Monday, January 11

NFL Wildcard De-Cleeting: Line Play Wins In January

The old crumudgens can lean back and crack a smile after the manner in which the Wildcard Weekend played out. Despite the NFL changing the rules to help receivers and quarterbacks again and again and offenses putting up tremendous passing numbers, the play ni the trenches still wins in the NFL. The stats do not lie in this case, the league is more offensive-minded and pass-oriented. You might even think we are one step away from playing football how they play it in Starship Troopers. Before we start imagining a silver football, Denise Richards in the crowd, or the dude who stole Kelly from Zack being a part of football, the weekend was a reminder that if you can pressure the quarterback with your front four, run the ball and control possesion, and capitalize on the turnovers pressure causes you can win.

Time For A Bungles Pun

Rex Ryan may have the candor of a singing wall bass, but the man has successfully transplanted the Ravens philosophy to the Jets. Showing that the previous Sunday Night game was not entirely a fluke, the Jets offensive line pounded the Bengals until there was little left. Offensively the Bengals were equally inept; Palmer is a shade of what he was, there was miscommunication on routes, and the players looked far from prepared. The Bengals had been waiting for 4 years to return to the playoffs and their coach burned both challenges in the first half. They were not prepared from the top down and if I were Cincinnati I would consider blowing this team up and starting over. But back to the Jets, with that type of running game and blitz-happy defense, Ryan was not crazy in beleiving his team had a chance. He was crazy to state they should be the favorite all the way to Miami. The Jets style leaves little room for error. Mark Sanchez did play well, helping to dispell the cold weather theory(it was his own 2002 Bucs NFC Championship game) but with a Ron Rivera defense lining up this weekend they will have to come up with something better than roll out passes to the tight end to keep the defense honest for the running game.

Star Spits Back

Was there anyone else that felt like their innards were squirming when they saw this?:

Their hand clasp was not even close to the most epic one of all-time, but I digress. Even more uncomfortable than W and Emmitt. All appears to be well for Jer-uh and the Boys after throttling the Eagles two weeks in a row. Many streaks were broken in this game: Tony Romo's winless playoff, the Cowboys 14 year playoff streak, Reid's first round undefeated record. With the offense finally soaring this time of year, Wade has been allowed to focus on defense and rag on him all you want for his head coaching prowess, the man knows defense. DeMarcus Ware gets all the pub, but Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer have prevented teams from throwing most of their O-line at Ware to save their QBs time. Unfortunate for the Eagles that their center went down, but that is football. The Eagles secondary was scrambling all over the place because the push on Romo was not where it usually is for an Eagles defense. The Vikings' gameplanning should be interestnig considering their O-line has been such an issue and they have this beastly D-line coming in.

Haters are Happy

I have already said my piece on the end of the Patriots as we currently know them. Catfish threw me a text after I lamented to him about the domination the Ravens laid down, it said I knew this was coming. That is true, I knew the Patriots fall was coming in the post-season with or without Welker but I did not know the fall would be off a speeding train into a canyon instead of a slight fall off the roof of a one-story house. Aside from the horrid line play, the offense is still way to predictable and Belichick needs a solid playcaller in the fold. Weis was snapped up by Kansas City which I thought would have been a great re-addition. There has to be an innovative playcaller than is willing to work with Brady and Welker next year. There has to be a better running game and as for Randy Moss, I think he has outlived his usefullness in New England.

The Ravens may not have the defense they did 9 years ago, but their assault on Tom Brady forced him into turnovers and completely sqaushed the Pats offensive attack. The Pats defense had no answer for the runnning game. Vince Wilfork is an outstanding defensive lineman, but when those around him cannot make plays he gets double and sometimes triple-teamed. The Ravens are going to be primed to face the Colts who are in that oh so familiar postion of not playing live football for 3 weeks. The Ravens are going to try to squeeze the clock as much as they can but if Peyton is on his game he only needs about 15 minutes (see: Dolphins game). The Ravens have a long history with the Colts, even in the playoffs and aside from one blowout last year the games are usually close. The Ravens will have to finish if they want to win, playing ball control and forcing FGs is nice, but they need TDs. I would be very nervous if I were a Colts fan this week.

Not As Tuck

Perhaps I was still reeling from the Pats game or maybe Joe Buck's dulcet tones put my mind in a haze, but after seeing the play to end the insane 51-45 overtime win by the Cardinals I was mumbling "tuck rule" to myself. After shaking my head and watching again I see the ball never hit the turf, which renders the tuck rule irrelevant. Fitting that in a game were defense took a back seat, defensive line pressure made the winning play. Neither team's defensive line will get a gold star but Arizona did sack Aaron Rodgers 5 times including the final pressure play by Michael Adams. I expect to see more of the same next week in New Orleans, which will have purists shouting about how putrid the defenses are and will leave fans loving the back and forth action. It is not unthinkable that the 96 total points and 1024 yards of offense will not be topped when the Cards play the Saints.

Quick Word About Pete Carroll

Word is the deal is finalized for Pete to take his SoCal attitude to the Pacific northwest. This may be a bolt due to the NCAA hammer coming down on USC finally but it also is the chance Pete wanted to succeed in the NFL, on his own terms. His stints in New York and New England were, in his mind, not a fair shake because he did not have complete autonomy. He has it now, there is nowhere to lay blame if the Seahawks continue to struggle. He has always been respected as a bright defensive mind, in college and the NFL, but his success at USC does not easily translate to the NFL. It will be a whole new skill set he will have to pull from in dealing with multi-millionare mindsets as opposed to being the unquestioned king in L.A. The dude-brah attitude may resonate with the coffeehouse patrons of Seattle, but unless Carroll has revolutionary epiphany when it comes to directing a professional team he will be chased back to college like some of his recent predecessors have.

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