Scramble for the Ball: 2015 in Review

Scramble for the Ball: 2015 in Review
Scramble for the Ball: 2015 in Review
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Andrew Healy and Sterling Xie

Andrew: I started this season rooting for Peyton Manning to ride off into the sunset with the confetti coming down. Manning's 16 years of greatness seemed headed for a lifetime of unfair underappreciation, with one more Super Bowl win the only antidote. And so you'd think I'd be happy with getting exactly that outcome.

Well, not really. Most athletes get one narrative. Peyton has gotten two. He might have been The Choker, but he has also gotten to be The Admired Man. As unfair as the first label was, the second earned him the kind of near-100 percent approval rating that allows a few athletes in a generation to receive nothing but affection off the field. (If you think that part is his just rewards for being a good guy, maybe that's fair, but let's not jump to that conclusion. My list of the most recent athletes to hold The Admired Man title: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Derek Jeter. A wide variety of personality types in there.) The media-packaged personas of The Admired Men tell us basically nothing about who these guys really are. But having that label means all of your actions get viewed through that favorable prism. Cam Newton undoubtedly would like to have The Admired Man narrative and the seemingly endless inflow of Madison Avenue dollars that comes with it.

I found myself thinking about all of this with Peyton during the game. I've always thought he was essentially tied for the best quarterback I've ever seen. I've never bought The Choker narrative. But I don't buy The Admired Man narrative, either. (Not saying it's untrue. I just have no idea.) And after a strange season in which Manning was not only less than his 1998-2014 self, but an active and substantial detriment to the Broncos' chances, I found myself thinking a win would not do much for the all-important football justice scale. Manning has been more than compensated for his poor playoff luck by his endless riches from Admired Man status. And does it really help those of us who want to argue for the next on-field Peyton Manning that it could help your legacy to have a season where a team wins at every stage despite your terrible play?

So I leave a pretty desultory Super Bowl thinking that this doesn't really get us closer to fairness. I want Manning's career to be appreciated appropriately, but somehow it's even worse if this season, and particularly this game, helps that happen. He didn't even need to play well for most of the game to make the upwards narrative adjustment feel acceptable to me. Just lift even a sliver of the weight. Do anything to help the Broncos win, even one real touchdown drive when they needed it. Instead Manning became the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl without a touchdown drive of more than ten yards. I kind of wish we had pulled 54-year old Dan Marino in to play on Sunday. He probably would have won, too, and he deserved a narrative upgrade even more than Manning.

OK, Sterling, pull me out of my post-Super Bowl hangover. Make me feel better by describing how insanely great the Denver defense was or how we'll get to see Cam with Kelvin Benjamin next season or how the NFL will evolve to no longer have Aqib Talib-style viciousness.

Sterling: The aftermath of this game should absolutely focus on Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, and the rest of the Broncos defense, which thoroughly dominated a fascinating matchup against the league's top-scoring offense (though merely a top-10 one by DVOA). But I think what you say is interesting; one on hand, the small anti-Peyton legion of NFL fans will dwell on the media-created Teflon suit his narrative has created for him. I laughed when I saw ESPN's headline in the immediate wake of the Denver win, which read, "Peyton Manning wins second Super Bowl title," rather than shining the spotlight on a historic cap to a historically great defense.

But this isn't anything new. The narrative, particularly when you're a quarterback, is basically set in stone once you reach Manning's age. Despite all the airtime and acclaim he may receive as "The Admired Man," this playoff run has corrected a lot of past wrongs with Manning's playoff career, as Scott laid out earlier this week. I understand it's a little screwy that Peyton's worst season might be the one that secures him the G.O.A.T. title belt (at least until some arbitrarily hand it back to Tom Brady following a Week 8 win over Houston next season). Read more optimistically, though, it might serve as overdue justice for, say, 2005, when he was far and away the best quarterback in football, yet got nothing but a heartbreaking loss to Pittsburgh in the divisional round to show for it.

Peyton is getting due praises for his career, and will continue to do so if/when he announces his retirement. For now, though, the defense deserves an incredible amount of credit for running over a Panthers offense that appeared well equipped to exploit Denver's few weaknesses. In particular, I thought Cam Newton's ability to muscle away from pass-rushers and challenge the Broncos' safeties deep would play a bigger role for Carolina. Obviously that didn't come close to happening. This didn't even remind me of the Panthers' Week 16 loss to Atlanta, where they moved the ball but didn't get many possessions and couldn't make enough plays once they got into plus territory. The Broncos just absolutely suffocated them and forced Cam into way too many situations where the pass-rushers could tee off. Get this: The Panthers ran 34 first-down plays in the Super Bowl, including those nullified by penalties. Six of those plays resulted in another first down. Of the other 28 first downs, Carolina reached second-and-5 or shorter just two times!

Andrew: That's a great stat and one terrible success rate on first down. Von Miller will haunt Panthers' fans dreams. His opponent adjustments for going up against Marcus Cannon and Mike Remmers would take his DVOA from 15,000% to something like 8,000%, but those might still be the best back-to-back games a defensive player has ever had in the championship game and Super Bowl. Five sacks, a bushel of other pressures, the single biggest play of the AFC Championship Game (the interception that set up Denver's second touchdown), and the two biggest plays of the Super Bowl (the sacks that led to both of Denver's touchdowns).

DeMarcus Ware had two more sacks of Manning. Neat to see the future Hall of Famer get his first ring at 33. And next season he could move into the top five on the all-time sack rankings.

The front seven dominance was everywhere. For the Panthers, Kony Ealy became just the fifth player to get three sacks in a Super Bowl, and he corralled a poor throw from Manning to get an interception that kept the Panthers in the game. Thomas Davis courageously played through his broken arm. He missed at least one tackle he might have made if healthy, but still an incredible performance. His Jack Youngblood impersonation could have gotten more props than it did.

Chase Stuart wondered if this might have been the best defensive Super Bowl ever. I'm inclined to think Super Bowl XXXV edges it out. The opponent adjustments would be very similar. The 2000 Giants had an offensive DVOA of 8.9% (ranked 8th), very similar to the 2015 Panthers' 9.9% (also ranked 8th). The 2000 Ravens finished at minus-8.1% (22nd), similar to the 2015 Broncos' minus-8.8% (25th). Scott and Vince were all over the similarities between the two games in their preview, too.

So, was this the greatest defensive Super Bowl ever?

Sterling: In the DVOA era, probably. Before the game, FiveThirtyEight called this one of the best defensive matchups in Super Bowl history, along with Super Bowl IV (Minnesota vs. Kansas City) and Super Bowl XIV (Pittsburgh vs. L.A. Rams). The game certainly lived up to expectations from that perspective, and if Carolina's fumbles hadn't essentially handed Denver 14 points, this might have been the lowest scoring Super Bowl of the past 40 years, with the possible exception of The Game That Shall Not Be Named.

