Picture the scene. A narrow, lighted runway pierces the darkness, surrounded on all sides by a milling raucous crowd. Loud thumping industrial music blares behind flashing lights and scintillating visual effects. A slick-haired European metrosexual master of ceremonies exhorts the crowd, calling out in an accent thick as pitch, an amalgam of Andalusian, Bosnian and vulgar French. He whips the crowd into a frenzy as two men enter, one dressed all in white with subtle Superman regalia secreted here and there about his person, the other decked in full length camel-hair knit, most noticeable by it's playful lack of a full cravat. There is a vibrant tension in the air, a thrumming excitement as the two competitors are introduced. You know what is about to happen, the crowd knows it as well, and all eyes turn towards the combatants as they are introduced... once again it's Vin-sint Young vs. Reggie Boooosh!
What does any of this have to do with a football game? I have no fucking clue. Is it supposed to be a pose off? A pimp fight? A playa-call competition? Is it merely the psychotic musing of a poorly medicated advertising producer? Or is there a deeper message, that underneath the barbaric physical combat of a sport like professional football lie individuals who are deeply repressed fashionistas, athletes who yearn to act out roles in a bizarre drama that is a cross between I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and Neuromancer?
Or maybe ad execs are just morons. Occam's razor, dude.
Reggie must kill the Prime Rib of Propecia...
Of course all the Monday Night Hype centered around the RB-VY showdown, as evidenced by the recycling of the aforementioned 2006 NFL Draft promo and the endless babbling about the 2006 Rose Bowl, but if you managed to get past that there was actually a pretty good football game going on. To be honest, I don't mind the Rose Bowl references, you can never have too many of those in my opinion and the sheer number of Trojans and Horns involved in the game was pretty cool, it's the notion that it was nothing more than a two man showdown which became grating after awhile. Why anyone feels the need to pull this gambit over and over with the most team oriented game in America is beyond me, especially when one of the combatants rarely sees the field and doesn't usually do much while he's there. I suppose it's a more compelling angle than the complete and total inefficacy of Lousiana's elected officials, a permanent condition of human existence below only death and taxes in it's constancy- ask Huey P. Long, but only marginally so. I employed a clever strategem that involved watching the game then quickly changing the channel to Ice Road Truckers during the pleas to help feed the jazz musicians. If they had Sally Strothers hugging all over Brees and Bush instead of Spike Lee I probably would have watched though, just to see their faces. I bet even hardened gutty football players, used to being grappled and groped by massive sweaty land whales every week would break down under that. Ten bucks says Boooosh! would have tapped out first.
Lastly, since we're on the subject of programming/media/advertising, I'd also like to take a moment to point out that whoever created the ad with two grubby people fighting over spaghetti should be stoned, flogged, and forced to play WR with Matt Leinart. That is all.
It's nice to see many of the expectations this season coming to fruition early, we're a field goal against the Colt's away from where I thought we'd be heading into the bye week and there are a number of encouraging signs so far. We have the #2 rushing offense and #2 rushing defense in the league. The recipe goes something like this: Dominating Offensive Line + Dominating Defensive Line = Shit Ton of Wins. Cooking is fun.
In fact, the defense is top 10 overall after three games, giving up 15 PPG so far. The bulk of my optimism this season resolved around significant defensive improvement, and so far that's an understatement. The front four is literally destroying the interior run game, mainly due to Haynesworth functioning as an immovable manplanet in the 1-2 gaps and pushing guards straight back into the quarterback when he's not doubled. Putting him and Vanden Bosch on the same side seems like one of those things you should have thought of years ago, like a condom if you happen to be Travis Henry, because it's so obvious in retrospect. There is no doubt in my mind that the biggest reason for the improvement in total defense is the play of Odom, Brown, Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch. Fowler was a nice pick up and I like the way Finnegan and Fuller have been playing so far, i.e. they get burned on the plays that DB's are supposed to get burned on and are generally in the same camera frame as the receiver even when they do get beat, but it's really the pressure the guys up front are getting that is making everything click for this defense. If they can get to Peyton they can get to anyone, and by the fourth quarter Brees was more jumpy than HenryJames at a straight bar. If they keep playing like this and we don't have some Dline/LB's in the ProBowl this year then the whole system is FUBAR. Oh, and I have to apologize to Travis LaBoy for saying in the preseason that he was easily blocked by a small yard gnome, his strip was the key play in this game, the execution and timing were perfect. It broke them. So either he is better than I saw last season, stronger in a backup role maybe, or the Saints right tackle is inferior to yard ornamentation against the pass rush. The jury is out, but kudos all the same to Travis.
