November 27, 2005
Watching Mediocre Football Rots
BY: Kevin Rousseau
So this is how the other half lives.
Never knowing what version of your favorite team is going to show up on any given Sunday, whether you will have a semblance of a running game or if your quarterback will run hot or cold.
Frankly, I’ve enjoyed the lifestyle we had become accustomed to over the last few years. We would howl in laughter at Division Champs t-shirts being sold for 9-7 teams, smirk at defenses that had a hard time getting to the quarterback and laugh at multiple turnover performances. “Not our Patriots,” we would shout out.
In other words, I don’t want to drive to work in a Chevy when I’ve been used to a Lexus.
Don’t get me wrong about the 2005 New England Patriots. I feel, like many of you, a sense of obligation to see this season through for better or for worse. That’s the least we owe this group of men who have forever placed this franchise in the elite tier of historical performances. “Through good times and bad, sickness and health…”
Sunday’s game against the Chiefs was a lot like trying to undo that old Phillips screw head from an appliance. You work it, twist it like mad and then end up stripping away the head of the screw because of your stubborn desire to loosen it. Suddenly, you now have two problems instead of one.
How else can you explain Tom Brady’s four interception performance against a mediocre Chiefs defense? George Bush had a better week than Brady. Down 19-3 at the half, any semblance of a running game was junked and the game was thrust upon #12’s shoulders. And with a hodge-podge squad to work with in a tough Arrowhead Stadium environment, the results were predictable.
What continues to be even far more alarming is the continued embarrassing play of the defense. Sure, there’s been injuries but let’s take a step back for a second. With the exception of the injured Randall Gay and Rodney Harrison, this is essentially the same defense personnel-wise that nearly pitched a shutout against the Colts, cancelled the Steelers coronation and silenced those rowdy Eagles fans earlier this year.
So what’s changed? The easy answer to that question is coaching the Browns in Cleveland. Or how about the inability of the truly-depleted offense to provide a decent amount of breathers for them throughout the game in the form of long, successful drives. Yet maybe the more complex answer is that in the ensuing 10 months since that night in Jacksonville, an experienced, stellar defense has become an aged, slower, weaker version of itself. Dogs don’t age nearly as quickly as NotForLong defensive players do.
Suddenly, a linebacking corps that came up with turnovers and stops on third down can’t stop anybody this side of 3rd down and 12. What used to be an adequate pass rush has withered to a nuisance at best. And the secondary…enough said. You can slice up the defensive blame pie any way you want, but it still doesn’t taste all that well.
Now all we can hope for is a 10-6 or (gasp) 9-7 acquittal and a non-embarrassing performance on Wild Card Weekend against the Bengals or Chargers. That’s it. If we get that, it will be a “successful” season and we can move on with some semblance of bragging rights to dish out in the NFL schoolyard.
In the grand scheme of things, is that such a bad thing? Of course not. A run like we have witnessed over the last four years knows no comparison in the post free-agency era of the NFL. If you could offer a fan of the Lions, Chiefs, Bills, Packers three Super Bowl championships sandwiched around two 9-7 seasons (this one and 2002), they would snap it up quicker than a bratwurst in the parking lot of Lambeau Field. It’s all about perspective, my friends.
I could continue to rationalize this wayward season seven ways to Super Bowl Sunday but it isn’t going to make you feel any better, will it? Didn’t think so.
“Geez, I know how economical it is, but this Chevy just doesn’t ride the same.”
Idle Zingerthoughts while playing air guitar to Air Supply:
Anybody else think it was a little disingenuous when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his wife were front and center at the Salvation Army kettle during the Thanksgiving halftime show?
Why, oh why, do I still contend that the Lions always show up on Thanksgiving day? They’re making an annual fool of me (Editor’s note: Easier to do than just once a year).
The thought crossed my mind during the game: Some of these guys that they always show on TV that are all dressed up in mindless costumes and face paint must look really silly walking out of the stadium back to their car after a crushing loss by their team.
Ron Borges had a completely hilarious note in his Sunday Globe column. The Bills drafted Miami-native Roscoe Parrish with their second-round pick in April. Apparently their scouting didn’t include Parrish’s disposition towards the white stuff because after a recent 18-inch snowfall, he was so scared that he wouldn’t leave his house to go to practice.
It would be too easy to say that Ty Law would have solved a lot of problems this year.
The 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame have been announced. My vote would go for Troy Aikman, Reggie White, Art Monk (I don’t care how he did it. The NFL all-time reception leader must be in the HOF), Thurman Thomas and Bob Kuechenberg. To be honest, it is difficult for me to judge anything pre-1980's versus modern players.
One of the cool things about being on the Giants season ticket waiting list is that you get access to returned season tickets.
Michael Irvin’s recent arrest has to be the final straw, ESPN.
TMQ Gregg Easterbrook provides the laugh-out-loud laugh of the week: “Hello, you have reached the Jets front office. If you would like to start at quarterback, please press "1." If you used to be Curtis Martin, press "2." To hear these options again, press "2006." Relax Pats fans, you could be a Jet fan.
This column also appears in the American Journal (Westbrook/Gorham, Maine), the Current (Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland, Maine), the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly (Windham/Naples, Maine), the Citizen (Sacopee Valley, Maine), the Reporter (Waterboro/Hollis, Maine), the Sun Chronicle (Saco/Old Orchard Beach, Maine), and online at VillageSoup.com (Belfast, Camden, Rockland, Maine).
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