NFL Week 17 part I: Pro Bowl 2.0, Horrible Facial Hair and 2011 in review!

We’re back with your first post of the year- a two-part extravaganza. I apologize for my lack of posts, but I promise it’ll be worth it. Actually I can’t promise that at all. Lower your expectations right now. Okay great let’s begin.

Falcons 45, Bucs, 24: Of the five teams that had the possibility of securing an AFC playoff spot yesterday, the only team to win was the Titans, who somehow still didn’t make the playoffs. The Jets, Raiders, Bengals and Broncos all looked horrible on their biggest games of the season, yet the latter two still made it in by default.  It seems like half the teams in the playoffs are going in with absolutely no momentum. The NFC saw the 49ers give up 27 to the Rams on Sunday and   the Lions gave up 9,000 yards and 18 touchdowns to Aaron Rodger’s backup.  Somehow, the Falcons now look like one of the best teams in the league going into the playoffs, even though just two of their wins have come against winning teams.

The Falcons stormed out to a 42-0 lead  just 23 minutes into Sunday’s game and never looked back. If they had looked back, they probably would have seen Albert Haynesworth lying in a pool of his own vomit on the 30 yard line. After Haynesworth joined the 4-4 Bucs on November 10th, Tampa gave up 37 points per game and went 0-8. Prior to ruining Tampa’s season, the Patriots lost their last two games with Fat Albert on the roster, then went 8-0 after cutting him. And of course before joing the Pats, Haynesworth helped the Redskins to a 10-22 record. Albert Haynesworth is the NFL equivalent to watching that video from The Ring.

Cardinals 23, Seahawks 20: I’m inexplicably growing a beard/mustache right now because I’ve never really gone more than a week without shaving so I want to see what happens. I figure that maybe I’ll sprout some magical stubble that turns me into Josh Holloway or something.  Well two weeks in, I’m proud to report that it looks just as pathetic and creepy as I imagined. I now question my ability to grow anything even remotely resembling socially acceptable facial hair and yet I refuse to shave, if only to prove to the world that I have the testosterone levels of Demi Lovato. It’s also great timing that I started this quest just weeks after Mo-vember ended, so I not only seem like a douchebag because I look like Chaz Bono fucked an Ewok, but also because it looks like I’m intentionally growing a mustache to spite charity rather than support it.
I’ve been watching a ton of Flyers-Rangers 24/7 lately, and I had a dream last night that I somehow conned my way into being an equipment manager for the Flyers, which sounds cool until you realize it’s a fucking DREAM and I’m still the loser who washes the players’ jerseys. Anyway, throughout the entire dream Flyers coach Peter Laviolette kept coming up to me and telling me I needed to shave or leave the locker room because I looked unprofessional. So in my dream about the Flyers, not only am I not an actual player, but I’m being judged and berated about grooming the whole time by the coach who employs this guy.  That story is 100% true and 100% crushingly depressing, and now whenever I watch the Flyers I think about how much of a hypocrite Peter Laviolette is.

Bears 17, Vikings 13:   Here’s part one of what we’ll remember from 2011, at least for another 11 months until the world is destroyed by a Mayan Asteroid flown by Harold Camping, or however that prediction goes. 2011 was the year the world learned the malleable definition of the word “protester”. Time magazine named “The Protester” its annual Person of the Year in a futile attempt to encapsulate the participants in worldwide uprisings into a single, generic archetype. But the fundamental dissonance among the various protests undermined any attempt at drawing an overarching connection among the participants, not that that stopped people from trying.  Even the various Occupy movements couldn’t get on the same page, as some preached fiscal responsibility, while others pushed for LGBT rights, and most just supported the notion that people who live in parks are not to be given microphones.

