I have always appreciated rooting for a team whose head coach's competitive fire can be seen burning through the lens of the nearest candid camera, so I'm not going to let a play that defied one-in-a-million odds completely change my stance on Sean Payton's sideline personality. That said, is waiting merely 20 more seconds to find out if the wound is actually deadly before trying to rub salt in it too much to ask?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for good playoff fun. Unfortunately, I find nothing wholesome or hysterical about trying to justify why the head coach of an NFL franchise who has been on the ass end of faaaaar too many a backdoor pillaging was busy mocking Vikings' fans during the waning seconds of a road playoff game instead of doing...well...literally anything other than tempting the most gruesome of fate.
Now, of course I don't think that Sean Payton would have been teaching fundamental tackling techniques to the team's most trustworthy safety if he wasn't preoccupied doing some premature trolling, but that's not really the point. Full disclosure? I'm not actually sure what the point is, because Stefon Diggs walk-off touchdown was far more of a miracle than it was a coaching mistake. However, I am sure that the last thing I wanted to do today was learn that someone whose extracurricular antics have already blown up in his face once this season chose to engage in them again when said season was on the line. I love Sean Payton, but any real Saints' fan knew not to peacock around the ring before the opponent was officially pinned. He really set himself up to look like an huge asshole, and - by proxy - I also feel like a one for previously encouraging the type of behavior that was immediately followed by the football gods delivering the most soul-shattering of 61 yard strikes.
Who dat say they gonna jinx them Saints?! We dat, indeed.
Ah yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers. A group who, time and time again, has proved that superior skill alone can't win football games as they continually take the emphasis off pretty much all the things that the characters in The Wizard Of Oz were desperately seeking. Maybe this seems counterintuitive given the fact that football is a physical game that's largely predicated on getting the better of the person lined up across from you, but - as the failures of a team with transcendent talent at multiple skill positions and a Super Bowl champion both on the sideline and under center has proved - it's also an intellectual game in which heartless tin scarecrows rarely ever succeed.
Obviously it would be disingenuous to call a playoff participant dysfunctional, but I'll be damned if the most enigmatic and ego-driven team in the NFL isn't a slight drop off in talent away from showing it's full array of foundational flaws. Winning cultures typically drowned out distractions, while some of the most important members of the Steelers organization basically scaled the highest of mountains to plea their case for focus-diverting attention.
In the last two weeks alone they had their offensive coordinator get injured in the type of NYE bar scuffle that you'd expect out of someone whose young enough to be his son, their superstar running back threaten early retirement, and one of their veteran defensive backs guarantee victory in a game they won't even be fucking playing in. Call me crazy, but I hardly find it to be a surprise that the execution was off and the play calling was questionable when the team in question was approximately as mentally prepared for an opponent that already kicked their ever-loving ass earlier in the season as they were to begin shit talking their opponent after next. Accountability is usually a top down trait, so 'shocked' isn't exactly the word that comes to mind when you tell me the team whose head coach is infamous for finger pointing failed to meet expectations.
Honestly, it's almost poetic that the Steelers' season unofficially ended when they handed the Jaguars a field goal with a laughably unnecessary onside kick, because being too scared to trust your defense in a big spot against Blake Bortles was an undeniable sign that their bravado is complete bullshit. They are a team in uniform only, because there's nothing they have said or done that would lead you to believe that Mike Tomlin's locker room is a cohesive one.
The Saints, And Specifically Marcus Williams, Received A Warm Welcome Upon Their Return To New Orleans
Sometimes I think that I'm a heartless sports fan that has a dystopian view of professional athletes as only players as opposed to people. Luckily, it's pretty easy to log on to Twitter, read through the hateful criticisms from entirely anonymous jackasses threatening lives they could not possibly understand due to the result of a game they have no real involvement in, and come to the conclusion that - as many names as I have cursed - my fandom is still pretty grounded in comparison to those that trash houses, burn belongings, and threaten homicide.
On a day like yesterday, every Saints' fan was looking for a reason to feel better about themselves, and I found mine when I couldn't help but summon what little soul I had left in smiling at the overwhelming amount of support Marcus Williams received from the kind of fans that don't mind putting a face and a name to their thoughts and opinions. Remaining relatively classy in defeat is admittedly the least fulfilling of moral victories, but believing in this young, talented, and close-knit team's ability to accomplish bigger and better things in the future means believing in their promising rookie safety's ability to overcome the most dispiriting of disasters.
What giving Marcus Williams a hero's welcome upon his return home lacks in logic, it makes up for in sentiment, so I don't mind being a bit sappy after an overachieving season that no member of the Who Dat Nation could have objectively predicted - regardless of how it ended.
The real ones got your back 4-3...
There truly are no words that can encapsulate what it felt like to watch the rug get ripped out from underneath a team that was one Marcus Williams arm tackle away from standing tall as the proud owners of one of the most improbable comebacks in playoff history. Hell, if there were, The Times Picayune provided some pretty accurate insight into what they might be...
