Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A coupla football thoughts...


I knew well before their game against San Diego began this past Sunday that it would be a tough game for the Steelers from an officiating standpoint . The reason was pretty simple. In Week 2, San Diego was robbed of a win over Denver because of a horrendous call by Ed HGH-ochuli. Despite all the ruckus and the apologies that ensued, the fact remained that the refs had cost SD a potentially crucial division win. Then, last week when SD played Kansas City, with time running out and KC driving, SD was victimized by a horrible pass interference call that gave KC the ball at virtually the SD goal line. Of course KC scored the TD and (eerily reminiscent of the Denver game) went for a two-point conversion. Had KC made it, SD would have lost the game---KC didn’t and SD dodged a bullet, and the bad interference call didn’t get too much play in the subsequent media analysis. However, I’d bet anything that someone from SD was chewing off the ears of the NFL officials all week, demanding to know why SD is being victimized by not just bad calls, but “critical fail” bad calls that clearly cost them one division win and nearly cost them another! Unless you’re completely na├»ve, you’d have to figure that the refereeing in upcoming SD games, certainly in the immediate future, would tend to give SD a bit more of the benefit of the doubt. Not out of any grand conspiracy or hush-hush NFL edict, but simply as a result of human nature. The next zebra to make a really bad call against SD would face some serious heat all around; naturally all the refs would be gun-shy when calling something on SD. So it comes as no surprise to me that Pittsburgh was penalized thirteen times while SD was penalized only twice. This kinda shit just happens every now and then.

Speaking of San Diego, I fail to understand how Norv Turner can take that much talent and manage to lose so many games. I thought this guy would be the anti-Schottenheimer, as in he’d kinda suck in the regular season and have SD limp into the playoffs but then he’d end up winning a championship just because all those studs on the team would find a way to get fired up and make plays despite Norv’s leadership during the playoffs. But it looks like SD may not even make the playoffs! And spare me the whine about injuries etc---you give Jeff Fisher the SD team as it is today and they’d never lose. Heck, Fisher’s got a rag, tag and bobtail outfit by comparison in Nashville and they still don’t fucking lose.

By way of clarification, I should add that I think Schottenheimer kicked ass as a coach and that if he‘d been kept on with SD they’d be a dynasty now. Marty almost always got his players to over-achieve and got teams into the playoffs that most others wouldn’t. Of course, lack of talent eventually catches up with you; Marty got beaten in the playoffs more often on talent than on coaching. In his last year in SD, when he had all the talent and had them firing on all cylinders, they lost to a pretty good Pats team because his receivers could not hold on to the damn ball when it mattered. Quick, name one franchise QB, RB or WR that Marty had in KC (and aging Montanas or Marcus Allens don’t really count. In any case he did take KC to the AFC championship game with Montana and lost to Buffalo--but which AFC team in those days didn‘t lose to Buffalo?). How many players left Marty’s KC to go on to great careers with other teams?
I’m not saying he’s the greatest coach who ever lived. Just saying that his playoff record rap is a bit unfair and that the end of his tenure at SD was ludicrous.


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Comrade PhysioProf said...

Heck, Fisher’s got a rag, tag and bobtail outfit by comparison in Nashville and they still don’t fucking lose.

Wrong! He's got motherfucking linemen. Modern football is all about the line!

Anonymoustache said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymoustache said...

Sure. And yes, football has almost always been played successfully at the lines---both lines. Which is why even a mediocre fucking douchebag like eli manning, having a killer o-line and RBs and a murderous d-line, is probably gonna end up as a multiple SB winner (this was going to be my rant in the next post by BTW).
But anyway, how is SD's line so dramatically different/inferior from previous years? It's worth noting also that Rivers' completion % and rating is as good as it has been.
Sure, on def Merriman is hurt, but come on! Titans have been playing without VandenBosch for weeks now.

Aside--I think SD's defensive problems started back when they let the (aging but still good) great LB and tackling machine called Donnie Edwards go, not when Merriman got hurt.

Anyway, Fisher does have great linemen, but he manages to get more out of a team than most coaches I have seen.

