I say the same thing every December but I think it's fitting that the regular season wraps up this time of year. Because for me, the NFL season is sort of like Christmas: Tons of anticipation and then it seems to be over before I know it.
I think this has been my favorite season ever. But then I say that every year too. I admit it, I'm an NFL junkie. And I'm guessing the fact you're reading this in late December puts you pretty far up the NFL Junkie Scale too.
It's OK. They say Recognition is the first step...
Seriously, part of the fun in writing this column is that every week, I know I'll get to share some thoughts with folks like yourself who love football as much as I do. And that strikes me as a very good thing. I've had a blast throwing out my goofy observations this season. And I've smiled at the emails from people telling me they've thought some of the same things as they were watching the games.
Before this turns into a Hallmark card / Winston Wolfe scene, let's get on with this. As I wrap up the regular season in this week 17, I've pulled up some of the more interesting things I remember seeing during the year.
Bottom line is this thing has been a lot of fun to create for you guys. It's my sincerest hope that you've enjoyed reading it 10% as much as I enjoyed writing it. We'll do it again next season. If you've got thoughts and ideas on how this thing can be better, or just want to yell at me about my preseason Lance Kendricks love, feel free to shoot me a line at email@example.com.
Here's to Football,
The Jaguars gave us a déja; vu moment this week releasing soon to be $9 million dollars richer quarterback David Garrard days before the season opened. Coach Jack Del Rio had the comedy line of the week with "I can say that this decision was pure football."
Garrard still hasn't landed with another team and he's suddenly playing hard to get talking about only wanting to go with a team where he can get a championship and such.
You got cut by Jacksonville.
For Luke McCown.
Take what you can get.
The Footballguys Players Championship Online Contest was a big success this year with right at 3,000 teams signed up. We partnered with our friends that run the FFPC and they did a great job. The FFPC held their live draft event in Las Vegas last week and it was fantastic. Where else are you going to see team co-owners sporting Bubby Brister jerseys?
Houston kicker Neil Rackers has a double strap padded chin strap. Really Neil?
Jacksonville's Rashean Mathis with a pretty good example of why maybe return guys should think twice about the dreads...
The Lions are for real. Book it. Hugely telling moment Sunday when they had a stupid penalty near the end of the game giving Tampa more time on the clock: This is a team that can make mistakes on the road and still win.
Another one you can book: Cam Newton is the real deal. The stage was none too big for him. And just as importantly, the game was none too fast for him. There will be huge learning bumps in the road and he won't be great like this every week. But this guy has it and will be a star in this league. He'll also be a solid fantasy points producer this year. Newton clearly has the trust and confidence of this staff as they repeatedly called his number in crucial situations.
I love Sports Illustrated's Peter King but I have to completely disagree with him on a point regarding Indianapolis. King said he didn't think there was a "snowball's chance in Phoenix" that the Colts finished 2-14 and could have a shot at Andrew Luck. I'd say it's more a snowball's chance in Cleveland they go 2-14.
(and just so you know this isn't a "repeat the stuff Joe got right" column) Another QB I'm buying now is Ryan Fitzpatrick. He's on the opposite end of the physical talent level spectrum than Newton, but balances that with the best nickname in Pro Football - The Amish Rifle. He's also pretty smart (48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test). I love this guy's attitude and work ethic and I love what he's got in Stevie "Styles" Johnson. I'm buying big.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers took a good bit of heat this summer (from writers like me who had nothing else to do) for not organizing much in the way of player led team workouts during the lockout.
After their incredible Week 1 showing, you could tell he was ready to say something at the podium: "That was a good start for us," Rodgers said. "But I've just got to ask myself, `What would have happened if we had had offseason workouts?'" Touche.
Note to Bill Parcells on the Sunday Countdown show: Bob Barker called and wants his sport coat back. He looks ready for the 4:30 pm early bird dinner special in Boca Raton.
Jacksonville QB Luke McCown posted a QB rating of 11.5 in the first half. And that was the high point.
Blaine Gabbert - how YOU doin'?
Is there a lead big enough that the Vikings can't blow? I think not.
I love Cris Collinsworth. He threw out a true "Yogi Berraism" Sunday night with "Are we ever going to have a game that doesn't end on the last play?" You knew exactly what he meant (just like with Yogi) but that's still funny. Hat tip to Footballguy CalBear for that one.
Update on CJ2K. He now only needs 1,923 yards.
Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald had this gem from Dolphins coach Tony Sparano after their Week 2 loss: "It's baffling to me. It really is. I don't have any answers for it."
You said that out loud.
Hopefully the Giants flopping with fake injuries to stop the clock on the Monday Night Football stage will finally draw enough attention that the league will put some teeth into a rule adjustment. That's pathetic. I thought I was watching soccer.
Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka tackled Rams TE Michael Hoomanawanui Sunday. That's a lot of vowels for one play. The only thing better would have been if Ben Roethlisberger had thrown the pass.
I said last week I wanted to see Cincinnati WR A.J. Green perform against a defense that had broken the huddle. It might have been without Champ Bailey, but he gave me an answer Sunday in Denver. Kid's the real deal. And so is his QB Andy Dalton. Rookie WRs and QBs aren't supposed to be this good.
But talking about records, here's a good one: Last year at this time, the Lions, Browns and Bills were 0-9. Today, they're 8-1. Yeah, I saw that coming... Thanks to Footballguy John Quinlan there. (Week 17 note - good example of how things usually do level out...)
Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe reportedly got this memo straight from the Commish...
Has there ever been a player more born to wear the Orange and Black than Andy Dalton? Yes, that's his real hair.
Rich Gannon was great announcing the New England game Sunday. With the Patriots facing 3rd and goal from the 2 as the game wound down, Gannon said, "You've got some options. You can run it. Or you can pass it.". Thanks Rich.
Here's how bad it is for the Chiefs. QB Matt Cassel can't even put his hat on right. On a serious note, they fought hard. Todd Haley said they weren't canceling the season and his team showed it.
Philadelphia fans and media were screaming Monday morning as they started to realize they've signed a QB to a 100 Million dollar contract that has trouble staying on the field. If only we'd had some sort of track record to go on...
Wes Welker caught 16 passes Sunday. Deion Branch caught zero. Branch was asked about it on his WEEI interview Monday:
"That was last week. I'm good. I promise I'm good," Branch said. "Last week is in the past. I'm moving forward, getting ready for Oakland."
"I just think overall, with the outcome of the game, had we won and not been on the loss side, it wouldn't be a big deal," he said. "Me personally, I want to make sure I do a whole lot more to contribute to the game. And I know Tom (Brady) wants to try to get me the football as much as he can. With that being said, I think him and Wes (Welker, the Pats receiver who came up with a career-high 16 catches for 217 yards), they were feeling it. They were in their groove. That happens during the course of a game. Trust me, that was a good thing."
Branch said there was no issue and no blame.
"Tom's the quarterback," he said. "He's going to get everybody the football. So, there's nobody at fault for him not throwing me the passes."
And that's one reason the Patriots are an elite team.
As you know by now, Steve Jobs died Wednesday. He was an extraordinary entrepreneur and obviously an incredible visionary. Lots has been written about Mr. Jobs today but I thought it might be best to remember some of his own words. Here is a great speech he gave at Stanford with the timeless advice "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
Has anyone ever seen Curtis Painter and Jeremy Shockey in the same room?...
Mike Vick recovered nicely from the referee comments from last week. He apologized and said he wouldn't talk any more about it. And most importantly, he did the Phil Jackson "make your point and raise awareness so you get the next call" thing. Smart move. He was pretty good natured about the criticism he received. The New York Post ran a cover with a picture of Vick's face attached to a baby's body that was wearing an Eagle's bib and holding a bottle.
"My kids were killing me about that. That was a good one," Vick said. "I guess when you sit on the podium and you make excuses like that, then you're going to be labeled a crybaby, so maybe I did deserve it."
Steelers LB James Harrison says he feels like a pirate following surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone...
This is how bad it is for Denver right now. Knowshon Moreno can't even stay on the stationary bike. Hat tip to Shutdown Corner.
Four players are tied for the league lead with three interceptions. Three are cornerbacks and one is a strong safety. 325 pound Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is hot on their heels with two.
Wilfork was asked after one interception return if he needed oxygen. He declined saying "I'm a well conditioned athlete." You have to like that.
Chargers defensive lineman Antonio Garay doesn't drive a Smart Car. He drives a Hello Kitty Smart Car. That's awesome.
Devin Hester - You Are Ridiculous.
Calvin Johnson. You Are Ridiculous too. I can't recall watching a game where it looked as if one player had such an unfair advantage over the competition. Johnson looked that way Sunday. Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan did make some curious decisions toward the end. Johnson beat three Cowboy defenders. Then at the goal line, Ryan figured Terence Newman could handle Calvin Johnson in single coverage?
