I had a rare weekday off with the kids yesterday and enjoyed it thoroughly. The busier the football season gets, the more you treasure those moments and remember that above all else, life is short and as Ferris would say, you need to slow down or it will pass you by. It's good to enjoy what you have when you can on your terms.
Perfection is what you make of what you're given, and I'd have to say that was a perfect Monday.
I'd guess that Al Davis thought his life ended up near-perfect and I won't wax anymore poetic than that on the passing of Davis, as I covered that on Saturday and will spend some more time on it during this week's The Hard Count.
Like Al Davis throughout his career and my day yesterday , the NFL as a whole is always looking for perfection.
Some are closer than others and some are heading towards what could be termed 'anti-perfection'.
Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the imperfect.
Perfection is our goal, excellence will be tolerated.
Congrats are in order for the last two 'perfect' teams in the NFL; the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.
The amazing thing about both teams is, they aren't perfect. I'd say the Lions are closer because they are healthier but you can't deny the Packers and we'll start with them.
I can't put it all on Aaron Rodgers, but there are times when this guy just wills a win. If you want to continue the 'elite' quarterback discussion, this is what sets a guy like Rodgers apart from pretenders like some guys we've talked about in this space before. When is the last time Eli Manning carried his team?
The offensive line is a deteriorating mess and yet Rodgers just keeps trucking long. His quick release overcomes a relentless pass rush through a banged up line—something I termed a survival technique. He's had oline issues off and on for years and as that's the case, he has developed a fast delivery. It makes it tough to stop him.
You can't speak highly enough about this offense from Greg Jennings (how is this cat THIS underrated?) to Jermichael Finley to James Starks—the offense is firing on all cylinders.
If there is one flaw here aside from injury (though affected by it), it's the defense. Ranked 21st overall defensively, and 30th against the pass you have to worry that unless it can improve it might not take much of a slip up on the offense's part for a team to jump out and stay out ahead.
The upside is the 3rd ranked rush defense, which makes it damned hard to milk the clock.
If you can't kill the clock, you give Rodgers time and that's never a good thing.
It's not a great piece of prognostication to say I doubt Green Bay goes 16-0. I have a feeling if they went 15-1 with another Super Bowl, they could live with it.
The Lions are a great story, aren't they? Proof also that when you have a decent GM, good things happen. While you can write off some of the pounding the defensive line did against the Bears as 'well the Bears' offensive line sucks', you can't deny that this front seven is very good.
Even rookie Nick Fairley looked good in his first piece of action and this Dline rolls so deep they can sub fresh legs in at any time.
The key to the Lions has long been quarterback Matt Stafford's health. We can see just how incredible this offense is when he's upright and whole. Calvin Johnson is ridiculous. Jahvid Best is a big play waiting to happen. Titus Young is a solid young talent. Brandon Pettigrew isn't fast but he's a big physical presence. The offensive line is doing some good work blocking.
Imagine if this team went from being the only 0-16 team to the second totally undefeated team (I'm including playoffs and Super Bowl of course)? Incredible.
The defense has stumbled a few times and like the Packers, that might be the achilles' heel. Despite the fact that this front gets a lot of sacks, the defense overall is middle of the road. You can run on them, you can throw on them.
Question is, can you do enough of either to keep up with the offense?
The Packers don't have a really tough matchup until the see the Lions in Week 12. The Lions have a few tougher or more unpredictable games against the Niners and Panthers who will give a tough game and the Falcons and a second Bears game between now and the Packers.
I could see this coming down to that Week 12 game. I kind of hope it does.
This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfection.
A fitting quote for two teams for whom expectations were high, hubris was large and whose reality is....not so very good.
The Eagles and the Jets. How can you think either team is anything but a disappointment at this point? There are worse teams (as we will see below), but for a pair often linked to the Super Bowl it doesn't get much worse.
The Jets' issues start at the offensive line which was—yet again—neglected in favor of wasting a lot of time trying to sign Nnamdi Asomugha while hoping that depth would hold one more season.
It hasn't and even with the return of center Nick Mangold, the offensive line is a shambles and a pale reflection of what it once was.
If you have a guy like the aforementioned Aaron Rodgers, you might survive. As much as I like Mark Sanchez, he's not Aaron Rodgers and never will be.
That's no slam—it's just reality. You don't need Rodgers to win a Super Bowl and having him is no guarantee. A guy like Sanchez needs a little more protection than a guy like Rodgers.
