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The Broncos playoff loss to the Ravens pretty much sucked for everyone here in Colorado. I was pulling pretty hard for the Broncos to win the super bowl this year–even more than I was pulling for the Redskins–most of my friends still aren’t ready to talk about it. But fuck it, I have something to say on the topic.
After the Ravens tied the score at 35, the Broncos got the ball on their 20 with 31 seconds and two timeouts available for a game winning field goal drive. This is what you might call an opportunity to win. Fox and/or Manning had the nerve to look it in the face and say, “nah, no thanks, opportunity, I’m not sure you’re good enough for us. We’ll wait for another opportunity that looks a little easier.” So Manning took a knee. And maybe they would have failed, and lost in overtime anyway. It would have made the loss a whole lot easier to take.
What can we possibly take from this, other than the conclusion that the Broncos weren’t trying very hard to win? Not if it was going to be hard, I guess. Of course, they went on to lose in overtime. They freaking deserved it, too.
There was no way for Peyton to know this was such a big deal was there?
The funny thing is, this has happened before.
Toward the end of 2009, the Colts were 14-0. The big question everybody was talking about was whether or not they should play hard and take on the “extra pressure” of going undefeated (whatever that means). Manning and then-Colts coach Jim Caldwell decided they didn’t want to do anything too fancy like “going undefeated.” They just wanted to be a humble super bowl winning team. This, I think, is a cardinal sin for any competitor. How can they look themselves in the mirror, and say “well we lost today, but it’s okay because we weren’t really trying.” They eventually the super bowl lost to a Saints team that was absolutely trying to win. Is it possible that their lackluster attitude carried over? Did the football gods “punish” them for their hubris? I like to think so.
There was no way for John Fox to know this was such a big deal, was there?
The really funny thing is, this has happened before.
John Fox coached the 2003 Carolina Panthers, who played the Patriots in the super bowl that year. You may remember the Panthers tying the score at 29, and kicking off to the Pats with 1:08 in the game. I remember the TV announcers arguing that Brady should take a knee and play for overtime, going for it was “too risky.” “What if Brady throws an interception, giving the Panthers the win? They’ll wish they played for overtime then!” You may also remember Brady throwing for it, and the Patriots winning on a last-second field goal.
This may be the second super bowl Fox has lost, and the second Manning has lost, thanks to mistakes they have both made before. It seems ind of pathetic when you look at it like that, doesn’t it?
I believe in a universe that teaches lessons to her favorite sons. The lesson was pretty blatant in 2009, compared to the more subtle situation this year, a subtle test to see if Peyton had learned anything. He hadn’t, and now all of Colorado is paying the price.
Let’s hope he’s got at least one more MVP-caliber year left in him. It was supposed to be this year. Every passing year makes it less and less likely for him to go out like his boss, with two straight championships and calling it done. He better hurry, because RGIII and the Redskins aren’t very far from being ready to claim their own titles.
It’s hard to find much that sucks about a situation where you win a super bowl, but wouldn’t it kind of suck if the Broncos were to win it next year so Manning could go for the Elway, but then they lost the second super bowl? Oh man.
I have the NBC no-football-this-week special on TV as I write this. Chris Collinsworth just asked Jared Allen if teams will be playing this new read-option offense in five years, and Allen cited the wildcat, saying the read-option is is fad just like the wildcat was. Sorry, Jared, but I think you have it wrong. I think the wildcat was the precursor to the read option offense. The wildcat was a kind of proof-of-concept for it. The Redskins, the 49ers, and the Panthers (if they knew what was good for them) are pretty committed to the read-option for the foreseeable future. It will be here in 2017 and beyond.
Allen did make a good point that there are creative defensive minds thinking about ways to stop the option offense too; this is the way of football. Chuck Klosterman wrote about this in the most beautiful essay about football I’ve ever read; it’s hosted at ESPN. He points out how despite football’s traditional “conservative” fan base, the sport itself is the most progressively liberal sport out there. He points to the constantly evolving punch/counterpunch of new offenses changing the game, until new defenses come about to stop it, and so on. It’s a great read, I heartily recommend it.
Emotionally, I feel dead inside. That’s the good news.
I think I am physically ill. My eyes are bloodshot. My shoulders are tense and knotted. The maniac need to just keep writing is the only thing standing between me and spilling my lunch all over the awesome $150 glow-in-the-dark keyboard (that I don’t actually have–doesn’t it sound cool though?).
