Short-yardage passing had a good year, except at the end of the Super Bowl. We look at the return of quarterback runs, the rise in pass-happy strategy, and 2014 success rates for offense and defense.
08 Feb 2012
by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz
Tom: Well, congratulations to you, Mike.
Mike: Before we even get to that ... There was a safety. There was a two-point conversion attempt. Madonna wore a hat. I don't even care what the final total was. I won.
Tom: And Victor Cruz score the first touchdown. That won you two wagers.
Tom: The Giants winning by 4-6 points was your other big win. Overall, I have you winning $11,878 on a wager of $9,435. That's a pretty nice rate of return on your fake money.
Mike: Indeed! I should quit my day job! Which, if most people are to be believed, is stomping on kittens and hurling bricks at orphans.
Tom: Sure, if you actually did wager that money, and can live on $2400. And that can't really be your day job. If you ignore the whole "harming living creatures" aspect of it, which I'm sure you could, that would be a lot more fun than whatever you do on a daily basis.
Mike: Sad but true.
Tom: I also actually came out ahead, winning $11,548 on a wager of $10,490.
Mike: Well done!
Tom: My biggest win was that Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning would not thank anyone.
Mike: The cad.
Tom: According to Twitter, though, he did let his daughter use the keys to the car he won for being named MVP as a teething object. Unfortunately, no picture was attached to the tweet, so we can't coo over his adorable offspring teething.
Mike: He is strangely private considering who he is and where he plays. I didn't even know he had a daughter, for one.
Tom: I think considering who he is makes him not strangely private at all. Anyway, if you would like to gawk at his adorable offspring, here she is.
There was not much suspense heading into the Super Bowl. Rivers had a small but non-zero chance of winning, but Danny was virtually assured of the victory barring a massive meltdown by Eli Manning and Aaron Hernandez not doing anything at all. The real question was more if Danny could set a record for most points in the history of FO Playoff Fantasy Football. He did, beating my 263 from two years ago by a dozen points. Eli did not, however, surpass Aaron Rodgers' total of 100 points from last season.
|FO Playoff Divisional Round Results|
|QB||Aaron Rodgers||Drew Brees||Ben Roethlisberger||Eli Manning||Tom Brady||Matt Ryan|
|RB||Ahmad Bradshaw||Darren Sproles||Ryan Grant||Arian Foster||Michael Turner||Ray Rice|
|RB||Willis McGahee||Stevan Ridley||Pierre Thomas||Frank Gore||Isaac Redman||Cedric Benson|
|WR||Jordy Nelson||Victor Cruz||Antonio Brown||Greg Jennings||Mike Wallace||Marques Colston|
|WR||Hakeem Nicks||Anquan Boldin||Wes Welker||Calvin Johnson||Julio Jones||A.J. Green|
|WR||Torrey Smith||Roddy White||Andre Johnson||Michael Crabtree||Donald Driver||Lance Moore|
|TE||Jimmy Graham||Rob Gronkowski||Heath Miller||Aaron Hernandez||Jermichael Finley||Jermaine Gresham|
|K||Mike Nugent||Billy Cundiff||Shaun Suisham||David Akers||Mason Crosby||Matt Bryant|
Even more than Danny, former Scrambler Al Bogdan was essentially locked into a championship in the Best of the Rest division, as odd things would have been required to let Podge pass him. Such things did not happen, and Al won with a total of 235 points, which would have placed him third behind Danny and Rivers. The K, who could not have passed Al without the Patriots scoring at least 238 points, finished in second place at 193, while Podge finished in third with 189.
A perfectly picked Best of the Rest team would have consisted of Alex Smith, Brandon Jacobs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Deion Branch, Mario Manningham, Robert Meachem, Vernon Davis, Stephen Gostkowski, and the Patriots defense. Said perfect Best of the Rest team would have finished with 290 points. After Shonn Greene and James Starks the last two seasons, Demaryius Thomas becomes the latest player to make a perfectly-picked Best of the Rest team without actually being picked for a single Best of the Rest team.
