Monday, October 3, 2011

Passing is way up, except where it's way down. (Snap! Judgment)

SNAP! Judgment gives you actual football commentary from a person who watched nearly 75% of one game from that week...

As always, my brief commentary about each team comes in alphabetical order, because I'd hate for you to have to waste time finding the team that you love solely because it's located in the closest geographical proximity to you and/or within the arbitrary lines drawn hundreds of years ago to designate the territory you now reside in.

As an added bonus, this morning, Dan Patrick continued what has become a mantra among the "sports" "media": that there's too much passing going on and that'll hurt teams because...

... well, nobody explains why focusing on one area of the game as opposed to another means that a team will inevitably be hurt, but I decided that I would fact-check people who claim there's too much passing going on by noting, for each team, how many yards that team had passing through yesterday, and then how many that team had, total, last year.

You'll see how it works:

Arizona Cardinals: (2011 Passing: 972 yards total; on pace for 3,888 yards this year. Last year: 2,921 yards total. Up.) As I started writing this, I was pretty sure Arizona played yesterday, and a check of the site confirms that yes, they lost to the New York Giants. So have they won yet? Sure: they beat Carolina in Game 1. That's what $120 million to Larry Fitzgerald gets you: you get to beat Cam Newton.

Atlanta Falcons: (2011: 1,042 yards: Pace: 4,168. 2010: 3,567. UP.) The league's most boring team barely beat a team owned by one of the world's most reprehensible "human" beings. Maybe making the playoffs as the NFC South winner isn't all its cracked up to be?

Baltimore Ravens: (2011: 939 yards. Pace: 3,756. 2010: 3,335. Down.) Why does everybody love the Ravens? Aren't they the NFL's version of Bridesmaids? A nice story that ultimately you don't care about all that much? Because when it comes right down to it, as much as people want to say we support women-centric raunchy comedies, The Hangover 2 about doubled Bridesmaids worldwide gross, and ultimately, the Ravens aren't around when the Super Bowl is airing. Also: 3 touchdowns on defense against the Jets was a franchise record, which is surprising, because all anyone ever hears about the Ravens (besides "Flacco was adequate") is about their defense. I would've assumed the defensive-TD record was 17 or something.

Buffalo Bills (2010: 1,018. Pace: 4,072. 2010: 3,158. Up, but remember that they were QBd by Captain Checkdown part of last year.) As it turns out, I set the Green Bay game to tape and took the twins to a park, and was at first pleasantly surprised when, many hours, one dinner, and one inadvertent-twin-falling-into-a-lake later, I was able to watch the last two minutes or so of the Bills' attempts to go 4-0 and postpone breaking my spirit for at least another week. Then the redheaded stepchild of the NFL proved themselves incapable of stopping the redheaded stepquarterback of the Bengals. Amish Rifle, meet the Irish Gunslinger, as I can hope they're calling that quarterback for the Bengals. Chan Gailey fell back to earth after imagining he flew too close to the sun when really he was changing the menu at the Arby's where he works in his part time, and I will give $100 to anyone who can find a kicker who actually was iced by the time out called just before kicking.

Carolina Panthers: (2011: 1,339. Pace: 5,356. Seriously? 2010: 2,289. Again, REALLY? Up.) Hasn't he made it clear to you yet? Cam Newton will not win until you pay his dad $150,000. It's right there on the contract Cam knows nothing about. Also, Steve Smith, like Donald Driver, is a player I thought retired. Turns out he didn't. Who knew? Other than his teammates, Carolina fans, everyone else who follows the NFL, etc., I mean.

Chicago Bears: (2011: 846. Pace: 3,384. 2010: 3,015. Down.) Last week's punt return brilliance proved that Lovie Smith gets what the NFL is all about (Hint: entertainment) by preparing a play especially for archrivals the Green Bay Packers (got it, Packer fans? It's the Bears you hate, not the Vikings. The Bears!) This week, nothing of the sort was needed as the Bears simply won, which means it's time to again claim that Lovie Smith is an idiot, Jay Cutler a loser, and Chicago not really a city at all but more of a town. No, it doesn't matter if they won. They have to win brilliant or it doesn't count.

Cincinnati Bengals: (2011: 901. Pace: 3,604. 2010: 3,767. Down.) Curse you, Andy Dalton! Oh, well, Cincinnati's already comparing you to Carson Palmer, and I guess this can be the highlight of your season, beating the AFC's only remaining undefeated team. What haunts me is that it might be the highlight of Buffalo's season. Reports say there was bickering in the locker room at halftime about the offense being ineffective, which has to set some sort of NFL record for a team deciding to cave in on itself; after three and a half games, with a rookie quarterback, you're ready to start throwing people under the bus? Cincinnati doesn't need a new coach. They need an exorcist.

