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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Welcome to the Firing Line, Don Banks

Bears' 3-0 start to season proves it's better to be lucky than good
But what if they're both, jackass?

Five things we learned from watching the Bears pull out a rather-improbable win over the error-prone Packers at Solider Field ..

Or Soldier Field. Also, again, THE ERRORS WERE FORCED BY THEIR INABILITY TO STOP JULIUS PEPPERS AT ALL. Also, the Bears had 5 penalties, a missed field goal, and a dropped touchdown pass on 4th and Goal. STOP ACTING LIKE GREEN BAY IS THE ONLY TEAM TO EVER MAKE A MISTAKE.

1. I'm still not sure how the Bears have found their way to 3-0 for the first time since 2006, but I do know they're the last and most unlikely team to be perfect in the NFC. This Chicago team is living something of a charmed existence so far in 2010; and in its own way, this game deserves to be right there alongside the Week 1 win over the Lions, in terms of winning with good fortune. It's true that Chicago hasn't played a complete game yet, but it's also true the Bears haven't lost yet, either. Would you rather be lucky or good?

I'll tell you how. In game one against the Lions they thoroughly dominated and outgained Detroit by 300 yards. Were it not for four fumbles the game wouldn't have been close. The game was close, and thus the Lions had a chance to win the game on a touchdown pass that wasn't a touchdown pass. They didn't so they lost the game. In Week 2 they went to Dallas, didn't commit a turnover, forced three, played great on both sides of the ball, and kicked the Cowboys' fucking asses. In Week 3 Green Bay had a bunch of long drives consisting of short passes and yet failed to score very often, because the Cover 2 worked to perfection and the Packers could not stop Julius Peppers without pulling him close by the jersey and going for a reacharound. When the Bears had the ball, they scored. Turns out that time of possession doesn't always matter that much. Also, I believe all three Chicago games have gone all four quarters and were complete by NFL rules.

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler was his team's poster child for this peculiar game. He threw one interception against Green Bay, but it could have easily been five

Or ten! Or 27! Because that's how many passes he attempted! Theoretically all of them could have been picked off. Or they could all have been touchdowns! My god, 27 touchdown passes. Since we're just acting like plays that didn't happen DID happen, let's all stop to commend Jay Cutler on this mind-blowing single game touchdown record.

The Packers dropped two passes that were right in their hands (Nick Collins and Charles Woodson)

So did Desmond Clark. Cutler threw 1 TD pass, but it could have been two! Or 11!

and penalties wiped out two other Green Bay picks.

Banks isn't the only asswipe touting this theory, and I have to commend everyone for this brilliant ignorance of the nature of cause and effect. Those two picks were taken away by the penalties, yes. The way Banks says this, it implies that they were fair interceptions and something unrelated took them away, so Cutler still made a poor decision in both cases. HOWEVAH, on the first one that was taken away, the ONLY REASON the pass was intercepted was because of the helmet-to-helmet contact that knocked the ball of course. If there's no helmet-to-helmet, that's doesn't mean the interception would have stayed, that means the pass would have been completed to Greg Olsen. On the other interception, Cutler saw Bennett being mugged and just threw it up. It's called "drawing a pass interference call." Good quarterbacks do this. CUTLER WOULD NEVER HAVE THROWN THE BALL IF HE DIDN'T KNOW HE WAS GOING TO GET THE CALL. My God, if Peyton Manning had done that Peter King would have been fogging up the windows of the pressbox while feverishly writing a hagiography touting Peyton's brilliant gamesmanship.

When you add in Green Bay's team-record 18 penalties for 152 yards (breaking a record set in 1945), and the Packers' special-team lapses, this had the feel of a self-inflicted Green Bay loss more than an impressive Chicago victory.

8 of those calls were on the offensive line and were the direct result of the defense holding Julius Peppers to prevent a sack or committing a false start because they were fucking afraid of having to block Julius Peppers. Meaning Green Bay didn't just commit them because they felt like it. Either way, Chicago was going to win the matchup. The roughing the passer nullfied a pick, this is true, but it came on the very next drive after THE SAME CALL WENT AGAINST THE BEARS and kept alive Green Bay's touchdown drive. The Bears commited five penalties as well. It's part of the game. Bad teams commit lots of penalties, and they lose the game because of it.