Wait. Wasn't Nnamdi Asomugha supposed to be good?
Maggie Hendricks of Shutdown Corner highlights a great picture that puts Cam Newton in perspective.
How can I not finish with the Marion Barber backflip faceplant?
Great insight into Cam Newton this week. A New Orleans reporter asked him, "Have you surprised yourself with the transition? (from college to NFL)"
Newton replied, "If you write a good article, do your surprise yourself?"
This is awesome on multiple levels. First (and the angle that always carries the most weight with me...) is that it's funny.
Secondly, the reporter has a legit question. Rookie QBs aren't supposed to be this good. Especially rookie QBs with character whispers that supposedly excelled in college because of their "athleticism". Newton doing what he's doing is like the fresh out of college newspaper reporter rising to the levels of Peter King a few weeks into their first job.
And thirdly, it's a great insight into who Newton is. He expected to be this good. His reply to the reporter is saying that he's just doing his job. Which he is. Albeit a lot better than most folks thought he would. The fact he's doing this well this early without a normal offseason to prepare is one of the best QB stories in years.
Soapbox moment of the week. Slow down a bit and be thankful for things most of us completely take for granted. You may have seen it but I was struck this week by this video showing a young woman who hears for the first time after receiving a hearing implant. Wow. Be thankful.
Thanks for all the good comments last week. I'm making this the official picture for Random Shots. If you've got one better, send it along.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson gave us the picture of the week as he reacted to the win. (Following the death of Raiders Owner Al Davis)
Jackson had a great line after the game: "One thing Coach (Davis) always taught me was he said: 'Hue don't believe in plays, believe in players and eventually the players will make plays for you,"' Jackson said. "And that's what I did. I could just hear him saying that to me the whole time. Believe in your players and not the plays."
Tampa QB Josh Freeman has already matched his 2010 interception total. I'm just saying...
Rams offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels had this gem from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The focus has gotta always be on playing our best in November and December. And if we can get to that point where we're doing that, you never know. So we've got to continue to push and fight."
News for McDaniels - November and December don't mean anything if you keep playing the way you're playing in September and October...
Has anyone ever seen Aaron Rodgers and B.J. Novak from The Office in the same room? Didn't think so...
Washington TE Chris Cooley complained before last week's game that coach Mike Shanahan shouldn't disclose his injury information regarding draining fluid from Cooley's knee. You know things are weird when Skeletor Shanahan is accused of giving away injury information.
Brandon Marshall had a weird week leading up to the Monday night game with the Jets where he proclaimed he was going to get himself kicked out of the game in the second quarter.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said, "If he wants to get kicked out of the game in the second quarter, I think he should." As my buddy Sigmund Bloom said, when Ryan is the guy making the most sense, that's worth noticing.
Game One of the World Series is playing in the background as I write this tonight. I know it's a baseball game because the "sideline" reporter is wearing a bow tie and one of the announcers just described the hitter saying, "He's a delightful, talkative, gregarious guy that loves Formula One racing". Sometimes this column writes itself.
I know you guys have been waiting on pins and needles for my prediction ever since I called the Red Sox to win the World Series during the ALCS in 2004. Here you go - Cardinals in 7. Book it.
Tampa Bay defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake tore his patella tendon celebrating an interception Sunday. Memories of Bill Gramatica...
Interesting moment in the Eagles game Sunday. Mike Vick took a hard helmet to helmet shot and came up understandably woozy. He left the field and was replaced with Vince Young. Who threw an interception on his first pass.
Amazingly, Vick suddenly felt better and the training staff deemed him ready to play. FOX reported that they were told his injury was "dirt on his face". Apparently "dirt on his face" is what you call a concussion when your season is slipping away and Vince Young is chucking balls with that Uncle Rico throwing motion...
That's pretty funny.
Steve Serby of the New York Post coined a new term for disgruntled WR Derrick Mason who was shipped out of town after reportedly crossing Rex Ryan. Serby said Mason was "Rexiled". Gotta like that.
I'm with our friend Gregg Rosenthal of ProFootballTalk.com that Bengal Fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about their young team. QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green are as exciting a rookie combo as we've seen in a while. TE Jermaine Gresham is excellent, Carlos Dunlap is a very good pass rusher and guys like Rey Maualuga, Michael Johnson and Jerome Simpson are doing a really nice job.
