1. Time to throw out QBs' postseason win-loss records
If there has ever been a time to take every quarterback's postseason win-loss records, put them on an island and obliterate them with a 100-megaton nuke, Godzilla style, that time is now.
That's right, Mark Freaking Sanchez has a better postseason record than Rodgers.
We all know, of those players, who the best quarterback is. Yet we obsess over quarterback win-loss records, especially postseason ones. We talk about them all the time. Drool over them. You'll hear about Tom Brady's record, and Peyton Manning's, plenty this week. Just remember...Rodgers is 7-6.
You watch what Rodgers did against Arizona—one of the best performances any quarterback has ever had in the postseason—and his wins and losses become especially meaningless.
Said former NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein on CBS Sports' NFL Monday QB this week:
It's unbelievable when you look at what this guy has done. It's not just the Hail Mary. It's the 4th-and-20 [the play before] with the game on the line, he delivers a laser to [Jeff] Janis to pick up the first down and give his team a chance at the end zone and the Hail Mary…He made the Hail Mary throw under pressure. He knows he's going to get hit. He gives Janis a chance to go up and make the play. Most guys only have one of these in their career…He continues to prove that he's such a unique quarterback.
I've said it before: Brady is the best ever, but one day, he will be replaced as the best ever by Rodgers...
...by Rodgers...who has a .538 postseason winning percentage.
This is another huge postseason for quarterback legacies. We will focus on the obvious one—Brady and Manning—but this offseason is showing something else.
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You have to look at each quarterback in each situation as being unique now. The past is no guide.
Palmer didn't look great early against the Packers, but his presence on Arizona has transformed the Cardinals into a Super Bowl-caliber team. His playoff record? He just won his first postseason game. Palmer has the same 1-2 record as Steve Walsh, Jeff George, Elvis Grbac, Shaun King and Marc Bulger.
Cam Newton is 2-2, and Alex Smith is 2-3. There are teams that would run over their grammies to get those two players.
Dan Marino was 8-10, Brad Johnson 4-3. Guess who's better.
Point being: The postseason winning percentages of these quarterbacks are not an instruction manual. They mean nothing. What matters, what always matters, is how they're playing and what situation they're in.
And yes, Peyton is 12-13 in the playoffs. He's still OK, I hear.
2. Awesome Pats, but...
The Patriots are in their 12th AFC Championship Game, and fifth straight. Ten of the 12 appearances have come during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.
How impressive is that? The team went to two AFC Championship Games in 30 years before Belichick-Brady and has gone to 10 in 16 years since. New England now ranks fourth all-time in conference title game appearances, according to the NFL:
|Most conference championship games|
|San Francisco 49ers||15|
|New England Patriots||12|
And the way Brady is aging, the Patriots might catch the leaders before he finally retires.
How great has Rob Gronkowski been in the playoffs? He now has eight touchdowns in nine career postseason games. That's the record for tight ends, according to the league. His two scores this weekend put him past Dave Casper and Vernon Davis, who had held the record with seven each. And remember: Gronkowski is only in Year 6.
4. Andy Reid needs a clock coach
Andy Reid is an excellent coach. Andy Reid is terrible at clock management. Both are true.
Clocks are to Reid what those tiny green rocks are to Superman. This has always been the case, going back to Philadelphia. Google "Andy Reid AND clock management" and see for yourself.
It's time for Reid to take extreme steps. He needs an assistant coach on his staff whose only job is to manage clock situations. He'd give Reid the best options, stay in Reid's ear from the coaching box (or stand next to him on the sideline) and hold his hand through tight clock situations.
This is now a necessity for Reid. It's either that or Reid has to wear this.
Think about the kind of force it takes to do this to a helmet. To crack a practically indestructible helmet. That's what Marshawn Lynch did to Roman Harper's lid. I've seen facemasks (and noses) bent, but not a helmet cracked like that. Just a reminder how brutally violent this sport is.
6. Is Marshawn Lynch gone?
It seems so, but then again, this is Marshawn Lynch we're talking about. Marshawn Lynch does what Marshawn Lynch wants—not what is expected of him or what the Seahawks want.
However, one Seattle player told me this: "I think he wants to come back and I think the team wants him back. I'm just not sure how good the communication is between the two sides right now."
My sense at this point is that the team actually functions better without Lynch. It's leaner and quicker, and Russell Wilson is so outstanding now it could be one of the top three passing attacks for the entirety of the season next year.
If he is gone, where will Lynch end up? One general manager I spoke to predicted Cleveland.
7. AFC scout on Carson Palmer: 'He looked nervous as hell'
One scout who watched Carson Palmer closely during the Cardinals' divisional-round game against Green Bay was stunned by how shaky Palmer looked.
"He looked nervous as hell," the scout said. "It was weird to watch."
The scout did note that Palmer rebounded from his slow start, calling it "very admirable and gutsy." The scout believes that this is actually good news for Arizona, that Palmer got the nervousness and pressure of never winning a playoff game out of the way.
8. Don't be greedy in Los Angeles, NFL
Everyone I've spoken to outside the league office is in agreement on this much: Having one team in Los Angeles could work, but having two won't.
Those in the league office disagree.
The league is wrong. No way in hell that would work. No. Way. In. Hell.
Honestly, even one's a stretch.
9. The 0.01 percent
The quote below is long but worth reading. It will help people understand the true NFL. The excerpt is from the book NFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by an anonymous current NFL player. I'm presenting it without comment.
The player writes that 20 percent of NFL players are in the league because they love it, 30 percent for the cash, 49.99 percent because they don't know anything else. Then there's that last 0.01 percent. Those players hate the NFL despite the fact they play in it. The anonymous player writes:
Resent it. Loathe it. Hate what it does to our bodies, how it breaks us down, tearing our ligaments, shredding our knees, turning us into old men while we're still in our twenties. Hate what it does to our minds, how it makes us forget things like where we put our keys and eventually who the hell we are. Hate what it does to our lives, how it separates us from our friends and family, treats us like high-priced slaves who can be bought and sold, telling us it loves us one second, then tossing us out like trash the next. Hate the whole idea of "Football as a Way of Life." All the garbage of us being "warriors" on a "battlefield," that somehow we're Real Men or Heroes because we play this stupid game with a little scrap of leather on a hundred yards of fake grass.
10. Best image of the week
SB Nation GIF @SBNationGIF
IT'S CHRISTMAS IN CAROLINA https://t.co/XxnHtFHBFN https://t.co/TvKQQnsvNl2016-1-17 18:19:42
This scene of a Panthers player giving a fan a football, and her subsequent reaction, is one of the best things I've seen this season. There is a lot going on here.
What many of those who don't like Cam Newton and the Panthers fail to understand is the team's really connected with Panthers fans. They don't view Newton's dancing as arrogance (no sane person should). They view it as a guy having fun, like they do. That stadium rocks, and those fans have become some of the most dedicated in the sport. (I also know Newton did not give this particular football to the fan but the overall point still applies.)
All of that is symbolized in that girl's reaction to getting the football.
As many things that are wrong with the NFL now, this is one of the things that's so right.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.