Monday Night Musings: Gruden needs to clam up…or coach
This column addresses some of the Monday-Tuesday fallout from Sunday’s games and provides some notes into the Monday night action. This week, I’m voicing my distaste for the drivel that comes out of Jon Gruden’s boisterous, overenthusiastic mouth, updating a few key injuries, and checking in on some of the game’s biggest playmakers as we put a wrap on Week 13 and head into the fantasy playoffs.
- I’m not going to say much about Jason Garrett’s hideous handling of the final moments of regulation in the Dallas-Arizona game, but it’s important to note that Garrett didn’t back off his decision to do about a hundred things wrong as time was winding down, which is annoying. You better take a good look in the mirror, coach, because denial ain’t just a major north-flowing river in North Africa, bub.
- Andre Johnson took all of a couple quarters before injuring the other hamstring on Sunday, leaving him “day-to-day” according to Gary Kubiak and in doubt for the next couple of weeks. It’s a shame, because T.J. Yates was developing a nice little rhythm with the veteran receiver – hooking up for 4-97-0 before leaving in the third quarter. Keep an eye on the injury report as it develops.
- Also on the injury front, it appears that Detroit RB Kevin Smith is dinged up again, forcing Maurice Morris to assume a lead role once again for the fading Lions, who’ve now dropped five of seven since winning their first five games. Morris isn’t as explosive as a healthy Smith, but he’s a capable back that filled in nicely before Smith – who’s drawing comparisons to a brittle gingerbread man – won the job the week before Thanksgiving.
- If you’re looking for a replacement for Matt Forte, you’ll have to settle for the plodding efforts of Marion Barber, who’s a little better on short yardage and near the goal line but can’t fulfill the all-purpose Forte role in Mike Martz’s offense. Desperate owners who miss out on Barber can grab Kahlil Bell, who’s expected to handle passing-down duties.
- Ahmad Bradshaw looks ready to assume a larger workload against the Cowboys this week after returning in Week 13 in the disheartening loss to still undefeated Green Bay. The Giants are a much better team with him in the mix, and they’ll definitely continmue to us him extensively as long as he’s healthy. New York gave the defending champs a run for their money but fell short when they left enough time on the clock for the indomitable Aaron Rodgers to march his team down the field in the final minute and set up the game-winning Mason Crosby field goal.
- Speaking of determined QBs, Tim Tebow found a way to get another a W for the Broncos, discouraging Atheists everywhere and defying the odds yet again. Granted, he took a while to start finding receivers again, but eventually settled in agreeably with talented WR DeMaryius Thomas, tossing a couple TD passes to the lanky receiver in the second half that provided a huge spark in the back-and-forth battle with Minnesota. Let’s just remember…the Vikings are 2-10 for a reason.
- With all the attention on Rodgers and Tebow, Drew Brees has been flying under the radar – at least in relation to the number of headlines some of his counterparts are receiving – and I imagine that’s just fine with good old “Cool B” – who now has 30 TD passes and over 4,000 passing yards on the season.
- Brees absolutely shredded the Lions on Sunday night, posting a 129.6 QB rating for the second consecutive week. He and Jimmy Graham continue to flummox opposing defenses because of the offense’s flexibility in all downs and distances, while the rest of his receivers (Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson) bombard opposing secondaries and a bevy of talented running backs with complementary styles (Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas Mark Ingram) take chunks of field with them between the 20s. It’s downright unfair just how many gamebreaking options the Saints have, and how all of these guys execute when it’s their turn. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating – the teams that drop balls and run sloppy routes don’t finish like the Saints, Packers, Patriots and Steelers – the best four teams in the game right now.
- The Jags-Chargers game was hotly contested for about five or six minutes during the second quarter, when the Jags went on a torrid run courtesy of Maurice Jones-Drew and his bowling-ball style. But the Chargers managed to pull their offense together in this one and played mistake-free football. Philip Rivers completed 22 of 28 passes, threw for 294 yards and three TDs, and finished with a 146.1 QB rating – his highest mark this season.
- MJD finished with 188 total yards and a TD, and right now he’s accomplishing what Walter Payton did in the late 1970s with the putrid Bears offense – finishing among the league’s leading rushers despite no semblance of a passing game. By the way, if you haven’t picked up your copy of Jeff Pearlman’s Sweetness, an amazing biography of the enigmatic-but-legendary Payton, you should. And you might want to start reading his blog, too. Seriously. The guy is a tireless journalist with a penchant for unfolding dramatic stories – and telling them passionately.
- And finally, one more issue I’d like to discuss this week: ESPN Monday Night Football announcer Jon Gruden and his flapping trap. Sure, he’s an informed analyst, but I’m sick of his tacky, useless badgering of coaching philosophies, combined – inexplicably – with effusive, fanboyish praise that’s almost always superfluous because of its frequency and obvious timing. He spent half of Monday’s night’s broadcast belittling the Jaguars for not opening up the offense by throwing it downfield, then backtracking on his revulsion when Blaine Gabbert and MJD started moving the Jags offense effectively in short, safe bursts. If the guy feels like he can do better, he should get back on the sidelines and take one of the 10-15 or so openings that have been made available since he was fired following the 2008 season. A lot has changed in the past few years, Mr. Gruden, and I’m anxious to find out if you can handle coaching in this league – the one that you find the need to articulate by its full name in excruciating detail (isn’t it a lot easier to use the perfectly acceptable N-F-L instead of verbalizing “NA-TION-AL FOOT-BALL LEAGUE?) every time you have a chance. You’d think a broadcaster would understand the whole brevity thing. The New Yorker may have found you fascinating enough to write a comprehensive profile, but I’m just sick of listening to you and needed to vent. Let’s get with the program, Chucky. And poop or get off the pot on this coaching thing.
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