Posts Tagged ‘jim caldwell’

Unabated to the QB, Week 1: The NATIONAL Football League

“Everything that exalts life at the same time increases its absurdity.”

–Albert Camus

“Even I kinda like football, and I hate football.”

–John S

A couple of weeks ago, as the NFL preseason started getting underway with its accompanying Hosannas and Alleluias and Football’s Back!s, John started complaining to me about the sport’s apparent uber-relevance. Indeed, since the end of last football season, Sports Illustrated has devoted seven covers to baseball and six to football — despite the fact that only 16 football games have been played while roughly 2,160 baseball games have been contested.* There were four off-season football covers for SI; baseball had one off-season cover between 2009 and 2010, and that was for Derek Jeter earning Sportsman of the Year. Sigh.

*For the record, those covers are of Brady, the preview issue,** Chris Johnson, Miles Austin, Ben Roethlisberger, and Sam Bradford for football. For baseball, they’re Joey Votto, the Year of the Pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, Dallas Braden, the Yankees’ Core Four, Roy Halladay, and Matt Wieters.***

**It should also be noted that SI’s baseball preview issue is not split into regional covers the way the football issue is. This goes against my eventual point (that football is vastly more prominent on a national scale), which is just another reason why I hate regional covers (that post is forthcoming, btw).

***Matt Wieters? Matt Wieters. Continue reading

Unabated to the QB, The Super Bowl: This Was It

“This, to use an American term, in which discovery, retribution, torture, death, eternity appear in the shape of a regularly repulsive nutshell, was it.”

—Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Super Bowl XLIV had been what we expected and more: a first-class battle between two phenomenal quarterbacks coming down to the final four minutes. The only thing that seemed as if it could tarnish this great game was overtime, which is pretty ironic when you think about it.

The final four minutes were already being played out in my head. The Colts would score to tie the game, and the Saints would have a chance to win it late. I saw Garrett Hartley—unsung hero—missing a long field goal and the game going into extra time. I saw Indianapolis winning the coin toss, Manning driving the Colts down the field, and Matt Stover kicking an easy, championship-winning field goal. I saw riots on Bourbon Street about the unfairness of the NFL’s overtime, although I saw karmic retribution in how it worked: The Colts, losers in an OT playoff game last season without touching the ball, would beat the Saints, winners in an OT playoff game two weeks ago because the other team didn’t touch the ball. Continue reading

Unabated to the Quarterback, Week 16: Don’t quit, don’t even quit

“For where there is no battle there is no life.”

—F.W.J. Schelling

I had that quote all set up to use at halftime of the Giants-Panthers debacle (which we’ll get to later) before realizing that it would work even better for what transpired in that other New York football team’s game.

For many, the signature play of the Indianapolis Colts’ decade did not take place in their overwhelmingly forgettable Super Bowl XLI win over the Bears;* rather, it was in the 2004 Divisional Playoff game in New England, when Dominic Rhodes had the ball ripped out of his hands by Tedy Bruschi. “They don’t want it!” Bruschi yelled, pointing to the ball as he jogged to the sidelines.

*To substantiate my “overwhelmingly forgettable” claim: What was the score? Who really deserved MVP? What was the key play, and who made it?

That has long been the perception about the Indianapolis Colts: They don’t want it as much as New England or San Diego. On Sunday afternoon in Lucas Oil Stadium, Jim Caldwell proved all the doubters true. In pulling Peyton Manning and several of his starters from the second half of a tight game with the New York Jets, Caldwell—and it should be noted that the coach was simply acting under the orders of GM Bill Polian—took the coward’s way out.

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 12: From Invisible to In-Vince-Able

“Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.”

—Albert Camus

It was the worst GameCast experience of my life and the perpetuation of what would become an annual Giants’ tradition. On November 26, 2006, Big Blue led the Titans 21-0 going into the fourth quarter. They were about to put an end to an ugly two-game losing streak, move to 7-4, and proceed to win the NFC East—or so I thought.

That’s when Vince Young went to work. The then-rookie led the Titans on one touchdown drive, and then another. Then the Giants had Tennessee in a 4th-and-10, and Mathias Kiwanuka had his arms around Young, and he let go, and Vince ran for the first down and eventually, threw for another touchdown. An Eli INT—by PacMan Jones, no less—and a Rob Bironas field goal completed the comeback.

Three years later, Vince Young led a similarly remarkable comeback, converting three fourth downs while driving the Titans 99 yards in the final moments for a 20-17 victory over the Cardinals. One would think that the postgame narrative would have been structured around Young’s abilities in the fourth quarter, perhaps with references to his Rose Bowl appearances and that comeback against the Giants. Instead, much of the talk was on how Vince Young is finally living up to the hype. Gregg Easterbrook said Young’s success proves Tim Tebow can start in the NFL at quarterback. On PTI, Peter King even compared Young to JaMarcus Russell.

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