Monday, January 26, 2015

This Is Going to Be a Long Week

  • Unless your head has been mercifully buried in sand for the last week, you probably have heard that the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in their victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts, apparently tipped off by another team, complained to the official that the Pats were using under-inflated balls. Each team gets 12 footballs, which are checked by the official prior to the game, then the balls are sent to the respective sidelines. The officials checked both the Patriots’ and the Colts’ sets of footballs at halftime, only to discover that 11 of the New England balls were two pounds per square inch under the minimum requirement. Some delusional Patriots fans have been pointing to the cold weather as a factor, except that the Colts’ balls were at regulation pressure. Furthermore, the refs inflated the New England footballs to regulation at halftime, and they were still at regulation when they were measured after the game.
He knows nothing.

  • A few things:
    • This is getting old really fast.
    • One of two things is going on: A) the NFL and the media are selectively releasing information that makes New England look guilty; or B) the Patriots are dirty cheaters. They didn’t need under-inflated footballs to win, but they did it anyway because they’re cheating cheaters who like to cheat. It makes me angrier that it didn’t really affect the game(s). If they cheated in a way that significantly increased their chances of winning, I’d get what they were doing. But it’s more irritating if they cheated just because they’re the Patriots and they’re ***holes and they think they can do whatever they want, rules be damned.
    • I don’t think anything will come of this because I don’t think the league will be able to find any hard proof that someone on the New England payroll intentionally let air out of the footballs. The end result of this will most likely be just another reason for America to hate the Patriots.

  • The only upside of this whole controversy is Andrew Luck, talking about his season-ending loss to the Patriots saying, “You do feel deflated,” before realizing what he had said and doing his endearingly-dorky, “Ohhhh shhoooot.”

  • The Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks (*vomits everywhere*) are -- whaddya know? -- talking a lot. We’ve got cornerback Jeremy Lane saying he doesn’t think New England Patriots tight end/freak of nature Rob Gronkowski is “that good.”

  • Richard Sherman weighed in on the deflated footballs controversy, saying he doesn’t think the Patriots will receive any punishment since Roger Goodell is buddy-buddy with Pats owner Robert Kraft.

One of the many reasons I'm angry the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl is
that I'm already sick of the media attention that they'll get this week.

  • Sherman, who owes much of his fame to his media-loving personality and brash statements, is apparently suddenly put off by the media baiting him. When a reporter asked, “Do you still think you’re best corner in the league?” Sherman replied, “I don't really answer preschool questions, so you improve your line of questioning, and we'll talk." So preschool statements by egomaniacal athletes are perfectly acceptable, it’s just the questions that go too far?

  • Yes, the NFL threatening to ban Marshawn Lynch from a game for wearing gold cleats is ridiculous. Yes, the NFL is often hypocritical, but I’m all about them penalizing Lynch for a) refusing to talk to the media and b) his sophomoric touchdown celebration. I imagine it’s not fun to have to answer stupid questions from the media after every single game, but that’s kind of why they pay athletes millions of dollars. It’s not just because they’re very good at a specific skill; it’s because they’re entertainers, as well. I get annoyed at athletes who think they can pick and choose. “Hmmm, I’ll say yes to the money, yes to the fame and glory, but no, I don’t want any of the annoyances, thank you.” As for his celebration, players get fined $50,000 for flipping the bird, which is categorized as an “obscene” gesture. Grabbing your crotch is worse than flipping the bird, and Lynch should be glad he wasn’t fined more.

Don't let reality get you down, Doug.


  • Recently, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's wife, the famous-for-no-reason Kristin Cavallari, had to fly out of town. When she landed, she was greeted by a series of SOS texts from Cutler regarding their two young sons. This is kinda the only thing I’ve ever seen that makes Jay a little likable.

  • Doesn’t Josh Gordon have any friends or family who care about him?? Anyone who can tell him to stop drinking and smoking pot while he’s in the NFL substance abuse program? The uber-talented Cleveland Browns receiver is facing a year-long penalty for failing a drug test (this time for alcohol). Gordon was banned for the entirety of the 2014 season for a second fail drug test (marijuana), but that penalty was reduced to 10 games on appeal. Gordon was then suspended the final game of the season for skipping practice. Due to his 2014 DWI arrest, Gordon is not supposed to consume any alcohol while he is in the substance abuse program. Since this is his fourth substance violation, I don’t see Gordon being able to appeal what will be a year-long ban. It’s very sad to see.

