The more I digest the Stink Bowl, the more I gravitate toward the conclusion that MVP should have gone to none other than Cheatin' Pete Carroll.
Seattle dominated as a team, as in all 3 phases of the game. The most stunning stat may be that they did this with 341 yards of total offense. Subtract Harvin's kickoff return and early end-around from the totals and you have a meagre 234. Yet they scored on each first-half possession. It's a testimonial to Seattle's defense as much as it is to their domination of a team that showed up with a loaded gun pointed at its foot, opened by making an unforced mistake, and never stopped making mistakes, though aided largely by Seattle's defense from that point.
Denver's 4 turnovers were incredible, all the more so as 3 of them came from Manning and 1 from Thomas. None, of course, should have happened. Manning's 3 should have all been sacks as he realized he had nowhere to go with the ball and no time to find it. Thomas' was reminiscent of a play in the very similar Alabama upset of mighty Miami in 1993, back when the SEC was considered chicken feed for the South Florida semipro machine. You may recall George Teague stripping the ball from another shocked Thomas (Lamar) at the tail end of what looked like an 89-yard TD bomb from Gino Torretta.
But Dennis Erickson proved no match for Gene Stallings in preparing his team to finish its 2nd consecutive undefeated season. Miami was absolutely ambushed by 'Bama.
Flash forward to last Sunday. John Fox has been around. His Carolina teams were good until something funny happened. Jake DelHomme developed an incurable case of the Pix, a disorder which ultimately ended his career. Said career was prolonged for several seasons by Fox's inexplicable dedication to his faded QB. This year, with Jack Del Rio to run his defense and Peyton Manning to run his offense (Trivia question --- who's Denver's OC? Stumped? Matt Gase. Still stumped?) the Old Fox could finally just sit back and dispense ageless wisdom.
Meanwhile in Seattle, Pete Carroll was not only managing his team's growth, he was feeding it. His GM John Schneider surely won't make a move without Carroll. And in that light, the defense-minded Carroll assembled a defensive backfield so deep that nothing seems able to break it. It's a great focus on what has become a critical area in a passing league. Perhaps his stint at USC has given him drafting insight lacking in others. Whatever... it's working.
But something else is working. Though Carroll's offensive game plans are what one might call mundane at times (as in most of the time), his ability to motivate his team is without question. The bubbly, overbearing cheerleader has grown up. His players love him.
But it doesn't end there. John Fox isn't unpopular with his players. But he was clearly no match for Carroll in either game planning or team inspiration, areas the old pro should have dominated. He proved that as clearly as Erickson proved he wasn't a match for Stallings in 1993.
There are 32 teams in the NFL. It's the cap era. What are the odds that one 13-3 team would dominate another 13-3 team at every position (which is exactly what happened) due to talent? About as good as those of one major college football factory doing it to another. Less, actually.
It's coaching. While Seattle seized the advantage given them by Denver early on, Denver seemingly kept thinking it would all pass and things would just return to normal. They stayed the course rather than stem the tide. Seattle, meanwhile, refused to let up. That's a ready team. Even after everything seemed to go wrong for Denver in the first half, how many thought it must be a fluke and geared up for a 2nd-half comeback by an embarrassed and mad-as-hell Bronco squad? A lot, if I recall my surroundings correctly and extrapolate. How many still thought so after Harvin's 87-yard TD? Still a rare few I'd wager.
It never happened. Denver had already quit. That is a huge indictment of the team and its coach. It is also a vindication of Seattle's skill, but even more of its team persona. Champions don't quit. That's a given. Seattle not only didn't quit, they didn't even pause long to catch their breath.
Credit for that goes to Carroll on both possible counts, first for building a team that could frustrate the paper horse into early submission, second for coaching a team that never lost its single-minded focus.
In that light, Carroll did something even Belichick hasn't done. Belichick won his three rings with a defense (and a secondary) largely assembled during the tenures of Parcells and Carroll. Since that time he's drafted well, but never for his secondary, and his teams have become offense-oriented. It's well known by now that Parcells never won anything big without Belichick at his side. The other side of the coin may be that Belichick hasn't won the big one without Parcells drafting his defense. Or Carroll.
