NFL 2012 Season-Opener Thoughts
September 7, 2012 by Brad Oremland • Print Story •
A collection of mostly random thoughts between Wednesday and Sunday...
The Giants looked terrible in the second half.
You don't want to draw too many conclusions from a single game, especially the first game. But man, the Giants looked really, really bad for the last two or three quarters of Wednesday's loss to Dallas. Everything was set up for New York. The Cowboys committed penalties on every other play, Jay Ratliff was out of the lineup, Jason Witten was a non-factor, starting center Phil Costa got hurt on the first series, the game was in New Jersey, with a crowd pumped up by a celebration of February's Super Bowl victory. And the Giants couldn't capitalize. The offensive line couldn't create opportunities for Ahmad Bradshaw. Victor Cruz couldn't hold onto the ball. The banged-up defensive backfield couldn't stop Kevin Ogletree.
In the first quarter, the Cowboys looked jittery, rusty, and underprepared. But they adjusted, or calmed down, or both, and the Giants fell apart. They looked bad on offense and defense. They didn't just get outplayed in the second half, they got absolutely dominated. If they play like that all season, they'll go about 4-12.
Cris Collinsworth was in really poor form.
This is unfair, but I have to lead with this, because it made me laugh out loud. With about 12:30 left in the third quarter, Collinsworth informed viewers, "Tyron Smith just went down on the linebacker, Jaquian Williams." Oh my.
But that's funny, and anyone who spends a lot of time speaking publicly will say something goofy eventually. The problem with Collinsworth is his occasional unwillingness to tell the truth. It's a shame, because Collinsworth is more willing than most of his peers to publicly criticize players who make mistakes. Many "journalists" are so concerned with their connections that they can't be candid with viewers. They don't want to offend the friends they used to play with, they don't want to lose interview opportunities with players who are mad at them, they don't want to be labeled haters, they're in awe of the people they cover. So they don't tell the whole truth.
Collinsworth is one of the most notable exceptions, but there are times when he weirdly departs from that and makes ridiculous pronouncements about certain players, mostly quarterbacks. Take his comments in the second quarter about Eli Manning. "Maybe he throws too many interceptions, but when the games are on the line, he makes phenomenal plays, and that's what you have to have, fourth quarter plays." The problem is, those fourth quarter plays don't matter if you fall behind by 20 points in the first three quarters. Last season, Eli was at his best in blowouts, not tight games.
With 3:42 left in the first half, Collinsworth criticized Victor Cruz for failing to catch a "perfectly thrown ball". And he was right, if an overthrown, wobbly duck counts as perfect. If that was a perfect pass, I'm a lot better quarterback than I thought. Maybe I should try out for the Giants.
The replacement refs did okay.
I'm really interested to see how the NFL's replacement officials do. A number of the league's longtime officials can't or won't do their jobs well, and I'd like to see a lot more turnover in the ranks. The league ought to be a lot more proactive about replacing referees who perform poorly, and I hope that some of the replacement refs who perform well will be invited to remain. They weren't perfect on Sunday night, but no officiating crew can be perfect, and they didn't seem any worse than the usual refs.
Mathias Kiwanuka has criticized the officials for not calling enough holding penalties on the Cowboys, but the zebras tagged Dallas for three times as many flags as the Giants. That's not unfairness by the refs, it's Kiwanuka being a sore loser.
It's time for NBC to stop giving David Diehl's racism a public platform.
Every time the Giants do their own introductions, Diehl pronounces himself a product of the "University of Chief Illiniwek," the former mascot of his alma mater, the University of Illinois. There's nothing wrong with honoring your school, but Chief Illiniwek is no longer the university's mascot, retired as an offensive relic of an age when racism was palatable to most of the public. The mascot was denounced by numerous organizations, including Amnesty International, the NEA, the NAACP, and eventually, the NCAA, which determined that Chief Illiniwek was a "hostile or abusive" mascot. Former sportswriter King Kaufman compared Chief Illiniwek's dance performance to a minstrel show.
And every time the Giants are on national television — which is fairly often — there's Diehl, striking a blow for racists everywhere. It's 2012. Either he should just say Illinois, or NBC should mute him. I'm tired of hearing it.
Art Modell does not belong in the Hall of Fame.
The former owner of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens died on Thursday. I have no interest in disparaging the deceased, but some people are using Modell's passing as an opportunity to campaign for his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that's not appropriate either.
Modell fired Paul Brown, pushed Jim Brown into early retirement, fired Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Belichick, and stole the Browns from Cleveland for money. He was an owner for a long time, and some people seem to believe that alone merits football's highest honor. But what did Modell contribute to the NFL? He okayed Cleveland's move to the AFC, and that was important. He brought football back to Baltimore, though that was in the cards anyway. I'll tell you what, Modell supporters. If you'll push for Bob Irsay, maybe we can get the two of them inducted together. To me, they're equally worthy.