What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

What We Learned About the NFL Heading Into Championship Weekend

1) Fundamentals Still Matter

If you wanted to know why the two teams many of us had as the favorites to win this playoff tournament will be spending next weekend working on their collective golf swings, the answer is rather simple. It does not matter how many video game/fantasy football numbers your offense posts, it doesn’t matter how far down ESPN’s throat your quarterback’s junk is, the bottom line is that a team simply can’t win in the playoffs when it commits four or more turnovers.  Nothing  kills a team more than giving the ball away.

2) The Importance of the Passing Game is Over-Rated

There is an inviolable rule about play-off football: never count out a team that can a) run the ball and b) play defense. This is the recipe the 49ers, Ravens, and to a lesser extent the Giants all used to get this far.  Fantasy football mentality aside, golfers have a saying for this: You drive for show, and you putt for dough.  In football terms, 350 passing yards doesn’t matter if you can’t get 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line.

3) The Importance of the Passing Game is Over-Rated, Part II

So, you read Item #2 and want to think I’m full of crap. Take a look at the inverse argument: If the passing game is the key to winning in the NFL, then the ability to stop the passing game must also be a key to success.  The trouble is the stats don’t bear that out.

First of all, can you tell me the last time the individual sack leader played on the Super Bowl winning team? Lawrence Taylor in 1986.  Look at this season; Jared Allen racked up 22 sacks and the Vikings defense couldn’t stop a ham sandwich. It’s been a decade since the single-season interceptions leader also hoisted the Lombardi Trophy; Brian Kelly in 2002. It’s been at least two decades since a team led the league in total passing defense on the way to a league title.

If you still think the passing game is what defines success in the NFL, here’s a homework assignment for you. First, give me a hypothesis as to how many more of the last ten Super Bowl winners were in the top 10 in passing yards per game versus how many were in the top ten in rushing yards per game. Then look up the actual numbers and explain why you were as wrong as you were.

4) Pre-game Shows Need To Be Eliminated

Seriously, this is a concept that has outlived its usefulness, and really needs to be relegated to the scrap-heap of television history.

First of all, every single one of them has the same exact formula.  The recipe works like this. To start, you need some hack broadcaster to be the host.  It’s better if he’s fat, balding, or both. To go full-Berman, be sure he’s an obnoxious ass-hat who is the only guy in the room who thinks he’s funny.

Next, get a collection of used-up ex-jocks who neither add anything insightful, yet can be counted on to yield “expert” opinions for everything on the field.  Lord knows, being a defensive lineman for 15 years makes one the pre-eminent authority on wide receiver play in the NFL.

Then, get an ex-coach who fits the following criteria (pick at least two of the following)

  • Is at least a decade past his best career years
  • Wants to use a network to ensure his name keeps coming up whenever there’s a coaching vacancy
  • Needs to use a network to ensure anybody still gives a damn who he is
  • Was successful enough to be considered an “expert,” yet not successful enough to where he’s worried about blowing a legacy by considered completely insane (also known as the “Ditka” rule)
  • Was successful enough to be considered an “expert,” yet will never get another job because he actually is completely insane (also known as the “Gruden” rule)
  • Was successful enough to be considered an “expert,” yet will never get another job because he’s a complete fraud (also known as the “Dungy” rule)
  • Was never successful, but is entertaining because he is guaranteed to have another dramatic public meltdown (also known as the “Herm Edwards” rule)

Secondly, to make your pre-game sh0w more enjoyable, be sure that it shoe-horns   fifteen minutes of usable content into at least an hour of air-time.

About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

18 comments on “What We Learned About the NFL Heading Into Championship Weekend

  1. Speaking of the pre-game show, let’s just hope we don’t see Madonna’s nipple at halftime.

    That should be down around her belt line by now, no?


  2. chappy81
    January 17, 2012

    Well, I’m rooting for the Harbaugh brothers re-match, and if it’s the opposite and we have to listen to Boston and NY media go at it for two weeks, please shoot me now.

    I think the only reason I watch the pre-game show is to find out who is injured for my fantasy team…


    • JW
      January 18, 2012

      How about a battle of the Harbaugh brothers? Instead of going to Disneyland, the winner gets to beat up Jim Schwartz.


      • chappy81
        January 18, 2012

        Ooooh, that might be a good pay per view event immediately following the game!


  3. brief22
    January 17, 2012

    I love what you said about the importance of the passing game being overrated. Going into this week, I kept saying that the new style of the NFL is pass the ball, score points, and win. With the Giants’ and 49ers’ wins, it was revealed that running the ball and playing great defense is still #1.


    • JW
      January 18, 2012

      The spill-over of the fantasy football mentality into the real game drives me crazy.

      Here’s a hypothetical that blows people’s minds…what would Tim Tebow have done if he got to quarterback a good team like the 49ers or the Ravens?

      Discuss amongst yourselves.


      • chappy81
        January 18, 2012

        That just blew my mind!


      • JW
        January 18, 2012

        Strap this one on for size:

        Who does better? Tom Brady quarterbacking the Broncos, or Tim Tebow quarterbacking the Patriots?


      • “Fantasy” is just that: Fantasy. It has nothing to do with which team ends the game with more points. I’ve been watching football since I was 6 (I’m 32 now) and the past three years I’ve told myself that I’m going to participate just so I can see what the big deal is, but then I never do. It’s cool and if it draws casual fans to the game and gets more people to watch that’s fine, but it should never trump the game itself.



  4. Blog Surface
    January 17, 2012

    You never seem to amaze me JW. hehe Another funny, yet interesting post. In terms of the pre-game show, I don’t think I’ve ever watched the whole pre-game, but I do like Chris Carter and Deion Sanders on the mic. Keep it comin!


  5. Bobby Charts
    January 18, 2012

    Agee! When the NFL playoff come sometimes weather is a serious issue, Oak/Pats from years ago comes to mind, try and throw a ball in a huge snow storm! And like the Niners show on Saturday, get even the best QB thinking about what’s coming from him and everything changes! Not no cupcake, get 8 seconds to throw the ball stuff!
    Good read JW!

    We learned a lot from this weekend no doubt!


  6. sportsattitudes
    January 18, 2012

    1. Speed kills. So does turnovers. 2. If the high-powered offenses don’t commit turnovers (see #1), they’re usually ok for the most part. If they do commit them it’s usually duck and cover time. That being said… 3. High-powered offenses often have a difficult time if they don’t score from the 20 on out. In the post-season, playing against better opposition, they need to strike a balance from time to time and actually have a clue how to score inside the Red Zone as well as outside it. 4. If you eliminate pre-game shows you will take away too much of my material. Like Chris H recently said on my blog about sports journalism, if it wasn’t for these jokers people like him, you and I wouldn’t be so popular…we are popular…right? Right?


    • JW
      January 18, 2012

      In the words of Napoleon Dynamite: “We are kind of a big deal.”


    • JW
      January 18, 2012

      And it is true, if it weren’t for the doorknobs in the mainstream sports media, I’d be ranting about…uhhhh….well….something, I’m sure.


  7. sportsglutton
    January 21, 2012

    I for one enjoy the pregame shows, especially ESPN’s. Nothing better than watching a show that is longer, less informative and entertaining than the actual game.


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This entry was posted on January 17, 2012 by in NFL, Sports and tagged , .

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