That play (or lack thereof, depending on who you were rooting for). The one that - for better or worse - will forever be burned into the brain of every person even mildly invested in it's outcome. The one that - whether it makes you sick or aides in your health and happiness - will seem impossible to get away from. The one which is sure to soon have an obnoxious name that will immediately become common knowledge to both the richer and the poorer whenever they discuss the unpredictable nature of professional football. It will eternally be married to the memory of a game that was so much more than one mistake.
There's no shortage of directions you could run in trying to explain why the New Orleans Saints lost yesterday's game to the Minnesota Vikings. The most obvious being a scoreless first half that had a game script that essentially read like a "How To..." guide for losing playoff games on the road. Unfortunately, even taking the high road by pointing out the dozens upon dozens of other plays that went unmade eventually circles you back to the soul crushing instant in which a rookie mistake provided the sadistic irony in cruelly twisting the knife into a team whose trajectory was turned downside up by potentially the most impactful draft class of all time.
All 'the good'. Drew Brees picking himself up off the turf and penning one more chapter to his 'Hall Of Fame' career with a surgical dismantling of the most dominant defense in football. Michael Thomas giving Xavier Rhodes a twirl during his coming out party as a matchup proof pass catcher. Alvin Kamara continued rise to super stardom. Marcus Williams timing his flight to hawk a ball that officially made the game competitive. Taysom Hill proving his worth in a way you'd never expect a third string quarterback to do by forcing a punt into the outstretched hand of his teammate. A converted 4th-and-10 that had it's spot in the highlight reel stolen by the the oh-so-rare walk-off touchdown. The Saints finally scrubbing themselves of the 'finesse' label that for years followed them by resiliently battling back from a three score hole in the most hostile of environments.
All 'the bad'. An early offense that was only capable of sustaining their own punter's abdominal pain. The familiar sight of enough yellow laundry to keep George curious flying in the direction of what appeared to be DeVante Harris wearing a Ken Crawley jersey. A red zone turnover that was literally and figuratively a backhanded slap towards the quarterback who was just starting to find some rhythm. Touchdown Teddy Ginn getting a wee too antsy presnap and doing a counterproductive disservice to his sur-nick-name. An untimely sack that took them out of kicking range during a point in the game in which finding themselves a field goal would have felt like stumbling upon water in the desert. Willie Snead completely misfiring on his attempt to make Sean Payton look like a genius, and - in turn - making him out to be a damned fool. Consecutive challenges that were only successful in challenging my sanity.
It will all be forever forgotten due to the fatal nature of 'the ugly', which was quite obviously Marcus Williams actively dodging his sole responsibility in turning a game sealing tackle into a game sealing touchdown. Despite the deep, dark comedic value of the meme-worthy still shot, I know that the intent of the Saints' first year safety was good. If we are being technical about it, he was actually too successful in avoiding the pass interference and keeping Stefon Diggs in bounds so the clock would run out. Therefore, I truly feel bad for a kid who almost assuredly couldn't possibly feel worse.
Fortunately, if his play this season was an indication, he has the talent to avoid letting one abject disaster define his young career. Unfortunately, for the time being, it doesn't just define his career, but the entirety of the 60 minute effort between two teams that were in all likelihood the best remaining in the NFC. Nightmares in New Orleans will no longer be fueled by Alex Smith and Vernon Davis, but rather a visual that is somehow more haunting - Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs, and the yet-to-be-named, win-squandering whiff.
My brain says otherwise, but everyone whose heart went numb as the clock struck zero knows the following to be true. Until this team delivers on the unlimited promise that it displayed throughout a special season, that one mishap will permanently mark their place in Saints' history. It's not logical or fair, but - as that one preposterous play proved - sports rarely ever are.
Sidenote: Special shoutout to the best fans in the league...
Former 49ers President, Carmen Policy, Thinks The Team Will Need Lube For Jimmy Garoppolo's Contract Negotiations
NYDN- Carmen Policy, the former president and CEO of the 49ers, appeared on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco Thursday when he offered strange advice to his former franchise on keeping free agent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
"If I were representing the team I would enter the room and bring a large jar of Vaseline and I'd say to Jimmy's agent, 'I'm a nice guy, I really want to do the right thing, please be gentle with me,'" Policy said.
Pro Football Talk asked Policy about his comments to which he said he didn't mean for them to sound sexual.
"At my age any references would be related to Male Medical Exams and would have no sexual connotation," Policy told PFT in an email.
I can't say I woke up this morning expecting to hear about a 74 year old former NFL executive who was tasked with talking his way out of an analogous insinuation of the type of reluctantly consensual anal sex that you'd expect from a first time negotiator, but boy am I glad that I did. Anytime your defense essentially reads as "what I really meant to say is that an NFL franchise is going to given a contractual colonoscopy by the representation of their starting quarterback!", your actual offense is almost guaranteed to be amazingly awkward.
