If you were looking for the textbook definition of quality football in terms of score and overall competitiveness, you damn sure didn’t get it yesterday, but if you were looking for some old school 1970’s type defensive dominance mixed in with a hint of some 1980’s type offense, you got it. But before I get to my thoughts on the games, I have an apology to make:
Cam Newton. I want to take a minute to apologize to somebody, and that is our old friend B-dub. I was very hard on Cam Newton when he came into the league – I think rightfully so – but this kid seems to now get it. He has matured on so many levels, and he’s become one hell of a Quarterback, maybe the best in the NFL. Oh, and it appears (using an overused cliche) that he’s having fun. And why not?
My hope is that he takes this winning in stride and doesn’t let it get into his head.
Championship Sunday. It is clear two coaches had their teams ready and fired up, it’s also equally clear two coaches didn’t:
AFC. Denver talked the talk then backed it up with walking the walk. They tried to intimidate New England and to a degree they were very successful doing it. Meanwhile, I was expecting a far better game from New England, particularly since Denver beat them earlier in the season.
Denver was CLEARLY the better team, but like Seattle a few years back, the officials gave them a whole lot of latitude to clutch and grab beyond five yards pretty much all game. That’s NOT an excuse – Denver was better and if there was a game plan to combat the Denver defense, I sure as hell didn’t see it. Perhaps that is why Josh McDaniels isn’t an attractive option as a head coach elsewhere?
I’ll talk about this later, but how New England wasn’re ready for this game is beyond me. They simply weren’t prepared. Maybe they fell victim to the hype when Denver struggled with Pittsburgh or something, I don’t know. I can certainly question New England playcalling. Rather than kicking field goals on two fourth quarter drives that ultimately led to nothing, they left six points on the table that were much needed in the end.
What cannot be questioned is New England’s defense who carried the offense on this day.
NFC. The textbook definition of an ass-whoopin!!!
We really don’t need to belabor this – Carolina was clearly the better team and it wasn’t even close. Arizona did their best, but they were hamstrung with a good regular season Quarterback who has no clue how to step up his game in January when the big guns come out.
When the momentum in the 2nd quarter shifted to Arizona, what did they do? They promptly gave it back with the dumb Patterson running attempt to catch a punt compounded with his defensive holding the very next play, and Carson Palmer’s inexplicable reliance of throwing into double coverage. Oh, and the defensive players fighting with each other on the sidelines was a nice touch too. They imploded.
But Carolina is simply playing on a different level, and they destroyed Arizona with three (no four counting Jared Allen’s DNP-CD) defensive starters out. What they are doing is incredible, but I’m a bit concerned by all the injuries particularly Thomas Jones broken arm.
New England. I wonder what the Patriots could have been had the injuries not set in. I truly believe that this is a team that could have and should have went undefeated. I know this is heresy in New England (and you can throw up four Super Bowl rings in my face), but it might be time to start criticizing Belichick.
- Who knew in Week 17 that New England dicking the dog against Miami may very well have hurt them? Does anybody disagree that if the AFC Championship Game was held in New England it would have been drastically different? I don’t. Why the hell didn’t you fight for home field?
- That offense was nowhere near ready to face Denver. Yes, the O-Line struggled, but they handled Kansas City who is a team that is close to Denver in terms of type of defense they have, so how were they not ready for what was to come?
- To be fair, the defense was solid and I was impressed with them. They kept the game from being a blowout and gave Tom Brady chance after chance.
So what does New England need? Honestly? Injuries hurt, but they also have an attitude problem that needs to be checked.
- The losses to Philly and Miami were totally unacceptable. How do you lose to those two and damn near lose to the New York Giants? Arrogance and disrespect of opponent – that’s how.
- Belichick needs to stop being so arrogant – he’s been punked in Denver twice in AFC Championship Games, and Denver came back on them back in Week 12. How the hell he wasn’t ready for the Broncos is inexplicable.
- STOP FUCKING WHINING!!! They are four time Super Bowl Champions and two time Super Bowl runner-ups. The constant whining when things don’t go their way or when they are frustrated or exposed makes them look like the LA Clippers. Denver was right about that and they proved it so. They beat you, accept it, learn the lessons, and move on. Stop whining.
They also need a good doctor, and perhaps a witch doctor to exorcise the injury demons.
Lastly, it might be time to look for a new Special Teams Assistant. They struggled all season with that in highly publicized issues. Gostkowski is great and I don’t want to hear anybody blaming him for this.
Arizona. Arizona is not yet ready for prime time, but they’re close – they’re damn close. It’s gonna take some hard choices to get them there.
Through sheer force of will, Bruce Arians has taken this team as far as they are going to go – as currently constructed and if I’m being honest, they were lucky to get this far. This IS NOT a knock on Arians – I believe he is a fantastic coach that the NFL needs more of, but there is something lacking in Glendale – dynamic QB play, and Arians paid the price for being so loyal to Carson Palmer.
If Arizona doesn’t find a way to get a Quarterback to replace Carson Palmer then the fans down in Phoenix have every right to go off and I hope to see Harvey leading the charge with Torch in one hand, pitchfork in the other. He nearly killed them against Green Bay and he absolutely murdered any chance they had against Carolina with absolutely stupid throws into double coverage while throwing up ducks. He didn’t learn his lesson even after constant reminders by his coach to be true to himself and play his game. If Peyton Manning is hell-bent on playing one more year, if I’m Arizona I’m lobbing him a call. He can’t be any worse than Palmer, if not it might be time to call Kansas City and see what it would take to get Alex Smith.
And just to be clear, I’m not big on that O-Line either, what little confidence Palmer may have had was shattered when they couldn’t contain the defense. They need some depth!!!
I absolutely LOVE the WR corps there, and same with David Johnson at RB. I’m not so much happy with the TE – in that offense, the TE needs to be more of a blocker than a pass dropper. I think the defense is solid. I’m a little concerned about special teams, Patrick Patterson should not be returning punts, but they’re not bad. Lastly, I’d take a bit of a deeper look at the O-Line because they bear some responsibility in this too.
But like New England, I’d also recommend an attitude check, doctors, and witch doctors, but I’d also add depth, particularly at O-Line. I didn’t like the body language when they went down 17-0, and I damn sure didn’t like the defense fighting like middle school girls on the sideline during the NFC Championship Game. Makes me wonder if there’s any veteran leadership there.
Losing Honey Badger (Tyronne Mathieu) might have sealed the Cardinals fate. That d-backfield wasn’t the same.