Cleveland. The Browns, with a worse record (2-4 to 3-3) were ranked 27th. When Cleveland beat Jacksonville I proceeded cautiously, dropping Jax three spots and vaulting the Brownies up three, to 24th. Since they were so far apart to begin with, I couldn't very well close the gap much more, and...

"Tell him the real reason," says a grim-faced redheaded person, who has suddenly become my emailer's ally.

Honey, what exactly do you mean?

Tell him. TELL HIM!

All right, all right already. I was, ahem, pretty upset that they unloaded on Kellen Winslow for telling the story about all the staph infections. I admit I might have been a little bitter and, uh, might have let it show in the rankings.

And now the hanging jury has got real grounds for capital punishment, and fingers are being taken out of their finger-cases and being pointed. This is grounds for court martial, for torture and worse. What should we do, to teach you a lesson?

Well, I hope you're happy now, Bob. Just look what you stirred up. This will never happen again. I swear it. I mean someone made me admit it. Can we move on now, please?

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