Cleveland Browns (2011: 941. Pace: 3,764. 2010: 3,989. Up.) You know all those people who say "We should be like the English soccer leagues and demote teams that aren't very good"? No? You don't know any of them? Really? You're lucky. They're annoying. So is the fact that Cleveland's still in the league. But at least they gave reporters a chance to say something nice about Matt Hasselbeck. (see below.)

Dallas Cowboys
: (2011: 1,324. Pace: 5,296. 2010: 4,042. Up.) Poor Tony Romo. Imagine what it's like to realize that unless you almost literally die during the game, people are going to hate you. I mean, it's warranted because Romo is awful, but still: they hate him unless he gets seriously injured and then keeps playing, which means that by Week 7, Romo is going to saw off his own foot at halftime just to keep his starting job. But at least he'll be earning all that money, and it'll give Dallas fans something to watch from the standing-room-only hallway they pay $38 to stand in and watch the game on TV.

Denver Broncos: (2011: 896. Pace: 3,584. 2010: 4,038. Down.) This is the game I watched on tape, for two reasons: (1) I wanted to see Tebow play, and (2) I wanted to see if Aaron Rodgers would fall off in the second half again. It's getting kind of personal with me and A-Rodg, and I don't like that. He haunts me.

Anyway, I got to see Tebow run one into the line of scrimmage, and it was sufficiently Jesus-like to keep me wishing that he'd gone to Buffalo, especially now that Obi Wan has gone into whatever tank the Bills store quarterbacks' skills in after four games. And then I got to see Kyle Orton and the Broncos make a game of it for nearly the length of a game, before the Packers went up 49-17 and I turned off the game and went to bed. Apparently, I missed a final meaningless score and possibly a final meaningless attempt to go for two, which was doomed to fail because teams never go for two, leaving points on the field, as they say. Denver's 1-3, though, so Tebow's the starter by week 8.

Detroit Lions: (2011: 1,205. Pace: 4820. 2010: 3,810. Up.) Lions QB Matt Stafford, by playing yesterday, played in four consecutive games for the first time in his career; looks like the Lions' plan to ship him to games FedEx worked. That, or Stafford touched Romo prior to this season and passed on the injury bug, Rogue-like, to Tony.

Detroit has beaten Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota, and now Dallas on their way to 4-0. Those teams are 5-9 so far, and while I hate when people compare stuff like that, because part of the reason those teams have 9 losses is because Detroit gave them 4 of them, it's still something to think about. I know their 8-0 in their last 8 games, but I don't believe a team is really good until they prove their really good for more than 4 games. Sometimes that leaves me skeptical even as the Saints go on to win the Super Bowl, but it also means that I'm not Peter King trying to make a zillion predictions just to cover my butt.

Green Bay Packers: (2011: 1,279. Pace: 5,116. 2010: 4,124. Up.) Phil Simms: explain that god-dang penalty. There was an illegal shift penalty that called back a significant Denver play, and Phil Simms blathered on about this and that and the other thing and never bothered to show a replay of the penalty or explain what the illegal shift was. This, after Simms had shown us some "double move" by a receiver about 18 zillion times. If they're not there to explain the game, why do we have announcers? Just show the game and play music over it. That would be awesome.

Simms did say that The Anointed One admitted in a pregame interview that the Packers' offense tends to go cold late in games, which backs up what I've been saying. Only they didn't last night, did they? So maybe I'm wrong. (Hint: I'm not.) Also: I said that Packers' Coach Mike "Mike" McCarthy won me over last year by actually coaching his team through the playoffs, and last night showed again that he's actually a good coach. Taking the lead 14-2 after a turnover pick-6, McCarthy chose to gamble and keep his worrisome defense off the field by calling an unexpected onside kick that the Packers recovered. Conventional wisdom after a turnover is to call a deep play on the theory that the defense isn't ready because they weren't expecting to go on the field. Here, Woodson's pick-6 meant that the special teams weren't expecting to go on the field, and so McCarthy's move was both conventional and brilliant, and it paid off.

Houston Texans: (2011: 926. Pace: 3,704. 2010: 4,144. Down.) Houston won? Whatever. Houston never matters, even this year. Everyone thought that with Manning counting his $100 million while resting on a neck pillow, Houston had a shot. Everyone forgot (a) Matt Hasselbeck, and (b) Houston is still Houston.