Norv Turner is a good OC under the appropriate head coach. As a head coach himself, he is a fucking disaster. Just like Wannstedt. And Martz. And, well, you get the idea.

Pittsburgh also has its share of O-line blues, as well as RB problems, this year. Still, they're managing to keep their heads above water while playing a brutal schedule. SD has the same kind of talent-- possibly better at key positions-- play in a really weak division and yet are 4 and 6.

Norv Turner would put adrenaline to sleep, that is all. He is such a huge wet blanket that if they walked him out a bit away from the coast he may be able to put out the wildfires all by himself.

Scribbler50 said...

As for your kid gloves theory about let's coddle the Chargers since Frank and Jesse in stripes almost ruined their season, I think you have a valid (albeit unprovable) point. There does seem to be a "Jesus Christ, we owe these guys" group-think going on. But what about the other side of the ball last Sunday? What the fuck was the group-think going on there? Was it, "Jesus Christ, we owe these guys too", for all their public denouncement (by Troy, Hines and Silver Back to name just three) shouting for the world to hear, "Can we take off our fucking tu-tu's and just play football?"

The Steelers were tagged 13 times for 115 yards. The Chargers... 1 time for 5 fucking yards. C'mon!!!

James Harrison (aforementioned Silver Back and NFL player of the week, by the way) was held on almost every other play. Not one call. And that's just the beginning. Just like your kid glove theory, I can't prove mine either nor like you do I think there's a co-ordinated striped cabal afoot, but damn, this shit every week makes ya' wonder.

And unrelated to the above... can we give the ball to Garry Russell from now on when it's third and goal from the one? No offense to Moore but we might not see a ping pong ball returned across the line of scrimmage. AND.. most important, let's not have a let-down tomorrow against the "on any given Thursday" Cincinnati Bengals. (Fuck the fan-robbing NFL Network!)

Anonymoustache said...

Good point about the refs paying the Steelers back for protesting the pussification of the game. Unprovable, but I'd tend to agree that there was some of that going on too.
BTW, penalizing players post-game for tackles that weren't penalized during the game is total fucking bullshit. It's one thing if you noticed that one guy was crushing another's stones or gouging out his eye when the ref wasn't looking---but for a play like a tackle, either call it then or just STFU.
Also, as re "this shit every week makes ya' wonder", I just think that the quality of refereeing has just gone down.
Agreed re Russell. The only way Moore should get it at the goalline is if they throw a pass to the flat. Although why you'd do that at the goalline is beyond me---it's just begging for a pick-6. Or you could give it to anyone and ask James Harrison to play fullback---he'll clear a path. The fucker is a beast (Silverback is a great nickname) and I'm so fucking glad he's on our side.
If, after what happened to Philly last week and the Bangles flapping their gums all week at Hines, the Steelers have a letdown then they don't deserve to go to the playoffs.
Finally, the NFL has begun its official slide from being the top dog of sports with steps like the NFL network games, taking MNF off network etc. The NFL is still way ahead of other sports but these moves are stupid. I think they'll end up losing a lot more if they keep this shit up than the few extra dimes they get in the short-term. I hate the Thursday night game concept anyway---the NFL network deal only pisses me off even more.

Anonymoustache said...

I notice that they did give it to Russell at the goal-line. Gotta love it. Wish I could've seen the game.

scribbler50 said...

I did see the game and yes, they did give it to Russell as we'd advised. And not just near the goal line which you saw on the highlights where he scored, but on a fourth and short during the drive which he got with pure power through initial contact. He also made some tackles on special teams, and returned a kick on special teams that got us to mid-field by flat out running over a (forgive me for this) "would be tackler". The man really earned his paycheck last night but I wish they'd give him even more because I swear this guy really can do it all. One thing I know for sure, besides him being a potential Jerome to eat up the clock in the final minutes of a game, he'd be a lethal threat with the dump-off out in the flat. He has surprising speed to go with that power and desire.

