"What the hell was I thinking??" (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
I have had a bit of an enlightenment. I wanted to get back to my writing roots, back when I wrote a sports blog and basically gave my opinion on, well, everything. While I know this is a Broncos blog, many of you are also fans of the NFL and have opinions on the NFL. With that in mind, once a week I am going to give you those opinions in a meandering way - a verbal vomit, so to speak, of what is going through my head. Scary, I know. If that isn't something you are looking for here at MHR, that's fair. I just ask that you move along to the next post.
Ok, if you are still here, thanks for hanging around. While these posts will usually talk about all the news and notes around the NFL, last night was a spotlight game - the game to open the season - and was filled with story lines - you know how much I enjoy Brett Favre. Let's get to it.
The Players Completely Blew It With Their 'We Are One' Demonstration - After the National Anthem last night - a terrific rendition by Colbie Caillat by the way - players from both sides stepped on to the field and raised a finger to the sky. Al Michaels made a quick reference to the event, calling it a 'show of unity'. I thought, 'Wow! So close to 9/11, right after the National Anthem, before a new season starts, a show that we are all Americans, all on one team. Classy move!"
Ummm, not quite!
While all the thoughts I had should have been true, what the players were doing was having a show of UNION SOLIDARITY. They were proclaiming that 'THEY ARE ONE', as in one team against the owners in the bubbling labor strife that is beginning to poison the NFL. From CLASSY to CLASSLESS. That just wasn't the time. Not after the National Anthem, not so close to 9/11. I never want to hear about billionaires battling millionaires about money, but I get that it is a necessary evil. Demonstrations like last night that only promote division aren't necessary. Whoever thought it up was wrong, and I hope it isn't a plan for all the games this weekend.
The NFL Need To Rethink It's Celebration - I'm a big fan of the Dave Matthews Band. I really am. That said, they really didn't fit - not with the NFL, and not with New Orleans last night. Where was the jazz? Where was the blues? Where was Harry Connick Jr? He was on the sidelines, so he was in the building. I'm sure there were plenty of artists that could have captured the moment, captured the celebration better than Dave Matthews or Taylor Swift.
The NFL is trying to appeal to the mainstream, but that is where they are missing the boat. Mainstream artists are not going to get me to alter my schedule to watch a hour-long pre-game show before the first game of the season. Give me something I haven't seen before, or wouldn't see everyday. Give me a piece of New Orleans.
Four Preseason Games? Really? - There has been quite the debate, both here at MHR, and across the country, about the NFL's plan to cut two preseason games and replace them with 2 regular season games. Personally I was on the fence about it - I can see both sides and it wouldn't bother me either way.
After last night, however, I fell off the fence directly on the side on the 18-game season. In a match-up between the two best teams in the NFC last year, a rematch of a classic NFC Championship Game, the Saints and Vikings COMBINED for 23 points. There were also 2 missed field goals, a missed PAT and 391 TOTAL YARDS.
Compare that to the NFC Championship Game, where the teams combined to score 59 points and racked up 732 total yards and you cans see what the Commissioner is talking about when he talks about the quality of play in the preseason. Last night had the feel of a preseason game because the starters on both sides DON'T PLAY in August.
It was great to watch a game that mattered, but it wasn't the level we'd come to expect from two teams that are the quality of the Saints and Vikings.
On The Other Hand, Brett Favre Proves Why Training Camp Is Important - Brett Favre has made it a habit now of staying retired until Training Camp is nearly over. He did it the past 4 years with three different teams. Look at his numbers in Week 1 in 2007, 08, 09 and 10 - 67/112(59.8%, 681 yards(170 ypg), 4 TDs, 2 INT - This is allegedly the best quarterback....perhaps ever? Those are mediocre numbers. Take the name 'Favre' away from those stats and what do you think of them?
The fact that Favre doesn't come to camp slows down the acclimation process with the offense. Don't think for a minute that it doesn't have an affect. Especially with a team like Minnesota that is struggling a bit at wide receiver. Yes, Percy Harvin battled migraines all summer and Sidney Rice is gone for half the season after hip surgery. EVEN MORE REASON that Favre should have come to camp. Find another option! Get into a rhythm with Bernard Berrian! Something. Instead, Favre comes in late, barely plays in 3 preseason games, and the Vikings struggle offensively. They lose, on the road, in a tough environment, by 5 points. Do you think being in Camp, working with a young receiving corps is worth 5 points? I do.
A couple more thoughts on Favre. First, was it me or did he look like a guy that really had no desire to be there. Every shot of him on the sidelines I saw that "What the hell was I thinking' look. That doesn't bode well for the Vikings this year.
What is with all this Sidney Rice talk anyway? Sure, Rice is a big, physical wide receiver and became Favre's favorite last season, but we're not talk about JERRY RICE here, it is Sidney Rice. The time to give Brett Favre a pass ALL THE TIME is over. The guy hasn't won a BIG GAME since 1996. Think about how old you were and what you were doing in 1996!
Brad Childress Is Easily One Of The Worst Head Coaches In The NFL - Coaching is important in the NFL. You see it all the time when a Head Coach out-coaches his counterpart. It sticks out like sore thumb. It happened again last night with Sean Payton and Brad Childress. I thought Chilly did a nice job in the 1st Half calling Adrian Peterson's numbers over and over again. 16 carries for Peterson in the 1st Half and the Vikings had a 3-point lead. What happens in the 2nd Half? The Saints take the lead - only by 5 mind you - and the Viking decide to forget the run, forget their best offensive player that was beginning to beat up the Saints defense at the end of the 2nd Quarter, and put the game in Favre's hands. Peterson had just 3 carries in the 2nd Half.
That can't happen.
It wasn't just the play-calling. With 2:40 to go in the game, the Saints got a first down. The Vikings had 2 timeouts. Instead of taking a TO there, thus making sure you could stop the clock three times(including the 2-minute warning), Chilly allows the Saints to run another play, THEN calls a timeout at 2:05. WHAT?? Now the Saints can throw a pass because of the 2-minutes warning and the Vikings lose 40 seconds of clock.
Here's the rule, folks. When you are on defense, USE YOUR TIMEOUTS! The reason? On offense, you can control the clock. You can spike it, you can run out of bounds. You can control it. On defense, well, not so much. I'm not saying it cost the Vikings the game, but it certainly didn't give them a chance to win it.
It's Great To Have Football Back - No matter what, the NFL is back and I am pumped! I know you are too, Broncos Country!