Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Random Stuff

Posted by mizzou1028 on February 12, 2010

What we’ve got here is a series of quick hit thoughts without any order or organization.  Topics include the Super Bowl, the NFL season as a whole, the Broncos and other random stuff.

– Congratulations to the Saints on winning the Super Bowl.  I cannot think of a more deserving city or fan base to celebrate a championship.  the fact alone that the Saints had never made the Super Bowl before makes this a good story.  Throw in Katrina and the devastation of the Superdome five years ago, and you’ve got a terrific story.  Plus, there are a lot of good guys on that team.

– As for the game, I thought the Saints were going to need to be able to pressure Peyton Manning to win.  As it turned out, the Saints only deployed one blitz the entire night, and that came on the clinching pick six.  The Saints were able to confuse Manning by continually changing up the looks of their secondary and defensive alignment.  This  combined with the ability of the Saints’ offense to control the clock and keep Manning watching on the sideline for long stretches proved to be the difference. 

– It wasn’t as if Manning had a bad game (he threw for over 300 yards), but it was shocking to see him throw a fourth quarter interception with the game on the line.  Frankly, if any Colt is at fault for that play it would be more Reggie Wayne than Manning.  Wayne failed to get inside position on the defender, and as a result was in no position to prevent the pick.

– I thought the other difference was that the Saints played to win, whereas the Colts were playing not to lose.  New Orleans went for it on 4th and goal late in the second quarter, and although they didn’t get it, they were still able to force a three and out thanks to a very tentative Colts offense calling three runs up the middle.  The Saints ended up getting a field goal before the half anyway.  Think about it: If the Saints took the chip shot three points at the end of the half, the Colts could well have had time to get a drive going to go up 13-6 or even 17-6 at the half.  As it was, the Saints gave Indy the ball at their own 1 yard line, and the Colts were playing not to make a mistake.  This played right into the Saints’ hands even though they didn’t get the touchdown.  Brilliant coaching by the Saints, and very tentative, poor coaching by the Colts in the final two minutes of the first half.

– Then there was the onside kick to open the second half.  Another very gutsy call by Sean Payton, one that would have backfired miserably if the Saints didn’t recover the kick.  However, it worked, and the Saints capitalized for a quick touchdown.  The Colts were very clearly not expecting the kick, and in fact several Colts players were retreating to try and set up a return, rather than be in position to recover the surprise onside.  Contrast this decision by Payton with the coaching of Jim Caldwell, who called for a 51-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter even though the odds of Stover making the kick were slim to none based on his lack of leg strength.  Granted the Colts were facing a 4th & 11, and at least Caldwell didn’t order a punt, but had the Colts gone for it and missed, the Saints’ field position wouldn’t have been near as good as they got with the missed field goal.  Sean Payton played to win, Jim Caldwell played not to lose, and that was the difference.

– Interesting stat: discounting games in which the Colts waved the white flag and made no attempt to win, Indianapolis has won 23 regular season games in a row while going 2-2 in postseason games.  Such is the legacy of Peyton Manning, who himself is 8-8 in playoff games.

– It is interesting to look back at the Colts’ decision to rest their starters during the final two weeks of the season instead of going for 16-0.  It is hard to say in retrospect whether that had any impact on their Super Bowl loss.  Did the decision put more pressure on the Colts to win the Super Bowl, or would they have had more pressure with an undefeated record?  It is hard to say, but if I was the coach I would have gone for the undefeated record.  That’s probably one reason of many why I’m not a coach.

– We certainly have a lot of interesting offseason storylines to keep track of, but I think the biggest one is the collective bargaining agreement, or lack thereof.  The current deal is set to expire at the end of the 2010 season, and calls for an uncapped year next season.  The only way the uncapped year will be avoided if agreement can be reached on a new deal before March 5, the day free agency opens.  Let’s just say that I have better odds of winning Olympic gold next week in Vancouver for tv watching than we have of seeing an agreement reached by March 5.  The sides are so far apart right now that there is no communication.  If we have an uncapped year, the owners are going to find it nearly impossible to get the players to agree to go back to a salary cap, and we will very likely see a work stoppage in 2011.

– Obviously a work stoppage would be bad on so many levels, not the least of which is you’ve got owners and players bickering over how to split millions of dollars while the rest of us are dealing with a terrible economy and many are unemployed.  Many fans are not renewing season tickets because they can’t afford them.   I think the NFL is rapidly heading down a slippery slope where they’re about to make so many fans irate that they may well be killing the golden goose.  The NFL is without question the most popular sport in America, and frankly it’s not even close, but if owners and players can’t see common sense it may not stay that way if there is no 2011 season due to greedy owners and players.  If there is a work stoppage for any reason, it’s because both sides are selfish and greedy.  If they can’t agree on how to split an $8 billion pie, than there is no way they are anything but selfish and greedy.  That’s not exactly the right message to send to fans in this economy. 