Come on, dude! Get it together! You could be so amazing!

  • So the Pro Bowl was pretty much all I had left to care about until August, so I had to half-heartedly watched it. It was fine, but it definitely could have used more Jordy and Cobb.

  • Jordy, Randall, and JJ in one picture??? Why did I not fake press credentials and infiltrate Phoenix????? What was I thinking?!

I really dropped the ball on this.

  • I think we all know Sam Shields is not quite Pro Bowl level yet. He got lit up quite a bit. As for John Kuhn, yay for him and all, but they need to make that fullback roster spot a fullback/tight end spot for the Pro Bowl because it’s not really that much of an honor when it’s between you and a couple of other guys who don’t play much.

  • So the obvious highlight from the Pro Bowl was when Jordy Nelson caught a touchdown and then celebrated with Clay Matthews, who was playing for the opposing team. Squeal.

  • One of the Pro Bowl gimmicks is live, in-game tweeting by the players, which led to a very rare occurrence: a Jordy Nelson tweet!!!!

  • Is Lisa Salters the only non-annoying sideline reporter who has ever existed? I actually like her!

  • The uniforms were hideous. Grey and highlighter orange and yellow are not attractive. I don’t know why, but these uniforms make me really mad.

Oh look, Sam Shields getting beat again.

  • The Pro Bowl experimented with narrower field goal posts (14 feet instead of 18) and longer PATs, which led to some misses. Philadelphia Eagles kicker Cody Parkey, who kicked in the Pro Bowl, was not a fan: “They're picking on us … We're already the odd balls on the team.” He makes a good point.

  • New York Giants receiver O’Dell Beckham Jr, who catches touchdowns like this:

  • And warms up for the Pro Bowl like this:

  • ...says he has not been healthy this entire year, due to a hamstring injury that kept him out for the first four games of the season. If what he says is true, and he hasn’t been at 100% this year, that really, really, really sucks for the defensive backs of the league.

  • You know I love JJ Watt, and I had no problem with him winning the Pro Bowl defensive MVP -- he had an interception and a fumble recovery to go with his quarterback pressure -- but Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes really should have been defensive MVP. He was all over the place! Optimus Grimes, as he is also known, had one interception, and nearly had two or three more. He finished with five passes defensed against the best wide receivers in the NFL.

  • It wouldn’t be a Pro Bowl without the standard wringing of hands over the quality of play. Sportswriters -- because they lead lonely lives mostly devoid of meaning -- can always be counted on to write a “The Pro Bowl Must Be Fixed” article this time of year since the players obviously are not trying very hard. Why should they? Why should they risk injury in a meaningless game? So what if it’s not very competitive? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. The Pro Bowl is a chance to see cool trick plays, players playing out of position, players goofing off like it’s a backyard game. Yes, it’s boring. But why is that a problem? Millions of people still watch it every year. Since it doesn’t count for anything, people who complain so much about it are free to do something productive with their Sunday for the first time in five months.

Also, sportswriters, you get a free trip to a warm location, so quit with the angst.

  • To be honest, I watched a lot of the game on fast-forward. The upside is the seemingly interminable game felt dragged on at a slightly faster pace. The downside is I’m sure I missed a lot of Jon Gruden lines. I caught one or two that made the game worthwhile, like:
    • On JJ Watt: “I don’t know how he isn’t the MVP of pro football.”
      Mike Tirico: “So you would take him over Aaron Rodgers?” Gruden: “Well, I don’t know…
    • On Tony Romo: “Great to see him finally have a healthy season this year.” Do you mean other than the two vertebrae he fractured??

  • Charles Woodson was just signed by the Oakland Raiders for his 18th season! I MISS YOU, CHARLES!!

We'll always have this moment.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Well, That Sucked.

  • Wow. That hurt. A lot. More than anyone could reasonably expect a sporting event to hurt. In a never-going-to-get-over-this kind of way.