Since the emergence of totalitarian government, oppressive rulers across the world have lived in unparalleled opulence while their people struggled and starved. 2011 showed that social innovations can become the great equalizer in the fight between oppression and opulence. And when those rulers who lived in luxury for so many years finally face judgment, things end really, really badly for them. What started with a single act of ultimate defiance- the self-immolation of a Tunisian street-vendor-turned into a conflagration of rage and revolt throughout the region. Hosni Mubarak attempted to quell nationwide protests in Egypt by shutting down the country’s Internet then eventually using deadly force on peaceful protesters. On February 1st, he defiantly announced on state television that he would not resign from office. The next time he would be seen in public was almost exactly six months later, when he was wheeled into a Cairo courtroom on a caged hospital bed, dying of stomach cancer and on trial for the killing of peaceful protesters.  Mubarak’s precipitous of plunge from power showed the world that even the most controlling leader could be toppled by a united demand for freedom.  But if the triumphant drama of the Arab Spring in Cairo played out like a Spielberg movie, its Libya sequel was like a Tarantino-directed snuff film.

When the Libyan rebellion began, Muammar Qaddafi was hell-bent on maintaining his death grip on power. He gave rambling, defiant speeches on national TV, rallied his supporters by wearing strange outfits, blamed the uprisings on American meddling, and deployed his military to crush the protests with iron-fisted brutality.  In the pre-social media days, his vicious crackdown would have probably prevailed, but now the bloodshed was being broadcast on TVs and websites across the world, as was the fact that Gadhafi’s forces were on their way to raze a rebel-held town of half a million people. Where countries may have turned a blind eye in the past, they were now compelled to act rather than watch thousands be slaughtered in front of a worldwide audience. Forces from the US, the UN and the Arab League bombarded Qaddafi’s forces with off-shore cruise missiles and targeted airstrikes, decimating the military and forcing Qaddafi into hiding for months. Eventually the man who sponsored international terrorism and ruled in extravagance while over a third of his country lived in poverty was found hiding in a sewer in his hometown. He was captured by rebel forces then videotaped begging his captors for mercy before being beaten and shot to death.  See, therein lies the rub for these brutal dictators- if you live in a country where rulers can lead without any checks and balances, where you keep your citizens living in 19th century conditions and where you constantly beat the people down with no regard for human life, the day that party finally ends, you probably aren’t getting a fair trial and a life sentence in protective custody in a 21st century prison. No, you’re getting a combination of beatings, humiliation, sodomy, stoning, dragging through the streets, execution, more sodomy and humiliation, in that order, on videotape.  Cultural relativism is a bitch.

The unrest soon became epidemic in the Middle East: Yemen’s prime minister conceded to the calls for his resignation rather than face the same fate as his Libyan and Egyptian counterparts. Syria became entrenched in a revolution that is currently on the brink of full-scale civil war. Major protests also erupted in Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, Pakistan, Iraq, Oman and Algeria. But these violent and unprecedented uprisings weren’t just limited to the Middle East- massive riots took place throughout Greece and boisterous calls for the resignation of Vladimir Putin shook Russia, and the big story in the United States of course was Occupy Wall Street.

Comparisons between the Arab Spring and the Occupy protests were inanely drawn by countless people who don’t know what perspective is.  The Occupyers lived and protested openly in public spaces while receiving free food, electricity and medical care. The people in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria were fighting for the same resources and freedoms that the Occupyers had every day.  To draw comparisons between the two movements, as media outlets like Time and countless others consistently did, was to completely overvalue one movement, while undermining another. That’s not to say that Occupy didn’t have its merits, but what started as an anti-corruption, pro-middle class movement turned into a localized Burning Man franchise. Occupy protests spread from Zuccotti Park in New York to dozens of cities in the U.S., Canada Australia and the U.K. as outraged people called for…something. It was the first counter-cultural movement in memory that actually needed a misguided manifesto. Most camps were intentionally devoid of any leadership except for Occupy Denver, which actually elected a border collie named Shelby as their official leader.  At least that explains why the protesters spent the next three months shitting outside, not bathing, and letting other people take care of them.  The movement’s vacuum of leadership and clearly-stated ideals allowed the “99%” movement to somehow alienate 98% of the population by slowly regressing into a drum-circle sit-in by a swarm of hippies, hipsters and homeless. In the end Occupy Wall Street became relevant only as late-night monologue fodder, like Anthony Weiner or Charlie Sheen. Five years from now, we’ll remember Occupy Wall Street the same way we’ll remember Weiner’s twitpic or Sheen’s “Winning” campaign- we won’t.

