Posts Tagged ‘bill belichick’

Prior to the Snap, Wild Card Weekend: The Music’s Changing

There are sundry reasons Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest video game ever. There’s the fact that the Giants are really good in it and Lawrence Taylor is unstoppable. There’s the flex done after every sack and that the computer’s quarterback is always left-handed. There’s how there’s always that chance you’ll block the other team’s extra point and the ridiculous number of safeties. There’s how poorly the other team punts and that flea flicker from Simms to Stephen Baker Touchdown Maker that works practically every time. There’s its most recognizable feature: that zig-zagging down the field on a long play is preferable to running straight, implicitly teaching a generation of children how to escape from alligators.

But maybe my single favorite thing about Tecmo Super Bowl is this: When you get to the playoffs, the background music changes. It shifts from the simple regular-season music, which you zoned out about 10 games ago (if you listened to it at all), to a more intense version that immediately reminds you it isn’t the regular season anymore. It’s playoff time.

This week in the NFL, the music officially changes. It seems an especially significant break this year considering the relative uneventfulness of the last few weekends of the season. The NFC playoff teams were determined by Week 16, and the AFC required the Jets and Ravens to beat the resting Bengals and the abhorrent Raiders, respectively, to get in. I can’t think of a Week 17 with less drama.

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Unabated to the QB, Week 14: Identity Crises

“There exists an obvious fact that seems utterly moral: namely, that a man is always a prey to his truths. Once he has admitted them, he cannot free himself from them. One has to pay something.”

–Albert Camus

In my predictions at the beginning of the season, I refrained from picking a Super Bowl matchup. Part of this is because predicting the playoffs at the start of the season seems superfluous: So much depends on matchups that are unlikely to come to fruition, and it’s almost contradictory to predict an upset within the context of my own hypothetical playoffs.* The other part was superstition: I was afraid of the ramifications of picking the Giants.

*This is to say, why would I think a team that I predicted would only go 10-6 would beat a team that I predicted would finish 13-3?

I can’t say my Super Bowl forecast—Giants and Patriots—was unique. It was hard to find anyone who wasn’t picking the Giants to represent the NFC, and most experts had the AFC coming down to the Pats and Chargers.

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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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NFL Preview Bonanza: The Coolest Head Coaches

The NFL Season kicks off on Thursday night with the Steelers hosting the Titans. To prepare for what is already being dubbed the most anticipated season since the fifth installment of The Wire, we’ll be doing a full-blown (and probably overwrought) NFL Preview Bonanza, including looks at each division, predictions for every team (that actually add up), and, in true NPI fashion, rankings.

A common thread in sports discussion is the significance of a coach. Most people downplay the role of a manager in baseball, except when it’s Joe Torre or Bobby Cox. Most people downplay the role of a coach in basketball, except when it’s Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich. And don’t even get me started on hockey, where I’m pretty sure the longest-tenured head coach was hired last summer.*

*I mean, teams ROUTINELY win the Stanley Cup after making midseason coaching changes. ROUTINELY.

Nobody downplays the role of the football coach, though. Football is the sport where the importance of the coach is never overlooked; some of the sports’ greatest legends—men like Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, and now Bill Belichick—never strayed from the sidelines.

But what makes a good coach? A football coach has to embody that Machiavellian intersection of fear and respect. A football coach has to be cool.

What is cool? Not even Miles Davis could articulate it. No, coolness is more like obscenity: You know it when you see it.

The following is a ranking of the 32 NFL coaches in ascending order of coolness. Explanations, when necessary, are attempted. By the way, the picture up top is of Hank Stram, undoubtedly the coolest coach in NFL history. If you didn’t know that, don’t bother asking why.

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