Some folks might might take it as a sign they’re doing something wrong if 80,000 fans are worried that each play could be the last of Robert Griffin’s career. You can’t endure a whole game of that, it quickly becomes too much to bear. Lord knows every time Griffin cringed in pain, I cringed too. When they broadcast a close-up of his face contorted by agony, I cringed too. I assume it made everybody feel this way.
Why was Griffin in so much pain in the first place? Was he bring punished? Were we? How could Shanahan possibly believe it was a good idea? To say it was heartbreaking ignores the monstrous scale of the thing. To call it catastrophic neglects the emotional shock, seeing something horrible happen to someone you love. Debacle is a good word for it. The phrase unholy mess is better,
If the goal was to make Troy Aikman crack up on national television, well, that’s a goal I can understand. You’d be doing the world a favor by getting him out of the broadcast booth forever, but there’s got to be a better way! It might have worked too, but he instinctively employed a coping strategy heavy on denial. Stupid luck is all that kept him from becoming only the 2nd major network football announcer to crack up live, on the air, in over “several years.”
“I don’t think Mike Shanahan would put his franchise at risk,”
he said, as Mike Shanahan was putting his franchise at risk. Now you need to understand, Troy sometimes isn’t good on some things where you have to “think about” them. Or maybe it would just be too crazy to remember that Shanahan has coached a game like this before:
November 13, 2000. I remember a lot of people saying it was a very important game at the time.The Raiders were playing Shanahan’s Broncos on Monday Night Football. Broncos QB Brian Griese stayed in the lineup after injuring his throwing shoulder in the first quarter–this being an important game in the Broncos/Raiders rivalry, and Griese being a young player wanting to demonstrate his toughness, he got a cortisone injection in the locker room and was back on the field in no time. Griese led his team to victory with a performance that was nothing short of heroic. Woody Paige called it “courageous [and] incomprehensible,” proclaiming “legends have been created with less.” What Paige didn’t know was how bad Griese’s shoulder was, or that he would never be the same player again.
Griffin is Washington’s obvious focal point and team leader, but the Redskins are bristling with talent up and down the depth chart. Each position has at least one capable backup, even quarterback. And that is kind of my point: the Redskins shouldn’t be afraid to count on the next man up in case any starter gets hurt, including Robert Griffin III. They could have given Kirk Cousins a 14-point lead to protect; they had another chance when there were 7 minutes left in the 4th and they only needed 7, and they really should have fucking taken that one. When they finally gave him the ball, by then trailing by 10, it was already too late.
Would you laugh if it turned out the Kyle tried to say “Robert’s too hurt, we gotta go with Kirk,” but Mike vetoed it? I would either laugh or cry.
Maybe I will feel better in the morning. Think happy thoughts: Reed Doughty is getting better and better, maybe he’ll be exciting to watch next year. Brandon Stokely has played on super bowl winning Ravens and Colts teams. Maybe he can win another one with the Broncos this year. Wouldn’t Shannon Sharpe be proud of him?
Good news: the Broncos have a bye, that means I get another week before I have to learn how to spell Demaryius!
At the end of the Bengals-Texans game, one of the NBC announcers boasted “that was Arian Foster’s 40th touch today.” Is he busting out the old insufferable Run to Win argument? (Example: “team X is 37-3 the last forty times their running back got 30 carries or more!” usually illustrated with an on-screen graphic displaying as much.) Are there still people out there who aren’t aware that FO debunked that myth long ago?
There may be actual NFL teams that still believe that–the Bills just created an analytics department this week. I’ve followed the development of advanced statistical analysis in football for years, and despite what Bill Polian might think, the field has reached maturity and can provide some intriguing results. It certainly can’t hurt the situation in Buffalo, but how much can it help?
The main tenet of “Moneyball” is to identify inefficiencies in a market–maybe by finding and targeting undervalued players, maybe by adjusting their tendencies and playcalling on gameday–and exploit them. This works better when half the league isn’t already doing the same thing, exploiting the same advantages.
Wasn’t the Packers-Vikings game last week amazing? I was thinking this week, why wouldn’t the Vikings just play Joe Webb at QB? It’s not like Christian Ponder is doing much for them, and Webb might open things up for Adrian Peterson. NBC just reported that Ponder is inactive, and they’re going to do just that.
It probably can’t hurt. Even though the Vikings beat the Packers last week in Minnesota, I find them winning again in Green Bay unlikely even with Ponder at QB. They have nowhere to go but up. Running QBs tend to open up the field for the running backs behind him. Look at the Redskins this year: Alfred Morris is good, but he’s not second-best-in-the-league good, not without defenses keying on Robert Griffin. It even works when the running QB isn’t actually any good at running. Look at the Tebow-led Broncos last year; they led the league in rushing yards, and Tebow was the most ineffective runner in the NFL!
