I guess if anyone caught the last quarter of that Green Bay game has to agree: all refs are fallible, not just the ones kicked out of the Lingerie Football League. That, my friends, was a fumble by Sproles that the “real refs” missed completely. There’s still no fix for when refs get a call wrong outside of the final two minutes of a half and you’re plumb out of challenges.
Not a whole lotta shakeup in the rankings this week. Mostly because we’re starting to realize where teams belong, but also because most of the bad teams lost and most of the good teams won. Not shocking: the Seahawks fell dramatically as my confidence in this offense hits an all-time low. We’re talking 1992 Seahawks low!
I meant to talk about this in yesterday’s analysis, but I feel this is something that deserves being singled out separate from my diatribe. That would be: Pete Carroll’s Onside Kick.
I gotta admit, I was in computer mode catching up on my Twitter feed, so I missed the opening play coming out of halftime. When I noticed Jason Puckett’s simple tweet, “Why?” I knew I had to flip back to the television and see just what in the Hell they’d done now.
Most, if not all, people on Twitter panned the move. Words like “unnecessary”, “desperate”, and “chickenshit” were bandied about, presumably with a disgusted loogie spat on the proverbial floor of their offices or man caves. With a defense like ours, why are you getting cute? After all, we saw with our eyes that rookie kicker of theirs hitting a 58 yard field goal; a failed onside kick essentially put them in field goal range without even playing a down!
That’s the word of the day: cute. People kept talking about how the Seahawks were getting cute with their opponent. But, there’s a difference between “cute” and “aggressive”. “Cute” is a shotgun quarterback draw on 3rd and 2 inside the opponent’s 10 yard line. “Aggressive” is going for the onside kick to lead off a half. “Cute” is a halfback flip to the outside on third and short when your up-the-gut running has been working like gangbusters all game. “Aggressive” is going for it on 4th down at midfield.
I will never fault a team for being aggressive. Ever. Pete Carroll is who he is and he got where he is by BEING who he is.
In fact, I don’t think Pete Carroll is aggressive ENOUGH. I’m firmly in the Pulaski Academy camp of football thinking. Maybe not everything they do, but I would certainly be going for it on 4th down more often than not. Look at the numbers! They’re out there, go find them. The odds of converting a 4th and 5-or-less are pretty high. If you play every possession like you have four downs, you’re free to open up your play-calling. If you value possession of the football over field position, you’re bound to be more successful than not. That’s my opinion, anyway, and until they try it at the NFL level and disprove it, that’ll continue to be my opinion.
So, no, I’ll never fault Pete Carroll for being aggressive. I would rather he’d be more consistent with his aggression. Instead of getting caught up in the moment, I’d like these bits of unexpected surprises be more of a regular and planned occurrence. Because I have no doubt in my mind that Pete Carroll saw us get burned on that fake field goal and decided the post-halftime kickoff would be a good opportunity for a dick-measuring contest. You can’t make decisions like that in the heat of anger or embarrassment.
That having been said, those of you criticizing the move have to look in the mirror. If it would have succeeded, you’d be praising the guy as ballsy and exhilarating. Yeah, you might deny that impulse at first, but if Pete was more successful than not at these types of things, eventually he’d win you over and you wouldn’t mind so much the occasional miscue. A possession here and there throughout the season – whether it’s from a surprise onside kick or a fake punt or the offense just plain going for it on fourth down – that shit adds up.
I love the aggression. You should too. Having an unpredictable football team is way more exciting than being the Bills. Having an unpredictable football team that’s also more talented than everyone else puts them into rarefied air. Just, you know, make sure when you’re being unpredictable, to also be smart with your play calls. You don’t want to be aggressive and cute at the same time after all; we’ve seen the results and they’re not pretty (see: Bates, Jeremy).
