Thu Dec 12 04:54pm EST
It's a new week, friends, and that means we’re throwing the doors wide open to you and your questions, comments, complaints, rants and one-liners here in the Shutdown Mailbag. You know the drill here: unburden your football soul via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @jaybusbee. Now, gather ‘round. It's tahm t'talk some Jerruh.
At what point does Jerry Jones, an admittedly good businessman, wake up to the fact that instead of protecting, nourishing, and helping his asset to grow both in status and value, he is choking it off, destroying it, and diminishing its value?
–King of Scorpions
At what point? Never. Jerry's got the wheel of the good ship Cowboy, son, and he's gonna pilot that bad boy right up over the rocks, through the dock, and right onto the middle of Main Street USA. Which is really not where you want a ship to end up, but Jerry doesn't follow your rules, fella! Jones is gonna be the general manager of this'ere football club till his dying day, and probably a good long time thereafter, too.
As for loss of value: Forbes pegged the Cowboys as the third-most-valuable sports franchise in the world, tied with the Yankees and behind only Manchester United and Real Madrid. But those are soccer teams, so hell with 'em. That, Cowboys fans, is very bad news: even with an on-field team that is the very soul of mediocrity, Dallas is the most valuable in the NFL. What's the incentive to change?
— Christopher (@thegamermode) December 5, 2013
You know the answer to that: Redskins and Vikings. The Texans and Falcons are awful, but they both have pieces around which to build: the defense and the offense, respectively. But Washington and Minnesota are terrible across the board, with the exception of their running games. But how much longer can Alfred Morris and Adrian Peterson be expected to carry on while they're getting hammered? As for this year's previous "blow 'em up" teams, the Buccaneers and the Jaguars, both got hot enough to fake their fans into thinking that they're on the right track ... and to play themselves out of a decent draft pick in 2014.
Have we forgotten that the teams have to play in whatever conditions through the year and they're where they're at because they're probably the better team. Why does the Super Bowl have to be perfect conditions? It's not during the year.
Agree completely. The only people complaining about the possibility of a snowy Super Bowl are the media, who get paid to go to the game, and ultrarich folks who use this for client development and hope the Yankees make it this year. Heck with both of 'em. I want snowdrifts deep enough to hide Wes Welker.
Commercial break! Hey, kids! Do you want to feel like a real NFL star? No you don't, because that would involve getting your skull cracked. Instead, join John Elway and Eric Dickerson in the NFL SuperPro club!
That little kid's name? Brett Favre.* Oh, and speaking of the Ol' Gunslinger ...
*-May not be true. Or it may.
I just miss the days of players like Brett Favre where you never had to worry about injuries like Aaron Rodgers. No matter if you liked him or hated him, you knew he would be out there, no matter what, and I know for a fact if this was Brett we would not even know till the end of the year. In 18 years he did not miss one game. When players were not protected, he played. When they got killed [there were] no flags like today's game.
I thought Ben had to be goofing here, but no, this appears legit. Just like Brett Favre, back when he used to ride to Lambeau Field on a wildcat flyin' through a tornado. Why, ol' Brett had his hands bitten off five different times! He'd spit on 'em, stick 'em back on, and throw a touchdown against the Bears neat as you please! Also, if you think even the mighty Favre could've played through a broken collarbone, you're insane. Rodgers is as tough as they come himself; he was ready to duct-tape that bone back together and play in that same game. If he does come back in time to vault the Packers into the playoffs ... wow. All bets are off.
Is Eli ever going to stop letting his daddy do the talking for him?
Archie Manning wants you to shut up and stop bothering his boy, James. Eli is doing the best he can, dadgummit, and if you don't get that, you don't get football. And as soon as Eli's done mowing the lawn and walking the dog, he'll come in here and show you what a real NFL quarterback looks like. Or at least how a real NFL quarterback puts away the dishes.
We conclude with the video version of today's mailbag. Yes, that's me in that snazzy mailman outfit. Kind of. You want your question read on NBC Sports Network's SportsDash? Hit us up!
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All right, friends, that’ll do it for this week. Think you can do better than this week’s round of letter-writers? Take your shot by emailing or tweeting via the contacts below. This is also a reminder that you can tune in to our twice-weekly podcast, the catchily-named Shutdown Corner Podcast, right here on iTunes. And come on back to Shutdown Corner every day, multiple times a day, for the best NFL coverage in the known universe.
Enjoy football, everybody!
Mon Dec 02 09:13pm EST
You'd think the last group that Brett Favre would want to help out is the New Orleans Saints.
Favre was the biggest name targeted during the Saints' bounty scandal. New Orleans tried to take him out of the NFC championship game at the end of the 2009 season when Favre was a member of the Vikings, with an alleged prize of $35,000. Even though the Saints couldn't knock Favre out of the game, they laid a number of huge hits on him.
Wed Nov 06 12:24pm EST
Here at Shutdown Corner, we want to help. So once a week, we'll go in and examine a team coming off a bad week, bad month, maybe a bad decade (you're in luck, Cleveland), and see what fixes can be made to turn around the season. So step aside, we've got this. Next under the microscope: the St. Louis Rams.
Where they stand: 3-6, five games back of first in the NFC West
What's gone right: Look, we would never ever say that an injury is a good thing. But Sam Bradford's season-ending injury in Week 7 instantly snuffed out any possible flicker of hope the Rams could have had for a good season. Why's this listed under what's "gone right"? Why, expectations diminished into nothingness, of course. If nobody expects anything from you, it's impossible to disappoint.
What's gone wrong: The Rams do many things, none of them very well. The team averages 20.7 points per game, ranking 23rd in the league. But their 310.3 yards per game ranks 30th in the NFL. Those numbers are only going to decline as the Rams continue their who-the-hell's-QB'ing-us-this-week rotation. Defensively, St. Louis isn't awful, but isn't amazing either, ranking mid-pack in yards per game (16th) and points surrendered per game (25.1, 20th). The Rams do rank in the top 10 in pass defense (9th), but their run defense is abysmal (28th).
What we'd fix: At this point for the Rams, it's just about keeping the team comfortable. There's not much more that can be done at this point. The team has to keep Kellen Clemens healthy for the rest of the year, because Brett Favre ain't walking through that door. The defense has to tighten up against the run, because if the Rams are able to keep the game close late, they can't be letting opponents bleed the clock with ground-attack first downs.
The road ahead: Still in the future: Indianapolis, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle. That's rugged. The only game for the rest of the season in which the Rams might be favored is the Week 16 game against Tampa Bay, and if the Bucs are still without a win at that point, they're going to be trying to infect opposing teams with the Ebola virus.
Is there hope?: No. Even better, St. Louis fans, you have the constant threat of a move to Los Angeles dangling over your heads. Still, bear in mind that the Rams very nearly beat Seattle on a Monday night game that pretty much nobody remembers, even though it happened just a couple weeks ago. The potential is there for an out-of-nowhere win. The potential is not there for anything more than that.
But take heart, best fans in baseball ... it's less than 100 days till pitchers and catchers report.
Wed Oct 30 11:33am EDT
Dave Pehl mentioned to his son David, after David got an Aaron Rodgers jersey for Christmas, that a young boy had set a record by wearing a Brett Favre jersey for almost 1,600 straight days.
He might regret that now.
[Related: Tom Brady unveils unique Halloween costume]
David Pehl, who is in sixth grade, started his own streak with his Rodgers jersey. And when WKBT in Wisconsin told the story this week, he was up to 1,034 consecutive days wearing the same jersey (h/t to Yardbarker). The story says he wants to take the streak past four years.
And it looks like what you'd expect of a jersey that has been worn and hand washed daily for almost three years straight. There's little left of the No. 12 on the front or back, and only some remnants of Rodgers' name on it.
And even worse for Dave Pehl, who planted the idea of the jersey record, he and the rest of the family are Vikings fans. So he has been getting trolled by his son for more than 1,000 days in a row.
David Pehl still has a ways to go to reach the record of David Witthoft, who took off his Favre jersey in 2008 after 1,561 straight days (I'm just going to assume that is the record, and really, if someone has beaten that I don't want to know about it anyway).