Bonus Fun Fact: The top scoring tight ends in the postseason were Vernon Davis, 53 points; Rob Gronkowski, 42 points; Aaron Hernandez, 35 points; Jimmy Graham, 33 points; and Dennis Pitta, 12 points. Behind Pitta were Heath Miller and Kris Wilson, he of zero regular season receptions, with six points.
Congratulations to our dear reader Jonathan Riggs, as Captain Guinness hung on for a two-point win over Gregos Eggos to win the Playoff Challenge. Here was the Captain Guinness roster:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, GB
QB: Drew Brees, NO
RB: Michael Turner, ATL
RB: Ray Rice, BAL
RB: Cedric Benson, CIN
RB: Arian Foster, HOU
WR: Demaryius Thomas, DEN
WR: Calvin Johnson, DET
WR: Hakeem Nicks, NYG
WR: Antonio Brown, PIT
K: Rob Gronkowski, NE
K: Vernon Davis, SF
For those interested, the full results can be found here.
Tom: Ah, the Super Bowl, the time of year the Scramble writers actually pick the commercials they enjoyed instead of the ones they find mock-worthy. Well, the commercials at least one Scramble writer enjoyed.
Mike: I really didn't understand the VW Star Wars commercial. Maybe I missed something?
Tom: Personally, my favorite commercial was the Volkswagen exercising dog, even without the Star Wars bit at the end. Remember last year's VW commercial, with the kid wearing the Vader mask?
Mike: No? Sorry, vaguely.
Tom: No? Seriously? Watch again.
Mike: Oh yeah! That was great.
Tom: Yes, it was.
Mike: I'm still a bit confused by the current incarnation.
Tom: And here they're referencing it, as opposed to ignoring their past gimmick like companies normally do.
Mike: Right, but it just seemed so disjointed.
Tom: Sure, it's kind of random and weird to be dumped into the cantina bar after what seemed like the end of the commercial, but I like that kind of thing.
Mike: I think the real lesson is that I will continue to be overweight until I remove all the Satie from my mp3 player.
Tom: Shockingly, my favorite commercial before Volkswagen aired actually came from Best Buy. It may just be me feeling that the primary methods of acquiring smartphones are segmented by carrier, or maybe that I'm just a sucker for people who came up with neat things but are rarely shown on television. We've featured Best Buy in this space several times before, I believe, and not in a complimentary way.
Mike: See, I agree that showing people who invent neat things and are rarely seen on television is a good thing. That said, despite the very funny scene, the Words With Friends guys didn't actually invent anything.
Tom: I freely admit to never having played Words With Friends and knowing approximately nothing about it.
Mike: It's Scrabble. With networking.
Tom: Ooh, shiny.
Mike: It is quite popular, but there is not anything remotely novel about it. In fact, people have been playing Scrabble over the internet on unix systems for well over a decade, now.
I'm sorry, Scrabble but without the Scrabble trade dress. They are very particular about that.
Tom: I suspected it was something along those lines, but never bothered to find out. I still liked the commercial anyway.
Mike: I will say, I quite liked the Chevy Silverado commercial. While it was more fanciful than I would have liked (which makes sense, considering Chevrolet trucks aren't particularly lauded by the press), the idea that Silverados would survive every single doomsday combined is highly amusing. That a couple of them would meet up for Twinkies and wonder where everyone else is was just perfect in a "Well, the world just ended. What now?" kind of sense. Of course Twinkies survive. Not even a zombie apocalypse could destroy the Twinkies.
Tom: And here I thought the not-so-hidden subtext was "We kill everybody who buys another kind of vehicle, so buy ours." I also don't think a zombiepocalypse would be too bad on non-brain food supplies, at least compared to, say, nuclear winter.
Mike: There is a very good reason you aren't running the world. That was a Zombieland reference.
Tom: Oh, well. And if not nuclear winter, some sort of punctuation-related post-apocalyptic future like The Road. That would explain the world of that book much more than anything actually in the book itself.
