Sunday, December 30, 2012

Favorite Moments from the 2012 NFL Season

I know something amazing might happen today, the final regular season week of the NFL, but the following have been the most entertaining moments of the season for me. Hey, one team which shall remain nameless (but is spelled 'J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets') makes the list three times. Three!

10.  The Resignation of Fireman Ed as the ad hoc head cheerleader for the New York Jets. Can you actually resign from this sort of thing? Is there a letter or some formal written notification that must be submitted? Did Fireman Ed call up Woody Johnson and tender his resignation? How did this go down? I want to know.

Ad fucking hoc

Monday, December 24, 2012

Aggressively Mediocre: Your 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers

The 2012 Steelers give even the great Ryan Clark a headache
I have watched less talented teams in my lifetime in black and gold, but I have never watched a more disappointing team.

Oakland 34, Pittsburgh 31.
Tennessee 26, Pittsburgh 23.
Kansas City 13, Pittsburgh 16. (Yeah. I know they won. But needing OT against the Chiefs? In Pittsburgh, for cripes sake? C'mon.)
Cleveland 20, Pittsburgh 14.
San Diego 34, Pittsburgh 24.

No team with those five games on their resume has any business at all in the post-season. And so, the season is over, golf course reservations are made and, frankly, some long soul searching needs to happen at Heinz Field. Not to overstate this, but the Steelers have some things to figure out. Every time they were presented with an opportunity this season, they fell short -- sometimes by a hair and sometimes by a country mile.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tags Lays the Hammer on Goodell and Other Thoughts on NFL Player Safety

The other day, Roger Goodell’s old boss Paul Tagliabue took his former protege down a few pegs when he completely overturned Goodell’s rulings on four former and current Saints players. Initially, commissioner Goodell suspended Jonathan Vilma for the entire season, Will Smith for four games, Scott Fujita (now with the Browns) for three games and Anthony Hargrove (a free agent) for eight games. 

In man hours, that’s a total of 31 games suspended. Reduced to ZERO by Tags. It was the right call. And not just because I enjoy seeing Goodell with a bit of omelette on his face, but because I think the NFL can change in a really productive way at this moment.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mike Tomlin's Achilles Heel

Every coach has one. You can point to it with even the most successful of coaches. Some coaches are great tacticians (usually on one side of the ball or the other), but aren't good with personnel. Some are great at preparing their team, but not so good in game situations. Some are terrible clock managers. The knock on some guys is that they simply can't win the big one. And those are the good coaches, bear in mind.

In the five years that I've watched Mike Tomlin, I wondered about his flaw and how it might manifest itself. After the Steelers shit the bed against a bad San Diego Chargers team at Heinz Field on Sunday, I realize what that flaw is -- his teams underperform against 'lesser' teams.

Call it an achilles heel or a blind spot, this seems to be an area where he struggles. Maybe he lacks a specific talent or an ability to see this as a problem. Whatever it is -- willfulness or simply a skill deficit -- this is more than a trend. It has become a very pronounced pattern.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rashard Mendenhall: To Fumble or Not to Fumble? That Is the Question

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin made it a point in his press conference this week to point out that he had re-configured his depth chart vis-a-vis running back. Call it blowing smoke or sending a message; view it as speaking through the media to his players or sheer egotism. But however you see it, Tomlin made it clear that (for the time being) Jonathan Dwyer was the starting running back, with Isaac Redman the 3rd down guy and Rashard Mendenhall in a lesser role.

It's a heckuva role for a former first round draft pick to be in.