Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Week 6: Smashmouth Returns, While Wacky Pass-Happiness Still All The Rage

Ahh, theeeere's the San Francisco 49ers team we all (well, ok, some of us) know and love. Running the football, hardnosed defense, protecting the football, ball-control, field-position...all that equals a total domination effort, in primetime no less. More on them in another blogpost.

- Wacky pass-happiness still rules the airwaves
Another weekend, another bout of excitement over the exploits of the Manning Flying Horses. After the first Thursday-night game, a friend of mine ridiculously penned them in for the Lombardi trophy. That's: penned, not penciled. And: first game, not even the first weekend of games. And has touted them as invincible every weekend since. I've yet to talk to him after Sunday's 7-on-7 drill game, but...giving up 500 yards to anyone is mayyybe just a bit of a reason for concern. Having fun throwing the ball all over the field? Your soon-to-be increasing-in-quality opponents might be getting in on the fun if your defense doesn't shape up, and fast. Should we remind everyone how and why Denver's 2013 playoff run ended?

Now, while everyone gets excited by yet another early-regular-season high-flying offense (haven't we gone thru this each and EVERY year for like the past 5-6 years? Patriots? Packers? Saints? Broncos?), I've just been going around reminding people where this season's Super Bowl is being held. In New Jersey. Outdoors. In February. Having fun throwing the ball all over the field? Yea, good luck with that come Christmas-time.

Right now, to me, the real team to be fearful of just might be the New Orleans Saints. Why? Simple: 18. That's the most points a team has scored against them thru the first 5 games. It's still early, and their opponents haven't all offensive juggernauts, but the possibility that that continues to hold up, coupled with an offense with the ability to be wacky-pass-happy, is nevertheless Halloween-scary.

- Advice for the Cowboys
Get a closer. You know, like in baseball? Where you only expect to get 80-90% of the game from even your best pitcher? Yea, like that. Look, we've seen plenty of people bash Tony Romo over the years. And plenty of people using silly things like facts and reality to point out that he's been really, really good over the course of his career. But c'mon. 10 game-changing turnovers can't be all wrong. I'm not saying dump the guy. I'm not saying he sucks. Run him out there for your games. Run him out there even in the 4th quarter. Let him get you that late-game lead. But when that lead needs protecting? Go to your bullpen. It's crazy, it's radical, I know. But so is the penchant of a QB to be so impressively good, yet manage to make throwing a game-deciding INT about as surprising as this morning's sunrise.

- New York Jets, the Sitcom, Season 2 continues
My enjoyment following the Jets has taken a surprising turn. Who would've thought they could be just as comically-enthralling by actually being goo...okay, well, competent? They're like the plucky little engine that could at this point. First there was the Geno-Sanchez duel, ended not-so-ironically by another Rex Ryan misstep. Then there was the can-he can't-he Geno growing pain weeks. And now? A game-winning drive against a defending conference-game participant? (So what if the Falcons a complete shell of themselves)

Given the way Atlanta was yielding to the Geno-led offense, I am proud to say that, after Atlanta's good-ahead TD, I proclaimed declaratively: "they left too much time on the clock for Geno!" (100 seconds or so were left in the game). I have the facebook post to prove it. And sure enough: pass, pass, pass, run, and the Jets were lining up for a game-winning FG with 3 seconds left. I cheered with the Jets fanbase when it sailed thru. How can you not enjoy the glass-is-getting-fuller growing optimism? Actually, for the sake of accuracy, every bit of the optimistic feeling surrounding the Jets early-season success is made possible by how completely horrid the Giants have been to this point. In being bad -- historically bad to date, the Giants have somehow made the Jets' decent-ness just as comical to me as their former struggles. I can't explain it really. It just...is.

- Meanwhile, down in the city of Atlanta...
Wow, what a weekend for the Peach State. First, on Saturday, Georgia Tech lost 45-30, and Georgia State was mauled 45-3. Then, Sunday, the Atlanta Dream were down by as many as 30 points on the way to losing game 1 of the WNBA Finals by 25. Fast forward another 24 hours, and the beloved Braves took a 1-run lead into the 8th inning before being eliminated from the playoffs with 2-out, 2-run HR. Minutes later, the Falcons were dropped to 1-4 by the Jets' come-from-behind FG as time expired. And just for good measure, the new-look Hawks whittled a 22-point lead down to 2 before losing their preseason opener earlier in the evening.

With so many sports in so many cities around the country, I'm sure the stars mis-align now and again for a city here and there, but...ouch. That is what you call thorough; did I miss any sports? Is the MLS still playing? I can't think of a single place an Atlanta sports fan could've gone to sooth their wounds last weekend. Is it piling on if I mention that the Winnipeg Jets -- who until 2 years ago called Atlanta their home -- also lost? Ok ok, I'll stop.

Incidentally, speaking of shattered Dreams, Atlanta's WNBA franchise has made it to the Finals 3 times in the last 4 years (2010, 2011). To date, they've yet to win even one...game. 0-7 after Sunday night's thrashing. If they get swept again? Time to add them to Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Pau-Gasol-Memphis-Grizzlies playoff lore (yes, I know, "no one" cares about WNBA...except the thousands and thousands of people that *do* care. It's still sports. No need to be a chauvinistic asshole about it.)

- Ravens 16th and 17th last year. Who knew?
As I began looking up the numbers to "prove" that only teams with good defenses make it to the big game, I immediately ran smack into last year's Ravens squad, who for the regular season was ranked 17th in total yards allowed (and 16th in yards gained offense incidentally). Coupled with the Giants of a couple years ago ranking near the bottom of the league (though mostly because of injury) before going on to win the big one, there went the iron-cladness of that theory. However, it should be noted, as implied, that the Giants played much, much better defense once health was on their side in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl. The Ravens, they were able to do, well, just enough to eek out wins in a stereotypical Cinderella, preordained-win season. Other than that? I suppose those are the exceptions to prove the rule.

We'll see if a middling-defense, pass-happy team can finally turn 50 years of Super Bowl history on its ear. Because surely that day is coming, right? Right?


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