But all in all, after a sluggish start, (which I'm sure you heard), it was a damn good win after all was said and done, and after only three lousy days rest. Ben was most efficient, no picks, and is looking more and more like his old (young?) self. Now it's nine days rest to get even healthier and that's the only fucking upside to a Thursday night game.

Meanwhile, I have to share something here which as a Steeler fan I think you'll enjoy...

I don't work on Thursday nights which means I did have the opportunity to go to a bar and catch last night's game. (Again, fuck you NFL Network!) But I also thought, damn, this is the Bengals and we're the Steelers with the no.1 defense in the league... is this really worth a mid-week hangover? But ah, at 8:15 the primal call echoed across time and space and rang into my undecided psyche... "Here we go, Steelers, here we go!"

So there I went.

In two minutes flat I had exited my apartment, was down onto Second Avenue and there, (I shit you not) what to my wondering eyes should appear just three doors up from my building, in front of a relatively new drinking establishment? Just a twelve-foot inflated Pittsburgh Steeler, that's all. I repeat, "three doors up"... a goddam black and Gold blow-up doll. (What the fuck?)

It turns out it's been a Steeler bar all this year and I never paid attention since I head the other direction to watch the games. And what a find! It was a civilized, not-packed-to-the-gills-sound-cranked-way-up-pep rally from hell. Just a great joint with, (in addition to "normal" people), about twenty or so intelligent, well-behaved Steeler fans. And, AND, get this... comely waitresses all wearing skin tight Steeler t-shirts. Fucking ridiculous, right? And I was gonna stay home and be (to steal your great word) the epitome of "pussification".

I met the guy and his wife who donated the blow-up mascot and who are pretty much responsible for turning the place initially into a Steelers bar. They couldn't have been nicer and more fun to be with and they'll be visiting me Behind the Stick tonight. Good stuff, huh?

And more good news (hey, ya' learn somethin' every day). I learned you can actually watch a football game on Thursday fuckimg night without appreciably bumping the value of Jack Daniels stock. I don't feel any worse for the wear today.

And finally, in closing (and I shit you not on this one this one as well), as Polamalu intercepted at the very end of the game... wild hair flying, feet going like pistons changing directions at least six times, actually trying to return the fucker the full ninety yards to make up for that heinous theft of last Sunday's finish... I stepped out into the cold New York air and what do I hear behind me back inside? A ringing, triumphant chant of, "HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!"
It doesn't get any better in the regular season...

Anonymoustache said...

That's a great story! I could only dream of having a Steeler bar three doors up from me. And you found a civilized one, no less---I've seen more than my share of fans that I could do without when watching a game.
BTW, not to get all semantic on you but I don't consider myself a fan of anything---I have teams that I support with passion, but I associate 'fan' with people who get irrational and lose objectivity. I have this theory that the bleeding over of the 'fan mentality' into all aspects of life is a major cause of the deep social and political divide we see in this country---but that's another rant for another day.
Anyway, back to the Steelers---since I get to see almost only the nationally telecast Steeler games, I haven't seen that much of Russell. When you say he's got Jerome potential, now I'm getting my hopes up. We already have Moore who, in my estimation, is somewhere between a Westbrook and a Meggett. He is a great change of pace from a bruiser and can break a game wide open with one run. Parker himself was kinda like that to Bettis, right? Of course, the bruiser is what we don't have---or so I thought. If Russell can be a mainstream bruiser back, I will reassess (upwardly) my hopes for this season.
Many thanks for the update.

Scribbler50 said...

I agree with you on the "fan" thing and amen to your theory. Just threw it out as a word to denote, "one who supports certain teams with a passion," (a-hem) not to get all semant-icky back at you.

But seriously, you're right, fandom can be hateful and it does bleed into society... indeed a topic worthy of a future rant. But just from a football standpoint, I know a fellow bartender who hails from Buffalo who told me it's a police record fact that on nights when the Bill's lose, reports of domestic violence go up markedly. Now that's sick. I can only imagine the police blotter the night kicker Scott Norwood went wide right!
Later, Man.

Anonymoustache said...

That police info is horribly sad. How much of a pathetic fucking loser does one have to be to abuse one's own family?