Gotta be honest: it’s been a crappy week. Particularly for my friend Carol. She’s the most informed and caring of my friends so the events of Election Day hit her rather hard. While she hasn’t exactly been moping, she’s been uncharacteristically subdued. She came over before the football gathering on Sunday and we had this little exchange while she stared into her too-early-in-the-day Cosmo.
CAROL: That’s the world now, right? A barren post-apocalypse with no joy, no light, no hope.
ME: You talking about the world or just Facebook?
She smiled a little at that. Didn’t laugh, but she smiled. It’s a start.
Okay, here we go.
AWARDS FROM THE COMMISH
FANTASY GAME OF THE YEAR: Me vs Robbie
By all rights, my game against Robbie should have been over and done with by the time Sunday night rolled around. I had an almost-30 point lead and he had only three players left: LaGarrette Blount, Rob Gronkowski and Doug Baldwin. And I still had Steven Hautschka. I wasn’t worried. Until Blount and Baldwin started going crazy. Much like the Seahawks, I had to hold on and sweat out the game until its final moments. The result was a tie between me and Robbie that I won on the tiebreaker. I don’t say this about Robbie often-in fact, I don’t think I’ve EVER said this about Robbie-but it’s a shame he lost. He outscored two other GAMES in the league this week. But I’m not giving back the win.
FANTASY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ezekiel Elliot
Elliot scored three TDs (two of them coming in the final two minutes) and had over 200 yards of total offense in the craze-fest against the Steelers. Elliot also gets bonus points for being my Franchise Player and breaking the tie with Robbie. (For those not in the know, each team in my league designates a Franchise Player whose points will be used if a tiebreaker is needed.) I’d say, “I love you Ezekiel Elliot and I want to have your baby” but the last person who said that is currently cooperating with the league on a domestic violence investigation of Elliot. The NFL, ladies and gentlemen!
ASSCLOWN OF THE WEEK: Colin Kaepernick
It should be noted that those of us who stuck our neck out to advocate for Kaepernick’s freedom of expression in sitting for the National Anthem were not wrong. However, Kaepernick didn’t exactly have our backs, either. This week, Kaepernick admitted that he didn’t vote in this year’s Presidential election and didn’t pay attention to the result. He later said it would be hypocritical, since he opposes the system’s oppression and its not the sort of thing you can vote your way out of.
I’m feeling a tad like Lois Griffin in that I don’t have time to point out everything that’s wrong with that statement. So I’ll just stick to the general areas. If you think you can make the system better by not participating, you’re a dumbass. If you think you can ignore the system and it will go away, you’re a dumbass. If you think staying home means everything that’s wrong will work itself out, you’re a dumbass. If you think someone whose base of support was African-American voters would do less for the African-American community than a guy who openly race-baited during the campaign and was endorsed by the KKK, you’re uninformed. And a dumbass.
Kaepernick is kneeling during the National Anthem to call attention to the oppression of minority communities. But calling attention to something simply isn’t enough. That attention has to lead to action. And if you think staying home and allowing someone like Donald Trump to be elected is going to lead to action, you’re a dumbass. And maybe, in the end, you’re not calling attention to racial injustice as much as you’re just calling attention to yourself.
END OF AN ERROR AWARD: Jay Cutler
On a lighter note, a man’s entire professional career continues to crash down around him. This past Sunday, Cutler turned in a 3 turnover, 4 sack stinkbomb against the Buccaneers D; a defense that should not be confused with the 1985 Bears D…or the 1991 Cobb-Cook Elementary School D (Go Cougars!) Those who have watched Cutler over the years know this was not an isolated incident. Cutler’s QB rating on the season is 77.1, which is down slightly from his career QB rating of 85.7. For comparison, Tom Brady’s career QB rating is 97.0 and Brad Johnson’s was 82.5. So, a man with Tom Brady physical ability is working at a Brad Johnson level. And it’s becoming clear that Chicago will not tolerate this much longer.
Cutler will ultimately go down as one of those Nuke Lalooshian cases of a guy who had million dollar talent and a two-cent head. Shortly after Cutler was drafted by the Broncos, coach Mike Shanahan arranged a lunch date between Cutler and Broncos legend (now VP) John Elway. Cutler was so grateful for the opportunity, he spent most of the time looking at his phone. While in Denver, Cutler got into a feud with Phillip Rivers and made RIVERS look like the good guy (which is a bit like having someone say, “Hey, you leave those nice fellas in the Cobra Kai alone!”) He sat out the second half of the 2011 NFC Championship with what was later diagnosed as a boo-boo. He’s plowed through coaches and coordinators like the Shanahans (Kyle and Mike), Mike Martz and Marc Trestman. Only Adam Gase was able to get a mediocre performance out of Cutler and Gase got out of town before things could get bad (which they almost certainly would have.) Cutler has repeatedly shown an inability to audible, protect the ball or actually give a s**t. And at 33 years of age, it’s VERY unlikely the light’s going to suddenly go on in his head. After the Bears pull the plug on him, there’s very little chance Cutler ever sees consistent time as a starter again.
On the bright side, we’ll always have Smokin’ Jay Cutler.
(The best thing in the history of Photoshop. Seriously, I could have picked any one of about 15 and they were all hilarious.)
