Posts Tagged ‘indianapolis colts’

Unabated to the QB, Week 5: Perfect No More

“Everything perfect of its kind must transcend its kind: it must become something other, something incomparable.”

“Certain shortcomings are essential for the individual’s existence.”

–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Elective Affinities

It was a thrilling moment on Sunday, when those underdog Indianapolis Colts were able to hang on and defeat the NFL’s decade-long behemoth, the Kansas City Chiefs, to finally end yet another run at perfection.

Wait, what?

The Colts did beat the Chiefs, but that’s about the only aspect of that sentence that’s accurate — unless you find field-goal kicking especially thrilling. And now, just five weeks into the NFL season, there are no unbeaten teams left.

Kinda sad, right? A potential season-long storyline gone, right? A chance at historical transcendence done with, right?

Wrong.

Well, sort of wrong.

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Aught Lang Syne: Franchises of the Decade

After running through the Teams of the Decade this morning, it’s time to rank the Franchises/Programs of the Decade—those that have consistently churned out competitive and championship-winning teams. My criteria included things like regular-season record, number of playoff appearances, conference titles, and championships into the equation, alongside less quantifiable measures such as historical imprint and landmark players.

NFL

(all information prior to Week 16 of 2009 NFL season)

WORST: Detroit Lions (0 playoff appearances, 0-16 season, 42-116 record)

5. New York Giants (1 title, 2 conference championships, 6 playoff appearances, 6-5 playoff record, 88-70 regular season)

4. Philadelphia Eagles (1 conference championship, 8 playoff appearances, 10-7 playoff record, 102-55-1 regular season)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2 titles, 2 conference championships, 6 playoff appearances, 10-4 playoff record, 101-56-1 regular season)

2. Indianapolis Colts (1 title, 1 conference championship, 9 playoff appearances, 7-7 playoff record, 115-43 regular season) Continue reading

Unabated to the Quarterback, Week 15: AFC v. NFC

“Nothing is given to mankind, and what little men can conquer must be paid for with unjust deaths. But man’s grandeur lies elsewhere, in his decision to rise above his condition.”

–Albert Camus

For virtually the entirety of the Aughts, the AFC has been far more intriguing than the NFC. After pulling two Super Bowl upsets to start the decade (one little upset by a big margin, one big upset by a little), the AFC has been favored to win the NFL’s title game the last seven seasons. It has given us the decade’s best rivalry (New England vs. Indianapolis), its transcendent players (you can make a case that the best player to spend most of the decade in the NFC is Torry Holt), its best individual teams, and its best franchises.

Suffice to say, the story of the NFL in the Aughts was almost always the story of the AFC.

And I wanted to write how that was changing this season, how the NFC—by being the home of a team that reached 13-0 for the first time in the conference’s history, of the league’s most polarizing figure in Brett Favre,* of what portended to be its best division (the NFC Beast)—was the more interesting conference in professional football. I was going to use the glut of 7-7 teams corrupting the AFC playoff picture—including a Texans’ team that hasn’t won a big game in its franchise history and a Jets’ squad that seems like it has more interceptions this year than touchdowns—as a starting point to talk about how the NFC is deeper, how its playoffs will be a thrilling toss-up where pretty much any team can emerge and then provide a legitimate challenge to the AFC champion in the Super Bowl. Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, Week 13: The Saints Are Marching

“In truth the way matters but little; the will to arrive suffices.”

—Albert Camus

It took me awhile, but I knew I had already made this comparison. And I did it only three weeks ago:

The Saints remind me of a really good college football team at this point. They score a lot of points, so it’s no big deal if they come out flat and fall behind early. They play down to competition. Reggie Bush played well for them. Eventually, though, they’re gonna drop one of these.

