NFL REPORT CARD: After 4 Weeks, The Sports Philosopher Holds Court

October 4, 2010
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      The pro football season is one-quarter over.   Four weeks down, twelve to go.  (“gulp/sniffle/sob”)

      Have we learned anything?

Sam has the Rams on top again.

Sam has the Rams on top again.

      Well, we’ve learned (or should I say re-affirmed) that STUPIDITY (by both coaches and players) is still the single overriding factor in determining who wins (or should I say loses) a football game.   Every team in the league should have what I call an “Anti-Stupidity Coordinator”.   But I’ve written more than enough columns on that particular topic over the years, I know, so I will now try (though who can say how successful I’ll be?) to refrain from such delightful references to the idiotic for the rest of this piece….

      Rather, I thought it might be fun to hand out some 1st Quarter awards for the season in progress, for good and for bad, in recognition of the best of the best and worst of the worst so far.   We’ll call them the “TSPs”.  (short for The Sports Philosopher….get it?)

      Anyway, tell me if you agree with these:

      *The TSP AWARD FOR MOST SURPRISING TEAM SO FAR IN 2010:  Most people would say the Kansas City Chiefs—currently football’s only undefeated team at 3-0—but I’m going to go with the St. Louis Rams.   Last year the Rams won one game.   This year they’ve already won two.   And at 2-2, they are tied for the lead in the NFL’s weakest division, the NFC West.   On to the Super Bowl!

      *The TSP AWARD FOR MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM SO FAR IN 2010:   I think it’s the Colts.   They still have Peyton Manning, and he’s still the best player, but the backs, receivers, and defense have all let him down.   The Colts are 2-2, including a loss to the Jaguars, one of the worst teams in the league.  If the Colts don’t stop making turnovers and allowing points in bunches, this could be the end of the line for their half-dozen-year run of success….

      *The TSP AWARD FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR SO FAR IN 2010:  That’s easy.   Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.   He’s the real deal.   Most rookie quarterbacks, when they’re thrown right into the fire their first year, are horrible.   Terry Bradshaw threw 24 interceptions his first year.   Troy Aikman’s Cowboys went 1-15.   Now they’re both in the Hall of Fame.   Bradford is playing like a 5-year veteran already.   The Rams have found their quarterback for the next decade….

      *The TSP AWARD FOR DUMBEST TEAM SO FAR IN 2010: This is why I didn’t put the San Francisco 49-ers down for the most disappointing team.   When you are perennial losers and as dumb as the ‘Niners are, you can’t be the most disappointing because it’s just not that big of a surprise when you screw up and lose.   They are not only 0 and 4, but a mind-bogglingly dumb 0 and 4.   For instance, they had the Saints all-but-beat a couple weeks ago and totally outplayed last year’s champs the whole game.   But they wound up losing by a couple points because they made four of the dumbest turnovers you ever saw.   And then yesterday they out-did themselves.   They had a game won against Atlanta, it was all-but-over….but then they threw it back like you’d throw back a skinny unwanted trout into a stream.   Leading 14-13, with only a minute and twenty seconds to go in the game, the ‘Niners picked off a horribly thrown Matt Ryan pass, which they ran back inside the Falcons’ 10-yard-line.   All they had to do was fall on it or run safely out of bounds, and then, if they didn’t score again, they could easily run out the clock.   Remember, there was only 1:20 left in the game.   Unfortunately, the guy running back the interception, Nate Clements, doesn’t grasp or understand what I like to call “the mathematics of football”.   Instead of going to the ground or running safely out of bounds, glory-seeking Nate tried to score a touchdown, probably so that he could get his mug on ESPN that night, so Roddy White of the Falcons snuck up behind him and poked the ball free, Atlanta recovered on their own 7-yard-line, and then—having been injected with new life—the Falcons drove relentlessly downfield, and then, with .02 on the clock, kicked the game-winning field goal.   Those last two seconds were the only two seconds during the entire game when Atlanta was ahead.   And now San Francisco is 0 and 4.   Brutal.

      *The TSP AWARD FOR DUMBEST PLAY OF THE YEAR SO FAR:  Nate Clements.   Refer to the above paragraph.

      *The TSP AWARD FOR MOST HEADS-UP PLAY TO WIN A GAME SO FAR:   Roddy White.   Refer to two paragraphs up.

      *The TSP AWARD FOR TEAMS MOST IN NEED OF AN “ANTI-STUPIDITY COORDINATOR”:   It’s a tie between the aforementioned 49-ers, the Packers, the Giants, the Bears, and the long-suffering Lions.   (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

      *The TSP AWARD FOR WORST TEAM OF 2010:   So far it’s Buffalo.   They are winless, usually get blown out, and have very little to offer on either side of the ball.   Plus it gets really cold up there in December….