If you want some more actual strategy, maybe to learn something new about how offenses and defenses actually work, Mike Tanier broke down the read-option at SportsOnEarth, showing how the play works and how defenses should be trying to stop it. (Hint: don’t do what the Cowboys did in week 17. DeMarcus Ware looked like he’d never seen it before.) Both the Seahawks and Redskins should defend it better than the Cowboys did.
I remember being a little scared when Dallas hired Rob Ryan to coach their defense, but boy did he fail to get the Cowboys even close to ready to play this year. Cowboys fan can point to injuries and missing defensive players and cry about that, but it’s no excuse. Almost every team has to overcome injuries! The Redskins lost Brian Orakpo early in the year, but Rob Jackson, his replacement, has played very well down the stretch. Since every team suffers injuries every year, teams that win usually win on the strength of a roster with quality players from top to bottom, not just at the top.
Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall says playing the Seahawks will be “like playing ourselves.” A much better version of yourselves, maybe.
I like being able to just focus on one great game in the playoffs, rather than a regular season Sunday watching maybe one good matchup and a bunch of Broncos/Chiefs type blowouts. But the problem is now I end up watching more ads–I know I could mute them, but then I’d have to WATCH them instead of just listening for when the game comes back while I do something else–some ads are breaking new ground in the field of Broken Aesops. Like this ad that opened with a bold statement: This is the age of knowing your limitations. Okay, except it’s an ad for Viagra. Is this some kind of joke? Because I don’t get it.
You’ve seen this one before: a man asks who’s the guy on the couch? to his girlfriend. It turns out to be a 49ers fan explaining that he used to live there the year the 49ers won the super bowl. He watched every game from the couch. “It’s my lucky seat, man!” And the girl is into it, rhetorically asking “and you’re just coming over now?” as she’s grabbing him a beer.
Every time I see it I think dude, your girlfriend is all of a sudden hanging out with this guy she just met? Is that not a red warning flag? First off, let’s be very clear: if your girlfriend starts inviting some dude she just met when you guys are just hanging out, it DOES NOT mean that she’s sleeping with him. In all honesty she probably isn’t. But she’s thinking about it, consciously or subconsciously, and you’d better take it as a warning. She’s not getting something that she wants out of your relationship with her, and you’d better figure that out if you want her to stay with you. Whether you know it or not, your relationship is hanging on by a thread right now.
Look at the end of the 30 second version, he even has his arm around her!
At least it’s better than the other Budweiser ad. If the most haughty and condescending nasal voice is taken off a nerd and put on a jock, and made it say the proximity to the field simulates a parallel dimension from the bottle to the ball or some such bullshit. How about shut the fuck up, I actually enjoyed science class AND I STILL LEARN ABOUT IT TODAY BECAUSE KNOWING REAL THINGS IS FUN. IMaybe the ads were just meant for a different audience than me, I live in Colorado where we have clean water and dozens of microbreweries. I would never consider Budweiser’s formaldehyde-tasting beer in the first place.
The NFL announced its pro-bowl rosters today. Fans are getting better at voting, there are only a few stupid selections this year: Jeff Saturday lost his starting job in Green Bay months ago, while Victor Cruz, LaRon Landry, and Robert Mathis are big names who have been average at best, certainly not at a pro-bowl level. The rest of the selections may not always be the best guys at their positions, but considering the pro-bowl is in large part a popularity contest, they’re good enough to where it’s hard to complain much about them.
I’m not picking any fullbacks, I like the two tight end look instead. On defense, since it’s difficult to separate the skills needed to play in a 4-3 vs. a 3-4, so I’m choosing players based on the role they play within their defense, rather than their position. Both teams would play a 3-4 base if we actually played this game.
I chose players from a combination of stats (FO/advanced stats wherever possible) and what I remember seeing them do on TV. For offensive linemen, since I don’t focus on the interior offensive line during many games, I looked at these stats and did the best guessing I could.
Friend of the WPNFLR Joel Gratz posted this on Facebook today:
So glad that Colorado had a great powder day. Meanwhile in British Columbia, every day just keeps getting better. Today, I jumped off of everything I could find (and I usually hate jumping). So. Much. Fun!
I know that feeling! I’ve had powder days like that, where there’s so much fluff (I call it pillow snow) that you can drop off of nearly anything and it feels like you’re landing on soft pillows. Find a few drops right in a row and link them all together, and it’s the most transcendental experience, you feel like you can do anything.
So. Jealous. Right. Now.