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. The big game is over and Seattle convinced me that they are the best team in football. A few weeks ago…I wrote this:
The Super Bowl will be a study in contrast. Seattle has earned the right to be considered a great defense. They have the athleticism, aggressiveness and sure tackling to be called an elite defense. When you add the beast mode of Lynch it is hard to say that they should not have the advantage in the cold of New York. Much will be made about the weather and how Peyton Manning has struggled in the past. The one aspect of the weather that I think will affect this game is the wind. Cold and windy has to bring an advantage for the Seahawks. As I think about this game, there is one thing that continues to make me think that Denver will win; Julius Thomas. Who does Seattle have to cover this guy? Denver has so many weapons, that it is not a matter of just shutting down the wide receivers. My guess is that ultimately, the experience of Peyton Manning will beat the inexperience of Russell Wilson.
A week before that, I wrote this:
The odds are that whichever team wins this game will be losing to the NFC in the Super Bowl. Remember that defense wins championships…right?
I remember thinking that and I remember writing it. Somehow, my heart convinced my head that Denver could beat the Seahawks. All season, I watched Manning destroy defense after defense. It just seemed to be right that Denver would win the Super Bowl. But, just as Brady was unable to cap off his great season with a championship…Manning and his Broncos fell a game short as well. Honestly, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice in their prime would not have defeated this Seattle team. The Seattle Seahawks proved that they are one of the best teams in history. As much as I wanted to see Peyton Manning win another championship, it is fitting that this Seahawks team won. Despite Richard Sherman’s outburst a few weeks ago, this group of players is a team…and a damn good one. Russell Wilson will probably never pass for 5000 yards and the beautiful thing is he won’t have to. The Seahawks have figured out the key to winning is to play together. The key to beating Denver and any team with a great QB is pressure up the middle. There is no question that Seattle did this better than any team this year. Honestly, I am short of adjectives to laude on this Seattle defense. Their performance in the Super Bowl puts them on the short list of great defenses.
I read an interesting article about Pete Carroll before the NFL season started. He approaches the game much differently than most coaches. He is lose, but focused on making his team better. His method is different, but effective. Just when I get to the point when I must concede that he is a very good coach, I happened to hear him talking about the Super Bowl being just like it was when he won at USC. Arrogant and annoying are the words that come to mind when I think about Pete Carroll. Well, even if I don’t care for him…I must say that the man can coach. Now, the question will be how many championships can Seattle win? Or, can they even win their conference next season? This is a young team that really could go on a run of wins. But the difficult part is maintaining focus and staying healthy. The other thing that Seattle will face is other teams signing away their players. Now dominating defense will be in vogue and other teams will begin to play the copycat game. Honestly, I don’t blame them. It will be interesting to see if the offensive numbers continue to flourish or whether the emphasis on defense will bring a downturn. I know that if I am John Elway and John Fox that I don’t wait long until I have a meeting to plan on revamping their defense. Boy…that will be big job.
One of the things that I firmly believe is that you can learn more about a person in a loss than in a victory. It is easy to smile, shake hands and sign autographs after winning a big game. It is entirely something else after suffering a big loss. Many have been quick to criticize Peyton Manning after the loss to the Seahawks. Does winning or losing really change the ability of Manning? Players and coaches seem to understand the greatness of Manning if some fans do not. The Patriot writer Tom Curran routinely asks Tom Brady to review his ballot for the league awards each year. When Brady saw that Curran had Brady down as the MVP…he told Curran that the MVP should be Peyton Manning. Curran made the change. Richard Sherman came to Peyton Manning’s defense on twitter as many fans were lambasting Manning. Sherman admonished the fans by saying Manning is still a great player and a future HOFer. Sherman also related that Manning found him after the game to check on his injury…because that is who Peyton Manning is.