I'm interested in how this game gets remembered. There will always be the "Peyton's Last Rodeo" angle, especially if he retires, but will its luster be dimmed at all given how poorly he played in the Super Bowl (and for that matter, the whole season)? Do we remember the Broncos as a generational defense if they don't follow up with more great seasons, which seems like a distinct possibility given how much they outperformed their point differential in 2015? It might be tough for any other defense to stand out in the middle of this Seahawks DVOA dynasty (which obviously isn't only about defense, but the Legion of Boom is at least a co-star with Russell Wilson). Finally, for the love of all that is holy, please tell me Cam Newton isn't actually going to get branded for his poor performance and mildly pouty body language. Dude just won the MVP, is somehow already the greatest rushing quarterback of all time, and nearly spearheaded the third-ever 18-1 Super Bowl champion. You would think Newton has banked enough goodwill to avoid the wrath of the narrative, but the hot takes are already rolling in.

Andrew: I get the criticism of walking off. We've seen other players get up there and give the media the few minutes of platitudes that are required in that spot. But I really disagree with their interpretation that he should be quiet and humble in defeat because he's often so demonstrative in victory. While some guys are more subdued, cool, and calm, Newton's emotions run close to the surface. You see his emotions come out when celebrating and you saw them come out on the podium. He doesn't do a good job of hiding how he's feeling in any circumstances. Personally, I like that. I know I'm not getting PR-managed Cam, but something closer to genuine. A reporter goes on for two sentences without a question ("I know you're disappointed not just for yourself, but for your teammates. It's got to be real tough in that locker room.") and maybe Cam feels himself about to say something he might regret. So he walks off.

I have a unified theory of Cam's Super Bowl: he came in groggy from a fitful night of sleep. From the first snap, Cam looked less expansive than he did in the other two playoff games. His calls were more muted. His expression in the shotgun seemed less certain. He looked tired more than anything else. And that was from the very beginning, before Denver's pass rush took hold. Newton gave the ball to the running back on a couple read-options where the better call would have been to keep the ball. Maybe a better rested and fully energetic Cam would have gotten a big gain on that one where he almost pulled the ball back from Jonathan Stewart with just T.J. Ward to beat on the edge.

Even the fumble makes sense from this perspective. Why didn't Cam jump in when it certainly seemed like he should have? Maybe he just reacted slowly because he was exhausted. And then in the press conference, maybe he was too tired to put up a front.

On the field, I'm not even sure we need to make much of an excuse for Cam's performance. Jerricho Droppery made two enormous drops on throws that Cam dropped in the bucket 20 yards down the field. On the interception, he had one receiver with a glimmer of daylight and threw a perfect laser. It was thrown hard, but it had to be. A better receiver than Ted Ginn would make that catch nine times out of ten.

So for me, chalk up the criticism of Cam as pretty unfair, particularly the vociferousness of the reaction to the press conference. Just a huge overreaction. While we might remember the end of the 2015 season for Cam -- we always seem to remember the end, just ask 2013 Peyton -- I hope we don't forget everything that came before it, and particularly before three minutes with the media after the toughest loss of his life. More broadly, what are you taking away from the 2015 NFL season?

Sterling: In a year without any clearly great teams, it's fitting the Super Bowl champs went totally against the grain of 21st century football and won by being excellent at everything except the most important element, passing the ball. People have debated about the second-most important position after quarterback, but I've been leaning towards pass-rusher for some time. Whether it's in the interior or along the edge, having the antidote to a great passing attack is the only thing more important than a great passing attack itself.

I'll go rapid fire with some of the other things I'll remember from 2015: Terrible fantasy running backs; the steady rise of little receivers; the next wave of generational front seven talent taking over (Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, et al.); rubbing my hands with glee when I saw someone on my fantasy team going up against the Saints; a spate of crazy playoff finishes over the first two rounds; dabbing (I think we've jumped the shark here); running off the plug (an underrated but equally goofy celebration which took hold); and, of course, being lucky enough to debut on this site.

Andrew: We're all certainly grateful for that. It's been a ton of fun getting to write this with you over the course of this season. We started with a bunch of $1 bets that I'm pretty sure I won all of. You will owe me a beer when you're old enough to drink.

My main takeaways from this season, superhero-style: Chip Kelly as The Poor Asset Evaluator; Mario Williams as The Disappearer; Peyton Manning as The Admired Man; Chuck Pagano as The Emotional Man; Cam Newton as Superman; Thomas Rawls as The Battering Ram; Jordy Nelson as The Surprisingly Indispensable; Bruce Arians as The Man I'll Never Bet Against Again; Odell Beckham as The Unhinged; Blair Walsh as The Purple Fan Killer; Vontaze Burfict as the Orange-and-Black Fan Killer; Andy Dalton as The What If?; Andy Reid as The Underappreciated Always Winner; and Von Miller as The Unstoppable Force.

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I also take away from this season the Ryan Shazier hit on Giovani Bernard, the Burfict hit on Antonio Brown, and the Talib mauling in the Super Bowl. One of the big reasons I love the NFL as much as I do is because I actually think the league has gotten much better on these issues in recent years. Many people who had no problem with safeties using their helmets as missiles in earlier years now find only criticism even when there has been some real progress. I have never found NFL football easier to watch than now, overall. All the room left to go -- and the unforgiveable way that the league handled head trauma before 2006, detailed best in League of Denial -- should not obscure the improvements to player safety.

So I take away both the Shazier/Burfict/Talib-ish violence that underscores how much remains to be done (and I think everything from weight limits to widening the field should be on the table) and the perhaps minority opinion that things are headed in a good direction, one that few would have guessed as recently as five years ago. We now have independent neurological assessments determining whether players get back into games. One day soon, a Super Bowl may turn on a player being held out by that independent assessment for his own safety. That will drive some fans crazy, just as some of the banning of some hits has in recent years. But I think the league will lose no popularity for that and it just may save its soul.

Sterling: The scarlet letter that headhunters get branded with is definitely an encouraging step. I think it's hard to dispute that NFL football is at least trying to move in the right direction in terms of head trauma awareness and equipment/technique safety, even if the NFL corporate entity could stand to be a little more transparent (like at least acknowledging that Concussion was an actual movie that aired in theaters this winter). And post-retirement health benefits for players need to increase. It will be decades before we see if diseases like CTE are really decreasing in retirees, but I'm hopeful football won't go the way of boxing in the latter half of the 21st century.

