Thursday, December 29, 2011

My New Digs

In case you missed it, I am going to be writing on a weekly basis for SB Nation's Atlanta site.  The plan is to put up my Atlanta-centric posts - the local pro sports collectives, along with SEC football - up on that site and the unrelated content - Michigan football, Barca, the occasional complaint about Peter King ignoring the Red Army - will stay here.  I will try to link everything that I write for SB Nation here so you don't have to go hunting.

Anyway, here is the first column.  It starts as an analogy between the Falcons' and Georgia's seasons before devolving into complaining about Sean Payton and Drew Brees:

Leaving aside the fairness question, I like the idea of a rematch on a purely emotional level. Sean Payton and Drew Brees rubbed the Falcons' collective nose in the mud on Monday night. For those of you who were smart enough to abandon ship before I did, the Saints took the ball over on the Falcons 33 with 5:08 to go and with a 38-16 lead. Most coaches would do one of two things at this stage: (1) leave the starters in and run the ball to kill the clock; or (2) put in the back-ups and run the regular offense to take a look at the lower parts of the depth chart in game conditions.* Instead, Payton chose option (3): leave Brees in the game to throw five more passes so he could break Marino's record on a meaningless drive against a beaten opponent. Though the Hindus speak of karma, Brees remained upright to the end and was even able to deliver a nauseating show of false modesty after the game, claiming in his usual aw shucks manner that he didn't know how many yards he needed to get for the record. Uh, Drew, maybe the fact that you were throwing on just about every down on a drive that started on the 33 should have clued you in that you needed fewer than 33 yards.
 * - This latter approach would have made the most sense for the Saints because they are one Brees injury from having to play Chase Daniel. Daniel has thrown all of five passes in his NFL career, two this year and three last year. In contrast, Brees has thrown 622 pass attempts this season, 120 more than Aaron Rodgers and 58 more than Dan Marino threw during his fabled 1984 season. Not that you would know this from the Breesapalooza that Tirico, Jaworski, and Gruden unleashed on Monday night, but Brees broke the single season passing record in no small part because he has a ridiculous number of attempts. One reason why he has a ridiculous number of attempts is that Payton apparently leaves him in the game to keep chucking the ball at the end of blowouts. One counter: no Patriot other than Tom Brady has thrown a pass all year and Matt Flynn has thrown all of five passes for the Packers, so maybe the standard in the NFL is for the back-up either to stay on the bench or to refrain from throwing when he comes in.
And speaking of the coverage of the game, I thoroughly enjoyed Mike Pereira's comprehensive takedown of Jon Gruden's criticism of the defenseless receiver call on Monday night.  During the game, I was annoyed that the Falcons were called for a hit on a defenseless receiver, but the Saints were not on at least two occasions.  In retrospect, my annoyance resulted from Gruden not knowing the rule.  As it turns out, the defenseless receiver call is limited to very specific instances.  The name implies a broader penalty, but having a "hitting the head of or spearing a defenseless receiver" is a bit of a mouthful.  You would think that knowing the rules would be a requirement for an announcer, but apparently not for Gruden.

Also, I am wondering why ESPN never thought to have someone like Pereira provide analysis of close calls.  This is very common in other countries.  For instance, in Brazil, coverage of futebol matches usually comes with input from former refs on contentious decisions.  Former refs are also a prominent part of the coverage of footie in England.  Given how much attention is paid to ostensibly bad calls, you would think that the Worldwide Leader would provide an authoritative voice.  Instead, we got Craig James.


Anonymous said...


Thomas G said...


Anonymous said...

This seems like scarcely-adulterated bitterness, which Falcons fans have earned the right to but which writers should avoid. I have heard no one -ever- claim that Brees is a phony, that his modesty is false, that his attitude is a put-on; your assertion is based on your speculations about what Brees ought to have been able to deduce from the playcalling and on your idea of how his mind works. In other words: it's specious guesswork.

The record had been and was a distraction; it was also historic, even though the NFL has changed a great deal. Teams oblige all manner of considerations apart from Ws and Ls: rivalries, home games, etc. In short: there are many perfectly legitimate reasons why the Saints would want to dispose of the record in a primetime game against a division rival. Indeed, it's hard to imagine any team not doing so.

Beyond this, it's so odd to see so many concerned with how the Saints choose to close the game. You cannot be worried about their health; you cannot be concerned that Payton isn't as intelligent a playcaller or coach as you are; you aren't attempting to teach him -or anyone- anything about smart football. You are solely upset because you implicitly believe that once a team is beaten, the other team should "take it easy on them."

