Monday, January 2, 2012

Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing: Top 10 NFL Paper Tigers

It is one of the benefits and curses of Age, I think: the desire to see men who are full of themselves (and we all are, of course) taken down a peg or six. And it is the extreme nature of the NFL, which has just slightly less hype to product than your average wrassling enterprise, that this comes through loud and clear as we look back on 2011, before the playoffs start. So, without further ado...

10) Hue Jackson. The coach of the most penalized team in NFL history, and the man who went all-in on Carson Palmer, then pretty much gave him carte blanche to be a turnover machine. Next time, you might want to think about working on a run defense. Any kind of run defense.

9) Stephen Ross. This just in, Dolphins Owner... your team is not a premier destination for NFL talent. It's just a bit of a backwater, nice enough for tax and weather purposes, but in no way competitive with the NY/New England access of All Media, and you just ran off coaches and ran down talent that went 6-3 over the last nine games when they had every reason to quit. I get that you want a glamour team, but given that you play in heat and a slow track, maybe just winning should be enough.

8) Mike Shanahan. One of the bigger empty suits wearing the genius label, Shanny is now 11-21 in two years in DC -- in other words, the same record that everyone posts there -- and would have escaped all non-local notice if it weren't for the fact that every two to four weeks, there's a fresh piece of free agent meat to target as an available running back. The White Rat is still a guy who never won anything of real consequence without both John Elway and Terrell Davis being the best in the world at their position. Kind of a thin definition of genius, this.

7) Mike Pereira. The Fox officiating twerp is one of the bigger polluters of minds and hearts, and adds even less to the telecast than the other mouth breathers that Fox employs. Oh, and he also pollutes the world with pissy fights with other regrettable people like Jon Gruden. Don't make us choose a side in that fight, you tools.

6) John Fox. Look, I get the value of conservative play calling, especially when your current QB throws worse than kids at the Texas high school level. But that does not mean that you can't work in some end arounds, gadget plays, fake punts and figgies and other signs that show you care more about making the under than winning the game. Your games are unwatchable.

5) Rex Ryan. All he needs is a cape and laced up boots, but the act gets pretty thin when you have a good offensive line, well-regarded skill players, a defense that gives you chances and... you crap the bed in December. It's not just on Brian Schottenheimer anymore, big boy.

4) Andy Reid. The most yards in team history, a team that ranks in the top 10 on both offense and defense, a four game winning streak to end the year and a 5-1 record in the division... does not, even for a minute, make us forgive or forget this year of spectacularly wasted opportunity. And even for Eagle Fan that wants to give the benefit of the doubt, riddle me this: why will Mike Vick be more likely to play more than, say, 12 games in 2012?

3) Rob Ryan. Not really the best month for the family, no? You can't be called a defensive genius when your schemes mostly involve zones with minimal defensive pressure, lots of footage of you stomping around the sidelines like a heel manager of an also-ran tag team, and personal grooming from '70s porno. Even by the weak standards of NFL genius, this does not qualify. At all.

2) Bob Costas. Are you like me, in that your ears and brain are still trying to process his remarkably obvious little sermonettes in the middle of NBC's increasingly unwatchable NFL coverage? I'm just happy that we've got a new aggrieved old white man telling us what to feel bad about in the current state of the league. But be careful, Bob: last man to have that job was Bill Conlin. Just saying.

1) Jerry Jones. Another year down for the biggest hat with no cattle in the NFL. Jerry hasn't won squat of consequence since the Clinton Administration (and yes, that's coming up on 20 years now), but he still manages to con the league into an annual strokefest on Thanksgiving, which is just about when the media decides that this year, yes, will be the one that the Cowboys play up to their incredible potential as an also-ran team with middling talent, mostly because their owner is also their GM, and can never, ever, lose either of those jobs. Keep living the dream, Cowboy Fan!

Feel free to add yours in the comments...

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