As anyone whose more weathered branches of the family tree are still hanging on by a limb will tell you, the longer an elderly (usually white) male goes without sex, the more likely he is to reference it in a way that will stifle the appetite of even the most gluttonous of dinner table. If anything, Carmen Policy's impotence makes him the exact opposite of exempt from potentially inappropriate innuendo in public. So no, I don't - for one single second - believe that he was talking about prostate exams when he satirically placed the most sexualized of product in the front office of the 49ers. Luckily, I have a sense of humor so I find hilarious the idea of Jimmy Garoppolo bending over the organization whose entire trajectory swung with his arrival and giving them the business end of...well...ya know.
For those that can't find the funny in an old man comparing the leveraging of power to the easing of penetration, I offer you this piece of mind. Considering the depths to which the San Francisco 49ers fell the last few seasons, they will gladly be spreading wide their wallet to take it deep from Jimmy GQ. It might take awhile for both parties to reach a mutually gratifying position, but with the wheels undoubtedly needing some greasing, why not bring some lube?
This 10 Year Old Bama Fan Broke Down The National Championship Game In A Way That Was Anything But Elementary
I don't want to say I wasn't left in awe by listening to a 4th grader go off the rip in giving a six minute exposition on the entirety of the National Championship game. When I was his age, my range of descriptions for sporting events I was emotionally invested in began at "stupid" and ended at "awesome". So, once I got to around the three minute mark I couldn't help but wonder if this wiz kid was wasting his seemingly limitless potential on college football's most foregone conclusion.
What I will say is that I would simply refuse to believe this 4th grader wasn't being fed talking points off-screen if he were rolling with anyone other than the Tide. Like, if there was a fanbase that's home to elementary schoolers who take a break from their 2 percent milk to turn their lunch hour into a legitimate SEC round table that would make ESPN's coverage look lackluster then it resides in Tuscaloosa. This is just another sign of the deep South's obsession with college football, and I'd say it's one that's a litttttttle better for their brand than every Bama fan with an arrest warrant screaming 'Roll Tide' while being taken into custody.
This kid has probably considered Nick Saban an actual god since he was old enough to wipe his own ass, but - to his credit - his form of worship is anything but blind. Alabama football is definitely a religion, but - contrary to most religions - it's not one whose virtues are increasingly hard to detect.
Here's An Entire Kindergarten Class Doing 'The Sean Payton' To Remind You That This Playoff Run Is For The Children
Let's make one thing clear. It would be wholeheartedly disingenuous if I completely ignored the fact that the handful of grown ass adults that appeared in this video - equipped with visor, umbrella, and broom - looked like they were far more invested in recreating Sunday's raucous and hilarious scene from a winning locker room full of players half their age.
So, with that being said, I'm going to completely ignore the fact that the handful of grown ass adults that appeared in this video - equipped with visor, umbrella, and broom - looked like they were far more invested in recreating Sunday's raucous and hilarious scene from a winning locker room full of players half their age.
This is the postseason, and after three straight 7-9 seasons, this is no time to think rationally about my rooting interest. Therefore, while knowing full well that a good amount of these little Who Dats were lightly coerced into doing 'The Sean Payton' during the filming of a viral video by those that simply wanted to live vicariously through the carefree enthusiasm of kindergarteners, I have a declaration to make. Much like the Wu Tang Clan, this playoff run is officially for the children (and also nothin' to fuck with). Championships reign eternal, but the eternity of these kids hadn't even started yet the first (and only) time that the Black & Gold partied with the Lombardi.
So think about the possibility of that very classroom being full of sad little Super Bowl-less six year olds sporting the most heart wrenching of puppy dog faces as the Saints take on the Vikings on Sunday. I promise it will make you feel slightly better about going against the dying wish of this sweet old bird...
Brett Favre Picked A Pretty, Pretty, Preeeeeetty Convenient Time To Bring Up The 2009 NFC Championship Game
ESPN- Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre says he played through a concussion during the 2009 NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints.
On a nationwide conference call Wednesday ahead of the premiere of Favre's documentary "Shocked: A Hidden Factor in the Sports Concussion Crisis," the former Vikings and Packers quarterback was asked by Minneapolis radio station KFAN about his memories of that game, which he said was the most violent he'd ever experienced after playing 20 years in the NFL.
That game later came under investigation as part of New Orleans' bounty scandal in which several members of the Saints' franchise were accused of paying out bounties for intentionally hurting opposing players. The NFL determined the allegations to be true in 2012, which led to Saints coach Sean Payton's suspension for the entire 2012 season, among a handful of fines and other sanctions.
At the time, a number of Vikings players and coaches accused the Saints of deliberately trying to knock Favre out of the game. The quarterback said the Saints "came after me with everything they had" but detailed the symptoms he was experiencing as they related to the hits he took that game, which appear to be the sign of a concussion.
"A concussion doesn't necessarily have to be knocked out cold and removed from a game, although the new protocol is in place to remove you from a game even if you're not walking sideways or your arm goes stiff or whatever," Favre said.
