I hope everyone had a Happy New Year! Here’s looking towards a great 2009, starting with Wildcard Weekend in the NFL.
Cards dealt a divisional game: Give Arizona credit. They are one dimensional. They pretty much pass and that’s it. But, they beat an Atalanta team that knew what was coming and still couldn’t stop them. I don’t think the Cards can win this coming weekend. The availability of injured WR Anquan Boldin will have a lot to do with what happens. But, either way, win or lose, it’s been nice to see Kurt Warner do what he’s done years after people wrote him off as being washed up.
San Diego Charged Up: I was sad to see the Colts lose the way they did. I have long believed that the overtime rules in the NFL are just not fair. They should do it the way college does it, if only to be fair to both teams. I don’t want to see Tony Dungy’s coaching career end this way if he does indeed choose to retire. But, the Chargers have been to hell and back this season, and despite my dislike of Norv Turner (better co-ordinator than head coach), I couldn’t be happier that a guy like Phillip Rivers advances. He’s one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and one of these days, he’s going to get the recognition that he deserves.
Baltimore Bumps Miami: As a Jets fan, I was not sad to see the Dolphins lose. Before the Jets-Patriots rivalry got going, the Jets’ biggest rival was Miami. That being said, the difference in this game was defense. The Ravens have a pretty good one. They also seem to – after a number of years – have this whole offense thing figured out. We saw a number of teams hire first year head coaches and make the playoffs. But, John Harbaugh, who had never even been a co-ordinator before getting the Ravens job (special teams isn’t the same as defense in my book), is the one that made the divisional round of the playoffs. And he did it with a rookie quarterback in Joe Flacco who has developed quicker than most thought he would. Harbaugh and Flacco don’t get the same kind of pub as Matt Ryan and Mike Smith of Atlanta, but they aren’t making tee times for today now are they?
Eagles Flying High: One of the hottest teams in the NFL over the last five weeks has been the Eagles. It doesn’t come as a surprise that they go into Minnesota and knock off the Vikings. Andy Reid and Jim Johnson know Brad Childress like the back of their hand – he was, after all, on Philly’s staff for a number of years. But Donovan McNabb, since his November benching, has played with a chip on his shoulder. He has to be considered one of the league’s best once again, and the rubber match against the Giants next weekend is going to be a game you don’t want to miss.
Please Give Us A Plus One: The bowl season finally gave us a couple of meaningful games over the New Year’s Holiday. Maybe none more meaningful than The Rose Bowl Game (presented by.. ah, whatever).
The USC-Penn State matchup was supposed to be one of the more closely contested games of the season. it turned out to be a blowout. Don’t get me wrong, Penn State didn’t give up. They could’ve flown the white flag early in the third quarter, but they hung in there. Despite that fact, they still lost by two touchdowns.
USC wasn’t only dominant, they were superior. Superior to the point that you have to agree with Trojans head coach Pete Carroll when he says they are right up there with the Oklahomas and Floridas of the world.
Until the Gators or Sooners beat the Trojans, it’s hard to argue with his logic. They lost to Oregon State this year. That was it. They handled Ohio State, another BCS team. They lost a conference game, just like Oklahoma did, and just like Florida did.
I know we’re probably never going to get a playoff in college football. But how about a plus one? Wouldn’t you like to see USC take on the winner of Florida-Oklahoma. And while we’re at it, what about Texas? They’ll probably beat Ohio State and will deserve to be mentioned with the Gators, Trojans, and Sooners as well.
The BCS, as we all know, is an imperfect system. The game that was added on a couple of years ago was only added on so the non BCS conferences wouldn’t sue the BCS. The fifth game gives the ‘little guy’ a chance. That’s how Boise State got into the BCS, and that’s why Utah is there this year.
But it doesn’t solve the inherent problem that the BCS has. The system doesn’t crown a true national champion. Florida deserves to be in the game because they beat then #1 Alabama. And Oklahoma had the good fortune of winning late in the season, when others faltered. that’s why the Texas fans have been complaining loudly for the last month.
The Florida-Oklahoma winner will win the BCS title (the AP vote could theoretically go in a different direction), but wouldn’t you like to see USC play the winner in what would be the closest thing to a playoff that the BCS could give us?
Again, the fact that ESPN signed a four year deal with the BCS means that it isn’t going anywhere. But reconfiguring, and making that fifth BCS game a plus one would be way better than what we have now.
Favre’s Future: It looks like the future Hall of Famer hasn’t won the hearts and minds of his teammates. Thomas Jones told a New York radio station that Favre should have been benched (and he probably was right) during the Jets loss to Miami in the final week of the regular season. Safety Kerry Rhodes went on record as saying he’d welcome Favre back if he ‘did it right.’ (that means going through the off-season program with the rest of the team, something Favre never did in Green Bay). And, some teammates who did not want to be identified told a NY newspaper that Favre was distant, wasn’t really part of the team, and never connected with his new teammates (not dressing in the team locker room, etc.).
It looks like it took the Jets (though owner Woody Johnson hasn’t figured it out yet) less than a year to realize exactly what a diva Favre is. The difference between what has gone on with the Jets and what went on in Green Bay is that the jets don’t feel they owe it to Favre to let him get away with this.
The Packers always did. They looked at Favre as the reason they won the Super Bowl in 1996 (he was only a part of the reason and not the game’s MVP by the way). Therefore, starting with Ray Rhodes after Mike Holmgren left, they let Favre get away with murder. Skip the offseason training program? No problem Brett. You don’t feel like coming in for minicamps or OTA’s? No problem Brett. You want to take six months to decide if you’re going to play again? No problem Brett. The trend continued with Mike Sherman and Mike McCarthy until Favre pulled the I retire/I’m back game last summer.
Woody Johnson may want Brett back, but it sounds like the players, the guys he has to go to war with, don’t. Reports say Bill Cowher didn’t want the Jets job because he didn’t want to coach Favre.
It seems to me like Johnson is the only one who wants Favre Year Two in New York. If Brett were smart, he’d look at his eroding skills, lack of relationships in his new locker room, and decide to retire. This time for good.