Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.
30 Jul 2004
As of today it has been exactly one year since we opened up Football Outsiders to the world by announcing our presence on Boston Sports Media Watch. Immediately, we became one of the least-visited football sites on the Web. 738 people came the first day, and we didn't get that many visitors in one day again until October 14, the day we were mentioned in the last-ever ESPN.com Page 2 Tuesday Morning Quarterback column.
That was the beginning of the spread of the Football Outsiders gospel to the masses. We got mentioned tons of places when we ran our TMQ contest and then picked up TMQ itself for a couple weeks. We got mentioned in some more places when we ran our Peter King homage. By the end of the year we had shown up in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Salon, and Slate. Plus we picked up more writers and a whole community of intelligent NFL fans arguing topics in our discussion threads.
In honor of our birthday, I've put together a list of some of our best articles, a few of Jason's best cartoons, and some choice lines from our first year (either funny or prescient). With the help of all the writers and readers, we'll keep growing in our second year.
Some day we're gonna have a parade in this town. Thank you all for coming!
INTERVIEWS, CONTESTS, AWARDS
SCRAMBLE FOR THE BALL
CONFESSIONS OF A FOOTBALL JUNKIE
TUESDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
THE BEST OF JASON BEATTIE'S DRAW PLAY
(Little did we know the real halftime show would be worse.)
SOME CHOICE LINES
"I can't think of any coach/QB combo more likely to fall apart at the end of a season than Gregg Williams and Drew Bledsoe." -- Scramble for the Ball Season Preview
"I'm going to have to get my hearing checked. I could have sworn I heard Joe Theismann say something Sunday night about Randy Moss throwing a block." -- DVOA Ratings Week 9
"Can we knock it off with the 'Brian Griese will save this team' nonsense. A good half against San Diego does not a Pro Bowler make." -- AFC Midseason Report
"Somewhere in the deepest, darkest regions of the Oakland Coliseum, there was a room where Al Davis kept a secret stash of paintings. Hanging from the wall were pictures of grizzled old men, withered veterans of football. And while this veritable gallery of Dorian Gray stood silently, unknown, hidden in the cavernous halls of the Raider offices, men like Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Trace Armstrong, and Rod Woodson prowled the field like the young men, full of vim and vigor and cutting through the AFC like a chainsaw through Texas co-eds. And then, the week before the Super Bowl, Barret Robbins in a drunken stupor apparently burned the whole room to ashes."-- AFC Midseason Report
"St. Louis moves up to the #2 slot after their strange victory over Baltimore. The ESPN commentators spent the whole night saying, 'Wow, who ever expected the St. Louis defense to so outshine the offense?' Well, if you've been reading Football Outsiders, you expected it, since we had the Ram defense ranked #4 and the offense only #9." -- DVOA Ratings Week 10
"I hate the Raiders. Especially because of the havoc they wreak on picks pools each week. Are they horrible or not? And does the word 'wreak' ever get used without the word 'havoc'?" -- Scramble for the Ball Week 12
"I wouldn't be surprised if soon the league passes a rule that players can't argue with the officials when on the field. And you know what? As ridiculous an idea as that sounds, I think I'd be for it. Receivers seem to have more initiative to go for the flag than actually trying to catch the ball. If they weren't allowed to whine after the incompletion, maybe they'd focus more on catching the ball and less on trying to win the Emmy for Best Actor. 15 yard penalty for trying to draw a flag, that's what I'd like to see. I can't imagine what the official's signal would be though, a mimicked Emmy acceptance speech?" -- Scramble for the Ball Week 13
"This weekend was a real setback if I want people to take VOA seriously, because Tampa Bay and San Francisco -- the two teams I had ranked in the top ten despite losing records -- both spit the bit like the bit has never been spit before. Tampa lost to a team with one of the league's worst records, Jacksonville, a game they should have easily won. San Francisco lost to a team on the rise, Baltimore, but by a ridiculous 38 points. It was spankings like this that made many states ban corporal punishment in the schools." -- DVOA Ratings Week 13
"This week's Keep Choppin' Wood award goes to Eddie Berlin, who spent about three-quarters of one game as the starting kick returner for the Tennessee Titans. He fumbled the ball on two kickoffs, keeping McNair on the sidelines in a game that was dictated by offense... Eddie's lucky he doesn't play soccer for Columbia, he'd probably be dead by now." -- Scramble for the Ball Week 15
"If the NFL teams were 32 college students, Indianapolis and Kansas City would be the kids whose transcripts featured almost all A's, but a couple of C's in classes they just couldn't get the hang of, while the Patriots would have nothing but B+'s and A-'s. Following this metaphor, of course, Arizona is the kid who drank too much freshman year, failed everything, dropped out, took a couple dead end jobs, acquired a nasty smack habit, and currently lives in a cardboard box near the train tracks." -- DVOA Ratings Week 15
"In other college football news, Michigan traveled to Southern California on December 20, a full 12 days before its January 1 Rose Bowl date against USC. I love Michigan football, and I'd love to see them win the game, but there's no way you can convince me a college team needs to arrive at its bowl site two weeks before the game. I'll keep this trip in mind the next time I get a solicitation from the athletic department bemoaning the state of its finances." -- Confessions of a Football Junkie, December 22
"All year long, the argument has raged over whether the Patriots are lucky or good. It turns out that they are both. They are the luckiest team in the NFL, and the best team in the NFL, at least according to points and wins." -- DVOA Ratings Week 17
"Even if they aren't going to go out and get a game-breaker (Terrell Owens, for example), the Eagles at least need to get someone who can run precise routes, catch balls in traffic, and move the chains." -- Confessions of a Football Junkie, post-NFC Championship
"The MVP of this game should have been the first down chain." -- Random Super Bowl Thoughts
"I was reading the paper on the way to work this morning, and there was an irate letter from a reader who was unhappy with the moniker 'World Champions,' since technically it's only 'American Champions.' Dude, get a life. You go find a country that can line up and kick the Patriots' ass, and we'll start calling the Patriots the American Champions. I can see it now... 'Your final score, folks: Patriots 142, New Zealand 0. New Zealand looked like they were threatening to gain yardage in the second half, but Ty Law intercepted his 13th pass to seal the game.'" -- Scramble for the Ball post-Super Bowl
"Speaking of Big State, Spike Lee's He Got Game could have been a great sports flick if only he'd chosen a different name for the school at the center of the plot. I mean, 'Big State?' I pretty much lost interest right there." -- Confessions of a Football Junkie, June 2
"Look at this man's face. Does this look like the kind of man who thinks he can win without Ricky Williams? Does this look like the kind of man who can walk into the Miami locker room this week and convince those players that they can win without Ricky Williams? No, this man is giving the Keystone 'Bitter Beer Face.'" -- Ricky Retires, July 25