"You may even be able to function as if you didn't have a concussion, but if you have head ringing or fireworks or any kind of fogginess, protocol says you should be removed from the game. In that game, there was some head ringing, there was some fogginess. There were two times in which I was hit by [former Saints safety] Darren Sharper late. He lunged at my head and both of them were pretty devastating hits, but I stayed in the game. One they threw a flag, one they didn't. Why they didn't throw the other, I have no idea. If head ringing or fireworks is a concussion, yeah, I did have that."
Favre's documentary will air at 5:30 p.m. CT Thursday on Stadium Network.
You know what, I have no choice to tip my cap. My first instinct was to say "oh, not this shit again" when I saw that the then quarterback of a team that - by their own admission - also had a bounty system in place was once again referencing BountyGate as it were some isolated scandal as opposed to an obvious scapegoating. Unfortunately, as much of a hypocrite as Brett Favre is for pandering to unjustly scorned Vikings' fans just days prior to their long-awaited playoff re-matchup against the team that bullied them out a chance at Super Bowl glory so many years ago, he's equally as much of a salesman.
You can probably count the number of football fans that want to watch a documentary about concussions during the middle of the fucking postseason on one single hand, never mind one in which the focal point is a guy who knew damn well he was ignoring injury as he did whatever possible to extend his ironman streak well into his 40's. That's why it's nothing more than smart marketing to cater to an entire fanbase during the specific week in which they are desperately seeking for even the most illogical and overblown reason to conjure up hatred for the New Orleans Saints.
I bet that the Minnesota faithful set their DVR's to a channel that they didn't even know existed at a time that they typically wouldn't yet be home from work, and it's not because they give a shit about Brett Favre's mental health, but rather because want to walk into U.S. Bank Stadium as drunk, loud, and thirsty for some sort of overdue vengeance as possible. Time has a way of healing wounds, but poorly timed documentaries about brain damage that may or may not have been inflicted within hours of those wounds has a way of opening them back up. I'd imagine Vikings' fans will gladly relive the pain and frustration of eight years if it could make the high they are hoping to have this upcoming Sunday even slightly more euphoric.
And if not, Brett Favre can't say he didn't exhaust all options in trying to get the most amount of people to open up their mind to the worst part of football during the absolute best part of football season. He valiantly played to his crowd, even if it makes said crowd that much more susceptible to downright depression in a few short days.
I think even the most optimistic Saints fan would tell you it's a toss-up as to whether this this team can waltz into the unforgiving confines of the Minnesota Vikings and pull out a victory against one of the league's best defenses while nursing a deleted offensive line. Looking at it objectively, they could put forth a praiseworthy effort and still have their Super Bowl aspirations meet an untimely demise in a less than congenial venue this upcoming weekend.
Subjectively, however, I just don't see that happening. You may believe that opinion to be nothing more than a self-assuring song and dance, but now that it's accompanied by an actual song and dance? It looks the stage is being set for some postseason theatrics. The song might be a bit cheesy and the dance might be excessively "white", but the Saints already have the score and the choreography completed for their championship video. Now all that's left is to string three more victories together and make sure Sean Payton's celebratory flailing of limbs doesn't go the way of similarly skilled American Idol contestants and lives on forever in Saints lore. Big Easy, peasy.
Former Jaguars O-Lineman Tony Boselli Said The Best Thing Chris Simms Ever Did On A Football Field Was Almost Die After He Criticized Blake Bortles
In case you forgot about the twinkle in the night sky that was the NFL playing career of Chris Simms, this is what a clearly perturbed Tony Boselli was referring to:
This outrageous overreaction to what I'm certain was an ludicrously arbitrary ranking and a hyperbolic pot shot at the current quarterback of his former team undoubtedly reads like a cruel and inhumane devaluing of Chris Simms'...uhh...well...entire life basically. No question it's a ruthless ribbing (no pun intended) of a guy whose spleen nearly burst while on an NFL field so many years ago.
That being said, is it at all possible that this venomous retort from a third party is a good thing? I mean...not for humanity as a whole, or an outsider's view into a former athlete's potentially loose attachment to reality, or the NFL's insistence that their brand is built on good clean fun, but for Jacksonville's reputation as a destination? An instinctive defense of their mediocre-on-a-good-day starting quarterback isn't the worst way to show your love and support for the city in which you became a fringe Hall Of Famer.
Tony Boselli's room-silencing response to a fairly innocent joke being made at the expense of someone who threw for 87 fucking yards in a home playoff game was nothing short of barbaric, but I'll be damned if it didn't convince me that he legitimately enjoys being both a member of their 'Ring Of Honor' as well as one half of their radio broadcast team. Not even Blake Bortles harbors a passionate enough belief in Blake Bortles to counter an over-the-top insult by mocking the near-death experience of the person delivering it. That chirp had everything to do with Tony Boselli protecting the young of his beloved Jags, and careers that came to nest in Jacksonville - of all places - aren't often so tightly embraced by the players that largely suffered through them.