And the icing on the cake now is Mike Brown fleecing the Raiders for possibly two first round draft picks for a guy they no longer need in Carson Palmer. If ever a movie scene summed up a situation, the last 30 seconds of this all time classic nails Mike Brown today. Congrats.
Ask Peyton Hillis if the Madden Curse is for real.
The Florida Panthers NHL team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night 7-4. That means the Dolphins were outscored by the Miami hockey team Monday.
Cardinals running back Beanie Wells is dealing with a knee injury that the team's having a hard time diagnosing. As we told our readers this week in the Players In The News:
"Wells' knee kept 'locking up' during the team's Week 7 game. It is unclear if the injury is related to an allergic reaction that he had to an injection. 'Some of the locking symptoms people talk about could mean something inside the knee is loose or misplaced: a meniscus tear or a loose piece of cartilage or bone, or an injury to the joint cartilage, if it's a big enough piece. That's some of the most common things if there is 'true' locking,' Dr. Orr Limpisvasti said.
I think their biggest issue is trusting a knee doctor with a last name that starts with Limp...
Vikings DE Brian Robison with a little something extra for Green Bay guard T.J. Lang.
This sparked a nice Twitter exchange:
Robison said, "My apologies to @tjlang70, my team, my fans and the @nfl. I am not a dirty player and did not maliciously aim for the groin, just happened to be where it landed."
Then Lang replied, "Glad to report my genitalia are in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery!"
Who says Twitter isn't awesome?
I'm not a Michael Vick hater. But this is pretty good...
29% of the completed passes thrown by Carson Palmer and Kyle Boller were caught by players wearing Chiefs uniforms.
I know I'm kind of negative about playing the game in London. I tried to come up with something positive. Besides a solid Chicago win, they have good field rusher guys.
Chicago DB D.J. Moore was pretty funny talking about how it took the security guys forever to round up the intruder. "The guys facing him we're kind of slow - most times you see it on TV and the guys are real good at tackling, and these guys, they were bad"
Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Moore if he considered tackling the guy himself. Moore said, "No! I thought he was going to take his pants off and everything."
My favorite picture of the week. How good is Aaron Rodgers? Even Ragnar likes him.
I've said it since last year - I love Tim Tebow. Mostly because I love to see how he makes generally sensible fans and analysts completely lose their minds. We haven't seen this kind of blind, white hot passion with no basis for reason talk since Mike Vick was released from prison.
On one hand, you have the analysts that love to start the segment with, "Let's be clear, in no way, shape or form do I want to diminish Tim Tebow and the fact that the Broncos won Sunday..." And then the guy goes on for ten minutes doing everything he can to diminish Tim Tebow and the Broncos win...
Dude. Get over yourself - we're not stupid. Just say what you mean. Don't try to sugarcoat it.
And then on the other side are the "Tebow can do no wrong and he's headed straight to Canton if you guys would just recognize his awesomeness" folks who are just as irrational.
The truth is that Tim Tebow Sunday gave the perfect Tebow performance. Denny Green would have loved it as he was who we thought he was. For 55 minutes, he was horribly inaccurate and looked overwhelmed. And when the game was on the line, he appeared to will his team to victory with great play (plus the benefit of a nice onside kick).
Where do I see it? I see a guy that will get better coupled with a guy that has an innate ability to lead his football team. He has the "it" factor that drives some fans and analysts crazy as it doesn't "compute" in their framework for evaluating players. I think he'll succeed at this level. In a best case scenario, he has the upside potential of becoming the QB version of Wes Welker. A guy that takes good but not great physicals and outworks the competition playing to his strengths and realizing where he fits in the system. Will he do that? I don't know. We'll see. All I know for sure is I'll continue to have fun watching most fans and analysts hyperventilate over him.
Matt Ryan did the Gumby ankle Sunday. He missed two plays.
Rex Ryan talks a lot. So it's pretty fun that one of his best lines this year is just a few words. Responding to Charger players, he went Ron Burgandy with "Stay classy, San Diego". Nice.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King had a great line on Panthers QB Cam Newton - "He has seven rushing touchdowns, which is two more than Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, LaDainian Tomlinson and DeAngelo Williams combined."
Watching John Beck Sunday, I wonder if the Shanahans had their "Sexy Rexy, you there, Buddy?" voice ready?
Joe Namath just won't let it go. ESPN reported Rex Ryan wore a Joe Namath jersey to the mall.