I'd also like to single Bulluck out and praise him for continuing to talk way too much and continuing to completely back it up on the field. I saw the locker room interview earlier this week where the reporter asked him if he had ever played on MNF before (btw, you guys seriously need a journalism exchange program or something in Nashville, I'm just saying) that prompted his now famous "Check ya history, boy, I'm Mr. Monday Night!" speech, and I have to admit that I did not automatically equate that bit of braggodocio with multiple guaranteed interceptions. I'd chide him for continuing to chunk the ball out of bounds and rack up penalties after each one, but after the 7th pick I can't really complain. Actually, maybe that was part of the plan all along, fake reporters pretending he's a nobody and getting him all ticked off again right before the game. How shrewd. Seems to work a lot better than my anonymous letters saying he runs like Tom Coughlin and tackles like Martha Stewart. I take back what I said about your crappy reporters. Well played Nashville, well played.
On offense I like the controlled passing game Chow has set up. He's opening up with it because everyone on earth is going to try and stop the run against us right from the jump, which gives Vince space for those intermediate routes to the TE and WR slants that he was lethal with at Texas. He was nails in the opening drive and missed on a few deep shots downfield, but overall the accuracy is getting much better. His completion percentage is around 63%, he's been efficient and under control with the ball for the most part, running just enough to move the chains and manage the game. When a dullard like Jaworski notices that he is fundamentally different from a run first quarterback like Vick then the message is officially out there. Vince is also not afraid to go right back to a guy like Jones who had a huge drop last week, which was another for necessary key for success this week, and Jones was apparently appreciative enough to alter his endzone celebration in gratitude. When a Sooner strikes a Heisman for a Longhorn making fun of a Trojan then the world has officially become a very strange place.
BTW- did anyone else notice Vince almost ripping his helmet off twice before realizing it and sticking it awkwardly back halfway on his head, tilted sideways like one one of those bowler hats drunk Irish guys wear in the movies? Made me laugh. Baby steps.
The Oline is continuing to protect well and open up lanes, keep watching Roos like I said and you'll see the gradual evolution of a dominant left tackle. The combination of one-cut Brown and inside mauler White is working. I really like watching Lendale run, the guy never falls backwards and never goes down without rumbling out an extra yard or two. It's obvious why Pac 10 defensive backs got rolled by him. "Di di mao! Mao! Here come Big Boy! He run rike Brown Tiger! I'd like to see the WR's continue to pull in those high passes and come down with them, this team is one clutch receiver (Huck just seized) away from being dominant on offense.
I would appreciate it though if Norm Chow could use his Wizard powers for good instead of evil. He is doing a great job setting VY up for success in that intermediate passing game and taking advantage of the attention they are showing him in the running game. I love the creativity, but a little bit goes a long way. Misdirection is cool. Trick plays are cool, when appropriate. When you are moving the ball at will and literally shoving it down a team's throat fake reverse pitch backs to an end around halfback toss that go for no gain or lose yards are not cool. Please Norm, please be like the wizard that saved Frodo, or the one on the box of Cookie Crisp. Don't be like the one who chased the smurfs around. Or the Thundercats. Don't do it, Norm. Don't be Gargamel. Don't be Mumm-Ra.
The Early Literacy Wizard would never have called that play, Norm.
Overall I'm pretty pleased with the way things are set heading into the bye week, the AFC South is shaping up to be a brutal division and getting a 2-1 start is tremendous. I'll close with some random thoughts.
1) How long are we going to continue to expect much from Reggie Bush? I don't even dislike the guy like many hornfans, I'm just tired of the hype. Why don't we start with catching easy balls and not running backwards out of bounds and work up from there? Deal?
2) I'd love to know what Bulluck said to Young in the third quarter. They obliquely referenced it in the press conference afterwards, but neither one is talking beyond that. They seem to feed off each other well, Young doesn't like being called out and Bulluck doesn't like taking the backstage. Works for me.
3) Mike Griffin is absolutely going off on special teams, he reminds me of his freshman year at UT, the guy is fearless. I hope he gets on the field on defense before he impales himself on a broken clavicle and is out for the year.
4) Steve Young needs to confirm that man love for black dudes is cool with the Mormon Church before he talks about Vince Young again in public. He's flirting with excommunication.
5) Watching all of the pundits backtrack and talk about VY: accuracy, poise, leadership, winning attitude, etc. has been entirely too satisfying.
If Merrill Hoge Gundy-rants and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?