Saturday, July 26, 2008

Warm, limp football myths

For a site with the word "facts" in it, doesn't strike me as very factual. Perusing the front page I see "Most Overrated" (which promises to "bitch-slap hype") and "Underrated" quarterbacks articles, two phenomena that cannot actually be measured.

Also, gaze upon this from the "Icy Issues" for the AFC South: "But those are just the anecdotes. Consider the Cold, Hard Football Facts: the AFC South combined to go 42-22 (.656) last season, the best record ever by an entire division.
"Manning is still only 32 and still in the brief window of prime performance age for a quarterback. He’d give even a bad team a fighting chance each week. And the Colts are hardly a bad team."

So one fact followed by three more anecdotes? I'm sold.

Naturally, picked up CHFF writer Kerry J. Byrne's article because (duh) it's about how Bill Belichick sucks at life.

And it makes little sense. That always helps.

I couldn't bookmark this site fast enough in a folder with the NY Post, and others as "Dumb sports sites."


This title is awful. In the copy editing room I would say "Mr. (?) Byrne, you can't hug a legacy." At least SI changed it to the better - if hyperbolic - "Disputing Belichick's legacy as defensive god."

Bill Belichick’s legacy cracked apart last year like the lobster claws at a Gillette Stadium tailgate.

The trouble should have come as no surprise. After all, the flaws in his game have been simmering for the better part of the 21st century. They finally boiled over in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII, spoiling what should have been the greatest celebratory feast in New England since 1621.

You had me at lobsters, you lost 90 percent of your readers at the Boston Tea Party [Update: This is apparently a Thanksgiving joke. See, he even lost me] joke.

And it's not really "his game" as much as it is his player's game.

Instead, the cracks in Belichick’s legacy have everything to do with what’s transpired on NFL football fields over the last several years as he stalked the sidelines. Let's put it this way: when your defense surrenders a gruesome 54 fourth-quarter points in four Super Bowls, as Belichick's defenses have done, it will tend tarnish a rep here and there.

Let me do some quick math here, hold on. Carry the one...move the decimal. OK, that comes out to 13.5/fourth quarter. Now that doesn't look great or terrible, but context is everything. What if the Pats were up eight TDs in the fourth? Or they (gasp) got tired? Or offenses adjusted? Or the refs blew some calls? Or a hundred other things?

I would guess that a vast majority of teams allow more points in the fourth than they do in other quarters. It just makes sense. But Belichick's legacy is tarnished because his stinky three-time Super Bowl winning teams allow some points in the fourth quarter.

Still, Belichick has been considered the singular defensive “genius” of his generation. Some "pundits" even argued, right up until about 10 p.m. on Feb. 3, that he was the greatest coach of all time. Raise your hand if heard that one in the run-up to the Super Bowl? Anyone? Anyone?

That’s right. We see ya. We heard it, too.

I'm confused. Generally, when writing something "humorous" (I am an expert) the "Anyone? Anyone?" technique is to be used in a sarcastic manner, as to look for an answer that will never come. But then the "That's right..." business comes in an just clubs me over the noodle.

I mean Belichick is at least in the conversation of greatest coach of all-time, right? I mean the league prides itself of parity and the man - along with a talented bunch of players and a great owner - won 75 percent of the Super Bowls in a four-year span. That's nuts.

But enough anecdotes, back to the facts!

Belichick is still a great coach, ... But the savory flavor of the Belichick legacy has been soured by on-the-field issues too large to ignore.

In fact, if he fails to win another Super Bowl, Belichick might not be remembered for the three championships in four years. Instead, he might only be remembered for what might have been. He might be remembered for ...

You're kidding, right? This is some kind of elaborate joke in which the domain is actually registered to Candid Camera and my expression-less response as I read this joke article by a Candid Camera intern will be featured on national TV for all to ridicule?

"Might not be remembered for three (3) Super Bowls in four (4) years." Read that again. I'll copy/paste it for you: "Might not be remembered for three (3) Super Bowls in four (4) years."

You could stop reading now and I would understand.

1. The big-game defensive implosions
Despite his reputation as a defensive master-mind, Belichick’s defenses have habitually reserved their worst performances for the biggest moments in the biggest games.

Here we go. A site, with the word "facts" in it's address, is calling out Belichick's defenses in the "big games." Regular season games? Fuck those. They don't matter. Other playoff games? Get OUT OF HERE! Any of the not five games you're about to read about? They were never played!

Coach BeliOctoberchick is what they should call him!

NE Patriots points/game defense ranks from 2000-2007:

17, 6, 17, 1, 2, 17, 2, 4.

So three "meh"s and five "fucking awesome"s.

In fact, Belichick has overseen some of the greatest defensive catastrophes in modern NFL history, a series of gridiron Hindenburgs that explode live on national television year after year as all of New England cries out for humanity. Consider these fourth-quarter debacles:

This is some pretty good writing. Comparing defensive metldowns to an American tragedy? Not the most tactful route, but well-written. Although there seem to be quite a few metaphors...

As a Pats fan (which clearly Byrne is not) I remember one terrible, infuriating defensive collapse: the Colts in '06. I could not be spoken to for like an hour after that.

Super Bowl XXXVI (Patriots 20, Rams 17) – Hardly a colossal breakdown, but the cracks began to show in the Belichick legacy – ironically – at the furious end of this, his greatest triumph. The Patriots held the Greatest Show on Turf to 3 points through three quarters.