Namath was asked about it on "The Michael Kay Show," and said, "I'm just stunned that the jersey with No. 12 come in that size."
"Shoot, hey it doesn't matter," Ryan said when asked about wearing the jersey. "I'm still a huge Joe Namath fan."
I've been as critical of Ryan as anyone as I'm not a big fan of his style. But he's handling this one with class and Namath's continued toolishness on this is nearing the Suzy Kolber incident level of sad.
Andy Reid's Eagles are now 13-0 in the game coming off their bye week. That's pretty good for a guy that's supposed to be such a terrible coach.
Cincinnati's Adam Jones returns to Nashville this week. The Tennessean ran a nice article this week with some clips from an interview with Jones on his new approach to life.
"It would have never worked for me in Tennessee," Jones said. "I was 21 or 22, and I didn't understand what I understand now. I was out every night enjoying myself. I wasn't really focusing on football. I had a lot of distractions. I take responsibly for everything that went on back then, and have learned from it.
"Yeah, I did (mess) things up off the field. I blame myself for that. But I will say when times got hard (the Titans) weren't there for me. But I ain't holding no grudges, man. Life is too short for grudges. I don't have time for all of that."
But the best part was when he was asked if he expected the Titan fans to give him a warm reception:
"Hell no fans aren't going to give me a good ovation," Jones said. "They booed me when I was there, so you know they are going to boo me when I'm on the other team. But I don't care. That (expletive) don't bother me."
That sounds like a guy with a pretty good grip on reality. I wish him the best.
Eric Williams of the News Tribune had this from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after Sunday's loss: "We learned about what happens when a coach gets hormonal and tries to freakin' jam it down their throat for the touchdown there right at the half," Carroll said about the play. "That was a mistake. It would have been a good call if we made it. But we didn't."
I've followed football for a pretty long time. I don't think I've ever heard a coach reference being hormonal after a game. Can you imagine the coach of the Steelers or Raiders saying that?
Footballguy Mike Gurley sent me this picture from Sam Adams. Apparently, even Sam is a Black Eyed Joe's and Footballguys fan...
Al Michaels was smooth talking about Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Michaels said, "Quite a contrast between the urbane, slender, head coach Garrett...And Rob Ryan which gives you ...everything on the other side"
Is it bad when you're old enough to see the name Jimmy Smith and think Jacksonville WR? I'm there.
Albert Haynesworth played six games for the Patriots this season. And had three more tackles than I did.
Adam Jones kept things rolling this week as he fired up the fan base with his Twitter feed posting: "It's a great week to be a Bengal , let's go beat pitt ass and we need our 12 man"
Oh that whacky Pacman.
Philip Rivers threw six touchdowns Sunday. But two of them were to Green Bay.
In the same way that I've run out of words to describe how bad Chris Johnson has been, I'm struggling to come up with a description for how good Aaron Rodgers is. He makes every throw and has that perfect balance of wow factor plus steadiness. He's like combining Michael Vick with Drew Brees in that your jaw drops the way he zips the ball in at times and then he's calm and in control. Never say never but without some serious injuries, I don't see anyone beating Green Bay. Not to mention they've already shown last year they can overcome significant injuries. Scary good.
Peter King rubbed a little salt in the wound Monday morning with the teams that passed on Rodgers in the draft: "Miami, for Ronnie Brown, Minnesota (Troy Williamson), Washington (Carlos Rogers), Minnesota again (Erasmus James), Jacksonville (Matt Jones), and, just one pick before Green Bay, Oakland (Fabian Washington)" Ouch.
As he walked off the field, Mike Shanahan looked like a Ryan Torain owner. Thanks a lot, Skeletor.
Saints RB Darren Sproles took 93 steps on his 21 yard touchdown reception. And he ran in a straight line.
Watching the Falcons game and this popped up on my Twitter feed: @HammerAndRails: "Julio Jones just outscored the totally awesome Alabama offense from last night."
While I'm on college football, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit with the classic Earthquake Face from Oklahoma at the :09 mark.
New England showed Sunday night one of the maxims of Football: A good pass rush solves all your problems on defense.
Dallas showed another against Buffalo: A good rushing game solves your QB passing problems.
It's not that complicated...
John Fox is in heaven. He finally has an offense that rushes the ball 60 times a game...