Yes, on the final weekend of the college football regular season, with Texas and Cincinnati using last-minute scores to each win by a point and maintain undefeated seasons, I couldn’t help but think of New Orleans in college terms. If anything, the Saints have looked more and more like a college team as the season has progressed: They have a quarterback who is preternaturally accurate—one that makes several throws per game that simply cannot be defended. They have three running backs, none of whom are particularly good, but all of whom are good enough given the system they play in. They have a half-dozen viable wide receivers, all capable of making big plays at any time, even if they’re playing defense. Their offense relies more on speed than any other in the NFL; given adequate time, Drew Brees will find an open man.

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Unabated to the QB, Week 10: What was Bill Belichick Thinking?

“I recognized no equals. I always considered myself more intelligent than everyone else, as I’ve told you, but also more sensitive and more skillful, a crack shot, an incomparable driver, a better lover.”

—Albert Camus, The Fall

Truth be told, I didn’t watch the Sunday Night game between the Patriots and Colts; I had “better things to do.” Now I kind of wished I had watched it, being that it was only the best game of this regular season and included one of the most stunning coaching decisions in NFL history.

Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 from his own 28 was no doubt surprising, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t rational, like any proper blindsiding from Survivor. Perhaps even more surprising has been the aftermath of the decision, where close to (if not) a majority of sportswriters have supported the decision. Joe Posnanski was behind it (obvs…if he weren’t, I wouldn’t be), citing The New York Times’s statistics. Three of the four guys on Around the Horn liked it, and the one who didn’t was Jay Mariotti, who defended his position by telling the others, “You’re idiots.” Most people in this Fanhouse roundtable supported it, too. Even Gregg Easterbrook defended it, but I don’t really count him as a sportswriter.

Of course, not everyone was behind the call. David Fleming at ESPN—who I had never heard of before—called it “uncharacteristically panicky,” a notion that seems to be rebutted by Charlie Weis saying it was likely planned. Mike Francesa thought it was moronic. And Rodney Harrison called it the dumbest decision Belichick had ever made, which I thought was ignorant of perspective.*

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Unabated to the QB, Week 9: The Halftime Report

Every time it seems to me that I’ve grasped the deep meaning of the world, it is its simplicity that always overwhelms me…. Everything simple is beyond us. What is blue, and how do we think “blue”?

—Albert Camus

Three seasons ago, the NFL peaked in terms of its own scheduling. Every team had enjoyed its bye week by Week 9 (hehe), meaning that there was a distinct midway point of the season by which everyone had played eight games.

The NFL, for some unknown reason, tinkered with its bye scheduling in the subsequent years, pushing some byes back later in the schedule. Thus, this year, while 30 of the 32 teams have already had their bye and have played eight games and can be totally compared at a kind of midway point, the Giants and Texans are 5-4 heading into their byes.

This does not, however, mean that we can’t still consider this halftime of the 2009 NFL season and the perfect time to look back at what I thought was going to happen, and what subsequently did not happen. We’ll hand out awards amidst some “Pats on the Back” and several “Yeah, about that…”s.

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Unabated to the QB, Week 7: The Right to Parity

manning brees

“Mediocrity seeks to endure by any means, including bronze. We refuse its claims to eternity, but it makes them every day. Isn’t mediocrity itself eternity?”

—Albert Camus

The Saints’ remarkable comeback victory over the Dolphins late Sunday means that there are three undefeated teams through seven weeks for the first time in NFL history. There are also three winless teams, who lost their most recent game by 28, 36, and 59 points, respectively.

And this is supposed to be the league of parity?

Let’s consider this for a moment: For at least the last decade, all talk of the NFL and its place within the context of the four major sports has included the word “parity.” Most people interpret “parity” in this context to mean equality within seasons, when really it more accurately refers to equality across them. The NFL produces just as many dominant teams as the NBA or Major League Baseball does. In fact, if pressed into naming a Team of the Decade across sports, the answer would almost certainly be the New England Patriots (in the same way that the 49ers could make a claim to it in the ‘80s, if we exclude hockey and the Oilers).

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