Two Minute Warning: Roger’s Parity Paradise
Down With Upward Mobility
Parity is an ugly word. It invokes thoughts of words and phrases like mediocre, average, sub par, substandard and second rate. Fans shouldn’t support those concepts. However, the NFL loves the thought of parity. It helps drive ratings, create more fans and spark interest.
I’m sure somewhere in the darkened spaces of University of Phoenix Stadium last February, an overwhelming feeling cleansed the soul of Roger Goodell seeing the wild-card Giants upend the previously unbeaten Patriots. The league’s dream of parity and that anyone can beat anyone on any given Sunday came into sharp focus on the grand stage of the Super Bowl.
I didn’t smile and my victory cigar for seeing an undefeated NFL team went unlit. Instead, I was inundated with Giants fans singing the praises of Eli Manning and their epic pass rush against Tom Brady.
With traditional heavyweights New England and Indianapolis battling serious injuries to key players, the AFC is in total turmoil. I’m left with a notion that makes my blood run cold. What if I turn on the TV on a Saturday in January at 4:15 p.m. and it’s Baltimore hosting Buffalo in the first round on NBC?
These thoughts keep me up at night. Joe Flacco versus Trent Edwards; I wonder if Spike will air another Rocky marathon that day? How about the Jags waking up and making the playoffs to meet Tennessee in a sleep-inducing AFC Divisional playoff game? Perhaps I’ll schedule a walk in the park.
The sad part is I’m in the minority. As Peter King concludes in this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback, since Brady’s injury, television ratings for NFL games have increased. Why?
Fans of teams all over the league, especially in the AFC, believe their team has a chance to win it all now that the mighty gunslinger from San Mateo, California, is on the shelf.
Parity. It’s poison to my soul. The fans eat it up, though, and so do the people at 280 Park Avenue in New York City. Disgusting.
Ten Things We Learned in Week Three
1. The Bronco offense is on pace to eclipse the ’07 Patriots: Another 30 point-plus performance by the Broncos gives Denver 114 points through three games and puts the team on pace to outscore the ’07 Patriots as the high scoring team in league history. Denver’s 38 points per game average puts it on pace to score 608 points this season. Next week’s opponent: Kansas City. I don’t think Jay Cutler and company will have much trouble dropping another 30 spot on the defensively-challenged Chiefs.
2. David Lee is a smart lad: Lee is Miami’s quarterbacks coach and helped play a role in crafting the game plan for the Dolphins’ 38-13 browbeating of the Patriots. Formally the offensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas, Lee used a play setting up the lead tailback in the shotgun and taking direct snaps while the back-up tailback would run in motion to either take the handoff or serve as a decoy. Lee’s two Arkansas tailbacks: Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. The same plays worked for Ronnie Brown on Sunday to the tune of five touchdowns.
3. Randy Moss is not going to have a good season with Matt Cassel as his quarterback: Moss only has six catches through the two full post-Brady games. Cassel obviously struggles running the same stuff as Brady. Throwing deep is a chore and finding Moss open on other plays is not working either. It could turn out to be a long year for Moss in Foxboro.
4. Don’t go gaga over wide receiver transactions during the offseason: Bernard Berrian, Jerry Porter, Javon Walker and Donte Stallworth were all rewarded with big deals during the offseason. The group has combined for eight catches through the first three weeks.
5. The Packers have some work to do with Ryan Grant: Here is the first fantasy casualty of the post-Brett Favre era in Green Bay. Grant doesn’t look like the same back that set the fantasy world ablaze during the second half of the ’07 season. Instead, he looks like nothing more than an average back playing with an inexperienced quarterback. He battled injury during the preseason and does not resemble the same guy. Grant ranks 23rd in rushing and has not scored yet.
6. Miles Austin is probably going to end up on a few fantasy rosters: The Cowboys entered this season with a lack of depth at receiver. Only Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton serve as reliable wide receiver options. However, the team is high on Austin, who eclipsed 100 yards receiving Sunday night in Green Bay and caught a TD pass from Tony Romo. Keep an eye on him.
7. Pittsburgh’s offensive line = not so good: Prior to the season’s start, I spoke with Jerry DiPaula, who is the Steelers beat writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He said Steeler fans should be worried about the team’s offensive line which was unsettled throughout training camp and preseason. Facing a fierce Eagle front line, those concerns rang true as Philly sacked Ben Roethlisberger nine times. Now, with Willie Parker out with a knee injury and Big Ben already banged up with a shoulder ailment, the Steelers line needs to fix itself…or else.
8. Michael Turner likes playing against bad teams: Eight good quarters against the Lions and Chiefs are not going to put me on the Turner bandwagon yet. His next four games are at Carolina, at Green Bay, home versus Chicago and at Philadelphia. Good luck.
9. I heard Trent Green cannot sack the quarterback, make tackles, block oncoming blitzers or sell popcorn: Benching Marc Bulger for a 38-year-old Green, who’ll have a below average offensive line blocking for him, is the sign of a head coach that is on the way out. After all, surely Green can’t help a defense that surrendered 116 points in three weeks. It was nice knowing you, Scott.
10. The Brett Favre project is not working: I’m not sure what people expected three games into a rushed experiment. Favre admittedly is still getting a grasp of the Jet offense. His rust and lack of knowledge has shown throughout the season. Favre’s 70 per cent completion rate is a byproduct of an offense that tries to dink and dunk its way down the field. His limited success typically comes in garbage time.
Fantasy Power Poll
Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Adrian Peterson (1) – AP needs a Turner-esque break in his schedule along with some steady quarterback play. It may be very difficult for him to get either against Tennessee.
2. Brian Westbrook (2) – His ankle injury could sideline him in Chicago on Sunday night.
3. Drew Brees (9) – It’s amazing that a quarterback completes 81 per cent of his passes, throws for 421 yards and still throws for just one touchdown. Nonetheless, a sensational effort from Brees.
4. Brandon Marshall (NR) – The Denver wideout flexed more muscle on Sunday by ripping the Saint secondary for 155 yards and a touchdown.
5. Jay Cutler (NR) – The strong-armed Cutler is vaulting towards the top of the fantasy quarterback charts.
6. Tony Romo (3) – It turned into a quiet night for Romo until the end when he added on a garbage time touchdown pass to Miles Austin.
7. Michael Turner (NR) – Two good games against Detroit and Kansas City; colour me not convinced.
8. Reggie Bush (NR) – He leads the NFL in receptions and is turning into quite the dual purpose back.
9. Donovan McNabb (4) – The Westbrook injury is likely to harm his numbers if it’s long term.
10. Terrell Owens (7) – I don’t think Packer CB Charles Woodson is a fan of getting embarrassed on national television. Hence, he had to play out of his mind against T.O. or else.
Link of the Week
Donovan McNabb described the sack that caused a chest contusion and his subsequent departure from Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh by saying it “felt like when Bruce Lee got kicked in the chest by Kareem.”
McNabb’s reference is towards the 1978 Lee film, Game of Death, a movie in which Lee fights legendary NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the climatic scene. The Lee-Abdul-Jabbar battle ranks in my top five of most unrealistic fight scenes of all-time. Hmm…maybe I’ll have to come with a list for that next week.