Sometimes, that makes sense; at other times, it doesn't. That's why it doesn't always happen (a fact which should be obvious). If you're hoping "karma" repays the Saints for considering a record that every single goddamn journalist was yapping about for months, for honoring the franchise hero who has meant so much to them and to their fans, who brought them a ring (which your team still lacks), I've got advice: you should hope, instead, for a team that doesn't ever consider itself "beaten" and deserving of mercy.

Lazy, snarky, bitter speculation is as common as rain, of course, and doesn't bother me in general, but Brees is a wonderful person, and that you were "nauseated" by his attitude, which you consider obviously phony, means one thing: you are offended by decency when embodied by your opponent. Or perhaps you simply cannot imagine anyone not being an asshole! I don't know!

I'm sorry the Saints quarterback isn't a dog-torturing monster or a cold-hearted celebrity stud like Brady. That must be hard for you. I'm happy for Brees, of course, just as I'd be happy for Ryan, who seems nice and sincere as well. No, wait, I mean: "Matt Ryan's 'nice guy' act makes me want to puke!"

Michael said...

It has come to this: a Saints fan bitching that all of the positive attention from the media has become too much. Indeed, it's a distraction (as evidenced by the Saints' enormous swoon at the end of the year).

On the bright side, this is surely a record for a Saints fan to use that number of colons and semicolons.

More coming...

Anonymous said...

"Saints fans aren't educated." Your novel witticisms are what keep us coming back!

No, that's a bon mot for sure. Perhaps you've heard the one about the sprawling, cultureless, traffic-choked concrete wasteland in the state with the goddamn "stars and bars" on its flag? Damn, I can't remember it. I think that's because we Louisiana folk aren't as smart as you Georgians! Anyway: if you feel nauseated by people like Brees or inflamed by the injustice of a team playing by the rules and scoring when you'd rather they not, I can only imagine the torments that await you in the postseason.

Happy to have made your illustrious Twitter feed. Good luck in the playoffs!

Anonymous said...

Damn! Forgot something: I didn't find your site from "SB Nation," and in fact only go there when you've linked to it. I left you an angry Saints comment more than a year ago, actually!

I found your site when a friend mentioned that it was very well-written despite its allegiances, etc., and I've been reading ever since. I even read the soccer articles! Shit. I consider myself the loyal opposition to an excellent writer on a boutique blogpsot corner, not some drooling nitwit from a pageview-chasing SUPER-SPORTS-MEGA-BLOG-SITE or what-have-you.

Michael said...

1. Don't put something inside quotes when you aren't actually quoting someone.

2. We don't have the stars and bars on our flag (anymore).

3. Boutique, huh? I like that. It's a more accessible description than "" (or maybe Townes Van Zandt if you want to be more obscure).

4. Taking your paragraphs one by one:

a. It is not "specious guesswork" to think that Drew Brees is smart enough to realize that if his coach keeps calling passing plays at the end of a game with a 22-point lead on a drive that started from the 33, then maybe he is X < 33 yards from Marino's passing record.

b. How much of a distraction could the record be given that the Saints have been playing their best football since '09 in the second half of the season? And if you left the record for the last home game, how much are you worried about a distraction before a meaningless final home game?

c. Yes, I am angry that the Saints embarrassed the Falcons. I didn't exactly do much to hide that opinion in my post.

d. Leaving aside the fact that putting backups in when a game is decided makes sense to protect the starters from the possibility of injury, look at Green Bay's game against Detroit for the potential upside of playing the backup QB. The Packers are not going to command a ludicrous price from QB-starved teams for Matt Flynn. You wouldn't want to do the same with Chase Daniel? Does Mickey Loomis not like draft picks?

e. After Joe Paterno's untergang, you ought to be a little warier about buying into "wonderful person" narratives. Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters.

f. "I'd be happy for Ryan?" Really? You must be more magnanimous than I am. Or maybe, per my article yesterday, Saints-Falcons isn't a rivalry like what we're used to in the SEC.

Anonymous said...

The Packers are going to get jack squat for Matt Flynn, except perhaps compensatory picks. Flynn's a free agent and the Packers don't have the cap space to gamble on a franchise tag. Much different from the Patriots and Matt Cassel a few years ago.

Besides, your comment assumes Chase Daniel is worth a damn.

There's nothing wrong with working extra hard to get your superstar QB the record on national TV and then doing what you can to make sure Brady doesn't pass him next week. In fact, it makes a lot of sense from a team morale/future recruiting standpoint. Sportsmanship isn't much of a consideration once the paychecks reach 5-7 figures.

The rest of your points are similarly goofy and not worth treating, but keep up the good effort.

Oh, and:


New record!

(a different anonymouse than the other one)