Big Lead Sports Bar

12/04/2006

If a Bad Team Wins in the Forest, Does Anyone Care?

Anyone know the recipe for a boring Steeler game? In the words of Biggie, "If you don't know, now you know": Take two bad football teams, no offense, cold weather, an apathetic crowd, and mix for three hours. Odds are you'll probably see this recipe repeated on Thursday night against Cleveland, so you might want to make other plans now. No, you can't do that...the Steelers are back in the playoff hunt again!
Let's recap today's thoroughly uninteresting storylines:
1. Bruce Gradkowski returns home. Great, I'm happy for Bruce Gradkowski and the entire Gradkowski family, including his Dad (who had the thickest Pittsburgh accent I've ever heard) and Mom (who refused to appear on camera). Fox decided to play up the "Western PA Quarterback" angle, mentioning Gradkowski alongside Namath, Marino, Montana, Kelly, and Unitas. They failed to mention that Western PA also produced Frerotte, Batch, and McMahon, which is probably the route Gradkowski's career is going to go.
Don't get me wrong, I think he'll be a solid backup and earn an NFL paycheck for years to come; but I don't think he's in any danger of being the Bucs' opening-day starter in 2007. In fact, I don't think the Bucs' 2007 starter is even on their current roster, because Chris Simms is going to move on as a free agent.
After his initial adrenaline-charged start, winning two of three in dramatic fashion, Gradkowski has crashed back to earth; his record is just 1-5 in his last six and he never threw for more than 185 in any of those games. His passer rating the last two weeks has been 29 and 35. He threw three interceptions today. Let's just say he's not having the rookie success that Big Ben had. Which means no Big Bruce Beef Jerky in Tampa Bay supermarkets.
Tampa apologists casually throw out Chris Simms' season-ending injury as the reason their year when down the tubes, but that's a convenient excuse. How quickly we forget that Simms was 0-3 with a 46 passer rating before his ruptured spleen. That 1:7 TD-to-INT ratio wasn't too hot, either. The point is, QB is one of many problems Tampa has.
Their offensive line is as bad or worse as the Steelers; they're definitely in the same class. Much like the Steelers, Tampa's running game is a punchline. Cadillac Williams has managed a grand total of 2 100-yard games this season, to go along with one touchdown in 2006. Among his 13 games so far, he's managed less than 50 yards seven times (of course, Willie Parker has been held under 50 four times, proving our running game stinks, too). That hurts to even write.
The Bucs' receivers leave a lot to be desired as well. Can anyone explain the fall of Michael Clayton? This guy comes into the league in 2004 and grabs 80 balls for 1193 yards and 7 TDs as a rookie, which is even more impressive. He follows that up in 2005 with 32 catches over 14 games. Did he miss Brian Griese that much? In 2006, he's on pace for 40 catches. So if that holds, he'll have less catches in his second and third years combined than he did as a rookie. That has to be some kind of NFL record. That was a pretty sweet dropped touchdown he had today, too. Not many WRs in the league could manage to completely kill a team's momentum like he did with that play. And nice coverage by Deshea on that one.
How about the other receivers Gruden the Great has assembled? On one side, we have Joey Galloway, who entered the league so long ago his offensive teammates were Chris Warren, Rick Mirer and Brian Blades. On the other side, Jon Boy gives his fans Ike Hilliard, who had his career season in 1999. Oh well, at least they have experience.
So the Bucs stink. And Gradkowski's going to be a decent backup in the league. Next topic.
2. The Steelers Offense. I've never seen anything like it. If this is Ken Whisenhunt or Russ Grimm's idea of a job audition, they're both failing miserably. The offensive line still could not manage to open anything up for Quick William, who posted a meager 61 yards on 22 carries. Throwing out his top run of 14, as some love to do as if it never happened, his other 21 carries went for 47 yards. Proving the line stunk for more than one running back, Dump Davenport went for 8 yards on 6 carries. That's some nice work up front, boys.
Big Ben was sacked just one time, which is eight less than the week before. That was a good thing. But on the downside, he completed just 12 passes, six to his wide receivers. I thought Santonio Holmes would have had more of an impact on a day when Hines Ward was out and Cedrick Wilson went out early, but the former Buckeye caught a mere one pass.
Bottom line: the offense still stinks.
3. The Field Goal. What a ballsy move by Gruden. You're down 20-0, on the Steeler 10 yard line, with a few seconds left in the game, and you line up for a 27-yard chip shot. I'm sure a nation of fantasy leaguers who had the Steelers' defense groaned when they lost all those bonus points for a shutout on a move like that.
4. The Field Goal II. Skippy Reed made the longest field goal in Heinz Field history (50 yards), then he misses a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter. Thus goes the roller coaster season of the Lonesome Kicker. It could be worse for Reed, though. If his coach were Bill Parcells, he would've been out of a job weeks ago.
5. Chris Gardocki. The Unblockable Punter booted 5 times for a 36-yard average, the topper being the whopping 27-yarder in the first quarter. Just another day at the office for Gardocki, who is quietly backing into the role of "lowest-ranked punter in the NFL".
6. Cowher Statue. I think I saw him move once, but that was actually when a player bumped into the statue. So no movement from our favorite lifeless coach.
Yes, it was a boring Sunday afternoon, but at least we were eventually able to catch the end of that Dallas-Giants battle. The look on Eli Manning's face as his team lost their fourth in a row? Just beautiful. And the weekend wasn't all that bad...there was no Pitt game to ruin my Saturday. Short week coming up, with 6'6" Derek Anderson QBing the Browns into town on Thursday. Why Thursday? The way these teams are playing, it might get confused for one of those ESPN MAC games. Nah, that won't happen. Those games at least have offense.

2 comments:

louis lipps is my homeboy said...

I'm a shameless homer, I know, but I'd much rather watch a bad Steelers team play a downright AWFUL Tampa team than watch two NFL contenders go at it. In fact, between studying for finals and drinking, I can honestly say that the Steelers game was the only game I watched today, except for maybe 10 minutes of Denver v. Seattle.

I liked the repeated shots of the apparent "Gradkowski Suite" at Heinz Field. At first it was cool that his family was all happy, then they kept showing them looking more and more dismayed as their son/newphew/brother/whatever kept playing worse and worse.

Also, notice the couple people in the "Gradkowski Suite" who were basically like "I know that I'm related to the other team's quarterback, but fuck it... I'm rooting for the Steelers anyways!" And Bruce's dad was the Pittburghiest of the Pittsburghers....

In other news, Pitt hoops won ugly. And the great Florida Gators lost to a Florida State team we kicked the tar out of.

And, I'm going to keep bringing this up until one of you get so annoyed by it that you trace my IP address to my home, show up here, and kick me in the face BUT....

WHO was the guy calling for Florida in the National Championship last week?! Could it have been the homeboy of Louis Lipps?!

Steeltown Mike said...

I'm sure a nation of fantasy leaguers who had the Steelers' defense groaned when they lost all those bonus points for a shutout on a move like that.

Not to mention those with the Steeler D playing a tight fantasy match-up where his/her opponent had Matt Bryant as their kicker.

I know of no such arrangement, but if there were people with perfect NCAA brackets last year, it has to have happened somewhere.