Indianapolis Colts: (2011: 492. Ha! Pace: 2,624. Last year: 4,609. Down.) Plays tonight. Not that it matters. Word is they're going to start Curtis Painter, turning the Colts from "Last year's Titans" to "Last year's Colts Second String." Six of one...

Jacksonville Jaguars: (2011: 550. Pace: 2,200. 2010: 3,065. Up.) The Jaguars are averaging less than 150 yards per game passing. That's not necessarily because of a run-based attack. Yes, they're 3rd in the league with 31 attempts per game, and 28th in the league with 28 passing attempts per game, but that's still a pretty balanced average, 31-28 runs-passes. They're just bad at football: they're tied for 21st in the league in plays from scrimmage and 18th in time of possession. So either they're bad at football, or their game plan is "let's don't have the ball, ever."

Kansas City Chiefs: (2011: 639. Pace: 2,556. 2010: 2,968. Down.) The first win is the hardest to get under your belt. Also, the next 12.

Miami Dolphins: (2011: 950. Pace: 3,800. 2010: 3,527. Up.) Chad Henne got injured, so if you thought there was any way Miami could have even fewer hopes of ever being interesting and/or winning, your question just got answered.

Minnesota Vikings: (2011: 619. Pace: 2,476. 2010: 3,097. Down.) I also would have accepted McNabb as a QB in Buffalo. What's going on up in Minnesota? My guess is "wanting to move the team this year," as my friend from Minnesota tells me the state won't pony up to build a new stadium, because, surprisingly, states feel perhaps they should not have to pay billions for teams to make billions while states generate, in return, perhaps some intangible returns? In short, Vikings fans, if your team moves, it's because Jerry Jones paid for his stadium out of his own pocket, and also because Minnesotans seem insufficiently gullible to make that a viable plan by being willing to pay $38 to stand in a hallway.

New England Patriots*: (2011: 1,539. Pace: 6,156. 2010: 3,847. Up.) I saw where Deadspin said Brady was Sanchez-like. So Brady's dating 17-year-olds now? Thanks, I'll be here all week. God, I hate the Patriots*

Note: the record for passing yards in a single year is 5,084, set by Dan Marino. In 1984. Only one person has even come close to matching that, Drew Brees in 2008. So in 27 years, despite all the rules changes that are constantly bemoaned, nobody's come close to throwing as much as Marino did in 1984, according to the NFL's obnoxious, pdf-only way to find that out.
New Orleans Saints: (2011: 1,340. Pace: 5,360. 2010: 4,441. Up.) The Saints beat Jacksonville, but that's really all I know. Apparently, I'm only supposed to be paying attention to Tampa Bay in that division this year.

New York Giants: (2010: 982. Pace: 3,928. 2010: 3,885. Up.) Won again, and continue to be ignored again in that division as everyone watches Philadelphia and Dallas implode and waits for Daniel Snyder to sue Rex Grossman for defamation. Nobody probably paid attention because they only beat Arizona, which hardly counts.

New York Jets: (2011: 948. Pace: 3,792. 2010: 3,242. Up.) So on the NFL channel, I caught the guys asking "which 2-2 playoff team do you like" or something equally nonsensical, and they all chose Pittsburgh over the Jets because "something about righting the ship or defense or something." (note: Not an exact quote.) So how quickly does Jets coach Rex Ryan bench Sanchez? I say week 6 if they lose in week 5.

Oakland Raiders: (2011: 915. Pace: 3,660. 2010: 3,180. Up.) I was watching the scores as I watched the Packers help make Tebow the eventual starter in Denver, and rooting for the Raiders to beat the Patriots* because God, I hate the Patriots*, and also because then the Bills would still be in first, and when I told Sweetie what I was doing, she said "I don't think the Raiders are necessarily the team you want to be relying on." Exactly.

Philadelphia Eagles: (2011: 1,085. Pace: 4,340. 2010: 3,906. Up.) Good. They're 1-3. Good. Don't sign dog killers. Also, dream teams don't work in the NFL. Didn't Daniel Snyder make that clear?

Pittsburgh Steelers: (2011: 1,062. Pace: 4,248. 2010: 3,601. Up.) Roethlisberger is injured. Romo is injured. That guy from Houston went out with an injury, the receiver everyone pretends is good. Remember how I said we'd see a rash of injuries? Why am I not being paid to provide these opinions? I could get into that, getting paid to just think stuff up and then say it. I mean, that's what I do in my real job, as a lawyer, but then judges keep saying stuff like "That's completely inaccurate" or "how are you not disbarred yet?" So sportswriter it is.