This is probably influenced by the fact that the NFL's most storied franchises get the most attention and thus have the most outspoken of alumnus, but when I think of teams whose most notable legends typically lash out on behalf of their former employer I think of the Steelers, Cowboys, and Packers. That's not to say one prettttty pathetic playoff appearance has put the Jaguars in that same class, but at least now there's one person that's willing to stand at the gate with a sniper rifle ready to fire shots whenever someone launches shade at a organization that's no longer a complete laughingstock. I don't know that I'd imply that watching someone keeled over with massive internal bleeding was a pleasurable viewing experience, but the person who did surely knows where his eternal allegiance lies.
The Browns' Twitter Account Tried To Flirt With The Idea Of Taking Saquon Barkley 1st Overall, And - Wouldn't You Believe It - They Failed
Honestly, the Cleveland Browns might as well walk to the podium and announce - to fans that are already expecting the worst - that instead of selecting the freakishly talented running back that shares his jersey number, they have taken his soon-to-be-sophomore teammate that is yet to be draft eligible. If we are all being upfront here, trying to pick underaged safety Jonathan Sutherland first overall stands just about as good of a chance as working out for them as does reaching for a skill position player to play in an offense where skills go to die.
Saquon Barkley's has an endless array of abilities, but - as Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott have proven - it takes a very particular set of circumstances to make a running back worthy of a top spot in the draft. I don't think I'm breaking any news by saying that the 0-16 organization - whose social media team couldn't even properly 'Google Image' one the millions of photos made readily available to them by the internet - has it "all there" in being able to foster an all-world talent whose productivity is, at least in part, dependent on the competence of others. It's quite apparent that everything turns to shit once the Cleveland Browns get their hands on it, so no - I don't think a franchise that can't execute an agreed upon trade or properly utilize a search engine can properly utilize a superior athlete at halfback.
TheState- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera would have liked for safety Mike Adams to bat down New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees’ fourth-down pass in the final two minutes of the Saints’ 31-26 wild-card win.
Rivera also would have liked for the officials to review the play to make sure Adams actually intercepted it. Actually, Rivera said he “would have loved” for the NFL’s replay center to look at it.
Later Monday, the NFL confirmed the the replay center had done so.
Rivera said he told the side judge that officials should review it.
“I said, ‘Hey, you guys need to take a look at that because I’m being told he dropped the ball.’ And he just said, ‘Well, we’ll see,’” Rivera said Monday. “And he actually did say something into his mic. I have no idea what he said. But I did bring it up. I got no information on that (play).
I know, I know. I'm not exactly an unbiased observer that is fluent in the art of refereeing football. Luckily for me, and Ron Rivera, I'm pretty sure that means I'm only a striped shirt and whistle away from being qualified to call games at the NFL level. At the very least, I have better command of 'forward progress' than Jeff Triplette so maybe his upcoming retirement is actually the opening I needed to get into the profession.
With that said, let this explanation of late-game officiating to a losing head coach that's frantically searching for a scapegoat serve as my resume...
You see, Ron Rivera, the best way to force a 4th down incompletion is to instruct your players not to intercept it in the first place. I'm not here to declaratively state whether or not Panthers' safety Mike Adams completed the process of a catch. As even the most casual of fans know, trying to definitively do so is a fool's errand. So, when it's on behalf of a defensive team that is trying to overturn their own goddamn turnover, it's an errand that oft-scrutinized officials are less likely to run out of fear of - once again - looking foolish. While I suppose it would have been nice of the crew to save a team from its own lack of situational awareness, it's certainly shouldn't be their priority.
This might come as a surprise to Ron Rivera, but leaving a judgement call up to those that have - up until that point - granted you a 91 yard edge in penalty yards during a tightly contested road playoff game probably isn't the greatest idea. Maybe Cam Newton was out of the tackle box, maybe he wasn't. Either way it came down to a matter of inches, and those inches didn't change the fact that his attempt to make a play from the pocket literally got dragged into a desperate attempt to avoid a sack as soon as a loss of yardage appeared imminent. Devin Funchess couldn't have caught that ball with the most elongated of pool skimmers and Cam Newton damn well knew that as he "tried" to throw a 30 yard pass while falling backwards with a 290 pound All-Pro salivating on his chest. If Ron Rivera thinks that was in the "area of a receiver" then he might as well start getting directions from my un-licensed grandmother, because apparently he isn't too keen on time, space, or distance. Whether or not it was ever-so-slightly outside the imperfect box used to fit the description of 'intentional grounding', the officials stuck to the spirit of the rules in deciding that for just the second time all evening the Panthers - god forbid - actually broke them.
Hopefully I cleared that up for the coach who was trying to defer blame by pleading for more video reviews when the rest of the football-loving world is sick of staring at the ass of a ref while he squints at a monitor and - more or less - tries to save teams from themselves by the centimeter.
Is Nick Saban Really A Football Genius For Going To Tua Tagovailoa In The Second Half Of The National Championship Game?
I know we are all expected to bow before the man that's basically created an NFL feeder program that's a shoe-in for at least 12 wins annually, but is it somehow possible that in coming back from 13 points down in the second half to win the National Championship with a freshman quarterback that he actually didn't show some god-like ability to tap into his endlessly athletic resources?