Fun note from practice as New York has 41 year old QB left handed Mark Brunell playing the Tim Tebow role on the scout team. Rex Ryan showed the team some video clips of a younger Brunell running the ball some twenty years ago for the Washington Huskies. About the video footage, Brunell said, "It was all on eight millimeters, so they had to convert it to video."
The Patriots are back. I know that because they have guys starting on defense that the television broadcast doesn't even have headshot pictures of and they have WR Julian Edelman working at defensive back. I think we've seen this script before...
What happens first, a Colts win or a Packers loss?
Our Random Shots Buddy, Rex Ryan was rolling Sunday night.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez called a timeout with 1:24 to play in the first half which wound up giving the Patriots time to score before halftime. Ryan told NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya that the timeout was the "stupidest play in NFL history."
Congratulations to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They won their 117th game together Sunday night. Passing the tandem of Dan Marino and Don Shula who had 32 more chances than Brady and Belichick had to get to 117. That's actually as impressive as the record.
Brady, Belichick and Patriot fans across the country collectively thank Mo Lewis.
What's this? Signs of life from Chad Ochocinco in New England?
He's certainly in midseason form on his Twitter page. He pulled it off pretty quickly but you have to see the avatar he was using. Classic.
I'd never considered it, but evidently there was some buzz about Peyton Manning becoming the head coach at Ole Miss. ProFootballtalk.com says Manning said that's not happening.
"I've gotten about 20 or 25 e-mails from people in that regard," Archie Manning said, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I passed that on to Peyton. He said, ‘Just tell them that I'm 0-10 as an assistant for Indianapolis.'"
I love the Packer fans. "St. Vince" is a classic. But I'd never seen the Cheese Bra before. Kind of wish I hadn't seen this one...
When I was a kid, the Vikings were my favorite team and Chuck Foreman was my favorite player. I never had to face a Packers team like what they're putting out on the field today. If I did, I probably wouldn't have been too different from this little girl. Thanks to my buddy David Dodds for that one.
Here's what it's like to be a Colts fan: You're hoping Dan Orlovsky can give your team a spark.
Let that sink in a little.
Our friend and Injury Expert extraordinaire Will Carroll had a funny line Sunday on his Twitter feed: "Reggie Bush running well. Tim Tebow throwing with touch. Looking out window, checking for the flying pigs." Follow will on Twitter: @injuryexpert
Lions running back Kevin Smith posted 201 combined yards rushing and receiving Sunday. Yeah, we saw that coming...
Here's how good Smith was: In the last 50 years, the only Lions player to surpass Smith's 8.8 yards per carry average was some guy named Barry Sanders.
I've written before that I love to see writers who can't talk about a white WR without referencing Ed McCaffrey or Wes Welker, no matter how different their game may be. Jordy Nelson's been having fun with this one.
Packers teammate Greg Jennings said of Nelson: "They underestimate him. And honestly, he uses that to his advantage. Seriously . a lot of it has to do with the fact that guys look at him and say, `OK, he's the white guy, he can't be that good.' Well, he is that good, he's proven to be that good and it's because of the work and the time that he's put in -- not only on the field but in his preparation off the field."
Everyone is talking about him now. For Nelson, he just laughs and said, "I told you not to let the secret out."
The Jaguars lost a close one Sunday failing to score at the end of the game running three plays from inside the 2. On the first try, Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 1 yard to the 1. On the 2nd play, Blaine Gabbert threw incomplete to WR Jason Hill. On the final play, Jacksonville chose to throw again instead of giving the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew. That pass was incomplete to WR Mike Thomas.
I don't find it that surprising the Jaguars would pass. With most everyone expecting a run to Jones-Drew, I won't argue with the surprise factor of the short pass.
What I did find stunning was coach Jack Del Rio throwing his offensive coordinator under the bus after the game. Del Rio was asked about the the decision to throw the ball there and said, "Our offensive coordinator calls the plays. I can't speak to his thinking. You'll have to get with him."
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert said this, "We are on the two-yard line and I have to find a way for us to score," he said. "That's on me. I have to learn from that and get better."
I think Del Rio can learn something there from the rookie.
I love Donald Driver but have you ever seen him and Scatman Crothers in the same room? Me neither. Thanks to Footballguy tech guru Keith Overton for the help on that one. (Week 17 note - For the folks that emailed me that the reason you would never see them together is that Scatman died in 1986, it's a joke)
ESPN's Kevin Seifert with what it's like to be a Vikings fans these days: Your left tackle jumps offsides on the first play from scrimmage (at home), your QB throws three interceptions (one in the end zone, one at the goal line), your holder for field goals botches the placement, your kickoff returner fumbles and then your best player leaves the field in a cart. God Bless you guys.