While the Arab Spring was incredibly shocking and the Occupy movement captivatingly bizarre, the massive riots in Vancouver following the Stanley Cup were the most surreal moment in the year of the protest. If anything, those riots encapsulated 2011 better than any other, because you know it’s a year filled with

turmoil when even Canadians are rioting. While the degree of uprising in the Middle East was unprecedented, “Unrest in the Middle East” has still been the default headline for CNN for the last 30 years or so. Same goes for the American and U.K. Occupy movements- we saw a new, broader brand of protests in places like New York, London and Los Angeles, but it’s not like none of those people had worn a Guy Fawkes mask before. But Vancouver? Really? Things got so bizarre that a couple having a peaceful, romantic moment on a Vancouver street was actually shocking. Strange times these are. This picture pretty much sums up the surreal nature of the entire event:

 

Seemingly every reprehensible villain abroad either died or was disgraced over the past year, but domestically? Business was booming. If you made the headlines in America in 2011, chances are you’re a shameless asshole. From news to sports to pop culture, pretty much every newsmaker seemingly sought to out-depress the last. Let’s look back at 2011, the year douchebags ruled America:
-the Occupyers took a noble cause and made it so unbearably annoying that I was actually rooting for the super-rich guys who ruined the economy
-Casey Anthony killed her daughter and got off because some asshole jurors spend far too much time watching CSI and apparently thought the law said “innocent until David Caruso takes his sunglasses off”