San Diego Chargers: (2011: 1,255. Pace: 5,020. 2010: 4,519. Up.) Remember how I said Philip Rivers is the 32nd worst QB in the league? He's currently ranked 17th in touchdowns, 13th in QB rating, and 14th in sacks. But he's first ... in interceptions, with six.

San Francisco 49ers
: (2011: 710. Pace: 2,840. 2010: 3,356. Down.) 49ers Coach Harbaugh gave credit for the win to... his decision to stay in Youngstown, Ohio, after last week's game against Cincinnati. The NFL' s a copycat league: Look for other teams to immediately book flights to Youngstown. Harbaugh did that to avoid flying back across the country, only to fly back to Philadelphia this week. Total flight time, San Francisco to Philadelphia? 5 hours, 19 minutes, according to this site. (That seems long, but I'll go with it.) Youngstown is 301 miles from Philadelphia, so if the 49ers drove there, the travel time is identical. It's a 1-hour flight, so Harbaugh saved his team 4 hours in the air. (The 49ers still have to travel the five hours' flight home this week.) That was the difference in this game. Four hours of flight time.

Seattle Seahawks: (2011: 746. Pace: 2,984. 2010: 3,341. Down.) I hope they go 1-15, so that they're not immortalized as being all-time bad, but are just regular bad. In the meantime, while 0-4 seems like they're out of it, remember that 7-9 wins this division last year.

St. Louis Rams: (2011: 748. Pace: 2,992. 2010: 3,268. Down.) Really, the Rams were in a position to go 8-8 and make the playoffs last year. Now they're 0-4 and have to go 8-4 the rest of the season just to better their record. But what does Sam Bradford care? He's got $50 mil, guaranteed, so who cares if he's 26th in yards per game, and making bad choices, as evidenced by his 30th-ranked QB rating. You can't buy wins by paying one player a ton of money. All that does is make that player not care how they do, while surrounding him with bargain-basement players. Bradford counts $22 million against the salary cap this year. That's more than 1/5 of the Rams' total cap number, and nearly 2 1/2 times Steven Jackson's cap number. The salary cap is $120 million this year, so Bradford is 1/6 of the maximum salary cap for the Rams -- who have chosen to spend only $100 million on players anyway. It doesn't matter, in the end, if Bradford is great -- because he's got nobody around him. (See also: Indy.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (2011: 669. Pace: 3,568. 2010: 3,361. Up.) I'm supposed to be excited about them. But I'm not.

Tennessee Titans: (2011: 1,122, Pace: 4,488. 2010: 3,107, but that was with old Moustachey-y Pete trying to prove something to Vince Young. Up.) Matt Hasselbeck got yet another win! You know what? He's put together a pretty nice little career: Super Bowl appearance, couple of playoff appearances, currently 8th in the league in yards and 4th in QB rating. Even if you thought he wasn't the greatest in the world, why would you let him go in favor of Tarvaris Jackson? Unless you sold your soul to the devil so you could afford a $160,000,000 yacht, I mean, and it was payback time? (Note: I'm not saying Jackson has any affiliation with the Devil. Only Paul Allen.)

Washington Redskins: (2011: 917. Pace: 3,668. 2010: 3,914. Down.) Rex Grossman has thrown for more touchdowns (6) than Jay Cutler, Kevin Kolb, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Matt Cassell, Donovan McNabb, Sam Bradford, Ben Roethlisberger, and Josh Freeman. All of those guys get more credit than Grossman, but among them, only Roethlisberger has a Super Bowl ring, and only he, McNabb and Grossman have been to the Super Bowl. Rex Grossman and Tom Brady each have thrown 5 interceptions this year.

I'm not saying Grossman is the greatest quarterback ever. But you hear nothing but good stuff about all those other guys, and nobody says anything nice about Grossman. Why?

Final tally: I got twenty Ups which means 12 downs, which seems to me somewhat inconclusive -- wouldn't rule changes mean that all teams should be up? Or at least more than 2/3 of them? We'll see.

ALSO: Starting next week, I am going to declare one or more teams dead for the season -- no hopes for anything, and no reason to talk about them on Snap! Judgment. Watch for who I'll be totally wrong about each week!

Tonight's Monday night football matchup:





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