Anyways, it's almost curtains for Year 1 of our Scramble debut. We still have some commercial/prop bet recaps and announcements to get to, so don't head out just yet. Only 210 more days until the 2016 season kicks off.


An underwhelming slate of commercials. The majority inspired some version of the "I can't believe they just spent $3 million on that" reaction. The ones that stood out to us when we weren't getting snacks:

Doritos Ultrasound

Andrew: I must be in post-Super Bowl hangover mode, because my main reaction to this was to worry about the baby crashing his/her head into the wall of her mother's uterus. I give it two-and-a-half placentas.

Sterling: This was the most explicitly cringeworthy Super Bowl ad in my opinion, though our most sneakily cringeworthy winner is still to come. I felt almost as bad for that poor mother as I did for Manu Ginobili last weekend, and this wasn't even real.

Prius: The Longest Chase

Sterling: I'm guessing this commercial cost Prius around $15 million, given that it was a 90-second bit that came right before the two-minute warning at the end of the first half, when you'd expect tons of eyeballs to be on the game. It was well worth it. I was sold when the cops moaned, "How hard is it to catch a Prius?" Having Jump Around play for most of the commercial didn't hurt either.

Andrew: When I saw the commercial, all I could think was "That's Frank Sobotka!" And it wasn't just the head of the dockworkers' union from Season 2 of The Wire in the passenger seat. My buddy pointed out it was Frank's son, Ziggy, back from the dead, driving. Watching it again now, cousin Nicky was in the back seat on the left. That makes three Sobotkas in the Prius commercial. So not just a fun commercial but kind of an inside joke for "Wire" fans. Four shipment containers for this one.

TurboTax: Never a Sellout

Andrew: To me, the best commercial of the game. First, I wouldn't be surprised if I used TurboTax because of it. Second, the whole "I would never sell out" commercial has been done, but they got a knight to do it. Third, they worked in a puppy named "" Funny, funny stuff. Five Silence of the Lambs masks.

Sterling: I somehow completely missed this during the game. I noticed Anthony Hopkins, but got caught up in a conversation about what he has been in since Silence of the Lambs and didn't hear anything. Anyways, I hope the person interviewing Hannibal isn't that census taker he was talking about.

Hyundai: First Date

Sterling: A grouchier person might talk about how the date construct is overused in commercials, but Kevin Hart > 99 percent of human beings. Both Toyota (with the Prius) and Hyundai (which owns Kia) produced commercials far more interesting than their actual product.

Andrew: First, I challenge the premise that Priuses are not interesting. Maybe a gray Prius is uninteresting (about 85 percent of the cars in Los Angeles). But a red or blue Prius? Now that's exciting. As for the ad, I'll give it three lifts.

Super Bowl Babies Choir

Andrew: I thought this was pretty weird. If I was a marketing guy and wanted to promote "Football is Family," I'm not sure that's how I'd do it. Seems more like an ad for "Football is Haphazard Family Planning." One-and-a-half baby seals.

Sterling: It's too bad Peyton didn't toss four touchdowns during the game, because Seal's appearance made me think it was 2003. Also, this is way darker than anyone should take it, but I couldn't help thinking of all the unborn babies from fans of the 2011 Patriots, 2002 Raiders, and the other losing counterparts for the Super Bowl winners displayed in the commercial. One can only imagine what will happen to the population of Cleveland if the Browns reach a Super Bowl someday, win or lose.

T-Mobile: Drops the Balls

Sterling: I could care less about the Miss Universe pageant, but having Steve Garvey lampoon himself was gold. While my fellow upstate New Yorkers may curse T-Mobile for its terrible coverage in the area, they did well to get Garvey and Drake for their two ad spots during the game. I'm less satisfied with the "Hotline Bling" spoof, though, which definitely had more potential.

Andrew: Ordinarily, I would just correct that, but I like the idea of Steve Garvey hosting Miss Universe. And I like it when anybody can take themselves not too seriously. So I'm giving this ad three Dodgers baseball caps.

Sterling: Uhh, Siri told me it was Steve Harvey. No, I have never seen Family Feud, even when the Gronk clan was on it. And now I'll post/tweet/snap about my embarrassment on my tablet/laptop/phone and go back to discussing the virtues of Apple products and microbreweries with the rest of my millennial friends.

Prop Bets Recap

Andrew: You were clearly our winner here, hitting on 14 of your 23 bets, including 30 percent of your bankroll on Denver against the spread, Denver on the money line, and the game to go under 45.5 points. I actually hit on 13 of my 20 bets, but I would have lost a little money overall. I can't believe I put my faith in Mike Carey not to make a mistake. The odds seemed crazy for that, almost even money, but the takeaway from 2015 I left out was Mike Carey missing a ridiculous number of calls. He used to be an NFL referee, right?

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Sterling: I would take this time to boast, but it's probably too soon considering I'm two paragraphs removed from Steve Garvey. Anyways, I somehow didn't realize we could pick a side and not wager any of our virtual budget, so that led to me blowing money after hoping for things like a yellow Gatorade shower and a Demaryius Thomas end around. But as we highlighted last week, all the lines made betting on Carolina rather unprofitable. Going all-in on Denver made the most sense for the traditional props, and that's where my profit would've come from.

While we're on the subject of Mike Carey: Apparently, someone put together a Google spreadsheet tracking all of his calls from the 2015 season. No really, you can see it here. He has mostly been correct this year if this spreadsheet is right, though he had blunders in the past two games (the backwards pass in the AFC Championship Game and the Cotchery drop). It's probably a good thing I didn't see this until after the game, cause among the more exotic props, I felt better about that one than any besides the Stephen Curry one.

Andrew: Wow, maybe that's my Steve Garvey moment. I really had Carey's mistake rate way overestimated. I could have sworn there were at least double-digit mistakes in the playoffs alone. Seriously, though, five mistakes all year including the Super Bowl? Are we sure Mrs. Carey didn't put this together?

Sterling: Yeah, I'm pretty suspicious of this too. The spreadsheet says he didn't make a call on the Tom Brady near-TD run against Kansas City, but I could have sworn he suggested that Brady crossed the pylon. I even went back and rewatched the broadcast on Game Pass, but unfortunately, it doesn't include the entire replay time/conversation with Carey. And while I do miss football, I don't miss it enough yet to go recheck calls from Browns-Chargers and Texans-Jaguars.