That Rams team was 14-2, had the number one offense in both yards and points and the number seven ranked defense in points (third in yards). Marshall Faulk had 2000+ yards of total offense, Kurt Warner threw 36 TDs, they had two 1,000 yard receivers. The Rams scored 503 fucking points in the regular season - over 31/game. They scored 45 and 29 in their playoff games. They were favored by 14 in the Super Bowl.

I think it goes without saying but, the 2001 Rams were a juggernaut. And the shitty-ass Patriots let them score 17 whole points. And 14 in the fourth! Are you kidding? BeliOctoberchick should give that trophy back.

At one point, it even looked like a rout: a fumble return for a TD by New England defensive back Tebucky Jones would have given the Patriots a 24-3 lead late in the third quarter. But the play was overturned by a penalty against – you guessed it – Belichick’s defense.


The Rams stormed back, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns – following their two longest drives of the game (55 yards and 77 yards) – to force a tie with 90 seconds to play. If not for the typical Tom Brady heroics, leading the only walk-off scoring drive in Super Bowl history in just his 17th NFL start, this game might be remembered only for New England’s defensive collapse.

Let's say the Pats lose. The story in the NE papers would be something like "Pats put up fight, lose close one." Lines like "it was theirs for the taking" and "let one slip away" would be there, sure. But they held maybe the best offense ever to 17 points in the goddamn Super Bowl. That they were two TD dogs in.

Super Bowl XXXVIII (Patriots 32, Panthers 29)

This one was ugly defensively. I'll concede here.

2004 AFC title game (Patriots 41, Steelers 27) – A pigskin portent of things to come reared its head here in the 2004 AFC title tilt. It was the coldest game in Steelers franchise history. Yet the Patriots offense made a mockery of the weather and Pittsburgh’s No. 1 defense and largely controlled the game.

The weather shit - who cares?

I looked at the box score. The Pats were up 24-3 at the half. Safe to say they felt they had the thing won going into the third. They then went up 31-10. Can you really call this a "defensive collapse?" I'd call it "Hey guys, rest up for the goddamn Super Bowl!"

Super Bowl XXXIX (Patriots 24, Eagles 21) – Everybody remembers Philly quarterback Donovan McNabb heaving on the field in the late moments of the game. ... Belichick’s defense did hold up its end of the bargain, though, picking off passes on two of Philly’s other fourth-quarter drives. But the outcome was still in doubt when the physically ill QB shredded the Patriots defense for a late fourth-quarter TD.

That Philly passing attack was bonkers, by the way. McNabb - whose sick excuse may or may not be true - threw 31 TDs and 8 INTs . Terrell Owens caught 14 TDs, 1200 yards and played the Super Bowl on a busted wheel, still killing the Pats.

I am beginning to see a theme here. Good teams make it to Super Bowls.

Also: held them to 21 points.

2006 AFC title game (Colts 38, Patriots 34) – Indy’s victory in the 2006 AFC championship game begets a simple question: 'Can you be a defensive genius when your defense suffers the greatest meltdown on American soil since Three Mile Island?'


It's the best QB ever, playing at home in a dome. Weird shit happens sometimes. As a retort I give you

NE 20 IND 3

The game where the Patriots defense played so ferociously the NFL had to change the rules so it wouldn't happen again. That Indy team was number one in scoring and number two in yards on offense. They also paced the league in bitching and were second in moaning, behind the Steelers.

Big. Game. Imp. Los. Ion. S. They're all Belichick knows, really.

We think even Ray Charles could see a pattern here, folks: despite the legend, Belichick’s defenses routinely collapse in the late stages of the biggest games of the year.

In the five examples we picked, four of which were wins and two of which the teams were held to 21 or less, which I call good in the playoffs.

Here is a Cold Hard Fact: In the their Super Bowl years ('01, '03, '04, '07) the Patriots have allowed 17.0 points/game in the playoffs.

Some perspective - the number one team in scoring defense on '07 (Indy) allowed 16.4 points/game.

I'll take 17.0 points per, thanks. But they weren't the "big games" - a.k.a the five we picked that supported our argument.

We could have included Super Bowl XLII among the many other times a Belichick defense wilted like week-old lettuce when the game mattered most.
But Super Bowl XLII deserves to stand alone.
After all, New England’s collapse in this game was so historic, so massive, so colossal, that it joins the Great Wall of China as the only man-made objects that can be seen from space.

If one (uno) play (of maybe five) turns out different, the Pats win that game.

The helmet catch. The dropped pick on the sideline. Eli Manning running perpendicular to the ground, avoiding a sack to get the helmet catch throw off. If one (1) of those plays goes the Pats way, they win. Done. Fuck everyone, we're the evil empire.

From those paragraphs you'd think the Pats gave up 140 points. The score was 17-14. Shut up.

But also remember that, with the Super Bowl on the line, with the first 19-0 season on the line, with football immortality on the line, and with the biggest audience in American sporting history as witness, Belichick’s defense crumbled faster than the French Army in 1940.

There are so many similes/metaphors in this article (14, including Joe Theismann's tibia, Amelia Earhart, Sherman's army and the Great Wall of China) that I am going to be sicker than McNabb in the Super Bowl 39!!!!

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