Monday, January 24, 2011

Conference Championship Weekend: 11 Things I Know I Know

1. I know this is about as crushing a defeat as I have ever suffered in my sports-watching career. The Jets had huge hopes entering the season, got off to a great start, and then struggled towards the end of the year before rolling off four victories in their last five games, including two in the playoffs. They got my hopes up coming into the AFC title game only to throw a stink bomb of a first half before trying to fight back late. Just brutal.
Now, in my conscious life (since I was five years old in 1988), my teams have never won a championship. The Jets, Mets, Nets, and Islanders are now a combined 0-for-89. Awesome.
2. I know Caleb Hanie must be regretting his decision to rock a mustache during his 15 minutes of fame. Really, Caleb, a moustache? We all know you had no plans to be seen or heard today, but anything can happen in the NFL playoffs. This should be a lesson. By the way, I'm giving Jay Cutler the benefit of the doubt with regard to his injuries. I trust if he was able, he would have been on the field.
3. I know that both Green Bay and Pittsburgh set the tone for the day with dominating opening drives. The Packers went down the field for a touchdown in five minutes while establishing the pass. It took the Steelers nine minutes to do the same while establishing the run.  Both of their respective opponents made valiant comeback efforts but could not recover after falling behind early.
4. I know it's not a good sign when your defense has a better shot of making an explosive, field position-changing play than your offense does. Unfortunately for Chicago, this was the exact case. While we are on the subject, Aaron Rodgers' tackle of Brian Urlacher on the interception was the key play of the game.
5. I know the Jets did not score an offensive opening quarter touchdown since Week Four. You can only come from behind so many times.
6. I know conference championship Sunday featured an incredible display of linebacking talent. Chicago had Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Green Bay countered with Clay Mathews, Desmond Bishop, and AJ Hawk. Pittsburgh had Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, and James Harrison. New York offered Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, and David Harris. Wow.
7. I know the sack/fumble of Mark Sanchez at the end of the first half was the biggest play of the game, but it could have and should have been avoided. With the Jets facing 2nd-and-17, they should have let the half expire. Instead, they rushed their second down play (an incompletion) setting up the sack/fumble and the game. It amazes me how often coaches botch end of half play-calling.
8. I know Todd Collins should not be in the NFL. Clearly Lovie Smith knows this too as he benched his backup quarterback after only two series. I just don't understand what those two drives told us that everyone in the organization didn't already know.
9. I know Jason Taylor should follow Collins out the door. It was an impressive 14-year run, but it's time to hang them up. Taylor failed to make any impact whatsoever in weeks.
10. I know Peyton Manning is a commercial whore. How else can he justify agreeing to dress up in bubble wrap shoulder pads while giving an interview into a bubble wrap microphone. Learn to say no.
11. I know the Packers will defeat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Green Bay's offense is nearly unstoppable (imagine if they had a solid running back), and their defense can shut down the passing attack of Pittsburgh. I'm taking the Pack and laying any number of points Vegas asks of me.
"11 Things I Know I Know" is my feeble attempt to trump the untrumpable's Peter King and his "10 Things I Think I Think" which happens to be my favorite article each week.


  1. I completely disagree with the Jay Cutler statement. And nothing anyone says - including the absolute clear lies coming out of Urlacher's mouth postgame that he actually thinks Cutler is tough and doesn't complain - will sway me to think otherwise. If Phillip Rivers can play through a game with one ACL, Cutler can play with a bruise. Absolutely quit on his team because he was having a bad game. Easy way out. His MRI better reveal at the very least a torn ACL, but him standing on the sidelines, lazily riding a bike, and walking around in pads and a coat is a clear indication he was fine and could've come back in the game if he had insisted - he wanted no part of it. I don't care if it wasn't really clear, or I'm just assuming - with his history of garbage, he quit. I think you should update your mock draft, Bears are looking QB next year first round.

  2. I knew there would be plenty of articles to read about Cutler to entertain me today, heard Mike Golic went off on ESPN Radio this morning and here is the first I saw on today:

    "Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, a future Hall of Famer, tweeted, "I have to be crawling and can't get up to come off the field. Josh Freeman would not come out. Meds are available ... " A few minutes later when the Bears sent their third-stringer, Caleb Hanie, in to the game and Cutler was therefore ineligible to return, Brooks tweeted, "There is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart."

    Another future Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders, said, "I never question a player's injury, but I do question a player's heart."

    Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett tweeted, "If I'm on the Chicago team Jay Cutler has to wait 'til me and the team shower [and] get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room."

    Mark Schlereth, the former lineman and current ESPN analyst, said via Twitter, "As a guy [who has had] 20 knee surgeries you'd have to drag me out on stretcher to leave a championship game."

    But what sticks out is that Brooks, Sanders, Dockett and Schlereth have all played in the Super Bowl. All but Dockett won at least one Super Bowl. Expanding the picture even more, it's clear Cutler has a credibility problem, and not because he's not popular with the media. Those tweets are a small sample of what was communicated about Cutler and his failings during the NFC Championship Game.

    A lineman who played more than a dozen years and won multiple Super Bowls told me after the game that he was stunned Cutler was standing on the sideline, not on crutches, receiving no treatment while his team played on. But we don't hear those Peyton Manning-like stories about Cutler, how he comes early to practice and stays late and works systematically and demonically at getting better. What we hear, even from teammates in both Denver and Chicago, is that Cutler is an arrogant, pouting player who rates himself quite highly. It's a characterization that is believed totally throughout the league, through almost any pro football circle you wander into. And because it's believed wholly that Cutler is a guy with a big arm, an overrated sense of himself and little if any heart, precious few people in Cutler's own fraternity had any sympathy for him during the game.

    It will be interesting, from what we know of Cutler, to see if he even notices."

    ESPN - Michael Wilbon

    I might as well have quoted the entire article at this point, but as I kept reading it just kept hammering the nail down into my point. I feel like everyone including myself feels the same way about this guy, and I don't even know him personally. I just remember when he was drafted 11th overall how he came into camp declaring he had a better arm than Elway. Why would you come into a place as a rookie and immediately claim any part of your game is better than the greatest player of that franchise before you take a snap? He's always come off as cocky, but this type of stuff is crucified in the NFL, if you show you have no heart - there's no way you'll get any respect. I can't see anyone on that team having his back or wanting to have him in that locker room next season. I think it'll be really interesting to see what happens this offseason, I can't see him lasting - And to be honest, he wasn't even close to the reason that team was in the playoffs or in the Championship game. Addition by subtraction if he's gone next year.

  3. "We gave it a go that first series [in the second half], but I really couldn't plant and throw," he said. "So they kind of pulled me.

    "I was going to keep playing. But they made the decision that giving Todd a shot would better suit the team."

    So they kind of pulled me.... Haha I thought that was great. What a great leader.

  4. Yesterday, I gave Cutler the benefit of the doubt bc his teammates had his back (namely Urlacher whom I respect a lot).

    Now that we know it was only a sprain (really don't care how bad, it's still a sprain), I am giving Cutler nothing. Let the crucification continue.

    He had to know that his backups were Todd "I am the worst quarterback in the league, even Sage Rosenfels has more talent than I do" Collins and Caleb "Pornstache" Hanie who attempted 14 passes in 3 years in the league.

    Your point about Elway is a great one. He has always come across as a brash, "I'm better than you" kind of prep school kid despite winning nothing in college (granted his Vandy team sucked but still) and nothing meaningful in the pros.

    If you are going to talk the talk, you better back it up. Cutler hasn't. The Bears needed Cutler, and he crumbled.