In college sports, recruiting is to the war as the actual games are to the battles, so it's a credit to Nick Saban that he even had some teenage southpaw that was capable slinging all over the yard as an insurance policy, but to keep said kid on the bench as Jalen literally Hurts your title aspirations one play at a time? There's something to be said about Alabama wanting to go with the more experienced player as it's theoretically the less risky option for a team that typically using their superior talent to bludgeon teams to death on the ground. Still, that justification holds a hell of a lot less water when the guy you've entrusted to manage the game lacks quite a bit in the most fundamental skill necessary to lead a team downfield.
Just look at this reasoning...
“I just thought we had to throw the ball in the game, and I thought he could do it better,” Saban said in an interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “And he did. He did a good job. He made some plays in the passing game.” (h/t LBS)
In an era of football in which the forward pass has never been more important, the favored team shrunk their margin of error against a freshman quarterback by having theirs on the bench despite an admission that he was far superior at throwing. If that's a transcendent display of genius then I guess Nick Saban also deserves praise for putting his most elusive athletes at running back. In essence, going to the guy who you know to be capable of moving the ball through the air seems like a pretty easy decision when you're down two scores and the player ahead of him on the depth chart has accrued 21 yards in 30 minutes while having as many rushing attempts as completions on the year.
Admittedly, it was ballsy for Nick Saban to toss a 19 year old to the Dawgs in front of over 70,000 people on college sports' biggest stage when he's strictly been used during garbage time all season, but not nearly as stubborn as it was to wait until he was on the brink of defeat in a goddamn championship game to give his best arm (his words, not mine) significant action against a viable opponent.
By summoning a skill set that was too impressive not to standout in practice all year, Tua Tagovailoa bailed out Nick Saban. So while Alabama's head coach might be the best in the nation, excuse me if I am a little hesitant to pat him on the ass in this particular case. Instead, I'll leave that honor to the player whose unbelievable effort has people talking as if this win defines the legacy of a guy who acted out of depression and probably should have known that his backup was far better than his situationally stymied starter prior to 10PM on the last night of the season...
Kirby Smart (Head Coach Of A Team In The National Championship) Understands Why A Team Not In The National Championship Might Declare Themselves 'National Champions'
Who is that man up their spewing impartial nonsense that takes into account the inherent oddities of college football's playing field, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the particular universities that participate at its highest level? Even the most trained of eye would probably argue that it's Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart, but no SEC savant worth their salt in superiority would ever admit that it's at all logical for a measly Conference USA program to think of themselves as an equal to the best of the best below the Mason-Dixon. Someone get Paul Finebaum on the case, because we have an imposter on our hands and his sole purpose is empathizing with those pesky mid-majors that keep trying to make noise from up under the iron fist of playoff-bound Power 5's like a hissing cockroach that just won't die.
Look, I'm not trying to say that UCF was better and/or more deserving of a spot in the playoff than Georgia or Alabama. I'm saying you're incredibly biased and stubborn if you can't see why they, themselves, might consider that to be so. An undefeated season that was capped off a victory over a an opponent that is - at worst - a half step below the two that will face off for an official title tonight? I think if you were a part of that then you too would be declaring the difficulty of your flawlessness without shame. I tip my hat to Kirby Smart for being one of the few people who is able to see both sides of the argument despite having a vested interest in erring on the side of his own success.
NFL Official Jeff Triplette Is Retiring After Working His First Playoff Game In Years, Annnd Making The Worst Call You Ever Did See
Happy retirement to you!
Happy retirement to you!
Happy retirement, Dear incompetent, overwhelmed, and outdated official!
Happy retirement to you!
From scorned fans and true,
From old critics and new,
May god have mercy on you,
And Andy Reid too.
How bold are you now!?!
How bold are you now!?!
You look like you drastically changed the result of a do-or-die game that you had no business calling!
How bold are you now!?!
Say what you want about the NFL's inability to hire people who are capable of consistently commandeering a product in which billions of dollars are invested, but don't say they don't know how to give those people one last hurrah! That "forward progress" call probably set the officiating profession back further than the sack-fumble would have set back its beneficiary, but at least Jeff Triplette can say that the stage was all his in what proved to be his swan song!
All football fans outside Tennessee might vehemently disagree, but every long-time referee deserves one last chance to do what they do best. Which is quite obviously insert themselves into a violent, competitive matching of wills between over 100 superhuman athletes that are routinely risking their health for the result of a game that can become tainted with nothing more than an untimely blow into a whistle! Kansas City coaches, players, and fans will never, ever forget Jeff Triplette, and isn't the point of a retirement party to leave people with the false memory that the person it's in honor of was far more noteworthy than they actually were?
NOLA- After New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan produced a sack in the third quarter of Sunday's playoff victory, he began shouting at the Carolina Panthers offensive line. Jordan wasn't upset about something that happened on the play. He was just relaying his thoughts about Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil's blocking skills.