-2011 was the year American politicians just officially stopped giving a fuck about logic and tact:
-Wisconsin’s state government is apparently comprised of only crazy people. In February, the Republican contingent of the Senate was hell-bent on passing a budget initiative that would strip unions of their collective bargaining rights. That seems drastic, but not nearly as drastic as what the Democrats did to stop the legislation from passing. All 14 senators fled the state and camped out in Illinois as part of some kind of backwoods filibuster. Then, Governor Scott Walker sent the Wisconsin state police out to find the absconding Dems and bring them back to the capitol building. Turns out, all 14 Senators were camped out in an ultra-secret underground bunker known as the Best Western Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center in Rockford, Illinois- the Switzerland of the Midwest! In defense of the runaway senators, that resort has a 60,000 square foot water park! I know that the Dems would say that they were fighting for the rights of the workers, but there is some dissonance when that fight involves leaving your job, fleeing to a resort and discussing union rights while floating down a lazy river.
– The Super Committee lived up to its name much the same way as Vince Young’s “Dream Team” moniker did. If “SuperBass” was held to the same standard it would have been 27 minutes of continuous whale sounds.
-Donald Trump trolled his way into American politics and somehow got the fucking president to show his birth certificate because that’s just how pathetic we are these days.
-Barack Obama spent the last 7 months of the year seeing just how far the “we got Bin Laden” wave would take him before he had to actually do something. Apparently 25% approval rating and $12 trillion in debt was the answer.
-Sarah Palin somehow continued to captivate the media by taking a bus trip across America while stopping only to shit-talk the president, steal the spotlight from actual GOP candidates and erroneously recount historical events.
-Michelle Bachmann was little more than a shrieking Tea Party banshee and national distraction who went so far as to actively campaign against HPV vaccinations, apparently in attempt to pander to that crucial “pro-hysterectomy” voting demographic.
-Ron Paul has spent most of his life trolling Washington and decrying every government dime spent on international relations and minorities, yet in the Year of the Asshole that was enough to make him a front-runner for the Republication nomination. If Paul is elected president I fully expect him to be the first president ever to be impeached for attempting to discretely set fire to the Capitol building on his first night in office.
– Herman Cain combined the hard work and initiative of a man who started his own pizza chain with the political knowledge of a man who started his own pizza chain.  His uber-simplistic 9-9-9 tax plan to rescue the economy looked like he put about 45 seconds of thought into it. He essentially took Dominos 5-5-5 deal and translated it to the most complicated problem facing our nation in decades.  On top of that, his “Okay……Libya” response made Rick Perry and Bachman’s numerous gaffes look like the extemporaneous soliloquies of Plato. Despite all of that, it still took a half-dozen sexual harassment claims for him to suspend his campaign, apparently so that he could regroup and develop his new “Cheesy, Thin-Crust Energy Plan”.
-Newt Gingrich saw the weak Republican field and threw his hat into the GOP ring. Gingrich has been making a name for himself in Washington since before the Internet existed, which is probably why Gingrich didn’t realize that a 30-second Google search of that name would reveal a dozen reasons why he could never win a general election. Gingrich is the candidate for people who loved George W. Bush but hated how few wars he got us into.
-Likewise Rick Perry became the candidate for people who loved George W. Bush but hated his decisiveness, likeability and sobriety. He even capped off his asshole Triple Crown run by spending an entire campaign ad declaring war on the undeclared war on Christmas. It’s like some half-baked Wag the Dog scheme only if the conspiracy was foiled by looking out your window or watching anything on TV after Halloween.
But politicians, hipsters and murderers weren’t the only ones reveling in the Year of the Asshole, pop culture and sports was even more stacked with socially-accepted douchiness:
-Charlie Sheen did blow, banged whores and invented catchphrases instead of showing up for work and was rewarded with a $100 million severance package and four million Twitter followers.  Amazing.
-The Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage was just a farce contrived for E! to make millions off of the three biggest assholes in entertainment, yet somehow everyone was shocked by this.
-Rebecca Black was the most searched term on Google trends because America’s new favorite pastime is apparently humiliating 13-year old girls.
-Adele was far and away the top musical artist of the year despite the fact that her songs are exclusively about heartbreak, jealousy and sadness. Hey Adele, some guy broke your heart and you’re having some trouble getting over it. WE GET IT.
-Jay-Z and Kanye released Watch the Throne, which was apparently a concept album about the life and times of how to be a super-rich narcissist during a recession and still have everyone buy your music.
-If you liked the bragging about wealth but hated the optimism on Watch the Throne, Drake’s your man. His sophomore album was an hour of Drizzy ruminating on his money, insecurity and general emo-ness. Even his album art was depressing, albeit fantastically literal.  Drake essentially spent an entire album proving that he’s the only person on earth who could be sad on a Wave Runner.
-David Stern celebrated the end of the lockout by getting drunk with power and vetoing trades like a bitter fantasy commissioner. After his second major trade veto, I fully expected the Director of NBA Public Relations to be waiting outside Stern’s house with a ski mask and zip ties in an unmarked van. Fortunately, the whole debacle ended up only hurting the Lakers, which I fully support.
-Lebron James- no explanation needed.
-Penn State football proved that no crime is too sadistic for fans to support a coaching legend. Paterno was one of several big names at the school who was fired after failing to report Jerry Sandusky’s child rape to the police, yet alumni freaked out like he was being executed for losing a bowl game. Thousands of students rioted, set fires and flipped news vans, which was bizarre since they became the first group of humans to see their team beat Ohio State, Bin Laden get killed, and their coach get fired in a child molestation scandal and react the exact same way to all three.
-Ryan Braun Shamalan’d the league by testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs after turning in an MVP season. His positive test was so shocking that Bud Selig had even specifically mentioned Braun when talking about the best clean players in baseball a couple years ago.  I’m just shocked that Braun was able to find advanced performance-enhancing narcotics in Milwaukee, I thought the only controlled substances in the state of Wisconsin were meth, bathtub gin and bath salts made from fermented cheese.
-Albert Pujols won his second World Series with the Cardinals, then promptly bolted St. Louis for Anaheim because anytime you can flee the city where you’ve spent your whole career and are treated like a God in order to make 2% more money for a worse team, you have to do it.
-Pujols was just one of dozens of athletes who used their contract situation as a weapon of mass assholetry. DeSean Jackson and Peyton Hillis openly vied for new contracts but spent the entire season actively killing their teams with their awful efforts. Santonio Holmes and Chris Johnson received huge contracts just before the season then did the NFL equivalent of burning the money like the Joker every Sunday. Even aw-shucks nice guy Peyton Manning got into the mix, signing a massive 9-figure contract with the Colts then announcing he needed neck surgery that could potentially end his career.
Yes, 2011 was the year to act like a complete dick and be generously rewarded for your efforts. But it wasn’t all terrible in 2011. Check back tomorrow for part two and a breakdown of the top plays, stories of the year and the best youtube videos of 2011.