I might turn down a hike through a forest of changing colors on the most beautiful fall day to watch football, but I wouldn’t turn down a powder day for ANYTHING. The Redskins could be in the super bowl, if there’s 12″ of powder and more still coming down, I’d go skiing and try to remember to watch the highlights online later.
This is one of the best football videos of the year period. I love how the camera focuses on the bird for 7 minutes while an NFL game is going on in the background, and how the guys filming it are cracking jokes. When your team sucks, it’s good to have something to laugh about. As a long-time Redskins fan, I know.
I don’t know if the regular TV broadcast noticed this. I didn’t watch it, and if you weren’t watching it live either, nobody will blame you. Twenty-three other teams–that’s 71% of the league–have at least as many wins as Kansas City and Oakland have combined. But if you’re interested in what goes on behind the scenes to make a great NFL broadcast, Deadspin posted an excellent article about what makes NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast the best in the business. I advise everybody to read it.
All of the friends I watch football with root for either the Redskins, 49ers, or Broncos, and all three are in first place. Everybody I know is happy this week!
The Broncos still have to show up in week 17 to secure a bye; no rest for Manning! The Redskins still need to beat Dallas to win the NFC East and have been flexed to the Sunday Night game (more on that below). For a list of all important week 17 games, check out Chase Stewart’s comprehensive list.
I found a new sports bar this week! There were good people, Redskins fans and otherwise, watching at the west side’s Meadow Muffins. I plan on going back next week. Today I also rocked a “Not a Steelers Fan” t-shirt by Rival-Ts.com. They are the real deal, everybody at the bar today wanted one. Everyone except the one Steelers fan, but even he had to smile when he saw it. Football fans who have a sense of humor are great, because football is funny sometimes. I laughed when a Broncos safety returned an INT for a touchdown, but when the replay showed the ball hitting the ground first everybody in the building went “Awww!”
The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t in first place, but their fans probably feel like they might as well be! They beat the Steelers today and won a spot for themselves in the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The Redskins won again today. They have a top-5 offense when RGIII is healthy. After seeing Kaepernick and the 49ers doing it, I realized that every team with a fast QB is copying the Redskins’ read-option. Maybe Cam Newton and the Panthers pioneered it last year, but they don’t use it anymore (which is one of the major reasons they regressed so badly this year) and it’s one of the staples of the Redskins offense. Bravo to the Shanahans for doing a superb job with the team this year.
Can’t say I was surprised about the Cowboys. They’ve been winning a lot of close games, and teams that win a lot of close games tend also to lose a lot of close games. Now according to the NFL tiebreaking rules, the Cowboys can still win the NFC East, by the slimmest of margins. It comes down to the 3rd tier of tiebreaker: Dallas is 8-4 (.666) against common opponents, Washington is 7-5 (.583). I think the Redskins are the better team, and they are playing at home so they should win, making the tiebreakers moot. Unfortunately, they are playing for the right to host (and probably lose to) the Seahawks in the wild card round.
Now if Minnesota loses to Green Bay and Chicago loses to Detroit, the ‘Skins can lose and still make it as a wild card. I have to think they have a better chance to win in Green Bay than they do to against Seattle at home, but I don’t trust the Lions to beat the Bears, and I’m rooting for the ‘Skins sweep the Cowboys anyway. Maybe Richard Sherman will be suspended and Brandon Browner will be rusty and unfocused.
The Broncos are a machine this year, even more so than the 1997-98 teams with John Elway. Remember before the season, when a considerable percentage of Broncos fans thought it was a mistake to sign Peyton Manning instead of Tim Tebow? You don’t hear about that too much anymore. Denver fans are getting to see what happens when you go from the very worst quarterback in the NFL to the very best one.
Tom Brady and the Patriots are the only team realistically between Denver and the super bowl. I’d give the Broncos a slight edge vs. the Pats in the AFC championship, but I wouldn’t put any money on it. FO’s numbers have the Broncos, Pats, 49ers, and Seahawks head and shoulders better than everybody else.
Seattle faced a minor crisis back in week 13: both of their starting cornerbacks–Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner–were suspended for four games after testing positive for adderall–although illegal in the NFL, it’s one of the official drugs of the Warren Peace NFL Report—Mike Tanier wrote the best article about the issue of adderall in the NFL and I don’t have anything to add. Sherman and Browner were the strength of Seattle’s defense; Browner accepted his penalty and will take the last four regular season games off, but he’ll return for the playoffs. Sherman is appealing his suspension, so he’ll be available for the end of the regular season to help ensure the team makes it to the playoffs, but he’ll likely miss the post-season. That’s making the best of a bad situation.