On to the rankings:
- Atlanta Falcons (4-0): On the one hand, you can say they’re very lucky to still be undefeated. It took a fumble on a play that would’ve been the game-clinching first down by Carolina; then it took damn near a hail mary from their own 1 yard line to erase most of the field position required for a field goal. On the other hand, a divisional win is a divisional win and I don’t think the Texans have done enough to pass them up. (Last Week: 1)
- Houston Texans (4-0): Huge win over a bad Titans team. This week shouldn’t be much of a test either (at the Jets). I’m still waiting to see what this team looks like against a quality opponent. (Last Week: 2)
- San Francisco 49ers (3-1): How did they respond to a disappointing loss to the Vikings? They took out their frustrations on the hapless Jets. This is still the scariest team in the NFC. (Last Week: 3)
- Arizona Cardinals (4-0): Wake up call by the Dolphins this past weekend. What the hell? As soon as I trade for their defense in fantasy, they let Tannehill throw for over 400 yards? I still stand behind my prediction that they’ll be 7-0 going into their showdown with the 49ers. (Last Week: 4)
- Baltimore Ravens (3-1): Ho hum, another win over the Browns. Not a whole lot to take out of that Thursday snorefest. (Last Week: 5)
- Green Bay Packers (2-2): Didn’t look amazing against the winless Saints. They should’ve been able to put 42 on that defense. I would be concerned if they look shakey against the Colts this week. (Last Week: 7)
- New England Patriots (2-2): They didn’t beat the Bills by 50, but they did SCORE over 50. The Pats are the Pats, pencil them in for 11-12 quiet wins. (Last Week: 8)
- Chicago Bears (3-1): This is a good team, I’m telling you! Solid, solid win over the Cowboys last night. Their schedule really opens up nicely to build a cushion for a late playoff run. (Last Week: 9)
- Philadelphia Eagles (3-1): If this team is going to make the playoffs, it’s going to have to win ugly like they did against the Giants this week. Run the ball! Take it out of Vick’s hands and – lo and be-fucking-hold – the turnovers drastically reduce! Andy Reid, take note, or prepare your resume for next year. (Last Week: 11)
- San Diego Chargers (3-1): Three wins against three shitty teams; one absolute abortion against a good team. Luckily for the Chargers, they might have just enough shitty teams on their schedule to win 9 games and sneak into the playoffs. It’s not impossible. (Last Week: 10)
- Cincinnati Bengals (3-1): This team looks better and better every week. Can they win in primetime against quality opponents? (Last Week: 12)
- Dallas Cowboys (2-2): How ’bout dem Cowboys? If they’re going to be this bad this early, how bad will they be when Tony Romo starts to stink in the final month? Has someone told him it’s not December yet? (Last Week: 13)
- New York Giants (2-2): Yeah, they lost a hard-fought divisional road game. That’s less than ideal. That’s also TWO divisional losses for them in this first month. Bad news if you’re a Giants fan right now. (Last Week: 14)
- Denver Broncos (2-2): The toughest schedule in the league through the first month doesn’t get any easier with games at New England and at San Diego before the BYE. They better keep Manning upright, because they’re going to need him when things get easier in the stretch run. (Last Week: 15)
- Minnesota Vikings (3-1): Will these Vikings be the surprise team that jumps into the playoffs out of nowhere? If they keep playing like they’ve played, I wouldn’t doubt it. Games against Tennessee and Washington are both very winnable. (Last Week: 21)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2): They’d be wise to beat the Eagles this week. I think they’ll get it done. (Last Week: 16)
- Seattle Seahawks (2-2): I can’t say enough bad things about that game on Sunday. That having been said, while everyone is counting them out, look for them to catch the Panthers by surprise this week. Gotta love those afternoon starts. (Last Week: 6)
- St. Louis Rams (2-2): Until the Rams beat someone of some quality (an no, I don’t consider the Seahawks to be much of ANY quality), they stay ranked behind the Seahawks. (Last Week: 23)
- Washington Redskins (2-2): I didn’t think they had what it took to beat the Bucs. Indeed, they almost didn’t. This is going to be one of those teams you HATE to pick throughout the season. Which Redskins team will show up this week? They’re at home vs. Atlanta, so probably the bad one. (Last Week: 24)
- Detroit Lions (1-3): Boy, are the Lions up shit creek! Have teams found a way to neutralize Megatron? One TD in four weeks. Better find a running game, and fast! (Last Week: 17)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3): That win against Carolina and those near-wins against the Giants and Cowboys don’t look so hot anymore when compared to the choke job against the Redskins. I still like this team, but they’re going to have to figure out how to win close games. (Last Week: 18)
- New York Jets (2-2): Hate this team. They should be 1-3. For a team this bad to get the national attention they do is despicable. (Last Week: 19)
- Buffalo Bills (2-2): Another team with two divisional losses. BAD divisional losses. People are breaking necks they’re jumping off this bandwagon so fast. (Last Week: 20)
- Carolina Panthers (1-3): A bad defense is going to cost you almost every time. Is this the secondary that gives Russell Wilson his first 200-yard passing game? (Last Week: 22)
- Miami Dolphins (1-3): Did you know this defense is first against the run so far? Did you know they’ve played Arizona, the Jets, and Oakland in three of their four games? Still, this team is a helluva lot friskier than I gave them credit for. Still, their head coach is a douche who needs to stop trying to ice kickers. He seems like a halfway intelligent guy; icing kickers NEVER FUCKING WORKS! (Last Week: 31)
- Oakland Raiders (1-3): God damn Carson Palmer is done! Give it up! Time to move on! For the love of God, throw anyone else in there at QB; they can’t be any worse! (Last Week: 25)
- Tennessee Titans (1-3): The Murderer’s Row of a schedule continues. This week: at Minnesota. Can Matt Hasselbeck bring some stability to this team? If he does, I don’t like Locker’s chances of being a starting quarterback in this league. Being injured is no way to raise your stock. (Last Week: 26)
- Kansas City Chiefs (1-3): How did they ever beat the Saints? What compelled me to think they’d beat the Chargers last week? There isn’t enough time in the day to tell you about how much the Chiefs suck. (Last Week: 27)
- New Orleans (0-4): Just invent a fake season-ending injury for Brees and get it over with. Use whatever draft picks you have left to bolster that defense. This is just a sad, sad state of affairs. (Last Week: 28)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3): It’s going to be quite the scramble for the Geno Smith Sweepstakes. Too bad the Jags will probably draft him, then move to Los Angeles within three years. (Last Week: 29)
- Indianapolis Colts (1-2): There’s a lot to like about where the Colts are right now. They’ll remain shitty for the rest of this season, but starting next year, watch out! (Last Week: 30)
- Cleveland Browns (0–4): Don’t count on this team moving up the ranks anytime soon. (Last Week: 32)