But I still can't see Chicago keeping this kind of mojo going throughout the season, looking downright outmatched in some parts of every game, but still finding a way to win. It happened against Detroit, in Chicago's shaky second half. It happened at Dallas, where the Bears started the game looking overmatched on the offensive line. And it happened against Green Bay, a team that dominated Chicago statistically for most of the night.

You mean the second half where the Bears took the lead and held Detroit without a single first down until the last drive where Detroit DIDN'T SCORE? And yeah, the Bears had two bad series on the offensive line against Dallas. Apparently two bad series=Cowboys actually dominated. And the only statistics that Green Bay dominated last night were time of possession and first downs. Well, and penalty yardage and turnovers. The Packers actually only had 3 more first downs then Chicago, had fewer rushing yards, and, umm, oh yeah, fewer fucking points.

Skipping some more....

3. The "new and improved'' Jay Cutler looked a lot like the old Jay Cutler to me at times.

Probably because that's just a figure of speech and he's really the same guy. Seriously. They didn't clone him or anything.

But that sure looked like the old, careless Cutler against Green Bay. The Bears quarterback sailed some passes, missed some easy throws and took several unnecessary risks. By his own admission, he didn't play anywhere near his best game in finishing 16 of 27 for 221 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

But thanks to the sloppy Packers, Cutler didn't wind up paying for most of his mistakes. Cutler had some very pretty throws -- his 21-yard completion to Olsen on 2nd-and-20 in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty -- and made some big plays when in clutch moments. But you can't live that dangerously every week in the NFL and survive. At the minimum, he threw three passes that should have resulted in Green Bay interceptions, and that would have been enough to get him beat on most nights.

But they weren't intercepted. That's part of playing in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers threw an interception last night, too. He also threw one that hit Izzy Idonijie right in the chest on a blown up screen play. NFL quarterbacks make bad throws. It's true. It totally happens. They have these things called "incompletions" and since no one has ever completed 100% of his pass attempts (other than Marty Booker), it turns out that no quarterback is perfect. Why many of those incompletions were good plays by the defense or could have been intercepted! Hell, you might say Jay Cutler takes a risk any time he puts it up in the air! That mad man!

Seriously, this is shit. Nothing that didn't actually happen in an NFL game matters. Calvin Johnson's no catch? Get the fuck over it, it didn't happen. If Detroit wants to bitch they can try gaining more than 168 yards and getting past the 50 yard line more than once in the second half. If Dallas "absolutely overwhelmed" the Bears they'd have had more than one sack and would not have lost the fucking game. Jay Cutler cannot be judged based on interceptions that didn't happen. I'll judge him based on the 109.7 rating he has on the passes that did.

Eat shit, Don Banks.

Around the NFL Week 3

Man, the day after it still feels really good that the Bears are 3-0 and in first place. It's also hilarious to hear everyone else trying to rationalize away the Packers loss to the point that they're still the "clear favorite" to win the division. That's fine. I'll be content with the "mathematical favorite" for now.

Bengals 20, Panthers 7

Really folks, Carolina is awful. Good to see Jimmy Clausen end the first half of his first start with a zero rating. The problem here is the fact that I'm forced to face the fact that Carson Palmer is done. We all know how much I love a good Armcock, and coming out of USC Carson was more or less the platonic ideal of a QB with armcock, armcockuracy, and all the "intangibles" that mediafolk love. Sadly, the injuries to his knee and rotator cuff have left him a shell of the man he used to be, and I just don't see the Bengals being able to go very far in that division without a quarterback who has a big enough arm to threaten the Steelers or one of the AFC elites in the playoffs.

Patriots 38, Bills 30
Wow, the Pats have a shitty defense. First the gimpy armed Carson Palmer gets them for 345 yards, then Rico Mirerez (yes, he's had two very good games, but Ryan Fitzpatrick's success against the Pats invalidates Mirerez's, while I'm just going to say the Dolphins have a terrible secondary without any evidence to back that up) torches them and now Ryan Fitzpatrick guides the Bills to 30 points. I'm actually beginning to look forward to seeing Cutler go up against them late this season.