      *The TSP AWARD FOR LEAST VALUABLE PLAYER (“LVP”) SO FAR IN 2010:   I suppose it has to be Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards.   When you average less than five yards per pass and then get released by the worst team in the league, I mean when you’re not even good enough to not get fired by the worst team in the whole league, most mathematicians would say that that makes you the worst player.   I hear the jags just picked him up.   Good luck.

      *The TSP AWARD FOR WORST PERFORMANCE BY ANY TEAM SO FAR THIS SEASON:   I hate to say it, but it has to be my beloved Chicago Bears.   Last Sunday against the New York Football Giants, the Bears—who before the game were 3 and 0, having beaten both Dallas and Green bay, two NFL powerhouses—lost a game in which they made three turnovers, racked up only 51 passing yards, were out-gained 372 yards to 110, made only six first downs, allowed NINE sacks in the first half alone, lost both their 1st and 2nd string quarterbacks to injury (from getting sacked so hard and so often), and only scored three points; three points they wouldn’t even have had if New York’s Brandon Jacobs hadn’t fumbled for no reason.   Those nine sacks are the most sacks ever allowed in one half by one team in the 90-year history of the National Football League.   Read that last sentence again.   Read it again.   It just doesn’t get much worse than that.

      *The TSP AWARD FOR SADDEST NFL STAT:   The Lions have now lost 41 of their last 44 games.   I don’t know what further eloquence I could offer, other than to repeat that the Lions have lost 41 of their last 44 games.

      *The TSP AWARD FOR MOST VALUABLE PLAYER OF 2010 BY VIRTUE OF WHAT ITS LIKE WHEN HE’S NOT OUT THERE:   Michael Vick for sure.   When he wasn’t in there in the first half of their first game against the Packers the Eagles were awful, then he almost brought them all the way back in the 2nd half, then he was promoted to 1st string, then he won the next two games for them singlehanded, and then yesterday, after he got wiped out by two Redskin defenders and left the game with three broken ribs, the Eagles were awful again.   Kevin Kolb is obviously a good quarterback, but the Eagles just don’t respond for him.   If the swashbuckling Vick is out for several weeks, the Eagles disintegrating record will show just how valuable he is….

      *The TSP AWARD FOR MOST VALUABLE PLAYER OF 2010 SO FAR AMONG PLAYERS WHO ARE STILL HEALTHY AND THEREFORE COULD ACTUALLY THEORETICALLY WIN THE REAL MVP AWARD BY SEASON’S END:   Well, Peyton Manning is the best player, and the Colts may well rebound in the end to secure for him his 5th league MVP, but for the moment I’m saying the 2010 NFL MVP award goes to….I can’t believe I’m saying this….Mark Sanchez.   Don’t panic, it’s just for the first four weeks.   But the guy deserves some recognition.   Sanchez has matured into a real leader, and in four games he hasn’t thrown a single interception.   Not one.   He doesn’t try to be the hero on every play, and the Jets have been all the better for it.   More quarterbacks should follow his lead.   It’s like what Clint Eastwood as ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan said in “Magnum Force”, way back in 1973 and it’s still true today: “A man’s got to know his limitations….”

      *The TSP AWARD FOR BEST HEAD COACH SO FAR IN 2010:   The obnoxious Rex Ryan of the Jets.   Yes, he’s a fat loudmouthed jerk, but his players love him, they believe in him, he gets them ready to play, and they make very few mistakes.   And he’s got guts.

      *The TSP AWARD FOR BEST TEAM SO FAR IN 2010:   Well, you’ve probably figured out where this is headed.   The Jets.   They lost their opening game by one point, and then have looked great in their three subsequent victories.   When star cornerback Darrelle Revis gets healthy, they will be even better, in fact much better.   They came within 30 minutes and one big play of making it to the Super Bowl last year.   They are a better team this year.   Look out.

      That’s all I got.   I’m suddenly suffering from NFL burn-out.  For the moment.

      Remember, the season is only four weeks old.   So unless your favorite team is the Lions, the Bills, the Raiders, or something along those lines, there’s still hope for you.

      You wanna know what you need to remember about the NFL at this stage of the 2010 season?   It’s that the San Francisco Giants just won the National League West pennant and are only a couple weeks away (if there is a god) from winning their first Word Series ever!

      Does that make sense?

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0021

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered fictioneer, and hater of unnecessary dumbness—in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.    Brad has also written 4 novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of his best fiction work can be discovered within the mysterious links below:




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