It’s the Christmas edition of the Morning Aftermath, which means that we’ll possibly be making some seasonal references (or possibly not), and that we’ll generally be mailing it in.
It’s the holiday way.
Now, where’s my damn egg nog?
1. Chilly isn’t in charge, after all.
Well, when you dance with the devil in the pale moonlight, sometimes the devil puts his pitchfork right up your ass.
Vikings coach Brad Childress is walking funny this morning, for that very reason. In an effort to save his job, he chased quarterback Brett Favre for months, letting the wishy-washy player waffle in and out of unretirement, even though it meant missing valuable time preparing for the season. And when Favre finally arrived in Minnesota, Childress personally drove Brett from the airport to the team facility.
But from the moment Favre referred publicly to his personal chauffeur as “Chilly,” a distinct vibe emerged that Favre was equal to or above his boss, and that Chilly’s job included letting Favre do whatever in the hell he wants.
It’s now clear that Favre can do whatever in the hell he wants. Last night, Chilly tried to pull Favre out of the game in the third quarter with the Vikings leading by a point, and Favre refused to leave.
“[T]here was a heated discussion, I guess you would call it,” Favre said after the game. “We were up 7-6 at the time. No secret, I was getting hit a little bit. I felt the pressure on a lot of plays. We had seven points. So I think everyone in the building was like, ‘They’re not moving the ball, they’re not getting points.’ Brad wanted to go in adifferent direction and I wanted to stay in the game.
“We were up 7-6. Yeah, it’s not 70-6, but we’re up 7-6. So I said, ‘I’m staying in the game, I’m playing.’ I don’t know if it was exactly to protect me, or we had seven points, I’m not sure. That’s his call. But we talked it out. We didn’t have time, I didn’t have time to sit there and say why or what. My response was, we’ve got to win this ballgame and I want to stay in and do whatever I can. Now, unfortunately, I didn’t do that, but that was my intention.”
But there shouldn’t have even been a heated discussion or a non-heated discussion or any other discussion. Chilly is the coach, Favre is the player. When the coach decides to take a player out, the player comes out.
Except in Minnesota, where the coach has created a monster, and the monster has decided to turn on Dr. Frankenchilly.
Last night, Chilly likely backed down in part because he didn’t want the situation to become a distraction, given that Favre tends to run his mouth about anything and everything, especially when a microphone is in his field of vision. But even though Chilly placated Favre, there he was after the game, bitching about the fact that Chilly wanted Favre to do something Favre didn’t want to do.
It’s hard to blame Brett for this, because anyone who has been following the NFL for the past several years realizes that Brett was just being Brett. But Chilly knew or should have known what he was getting himself into, and he knew or should have known that bringing Brett into the building means letting Brett do whatever he wants.
Though the experiment has gotten Chilly off the hot seat via a contract extension, this unwanted new dynamic will make it hard for Chilly to justify his new salary with a playoff win — and it makes Chilly generally look like a buffoon.
But, hey, if Brett decides in late August that he wants to play again in 2010, Chilly will be waiting at the airport holding a placard that reads “Favre” on the front and “I’m Brett’s bitch” on the back.
For more takes from Week 15, including a reaction to the Randy Moss comments, a critique of Mike Tomlin’s boneheaded call for an onside kick, an unlikely playoff rematch of a noteworthy regular-season game, the Big Show’s first order of business in Cleveland, Philly’s sudden shot at a bye week, the controversy regarding the Greg Camarillo unnecessary roughness call, the silver lining for the St. Louis Rams, Chris Johnson’s case for co-MVP, and the hot seat on which Jim Mora might be sitting, hit the link below.
2. Moss unwittingly confirms that he’s fragile.
As the video pasted below demonstrates, a homeless man invaded the Patriots’ press room after Sunday’s game at Buffalo, spoke momentarily with a little anger and a lot of attitude, and then abruptly left.
Turns out that it was New England receiver Randy Moss, who had nothing at all to say after being sent home for showing up late for work and/or having a “bad game,” but who all of a sudden was ready to pop off after having a “good game.”
But he didn’t take a single question, continuing his successful dodging of the media.
It’s the off-field manifestation of his “play when I wanna play” attitude. Like Brett Favre, Moss does what he wants; the only difference is that Brett’s chosen activities include “aw, shucks”-ing it up with the media, so the media generally loves him.
But everything Moss did on Sunday, from his game play to his demeanor to his post-game comments, confirm that, yes, he is fragile and that, yes, the week-long Patriot game of “pin the lips on Randy’s ass” worked.
These tactics can be justified as long as Moss retains high-end skills. The moment he shows a significant decline, however, he’ll be spit out of the league faster than Todd Marinovich.
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for ESPN to reconcile last week’s comments from Cris Carter, who called his former teammate’s performance against the Panthers “pathetic” and “appalling,” and the observations of Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski, who have interpreted the mystical “coaching tapes” much differently.
