Lots of stuff to cover today but I wanted to start off by talking a little about my reaction to fellow CHTV scribe Jayme Snowden’s piece yesterday about being a fan at the game versus being a fan watching at home.
Jayme found that, after years of watching at home, being hyperconnected and aware of what went on in every crevice and crack of the field, she didn’t enjoy the experience as much as she once had.
While her “I think I may be one of the people ruining football” might have been at least somewhat facetious, the truth is that there are certainly people who feel that way and feel that the inter-connectivity is a bad thing.
I’m actually of two minds about it. First, I think the league realizes that the home experience has aspects that are hard to beat. The NFL (and other leagues) know that they need to improve the WiFi and overall information options for fans at the stadium.
If they’re paying hundreds of dollars for a ticket, they need all the bang for their buck.
That’s a good thing. More information is a good thing, as long as it isn’t an obsession (which is true of all things, right?).
On the other hand, if we have too much info, can we enjoy the game as we should while at the stadium?
Because there are things that are special to the in-person experience which cannot be replicated.
Consider a different sport for a second.
Without a doubt, the moment in last night’s Yankees game which featured Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter going to the mound to pull one of the greatest relievers in baseball history—Mariano Rivera—was emotional no matter how you saw it.
However, as moving as the moment was on television, it’s the sort of thing that you can only really experience when present at the event.
To put it in a more historical sports perspective—it’s one thing to hear Lou Gehrig say “Today I am the luckiest man alive” the only way we can now:
I’d imagine it’s a whole other experience to have been there.
That is something that no amount of Twitter/home theater/surround sound/hi-def can replicate. It can try but it will forever fail.
So, no, Jayme I don’t think you’re what’s ruining the football experience. I actually think you’re just ahead of the curve and eventually stadiums will give you the experience you want.
That way you won’t miss the experiences you won’t forget.
Thursday Night Lights
So that happened.
It’s hard to find much positive for the St. Louis Rams at this point.
No matter how many shiny new weapons the team gives Sam Bradford, he just can’t seem to use them correctly or, in some cases, at all.
Tavon Austin—you know, the eight overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft?—was targeted eight times and caught just two of the passes. Some of that is on him.
But most of the throws were well off-target. There were several tips at the line of scrimmage.
That’s on Bradford.
Bradford appears to be getting worse, not better. That’s a huge issue for a Rams team which otherwise looks like the pieces are in place.
Of course , we shouldn’t overlook the five sacks the Niners got. Still that was more of an aberration this year as the offensive line had allowed just six over the course of the previous three games. And the 49ers had only had seven over that same stretch, four of which came in one game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Still something is off on Bradford and the Rams face a tough division with a loss to San Francisco and, one assumes, another in a month when they face a much superior Seahawks team.
There’s not much time to figure it out or Bradford either.
- Frank Gore gets older but doesn’t play like it. Kendall hunter, Anthony Dixon, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore all have a little longer to wait before taking the reins.
- Colin Kaepernick looked better but still not like himself. He’s not as confident as he was at the end of last season and while he made fewer overall mistakes, sometimes it seems as though he is missing opportunities he didn’t last year.
- The Rams have no running game. That’s it. There’s no more to it. They miss Steven Jackson and nobody on the roster can fill the role.
- Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins looked like a tremendous cover duo but haven’t played like it. Doug Farrar of SI.com shared this about it:
Well. PFF has Cortland Finnegan allowing a perfect passer rating of 158.3 both outside and in the slot. Consistency!
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) September 27, 2013
- I can’t say the Niners are “back” based on one game against a struggling team anymore than I can call the Jets Super Bowl contenders because they beat two sub-par teams. That said, the defense looked a lot more alive than I’ve seen them since the Green Bay game. We’ll see if it holds.
One More For the Road
The New York Giants aren’t nearly as bad as they’re playing but momentum—both within a game and during a season—is a funny thing.
When things are going well, everything seems like it’s going your way. When a few things go wrong, everything seems to go badly.
