Posted Jan. 08 at 03:48 PM
Doesn't it seem like some people or organizations can't get out of their own way? On the first weekend of playoff football it felt like there was a little disappointment sprinkled in with all the excitement.
I don't mean teams like Indianapolis and Washington. They lost, but have to be thrilled to have reached the post-season with rookie quarterbacks. Neither embarrassed themselves; they should feel great about this past season. And Minnesota's clock was punched once Christian Ponder was de-activated before Saturday's game. They would have been challenged to beat the Packers on the road anyway, but asking Joe Webb to throw his first passes of the season during the playoffs was too much. The Vikings can't feel too badly about not advancing.
But there were other losers this past weekend, and not all of them were on the field.
- Cincinnati Bengals. I know it's kind of unfair to label a playoff team a disappointment, but the Bengals really are who we thought they were -- a bubble post-season squad that isn't a threat to really go anywhere. I know that Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are young players who have already turned the franchise around from being an embarrassment, but I still think the season was disappointing.
There's no reason the Bengals shouldn't have won the division: The Steelers are slipping, The Ravens were uneven, and the Browns were the Browns. The Bengals could have beaten the Colts at home, and they'd go into the next round with the confidence of a division champion. Instead, they did just enough to make the playoffs and made a quick exit against a reeling Texans team. They don't look brilliantly-coached and they don't have much of an identity. They have good talent that gets them a good season, but I don't get the sense that they're ready for the next level. Unlike other wildcard teams like Indianapolis and Seattle, they don't have that "wildcard" factor that makes them seem dangerous. They had a good season, but it could have been much more.
- Mike Shanahan. I'm not disappointed in Washington, but I am disappointed in their coach. RGIII wasn't at 100 percent. No big deal there; few players are fully healthy in January. But when it became clear that his injury was changing his game and his effectiveness, he should have been pulled.
I know that's not an easy decision to make. Griffin is a rookie who doesn't want to leave the game, he's one of the league's most dynamic players and it's the playoffs. But he's a rookie. It doesn't matter what he wants. With his injury, he wasn't all that dynamic. And you have to look at the next decade, not just the next 30 minutes. It was clear that he re-injured something or it was bothering him a great deal. We're not talking about a bruised thigh or a muscle cramp. It's his knee. Starting him was fine, since he was playing through the injury anyway. But when it became clear that he couldn't play his game, they shouldn't have risked further injury by leaving him in. The last hit he took twisted that leg in an ugly way (and NBC didn't need to show it 50 times for me to draw that conclusion) and now next season is in jeopardy. They might have lost a whole lot more than a playoff game. In fact, they probably would have been better off losing to Dallas a week ago.
- The Buffalo Bills. Doug Marrone? Really? Look, I have nothing against him, and I wish him great success as the new head coach in Buffalo. Maybe Marrone proves me wrong and wins a Super Bowl with them. I'd be happy to congratulate the team if that happens.
But this is anything but a flashy hire. They jump out of the gate by letting Chan Gailey go, and what happens? No big-name former head coach coaxed out of retirement. No fired head coach who just might need a change of scenery. No popular coordinator promoted. Not even a marquee college coach ready to make the jump to the pros.
Instead, they get a .500 college coach who was an NFL offensive coordinator for one of the best offensive teams with or without him (New Orleans). That's it. Now, maybe it works both ways: Buffalo isn't the kind of team that every big name is begging to coach. Maybe it's a good fit, where an okay coaching prospect takes a job for an okay NFL franchise. But if you're a Bills fan, you might be somewhat disappointed. That doesn't translate into wins either way, but they sure didn't make much of a splash with this hire.
- The NHL. Assuming anyone is still paying attention, the league couldn't have picked a worse time to announce a labor deal. Sports media is focusing on the NFL playoffs, not a mini-season for a league that can't get its act together. I guess they could have announced it at halftime of the Super Bowl, so it could have been worse. But it still wasn't good.
As a hockey fan, I've already prepared to not have a season. And right now, I'm focused on the NFL. It's hard for me to get excited about a league that interrupts a season every few years. Instead of being happy about getting the puck back, it's still disappointing. Maybe that will change in a few months.
Anyway, enough about disappointment. Enjoy the great games this weekend.
Youtube Clip of the Week: Here's a man you don't want to disappoint talking about disappointment. Be sure to watch the whole thing. Warning: Contains explicit language.
Do you agree or disagree with my weekend disappointments? Have some of your own? Share your thoughts below.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 09 at 05:33 PM
I was a big hockey fan at one time. Go back to The Original Six. Followed the entire league. After they cancelled one season on me I stopped following the league but continued to follow the Flyers. After this latest debacle, I will not watch hockey. This whole thing is self inflicted mostly due to the incompetence of the Commissioner and the greed of most owners. After two lockouts, there are still teams in markets like Columbus, Nashville, South Florida, Tampa Bay and other remote outposts that should never have been created in the first place, can not compete and continue to hold an entire league back. Good luck Gary.
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