Interesting Football Tidbits
If the NFL playoffs go with the chalk the rest of the way, we will have the New England Cheatriots facing off against the Green Bay Packers in Superbowl XLVI in Indianapolis on February 5. And that will be the first time in NFL history that the two statistically worst defenses in the NFL will match up in the Superbowl. Those two teams each gave up over 411 yards of total offense per game through the 2011 regular season, and while the rush defenses on both teams are more middle-of-the-pack, the Cheats and the Packers are also the two worst teams against the pass in the entire league -- a good 20% worse than even the next-worst pass defending team -- which should be interesting because the passing game is far and away the strength of the other team. If the chalk takes it the rest of the way, we'll be looking at the #2 and #3 offense and the #2 and #2 passing offense, playing against the #31 and #32 teams both in total defense and in passing defense. That game could be just crazy.
Speaking of the playoffs, all the buzz in New York City this week is word that a bunch of Jets teammates have anonymously ripped Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez in the press this week, saying among other things that he has no legitimate fear of being replaced by head coach Rex Ryan, and several players questioning his work ethic. Of course, if you watched "Hard Knocks" this preseason, you already saw shades of that lack of work ethic, and the beginnings of a potential attitude problem, as I think it would be hard for mostly anyone to have been exactly "impressed" with Sanchez's personality if you sat through all the episodes of that series earlier in 2011. In this case, you've got the usual complement of talking heads, former players especially, who are ripshit about this move, questioning any player who would dare take such shots anonymously instead of just coming out and assigning a name to the comment. Because, the thinking goes, the next time Sanchez walks into that locker room, he's going to be wondering "Was it you who said that bad stuff about me?", "Was it you?", "Or you?". But that doesn't really seem to be the case here, does it? In this case, I count at least four different players specifically cited in that story -- at least some of whom are apparently leaders on the team in one capacity or another, so not insignificant players like the story from the third-string quarterback that broke last week. The bottom line for Sanchez is, it's not just one player here or one player there. It's most of his entire team who think these things about him. So focusing on who said it and how we find out who said what is, in my view, completely missing the point in this case. Mark Sanchez's team has a problem with his lack of preparation, his poor work ethic and his entitled attitude, and of course with the results that has led to for the entire team now here, three years in to the Sanchez / Rex Ryan experiment. At this point, the Jets can either waste time chasing down who said what and why they said it, or they can start moving on by beginning to work on fixing those problems. And nothing short of that is going to get the Jets team with this nucleus of players back where they want to be.
And before I go, did anyone else out there see this story? That Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is Americans' favorite active athlete today? Seems crazy, doesn't it? But "Tebow was recognized by 3 percent of Americans surveyed as their favorite active pro athlete, placing him above Kobe Bryant (2 percent), Aaron Rodgers (1.9 percent), Peyton Manning (1.8 percent) and Tom Brady (1.5 percent) in the Top 5." Above Tom Brady, above Aaron Rodgers, above Peyton Manning? I mean, Tebow is more beloved by sports fans in this country than those three titans who happen to play in the exact same sport, and the exact same position as him, already? That just seems crazy. As does the fact that Tebow takes this top spot much faster than any other athlete since the inception of the poll in 1994, attaining the vote before the end of his second season as a pro. It took LeBron James eight years to reach this status, and Kobe Bryant 11 years before he became America's favorite active pro athlete. I'm not sure I would describe Tim Tebow as my "favorite" pro athlete just now, but I don't have any problem admitting that I would like to watch Tebow play this weekend more than I want to watch any other single athlete in professional sports in the world today. So maybe there's really something to this after all.