:: Here's what I wrote the other day, about the Miami Dolphins' goofy playcalling in their game against the Falcons:
I guarantee that Gregg Easterbrook will have some things to say about the playcalling of the Miami Dolphins. In their game against the Falcons, they were down 17-10 with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter, they were in the red zone, their running game had been going fairly well, the Falcons' defense was looking a little winded, and they faced third-and-two. Obviously, this situation calls for pounding the ball with the running backs; if you somehow don't get the first down on third-and-two you're in a four-down situation anyway. So, of course the Dolphins called a pass play, on which the Falcons intercepted the ball to basically end the game. I looked at the Miami sideline on TV, thinking that for sure I'd see Kevin Gilbride there, but no dice.
And sure enough, here's what Gregg Easterbrook wrote in this week's TMQ:
Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All: Trailing 17-10 with 2:47 remaining, Miami faced third-and-2 on the Atlanta 8. Given the score and the clock, this is a two-down situation -- and if you simply pound, pound, two yards are highly likely. Instead, interception forced into double coverage, and TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook.
What does this prove? Well, that I've been reading Easterbrook's football stuff for years now. And that by not adding me to the coaching staff, the Buffalo Bills are missing out on an important voice of football wisdom!
:: I figure that I should probably take stock of the NFL's current standings versus my predicted order of finish, so here's how things currently stand, with my preseason picks in parentheses after the actual current division leaders. (I also list the three apparent current wildcard leaders, even though there are only two wildcard teams per conference in the end. I do this because I'm just not about to wade through the various tiebreakers to figure out who the real wildcard teams would be if the season ended today.)
AFC East: New England Stupid Patriots (StuPats)
AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals (Bengals)
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts (Colts)
AFC West: Denver Broncos (San Diego Chargers)
AFC Wildcard leaders: Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs (NY Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers)
NFC East: New York Giants (Philadelphia Eagles)
NFC North: Chicago Bears (Minnesota Vikings)
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons (Atlanta Falcons)
NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (Arizona Cardinals)
NFC Wildcard leaders: Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys (Seahawks, Carolina Panthers)
Good news? Four of the six AFC teams I picked to reach the playoffs would be in the playoffs if they started today, with three division winners picked correctly. Bad news? Only three NFC teams that I picked for the playoffs would be there, with only one division winner correct. And the ugly news? I picked Arizona to win a division title. They're 2-6 overall, and 1-3 in their division. Looks like my belief in Denny Green and Kurt Warner somehow making magic in the Arizona desert was the result of some overcooked cannabis.
(No, I don't smoke cannabis. Jeez. Now, where'd I put my brownie? I had it here somewhere....)
Anyhoo, I'm surprised at how the Eagles seem to be in freefall, and I'm equally surprised by the rough road the Vikes have experienced. The AFC East is no longer the tough division everyone thought it was, with the Dolphins rebuilding, the Jets and StuPats riddled with injuries, and the Bills doing whatever it is they're doing to ruthlessly maintain their mediocrity. My Super Bowl prediction is looking fifty-percent wrong: the Colts (my pick to win SBXL) are, clearly, the class of the league so far this year, but the Eagles (my pick to lose SBXL) are on the outside of the playoff hunt and looking in as of this writing.
Oh, and I'm officially in the anti-Terrell Owens camp. I liked his brash nature for a while, but now he's just crossed the line way too many times. Sean's probably right, though: somebody will sign him.
And finally, the other day I also complained about an obscure thing in the NFL rules. Another thing that's always bugged me is that if a quarterback throws a receiver screws up a catch and knocks the ball into the air for a defender to nab it, that's considered an interception on the quarterback. That doesn't seem fair. I saw Brett Favre have a classic example of this the other day when the Packers played the Steelers: he tossed a perfect pass to Donald Driver, but Driver misplayed it and allowed the ball to clang off his hands rather than pull in the pass that most high school receivers could grab. The ball was then caught by a Pittsburgh defender, and the pass then counts against Favre's stats. I almost think they should have a stat called the "INT-R", or "Interception on the Receiver", which would (obviously) be a turnover but not count against the QB's stats. Yeah, that's a petty thing, but there it is. (Of course, how do you know if the INT is really on the receiver rather than on the QB? Well, have an Official Scorer or something make the call, like baseball does for errors.)
Oh, and every little girl to enter an NFL stadium on the first Sunday in November should get a pony.
(Hey, I said I should be on the Bills' coaching staff, not that I should be Commissioner of the NFL.)
(Slightly edited after original posting.)