We have a feeling we’ll be waiting a little while longer.
We saw it last month, when Patriots coach Bill Belichick assumed a “what the hell, it’s only a video game” approach on fourth and two from his own 28 with a six-point lead against the Colts.
On Sunday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin tried the same tactic, via a surprise onside kick while leading by two points with 3:58 to play.
While leading by two points with 3:58 to play.
But for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to drive the Steelers 86 yards for the game-winning score with no time on the clock via a pass and a catch even more impressive than the play that won Super Bowl XLIII, Tomlin would be getting lambasted today for a decision far more boneheaded that Belichick’s option to play the percentages against Peyton Manning in his own backyard.
After the game, Tomlin was strident, claiming that he’d make the same call again.
“We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them,” Tomlin said. “We
also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could drive the
ball on us. That’s why we took the risk we did.”
Less than a week after safety Ryan Clark called the local media “turds” for pressing pause on their usual habit of burying their noses into the team’s buttocks, the entire Pittsburgh defense should be feeling even more disrespected by their head coach.
Put simply, Tomlin didn’t trust them to stop the Green Bay Packers (who at last check weren’t quarterbacked by Peyton Manning) on the Steelers’ home field with the season on the line.
So where is the hue and cry from the national media and/or former Steelers players that Tomlin committed an affront to the Steel Curtain? The lack of faith he displayed in the traditional strength of the team was, in reality, far worse than Belichick’s decision to trust Tom Brady to pick up two yards.
Even if Tomlin doesn’t receive as much criticism as he deserves on this one, the fact that Tomlin was forced to make a Madden-style call proves that these suddenly new-look Steelers more closely resemble an Arena League team than the franchise that has won six Super Bowls.
For that reason, the chances of stealing the six seed and parlaying it into a seventh trophy are far slimmer than anyone realizes.
4. Rematch of 59-0 blowout creeps toward the horizon.
As we try to make sense of the cluster of two 8-6 teams and six 7-7 teams jockeying for a pair of wild-card berths, we can’t escape the feeling that, when the final Sunday of the regular-season ends, the Tennessee Titans will hold one of the two Golden Tickets.
And with the Bengals losing two in a row and the Patriots looking better (at least for one day), New England could end up with the third seed in the AFC field.
So if the Pats are No. 3 and the Titans are No. 6, the January 9 and 10 wild-card round would feature a rematch of Tennessee’s sixth loss of the season, a 59-0 whitewashing under white-out conditions in Foxborough.
It will be fitting, then, if the Titans return with a brand new team amid an unseasonable stretch of warm weather for the ultimate in-season shot at revenge.
If all those things happen, we’ve also got a feeling that the Titans would continue their season to remember with an unforgettable game against New England.
5. Browns fans need to ignore recent success.
We’re happy for our friends in Cleveland, who have enjoyed two great games toward the end of a lost season.
But just like that 10-6 campaing from 2007 that resulted in no playoff berth, victories that do nothing to aid in the pursuit of a championship can be counterproductive.
That season of rebirth for the Browns, for example, served only to create unrealistic expectations for 2008, and to force the team to stick with Derek Anderson at quarterback, retarding the development of Brady Quinn.
Now, with the Browns on a two-game winning streak, some are suggesting that wasn’t isn’t broken need not be fixed.
Which ignores the obvious fact that, yes, it’s broken.
Most troubling in this regard is that Hall of Famer Jim Brown has spoken out in favor of giving coach Eric Mangini another year. Though Brown has every right to speak his mind, the fact that he occupies a position of Senior Management with the franchise gives his words far more weight.
So when the Big Show takes over the Browns, possibly as soon as today, his first order of business should be to get under control Brown, Bernie Kosar and any other former player who has a voice in the affairs of the franchise.
And Holmgren needs to be blunt.
“Moving forward, we’re doing this my way,” he should say. “And my way means no one says anything that undermines the organization. If you do it, you’re fired.”
As to Brown, Holmgren might want to take it a step farther and fire him right away, because Brown is going to continue to speak his mind regardless of anything Holmgren says.
And while the move likely will be unpopular in Cleveland, the mood will change considerably once Holmgren begins to lead the franchise out of a protracted funk that necessarily makes the memories of guys like Brown and Kosar more potent — necessarily giving them even more influence over the team’s long-suffering fans.
6. Here come the Eagles.
With the Vikings losing two of three and the Eagles winning five in a row after winning only five of their first nine, the presumption that the Saints and the Vikings will secure the NFC bye weeks isn’t as clear as it used to be.
Now, the Eagles are perched only a game behind the Vikings with two to play. And if Philly catches Minnesota, the Eagles would secure the No. 2 seed by virtue of a better record in the conference.
For the Vikings, such an outcome would make their path to Miami a lot murkier, since it would require them to beat a wild-card team at home (possibly the Packers) before hitting the road to play the Eagles in Philadelphia, where they haven’t won since 1985.