Scramble's Prop Bet Extravaganza Betting Totals
Prop Andrew Sterling
Game ATS (DEN +6) DEN (£0) DEN (£10,000)
Game Moneyline DEN (£0) DEN (£10,000)
Over/Under (45.5) Under (£20,000) Under (£10,000)
MVP Peyton Manning (£3,000 at +320) DeMarcus Ware (£1000 at +3000)
Josh Norman (£1,000 at +7500)
Thomas Davis (£1,000 at +27500)
3 Straight Scores Yes (£10,000) No (£4,000)
Missed PAT No (£0) No (£6,000)
Safety No (£5,000) No (£4,000)
CAR 1st Downs (20.5) Under (£20,000) Under (£2,500)
Kuechly Props Eh (Stay Away) (£0) 15+ tackles (£1000)
Cam Rush+Pass Yds Eh (Stay Away) (£0) 300+ (£2,500)
CAR Rushing Yds (125.5) Over (£0) Over (£2,500)
DEN Players w/Rush Att (3.5) Under (£0) Over (£2,500)
DEN Rushing TD No (£0) Yes (£5,000)
Manning INTs Eh (Stay Away) (£0) N/A (£0)
Daniels Rec Under 2.5 (£10,000) Under (£2,500)
MVP Thank You Family (£10,000 at +1000) Fans/City (£2,500 at +600)
Cam Celebration Solo dance (£0) Solo dance (£4,000 at +180)
Gatorade Blue (£0) Yellow (£2,500 at +450)
Higher TV Rating Charlotte (£0) Charlotte (£2,500)
Mike Carey No (£15,000) Yes (£1,000)
Altidore vs. Cam Altidore (£5000) Cam (£1,000)
Curry vs. Panthers Curry (£0) Curry (£8,000)
McIlroy vs. Sanders McIlroy (£0) Sanders (£7,500)
76ers vs. Broncos 76ers (£0) 76ers (£7,500)

Playoff Fantasy Results

Sterling: There wasn't much drama left after the conference championships, though Denver's dominant defensive showing stopped me from running away with things. The Broncos needed to blow out the Panthers for Tom to have a shot; though C.J. Anderson did his part (17 points), a goose egg from Demaryius Thomas ended any chance at a miracle win for him. Lots of you were curious why Brandon McManus and the Broncos defense weren't drafted, and as it turns out, you all were exactly correct.

Andrew: Yes, maybe we got it wrong, not picking the best defense in football on a team that had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A great job by you and Tom constructing rosters from the toughest spots in the draft. In a playoffs defined by defenses, it's fitting that your margin of victory came from, by far, the best defense in our Denver-less field. Congratulations, Sterling. Very well played indeed, good sir. And I promised a prize to the winner here, so you will be getting a copy of the greatest nonfiction book ever written, Robert Caro's The Power Broker. You just have to promise to actually read it.

Scott Vince Andrew Aaron Sterling Tom
QB Carson Palmer Russell Wilson Tom Brady Alex Smith Cam Newton Ben Roethlisberger

28 40 45 35 63 31
RB Marshawn Lynch Jeremy Hill DeAngelo Williams Jonathan Stewart David Johnson C.J. Anderson

2 11 0 38 25 38
RB Ronnie Hillman Charcandrick West Steven Jackson Spencer Ware James White Eddie Lacy

4 15 7 12 8 18
WR Larry Fitzgerald Jeremy Maclin Julian Edelman Antonio Brown DeAndre Hopkins Demaryius Thomas

26 4 16 11 6 5
WR John Brown A.J. Green Michael Floyd Doug Baldwin Ted Ginn Jr. Randall Cobb

10 13 17 18 21 11
WR Emmanuel Sanders Jermaine Kearse Markus Wheaton Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson Martavis Bryant

22 24 3 16 1 27
TE Heath Miller Tyler Eifert Jordan Reed Travis Kelce Greg Olsen Rob Gronkowski

0 5 18 14 28 40
K Chandler Catanzaro Cairo Santos Steven Hauschka Stephen Gostkowski Graham Gano Mason Crosby

9 22 12 17 24 18
D Seahawks Chiefs Cardinals Patriots Panthers Packers

6 15 -2 4 40 10
Total 107 147 116 187 216 198

Best of the Rest

Congrats to bedforp, who beat out the rest of the field with 156 points. Things were a little dicey, given that he barely got anything out of Peyton Manning (3 points), Owen Daniels (1 point), or Mike Tolbert (minus-1 point), but Corey Brown's 8-point day did just enough to give him the edge over Sid, who finished with 151 points. Final results can be found here.

Playoff Challenge Winner

Congratulations to our two co-winners this year, Nate Vanden Heuvel and David Laubenberg, who tied at the top of the FO Playoff Challenge with 286 points apiece. Both of them picked remarkably similar teams, with Cam Newton, David Johnson, C.J. Anderson, and Rob Gronkowski ultimately carrying them to victory.

Scramble for the Ball for 2015, over and out.


124 comments, Last at 01 Mar 2016, 5:26pm

#1 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:04pm

Is cam newton the greatest rushing qb of all time? Is he better than RW? To say nothing of mike vick who genuinely ran like a cornerback with juke moves of barry Sanders. In term of total qb play, obv cam has far surpassed vick, but this is just about rushing.

Points: 0

#69 by RickD // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:00pm

Vick is still the best rushing QB of all time. His career average was 7 yards per carry. Wilson has one season with a better average than that. Cam has zero.

Points: 0

#119 by justanothersteve // Feb 12, 2016 - 10:47am

What? No love for Randall Cunningham? Maybe not the career YPC, but he was the offense in Philly. (Honorable mention to Bobby Douglas, simply for being a running QB in the 70's. Rocket arm. Horribly inaccurate. Absolutely no touch. But great fun to watch.)

Points: 0

#120 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 12, 2016 - 5:56pm

Most games since 1960 with at least 5 pass attempts and at least...

100 yards rushing
Vick: 10
Wilson: 4
Cunningham, Douglass, McNabb, Newton: 3

75 yards rushing
Vick: 21
Cunningham: 10
Douglass: 9
Wilson: 8
Griffin, Newton: 7

50 yards rushing
Vick: 54
Cunningham: 34
Young: 29
Newton: 28
Douglass: 21

If we used touchdowns, Cam would be number one pretty much for sure. But for yardage, Vick is way out in front of everyone else. (And he missed nearly three full seasons due to off-field cruelty.)

Points: 0

#2 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:08pm

I think if the patriots had been healthy most of the year, they would have been a great team. Ditto for the hawks if they had avoided their mental lapses on defense in the first half of the season.

Coming into the playoffs, i felt sea was easily the best team in football, but i knew the road was going to be tough for them to go all the way.

Points: 0

#3 by Ryan // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:20pm

I think it's safe to say that ten years ago Peyton would not have gotten the "let's not overlook his MVP season" treatment. Maybe from a group like FO (...maybe). Funny how things change.