WADE BOGGS’ PANTS AWARD: Doug Baldwin
There’s an episode of Cheers in which Wade Boggs shows up in the bar as the gang is in the middle of their annual joke war against Gary’s Olde Town Tavern. They become convinced this is one of Gary’s tricks and they chase “Wade Boggs” out of the bar and pants him in the street. When they return, they go through the guy’s wallet and discover it was, in fact, Red Sox legend Wade Boggs they left wandering around downtown Boston in his BVDs. In the face of yet another humiliation at Gary’s hands, Carla points out that they have something Gary will never have: they have the great Wade Boggs’ pants. When the gang balks, Carla reminds them, “It’s this or nothing.” They then parade around the bar, hoisting Boggs’ pants and chanting, “We’re number one!” One of the old-timers watches them and growls, “Pretty weenie.”
Fast forward to this past Sunday night and an excellent game between the Patriots and the Seahawks. The Hawks were clinging to a one touchdown lead late with the Pats inside the Hawks’ five yard line. Despite running four plays from pointblank range, the Pats drive fizzled with an incomplete pass toward Rob Gronkowski on 4th and Goal (“Gronk sad.”) The entire sequence evoked memories of the Pats’ goal line stand against the Hawks in the Super Bowl a year and a half ago, something not lost on Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin. Baldwin was quoted as saying, “How poetic. Incredible, really. They had the opportunity to win at the one-yard line at the end of the game. I thought of that, looking back … It’s one of those special moments you won’t forget. Football’s special, so special. How poetic this is?” Yes, because who wouldn’t trade a Super Bowl victory for a win in a largely-meaningless pre-Thanksgiving regular season game? Hey Phil?
And finally, in honor of Jon Stewart (Jon, we need you right now, brother) I give you…
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN: The NFC Least
It would be lovely if the NFL North had an easily convertible name to proclaim it’s collective downfall. Since it doesn’t, I’ll borrow the one we use when the East is terrible. Because not since Robb Stark went to his cousin’s wedding has the North gone down this brutally. (Spoiler alert? F**k you.) Let’s take this in ascending (by which I might mean descending) order.
The Chicago Bears finished 6-10 last season, their first under coach John Fox. While the records were comparable, 2015 was a major improvement over 2014’s 5-11 debacle. The games were closer and the team certainly less of a mess. They improved both play and effort on both sides of the ball. If OC Adam Gase didn’t turn Jay Cutler into an elite QB, he at least got him to stop stepping on his d**k with both feet. This past off-season, the Bears made some aggressive moves to improve the defense and seemed poised to become contenders once again. Instead, the team’s been largely terrible. They’ve been hit by injuries. The defense hasn’t coalesced. The decision to let RB Matt Forte go is looking worse by the week. And the loss of Gase to the Miami Dolphins has caused a major backslide in the offense (via Cutler returning to his old d**k-stepping ways.) They got it together against the Vikings a week ago, but got blown out by the Buccaneers this week. This is starting to look like a long-term rebuilding project.
By all rights, the Detroit Lions should be walking away with the division. They’re the only team that’s show consistent ability on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford is rapidly maturing into one of the league’s best QBs and there’s no shortage of weapons around him. And yet, bafflingly, the Lions are only 5-4, which is representative of just about every game they’ve played this season. None of their wins have been particularly impressive and none of their losses have been blowouts. They are perfectly, absolutely, slightly above-average in every way, but that might be enough to win the division this year.
The Green Bay Packers’ spiral might be a shock if it had just begun this season, but it actually began about a year ago. After starting the 2015 season 6-0, the Pack lost 6 of their final 10 games, culminating in their losing both the season finale and the division title to the Vikings. This season, they again got off to a decent start, going 3-1, only to have things come crashing down. They’ve lost four of five, including three straight. Along the way, they’ve been outclassed by the Dallas Cowboys, beaten at home by an imploding Indianapolis team and blown out by the Tennessee Titans. Yes, the Tennessee Titans. Clearly, Mike McCarthy is in some trouble. To their credit, the Packers have never been one of those organizations that fires coaches willy-nilly. But there’s no way McCarthy can keep getting the “You farted” face from Aaron Rodgers and expect to survive.
And there are the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes made significant strides in 2015, winning a division title before losing to Seattle in the most excruciating way possible in the playoffs. With coach Mike Zimmer turning the defense into one of the elite units in the game, Teddy Bridgewater making strides toward becoming a franchise QB, Adrian Peterson continuing to be one of the elite RBs in the game and Stefon Diggs emerging as a threat at WR, the team seemed poised to repeat as division champions and possibly emerge as Super Bowl contenders. While the Vikes won their first five games, they did it at the cost of losing Bridgewater, Peterson and OT Matt Kalil for the season. QB Sam Bradford, brought in via trade with Philadelphia, did sterling work early on, but teams have caught on to the Vikings utter lack of a running game. As a result, they’re attacking Bradford, daring him to beat them while they beat HIM with a lead pipe. The 5-0 start has devolved in a 5-4 record. The hopes of Vikings fans (such as they are) have gone from Super Bowl contender to division contender to playoff contender to “God, I just hope we win another game.”
At this rate, the NFC East may have to loan the North a team, just to get a decent division winner.
Brian’s Song (Carol) 7-3
Teddy’s ACL (Robbie) 6-4
War Machine (Jack) 6-4
The Rat Pack (Me) 6-4
The Winter Soldiers (Mike) 2-8
The Electric Mayhem (Hal) 7-3
The Dropkick Murphys (Stoner) 6-4
The Flaming Envelopes (Lars) 5-5
The Jock Sniffers (T.J.) 3-7
Chuck (Chuck) 2-8