Chiefs 31, 49ers 10
Aaaand that should do it for the 2010 49ers. I know the NFC West absolutely blows, but I think that team has just spiraled too far out of control. Pete Caroll will probably win the damn division at 8-8 and I have to see that happy bastard smile once again with an undeserved (well, I suppose in college it was more illegally-earned) sense of accomplishment. Oh, and the Chiefs are good outside of Matt Cassel, who, despite his 3 TDs on Sunday, still really sucks.

Titans 29, Giants 10
If I wasn't a backwards, jinx-fearing fool, I'd point out that the Giants are 4-10 in their last 14 games with 38 turnovers and that they look like a really bad football team. Alas, I won't say that because I'd rather not let the fact that I pointed out that the Giants kind of suck come back to haunt me. Even if they do suck. Nice rebound for VY, who I now begrudgingly root for if only because Jeff Fisher is a dick to him.

Ravens 24, Browns 17
Sure it was only against the Browns and you only threw the ball to Anquan Boldin, but you finally had a good game. Good for you, Flacco! Also, I can't decide if it's hilarious or sad that Browns fans are probably eagerly awaiting the return of Jake Delhomme. Probably both.

Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13
Well, the only thing surprising about this was the Steelers managing 38 points. One more game left without Rapey. They're definitely looking scary.

Falcons 27, Saints 24
Garrett Hartley kinda sucks. The Falcons are good, and they still had to drive down to get their own field goal to win the game, so people shouldn't say they didn't Beat New Orleans, but I'd still take the Saints in this division. It was good to see Matt Ryan finally string together consecutive good games for the first time since the first half of last season. I like the kid. I hope he's back on track.

Vikings 24, Lions 10

I really have to ask why the Lions ignore Calvin Johnson until the 4th quarter. Tough loss for the Lions. Favre still sucked (1:3 TD to INT ratio this year, with a 60.4 rating), but Peterson is doing everything he can to carry the Vikings. I have confidence that that won't be enough to win the North this year.

Cowboys 27, Texans 13
I don't buy that the Cowboys saved their season here, but, then again, the NFC East looks pretty shitty, so who knows? I do know that the Texans proved they're still the Texans by losing yet another winnable game.

Eagles 28, Jaguars 3
Beating a lame duck Jags team doesn't prove much of anything, but I have to finally concede that Michael Vick may, possibly, have learned, maybe, how to pass. In the abstract.

Rams 30, Redskins 16
Well, I didn't see this particular loss coming, but I can't say I'm all that surprised. The biggest problem for the Redskins over the last few years have been an inconsistent defense, one of the league's worst offensive lines, and a lack of a running game behind an aging Clinton Portis. Their fix to all of that was to sign Albert Haynesworth, the $100 Million Dollar Slave, and to trade for another quarterback who can take a beating behind that line. So no, they aren't playoff bound. Also, since we all know I'm a quarterback nut and one particularly interested in the handling of rookie QBs, I'm a huge fan of how the Rams are handling Bradford. They're letting him throw the ball (averaging 39 attempts) but also rolling him out, minimizing his reads, and letting him grow slowly while under fire.

Colts 27, Broncos 13
Suck it, McDaniels.

Cardinals 24, Raiders 23
Thanks to the ineptitude of Sebastian Janikowski, the Cardinals and Derek Anderson (currently sporting a young Jake Plummer-esque 67.6 passer rating) are now in the lead in the NFC West, because everyone west of the Mississippi hates quality football.

Seattle 27, Chargers 20
Well, San Diego's off to their standard September pants-shitting.

Jets 31, Dolphins 23
HOW HARD IS IT TO DOUBLE COVER DUSTIN KELLER? 6 OF THE FIRST 7 PASSES WENT TO HIM! DO NOT MAKE IT EASY FOR RICO MIREZ! Also, Chad Henne looked pissed (and rightfully so) everytime the Dolphins pulled him despite his absolute destruction of the Jets defense (363 yards) in order to run the f%&king Wildcat.

Well, that's it for the NFL this week. Prognostication Bukakke should be up in the next couple days. Go Bears.