Posts tagged ‘National Football League’

January 25, 2011

The Unintended Result from Cutler’s Knee

by Jeeves

As many of us are aware, the NFL faces a potential labor stoppage this off-season. The thought of missing out on any games next year is truly terrifying, but there is the very real possibility that this thing doe not get resolved any time soon. Apparently it’s a lot harder to divvy up billions and billions of dollars than you would think.

One of the biggest issues that will be negotiated is an expansion of the regular season from 16 games to 18 games. The  owners are all for it as more games equals more ticket and, down the line, more TV revenue. The players are against it for two reasons. One is that the players want their salaries to grow by, at least, the same percentage as the season. In their view, (and I think rightfully so) their current contracts were negotiated for a 16 game season, thus they should be paid more for an 18 game season. The other reason is the toll that an additional two games will have on the players’ bodies. This is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it seems qualitatively that teams are filling up their IR more and more each year. Just look at the Saints running back depth chart or even the Packers.

This brings me to my main point. I think it all the public outrage over Cutler’s knee the players have hurt their position with regards to collective bargaining. One of their main arguing points for either more money or for a status quo with regards to the length of the season is the amount of additional punishment the players would incur. Unfortunately, the flurry of tweets and immediate armchair analysis made the players association  look far from united in that regard. All the current and former player’s blatherings about Cutler makes it sound like they would do anything to stay on the field, no matter the costs to their body. It’s football after all, they have to do what they need to for their team. Plus they’re super bad-ass and would play gladly play on torn MCL’s if given the chance. While I’m sure that it won’t have a massive effect on negotiations, the deluge of thoughts along these lines can only serve to help the owners.  Hopefully, it doesn’t come back to bite the players in the butt, but if it does we’ve at least learned that they’ll play through the pain.

January 23, 2011

Defending Jay Cutler

by Jeeves

Full disclosure: I am from Chicago and am indeed a Bears fan. I think it is important to get all biases out front and center

Update: Turns out Cutler has a torn MCL, so I suppose I was correct.

Update 2: The official prognosis is a grade 2 MCL tear which takes 3-4 weeks to heal. Also it should be noted that a tear and sprain for all intents and purposes are synonymous when dealing with the MCL, per here.

The above picture is from the front page of Yahoo! Sports’ NFL section and is a large motivating factor for this post. I realize that Cutler didn’t play a great game today; his deep ball was off and the pressure limited his performance on shorter routes. He missed Hester a couple times though he did make a nice pass to Knox, but that’s not why I’m writing.

The excessive hyperbole and complete vilification of Cutler for being forced out of the game is absurd. I realize and understand that part of sports writing is to capture the emotion of the moment and the feelings of the fan, but I think it’s clear that the ensuing clusterf*** (or Cutlerf****, if you will) is going to move beyond the means of any reasonable literary device. Steve Bartman (rightly or wrongly) is one of the most hated ‘characters’ in  Chicago. Fans were so angry, so enraged at him, that the governor recommended he go into the witness protection program. Naturally, Yahoo! equates the Bartman situation to Cutler having an, at best, sprained MCL, at worst, torn MCL.

It just strikes me as absurd that this amount of vitriol is coming out when the extent of the injury hasn’t even been determined. It strikes me as doubly absurd when you question Cutler’s toughness, as Kerry Rhodes of the Arizona Cardinals did, because this requires you to also forget every other game that he has played for the Bears. Cutler has been the picture of resolve in his short time in Chicago. He has been sacked 87 times and hit countless other occasions in just 31 regular season games due to a horrendous, porous offensive line. Up until today, save for his concussion against the Giants, he got up, dusted himself off and went back to work. You would think that such continual perseverance would buy the guy the benefit of the doubt. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he’s even complained about the line and how often he’s been hit let alone sulk his way off the field because of it.