Imagine for a moment that you are Peyton Manning and you have just walked off the field after losing the Super Bowl. Because you are Manning, you are expected to talk to the media. After answering questions about losing the game, you begin the long trip to the locker room. Along the way, a beer vendor respectfully requests an autograph. What would you do? Manning told the man (Steve Lopez) that he would come back after he changed. Lopez waited and Manning came back and gave him an autograph…because that he who Peyton Manning is. I don’t spend much time wondering about the order of great players. I only know one when I see one. Bum Phillips used to say when asked where he would rank Earl Campbell among great running backs…"I don’t know if he is in a class by himself, but when that class gets together, it does not take long to call roll." A player’s legacy is something that is left when they finish playing. It is folly to determine a legacy before their time is done. In my heart, I know that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will forever be linked as great QBs, competitors and friends. In many ways, the relationship reminds me of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. These guys understand just how difficult it is to win in the NFL. They recognize that winning a Super Bowl is not as much about them as it is about their team.
We are witnessing a golden age of QB play and many are too enamored with the drama to understand this. If Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick win 5 Super Bowls, will they be better than Manning or Brady? For my money, they are not even close. But, it is not fair to make this guess before the body of work is complete. To judge Peyton Manning before he is done is similarly unfair. To Peyton Manning’s credit, he simply does not take the bait when asked about an embarrassing loss…because that is not who he is. But for me…it shows me who those are that ask these types of questions. For those that refuse to acknowledge the greatness of a player such as Manning…it is more about you than Peyton Manning.
Great teams win Super Bowls…not players. Just ask Eli…
The 2014 NFL season is over. There is no question that the best team won. I would be remiss to not take a moment to tip my hat to the greatness of the champs! A tip of the hat to the Seahawks for a job well done…
With the talk of great QB’s, I saw something this week that was something else. Do you remember the big lefty QB from Kentucky a few years back named Jared Lorenzen? You may remember that he won a Super Bowl ring while backing up Eli Manning. In case you have not seen him recently, I wanted to give you the big man that can…
I have to give it to Jim Rome…he has the quote of the year for me. "The XFL had He Hate Me. The CIFL has He Ate Me." Now…tell me you aren’t laughing at that! Too funny!!
Although today is National Signing Day for college football, my focus has shifted to baseball. It should give a warm thought to my northern friends to hear that pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training as early as Friday. My son’s first college baseball game is on Valentine’s Day. So, I will be bringing weekly updates on the UTPA Broncs as they progress through their season.
While I am on college baseball…did you see that Jameius Winston was named as a pre-season All American? I think it is great that Winston is allowed to play baseball at Florida State…but a pre-season All American? It is clear that Winston’s success on the football field has given him an edge on this season. Here are Winston’s stats from last year:
At the plate, he hit .235 with seven doubles, three triples and 21 runs scored. Winston made 22 starts in the outfield and 10 at designated hitter.
On the mound, the right-hander went 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA and two saves, striking out 21 batters in 27 innings. His fastball can touch 95 mph.
Coach Martin indicates that he plans for Winston to be the Seminole closer as well as playing some outfield and being a designated hitter. It sounds like Winston will be a busy man this spring. This is a very good team and Winston may have the chance to live up to his preseason hype. It could be that another QB is talking about Omaha before this year is over.
He might want to tuck that glove...
Another bit of baseball news I heard this week is that former NBA player Tracy McCrady is going to take a shot at baseball. He plans to try out with the Sugar Land Skeeters. McGrady is working out as a pitcher and has supposedly had a bit of help from Roger Clemens. Clemens tweeted that McGrady was throwing in the mid 80s and has decent stuff. McGrady says he throws a fastball, split, slider and change-up. If McGrady can really learn to pitch, being 6’8” would have to help. At 34 years old, he has a few good years left in him. Given that he is working with Clemens…who knows, he might pitch for another 10 years or so!
I heard a pretty good joke this week:
Miss Beatrice, the church organist, was in her eighties and had never been married. She was admired for sweetness and kindness to all. One afternoon the ...pastor came to call on her and she showed him into her quaint sitting room. She invited him to have a seat while she prepared tea. As he sat facing her old pump organ, the young minister noticed a cut-glass bowl sitting on top of it. The bowl was filled with water. In the water floated, of all things, a condom! When she returned with tea and scones, they began to chat. The pastor tried to stifle his curiosity about the bowl of water and its strange floater, but soon it got the better of him and he could no longer resist. "Miss Beatrice", he said, "I wonder if you would tell me about this?" pointing to the bowl. "Oh, yes" she replied, "isn't it wonderful? I was walking through the park a few months ago and I found this little package on the ground. The directions said to place it on the organ, keep it wet and that it would prevent the spread of disease. Do you know I haven't had the flu all winter!" The pastor fainted.