Points: 0

#6 by dmstorm22 // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:25pm

It is pretty hilarious. 'Admired Man', what the eff?

Never explained, and also what isn't explained is why Peyton doesn't deserve that fake label?

Points: 0

#109 by doktarr // Feb 11, 2016 - 12:43pm

Honestly, I give him a little credit for trying. It's possible he realized that the way he was crapping on his legacy the last two times he's written about him was... unbecoming of a member of the FO staff. I agree it's kind of funny coming from him, but there's nothing offensive about what he wrote, even if the "admired man" stuff is kind of odd.

Points: 0

#5 by Ryan // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:25pm

"A grouchier person might talk about how the date construct is overused in commercials, but Kevin Hart > 99 percent of human beings."

....stick to sports.

Points: 0

#7 by MilkmanDanimal // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:28pm

babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy babymonkeypuppy

Points: 0

#8 by Nahoj // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:39pm

Seriously, if it weren't for Rocket Mortgages trying to singlehandedly reinact the housing crisis while promoting crass materialism for everyone, everywhere as life's holy grail, this stupid babymonkeypuppy ad wins worst commercial hands down. Even my 8 year old's reaction was "What was that?" rather than the slightest hint of amusement.

On the other hand, my wife and I both thought the Doritos baby ad was funny (that "Oh no!" moment of anticipation) and the Prius one was drawn out and pointless.

Points: 0

#10 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:51pm

Everyone remembers it and was talking about it. So from that perspective it's a success.
It probably also appears more to Mountain Dew's target demographic.

Though for me, if you're going to have a combination of three things it's ManBearPig or nothing.

Points: 0

#48 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:20pm

It's puppy, it just so happens that the puppy is a pug.

Mountain Dew even says so themselves on their own YouTube channel if you want to torture yourself by watching it again.

Points: 0

#64 by jonnyblazin // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:47pm

My mistake, after watching it with friends the consensus was that it was "puggy," which flows a bit better IMO.

Points: 0

#78 by MilkmanDanimal // Feb 10, 2016 - 5:01pm

I actually loved that commercial because it was so freakish and bizarre. Give me memorable weirdness any day of the week.

Points: 0

#11 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:51pm

I know a lot of people thought this was a bad Super Bowl, and I understand that; nobody dislikes bad offensive line play more than I, and this game had a fair amount of that, along with dropped passes, and stupid mental mistakes. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the way this game highlighted the value of coaching, and I'm more convinced than ever that coaching played an outsized role in this contest, relative to other Super Bowls. Certainly the most since Bucs v. Raiders, or Pats v. Rams.

Points: 0

#12 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 1:55pm

I'm not convinced the Panthers had many adjustments that would have gotten much traction in this game. You double Miler and then ware kills you. Denver's run D is ferocious and they have the speed and athletes to smother cam's running ability. I

Points: 0

#16 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:12pm

You try to win the game 9-6, or 13-9, meaning you hugely reduce the chance of turning the ball over on a short field. For instance, the first Broncos touchdown was the biggest play of the game, and, in my view, purely a result of the Pantehers coaches not understanding what kind of game they were in. Kubiak/Phillips, othe other hand, had a keen awareness of the nature of the contest, which is why I think the criticism that some Broncos fans have had for Kubiak's playcalling is so misplaced.

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#20 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:23pm

I think the problem with Kubiak's playcalling is that he always assumes it's going to be a 9-6 game. I think the Broncos could have been more successful offensively without taking that much more risk.

I think the best chance for the Panthers was to try to beat the Broncos deep, the problem was the needed a bit more time before Ware and Miller crashed everything down. On at least one of the strip sacks Newton had a lot of space in front of him so if he had better awareness could have either stepped up or taken off running.

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#22 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:36pm

If the Panthers don't provide short fields, there was very litte chance of the Broncos getting past 12 points, for the simple reason that the Panthers defensive talent far exceeds the Broncos offensive talent, especially given that the Broncos qb can't throw the ball at an NFL level any longer. The key was to never allow the Broncos to get more than a small lead, be patient, and take advantage of what opportunities the Broncos offense was neary sure to provide, given their lack of talent. Then, once you get into the 2nd half, hopefully with the lead, then the Broncos untalented offense is in a situation where it MUST make a play. That's when you finish them off.

Instead, the Panthers coaches decided that giving the Broncos best player a prime opportunity to win the game, early on, was the best choice. This strikes me as unwise, and I said so at the time.

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#29 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:51pm

I disagree that the Broncos didn't have the talent offensively to get past 12 points. If you break up the Broncos offensive DVOA by season they were above average when trailing or tied.

The Panthers also didn't have a lot of success running. And given the challenges for their receivers catching balls it was probably better to try and have them go deep than to risk tipping short passes into the air.

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#38 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:00pm

It was better to give Miller and ware maximum oppotunity to hit the quarterback with the ball exposed, deep in Panthers' territory?

I differ.

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#40 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:04pm

But then what else do you do? Just keep handing off? Asking Cam to suddenly become a short quick passer is not his game.

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#42 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:11pm

Sure. Lots of football games have been won that way. Its just in the last decade especially people have lost sight of that possibility.

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#43 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:14pm

But rushing wasn't successful for them either. Sure it would have protected Cam but it also would have probably favored the Broncos since Colquitt was booming punts.

Handing off repeatedly is also what most people are criticizing the Broncos for doing.

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#49 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:22pm

Most people, to quote Parcells, don't know if the ball is blown up or stuffed.

In some games, an offensive possession which ends in a 40 yard net punt is successful. This was one of those games. The Broncos coaches understood that, and the Panthers coaches did not.

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#58 by RickD // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:36pm

RB rushing wasn't successful. Cam's rushes were. But they did hardly any of that.

Given that he was the MVP and their best weapon, I found that plan curious. The one way to screw up all the Broncos' matchups was to use Cam's scrambling ability.

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#72 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:09pm

I was nearly certain that Shula would give Newton his most power runs, with numerical superiority, that he had all season, even if Phillips brought down a safety into the box to counter it. Instead, I don't think he called such a play until the 3rd quarter. It really surprised me.

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#84 by nickdanger // Feb 10, 2016 - 6:16pm

Newton's planned rushes were no more successful than the rest of the Panthers'. He got nearly all his 45 rushing yards on scrambles away from the pass rush with nobody open. If I counted correctly, his 2 planned rushes netted 2 yards (3 and -1).