If you really, really think about it; separate out the emotion and the magnitude of today’s loss, and ask yourself, what is more likely?: “Jay Cutler was legitimately hurt and unable to plant while throwing the football, thus rendering him useless” or “Jay Cutler is a gutless wimp who quit on his team during the biggest game of the season even though he had absorbed countless hits this season and never asked out of a previous game.” I don’t understand how you can reconcile Cutler as gutless while completely ignoring his body of work/toughness up until now.

I realize the rebuttals to this line of thinking would go something like, “Yeah, but he wasn’t even limping after he came out!” Right. Ligament damage, though, isn’t necessarily crippling during low impact movements. I have a friend who has torn multiple ligaments in both knees on multiple occasions. Prior to surgery he was able to walk around no problem. Granted he was moving around slowly, much like Cutler, I’ll add, but he looked totally fine until being faced with the task of climbing stairs. It’s dynamic movements like pushing upwards and forwards or planting to throw a football where the lack of stability in the knee comes into play; so the fact that he could pace the sideline shouldn’t be used as an indictment of his character or his toughness.

Jay Cutler may come off as brash or whiny. He may not have charmed the media with his interactions or endeared himself to Bears’ fans with his interceptions, but the one thing I could always say without reservation is that, at least, Cutler is tough as nails. No matter what the others may say, I will still continue to consider Cutler one tough S.O.B.

January 18, 2011

Al Davis: The Only Human Being who Could Ever Make Lane Kiffin Seem Credible

by npiller88

After leading his team to an 8-8 season that most pundits billed as promising for the Raiders, Tom Cable has been rewarded with a firing. But that’s old news. The new news is that  yet AGAIN, a recently fired coach has filed a grievance against Mr. Davis for not paying the entirety of his salary. It’s funny how Al likes to stroke his ego by inviting these cumbersome, petty lawsuits. He’s been the paranoid dictator for a while, especially after being jerked around by the courts when he tried to move the team to Irwindale and build a stadium there. But in this case, senility seems to be the major factor, rather than paranoia.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for a guy like Cable (sure, he did punch an assistant coach a couple years ago, but was RETAINED after that! Instead of being fired for that serious offense, he got a vote of approval and THEN got canned after the Raiders’ first respectable season in quite some time). All he did was show enough enthusiasm to bring full contact into the OTAs. This is against the rules, and led to a penalty from the league. But it was a minor offense. And the team improved its record significantly. And Cable was JUST fired. In denying Cable his full contract, Davis may be acting out of some deep-seeded belief that everyone is out to get him (even though it is Cable who has just been got), but there’s no doubt that it’s just another cheap circus act. It’s really not an issue of “Does Al realize how petty and disfunctional he seems?” (Clearly, the answer is “no.”) Now, as this most recent instance has revealed, it’s becoming a question of how many coaches will Al irreparably piss off before he kicks the bucket? And how will the franchise ever attract a legitimate coach in light of this work environment? If I’m a hot shot coordinator, I’m taking the Raiders job as a LAST RESORT, after all 31 other NFL head coaching jobs have been eliminated as possibilities. Just whenthe Raiders were being praised for their last draft, and even some of the haze hanging over the Oakland coliseum from the sheer embarrassment of drafting Darius Heyward-Bey was gradually lifting, something like this happens. You fooled us again Mr. Davis.

Al’s relationships with coaches always seem to end with grade school squabbling over a few thousand dollars, and Al dragging as many people down into his cavernous pit of emotionless, penny-pinching squalor as possible. Few men have climbed out of the ashes with a smile. Just ask Lane Kiffin. One thing I will say is that as much as I despise Kiffin’s douchebag attitude, his lambasting of Al was priceless. And it was too funny that he took the SC job, which is famously Al’s favorite college program. Even though many started to say: “hey, maybe Al Davis was right about that guy” after Kiffin bolted from Tennessee to USC, there’s no question that this most recent episode with Cable makes it easier to sympathize with Kiffin.

Who does this? Who gets into protracted court battles over 5% of someone’s contract? Three times? Al Davis, that’s who. Oh, and not a single other NFL owner to speak of.