Steelers 13, Browns 9: This wasn’t exactly the commanding win the Yinzers were hoping for going into the playoffs. Despite dominating time of position (39:11 to 20:49), the offense was sluggish and ineffective thanks largely to injuries and driving rain. Ben Roethlisberger looked nowhere near 100%, with his arm strength and mechanics clearly off, which bodes very poorly for Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes. Even worse, starting conspiracist/running back Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL, putting him out for the season as well. Jihadback’s replacement Isaac Redman rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown, but had two worrisome fumbles as well.  But as per usual, the bright spot in the ‘Burgh is the defense, which has given up nine points or less in four of their last five games. The D forced two fumbles and an interception and held Seneca Wallace to just 16 completions on 41 attempts. While the offense is struggling to stay healthy, it looks like the defense in getting back to form just in time for the postseason, especially since Lamar Woodley is expected back for Saturday’s game.  The only major defensive absence in Denver will be safety Ryan Clark, who has a blood condition that can be exacerbated at high altitude, but the free safety position is basically meaningless against a Denver team with the aerial ability of a herd of buffalo, so his loss shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Chiefs 7, Broncos 3: Kyle Orton will have his revenge, in this life or the next. Orton beat the team that dumped him for Tebow, throwing for THREE TIMES as many yards as his Christian counterpart…and still for only 180 yards. Tebow’s last three games have been a drastic regression back to the mean.  Tebow went 6-22 passing for 60 yards and an interception plus only 16 yards on the ground.  Miraculously, the Broncos still find themselves in the playoffs thanks to the Raiders loss. In fact, Tebow and the Broncs will be hosting the defending AFC-Champion Steelers on Saturday night. As you may be aware, I haven’t been a fan of the whole Tebow-as-protagonist narrative all season, but I gotta say, it’s almost too perfect to ignore for this game. You’ve got squeaky-clean Jesusback Tebow going up against noted womanizer/scumbag Ben Roethlisberger. While the “good” and “evil” descriptions amount to little more than hyperbolic projections, it’s a fun, albeit convenient, storyline for this game. Tebow’s season-long proselytizing mission has earned him both unprecedented adulation from an eager congregation of sports writers and unparalleled scorned from fans who treat him like the guy who knocks on their door with pamphlets about salvation on Sunday mornings. The Steelers, meanwhile, are one part America’s new team, five parts insufferable fan base and one part helmet-to-helmety goodness with a soft rapey nougat. I really have no idea who to root for in this game seeing as I hate all things Pittsburgh (besides Mike Tomlin’s stunner shades), and yet I shudder at the prospect of all the Tebow-fellating by the mainstream media should the Broncos somehow win. I guess I’ve gotta pull for the Steelers, if only out of self-preservation since I’d end up jamming pencils in my eyes and ears after the 53rd straight hour of Sportscenter: Tebow Edition. On second thought, this is the ideal outcome on Saturday:

Chargers 38, Raiders 26: Did you know that T.J. Housmandzadeh was the Raiders punt returner in 2011?  That’s the closest we’ll come to indisputable proof that Oakland has some kind of handshake agreement with the Bengals to give their former players jobs. That’s also a testament to how awful the Raiders as a collective are at catching footballs seeing as they’ve basically spent the last three off-seasons drafting a track team. Even when Housmandzadeh was a good receiver he still wasn’t fast, and that was, what, during Bush’s first term? Maybe he successfully convinced Hue Jackson that he’s actually one of the Navi from Avatar, which seems like hyperbole until you realize that Mike Brown convinced him that Carson Palmer was worth two first-round picks, which is the first time that A) anyone has ever thought that in history and B) Mike Brown convinced someone of anything besides the fact that Mike Brown is a scumbag.