– As for the uncapped year, it may not be as beneficial to players as they think.  Yes, some owners (esp. Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones) could well start throwing all kinds of money around, but I think a larger number or owners would go the other way and try to save money, and not offer big time contracts to free agents.  See, without a cap, there also isn’t a salary floor, and thus teams like the Bengals and Lions and other teams that are struggling financially won’t have to spend money if they don’t want to.  I think an uncapped year would benefit roughly 8-10 players who will cash in with mega contracts, but for most of the players, I think this could actually be a detriment.  In any case, this will be the big story of the 2010 season: will the owners and players be able to avoid a work stoppage in 2011?

– There are of course other storylines to follow: Will Donovan McNabb remain an Eagle?  Will Brett Favre come back for another year?  If he doesn’t will McNabb end up in Minnesota?  Will the Cardinals actually start Matt Leinart in the wake of Kurt Warner’s retirement?  Do the Saints have a shot to repeat?  In light of the Saints winning this year, are any of the four franchises that have never made the Super Bowl (Texans, Jaguars, Lions and Browns) even close?  Will Jay Cutler ever get it figured out in Chicago?   Will the Steelers bounce back to playoff form?  Of course there are many other questions besides these, and others that will come up once we see what the offseason movement will be.

– Of course I have to mention the Broncos.  As we get closer to free agency I’ll offer a detailed review of the season and what I think they need to do.  For now, let’s just say that the sting of falling from 6-0 to 8-8 is still significant, and I think there is a lot of work the Broncos need to do.  I think the top priority is the offensive line, followed closely by the defensive front seven.  They do have a top 10 pick courtesy of Chicago, so it will be interesting to see what direction they go.  I don’t see them being very active in free agency because they don’t really have a lot of cash to throw around, so they’ll probably try to find some bargains and fill some holes that way. 

– I do think the departure of Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator is very significant and could well be very devastating for the Broncos.  The Broncos showed great improvement on that side of the ball from the previous three seasons and it is a little disconcerting that he just couldn’t get on the same page as Josh McDaniels going forward.  Hopefully the Broncos don’t drop off in that area next season.

– I’m not sure the Broncos should get rid of Brandon Marshall.  He is a great talent, but he does need to get his head on straight.  Still, I don’t think he should be given away without getting equal value in return.

– The Broncos drew the short straw and will play in the London game next season against the 49ers.  I’m just glad the Broncos aren’t the one giving up the home game.  I’m on record as saying the London game is a bad idea all the way around, because I think the NFL needs to do a better job of taking care of its fans at home and I think it’s really unfair to the team surrendering the home game.  I also hope it doesn’t prove to be a midseason distraction that causes problems for the team in the second half of the season.

– Last week I got another reminder of why college basketball is roughly 20 times better than the NBA.  I went to the Nuggets-Suns game and observed one sequence two Suns players got tangled up going for a rebound and fell to the floor, which should have allowed a Denver 5 on 3 opportunity.  Thing is, two Nuggets players stood there doing nothing and watched the 3 on 3 action on the other end of the floor.  The Nuggets missed two shots, and eventually Phoenix got the rebound when their two players rejoined the action.  There was no visible show of emotion from George Karl, who presumably didn’t want to rock the boat with his high priced lineup.  This was one example of a game where I saw lots of bad shots, several instances of lazy passing, and very little effort on the defensive end by either team.

– By contrast, the Missouri-Colorado game I attended in Boulder was a display of much better effort and intensity by the two teams on the floor.  Missouri’s J.T. Tiller took an elbow to the face two minutes into the game, had a broken nose to show for it, needed to change his jersey because it was all bloody, and he was back on the court less than five minutes later.  The broken nose didn’t deter him from hustling, defending, diving for loose balls, and being physical when necessary.  The difference between college and the NBA is absolutely staggering when you watch both in person.  I much prefer college for the team play, actual effort on defense, crowd intensity (rowdy student sections versus corporate folks that probably can’t name half the players on the floor and are more concerned with what kind of premium malt they’re drinking) and most of all you can tell the players are very passionate and want to win at any cost.  You just don’t see those things in the NBA. 

– I am somewhat puzzled this is being referred to as a “big sports weekend”.  Granted, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics are tonight, and that is a big deal, but the only event I care to watch in the winter Olympics is hockey, and that doesn’t start until Tuesday.  Even then, I’ll watch college hoops over the Olympics any day.  The other events this weekend are NASCAR, which I refuse to watch and can’t understand the facination of, and the NBA all-star game, which is a big display of every reason why the NBA isn’t as good as the college version.

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