Anyway, the Panthers probably didn't run Newton more because Wade Phillips kept 7 or even 8 in the box on running downs and kept a spy on Newton just enough to make Carolina shy of running him. Phillips even replaced a safety with an extra lineman on some plays. Any team would keep dropping back to pass against a team that was seemingly overplaying the run as much as Denver. Phillips dared Carolina to let Newton throw it because he knew Denver's corners could easily cover the Carolina receivers with only one safety to help. Carolina took the dare, and it turned out their receivers couldn't get open much. And it turned out that Denver was playing the run with a plan to blitz if Newton dropped back.

Phillips' approach on running downs was reminiscent of the '85 bears and the 46 Defense, except instead of putting 9 in the box on every play and blitzing off of it, Denver used 7 or 8 and blitzed off of it, leaving safety help over the top to prevent big plays.

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#86 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 6:27pm

"Any team would keep dropping back to pass against a team that was seemingly overplaying the run as much as Denver."

This simply is inaccurate. I can idetify any number of teams which continue to try to run against overloaded boxes. The point is to have some sense when to do so.

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#92 by Grendel13G // Feb 10, 2016 - 9:22pm

I think reading this just made me have a Wade Phillipsgasm.

I also think this might be the first time that sentence has ever been uttered or written.

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#41 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:09pm

Well they had some success with deeper plays and would have had more if Crotchery could have hauled that one pass in, while the run game was mostly unsuccessful.

The sack touchdown also happened pretty early in the game if I recall correctly so maybe it wasn't obvious yet just how much Miller would throw a wrench in things.

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#47 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:18pm

Yeah, which gets into my earlier question for Will. If you are a successful offense, do you automatically assume you're o line is going to get killed?

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#50 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:23pm

I think they expected them to hold up better than they did. I also think if Newton had the pocket awareness of Wilson or Rodgers he would have found some space and been able to make a throw that would bounce of Ginn's hands.

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#93 by mehllageman56 // Feb 10, 2016 - 9:37pm

Wilson would have been interesting, simply because his line stinks so much he's used to having guys on him that quick, and his escapability could have thrown a wrench into the works.

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#57 by panthersnbraves // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:35pm

We had someone go back and look at the All-22... 73% of the time, the Panthers had 6, 7, even 8 in to protect...

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#65 by RickD // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:49pm

Do we have the corresponding numbers for the pass rushers? I'd be interested.

I do agree with the sentiment that at some point we have to just give Denver credit for playing as well as they did, and stop thinking that there was some kind of easy solution that the coaches missed.

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#71 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:08pm

I don't disagree with that sentiment, but I think the Panthers coaches did underestimate what they were up against, and as a result it led them to do some dumb stuff.

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#77 by MilkmanDanimal // Feb 10, 2016 - 5:00pm

I think Denver is getting all sorts of credit for playing well and there's currently a poll on's homepage asking if they're the best Super Bowl defense ever, which, while I don't think it's necessarily true, certainly indicates the level of respect that defense is getting.

The sentiment that's repeated (and is accurate) is not that Denver wasn't great, but that Carolina's coaches seemed incapable of or unwilling to change their pre-existing gameplan. Nobody is saying Denver wasn't phenomenally good, just that Shula and Rivera seemed to not react at all to the defense they were facing.

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#79 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 5:08pm

But no one has offered an alternative strategy that would have been better, short of asking cam to do a bunch of designed runs(which strikes me as the kind of seen and unseen argument).

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#81 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 5:19pm

Accepting that a punt is a better alternative than asking Remmers to block Miller by himself, with Newton standing on his own two yard line, 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, on 3rd and 8, early in the 1st, in a 3 point game, would have been a better strategy. I literally said, "What the hell?" prior to Miller reaching his target, and then said, "Oh, fer Chr*st's sake!" once he did so.

You don't have to be completely risk averse. You have to have some sense when taking risks is optimal.

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#67 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:51pm

Yeah, they aren't great at chipping, and on the critical play of the game, it was Remmers all alone against Miller, with Newton standing on his 2 yard line.

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#97 by Andrew Healy // Feb 10, 2016 - 10:01pm

I think this is a great point that's gotten way too little attention (and something we should have hit better in Audibles). You have a bad right tackle. You saw what Miller did the previous week, mostly operating on Marcus Cannon. Seems pretty obvious to find a way to get two bodies on Miller most of the time. And if they were blitzing, you could still do it. We saw Ginn get open a couple times when the safety essentially had help on him.

And remember those numbers on the Panthers having extra guys in to block are driven by the Denver blitzes to some extent. What didn't happen as far as I could tell was two guys getting Miller for at least a beat or two. You could have started there every play and I think Will's right that you probably prevent at least one of those fumbles. Which might have been enough.

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#98 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 10:35pm

Well, look, by the time you get deep into the 4th quarter, down more than 3, it's desperation time against a defense like that (everybody still on the field, unlike the AFCCG) and you're likely screwed. The point is to win the game before you get to that point. During your preparation, you should always be asking yourself how the matchups look, and as a result what the game is likely to be like. The easy ones, of course, are when you can say that you have better personnel acrosss the board, so you'll just do any damned thing that you please, as fast as you can. This is when an offensive coordinator most typically gets the genius label; the entire playbook is open, your guys are going to beat the crap out their guys no matter what you do, so being the unpredictable mastermind is really easy.

When the opponent has large matchup advantages over a team in significant areas, that's when you find out how smart the team's coach is. In this game, it was clear that Denver playing with a lead was a critical element to them, so they didn't get into a situation where a guy who can't throw anymore, behind a bad offensive line, playing a good defense, HAD to make throws. OK, Denver gets a field goal off the kickoff, with some Manning intelligence matched against some simple blitz reads, which (agreeing with Pat), is kind of dubious. Still, it's 3 points, still not half way through the 1st, after you make them go 3 and out on their 2nd possession. What you have to have pre-thought of, at least 10 day earlier, is, above all else, that you simply cannot turn the ball over on a short field. It simply cannot be risked, because there is no need to risk it. Having Cam Newton take a 7 step drop, to his own 2, Remmers tasked with Miller alone, on 3rd and 8, at that point in the game, is just empty-headed, indicative of not thinking the game through well ahead of time. There was hardly any other play that could be called which had a higher disastrous turnover risk. Why the hell are you doing that on your 2nd possession?

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#94 by mehllageman56 // Feb 10, 2016 - 9:40pm

'I think the problem with Kubiak's playcalling is that he always assumes it's going to be a 9-6 game,'

I think this is going to be said next year in regards to a much different result, possibly even in the season opener.

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#21 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:33pm

I wonder if any offense goes into a game conceding that they aren't going to do well against the opposing defense.

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#13 by tunesmith // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:04pm

Regarding Cam -

Jumping in the pile; he was wrong-footed and then went to the ground just after that. Silly controversy.

