September 25, 2016

And So It Begins

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

There’s still another week still to go before the Pats take the field again, but today the 2007 NFL playoffs begin in earnest with the first of four wild card round matchups. Here’s a few random ruminations for your consideration.

NINER WATCH

I couldn’t bring myself to prepare one final Niner Watch spreadsheet, as the whole of the free world now knows that the Patriots will pick seventh in next April’s NFL Draft, thanks to the 5-11 49’ers. For a full rundown of the order as it stands today (the top 19 anyway), click here.

SHOULD I STAY, OR SHOULD I GO

So Josh McDaniels has decided to eschew offered interviews for vacant head coaching positions in Atlanta and Baltimore, which probably means two things: 1) he’s not a sniveling opportunist desperate for one big score before his considerable inadaquacies are revealed, and; 2) he won’t end up sticking a shiv in Bill Belichick’s back by ‘exposing’ a tactic he once happily exploited for his own gain. Awesome! 

COACH WINS

Speaking of awesome, this week the national sporting press saw fit to name the man who led his club to the league’s first ever 16-0 regular season as coach of the year. That was big of them. Well, big of most of them anyway. The guy that voted for Jon (9-7) Gruden, though? Might have been the first COY vote cast for a guy who lost three of five games in December.

AFC SOUTH INFESTED BY SWARM OF HYPOCRITES

Of all the pests, the hypocrite is the most pervasive. For example, they’re running rampant through the AFC South, home of three playoff teams.

“There’s no place for it. Everybody clearly understands the rules. The competition committee’s responsibility is to protect the integrity of the game. With technology the way it is right now, things could get out of hand in a matter of weeks if we don’t protect the integrity of the game.” — Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans

“To me, integrity is what you are all about. It’s what is inside of you. And what’s inside is going to come out when it gets to a critical situation. In my opinion, that’s the difference between a championship team and a good team. It’s the difference between a person you really want to follow and one who is just another person in your life. With people of integrity, you know what you are going to get because that person is the same way all the time; situations don’t change them.” — Tony Dungy, Indianapolis Colts

Well, maybe some situations. Like when a fellow member of the Competition Committee needs you to keep a timeout in your pocket. Then maybe you move those integrity goalposts a little bit.

Especially when you agreed to it beforehand.

The national sporting press was so distracted with their own moral dilemma (“How can we give this award to someone else?”) that they totally “missed” this breach of the principles they so vigorously defend, at least when they’re breached by someone they don’t like.

SUSPEND WILFERT!

Now everybody, even Jim Nantz, knows that the price for offending Cris Collinsworth is $15,000. Naturally, the girlish, handwringing Mike Florio has demanded Wilfork’s immediate suspension. That’s Mike Florio of the edgy, fiercely independant website Pro Football Talk, brought to you by the NFL Network.

ELLIS HOBBS

Dean Pees went to bat for Ellis Hobbs on Friday, which I kind of appreciated, because Hobbs is one of those unfortunate souls that always seems to be the last guy standing between the Patriots defense and a touchdown pass, even though you get the sense that there was more to it. By the way, that HUGE fourth quarter interception of Eli Manning last Saturday? It was Hobbs’s first pick of the season. Well timed.

LAURENCE MARONEY

I’ve fretted about the running game all season (rarely for good reason, but whatever) but after those two brutal (in the best, Corey Dillon-sense of the word) red zone touchdown runs last Saturday, I’m done.

THE WILD CARD ROUND

Is there any way all four of these teams can lose this weekend?

Comments

  1. as far as Maroney’s 2 “brutal” touchdown runs…on the first one, he did make that little “hesitation” move he makes alot…..my point being, this is Maroney’s style….on the runs were he supposedly “dances” and breaks the run for 15 yards no one complains about his running style…..of course when he gets stopped for no gain everybody starts bitching that he “dances” too much…….hindsight at it’s finest

  2. It kills me that Dungy and Fisher don’t grasp their own hypocrisy in this matter. Then again, most people don’t realize when they do it, I guess. For them to preach about “competition” and the “integrity of the game” so vigorously and then go out and basically concede a game and let the opponent into the playoffs ahead of another team is just unbelievable. Sure, I know this probably happens all the time, but Dungy and Fisher, after their moralistic preaching, need to put themselves at an even higher standard so as to avoid any appearance of this sort of thing.

  3. And Rick…I’m pretty sure Scott meant “brutal” as a compliment to Maroney.

  4. Excellent stuff, Scott. I am with you on Maroney. He has impressed me over the last month or so.

    Looking back it almost feels like Maroney got caught up in the midseason scoring circus the Pats had and started trying to dance his way to a home run every time to keep pace with Moss. As we saw in the Giant game, maybe it’s just that he has a compulsive need to dance after touchdowns, and feels sort of restricted when he has to stand aside for others.

    It’s hard to say whether it’s tighter games, the bad weather triggering flashbacks to his Big Ten college days or just being a more consistent ingredient in the game plan. But whatever it is, Maroney seems to have been able to focus on the “get whatever positive yards you can and finish the run strongly” task laid out for him by the coaching staff. (Not to mention the recent constructive criticism from naysayers both in the Patriots-owned and non-Patriots-owned media.)

    The team may rely too heavily on the pass at times but if that’s not working I don’t think it would be surprising to see Maroney step up and carry the team for a playoff game. I don’t think I’d have said the same thing in November.

  5. yes Bruce, I realize he did…..however, alot of people always are always complaining that Maroney “dances” too much…my point is, that’s the way the guy runs, thats his style, sometimes that “dancing” allows a hole to open up and he goes for a big gain and no one complains then……..at this point he’s not going to change to a Marion Barber or Larry Csonka style of running

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