“We got our asses kicked. Everybody was pissed off. But too late now, we’ve got to get ready for Carolina.”
-Obligatory Bruce Arians quote, from the post-game presser after the shocking 38-3 massacre by the Saints, a game which was 31-0 at the half. It was a matchup that was billed as a battle of QB titans, Brees and Brady, but ended up as anything but. Funny enough, the other titanic battle involving Brady this season, against Rodgers and the Packers, was also a lopsided farce, though that time it was in favor of the Bucs. Most power rankings coming into Week 9 had the Bucs at 2 or even 1B, just behind the Steelers, billing them as the most complete team in the NFC — especially with Antonio Brown entering the lineup and set to give the receiving game a boost. Well, lolololololololololololololololololololololol to that motherfuckers. They were complete… pieces of stanky goat shite, if that’s what you mean.
It’s not easy to assess exactly what happened there. Both the Packers defeat and this flop by the Bucs had an air of the proverbial Any Given Sunday factor. But there has to be more to it than that. Perhaps the Saints defense just completely solved Tom Brady for this particular 60 minutes (not unlike they did in Week 1). After all, this game was all Tom Brady. The Bucs set the record for the least rush attempts ever in an NFL game, with 5 (one was a kneel down, so actually 4). Brady chucked three interceptions, adding to the four he had already this season, as if he was trying to resurrect the finger-slurping ghost of Jameis. That vaunted receiving corps, comprising three Pro Bowl caliber receivers, could do nothing at all to help him out of whatever hole he sank into, and the game quickly became a runaway train that nobody could stop.
In fact, one even has to wonder if introducing AB was like tossing a wrench into the gears of an already well-oiled machine. Everybody expected his bad juju to happen off the field, but is it possible it happened on the field? That might sound improbable for the guy who not that long ago was far and away the best receiver in the game, but now even backbiting scapegoater extraordinaire Arians is already talking about how AB got too many targets, a distracting shiny new toy for Brady while ever-the-bridesmaid Evans was open and ignored far too often.
Whatever the truth may be, one of the great joys of watching this Bucs team is the obvious dysfunctional power struggle between Arians and Brady, who both have zero qualms about constantly throwing each other under the bus, even when they win. Throw crazy AB in the mix and the potential for epic, fiery collapse becomes too delicious to bear. Reminds me of Coppola in Hearts of Darkness, talking about his pussyfooting push and pull with Brando, and then how perilous the whole thing became once he threw “crazy Dennis Hopper” into the mix.
It’ll be fun to see what happens to this team. Brady is Brady and could very well use the crucible of this humiliation to steel himself down the stretch on the way to his 10th, yes count ‘em, 10th Super Bowl berth. Or it could go down in the most glorious fireball ever, to the delight of millions, myself included.
In another vein, I know the Bucs rolled out the red carpet for Brady’s supercalifragilistic charlatan “trainer” Alex Guerrero, but I’d kill for some deep background quotes from Arians about him. I’m sure they are “juicy, Junior, real juicy.”
Another loss like this, and he just may let loose. Hallelujah.
Hopefully you got the Flacco joke there. If you scroll through the replies, you’ll see that a bunch of people took Mays to task for not having a more thorough, definitive list of young stars leading up to the punchline, to which he just shrugs in amusement. Fuckin’ Twitter, you can’t never win, and people online just can’t resist the urge to ruin just about anything.
Jokes aside, Mays, of Grantland, The Ringer, and now The Athletic, is one of my favorite football minds, and the essence of the tweet is sincere. I quoted it because I have been thinking a lot about this very subject, and the sense of hope it gives me for the future. In fact, all things considered, I’ve been thinking a lot about hope in general, but we’ll get to more of that later. Hope emerges brightest after long periods of darkness. America may very well be emerging from a horrendously dark one soon. In my own life, almost nine years ago I felt hope for the first time after years of hopelessness and loss, when I finally put down the bottle and stepped into the light of a new kind of life.
By comparison, the state of young quarterbacks in the NFL is probably a bit less weighty, but no less interesting! It wasn’t that long ago, just a few years really, that the great quarterbacking generation of the 2000s, the Manning brothers, Brady, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Rivers, and Brees, despite several of them still firing at their peak, started to wind down, and there was a clear dearth of greatness coming in to replace them. The great promise of Jameis and Mariota went sour real fast, and numerous other prospects, the Rosens and Osweilers, were over before they even started.
Guys like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson and Cam Newton were youngish superstars, but even so NFL analysts saw the sky falling, even as they knew that this is an oft-repeated cycle. Part of this downturn was exacerbated by a year or two, 2016 and 17, where the overall quality of play seemed to really sag. There were no consensus dominant teams, high octane offenses lacked tough defenses and vice versa. The Super Bowl between the Falcons and the Pats, while exciting for what eventually transpired, felt like two sorta pretty good teams that had made it to the top of the sludge pile of uneven, above average teams. It was the Super Bowl, but if you took away all the pageantry and pressure, it wasn’t much more than a decently watchable Sunday Night regular season game.
Goff and Wentz came along, and the former was trapped in Jeff Fisher’s self-fulfilling 7-9 Nightmare World, while the latter erupted immediately, showing flashes of brilliance in his rookie season, then dominating the first 13 games of 2017, the year he had to watch from the sidelines with a torn MCL while his journeyman backup pulled off an amazing Super Bowl victory.Continue reading “ASTRAL GEEKS S06E06: The Best Worst Game”