Archive for the ‘Reaction’ Category

tavon austin2

Last February after the Super Bowl when the NFL calendar began anew, we were told repeatedly that Tavon Austin was fast. Those who watched him play at West Virginia could easily verify that fact through memories, while the rest of us knew how to use Google.

Then the Scouting Combine came, and while large greasy men watched, Austin recorded a 40-yard dash time of 4.34. That cemented him in the first round, and he eventually landed with the Rams through their eighth overall pick.

But then nothingness followed. Rookies go through that blankness, because NFL football isn’t supposed to be easy. However, someone like Austin with such a dynamic skillset who’ s able line up anywhere and return kicks should, in theory, have an easier transition. Not so, as throughout his first nine games Austin hadn’t even topped the 50-yard mark, averaging a meager 23 receiving yards per game.

That changed Sunday with one sudden burst.

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nick foles walk2

The ninth Sunday of this NFL season featured the Jets — the same Jets team that lost by 40 points last week — winning a game against the Saints, Tony Romo appeasing all of your narrative needs with both a late-game interception and a touchdown pass to beat the Vikings, and the Chargers reverting to their default Norv Turner mode while failing to get one damn yard and allowing Washington to win in overtime.

Then the late games started.

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graham-fives2

Look at your calendar. Then look at your NFL calendar. OK good, now look back at me.

That process of observation leads you to the conclusion that once the final embarrassing football game of Week 8 ends later tonight, the halfway point of the 2013 NFL season will arrive. Yes, that won’t technically be true for half the league until next week, as 16 teams have already rested for a week with their bye. But unofficially, the end of Week 8 is treated as the halfway point of the season, mostly because those who write about the NFL prefer a simple life.

As such, throughout the next week I’ll be looking back on the first half of this year while reflecting on what we’ve learned so far, and how common fantasy draft strategies in August may have changed. I’ll do this through a series of questions, because usually when I’m alone I ask myself questions and then answer them. I get some weird looks on public transit.

Often, these questions won’t have a definitive answer. Instead the greater goal of this exercise is that of exploration, and sifting through an eight-game sample size to find knowledge nuggets. They’re delicious with a nice honey glaze.

We begin with a look at the tight end position, and the best tight end in all the land.

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calvin record2

I’ve been told many a time how to define greatness and how it’s achieved. Usually through commercials for sports apparel, where life’s best lessons are learned. Or better, through Al Pacino saying something about clawing and digging long after his entire life is forever ruined.

But “greatness” in quotation marks is one of those vague, moving target sports radio hot take catch-all terms that can be applied liberally whenever one pleases. At its root is “great” something we see weekly. That’s why the spectacles which truly resonate have significance, the sort of significance that stretches beyond today. They make you realize immediately that what you just watched is unique, and it’s a special feat few can accomplish. It’s rare, and it’s history.

That’s what Calvin Johnson did Sunday. He made history.

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luck peyton2

There was a lot of crazy Sunday. Because it’s the NFL, you see, a place where you can throw an interception on your own 15-yard line and fumble down near the opposing end zone late in the fourth quarter, and still have a chance to win a football game (that happened). It’s also a place where you involuntarily execute a near-perfect front flip while going into the end zone (that happened).

There’s insanity sprinkled with care throughout this latest adventure in Sunday recapping/reviewing/moaning and groaning. But to kick off the festivities, I thought we’d focus on two especially whacked up games.

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brady postgame2

Overall, the sixth Sunday of the 2013 NFL season was odd. How odd, exactly? Let us count the ways.

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manning and romo2

Stoves are hot. Ice is cold. Water is wet. Rocks are hard.

At a young age we learn the basic adjectives associated with basic things. They’re committed to memory, and are then embedded so firmly that an instant cognitive response takes place whenever the item is mentioned, to the point that its essence is associated with the description. That does this, or feels like this.

It’s all rudimentary work of the mind to connect simple items with an action, feeling, or texture, and it’s not even given a moment of thought. But think about it now, because if you think Tony Romo isn’t clutch — if you don’t think he can meet the definition of a word that can be manipulated to suit your purpose — then your treating him like the stove, ice, or water.

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