Thursday, September 8, 2011

The NFL's Perfect Season Opener

Why are these men smiling?  See section 354.c.iv.
When Roger Goodell and Demaurice Smith signed the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, there was a little-known clause in section 354.c.iv called the "Make Everyone Forget About the Lock-Out with an Opening Game for the Ages" provision.  Goodell and Smith couldn't have scripted a better game if they had literally put it down in ink and certified it with an army of lawyers.  Wow -- what a game!

Let me be clear, I don't like "good games" (meaning close games).  To me, a good game is a Packer blow-out.  The Falcons game in the playoffs was a "good game" -- never in doubt from start to finish.  But from the NFL's perspective, that was a goooooooood game!  The last two Super Bowl champions, facing off at the most historic of NFL venues.  It was a media-palooza -- reaching a hype level in the 72-hour pre-game show that felt almost equal to the buzz of the last NFL game played in Dallas last February.

And the game itself lived up to all that hype -- a 42-34 shoot-out that came down to a final goal line stand on 4th down with no time left on the clock.  It was literally exactly the kind of game the NFL would like every game to be -- high-octane offenses, big plays on defense and special teams, tons of scoring, star players (particularly quarterbacks) who racked up the stats, two (nearly four) kick returns for touchdowns.  It was ridiculous.  Quite possibly a preview of the NFC Championship game.

Here are my observations from week one:

Kid Rock did not rock.

  1. Aaron Rodgers should be illegal.  That first quarter was a quarterback school wrapped in a clinic and deep-fried in an NFL Films-narrated showcase.   Aaron evidently likes the hardware, because he made a strong opening day case for league MVP to go with his Super Bowl MVP... and championship belt.  Even more astonishing is Brees out-gunned him by 100 yards.
  2. The defense bent but didn't quite break.  Giving up 500 yards of total offense and 34 points might be considered more than "bending" (maybe a high-ankle sprain?).  Two fourth-down stands and a fumble recovery are really all that kept that game from being a disappointing loss.  Hopefully that can be attributed to the Saints having one of the most potent offenses, but would like to see a little less porous defense.
  3. Randall Cobb is a stud.  Hitting pay dirt twice in your first NFL game doesn't happen very often (I'm too tired to research exactly how often, but trust me -- it's rare).  That 108-yard kick-off return immediately put him on the map and will force teams to change their game plan in kicking/punting to the Packers.
  4. Kid Rock is a dipshit.  Why the NFL thinks that washed up rock stars performing pre-game or half-time shows is a good idea has never been clear to me.  Memo to Roger: pull the plug.
  5. Fingers crossed the injury bug doesn't strike again.  I don't see a report yet on Tramon Williams, but his injury did not look good.  I would guess he broke a bone from the angle of the hit and the way he was holding it afterwards.  I'm hoping for the best -- would really be a bummer if he missed time.
  6. No one can run with our receivers.  The arsenal of weapons was on full display.  Jennings was on fire.  Jermichael was a monster.  Driver and Nelson were unstoppable.  The only guy who didn't get into the act was James Jones, but he'll have his day.
Happy with the win.  Offense is everything it was billed as.  Mild concerns about the defense, particularly if Tramon is out, but expect that side of the stat sheet to look a lot better in week two against Carolina.

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