Pro Bowl honors were announced last week, not that it matters since it’s the biggest tease in sports. No one takes the game seriously, nor should they seeing as they’ve spent the last six months destroying their bodies, so it basically amounts to an intramural game played by really, really rich guys.  Teams don’t even blitz ever, which sucks since you have the most talented guys on the planet just standing 10 yards off the line of scrimmage apathetically covering their zone. How awesome would it be to see a true pass rush from a front 7 featuring guys like Terrell Suggs, Von Miller, Haloti Ngata and Tamba Hali bolstered by Darrell Revis, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu playing behind them? If players and coaches treated the Pro-Bowl like a real game, it would absolutely be the single most entertaining sporting event of the year. Here’s my idea: Hold the Pro-Bowl the Sunday before the NFL draft in the city of the Super Bowl-losing team; pay players $250,000 dollars to play with another $100k going to the charity of their choice; players from the winning conference get an additional $750k to bring their haul up to a million even; and if a player sustains an injury that puts him out for the start of the season, their team is compensated with an extra second round pick. DONE.  The NFL now has an unbelievably compelling sporting event in a month that desperately needs one, off of which they can build hype and ratings for the draft.  Most importantly, the NFL would generate a huge profit stream in their middle of their offseason.  Think about it- a 30-second spot during Sunday Night Football costs over half-a-million dollars while Super Bowl commercials go for $3.5 million, so the NFL could likely charge somewhere around $2mil per spot, times 50 or 60 commercials. Factor in broadcasting rights and ticket sales and the NFL could easily make $100 million on top of what they pay the players. This is the perfect idea and I refuse to believe otherwise. You’re welcome, Goodell.

Jaguars 19, Colts 13: A few weeks ago I did a list of the best names in the NFL, but I feel the topic is worth revisiting because I failed to mention the extraordinary amount of absurdly-named players the Jaguars have on their roster. Only right tackle/sad weatherman Guy Whimper made the initial list, which really isn’t right, since he’s but a piece of perhaps the greatest named team of all time. THIS WHOLE THING IS BIGGER THAN YOU, GUY WHIMPER. First off, you’ve got the Yale Lax All Stars with WR Chastin West, QB Blaine Gabbert, RT Cameron Bradfield and TE Colin Cloherty, who I’m pretty sure was one of the Duke lacrosse guys right? The names just get better from there:
WR Cecil Shorts III- The greatest legacy name in history.
TE Marcedes Lewis- It’s like he was named by the guy who sells knockoff apparel in Times Square.
C Brad Meester- Solely because his formal name is Mister Meester,  I wonder how often people come up to him singing Broken Wings…probably not that often.

DT Leger Douzable- This is my favorite name I think. If you were making up fake 1920s luxury vehicles, the Leger Douzable would be at the top of that list.
CB- Ashton Youboty- Up to this point, I was convinced that black people were entirely unaware that the name Ashton existed. Shocking.
DT- C.J. Mosley- NFL player, X Games medalist, host of season six of The Inferno.
Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter- Dirk Koetter was the name of the popular jock in a 90s German high school comedy, take it to the bank. The thoroughness with which the Jaguars built an organization on eccentric names is both alarming and award-worthy. Their front office includes the likes of Sashi Brown, Bruce Swindell, Skip Richardson and Macky Weaver, who all sound like characters on Boardwalk Empire. And of course, there is Shahid Khan.

Pop quiz, hotshot- Shahid Khan is:

A. the new Jaguars owner
B. a professional mustache model
C. the villain in the new Bond movie
D. Pakistan’s leading Groucho Marx impersonator.

The answer is all of the above, or at least it will be if Khan’s mustache has anything to say about it.

