I was already planning on blogging about the NFL playoffs this weekend, but was trying to find the time to not give short shrift to the topic. However, since my dad (and possibly other readers?) is growing impatient, here we go. My thoughts on the action from the weekend.
Where to start? I confess that I didn’t watch too much of the Green Bay-Seattle game. I’ve been on record before stating that I’m not honestly sure who even likes Seattle. The curse of that city is that their fan base, while I’m sure passionate at home games, is not extensive enough to really create a presence for their pro teams. Hence the reason the new owners are looking to move the Supersonics to Oklahoma City. How low does the interest threshold have to be when OKC is the more attractive location for your professional basketball team? And my gut told me that Green Bay was going to win. Seattle is so blah, and Brett Farve has magically turned back the clock on his game so it seemed like an inevitable outcome.
What wasn’t predictable was the Giants-Cowboys match-up. Sure, there was a lot of chatter as the game day drew near about how the G-Men had the momentum. And there there was that run for the border that Romo and Jessica Simpson made. If ever a headline could garner attention, this was it. And boy, did the media have fun with it! Did that actually contribute to Romo’s mindset on game day? We won’t ever know. If you were dating Jessica Simpson, would you publicly blame her for your lack of production on offense? Personally, I think that Romo’s own belief in his ability is what contributed to the poor performance on Sunday. He has enough talent that often times, when his protection is breaking down, he can hang onto the ball and make a huge play. But he lacks the experience to do this consistently so he makes bad decisions in the pocket, like not throwing the ball away when you’re about to be sacked. As for the decision to head south for a quick trip, I blame Wade Phillips for not having a tighter leash on the team. I know, it’s a balancing act of keeping your players happy and keeping them prepared. But you’re the coach; you function much like a parent in this regard. Phillips’ team did not show up ready to play. The defense looked awful. When you can’t stop the pass, and you can’t stop the run, you’re pretty much done. The receivers just didn’t look sharp on the field, and no, Romo didn’t appear to have “it” that day. Maybe his “it” was still in Mexico, sunning “it”self on the beach. Who knows. But one thing we do know is that Bill Parcells was basically shown the door in Big D after failing to win a playoff game. Lord knows, TO has been on record numerous times this season spouting off about how much better of a coach Wade Phillips is and how much happier of a player TO is to play for someone who knows how to use him in the offense. Fat lot of good that did! It does no good to lock up the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs when you lose in your first game. So that’s great that the players like the coach better and feel like maybe they can all knit some lovely sweaters together in the off-season. But when it comes down to it, they still lost.
So what now? You overhauled the coaching staff last year, and your roster needs some tweaking but probably doesn’t need a Jones-esque face lift. It’s looking more and more likely that Jason Garrett at a minimum will be offered a head coaching position in either Baltimore or Atlanta. Personally, I think he ought to take a pass at this time and come back to hone his skills. He will get the most recognition out of helping develop Tony Romo and Romo will make progress in the off-season this year. So if I were Garrett, I’d definitely hang around and watch my stock rise a bit more before accepting the position down in ATL. The Ravens is an interesting proposition because their offense could use some work and Garrett has a knack with the quarterbacks, so it might be a good fit.
Oh, and yada, yada, yada, Eli Manning didn’t have a great game but they did enough to squeak out the win and now they have all the mo’ heading into the contest at Lambeau Field this weekend. I think Green Bay crushes them. I know Ryan Grant had a few fumbles early in the game last weekend but once he regained his composure–and kudos to him for being able to do that–he had a great game, even in the snow. That was the piece that the Green Bay offense had been missing to take some of the pressure off Farve and since then Farve has stopped trying to force every throw into triple coverage. I’m predicting a score of 31-20 in this weekend’s game.
So let’s talk a bit about the Colts game. Let me start by stating that I think Philip Rivers is completely classless. Not only did he taunt fellow newbie QB Jay Cutler in the Broncos-Chargers game, he also taunted the home crowd during the playoff match at Indy. Does he realize he’s not that great of a QB? He’s not bad, mind you, but he’s certainly not Peyton Manning. Frankly, these days I would take Eli Manning over him, which the Chargers technically did in his draft class. So note to Phil, rack up some more wins before you try the whole taunting thing.
As for the game itself, it was actually a disappointing viewing experience. Indianapolis just wasn’t clicking. It’s like bringing back Marvin Harrison, when they had been finding ways to win without him, was a bad move. And that’s not normally a move you would categorize as bad. I know the Chargers caught fire (I will avoid the obvious lightening in a bottle pun here) at the right time and maybe we’re going to start seeing a trend develop after these divisional rounds. Seems like getting a bye week heading into the playoffs isn’t always a good thing. And maybe Tony Dungy will regret once again resting his starters in the last game of the season. Maybe there’s something to the notion that you really don’t want to lose momentum by taking off that last game mentally. But how uncharacteristic is it that Manning had a chance to win the game on 4th down in the 4th quarter and the pass was incomplete? If it had been Brady…well, you know where I stand on that issue. And Billy Volek getting the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard QB sneak? Really? So let me get this straight. Antonio Gates was a hobbled version of himself when he did play and was basically a non-factor. “Big Phil” left the game with a sprained MCL and LDT left as well, and yet the Bolts still recorded the W in their column? Money says that Tony Dungy retires after this season. He won the ring and proved he had what it took. I think he’s mentally done and maybe that’s a good thing. He’s a heck of a coach and might even come back at some point but I think he’s done for now.
Now here’s something that will shock any of my semi-devout readers. I’m not going to spend any appreciable length of time discussing the New England-Jacksonville game. There’s not much to be said! It looked like it would be a contest through the first half, as New England’s defense didn’t appear to be able to stop David Garrad and the Jax offense. Side note here: does David Garrad have the thickest lower half of any quarterback in the NFL or what? Seriously, the guy is like 260 lbs and at least 200 of that has to be in his lower half. No wonder no one can tackle the guy! I watched 3 NE defenders try to bring him down on different plays with no success. What an asset, pardon the pun…
The second half of that game was much more enjoyable for me. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I cannot watch the Patriots lose. Luckily, things have worked out well for me in that department this season. When the 11-point lead was established in the third quarter, it was fairly clear that Jax had been worn down and wasn’t going to win. I still clutched my couch pillow until the final second ticked off the clock, but at least we had the lead and it was our game to lose. And lose we did not.
So this weeks Championship match ups are Green Bay versus New York and Patriots vs. Chargers. I’m picking Green Bay and New England for the Super Bowl. I won’t make a Super Bowl pick until I see the games themselves but I’m betting even a casual reader knows where I’m headed with that…