I have to add just a few thoughts about the Texas basketball team. After a complete disaster last year, Rick Barnes had to completely remake the 2014 Longhorn team. Although they were picked last in the Big 12, they are suddenly on a very nice run in the Big 12. They have won 7 games in a row, including a big win last Saturday against a tough Kansas team. From what I have heard, Coach Barnes struggled with the group of guys last year. Apparently the group last year resisted coaching and were more interested in playing for themselves than the team. This year it is not the case. Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes present a very strong inside presence that gives Texas a decided rebound advantage each game. Freshman Isaiah Taylor is playing with confidence that has made Texas a tough team to beat. It is fun to be able to follow a team again that plays the game hard. Texas may not win the Big 12...but they are in the conversation now.
That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey...
"If you get invited to your first orgy, don't just show up nude. That's a common mistake. You have to let nudity 'happen.'"
"Don't ever get your speedometer confused with your clock, like I did once, because the faster you go the later you think you are."
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…
How do you spell domination? SEAHAWKS! Seattle Seahawks!
All the hype...All the speculation...All the prognostication...And very few people favored the Seahawks...And no one expected to see them totally dominate Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos...But they did...43-8
How do you show your dominance? Start by winning the coin toss, and giving Manning the ball first...Boom, snap over Manning's head, out of the end zone, Safety! Give us the ball! No problem moving the ball, field goal...Manning and company couldn't seem to get things on track...Another field goal...Manning INT...Seattle TD...Another Manning INT returned 69 yards for a TD from MVP, Malcom Smith...Shutout 22-0 going into the half....
The second half, Seattle picked up where they left off, with Percy Harvin taking the opening kick back 87 yards for a TD...Mix in a couple Denver fumbles...another TD...Then at the end of the third, the Broncos finally get a TD and 2 pointer...So Seattle drove down and fired in another TD...Then let the defense continue shutting the Broncos offense down...
Now it's easy to shit all over Manning...Him and his big stupid blockhead, in those damn Papa John's commercials...Couple of douchebags they are...But this wasn't just Manning throwing picks and going to choke city again...The whole Broncos team was out-played, and out-coached...I never like Carroll when he was at USC, but he's been able to take his winning ways to the NFL...This team bought into his plan...It didn't matter what Denver did...They were beat in every aspect of the game...
All my life I've been taught defense wins championships...Well, even in a NFL that has done whatever it can to make life easier for QB's and offenses, the Seahawks proved the old theory to still be true...
I loved this game...I mean, I've been all in with The Seahawks since I quit the Browns last year...Plus I hate the Broncos, and I hate the Mannings...Many people were complaining about it being a snoozer on Twitter...Well sure it was, if you were rooting for Denver, or just rooting for a close game...But for me, and all Seattle fans, this game was fucking awesome! My favorite Super Bowl!
But it was fun watching Twitter...The commercials seemed to be a letdown for most people...I know I stopped watching them, so I could check Twitter and Facebook...
here's some tweets I enjoyed...
"Brad Johnson still has as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton Manning."
"It's a bad sign when the Pro Bowl is more competitive than the Super Bowl…"
The Fake ESPN
"One Denver Broncos player can change a flat tire by himself. Unless it's a blowout, then the whole team shows up."
"#SuperBowl#blowout - Fox might want to consider telling Erin Andrews to take a shower to keep people tuned in"
After the Don Cheadle llama commercial with all kinds of other shit going on...
"I wish that llama had shit on the elevator"
"John Fox should tell Manning this game is meaningless."
"Is there enough pot in Denver to forget how fucking awful your team has played!?! #Seahawks"
After a shot of Michael Douglas stuffing a hot dog in his face...
It's been roughly a decade since we were last treated to an absolute stinkbomb, but for fans of one-sided Super Bowls this ranked among the best. For most fans outside of Seattle, it ranked somewhere behind the disgusting Puppy Bowl (which I watched for about 3 minutes until my son started to growl). I hear the Kitten Bowl was good. Would have checked the Fish Bowl but my cable box lost its marbles at halftime, probably from trying to digest what it had been forced to present for the prior 60 minutes or so. It was in for more.