  • There’s plenty of blame to go around. Brandon Bostick for leaving his assignment on the onside kick -- Jordy was going to get that if you just did your job and blocked! (Bostick was very, very sad after the game.); AJ Hawk for his inexplicable decision to chase the punter on Seattle’s fake field goal for a touchdown (apparently he thought a punter 20 yards from the goal line was so dangerous that he needed to leave his man open in the endzone to pursue the punter); Brad Jones for being so bad that Seattle designed the fake punt play around him; Morgan Burnett for his decision to go to the ground on his interception, even though he had open field in front of him (there was so much open field! They could have at least gotten into field goal position! Julius Peppers may have to take some of the blame here, as he was the one who signaled Burnett to go down.); HaHa Clinton-Dix on his pitiful coverage on the Seahawks’ two-point conversion (why didn’t he try?!); and Mike McCarthy. Oh lord. Mike. McCarthy.

Here's a screenshot a split second before Burnett's interception.
Run, Morgan, run!!

  • McCarthy chose to kick field goals on a 4th-and-1 and a 4th-and-2, both on the goal line in the first quarter. I didn’t like those decisions at all. I hated them. Even if you fail to score, Seattle would have had to go 99 yards. At least go for the touchdown on one of those. That said, I do understand that McCarthy was thinking that the Seahawks are incredibly difficult to score against, so there is a real temptation to take any points when you can get them. But still.

If Bostick had just blocked, this was
going straight into Jordy's hands. 

  • The real issue with McCarthy is that he just completely closed his playbook in the fourth quarter, trying to run out the clock while the Seahawks were roaring back. He played way too conservatively and it cost the Packers. He was essentially trying to run a four-minute offense with 15 minutes left in the game, and -- surprise! -- that didn’t work. Green Bay had zero first downs in the fourth quarter.

Here's Hawk worrying that a punter is going to run 20 yards past
two defenders to get into the endzone. Never mind about leaving your guy
unguarded in the endzone.

  • As my brother said after the game, McCarthy coached scared. Instead of putting the ball in the hands of the best quarterback in the league, the Packers had a run-run-incomplete-punt for one fourth-quarter drive and a run-run-run-punt for another. WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? Richard Sherman is playing with one arm! Earl Thomas is playing with a shoulder harness! James Starks sucks! You have really awesome receivers! Again, YOU HAVE AARON RODGERS! You might just as well have taken kneel downs, since the strategy seemed to be just trying to run out the clock and hoping something would happen.

He's really, really good, Mike. 

  • Aaron Rodgers was not happy with the unaggressive approach. He called the Packers “the better team” in his post-game, and echoed several other players when he stated, “We gave the game away.” Rodgers noted that the Packers “weren’t as aggressive as [they] have been.” When asked if he could elaborate on that, Rodgers paused before saying, “No, I can’t.”

  • Here’s a nice gut punch. This succinct summary touches on how many different things had to go wrong for Green Bay to lose.

As Josh Sitton said, "Literally one of 10 plays you can pick that if we get it, we win the game."

  • The Green Bay defense played incredibly well, forcing four Russell Wilson interceptions and racking up five sacks. Marshawn Lynch ran for 157 yards, but, despite the big number, they held him in check better than could be expected for the first three-quarters of the game.  

  • Russell Wilson’s quarterback rating for the first half: 0.0. [This felt a lot better when I typed it at halftime.] At times, he looked so bad, you had to wonder if Wilson was concussed on the blindside block by Clay Matthews. Though Wilson had not been playing well before the hit, he seemed especially off after it. It’s just shocking that a quarterback could play so poorly for 7/8ths of a game, throw four interceptions, and still &%*$ing win. Mind-boggling.

  • Rodgers threw an uncharacteristic two interceptions in the first half. On the first one, which was intercepted by Richard Sherman in the endzone, Rodgers said he thought he saw the defense jump and had a free play. As it turns out, that’s what it should have been.

The Packers obviously had a bajillion chances after this call to win the game, but this is just slicing me open,
pouring lemon juice on the wound, giving it a bit of time to heal, picking off the scab, and putting salt in it.

  • The Seahawks were not able to create any points off of Green Bay’s two turnovers. Green Bay scored a measly %$@#ing six points off of Seattle’s five turnovers.

Now we have to endure a whole offseason without this....

  • With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Green Bay Packers had a 96.1% chance of winning. 96.1%. The Seahawks had 3.9% chance of winning late in the game. The number of things that had to go wrong all within a tiny space of time for the Packers to lose is ridiculous. Ninety-bleeping-six percent chance. One more time: ninety-six point one percent.

...without Tramon's smile...