Hopefully young Pehl isn't carrying on any Ripken-esque streaks with his underwear or socks.
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Fri Oct 25 01:06pm EDT
NFL games can be quite pricy for fans. Except when you're in St. Louis, and the World Series is in town.
It's a perfect storm of events, and the St. Louis Cardinals' victory in Game 2 of the World Series ensures that it will go at least five games. And that means that if the Cardinals win the next two games, Monday night could be a Series-clinching evening in St. Louis.
And that's a big uh-oh for the St. Louis Rams. Remember them? Now we understand why they might have kicked the tires on ol' Brett Favre earlier this week — how else are they going to fill seats for their home game on "Monday Night Football" down the street against the Seattle Seahawks?
Tue Oct 22 12:57pm EDT
Welcome to the Fifth Quarter, the only NFL recap column you’ll ever need. It’s the only one to provide a full day’s supply of Vitamin C, after all. Here’s what was going on around the rest of the league while you were selfishly focused on your home team and your fantasy players.
So as you probably heard, Sunday night featured the return of Peyton Manning to the city of Indianapolis. Normally when guys go back to their former place of employment, it's not quite such a big deal. They didn't exactly bronze the time-clock where I used to bag groceries, you know. (Although they should have. We won only one fewer Super Bowl than Peyton did in Indy. Zing.)
Nonetheless, The Powers That Be decided that Manning's return to Indy would be An Event, and everybody with any access to the public's eyes and ears, yours truly included, chimed in with thoughts, perspective and background on the Manning-Indianapolis connection. Heck, the NFL Network even dragged poor Brett Favre off a tractor somewhere in Mississippi to talk about homecomings. Anything worth hyping, the thinking goes, is worth overhyping.
By our rough count, this is the third such mega-event of this still-young NFL season, behind Seattle-San Francisco and Manning Bowl. (Denver-Dallas and New Orleans-New England were big only in retrospect.) But here's the rub: unlike those other two Events, this one actually lived up to all the hype. Peyton seemed genuinely touched at Indy's gratitude. Andrew Luck decided he'd heard about enough of all this Manning business. And the game itself was in doubt until the final minutes, which is really all you can ask.
Look, we all get hype fatigue. You can only see so many exploding graphics and Carrie Underwood enticements for a bomb of a game like Monday's Vikings-Giants mess before you get hopelessly cynical about the entire process. But Sunday night's game reminded us that it's what's on the field that matters, and every so often, despite all of our best attempts to screw it up, this is really one hell of a fine game.
Now, who's ready for Manning-Brady on Nov. 24?
In which we recap every game in seven words. Ready ... go!
Seattle 34, Arizona 22. You cannot stop Russell Wilson without artillery.
Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 23. Falcons decontaminated failure stench from Bucs' lockers.
Carolina 30, St. Louis 15. Sorry, St. Louis: "Tebow coming!" talk coming.
Cincinnati 27, Detroit 24. Second Cincy game-winning FG this year.
San Diego 24, Jacksonville 6. Jags will score negative points very soon.
Buffalo 23, Miami 21. Not hearing "Miami has arrived" much anymore.
New York Jets 30, New England 27. Belichick jobbed by refs? We're all heartbroken.
Dallas 17, Philadelphia 3. That USC job's looking nice, eh, Chip?
Washington 45, Chicago 41. Cutlergroin is now a thing. Thanks, Washington.
San Francisco 31, Tennessee 17. Only one NFC wildcard spot still open.
Green Bay 31, Cleveland 13. Aaron Rodgers reminds you he's still here.
Kansas City 17, Houston 16. Worst 7-0 team ever? So freaking what?
Pittsburgh 19, Baltimore 16. Many zero-win teams defeat reigning champs.
Indianapolis 39, Denver 33. Peyton returned to Indy! You hear that?
New York Giants 23, Minnesota 7. The Worst NFL Game In Human History.
Teams on bye: Raiders, Saints
Champ: Roy Helu Jr., Washington Redskins. Did you have this cat on your fantasy team? No? Then you missed out on three touchdowns. It's about time that Washington had something to get excited about rather than the name change. (And then, hours later, The Onion came along and put the entire debate in perfect perspective.)