"I was actually talking more to the other Kalil brother," Jordan said after the game. "I don't know his first name, Speedbump. Let's call him Speedbump McGee. That guy."
The Saints beat the Panthers, 31-26, to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs, and after the game, the boisterous Jordan shared some comical remarks about both Kalil and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.
"You beat the Carolina Panthers three times in a year, I'm gonna have to send this guy a wine bottle," Jordan said of Newton, pointing to a bottle of wine in his locker. "I appreciate him for being that good ol' quarterback. I'm gonna send him a nice little bottle of Jordan wine. No, it's not mine, but I have been drinking it for years. So, I'm going to send him some sauce."
Jordan and Newton have exchanged trash talk for years on the field, but this season, it extended into interviews. After the Week 3 game, Jordan made some jokes about Newton's fashion choices. Leading up to the Week 13 game, Newton remarked on Jordan's fashion and joked he could "send him some sauce."
When a reported noted that Jordan's sauce comment was a callback to Newton's joke, Jordan said, "Petty, right?
As a general rule of thumb, I don't empathize with even the most defeated member of a division rival. Football is hard, so - en lieu of my deepest sympathies - I offer Matt Kalil the suggestion to wear a helmet and protect his neck from the most cutthroat of ruthless mockery.
That being said, if I were to change my stance on postgame compassion, this would probably be the circumstance that would get me to do so. Like, if I felt feelings on behalf of players from a team with which I don't harbor an admittedly irrational emotional investment, this one might hurt.
As if strategically being lined up opposite the spot he consistently manned in becoming a First Team All-Pro defensive lineman wasn't enough of a kick in the dick to the person with which he was being intentionally under-matched. As if getting put through the ringer - over-and-over again - by the guy that bullied his way to a sack before taking his talents to the other side of the line and all-but-sealing the victory with a double-team splitting swim move that would make Michael Phelps take a gulp mid-lap wasn't enough of an emasculation...
Just when you thought Matt Kalil couldn't feel any worse about his evening, he gets nicknamed after an inanimate lump of asphalt. 'Speedbump McGee', as he will be referred to going forward, got reduced to a road-wide obstacle by someone who plays the game like the athletic equivalent of a supped-up pickup whose suspension allows him to heed not the most immobile of obstructions. If I were capable of seeing the world through the eyes of someone that shares a side of the football with Cam Newton I might commiserate with the professional athlete that was granted less respect - both on and off the field - than a turnstile.
Since I don't, the best I can do to muffle my laughter at Cam Jordan's "sauce" call back until the slow-witted target of the joke understands that his season ended with a punchline...
If you asked me to type out my emotional state in the wake of Reggie Bush's incitement of a 'Who Dat' chant that served as the green light to an evening of excitement, It likely would have read as if I were standing stark naked in the middle of a bomb cyclone while doing so.
In a word, chills.
If the sight of so many familiar faces, in conjunction with the remembrance of one that tragically could only be there in spirit, miraculously wasn't enough to move you then the resonation of 73,000 strong voicing their allegiance in bedrock-rumbling unison gave you no choice. The shaking of my hands through a computer screen is enough proof that I need to declare that you didn't even have to be in attendance to feel the love that New Orleans has for the Saints of past and present, and vice versa.
I don't know that this year's rendition of the black & gold needed the spirit of a Super Bowl champion to be in the building, but I'll be damned if it didn't feel better knowing that it was. Reggie Bush paying homage to the late, great Will Smith while surrounded by a cluster of teammates that became eternal shortly thereafter a history defining pick-six was the cherry on top of what turned out to be another unforgettable Sunday. From the awe-inspiring and heartstring-tugging presence of Colston-to-Moore-to-Thomas-to-Henderson-to-McKenzie-to-Fujita-to-Stinchcomb-to-Shanle-to-Harper-to-Gay-to-the soul of #91- to the handful of others I'm forgetting, Reggie Bush didn't even need to take the field with a baseball bat to knock the pregame build-up straight out of the park.
It remains to be seen what lies ahead for a young group that boosts an eerily reminiscent sense of kinship, but they certainly don't lack motivation after getting a first hand look at how quickly you become one with a city as passionate as New Orleans upon delivering them a title.
Until further notice, the answer to "who dat!?!" shall remain "we", because 2009's finest showed how forever binding a winning locker room can be...
P.S. Reggie's opinion of Alvin Kamara, while both predictable and unenlightening, must make every Saints' fan giddy for a future that's already arrived...
I don't think there is a Saints fan out there that would tell you that they didn't comforted themselves with the narrative that, given his experience and accomplishments, their quarterback is the one that any objective person would most want taking postseason snaps for them in the NFC. I know that I, personally, swaddled myself in some ridiculous notion that Sean Payton had yet to open up his expensive array of fine chocolates to Drew Brees while limiting him to vanilla play calling all season. Of course that was just an absurd way to justify a third down conversation percentage that - confusingly contrary to a career-high completion percentage - was the lowest it's been in a decade. However, I'll be damned if the man whose prolonged greatness made it possible didn't deliver in proving that a false sense of security was bulletproof...