San Francisco at Seattle tonight is going to be a hell of a game. If San Fran can somehow knock Seattle down to the 6th seed instead of the 5th, the Redskins wouldn’t have to face them in the wild card round. Then if Green Bay can somehow beat them, the ‘Skins could win once, travel to Atlanta and beat them, and face (probably) San Francisco in the NFL championship. It’s looking less and less likely.
- Full disclosure: if you have a football-related product you want me to write about, send me a free one of it! Alex was smart and did just that. I was going to write about his shirt anyway though, because the logo cracks me up. The Steelers have too many fans across the country who don’t seem to have any particular reason to have picked the Steelers as their favorite team, some of whom couldn’t even tell you what state Pittsburgh is in. It’s in Delaware, right? Or was it in Iowa?
Correction: this article originally posted that the Redskins would beat the Cowboys in all tiebreaking scenarios; the Warren Peace NFL Report sincerely regrets the error. Also, early reports from Aaron Schatz indicate that Green Bay has moved up enough to join the Big 4 to make it the Big 5 teams going into week 17.
After the 49ers destroyed the Bears on week 11’s Monday night game, Grantland.com’s Bill Barnwell wrote “the 49ers produced several big plays against the Bears by exploiting safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright in coverage.” It must have taken NFL-level discipline and restraint to avoid making a pun on Major Wright’s–yes, that’s his real first name–first name.
For years, I complained that 49ers head coach Mike Singletary was the worst at his job in the NFL. In this I was vindicated, as Jim Harbaugh took over the 49ers, and with essentially the same players on the roster, led the team to the NFC championship and was only three points from the super bowl.
This year, the worst coach in the NFL may be New Orleans’ Joe Vitt. Granted, Vitt shouldn’t be a head coach at all, and is only filling in for the wrongfully suspended Sean Payton. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–by suspending Payton, commissioner Roger Goodell is punishing the fans (of the Saints, and fans who just love good football), and punishing the NFL, which is nothing without it’s best players and coaches. I’m not sure how much of a role Vitt is playing, with Steve Spagnuolo running the defense and Drew Brees running the offense. But as the guy with the team’s challenge flags, Vitt looks utterly out of his depth.
On Sunday, Vitt challenged two calls, exemplifying how NOT to use the challenge flag. The first play was a second quarter run where the Saints running back was surrounded by what Mike Tanier calls “a mass of humanity.” It didn’t appear that the runner got the ball far enough for a first down, but even if he did, it would have been impossible to find a camera angle with a clean shot through the massive pile of bodies. There was no chance the call would be overturned: Vitt was just wishing it was a first down. Plays like that, where visual evidence is nonexistent, should never be challenged.
The second challenge came in the 4th quarter with the Saints down 31-21 and 7:50 on the clock. The call on the field was an incomplete pass, though replays showed clearly that Devery Henderson made the catch. The challenge changed a 3rd and 18 to a 3rd and 12, and left the Saints with no more challenges. The challenge gained the Saints nothing, they got a first down on a defensive holding penalty.
The bottom line is Joe Vitt doesn’t seem to be doing anything to put his team in a position to win.
I’m not the only crazy football fan. I love that there are others out there who contribute to making the game interesting:
The NFL essentially requires its players to at least attend college. Whether they take advantage of the opportunity and learn something or not is a different question, but having a chance is better than not having one. Does that have anything to do with having the best and most creative celebrations in sports (or sometimes, the opposite thereof), even after killjoy Roger Goodell passed rules against them. You decide:
“The best play in football is when the fat guy gets the ball and runs with it!” is the top rated comment on this first video, with over 120 thumbs-up. This post includes more than 2,080 lbs of 100% pure fat dudes:
It’s week 7, and I think we have enough football behind us now to begin making bets against the spread.
UPDATE: Betting is hard. I went 2-2 on my “locks,” 4-3 overall. Maybe I’ll get better, or at least get lucky…
I voted in an interesting poll in the Denver Post today: Which former Broncos starting QB between the eras of John Elway and Peyton Manning ranks as your favorite?
For me, it’s a toss-up between Jake Plummer and Kyle Orton, who are usually remembered less than fondly among Broncos fans. So the most popular answer came as a surprise:
I’ve been a Plummer fan for years, and I can remember many conversations with Broncos fans (in fact, nearly all of them) where I was defended Plummer, while they supported Cutler or Tebow. I wonder what’s changed, to make fans look back fondly on Jake the Snake all of a sudden?
A look at the candidates, after the jump: