Or should this read the morning of the new season? No matter, what does matter is...
Football season is upon us, and for most of you reading this post, the first game has already been played (and my assumption is that the Seahawks will have won to begin the season). I have trouble watching NFL coverage, whether it's the offseason or it's in season. The way the sport is covered, not only doesn't do justice to the beauty of the game, it causes a clear decrease in the quality of the product on the field. Does anybody truly care? The fans do, sure, but very few of us are willing to back away from the game we love, despite this destruction, and even fewer can avoid it and still understand it. See the networks which are responsible for ravaging of our beloved sport, are also the only places we can go to see everything, even if the analysis of that everything is typically absurd and far from objective.
There is a narrative being pushed by the people who stand to profit the most from football, and this narrative has nothing to do with football, but everything to do with money. They want you to believe that to make the game "safer" they need to make playing defense more difficult, and open up the field by utilizing the passing game, which makes it easier to convince you that the quarterback is the end all be all of football players. The reality is, the sport is exciting because of the back and forth, because on any given play the defense can punch the offense in the mouth, and make them give up. A one-sided football game is boring. 86 points scored between two teams is "exciting" because there are "explosive" plays, so many points are scored, how can it possibly be more interesting?!?!?!? This view which, by the way, is pushed on you because it will make more money for those who already don't care about us, is skewed. Where is the struggle, if there is no defense? What is so fun about watching an offense do whatever it wants? Life is a struggle, football has long been considered an extension of war, and in a war, there aren't rules to make it easier for the "offensive side" to win. The best team wins, not the best offense.
Everyone hated this past Super Bowl. Why? It wasn't because the score was lopsided, ratings have shown (as have the rankings of "best games") that lopsided scores are awesome to the casual fan. It's because the game was dominated by a defense. A defense thoroughly controlled, and manhandled, what you have been brainwashed to believe is the most important thing in football. There weren't 40+ yard touchdowns all game, neither team threw for even 300 yards. Offense was the least important aspect of this game, and people hated it.
This is football folks. This is the meaning of "any given Sunday". A single most important factor for winning a football game, doesn't exist. The Cowboys didn't lose to the Broncos because Tony Romo threw an interception at the end of the game, they lost because they gave up 51 POINTS. The Bengals didn't lose to the Chargers because Andy Dalton had 3 turnovers, they lost because the Chargers were able to run rampant over Cincinnati's defense, and for some reason the offensive coordinator did not want to run the ball. 40-50 pass attempts in a game, isn't just bad football, it's an impossible to sustain model of "success". Peyton Manning has had a stellar career, arguably the best of all time for his position, but he has only been on one Super Bowl winning team. Is that because Peyton Manning suddenly becomes Blaine Gabbert in the playoffs? Absolutely not. It's because team success depends on the team, not on Manning, nor any other quarterback. Very few teams have won the Super Bowl without an above average defense, but in the just the past 15 years, multiple teams have won with a below average offense. I digress because this wasn't what I wanted to focus on today, but this is why I exist, why No Apologies is here, and what I hope to change.
As a matter of media coverage, we have access to the game that nobody ever would have predicted, and yet, the game is worse. The access is used to further the agendas of those who stand to profit most, rather than giving us more real knowledge of how the game is played, and what makes it the best sport in the world. We hear about how "important" preseason numbers are. Those numbers hardly even mean anything to the players and coaches, but I'm supposed to care that the 49ers lost their first two EXHIBITION games, and they didn't play well in them? Lamar Miller had better numbers than Knowshon Moreno this preseason, but does anybody truly believe Lamar Miller is going to be the starter for the Dolphins? There has been plenty of talk about Blake Bortles' performance in the preseason, but it is beyond irrational to think the Jaguars are going to suddenly be a contender, and it is almost as irrational to think he is going to be one of the better quarterbacks this season. Why? Mostly because, regardless of recent successes that are touted as the new way of rookies, it is insanely difficult to be a quarterback in the NFL, physically and mentally. This is how we're told success is coming, though. The preseason has become a relevant part of the NFL season, with people truly caring about what the scores are, even though the scores mean nothing. The Detroit Lions, not long ago, went 4-0 in the preseason. If the preseason matters, they probably should have at least been in contention to win their division that year, right? Those Detroit Lions, went 0-16. The first team ever to lose all 16 games in the season, but the networks which make money off of us, would have you believe that the Lions going 4-0, is almost as important as them going 0-16.