Press conference... I'm iffy on that one, but sure I can buy the thing about his emotions being close to the surface. And I doubt he had a nice-but-somber outfit to wear, it was probably more like the choices were either his sweatshirt or his celebratory-victory outfit.

But I can't get past the thing about how he defends being a sore loser the next day. I mean, I suppose it's taking a stand, but it's not exactly a *courageous* stand. Cam Newton, defender of immaturity and poor sportsmanship. I guess good sportsmanship is for kindergartners or something. That one really ticked me off.

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#18 by Eddo // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:21pm

What is the poor sportsmanship you refer to? He was one of the first players over to Manning to congratulate him, and he did with a fairly happy expression.

His day-after interview included the line (paraphrasing, but I think I'm close), "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser." If Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers had said that, they'd be praised for being a true competitor.

In fact, Awful Announcing included this bit in an article yesterday:

"Take, for example, Fox Sports’ Chris Chase, who wrote one of Monday’s takedown articles about the “childish, sulking, petulant” antics of Newton during his press conference performance. Then consider this piece by Chase from six years ago after Peyton Manning left the field without shaking hands following a Super Bowl loss. He doesn’t describe Manning as childish, sulking or petulant. Instead, he praises him.

On Manning:

Walking off the field without congratulating Drew Brees may go against our misguided notion of what sportsmanship should be, but it wasn’t at all disrespectful or bitter. It shows how much Peyton Manning wanted to win the game. And who can argue about that?

On Newton:

It took just about three minutes — three childish, sulking, petulant minutes — for Cam Newton to completely undo all the goodwill he’d created this NFL season, giving ammunition to his army of critics and leaving his fans with little to say in way of a defense after storming out of his postgame press conference following the Carolina Panthers’ Super Bowl 50 loss.

Throw in the fact that Newton was one of the first people to run over to Manning and congratulate him on winning the Super Bowl and it all leaves you with some very hard connotations to accept about why Cam is “petulant” but Peyton is a “winner.”

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#19 by dmstorm22 // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:21pm

I agree with this. Every QB has had bad reactions to losses. There's the Manning example you mentioned, something he has expressed regret about. There was a video floating around of Brady storming out of a press conference.

What exactly did they want him to do in that presser. I guess he could have been more expansive, but he basically went out and did a Belichick.

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#59 by RickD // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:38pm

And this ^^^^^ is what's known as an ad hominem.

Thought I'd point that out since the term is used incorrectly so often.

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#99 by whateverdude // Feb 10, 2016 - 10:43pm

Chris Chase is truly awful. I used to use Yahoo Sports a lot back when it had the cleanest, fastest loading scoreboard on the net (now it's chalk full of buggy Flash ads) and Chase was their designated NFL troll. Nobody took his opinions seriously. It's comical that he's being used to demonize the media. It's like criticizing police competency by referencing Inspector Clouseau.

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#113 by doktarr // Feb 11, 2016 - 1:03pm

I see what you're saying (I've never read Chris Chase but I can easily believe your review of him), but I think hit pieces like that are a *perfectly valid* reason to demonize the media. ESPN has plenty of sober and serious commentators who don't say ridiculous inflammatory things on purpose. And yet, they still cut paychecks to Skip Bayless. They don't get a pass for the latter because of the former.

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#124 by RR0907 // Mar 01, 2016 - 5:26pm

I too think it was Chris's fault in the quarter back.
Miller did play a part

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#56 by young curmudgeon // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:31pm

Both quarterbacks, both MVP's, both on the losing side in the Super Bowl, both highly visible in terms of publicity, commercials, etc...if only there were a clear, perceptible difference between the two! Oh, wait, Manning is a passing quarterback, while Newton is a runner as well as a passer--that MUST be it!

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#54 by panthersnbraves // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:26pm

"Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser." - Vince Lombardi, Patron Saint of Football who the Championship Trophy is named after.
"Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser." - Cam Newton, classless thug.

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#62 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:45pm

Who calls newton a classless thug? This feels like race baiting. For the record, i have no issues w Cam at all. The media goes after all celebrators regardless of race. See the medias treatment of johnny manzeil.

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#91 by panthersnbraves // Feb 10, 2016 - 8:20pm

Unfortunately, I sometimes read articles in other places, and accidentally read the comments. Classless and thug are some of the nicer things Cam is called. I was merely pointing out that if they were using that particular quote to emotion shame him, that they miiiight want to pay attention to where he got the saying from. And I don't personally class his actions as a "sore loser" (disrespect opponents, throw team under the bus, forget to thank owner/fans, fail to own personal mistakes) as opposed to a "bad loser" (angry at self/circumstance).

I can't find the video, but there was a commercial (Gatorade?), when HS boys were working in the summer heat. They are asked "What is sucks more than Practicing?" "Losing" "What sucks more than Losing?" "Nothing"

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#80 by tunesmith // Feb 10, 2016 - 5:08pm

For the record, I think it's a lousy quote from Vince Lombardi, as well. People might defend it in saying it's supposed to be motivation towards being a winner instead of a loser, but that's different than using it as a defense for *being* a sore loser.

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#35 by jonnyblazin // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:57pm

"Jumping in the pile; he was wrong-footed and then went to the ground just after that. Silly controversy."

I don't know how you can look at the GIF and say the problem was he wrong-footed. He was wrong-footed because he ran over to the ball to pick it up instead of diving when he was a couple yards away from the ball.

Although I'm guessing Cam rarely participated in drills of diving on loose footballs. I'm guessing most non-QB have been drilled to dive on the ball for most their careers.

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#52 by Nahoj // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:25pm

Regarding Cam's fumble, I initially thought he was wrong footed as well, but his own quotes offered to the media the following day made it a little more ambiguous:
"I don't dive for one fumble, because the way my leg was, it could have been contorted in a way. You say my effort. I didn't dive down. I fumbled, that's fine. But at the end of the day, that game wasn't built off of, we didn't lose the game because of that fumble, I can tell you that."

Newton also brought up the efforts of other quarterbacks, seemingly as if asking why he is being singled out.

"I didn't get the fumble, but we can play tit-for-tat," Newton said. "I see numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions and their effort afterwards, they don't go."

I don't think that quote does him any favors, it makes it sound like he was afraid of injury and then he compares it to other QBs not pursuing plays on interceptions, in which possession has already changed, to a live fumble where possession is up for grabs.

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#55 by panthersnbraves // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:31pm

How dare someone show up to a post-loss presser in a hoody and give terse answers!

But on the fumble, I thought he was in-between at that moment: too close to dive, too far to kneel... and he did dive after it once it squirted out....