Nothing can go right for Big Blue right now. Sure, they’ve got injuries on both sides of the ball and a backfield apparently bereft of talent (though if David Wilson was allowed to run a football, not a newborn, that might change), but ultimately they just aren’t playing well.
I coach Pop Warner football and we talk to the kids about breaking the other team’s spirit. Pushing them to the point that they just don’t want to play anymore. It’s not even about pouring on the points—it’s about making them look out on the field and say “seriously? AGAIN?”
Last week the Carolina Panthers—an underrated team in many ways—absolutely broke the Giants. They cracked their will early and then continually pounded them into the turf.
We saw something very similar with the aforementioned Niners and Seahawks in Week 2. It took the Niners at least two weeks to recover, if they really have.
The Giants don’t have that kind of time—even if the NFC East is a mess and really wide open. Another loss—forget two—pretty much makes it almost impossible to make the post-season.
This is a team which needs to pick itself up and fight. To push past the awful three weeks and concentrate on finishing.
My Pop Warner team lost two in a row—two games we shouldn’t have lost and two where, very clearly, we had our spirits broken.
Last week we turned it around with a big win and now it’s a whole new season.
Pee Wee football isn’t NFL football but the idea is the same—the Giants can start it all over with a win against Kansas City this weekend.
Momentum is a funny thing. You never know when it will turn on you, and you never know when it might turn in your favor.
My awesome picks are now 28-20 which is less awesome and more average.
As usual, I already have one win due to the Thursday night game because who didn’t see THAT outcome coming?
Of course, Green Bay and Carolina are off.
Here are the rest of my picks:
Indianapolis over Jacksonville: This one shouldn’t need spelling out. The Colts have way more weapons than the Jaguars.
Chicago over Detroit: Amazingly it’s not the Bears’ defense which swings the vote for me, it’s the Lions’ lack of secondary.
Seattle over Houston: Houston Doesn’t show up for big games, even at home. Add in a banged up Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub being Matt Schaub and it’s a Seattle win.
Cincinnati over Cleveland: Yeah, Cleveland beat an unimpressive Vikings team with a shaky QB situation. Cincy has a great defense and an explosive offense. Advantage Bengals.
Kansas City over New York Giants: I’d like this story to end with the Giants turning things around against the Chiefs and replicating any of their two Super Bowl runs. It’s not going to happen.
Tampa Bay over Arizona: Mike Glennon at quarterback almost makes me flip this pick but I’ll hang on due to the talent around him which the Cardinals largely lack.
Baltimore over Buffalo: Baltimore is really on fire defensively right now and should make EJ Manuel’s day a long one.
Pittsburgh over Minnesota: A long flight and Matt Cassel at the helm behind an under-performing offensive line with a shaky defense? Might be what helps the Steelers turn things around.
New York Jets over Tennessee: I have a hard time buying into the Tennessee Titans. The Jets have a tremendous defense and if Geno Smith can play smart (maybe a big if) the Jets should sit at 3-1 by Sunday night which is almost impossible to comprehend.
Miami over New Orleans—YOUR UPSET SPECIAL: This is all about the defenses and a pick of Miami is out on a limb, though not a thin one. The Dolphins’ defensive front is incredibly good and will give Drew Brees fits. Unfortunately for Ryan Tannehill, the Saints are playing some good defense and his offensive line is plain bad. Still, in the end, this is one where the Dolphins find a way to win in the last two minutes.
Dallas over San Diego: The Charges are really Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this year and while the Cowboys can be just as frustrating, their offense is a lot better.
Washington over Oakland (does this count as an upset?): If Washington had a secondary, maybe. But while they aren’t good, the Raiders are worse.
Atlanta over New England: As much as New England has found a way to win the last few weeks, this is where that luck runs out. Even with Rob Gronkowski (who is still a game time decision at best) this offense doesn’t have enough weapons to take down the Falcons offense.
And that’s it for this week. We’ll be back next week with more from the press box.