I like Mike McCarthy's take on playing a Thanksgiving game: "I love playing on Thanksgiving," McCarthy said. "I think the players really like it too. Our battle cry here has been, 'Three games in 11 days.' It's an honor to play on the holiday. And it gives the players something to look forward to -- a break in the season. It's human nature to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, and once we play this game, our guys can get a couple extra days to rest. I think they like the quick turnaround anyway."
For the other side of the coin, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh whined about having to travel East for a Thursday game: "I think we drew short end of straw on that."
I'm with Footballguy reader Eric Randall: When you play in the NFC West, you're not allowed to complain about the schedule.
If you own Ravens WR Torrey Smith and lost by a touchdown this week, blame his hair.
Did it work? Check out the :30 mark on the video.
Commercial note of the week. The Old Spice Guys continue to kill it. I'm so getting one of these. (Week 17 note - I didn't get one. I got two. And they're awesome)
I was talking to my friend this week and he said I should be more concise with this column. He texted me that Random Shots wasn't that hard to write: "Stevie Johnson is an idiot. Tim Tebow is a winner. Done."
That might have been the best Random Shots ever.
OK, maybe a little more.
Stevie's not an idiot. Here's what I think I think about Stevie Styles today:
First, he did something Sunday I haven't seen a WR do this year - consistently separate from Darrelle Revis. This is most definitely not insignificant. Kid's got skills.
Second, when Stevie throws a birthday party, his cake is off the shizzle.
Third, the two previous items are connected somehow in a fun but combustible way.
That's it for now. This thinking business doesn't happen all at once.
Referee Jeff Triplette had a prophetic moment Sunday as he explained the overtime rules to the team captains before the coin flip at the start of overtime in San Diego. He told the players that each team would have an opportunity to possess the football and score as if they were using the playoff overtime rules. Turns out he was right.
Bigger question: When did they install the "sprinkler camera" to get the angle for that video?
"Kyle Orton" says farewell to Denver... Thanks to Footballguy Cecil Lammey for this one.
My favorite touchdown call of the year. Gabriel Trujillo of the Arizona Cardinals Spanish Radio Network delivers the play-by-play of Patrick Peterson takes it to the casa. If you don't smile listening to that, you probably should stop reading now.
Note to Jason Witten: Easy there, Big Fella.
Watching Saints TE Jimmy Graham, I'm exactly with Jon Gruden: "I don't know how you coach a defensive back to stop this guy." It's one thing for me to think he's unstoppable. But when you have a Super Bowl winning head coach say he doesn't know what he'd do with the guy, look out.
Nice effort, Dwayne Bowe. I'm back to thinking you are what I thought you were.
San Diego kicker Nick Novak proves the old adage, sometimes you just gotta go.
Soccer move of the week goes to Jerome Simpson and a classic flop here. Sometimes this column just writes itself.
Stop the presses. New Orleans won a coin toss.
ESPN's Bill Simmons had just the right tweet Sunday during the Patriots game. "Gronk. Gronk. Gronk." We all thought Gronkowski had broken the regular season TD reception record for a tight end with the third score. Turned out that that the pass was ruled a lateral and Gronkowski was credited with a rushing TD. He had an interesting exchange with SI.com's Peter King after the game.
"Well, it's still a good thing," Gronkowski told King. "That's the first rush of my life."
"You mean your first running play in the NFL?" King said.
"No -- my first rush ever, in high school, college or the pros. I never ran the ball before. And now I got a touchdown on my first run."
Things move fast.
Baltimore's Lardarius Webb doesn't sound fast.
Glitch in the Matrix: The Giants gave the undefeated Patriots of 2007 a scare in Week 17 barely losing 38-35. Sunday, the Giants lost to the undefeated Packers 38-35. I think Giant fans will gladly take that loss if this season ends the same way as it did in 2007.
And last, a fun picture that really has less to do with Tebow than it does Minnesota's Jared Allen playing without a helmet.
More on Jared Allen: He tied the all time safety record with his fourth career safety tackling Denver's Willis McGahee Sunday.
Mature football fans would say that's the takeaway moment from the game. For me, and I'm not proud of this, I'll probably remember it more for it being the game where Allen punched his friend and former team mate Ray Edwards, "square in the weiner" Oh boy.