Chump: Josh Freeman and anyone who thought he was ready to start, Minnesota Vikings. Monday night's football game should serve as proof positive to any idiot who ever thinks you can drop a player into an unfamiliar offensive scheme and expect him to have any kind of success. Freeman looked more confused than a Kardashian in a classroom Monday night. If he'd been quarterbacking your Turkey Bowl team, you'd have yanked him and put in Uncle Rico pronto.
Just take in the glory of this whole photo. Take it in. You've got something seriously good when cargo-shorts-and-hockey-mask/wig bro there on the right is the third-strangest of the three. I was initially spooked by the baby in the middle, but that's just a decoration, not a real child. A spooky-as-hell decoration, and one I'm going to put in the corner at the next kids' birthday party I hit, but a decoration nonetheless. So that leaves divided bro there on the left. Come on, dude. Unless you're on Peyton Manning's payroll, and judging by the stitching on your jeans I'm guessing you're not, you have to commit one way or the other.
Got your own quality tailgate/party/fan photos? Hit us at email@example.com and share.
There's plenty of good writing every day on the NFL. Here are a few choice reads to keep you busy while there's no football. Because the other alternatives are talking to your family or doing chores, and nobody wants that. (Send us your favorite words of the week.)
• Matt Hasselbeck has helped mentor Andrew Luck via friendship, rivalry and a rigged footrace. (Yahoo Sports)
• Former Pro Bowler Sean Gilbert could challenge for the executive director position of the NFLPA, and could tear up the current collective bargaining agreement. (Yahoo Sports)
• What the hell happened with Carson Palmer, and is there any hope of salvaging his career? (Grantland)
• Peyton Manning of the Miami Dolphins? Peyton Manning of the New York Jets? It could have happened. (The MMQB)
• RIP Bum Phillips, who was a defensive innovator in a way few other coaches could even imagine. (Sports Illustrated)
Each week, we’ll make a random Super Bowl pick based on trends, stats or general nonquantifiable gut feelings. One of these weeks, we’ll be right. Probably right after both conference championships.
Seahawks vs. Colts. Another potential rematch, one which would give Seattle a chance to avenge its loss from a couple weeks back. As expected, Seattle is looking like the class of the NFC, even though a win on the road against Arizona isn't quite the same thing as a win on the road against, say, New England. On the flip side, we've got Indianapolis, which firmly established itself as a Super Bowl threat with the convincing takedown of Denver on Sunday night.
Super Bowl picks, full season: Denver 3x, New Orleans 2x, Seattle 3x, Indianapolis 2x, New England, San Francisco.
And that's a wrap for this week's edition of Fifth Quarter. Got a question? Comment? Concern? Rant? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee. We’ll run your words here or in Thursday’s weekly letters column. For now, enjoy the week. It's not long 'til more football!
Sun Oct 20 11:59am EDT
Brett Favre is one of the few people who can relate to what Peyton Manning is going through this week.
Like Manning, Favre played in a lot of big games in his NFL career, including two Super Bowls. But in an honest interview with NFL Network on Sunday morning, Favre said the Super Bowls and NFC title games were nothing compared to his first game back at Lambeau Field with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009. He had started 128 games at Lambeau as the Packers quarterback, including playoffs. Manning returns to Indianapolis as quarterback of the Denver Broncos for a huge "Sunday Night Football" game this week.
"After all the years I played football, and had been fortunate enough to play in two Super Bowls, you’d think I wouldn’t be as nervous," Favre told NFL Network. "That game by far was the most nervous I’d been in my career."
Mon Jul 29 09:52am EDT
One of the more notable team switches this offseason came when longtime Green Bay Packer Greg Jennings jumped to the Minnesota Vikings after it became clear the Packers didn't need him as much as he might have thought. As a result, Jennings has been airing a bit of dirty green-and-yellow laundry ... and now, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has told Jennings to knock it off.
A quick rundown of Jennings' hits from recent interviews:
• Comparing Rodgers to Brett Favre: “When you talk about comparing quarterbacks, it’s hard to compare guys. I’ll take Brett. He did it for so long. I got there in a period of time where Brett already was (an elite quarterback). Then the guy they have now, he sat behind Brett and he learned so much."
