Adam on 09 23, 2009
Take it easy. Fans of the Jets, Broncos, 49ers, and Saints, settle down. Your team has not won a super bowl yet, in fact they haven’t done anything but ensure that they will go at least 2-14. Settle, Simmer.
Downshift fans of the Patriots, Titans, Steelers, and Packers. Your team’s Super Bowl dreams are not over because you lost one or both of your games.
In today’s game, and more importantly in today’s media everything is either a miracle or a catastrophe. There is no in between, there has to be a definitive reason for a team’s struggles or successes. It can’t simply be that occasionally inferior teams outplay better teams, no. There must be locker room strife, a secret injury, a massive conspiracy.
Could it be that the Jets simply had a good game-plan and executed it against the Patriots this last week? Of course, but the media would have you believe that Rex Ryan was in Bellichek’s head, or that Brady’s knee is still injured, or that Moss is losing it. The truth is that all NFL teams have great players that can threaten any other team.
Remember last year when the Packers began the season 2-0, and all was right in Packer nation? They ended up 6-10. Recall in 2003 when the Patriots opened their season with a 31 point loss to the Buffalo Bills? Well the Patriots lost one more game that whole season, and won the Super Bowl, the Bills finished 6-10.
The point is that predicting the NFL is almost entirely futile. The Dolphins won ten more games last year than they did the year before that. The 2007 Falcons were 4-12, last year 11-5.
Perhaps the most shocking development we have seen in the last fifteen years was the rise of Tom Brady. In 2001 the Patriots were supposed to be perhaps the worst team in football, they ended that year beating the vaunted Rams in the Super Bowl. In total Brady has won 3 Super Bowls, appeared in the big game four times, and garnered an MVP.
An NFL roster has 53 men on it. Nearly all of those players get used in the course of a game either on defense, offense, or special teams. That means 53 men plus a huge coaching staff must be of one mind, one focus, and one purpose. They must be coordinated and integrated to be on the same page at all times. This obviously is a herculean task and only the best teams can regularly accomplish this feat. That’s why the NFL is unpredictable, because it’s damn difficult to get that number of individuals speaking not only the same language but the same ideology.
Attempting to extrapolate what a team will be, from what they have been in the first two weeks is a ridiculous exercise. A football team is a living breathing thing that changes just like people do. What kind of day will you be having four months from now? Will you be at the top of your game, ready for all challenges, performing like never before? Or will you be tired, lethargic, bored, or unmotivated? Might you have an injury? You don’t know the answer to these questions, so you can be sure that you have no idea what your favorite team will be doing four months from now.
Did anyone predict that Tom Brady would miss all of last year? No, because we take things for granted, we engrave them in our minds as absolute, and then when these assumptions go unfulfilled we’re shocked.
This season do yourself a favor and don’t make assumptions. Any player can get injured; any team can go from cellar dweller to penthouse purchaser. NFL football is a sport not a script, and isn’t that the great thing about it?