  • Oh shut up, Doug Baldwin. The Seahawks receiver went on a tirade after the game, screaming at the reporters for being “doubters.” Ummm, dude, you guys were an insulting eight-point favorite in this game, everyone picked you to win the game, you’ve been a Super Bowl pick since preseason, commenters are having “is this the best defense of our generation?” debates about your team, and you’ve all been called the team with the best chance to repeat since the Patriots, so save me your “no one believed in us” crap.

...without sweet, pre-game texts from Eddie Lacy's mom...

  • I tend to have the same feelings as Packers left guard Josh Sitton, who said it felt worse to lose such a close game than getting blown out.

...without Randall's piercing green eyes...

  • I didn’t watch the Patriots-Colts game because I didn’t care. New England won a lot to a little. Don’t care who wins the Super Bowl.

...without Sideline Ninja and his #NinjaBiceps ninja-ing on the sidelines.


*weeps inconsolably*

Monday, January 12, 2015


  • Okay, so let’s talk about that call. I think the Dez Bryant incompletion was a good call according to the rule book. But…. I think it’s a terrible rule. The Calvin Johnson/”process of the catch” rule is awful and needs to be changed. I think the refs called it in a consistent manner, but find an honest, non-NFL person who can watch the replay says Bryant’s catch was not a catch. (Here’s the play in real time. If you are a Cowboys fan trying to say that Bryant had full, indisputable possession when he took the steps and fell forward, I would argue that the real-time clip suggests otherwise.)

  • The crazy thing about how awful the Calvin Johnson rule is if Sam Shields had pushed Dez Bryant out of bounds before Bryant had dived for the endzone, I’m pretty sure that would have been ruled a completion on the goal line.

  • Nota Bene: Bryant’s incompletion would not have been a “game-winning” catch, as some had said. The Cowboys would have had to score a touchdown from the one-yard line, and successfully converted the two-point try for a three-point lead, meaning the Packers would have had four minutes and Aaron Rodgers to get within field goal range, if not score a touchdown.

If Rodgers can get the ball into this window, don't tell me he couldn't
get the Packers within field goal range.

  • Why didn’t they show Jerry Jones after the Bryant call?!?! That was by far the most disappointing aspect of the game.

More of THIS.

  • The Detroit Lions expressed some “sympathy” for the Cowboys on the controversial call, tweeting a picture of the infamous Calvin Johnson touchdown-ruled-an-incompletion, but the Lions also got in a nice troll over last week’s controversial pass-interference-oh-wait-never-mind call.

Football Karma.

  • Some of the Lions players had decidedly less sympathy for the ‘Boys.

  • But, hey, some Cowboys fans are taking it well.

  • Julius Peppers has Inspector Gadget arms. Peppers had a great day, forcing two fumbles, one on Romo (which Romo recovered) and one potentially touchdown-saving strip of Dallas running back DeMarco Murray. (He also has an insane vertical!)

"Go go gadget arms!"

  • I have given a lot of (well-deserved) flak to both Davante Adams and Andrew Quarless, but both played really well on Sunday. Adams had 117 yards on 7 catches, and Quarless had some huge third-down catches (and a fumble recovery). Now, if only they could do that consistently.

  • Stop. Talking. About. the. Damn. Ice. Bowl.

  • Troy Aikman: “Cole Beasley reminds me of Wes Welker and Danny Amendola. ” Uhh, because they’re all white?

"Nelson reminds me of Welker, even though they have completely different
skill sets. Just something about them ... can't quite put my finger on it."

  • I know Packer fans should be wary about complaining about the officiating, but there were two huge pass interference penalties called against Tramon Williams that were ticky-tack at best. And the personal foul call on TJ Lang was horrendous. He was called for a late hit, but the problem was the play was still ongoing, the whistle hadn’t been blown, and he was blocking for his receiver, who was still being pummeled by multiple Cowboys defenders.

  • Eddie Lacy had a strong day, particularly in the first few drives. He ended with 101 yards, but was used sparingly later in the game due to asthma issues brought on by the cold.

  • Aaron Rodgers was obviously not himself due to his calf injury, most noticeably in the first half. He was able to find a rhythm in the second half, when he completed 15-of-20 passes, including going 9-for-9 in the fourth quarter. Gutting through the pain for that kind of performance deserves ...THE BELT! (And a Shooter McGavin nod.)

  • The third-down throw to Randall Cobb that sealed the game was actually intended for Jarrett Boykin, but the ball got tipped at the line of scrimmage and Cobb was mercifully able to adjust and catch it.

