I didn't expect this. I don't think anyone with realistic expectations would have. We all thought that they would be good. But this good? Honestly, I thought that Sunday's game would be a tight game in tough conditions decided by a few points. However, what we all witnessed was a good old-fashioned whooping by a team that appears confident, prepared,and willing to field all comers in defense of their Super Bowl crown. In the past two weeks, they have easily handled two legitimate teams who have been mentioned as serious playoff contenders. Suddenly, the Patriots are now the one or two teams in the league (read: St. Louis as the other) that fans of all the other teams will watch just to see what all the fuss is about.
While most people will focus on the amazing offensive performance today, the defense was equally impressive with outstanding performances from many different players. The interesting feature of this defense is that they have a great deal of depth at many positions. They don't have a superstar on defense but rather many solid, servicable players who, as Bill Parcells used to say, "get it." Today's amazing factoid is that the longest run from scrimmage by the Jets was by the punter Matt Turk on a fake. Keep in mind that this Jets offense is not the King Philip HS Junior Varsity offense. The Jets offensive line with Mawae, Fabini, etc. is a tough, experienced group that is traditionally very physical and usually has their way. Most experienced observers will tell you that the team that dominates the line of scrimmage usually wins the game. The 2-0 Patriots are living proof of this addage and it bodes well for the rest of the season.
The amount of big plays that this defense makes is staggering. For example, the sack, fumble recovery, and touchdown by Tebucky Jones was an incredible athletic performance. And don't think for a minute that Victor Green wasn't thrilled to put the final nail in the coffin against his old team as he ran down the sideline with his interception and touchdown. But its also the little things that are making this defense great. Willie McGinest looks like his old self again with three tipped passes. It was terrific to see Ted Johnson back in the action making tackles and shoring up the middle. And to these amateur eyes, Richard Seymour is taking up at least two offensive lineman most of the time and then still has the presence of mind to be in position to make a sack or a big run stop. The life lesson here kids is that doing the little things right usually adds up to success.
Okay, enough of this amateur analysis. It's time to wake your kids up for this week's installment of Zingers........
Glenn Dickey, in this week's Pro Football Weekly, states the obvious when he states that there are too many pre-season games. Unlike twenty years ago, training camp is not used to get players into shape. The obvious reason for these four, or even five, pre-season games is the hostage ransom generated by the home teams from season ticket holders (like myself, thank you). Why not have two of the four NFL pre-season games take place in cities that don't have a team and leave one home pre-season game for each NFL team? Despite the marketing bonanza that this would cause, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for this happen.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the League would not allow Peyton Manning to wear black high top cleats in honor of Johnny Unitas! They stated that only the Baltimore Ravens would be allowed to honor Unitas. Why couldn't both teams honor the greatest quarterback to every play the game? I don't think that the nation's moral fiber would have been shaken. Speaking of Unitas, the reason he was the best ever was because he made the game look like it does today. Before him, football looked like something out of the nineteenth century. Keep in mind that he was the first quaterback to throw for 40,000 yards and he did it without all of the ticky tack rules that now favor the offense.
To their credit, the NFL does deserve kudos for breaking with tradition and starting the season on a Thursday night. Usually, I start to get irritable by the Wednesday of opening week and the game was the fix I needed to get to the opening Sunday. Let's hope they continue this next year.
The only television broadcaster I will consider not muting in favor of Gil Santos is Dick Enberg. I still think he calls a great game and you can really sense the love of his job in his voice. In the tradition of old-school broadcasters like the late Ned Martin, Ken Coleman, or Bob Wilson, he makes sure that the broadcaster is not the show and that the game is. Oh, my!
Mrs. Rousseau got her hands on a subscription to Sports Illustrated recently. As a kid, I couldn't wait for the Thursday mail and my weekly copy. Amazingly, in this information age, Sports Illustrated is still relevant when many sports publications aren't. Two recent examples, include the detailed story of the 1972 Olympic hostage crisis and the Ken Caminiti steroids expose.
Speaking of Mrs. Rousseau, she is beginning to think that this weekly column gig is spiraling out of control. She is no longer buying the reason for our nightly viewing of NFL 2Night on ESPN as "journalistic research." She recently called me at work after she opened a complimentary e-mail from a "Zinger lover" and asked if she should meet me in the driveway when I came home to help bring my head through the door. Yikes!
Memo to Bills fans: Yes, it is exciting that Drew Bledsoe is shooting the lights out. But, you aren't going to go anywhere if you keep giving up at least thirty points a game. This isn't the CFL, for Pete's sake!
For all you folks who were clamoring for Michael Bishop and thought that he was the second coming of Donovan McNabb, he is currently the quarterback of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.
One final thought on the Steelers. If you are going to walk around and say you are the better team, you better be able to back it up. Given that they didn't do this and they had this game circled on their calender for 7 months, one has to wonder if this will lead to a collapse of a house of cards? Apologies to Ron Borges of the Boston Globe for the tone of this Zinger.
How about a pay-per-view event featuring a funny face contest between Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher. I'll take Cowher by a nose.
Our last memory of former Colts coach Jim Mora just might be his hysterical, rhetorical question to a reporter last year when he was asked if the Colts could still make the playoffs. "Playoffs?!, Playoffs?!, We aren't going to make the playoffs!" Trust me, you had to see it to fully appreciate it.
As a public service to Zinger's readers, I am making my e-mail address available in order to submit your own zinger. I'll include one or two gems per column in the coming weeks and give you all the credit. And ladies, please, no marriage proposals or you will have to deal with the wrath of Mrs. Rousseau. I would love to hear feedback and comments on my column. I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, I wish to send Cindy and Frank my deepest congratulations on your wedding today. You made missing part of the game well worth it in order to see the two of you begin your new life together.