Yes, I know that the State of the Union address begins in one hour. I don’t know, something about the State of the Union address has turned me off for more than a decade. The spectacle of I stand up and you sit down and look stonefaced kind of makes my stomach turn. So, I’m going to be pouring over the text of his speech for the next hour and hopefully I’ll have something intelligent to say in the morning. Hopefully.
Green Bay Packers versus Chicago Bears – Let me lay out the scenario for you. The Chicago Bears have a good defense. Unfortunately, they’re nothing like the 1985 Bear defense. So, they are probably not going to win the game for you but they’re not going to lose the game for you either. They do create turnovers. I’ve never been a believer in the Bear Offense. They were good, not great. On the other side of the ball, I thought the Packers were pretty well-balanced with a very good defense and a great offense. I thought that Aaron Rodgers was playing in the zone. His game against the Atlanta Falcons will be watched for years to come. It might not have been perfect but he was really, really close. So, if this assessment was correct, it was critically important for the Chicago Bears to come out red hot. They needed to seize the initiative. They needed to make the Green Bay Packers play from behind. They needed the special teams and Devin Hester to do something special. Chicago’s first five drives ended in punts. No drivers were more than six plays. The sixth drive ended in an interception (a terribly thrown ball by Cutler). This is simply a disaster, a real disaster for the Chicago Bears. The only thing that can be said about the first half that was actually good for the Chicago Bears was that the defense did not get totally overrun. The defense settled down and were able to get stops by the early part of the second quarter. Unfortunately, the score was already 14-0. The game was over by halftime. The Green Bay Packers were clearly the better team.
Now, there’s a lot of controversy and yackity-yak over Jay Cutler and his early departure from the game. It really doesn’t matter if I think that Jay Cutler (in the words of Deion Sanders) tapped out. He may have. The question is whether his teammates believe in him and his abilities. The question is whether his teammates believe that he is going to fight for them as hard as they are fighting for him… That’s the question. It appears that his teammates have rallied around him. Jay Cutler’s problem is one of perception. He doesn’t show any the emotion and the rah-rah leadership that many want to see from a top-tier quarterback. As a matter fact, most of the time he seems to have this confused look on his face. Jay Cutler got completely beaten up earlier this year. The first four games were a nightmare. He seemed to be sacked or hit on nearly every play. Yet, somehow, he played through that misery. What I do know is that Jay Cutler’s performance on Sunday was abysmal. Between Todd Collins and Jay Cutler, they were 6/18 for 80 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. I can do that, promise. (BTW, he has some sort of partially torn ACL.)
New York Jets versus Pittsburgh Steelers – It was only yesterday I was able to watch the whole game without interruption. What the hell? The Pittsburgh Steelers are walking around and pounding their chests like they did something. What? They did not win that game; they just didn’t lose it. The New York Jets fumbled away an excellent opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. This game should eat away at every Jet player for the next several weeks or months, if not years.
The game opened with Rex Ryan trying to be cute and deferring when he won the coin toss. Deferring? That’s a Bill Belichick maneuver. That’s crap. Rex Ryan had to know that his offense was going to have some tough sledding against the outstanding Pittsburgh Steelers defense. He needed to make a decision, a real decision. This is football. Bill Belichick, in my opinion, is an arrogant knucklehead. Why would anyone want to follow in his footsteps? (I would like to be as successful as he is but not follow in his footsteps.) Rex Ryan has a real defense. He needed to go to his defense and tell them that he believes they are best defense in the league and therefore, if he were to win the toss, he’d elect kickoff. Instead, he deferred. His defense got pounded. It was an embarrassing, humiliating and demoralizing 15-play, 9-minute drive which ended in a touchdown. Game over. The New York Jets, on their critically important first possession, moved the ball a whopping 19 yards (+10 yards they received in penalties). Yes, there were more touchdowns, interceptions, field goals, goal line stands and valiant efforts but for all practical purposes, the Pittsburgh Steelers said everything they needed to say on their opening drive. The New York Jets went into halftime 21 points down. That’s the game. The Steelers simply outplayed and outcoached the New York Jets in the first half.
Don’t get me wrong. The Jets did make some adjustments at halftime. The Jets really shut down the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half. Mark Sanchez, who appeared comatose in the first half, began to play like a first-round draft choice, but it was too little, too late. The Jets needed his leadership, that grit, earlier, still in the first half. Oh, by the way, if you’re trying to overcome a major deficit in the second half you cannot go on an 8-minute drive and stall on the one-yard line. That simply cannot happen if you want to go to the Super Bowl. Somehow, in some way, the Jets needed to get the ball in the end zone on that drive and it didn’t happen.
If you like defensive struggles this was a good weekend of football.