• On how Rodgers began distancing himself from the team: "A lot of times when you have a guy who creates that spotlight for himself and establishes that and takes a lot of that, it becomes so-and-so and the team. For me, I’m such a team person, I’m going to defer to my teammates. I’m going to defer to the team, to the team, to the team. And I think when you reach a point where you’re not deferring any longer, it’s no longer really about the team."
• In both interviews, Jennings didn't mention Rodgers by name.
Of note: Rodgers didn't take the bait. "Well, like I said last year when there was some comments kind of like this, I’ve got a great responsibility to the guys in this locker room and the fans, and at this point, I don’t have a whole lot of time or energy to spend worrying about things that are said outside the building. I know those are stories for you guys, but personally, I’m focused on this team. Obviously, you hear about them, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy on them."
Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy put it more succinctly: "When you put on that purple, something happens to you."
And now, the Vikings are wanting Jennings to focus on, you know, being purple. "We’re the Vikings and we want to talk about us, what we’re trying to get done," Frazier said after meeting with Jennings. "That’s where our focus has to be. There’s so much work to be done, and we don’t want to be looking at what’s happening with other teams, other teams’ players. We’ve got to focus on us. He’s good with that."
Sound plan. Jennings and the Vikings will need all the help they can get to get past Green Bay at least two times this year.
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Mon Jun 17 08:22am EDT
After 14 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, wide receiver Donald Driver announced his retirement on Feb. 6. A little over four months later, Driver says that a few NFL teams have reached out, but only the Packers could coax him out of retirement, reports Paul Imig of FOX Sports Wisconsin.
"I think the thing is, if you have the itch to continue to play, then it doesn't matter who you play for, because that's what you want to do,” Driver said. "You just want to play the game. I love the game, but I only love one team. When you love the game, you'll play for anybody. Anybody who offers you something, you're willing to step on the field and play for them.
"I decided that I love one team. But I do love the game. At the end of the day, if I get that itch, it would only be for the green and gold."
Driver, 38, was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is eligible to sign with any team that is interested in adding a veteran receiver to their roster. Seeing Driver in another uniform would certainly be strange, but it certainly wouldn't be any stranger than Brett Favre in Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets jerseys and Driver would hardly be the first player to finish his career in a different uniform. Franco Harris finished his carer with the Seattle Seahawks, while Joe Namath spent a season with the Los Angeles Rams and Johnny Unitas ended his career with the San Diego Chargers. A closer example for Driver could be Cris Carter, who is largely identified with the Minnesota Vikings, but had transitioned to a media role in 2002 before returning to the field to play in eight games for the Miami Dolphins.
Playing for one team for an entire career means something to Driver, though.
"I talked to so many different guys and every guy that I've talked to said they wish they never went to another team," Driver said. "They always wished they would've retired with that team that they played 10, 11, 12 years for.
"When I asked them, 'Should I go back?,' they say, 'If you don't have that love for another team, don't go back. You're not going to get the same love, you're not going to get the same respect that you got from them that you got from Green Bay.'"
Fri Jun 07 10:47am EDT
Packers football and its history means a lot to the people of Wisconsin, maybe even a little too much. I understand that, because I'm from there.
And it's arguable no player meant more in that state than Brett Favre.
The last few years have been awkward. Favre going to the Vikings wasn't unforgivable to Packers fans, although it was pretty close. If you're not from the Midwest, you really can't understand how personal the Bears-Packers-Vikings rivalry is.
But he was still Brett Favre, the player who saved the franchise from decades of losing and embarrassment to finally bring a Super Bowl back to Green Bay. Everyone knew at some point the ice would thaw and he'd come back to be honored, but the big step was Favre expressing that he wanted that. And Packers fans probably wanted some sign that Favre wanted to return and be cheered as much as they wanted him back.
Well, finally Favre is starting to show that it would mean plenty for him to come back to Lambeau Field, as the good guy this time.
Posted Jul 2 2012
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Posted Jun 21 2012