And Vikings coach Brad Childress, who previously served as offensive coordinator for Eagles coach Andy Reid, is 0-2 against his former boss.
So while Vikings fans likely will try to shrug off last night’s 19-point loss to a non-playoff team as the second aberration of the month, the consequences could lead to a more traditional outcome in Minnesota — yet another year without a trip to the Super Bowl.
7. Camarillo call wasn’t a bad one.
Any regular visitors of this site know, we’re not bashful about complaining about bad calls from the men in black, and white.
As to one of the most criticized calls from Sunday’s game between the Dolphins and the Titans, we’re inclined to support the decision that was made on the field.
On the first drive of overtime, Titans safety Michael Griffin intercepted a pass from Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne and returned it to the Miami 42. There, he took a seat, conceding that he would not attempt to gain further yards. Then, after Griffin clearly was down, Miami receiver Greg Camarillo dove into Griffin.
The call was “unnecessary roughness.” Though it was hardly a kill shot, it wasn’t “necessary” to hit Griffin with a shoulder. Countless times, we’ve seen players merely tap with a hand a player on the ground. In this case, the act of lunging into Griffin made the roughness necessarily unnecessary.
Consider Rule 12, Section 7, Article 8(d) of the Official Playing Rules, which defines unnecessary roughness to include “running or diving into, or throwing the body against or on a ball carrier who falls or slips to the ground untouched and makes no attempt to advance, before or after the ball is dead.”
Camarillo defended his actions after the game. “I was told it was a late hit,” Camarillo said, per Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald. “There was no whistle, and all of his teammates were telling him to get up.”
Regardless, Griffin was on the ground. Camarillo needed only to touch him.
Meanwhile, linebacker Channing Crowder clearly didn’t like the call — and he surely won’t like the contents of the FedEx envelope he receives from the league office this week, which won’t contain a Christmas card.
“It’s hard enough to beat 11 Titans,” Crowder said. “You can’t beat 17 Titans.”
But the call in question complied with the letter of the rule, and Camarillo’s lunge likely came from frustration with the fact that winning the coin toss to open overtime didn’t resu
lt in a one-drive victory for his team.
8. Rams have a clear shot for Suh.
Rams coach Steve Spanuolo’s team nearly won its second game of the season on Sunday, losing by only three to the Texans.
But the close-but-no-cigarillo outcome likely is just fine with the first-year head coach.
Coupled with Tampa’s uncanny win at Seattle, the Rams now stand alone with a clear shot at Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, the consensus best player in the 2010 draft pool.
Sure, the Rams need a quarterback. But there’s isn’t any quarterback in this year’s class worthy of being the first guy to hold up a jersey and wear the latest line of baseball hats bearing football logos.
Having the ticket to Suh also gives the Ram the ability to trade down, draft a quarterback, and stockpile a bunch of other picks. Though few teams are still willing to move to the top of the draft given the financial investment associated with the No. 1 overall pick, folks regard Suh as good enough to justify making a big splash.
So, either way, the ever-losing Rams might finally win something.
9. Chris Johnson, Peyton Manning should share MVP.
With the Saints and the Vikings losing and the Colts matching the ’72 Dolphins and the ’07 Pats with 14 wins to start the season, Indy quarterback Peyton Manning is widely believed to be closing in on his fourth MVP award.
But the efforts of Titans running back Chris Johnson can’t be ignored. He has 1,730 yards rushing in 14 games, which puts him on pace for 1,977. With 376 yards in his final two games of the season (188 per game), he’ll break the single-season rushing record of 2,105.
Another record that’s as significant but less hyped is even closer to Johnson’s reach. With 2,176 yards from scrimmage, he’s on pace for 2,486 total yards, which would break the single-season record set by Marshall Faulk in 1999.
So just as Manning and Titans quarterback Steve McNair shared the award six years ago, another AFC South collaboration is justified this time around, especially if Johnson ends up with either or both of these records.
10. Mora might be in trouble, after all.
As we pointed out last week, we like Seahawks coach Jim Mora. But what we think of him won’t keep him employed in Seattle. (Actually, it might hurt him.)
Of the various first-year coaches of bad teams, Mora seems to be in the safest position. Still, only he and Browns coach Eric Mangini will be having new bosses soon.
We’re told that Mora made a big push for the team to land Mike Holmgren in a Parcells-style role because Mora knew that, if Holmgren had gotten the job, Mora’s job would have be ensafe.
Now that Holmgren is out of the picture, Mora will be at the mercy of whoever gets control of the team. While that might not mean Mora will be fired right away, the next G.M. might choose to put Mora on a short leash, with a bad season in 2010 being enough to get him run out the door.
Either way, a 17-point drubbing at home to a Bucs franchise that has looked lately like it would lose to the college team with which it shares a stadium won’t be “Exhibit A” when Mora is making the case for not getting fired.