January 13, 2011

Misery Loves Company: A Look at 50 Point Margins of Victory

by Jeeves

The Lakers’ spanking of the Cavs, last night, got me thinking, not about the newest bit of schadenfreude courtesy of Lebron (see Nate’s take of LBJ’s tweet), but rather about the sheer size of the margin of victory.

Quick anecdote time: I saw the 112-57 margin of victory on SI and pointed it out to my girlfriend. She seemed unperturbed by the 55 point thrashing and after a few seconds asked, “Is that a lot?” I responded, “In any [of the mainstream] professional sport[s] a 50 point margin is huuuge, whether it’s basketball or football or well, I guess in either of those two sports.” As she digested that comment, my mind quickly flitted to the relative difficulty of achieving a 50 point margin in those  sports and then to the frequency of such a feat.

So I thought today we could take a quick look into those two questions.

Higher Degree of Difficulty, Basketball or Football?

Before I spoil the ending, let’s first take a quick look at the factors that add to the degree of difficulty in each sport. First and foremost, it’s hard to score 50 points in the NFL, let alone win by that margin. Since the merger, the NFL has seen a score of at least 50 points on 84 separate occasions, including two overtime games. Two teams have never scored 50 points in the same game, if you wondering. It goes without saying that an offensive outburst like that is an uncommon sight, but as cliche as it sounds, it takes a team effort to win a game…by 50. The defense can’t just sit back and relax as the offense lights up the scoreboard. The fact that the most points scored in the post-merger NFL is 62 means that the defense has a small margin for error.

Depending on how you view these things, either strategy or the “unwritten rules” of football can also trip up a team on its path to a 50 point victory. Generally speaking, a team winning by an absurd margin will start to run the ball to bleed the clock, unless of course that team is the 2007 Patriots. Some teams do this so that they don’t show up the other team, while others do this due to sheer strategy. Either way the clock will definitely work against a team on its quest to a 50 point margin of victory.

A 50 point margin seems a little more reasonable in the NBA, at least in theory. A team scoring, say, 124 points doesn’t seem to be too absurd; heck, 26 teams have done that this year alone. A team holding the opposition to, say, 74 points doesn’t seem too ridiculous, either; that feat has happened 17 times this season. It’s just a matter of combining those two feats into one complete game.

The ability to score the necessary amount isn’t the largest obstacle for basketball teams. Without any statistical analysis or research, I would say that stretching the lead from a rather large 30 point cushion to the absurd reaches of 50+ is where the largest degree of difficulty resides. Teams will begin to sit their starters and stars when up by a large enough margin, say 30 points, which then puts the onus on the bench to finish the job. Yes, the losing team may begin to rest some of their players, but there is still a sense of urgency to not be fully embarrassed so the dregs of their bench may not actually see the floor.

So to answer my question, I would guess that it is harder to win by 50 in the NFL than in the the NBA.

The Payoff: Frequency of 50+ Point Margins

This now brings us to the the actual proof. Since the merger, there have been 9 games with a 50 point margin of victory. In the NBA, (according to this list) there have been 10 games (after including the Lakers-Cavs game). It seems that it is actually nearly as difficult to pull it off in either sport, with the caveat that there are 82 games in the NBA vs 16 in the NFL, so account for that as you wish.

Some additional fun facts:

  • The largest margin of victory in the NFL is 59 points, accomplished by the 2009 Patriots against the Titans and by the LA Rams against the Falcons. Both teams pitched 59-0 shutouts…ouch
  • The largest margin of victory in the NBA is 68 points by – well, I’ll put it this way, if this game some how was replicated this season, Cleveland would combust due to sheer happiness – the Cavs over the Miami Heat in 1991
  • The all-time offensive slap fest in the NBA, since 1986, occurred in 2000 when the Charlotte Hornets triumphed, if you allow me to use the term loosely, over the Miami Heat 65-56
  • I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there will be a 50+ margin of victory in the NFL in 2019. The basis for my oddly specific prediction is the fact that since the merger there has been such a game in 1979, 1989 (twice actually), and 2009.