Titans 23, Texans 22: As noted above, the Titans were the only playoff hopeful to actually win their game on Sunday and they were rewarded with…nothing. That’s probably only fair though, since the Texans were fielding a band of misfits and backups since their playoff spot was already locked in.  Houston deactivated or sparingly played everyone from Joel Dreessen to Kevin Walter and actually let Jake Delhomme throw 28 passes. As if playing Delhomme wasn’t enough of a sign that they had no interest in winning this game, the Texans elected to go for two with 15 seconds left trailing by a point…after a false start penalty moved them back to the eight-yard line.  Appropriately, the snap sailed over Delhomme’s decrepit hands and the Titans recovered.  Had the Jets won their game on Sunday, they would have been kept from the playoffs thanks to the Texans’ aggressively apathetic effort, fortunately, the Jets have Mark Sanchez so that was never really going to be an issue.

Dolphins 19, Jets 17: Wow this was a complete meltdown. Sanchez was abominable, throwing three picks and several others that very well should have been intercepted. The defense had just one hit on Matt Moore all day and let waiver-pickup Steve Slaton average five yards per carry.  Santonio Holmes, the offensive captain, quit midway through the game according to several teammates and sat on the bench during his team’s most crucial drive of the season. After the game, Holmes and Darrelle Revis refused to speak to reporters, Bart Scott gave fans the finger, LaDainian Tomlinson lamented the potentially unceremonious end to his storied career, and Rex Ryan cried in the locker room.  Despite Ryan’s claims that he wants to keep this fractured and flawed team intact next season, big changes are certainly afoot.  The team’s vocal defensive leader Bart Scott will apparently be cut, and veterans Tomlinson and Burress should be on their way out as well. The Jets have to rebuild a defense that’s lopsided, rapidly aging and facing a huge disparity in talent between their handful of playmakers and a regiment of guys who lack the talent, youth or attitude to play the way Ryan requires. And then, of course, there’s Holmes, the captain who was called everything from quitter to cancer to a 10-year old by his teammates. His alarming effort and performance down the final stretch of the season would be grounds for expulsion from any locker room, let alone Ryan’s, but his attitude and preseason contract extension makes getting rid of him a tough task. First off, trading him isn’t even on the table because he has absolutely no value- he may be the Jets’ best receiving option but teams aren’t exactly lining up for an overpaid, dysfunctional 55-catch guy. Back in 2009 when he was on the Steelers, he had a huge season, a bargain contract, and had just made one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history and Pittsburgh could still only get a late-5th round pick for him.  What’s worse- cutting him isn’t much more feasible. Even if they waived Holmes tomorrow, the Jets would still owe him all of his 2012 salary ($8 million), making him basically un-cuttable; however, if Holmes is still on the roster on the second day of the league schedule (sometime in early March of this year), another $7.5 million of his 2013 contract is guaranteed as well. Checkmate.  At this point it’d be significantly less money and stress for Woody Johnson if he just had Holmes killed.

So now the Jets are looking at a miserable situation with Holmes plus the prospect of reconfiguring their defense, solving the team’s age issue and finding a batch of legitimate playmakers on offense. Oh and they need an elite quarterback. The team’s bizarre insistence on bringing back offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is a tacit admission that their quarterback, not their coordinator, is the reason for their offensive futility. You can blame the coaches or you can blame the huge hype early in his career, but the bottom line is that Sanchez was making the same terrible decisions on Sunday that he was during his rookie season. The kid’s got tons of talent, but it’s seems unlikely that he’ll ever develop into the quarterback New York needs him to be given his stagnant progression.  So where do the Jets go from here?  Obviously the name Peyton Manning comes to mind, but there are a ton of variables in that equation to make his presence in New York seem plausible. Finding a franchise quarterback is the most difficult personnel move in sports, one that often requires luck, money, skill and timing. Whichever direction they go, it’s going to be a chaotic offseason in Florham Park and one that promises sweeping changes throughout the entire organization.

Thanks for reading, check back later today for Part 2 of the Pino911 Comically Overdue Year in Review.

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One thought on “NFL Week 17 part I: Pro Bowl 2.0, Horrible Facial Hair and 2011 in review!

  1. Pingback: Week 17 part 2: Earthquakes, Andy Reid, Videos of the Year and HYBRID SHARKS. « Pino911.Wordpress.com

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