The more pressured Sanchez gets, the harder it is to move the ball. I'd also point out that if the oline can't block, the run game falters and again, it makes it harder to pass.
The play selection is a problem as well. I've harbored doubts about OC Brian Schottenheimer for years, always thinking 'well it's working so maybe it's not a big issue...'. However, I'm able to call out a lot of the plays from the couch. The Jets run a lot on first down and not well. The playcalling is uninspired and the Jets aren't even trying to go vertical despite the weapons they have. Switching to ground and pound again didn't work and made no sense against a porous New England secondary.
I said it at some point recently but maybe this is a case of Sanchez and Schottenheimer being bad fits for each other. Schotty isn't comfortable with what Sanchez can do and Sanchez isn't fitting well into the scheme Schotty runs.
Either way the Jets are in real trouble and the defense can only bail them out so many times. This three game road trip showed all the flaws the team has in lurid detail.
It may also finally show the cracks that happen when you try to put together too many 'big' names (in some cases names who think they are big) in one place.
Speaking of lurid detail and cracks—HOW BOUT DEM IGGLES?
One of my partners in crime over at Footballguys—whether it was Cecil Lammey or Sigmund Bloom I can't recall—put it really well on part one of their Sunday recap.
Basically Cec-mund basically pointed out that the Eagles are a group of individuals playing on a team together while a team like the Bills are a team buying into a team concept.
What was the line from season one of LOST? Live together or die alone?
The Eagles would be dying alone.
Like the Jets, the Eagles ignored other problems while they ran after Nnamdi Asomugha. They got him and they aren't even using him right.
Aside from that, they invested heavily in Michael Vick despite his injury history and struggles in Atlanta NOT related to dogs but in the actual playing of football.
This is a very talented team made up of very talented individuals who can take over a game at any moment, but not in a cohesive way which leads to wins.
I mentioned the Bills a minute ago but even look at the first portion of this column. The Packers and Lions are TEAMS.
At this point the Eagles—and perhaps the Jets—are not.
I don't see a turnaround here for the Eagles. The Jets maybe if they can pull the offense together. Both teams look on the verge of splintering apart.
The only nice thing about being imperfect is the joy it brings to others.
A term I really enjoy is schadenfreude. If you don't know what that is, you can click on this link or watch this NSFW video from the Broadway show Avenue Q.
We all love to see the mighty fall and the worse your team is doing the happier you are when someone is failing harder then them.
For today's schadenfreude I present to you the Miami Dolphins, St Louis Rams and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Dolphins I actually feel bad for because at some point this was a team turning things around. Nothing has gone right for them the last two years aside from beating the Jets a few times. It won't get better with quarterback Chad Henne out for the year and replaced by Matt Moore and Sage Rosenfels.
They jettisoned a good pair of backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams for unproven rookie Daniel Thomas and mediocre former first round pick Reggie Bush. The offensive line is still and issue and the defense is middling.
Oh, and their owner seems to be....not very bright.
It could be a long season for the Dolphins. Jets fans, just consider you aren't Miami fans.
I feel bad for the Rams. They looked like the favorites to win the NFC West and now they're look like they might be able to trade that #1 pick to a desperate Andrew Luck-needing team.
Sam Bradford has played OK for a second year guy but the offense lacks a reliable receiver for him and Steven Jackson can only do so much. The offensive line and defense isn't as potent as it was last year.
This team is already rebuilding so in some ways this isn't a shock but it was a bigger step backwards than anyone expected.
So, if you are a sad Buccaneer or Cardinals fan... well you're still sad but at least you have a win.
Ah the Colts.
I think there is a lot of knife sharpening among fans. The Colts seem to bring out some interesting hate for some reason.
Watching the utter destruction of a team just because one player is gone is fascinating in a 'that's a terrible train wreck' way. We've long pointed out that no plan behind Peyton Manning was dangerous at best but even I didn't think that the wheels would come off, the car would bottom out and the gas tank explode.
This is a team on the verge of a big rebuild and I don't think anyone wants to talk about it. The offensive line, the defense, the quarterback—just a few of the rather large question marks the Colts will have to deal with this off season.
And yes, it's time to talk off season. This tail spin isn't righting itself and the eject button is stuck.
Even Andrew Luck isn't a sure cure. The Colts have some soul searching to do.
Take heart though Colts fans—at least you're not the fantasy owner of a Colts player, right?
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