Mike: I also really, really want to give credit to Toyota, but they had such a brilliant premise and did so little with it. Instead, I think I will give a nod (for the first time, I believe) to Kia. Lumberjacks cutting a gigantic sub with a saw is just so delightfully insane, and then the Romance Novel Cover Guy turning away in shame is a delicious bit of schadenfreude. I mean, it's a Kia, so the actual car is crap, but the commercial is quite entertaining.
Tom: It starts off promisingly, as "Mr. Sandman" brings up the pleasant memory of Back to the Future, but a real Mr. Sandman would have plenty of experience dodging slippers by the bed and never be this careless. Also, this reminds me of the song "Escape," which shamefully was the last number one song of the 1970's and a good reminder that nothing good came out of that decade.
Mike: You are the only person I know that prefers the 80s to the 70s.
Tom: In the wife/female partner's dream, she's running away with Romance Novel Cover Guy. In his dream, he magically transports his car away from the racetrack with the rock band and attractive women wearing skimpy clothing and goes after his woman.
Mike: See? It's heartwarming, in a way. He could have hung out with Motley Crue and Giant Sandwich Lumberjacks. Instead, he smashes through dreams and carries his partner away in the new car that we are supposed to pretend makes him awesome (but doesn't, because again, it's a Kia). It's a far sight more romantic than Teleflora's ridiculous spot, which is one of the most offensive commercials I have seen in a long, long time –- going beyond even GoDaddy's tawdry stupidity into the realm of actual offensiveness.
Tom: Okay, it's not quite the same as "Escape," which is more a mutual communication breakdown and a sort of prisoner's dilemma. This is more her running away and him stealing her back because Romance Novel Cover Guy isn't a good enough horseman to keep her from falling off and he's there to catch her.
Mike: Indeed. Who doesn't want to be pursued?
Tom: Well, to clarify, it's not clear that he was actually pursuing her in the first place. He may have just accidentally transported from the race track to her dream world that didn't actually include him. And she apparently only has to be pursued when it's him, as her dream begins with her already on the horse with Romance Novel Cover Guy.
Mike: Nah, otherwise his car would be full of scantily-clad women. Instead, they are just watching him and admiring how powerful and manly (again, suspension of disbelief!) his car is.
Tom: In Dave Barry's novel Big Trouble, the protagonist is deeply ashamed because his car is a Kia. When they turned it into a movie, they changed his car to a Yugo, because the producers simply didn't want to deal with Kia's response to the shameful reality that their cars were, well, Kias.
Mike: All I know is, thank god I wasn't born in the back of a Kia.
KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: Wes Welker mostly had a good game, and his only incompletion was a difficult catch. Tom Brady had the intentional grounding for a safety, the deep interception to Chase Blackburn, and struggled in the fourth quarter, but was outstanding when the Patriots went from trailing 9-0 to lead 17-9. Your Scramble writers instead will "honor" Logan Mankins. As was the case four years ago, the Giants' pressure disrupted Tom Brady and the normal efficiency of the Patriots offense, and Mankins' great struggles with Justin Tuck were a big part of that.
MIKE MARTZ AWARD: None, really. Both coaches eschewed boldness in most of their decision-making, but neither had any Jim Caldwell-esque head-scratchers. The Giants' timeout usage was sub-optimal but not disastrously so, and it ended up not mattering much. At the end of the game, Bill Belichick probably wished he hadn't used a challenge and risked a timeout on Mario Manningham's sideline catch, but at the time it looked like a very reasonable risk.
COLBERT AWARD: Let Them Score, we said, and Bill Belichick listened. Perhaps he should have done so sooner, but he still did so, and by doing so, improved his team's chances of winning.
That concludes another year of The Scramble! We'll be back next preseason with all the fantasy advice and biting satire you've come to expect from writers of our quality. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions about, questions regarding or ideas for the column going forward, please feel free to email them to scramble-at-footballoutsiders.com. Always bet on the safety!
46 comments, Last at 14 Feb 2012, 11:44am by tuluse