  • In other happy Packers news:

Yay, Mason!

  • There are a lot of teams that can beat Green Bay, but the Seattle Seahawks are the only team I’m scared of. Very, very scared for next week.

  • If it makes Cowboys fans feel any better, this explains so much about Tony Romo. Just imagine how good he’d be if he threw the ball with his eyes open!

  • The New England Patriots pulled out some trickery against the Baltimore Ravens. That’s right, I mean Tom Brady’s lateral to receiver Julian Edelman (who played quarterback in college), who threw a beautiful pass to receiver Danny Amendola for a touchdown.

  • As for the other New England trickery … I’m not really sure where I stand on the fairness of the Patriots’ substitution schemes. As I understand it, here’s what happened: the Patriots threw the Ravens for a loop by only playing four offensive lineman (which is legal because they had one of their receivers or tight ends declare themselves ineligible, meaning that player could not catch a pass on that play. Declaring themselves eligible or ineligible just means telling the ref that, and the ref then announces it on the PA so the defense knows about it.). This means one of the New England players who lined up where you would usually see the offensive linemen line up was actually an eligible receiver, who burnt the Ravens defense because you obviously don’t plan to guard someone you think is an offensive lineman down the field. This is all legal, but if an offense makes a substitution, the rules dictate that the defense must be given time to make their own substitutions. The head ref said he gave that time, but the Ravens felt like they were not given sufficient time. (The length of time is a “judgment call” -- oy.) Sometimes, a ref will stand over the ball until the signal is given that the defense has had enough time for substitutions, which did not happen in the New England-Baltimore game (nor is it required, I don’t think). The thing is, the Ravens have to be allowed enough time to literally get men on the field, but they are not owed time to sit and figure out opponents’ formations. That’s what timeouts are for. (Read the links; they explain it a lot better than I.) The Pats were able to use this strategy four times, all for big gains.

Coach Harbaugh respectfully disagrees.

  • The Ravens played well, twice taking a 14-point lead before New England came roaring back. The Patriots went pass-heavy against the battered Baltimore secondary, only running the ball seven times! Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns, but also had an interception, which led to a Ravens touchdown, which led to Sad Brady.

Don't worry, Tom; it gets better!

  • I was so impressed with the Carolina Panthers hanging in for so long against the Seattle Seahawks, despite being a far, far inferior team. The final score doesn’t reflect how valiant Carolina’s effort was, but the game was still within reach for them in the fourth quarter (then things got ugly).

  • Surely, surely, the Panthers must have a better options at punt returner than Brenton Bersin. Your returner should instill fear in the hearts of the opponents, not your fans.

What about this man could possibly make the Panthers have faith in him?

  • So Seattle safety Kam Chancellor is very athletic. He nearly blocked a field goal by hurdling the line (but the kick was nullified by a Carolina penalty).

  • So the Panthers lined up to try the kick again, and Chancellor did the same thing (but the down was replayed because Chancellor was flagged for running into the kicker).

  • So Carolina kicker Graham Gano courageously tried a third time, though that couldn’t have been a fun situation for him. Chancellor shutdown freak mode this time and stayed on his side, and the kick was good.

  • I just have to say that I think it’s totally and completely unfair that the Seahawks have probably the top two safeties in the league in Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Shouldn’t there be some sort of antitrust-type rule to break up injustice like this? And shouldn’t that rule be created and enforced before next Sunday? PLEASE?

  • The number three pick in the 2012 NFL draft was a healthy inactive for the Indianapolis Colts. Trent Richardson, epic running back bust, was not active. That left the Colts with Daniel Herron (whose “Boom” nickname seems a little bit of an overreach; he had 63 yards on 23 carries) and someone named Zurlon Tipton, who had 14 yards. As it turned out, Indianapolis didn’t really need a run game, as they handled the Broncos 24-13.

  • I certainly did not expect the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning, who reportedly has been playing through a torn right quad the last month, looked terrible. He was 26-for-46 for 211 yards and one touchdown, which aren’t really awful numbers by themselves, but get worse when you break them down. Manning was just 6-for-21 on throws of five or more yards, and 5-of-14 on third downs, plus garbage time improved his numbers.

This meant a lot of Manning Face, which was more pitiful than funny
because of the possibility that Manning has played his last game.

  • Now, excuse me, I have to go talk to the Football Gods and see what I can sacrifice in return for a win next week.