I don't know if the Carolina Panthers sold out to stop Ingram and Kamara in their tracks because they didn't totally buy a surefire HOFer's ability to run train by turning back the arm on his biological clock. Regardless, a throwback performance that featured a host of targets, a handful of vintage back shoulder gems, and an 80-yard dose of vengeance from Touchdown Teddy left them looking like they could probably use some investment advice. The red-zone defense will surely get a ton of attention, but those forced field goals would have been for naught without Drew Brees providing the best remedy for a struggling third down offense...an unstoppable early down offense.
In the end, it was a questionable but - in my biased opinion - correct intentional grounding call that both solidified the more deserving Cam's case for Defensive Player Of The Year and, more importantly, allowed the Saints to bust the broom out on their division rivals. The final minutes were about as excruciating as a black market colonoscopy, but - if the celebration is any indication - the Saints locker room is currently looser than Sam Bradford's sleeves...
Their defense is going to have to tighten up between the 20's, their two-headed monster is going to have to carb up, Michael Thomas is going to have to find a way to treat Xavier Rhodes the same way he's treated almost every other corner he's faced in his young career, and the offensive line is going to have to withstand the probable absence of Andrus Peat if they hope to pull off an upset in Minnesota. That said, due to Sean Payton's aggressiveness, his trust in both sides of the ball, the team's genuine and undeniable love for one another, and a bunch of other reasons that are mostly intangible, this Saints' roster has the feel of one that has what it takes to exact revenge for what was a brutal season opener.
If nothing else, yesterday gave me no reason to doubt their versatility on offense and their timeliness on defense, and they are going to need every bit of it heading into one of the few environments that's as hostile as their own.
I'm not going to lie, this playoff appearance is starting to feel like it could turn into something special for the Saints. Admittedly, that subjective and entirely emotional opinion is at least somewhat buoyed by the fact that every playoff appearance that follows a depressing three year lay-off feels special. It's probably also a product of looking up and down a roster that - even more so than that of the one that brought them the Super Bowl - has the most prototypical build for postseason success that New Orleans has ever seen. However, it's the idea that a significant chunk of that championship team will be supporting from the sidelines that has exacerbated that enthusiasm and has my optimism trending dangerously high.
All other influences aside, I truly think the Saints are a far better and more versatile team than the division rival that's already looked helpless against them twice this year. I don't see how the long-belated appearance of some additional inspiration and the backing of a crowd that will be high off the most heavy-handed dose of nostalgia does anything but widens the gap that looks to exist between the Saints and Panthers. There is going to be too many unforgettable memories in that building not to create new ones, so forgive my overconfidence in believing that Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Roman Harper, and the rest of the attending Who Dat family are in for a hell of a DomeComing.
NOLA- New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan is finally receiving some of the recognition he deserved.
The Associated Press announced its 2017 All-Pro teams on Friday, and Jordan made the first team, earning the honor for the first time in his seven-year career. Jordan is the first Saints player to receive this honor since tight end Jimmy Graham in 2013.
Jordan finished the year with career highs in sacks (13) and passes defensed (11). He also had 62 tackles, 17 for loss, two forced fumbles, an interception and scored the first touchdown of his career. His performance should make him one of the top candidates for Defensive Player of the Year.
I don't know if there's all that many things that more impressive than being named one of the two most dominant defensive ends in the NFL during era in which a premium has been put on pass rushing. However, if I were to add a late entry into the polling, I would say that humbly grinning and bearing it year-after-year-after-year while similarly sensational efforts were statistically castrated by the incompetence of almost everyone else around him would give it a run for its money.
I couldn't be happier that Cameron Jordan is finally getting acknowledged for his ability to excel in every facet of defensive line play, but it shouldn't be forgotten that it took defenses that were increasingly and historically horrific to overshadow the work of a player whose top-notch talent didn't suddenly come out of nowhere.
He's too much of a leader to ever say so, so I'll do it for him - playing for the New Orleans Saints has been a burden on a guy whose undying optimism would never let you believe that were so. He'd tell you his play has reached another level this season, and - while he's probably right - there were circumstances outside of his control that might as well have been handcuffing him down as criminally underrated. Shit, if we are going by passes defended then you can make the argument that a 290 pound defensive end was also the Saint's best cornerback prior to this offseason. Need an idea of destitute the defense around him was? If the video for 'Ironic' was three years long and the premise was that she was driving the world's most versatile car but it was forever stuck in reverse, Cam Jordan might as well have taken the wheel from Alanis Morissette.
I'd imagine it has something to do with the fact that adding a little bit of talent around him has shined a brighter light on the endless array of abilities possessed by a legitimate Defensive Player Of The Year candidate (my guess would be runner-up to Aaron Donald), but - unlike the quarterbacks he's consistently frustrating - Cam Jordan's ear-to-ear grin is looking a little less forced these days. Simply put, after being sucked into a 7-9 wormhole, there's no one that deserves to take the postseason stage as an All-Pro more than the guy whose always excelled at all aspects of being a pro.