Washington RB Roy Helu was great Sunday. Probably means he's due for a benching from Mike Shanahan...
While Lexus continues to run the clueless "I bought you a car with a giant ribbon on it" commercials, KIA's having fun with the Party Rocking Hamsters.
Note to Raheem Morris: I think I'd put off remodeling the kitchen if I were you.
You probably saw Bob Costas declare the demise of modern society last week as it relates to Stevie Smith's stupid Plaxico Burress TD celebration. San Francisco's Aldon Smith has the perfect sack dance celebration for Costas.
If nothing else, Oakland's Rolando McClain knows how to take an awesome photo while being arrested by police on charges connected with a shooting in Decatur, Alabama.
I love dogs. And I especially love Bulldogs. But I can't say I'm down with Ozzie Guillen and his Bulldog here.
Cool story here on Shahid Khan. On his first night in America, he couldn't afford a $9 hotel room. Last week he bought the Jaguars. God Bless America.
Last year, Steelers linebacker James Harrison had some choice words for Commissioner Roger Goodell calling him a "punk", a "dictator" and "Faggot Goodell". He said, "But up until last year, there was no word of me being dirty - till Roger Goodell, who's a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league. If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it. I hate him and will never respect him."
I wonder if Harrison is surprised he gets looked at a little closer than other players...
On a lighter note, SI.com's Rick Reilly had this non NFL line: "Congrats to Rick Majerus of St. Louis University on his 500th career win. Afterward, he celebrated with his 500,000th ravioli."
Note to Jabar Gaffney: If you're going to leap into the stands after a score, find some fans wearing your colors...
I looked up the definition of "Man Among Boys" and got this video of Rob Gronkowski.
Cowboy Haters will love this one. Stay classy Brandon Jacobs...
Ryan Succop with a crystal clear picture of what it's like to be a Chiefs fan. God bless you guys.
Here's the picture we all focused on Sunday with Tom Brady yelling at his coach.
But the real story is finally Tiquan Underwood's rockin' Kid 'n Play getting some love.
A better shot here. That's awesome. You guys just leave it to me to get your focus straight.
Crazy stat from Cousin Sal of the Bill Simmons podcast Monday: In the 50 years from 1960 to 2010, the Cowboys blew two fourth quarter leads of 12 points or more. This season, they've blown three fourth quarter leads of 12 points or more.
That's enough to fire Jason Garrett on the spot.
For Bears fans, it pretty much boils down to "Cutty come back". "I look to my right and see Caleb again." Ouch.
I'm drafting Robert Griffin next year just for the socks he wore to the Heisman presentation.
Deion Sanders showcased his interview skills asking Tony Romo that classic ice breaker, "Who gets in your butt?"
Denver featured a dog riding monkey. God Bless America.
Back to the NFL Network set, the guys gave Steve Mariucci a present and hilarity ensued. I got a little worried that Michael Irvin was going to hurt himself at the 1:40 mark.
Another reason to love Rex Ryan. He has an ice cream social every week with his guys. Sometimes this column just writes itself.
Tom Brady's building a gazillion dollar mansion in Brentwood.
Indianapolis QB Dan Orlovsky lives rent free on running back Donald Brown's couch. That's fair. Hat tip to Shutdown Corner.
I love Steeler fans - you're some of the most diehard and best fans in the world. But please tell me you're not spending money on a Terrible Towel app for your iPad. I know we're getting lazier as a society and all but is waving a real towel too much to ask?
On the other hand, The Terrible Towels Around The World commercial rocks.
ESPN's Cris Carter had a big feature Sunday morning about what great hands Hakeem Nicks has. Then of course Nicks bounced a sure touchdown off his facemask in the game.
Fun graphic of the week: On Any Given Sunday. Do you get it?
And that'll do it.
Again, thanks to all of you for the kind words throughout the season - you guys humble me. And thanks for playing along and letting me write this goofy column each week. I hope you have a ball with whatever you're doing in your life. Here's to Football and we'll do this again next season.
Stay in touch with all we're doing through the "offseason" here:
- Join what we're doing on Facebook by clicking "like".
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- And see a lot of the goofy Random Shots type stuff on my Tumblr Blog.
And as always, a special thanks to all the folks that helped me this year, especially my buddy and Footballguy Tech Guru Keith Overton for holding this all together.
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you've got an idea on how to make this better and thanks for reading this year.