Monday, January 11, 2010

Wildcard Hangover - Love/Hate

I’m still in shock… we’re going to start with the hates this week. While I was typing that, Aaron Rodgers just got hit in the helmet again (and it didn’t get called) and WRs and TEs were streaking wide open all over Glendale, Arizona.


- That was an unreal game in Arizona. I don’t even know where to begin. As much as it hurt to lose as a Packer fan, it was an incredible game to watch. Green Bay got off to the worst start I’ve ever imagined, then fought all the way back including a great on-side kick call by Mike McCarthy, and lost in OT on a fumble recovery where there was a blatant “contact with the helmet” and “facemask” penalties that were not called. I’m not blaming the game on the officials….but I need to rant a little. It was one of the worst officiated games I’ve seen in a long time – Rodgers was contacted in the helmet at least 3 or 4 times that I can recall and never received the flag. Whether they were hard hits is irrelevant in today’s “protect the QB at all costs” NFL – it’s an automatic penalty…..unless the officials that called Sunday’s game are there. Add to that the offensive pass interference and the blatant holding of Cullen Jenkins (who was called for brushing Warner’s helmet) on Larry Fitzgerald’s second touchdown, and it was a very poorly called game on many levels. Yet in the end, if the Packers highly rated defense could have figured out a way to cover someone over the middle of the field, they would have ran away with the game. The officials didn’t cost anyone the game – the lack of defense was abhorrent.

Aaron Rodgers proved that he can step up for a big game and delivered while rallying his team with his calm and collected demeanor. And Kurt Warner was also out of this world, with more touchdowns than incomplete passes. It was the most amazing offensive football game I’ve ever seen.

- When I said I would go 11-0 in the playoffs…….maybe I actually meant 0-11. I went 0-4 this weekend. Ouch. The only real shocker game was the Ravens putting the beat down on the Patriots. Time to double down in the divisional games next week………….

- Paging Randy Moss…………Mr. Moss? The doctors are ready for your heart transplant. Obviously the heart that you used for your first years in New England has expired. Not sure what to think of the Patriots future coming off this game. Their aura under Belichick and Brady took a major hit by losing at home, and not just losing, but getting crushed. The team didn’t rally after getting punched in the mouth early by the Ravens. That was the biggest difference between the Pats and the Packers on Sunday. Both teams started the games horribly, yet the Packers were able to fight their way back.

- Can someone please explain to me what happened to Carson Palmer? I thought he was a strong-armed gunslinger who was always under control when he entered the league out of USC. He then took over the strong aerial attack of the Bengals, zipping the ball all over the field during their strong 2005 season. He then blew out his knee on the second snap of his first playoff game against Pittsburgh. And now he’s an immobile, inaccurate, noodle-armed game manager? I haven’t seen a strange transformation like this since it was discovered that former Playmate of the Year Victoria Silvstedt was a hooker.

- That announcing crew that did the Jets-Bengals game on Saturday was among the worst I’ve ever heard, and I grew up listening to Jim Paschke and John McGlockton stumble through Milwaukee Bucks games. NBC gave us a team of Tom Hammonds, Joe Theismann and Joe Gibbs that had never worked a booth together and they sounded like it. Gibbs had no idea when he should or shouldn’t talk, Theismann talks too much, and Hammonds is better on Notre Dame games, where no one cares. At one point after Mark Sanchez rolled out and threw a long TD pass, Hammonds incorrectly called it out of the wildcat format and Theismann went on a rant about how Brad Smith was a prolific passer at Iowa and that the Bengals should have been ready for him. While his comment was factually accurate, it was extremely inappropriate because Smith was not on the field!!! It was not a wildcat play and Sanchez had thrown the TD pass. Yet Theismann was so eager to hear himself talk about the one fact he researched that he didn’t take the time to see what was actually happening on the field. I spent most of the game praying Lawrence Taylor would make a surprise appearance in the booth.


- Wisconsin fans are going to have to deal with the sting of the Packer loss, but the silver lining from the weekend was the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team knocking off unbeaten and #4 ranked Purdue at the Kohl Center. Bo Ryan continues to amaze me with his ability to put together an extremely competitive team every year no matter how many players graduate. He also has built a dominant home court advantage – going 130-10 in his career at the Kohl Center. Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer are the sophomore foundation of a team that has tournament potential. Senior guards in Travon Williams and Jason Bohannon along with the scoring sophomore duo and stingy defense are a good recipe for post season success. I think Bo might be more underrated

- Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo were impressive in playoff wins. Both guys have been on serious roller coasters with the media, and both seem like pretty normal guys. Both QBs were in complete control during the games on Sunday and led their teams to much needed victories. It seems like both quarterbacks have the world by the tail right now. Or is it that they have the tail in the world? Either way, the bottom line is the Cowboys are always under the microscope and right now they look incredible as they head to Minnesota to try and knock off Romo’s childhood hero Brett Favre. Sanchez plays in the biggest fishbowl in the world in NY and faces an unbelievable amount of pressure. He’s the toast of the town – this week – but needs to follow it up with a strong game in San Diego to keep that praise.

- Time for the annual “Should we trade Donovan McNabb?” Circus to kick off. He’s a good quarterback as proven by his regular season success, but it is also extremely apparent that he does not have the ability to win the biggest games. He is not mentally tough (have I said that before?!?!) and is not a strong leader. If the Eagles truly want to make a Super Bowl run, they will need to get a dynamic quarterback to pair up with DeSean Jackson, McCoy, Maclin, and Celek. I don’t think they have that guy on their roster currently – sorry Kevin Kolb.

- The sound you heard late Saturday night was not your neighbor trying to haul a fat girl home for some action……..well, it might have been that. But the other sound you heard? The coaching carousel screeching to a halt after the Cowboys victory. If Dallas loses to Philly, Wade Phillips get canned, perhaps Jeff Fisher or Bill Cowher would take the job and the carousel would pick up some steam. Instead, Phillips secured his job, and Fisher’s only potential move would be to go to USC to take over after Pete Carroll heads to Seattle.

- Speaking of Turtleneck Pete………….do you think he saw the gas and matches next to his USC program that has become dry wood and ran for the hills as fast as possible? Facing potential probation or loss of scholarships due to the Joe McNight situation and the Reggie Bush problems still not fully settled, Pete decided to get out of town while his star still has light left. You can’t blame him, but you have to wonder about the Seahawks. Can we run down the list of college coaches that went to the pros and had success? Jimmy Johnson……..that’s it. The list of failures? Dennis Erickson (twice – once by the same Seahawks), Butch Davis, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino & Steve Spurier. And we’re not even bringing up the fact that Carroll was a failure in his first NFL run with the Patriots and Jets. Something tells me Pete is taking this job as a highly paid sabbatical before returning to run another college program……much like Nick Saban did with great success leveraging his brief poor run with the Dolphins into a huge pay day in Alabama.

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