Well, friends, there it was. Traditionally, the saddest Sunday of the year. The Sunday in which Joe Buck is off calling the World Series and Troy Aikman is forced to work with Thom Brennaman. Those of us watching the Fox Game of the Week were treated to exchanges like this:
BRENNAMAN: And Russell Wilson skips out of bounds at the Seattle 32. It will be second-and-7 for the Seahawks.
AIKMAN: Hey Thom, what do you suppose Joe’s doing right now?
BRENNAMAN: I’m, uh, I’m not sure, Troy. Getting ready for the game, I would imagine.
AIKMAN: You think he’s watching us?
BRENNAMAN: I wouldn’t, uh…
AIKMAN: Do you think Joe looks good with the beard?
BRENNAMAN: Well, I don’t…
AIKMAN: Yeah, Joe’s real nice.
BRENNAMAN: The, uh, the Seahawks are lining up with an empty backfield…
AIKMAN: (singing, gently) Because there is always something there to remind me-e…
Let’s get away from this, shall we?
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH:
FANTASY GAME OF ALL TIME: The Saints vs The Giants
The decade-plus long trend of taking Good Defense out to the garage, closing the door, turning on the car and letting Defense suck in the big brown wind of death reached a new low (or high, depending on your point of view) in the Superdome on Sunday. When it was all over, the Giants and the Saints combined for over a thousand yards of total offense (over 800 of it through the air), 14 TDs (13 of them passing TDs), over 140 plays, over 50 first downs and over 300 Tom Coughlin “What the f**k?” faces. Drew Brees threw for a record-tying 7 TDs and over 505 yards (he might have gotten the NFL record for TDs and yardage if the game had gone to overtime.) The downside was two-fold: that Eli Manning threw for 6 TDs in a losing effort and that Rob Ryan is still getting paid actual money to be a defensive coordinator.
The greater effect, though, was to cascade some ridiculous numbers through my fantasy league. Three teams scored more than 70 points and only Jack managed to lose while having a player involved in that game. (Well, Robbie had a kicker involved, but screw that.) In fact, Robbie seemed to sum it up best: “That game was wilder than a Tijuana whore and twice as ugly.” (I’ll defer to Robbie when it comes to prostitutes.)
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Mike
Mike benefited from having the real founder of this week’s fantasy feast in Drew Brees. Though his man-crush carried the Winter Soldiers to victory, Mike was more disdainful of the benefits the other teams received. To quote Mike, “All those guys did was put players in their line up and let them score.” He failed to be moved when I pointed out THAT’S HOW EVERY FANTASY GAME WORKS!
DUMBASS OF THE WEEK: Terry Collins
I’m branching out a tad to include the New York Mets manager, who Grady Littled his way into a World Series defeat. Down 3-1 in the Series, but up 2-0 in Game Five, Collins decided to pull starter Matt Harvey. Harvey, who had pitched eight shutout innings but thrown over 100 pitches, lobbied Collins to stay in. Collins, showing the sort of backbone that the French military is famous for, let Harvey go out for the ninth. Harvey promptly walked the first batter, but Collins left him in the game. After Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer doubled in a run, Collins finally found his nutsack and removed Harvey. However, he put closer Jeurys Familia in a difficult spot (no outs and a runner in scoring position.) The Royals eventually tied the game and went on to win the World Series in extra innings. Collins, to his credit, admitted his lack of testicular fortitude in leaving Harvey out there. But when asked why he didn’t go for a pitching change after the leadoff walk, he provided this gem: “If you’re going to let him just face one guy, you shouldn’t have sent him out there.” This despite the long-standing managerial policy that you pull a guy if he lets anyone get on base in the ninth (Tom Kelly 101.) But of course, leave the guy in. What’s the worst that could happen? Oh, you might LOSE THE WORLD SERIES!! To compound this bit of idiocy, the Mets immediately gave Collins a two year contract extension; a reward for managing the World Series as if he had an open head wound.
POT AND THE KETTLE AWARD: The Indianapolis Colts
The Colts, who have a tendency to get on their collective high horse whenever the subject of Deflategate comes up, find themselves behind the 8 ball this week (I mean, the pool version of an 8 ball, not…y’know what? Let’s move on.) Apparently, the Colts have not been reporting QB Andrew Luck’s fractured ribs on the weekly injury report, despite the league’s gambling-related requirement that they do so. General Manager/A**hole in Chief Ryan Grigson insisted that the Colts’ injury reports were accurate, but did not deny that Luck’s ribs are injured. When notified that this was a contradiction, Grigson looked real mad and crapped his pants. Head coach Chuck Pagano, who was busy letting the air out of Grigson’s tires in an effort to get fired, could not be reached for comment. During his weekly press conference, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, “I have no comment on that. Beyond f**k those guys.”
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart, (soon to be ONCE AGAIN, the funniest man on TV) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: Denver shuts down Aaron Rodgers
The Green Bay QB appeared to be channeling his inner Tarvaris Jackson on Sunday night, going 14 of 22 for 77 yards and no TDs and inspiring a three hour long Mike McCarthy “Who Farted?” Face. Of course, talking heads around the country were quick to proclaim, “Denver provided a blueprint for defeating Aaron Rodgers.” Which, of course, is completely true…if you happen to be the Denver Broncos defense.
See, the blueprint for defeating Aaron Rodgers has been around for years. In general, it reads like this: get a strong pass rush from your front four, keep Rodgers in the pocket, drop enough guys into coverage to prevent him from exploiting a blitz-created opening and beat the living hell out of him. Do that long enough, successfully enough and Rodgers eventually starts doing what coaches call “lowering his eyes.” In other words, he starts worrying about who’s going to kick his ass rather than who’s open downfield. After watching the Broncos do that for four quarters, every sports talk radio caller outside the state of Wisconsin has turned into Duke, the trainer from Rocky IV: “See, he’s not a machine! He’s a man!”
So yes, the blueprint has been drawn up. All you need is a front four capable of both stopping the run and pressuring the QB, DEs who can contain the perimeter and keep Rodgers from rolling out and a defensive secondary that can close off routes, sag a bit in coverage to fake an opening and quickly adhere to the receivers again when Rodgers throws an ill-advised pass. And here is the list of defenses that fit that profile:
The Denver Broncos
That is all.
So, to the rest of the league, good luck with that blueprint. I’m sure you won’t wind up looking like Homer Simpson’s every attempt at masonry.
Peyton’s Heroes (Carol) 7-1
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 5-3
Chuck (Chuck) 5-3
The Rat Pack (Me) 3-5
The Sex Machine (Lars) 2-6
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 5-3
Deflated Balls (Robbie) 4-4
Favre’s Dong (Jack) 4-4
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 4-4
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 2-6