The NFL has become a spectacle, with football being the sideshow. Football isn't important anymore. Football is secondary to the "experience". What does that even mean? I don't care about the "experience". I watch football because I fell in love with it the first time I stepped onto a field and hit the guy across from me. I want to be at the stadium because you can see the game better there, you can see what the whole team is doing, watch the coaches on the sidelines while they make decisions in crucial spots. You don't learn the game by watching what the networks want you to see, you learn it by seeing the whole game. They can't explain a Cover 3 by showing how it works, and using 3 plays from a 16 game season which were successful in stopping the offense. There are weaknesses to the Cover 3, and variations of the Cover 3, which can't be seen when all we see are the 3 defenders in deep zones. Football is a chess match, a chess match in which strategy is almost as important as the talent on the field. There is a reason why Bill Belichick has been so successful with the Patriots, and no, that reason is not Tom Brady. Belichick understands how to utilize what he does have, without getting lost in what he doesn't have. Defense doesn't have the same talent as in the Super Bowl years? I'll get Randy Moss and open up the entire field. Randy Moss left? I'll draft two tight ends, one of which is versatile enough to play slot, fullback, tight end, even some halfback. Lose both of those tight ends, and the best wide receiver on the team? New focus on the run game, not in that they ran the ball more this past year than in previous years, but the run game changed to fill the void left with the lack of a passing game. Strategy folks, strategy overcomes lack of talent, and being overmatched. If the majority of analysts are being honest with us, and by proxy themselves, they won't tell you that the quarterback is of utmost importance because when they were playing the game, they didn't believe that any more than I do. Money talks, and money is winning the battle against football.
Sports journalism is a microcosm of news media in general. Speculation dominates the coverage and analysis. Someone will sit on that television, or write in that article, as if they know the play called... They don't. There isn't one analyst, during the game or after it, that has a clue whether an incomplete pass was an incorrect route by the wide receiver, or a terrible throw by the quarterback. There isn't one person, that wasn't in the elevator (except for anyone told the actual story by Ray Rice or Janay Palmer), that has any idea what actually happened which ended with Palmer out cold. Nobody knows what a running back saw when he chooses the "wrong hole". The future is never known. Period. It doesn't matter how long someone played quarterback for, they don't know whether Andrew Luck is going to be the best quarterback in the NFL anytime soon. We can only speak on what we've seen, and we can say we believe someone will be this, or believe this is what happened, but the absolutes that many people like to speak in, would seem to tell a different story.
Don't be suckered in by the false knowledge so many portend to have. I don't know everything, but I know how to talk about football, and that is what I'm going to do. I'm going to focus on the trenches because without the trenches, the skill players become irrelevant. The offensive line doesn't block? The offense doesn't work. The defensive line doesn't occupy, or beat, those offensive linemen? The linebackers and secondary will not be making many plays. Spur of the moment analysis rules the day, rather than factual, and descriptive research.
Now I will step of my incredibly high soap box. At the end of the day, football is the ruler. I am ecstatic, at all times, about football being played. I love playing it, and I love watching it. Enjoy the games this season, and I hope you did enjoy the game tonight. Watch the sport, learn the sport, and I promise you will appreciate the sport. For all that you do not understand, I will be glad to try and explain it to you, but don't just take my word for it, I don't want you to think how I think, just for the sake of it. I want you to see what I see, see why I love this game, see what makes this game so great, but I don't want you to have my opinion. Don't ignore the excitement of big plays on defense, nor the genius of a good running game (because it is more than just brutality, although brutality definitely plays a part). I'll be here all season. Stay tuned!