It wasn't Seattle's fault. They came prepared, confident and loose. Unfortunately, the only gauge we truly have on how good they were is that they were competent. Denver saw to that with an absolutely disgraceful imitation of pro football.
Of course, the spin machine will tell us that Russell Wilson changed the game (he was ok), that the Seattle defense is the 85 Bears reborn (they were good), and that Pete Carroll is the new genius of the NFL (he was very good). And Seattle earned their trophy without doubt.
But the real story is Denver, who absolutely failed to show up. From the opening snap, which sailed into the end zone for a safety, they were playing like animated tackling dummies, with (as Lola would say) the emphasis on the latter. It was one of the few remotely recent games essentially over at halftime, and guaranteed done within seconds of the third quarter. At that point, Seattle's offense had scored one touchdown and the score was 29-0. Denver's offense had scored as many points on Seattle's behalf.
If there's a single key to this pathetic ambush, it's the absolute dominance of Carroll over John Fox. Cheatin' Pete had his troops as ready to play as any gang of rah-rah college kids, no mean feat in a league of privileged multimillionaires. John Fox was what we feared he was --- a figurehead. And in the end, his coordinators proved a poor match for Carroll and his staff.
There's no point going over the details. If not for some absurdly conservative decisions early on by Seattle it could have been over earlier. Yes, they were, shockingly, getting the better of the calls as blatant interference was overlooked a couple of times in the red zone, possibly an early dagger to Denver's hopes. But Denver was deflated far too easily. They met adversity butt-on.
Seattle's defense is good, perhaps great, but nobody's that good. It's clear that the Jacksonville Jaguars would have put up a better fight. Denver had nothing. By the end of the first quarter their stuffing was strewn all over the field.
There's no point analyzing why Seattle was so good. The story is why Denver was so bad, which is why Seattle was so good. How does this happen?
First and foremost, coaching, as mentioned. Can't overstress that. Everything else is guesswork. So let's guess.
Second may be their inability to come off the cloud of beating New England and Tom Brady as Manning went for his legacy repair job. They may have decided subconsciously that the job was done. Clearly they decided something. No NFL team is that much worse than any other.
Third? Start digging. I for one note that the last time Denver wore orange to a Super Bowl they were beaten even worse. And it didn't help on their prior three trips either. The only times they won, they wore new unis. Their new new unis may look a bit too much like their old ones. A reach? Giving a rational analysis to this massacre is like trying to reason out what happened to Custer. It's at best complicated and at worst futile. Trying to explain ineptitude deeper than level zero is hard because you start at rock bottom.
The only thing Peyton Manning accomplished was to make Wilson look better than he was, which, despite accolades from the desperate Aikman, was competent. That's not hard when you have all day to throw, even to a fairly average receiving corps. In a slugfest, his few mistakes might have been glaring. But it wasn't all Manning's fault. His receivers appeared to be sleepwalking, as likely the result of brilliant defensive strategy as of overwhelming defensive execution, both of which Seattle had. His line couldn't block yarn. His wideout couldn't (or wouldn't) chase down a lumbering linebacker who had stepped in front of him to pick off an errant throw by a half-tackled Manning, and viewers were treated to the bizarre vignette of what appeared to be the slowest unopposed long dash to the end zone in football history. It's the Super Bowl. It's no time for a nap. Going into shell-shock doesn't get it done.
If someone told you Marshawn Lynch would be a minor factor in the game, you'd expect trouble. It wasn't. The Seahawks didn't need him. Denver's ineptitude on offense and defense made them a liability even in the absence of another team. It's a disservice to Seattle, though one I'm sure they'll accept gladly. They won this game with 341 total net yards. In today's NFL that's not enough to beat a doormat.
What are the ramifications of this game? For Seattle, none really. Everyone knew they were good. For Denver, it's huge. They stunk the house out. But for Peyton Manning it's got to be heartbreaking. A week after beating his nemesis, he cemented his legacy of choking in the big one.
He had a lot of help. Ten years from now no one will remember that.
Why couldn't they have played this way last week? That we'd have had a better game is beyond doubt even if, instead of New England, Fresno State had shown up.