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The Season of My Discontent

September 21st, 2004

OK, so I’ll start by saying that I know we’re only two weeks along. I know most defenses haven’t really kicked into gear yet, and even a lot of offenses will be another couple of weeks before they’re really hitting on all cylinders. Still, I have to tell you I’m not at all impressed with the quality of the professional football I’ve seen so far this season. I’m even less impressed with the quality of a lot of the games I haven’t seen.

And, sure, I haven’t been tuned in to the Jets games, so I haven’t seen Curtis Martin (whom I like and respect regardless of the uniform he wears) tearing up the grass on both coasts. I didn’t see the Colts make a mess of the Titans this week. I didn’t see Michael Vick come to life and lead his Falcons to a big win over the Rams. Nor did I see Daunte Culpepper’s five-touchdown performance in week one or Aaron Brooks’ three-TD show Sunday. So it’s very likely that I just haven’t been tuned in to the right games.

Still and all, I couldn’t help but feel a little blah after watching the Patriots’ beat the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon then moving on to watch the Cincinnati Bengals fail to lose to the Miami Dolphins in the Sunday night game. (I say fail to lose rather than win, because that’s precisely what Cincinnati did. Miami’s defense looked brilliant at times, but more often than not it seemed to me that Cincinnati just wasn’t trying very hard. They won mostly because somebody had to win and, well, you know, they made a kick.)

The Pats were playing a lousy team in the blazing sun. They probably lacked motivation and they were surely exhausted. They still improved against the run from week one (though I daresay the dropoff in talent from Edgerrin James to Emmit Smith these days is fairly precipitous). And shit, you know, they won by 11 points, which isn’t exactly having a bad day. It’s just that the getting there didn’t strike me as terribly interesting.

NFL Primetime didn’t do much to make me feel better, either. The big exciting moment in the Jacksonville-Denver matchup, a game that ended with a baseball score, was a fumble. A fucking fumble. If it had been an interception, that’d have been OK. I mean, at least it’s fun to watch a pick. And a pick means that someone (a DB) did something right. A fumble, even when it’s the result of a great defensive play, ends up looking sloppy on film; all you see is an offensive player who can’t manage to hold on to the damned ball. Seattle winning two road games in a row to start its season is fairly impressive, but a 10-6 win over the foundering Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn’t exactly a jaw-dropping way to get there. And while I’m delighted that my boy Rich Gannon threw for 209 and hit that very pretty 43-yard touchdown to Ronald Curry, one highlight and a 13-10 win isn’t what I would have hoped for.

Monday night didn’t do much to change things. It’s not like the Minnesota-Philly game was awful, it’s just that it wasn’t much. I went in hoping for an AFL-style airshow (you know, with Moss and T.O. in the game and all) and got … I dunno, a fucking fumble-a-thon, mostly. Moss had 69 yards and a TD, Owens had 79 and a TD (on four fucking catches). And both actually led their teams in receiving. Meanwhile, Culpepper managed to outrush Onterrio Smith to lead the Vikings’ ground attack, this by posting a big 41 yards on eight attempts. Brian Westbrook led the Eagles with 69 yards on 12 attempts. And no one could hold on to the ball. No one.

Offensive lines are crumbling all over the league. The chuck rule enforcement is slowing games down like crazy. And I don’t see any indication of things getting more exciting any time soon. Certainly not this weekend, not unless Green Bay rediscovers what a good football team it is and gives Indy a game.

I know things will heat up, of course. And I’m as delighted as ever that football season is finally here. But I’d like some great games now, please, if that’s OK.

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