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#24 by BaronFoobarstein // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:41pm

I don't care much about whether Cam Newton is a poor sport, too cocky, fun to watch, or just a really personable guy. I just don't pay enough attention to that aspect to have an opinion on him in that respect. But I prefer not to call the reaction after the game an unfair overreaction (despite sports commentators basically overreacting to everything). It's more of a correction. For over half a season we've had to listen to commentators praising Cam Newton up and down. I never remember hearing anyone offer real complaint about Newton's celebratory behavior, but I constantly hear people complaining about people complaining about it (and intimating that any critics must be racist).

What I do care about is evaluating a player for his play. Newton was been considered as the leader in the MVP race half the season. He was nearly the unanimous MVP winner. He's being hailed as a "great" or "elite" player. He was merely good in 2015. It bugs me that a player can get all but two MVP votes and not even be in the top five in his position for the year. And this isn't just a 2015 thing either. It started when in his first few games of his rookie season he put up ridiculous numbers. And he did earn that praise to some degree (some degree because if I remember correctly that coincided . He looked really good in those games (though that coincided with a large increase in offensive efficiency, perhaps spurred by rule changes). But it seems that first impressions are lasting impressions, and he's been spoken of as a great player ever since. I like to compare him to Andy Dalton, since they came into the league at the same time. Dalton is generally labeled as average and Newton as great despite Dalton clearly the better player over their careers and even the better player in a season where Newton won the MVP award.

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#27 by dmstorm22 // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:47pm

Dalton is surrounded by arguably the most talented roster of offensive players in the NFL, from the line to the WRs and TE to the RBs.

Cam Newton is, how do you say, not.

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#30 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:52pm

Its pretty weird how everyone says cam is the face and future of the league right now. Im fairly certain id rather have russel wilson right now.

It was only a year ago that we thought of cam as a very up and down player.

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#32 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:53pm

I still of him as that now. They had the easiest schedule and if Seattle didn't forget how to play football for a half we probably wouldn't be talking about them right now.

Let's see if he can keep up the performance next season.

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#31 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:53pm

I've read people in this forum complain about Newton's celebratory behavior. There was Seattle Seahawks fan's ridiculous over-the-to complaint of Newton's treatment of a flag that went viral. Now, I do think the degree to which people have complained about Newton is overstated, but it has been there.

As to Newton's performance, the Panthers scored the most points, with two bad offensive tackles, and unremarkable receivers outside the tight end. That indicates to me that the qb was really good, if in an unconventional way.

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#39 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:02pm

Pff graded their o line pretty well, outside of oher. The receivers may be unspectacular, but given Cam's abilities as a down to down passer, I'm not sure it was as big an impact as say Nelson's loss was for the Packers.

Judging Cam in a vacuum is really hard because, as you said, he's unconventional. The dynamism of the run game is absolutely a product of Cam Newton. And he's definitely grown as a medium passer. Those skills together put him somewhere in the top 10 of qbs. But I don't think he's an elite player by any means, despite the mvp and the media's portrayal. He strikes me as exactly the kind of qb who will have wild swings year to year.

Now, I admittedly could be wrong. I had Russell Wilson written that way a year ago, but this year his growth as a passer has made me change my tune. But I would need to see that from Cam a year from now.

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#46 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:18pm

There is a reason why Remmers has been on 6 rosters in 4 seasons. Now, it can get hidden a little because most teams don't have an excellent pass rusher up against the offense's right tackle. The Broncos do. The Panthers' tackles are bad.

I wouldn't take too much from any qb's bad performance against the Broncos defense this year.

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#66 by theslothook // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:51pm

I dont blame newton for his performance at all. Nor do i blame brady or rodgers. That defense is a flamethrower.

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#25 by BaronFoobarstein // Feb 10, 2016 - 2:43pm

I thought the Super Bowl babies commercial was cute and sweet. And then I realized these people are singing about their own conception. That's kind of creepy. On the other hand the subtle jab about Seahawks fans being crybabies is funny.

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#45 by commissionerleaf // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:17pm

Blair Walsh, "Purple Judas".

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#60 by RickD // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:45pm

It's weird about Cam. For most of the season I felt the media were pumping him up way too much, giving him sole credit for what were team victories. And now the same people are tearing him down, again unfairly. As others have pointed out, Cam is held to a standard that other elite QBs have not been held to.

And as for "the Most Admired Man" - look at how Peyton's churlishness after Super Bowl six years ago and how quickly it's excused. Hell, look at him shilling for Budweiser on Sunday!

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#68 by dmstorm22 // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:54pm

It wasn't really that excused, there were quite a few outlets bringing it up.

Also, to that point Peyton had shown years of good sportsmanship. Personally, I think it was a bad display not to go over to Brees, but generally that isn't really done at the end of the Super Bowl.

I don't remember seeing Tom Brady go across the field at the end of either loss to the Giants to congratulate Eli (could be wrong). In fact, other than the coaches, there generally isn't nearly as much team fraternizing after the Super Bowl compared to even the title games.

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#70 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:06pm

I always kind of liked that Bud Grant used to meet with the opposing coach on the field prior to the game, and suggest they forget the post game handshake. He'd suggest that each guy just give a brief, informal, wave of the hand, from across the field, and be done with it. Everything surrounding a football game, even a Super Bowl, doesn't need to be a formalized Big Deal.

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#73 by dmstorm22 // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:11pm

I think generally apart from blowouts, I can't remember players really greeting each other at the end of games in Super Bowls at all.

I can't remember any Patriots doing it in either one, or any Colt. Things may have changed recently because I do remember it a bit in the 49ers / Ravens game, but these older one's (Steelers Cards?), not as much.

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#74 by Will Allen // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:18pm

It's an athletic contest, not a concluding ceremony for a global war, fer' cryin' out loud. A lot of people need to calm down.

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#75 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:23pm

It's just one component of the 'respect for the game' crap that some people love to push. As if a 10 second handshake really means anything when you spent the last hour actually trying to break them.

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#76 by dmstorm22 // Feb 10, 2016 - 4:53pm

To be clear, I could care less who congratulates who and what Cam did. I'm just pointing out the weird outrage of both Manning not going over to Brees as a data point to use for / against the Cam issue since players congratulating each other after the Super Bowl has never really been a big thing.

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#90 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 7:23pm

Yeah I understand that. I don't know why we really care what Players reactions are, if they are celebrating or dealing with failure appropriately.

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#95 by RickD // Feb 10, 2016 - 9:53pm


The stupidest news story of the week concerns Eli Manning's non-reaction to a Denver TD. I hate when the media tell players what their emotional reactions are allowed to be.

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#102 by deus01 // Feb 10, 2016 - 11:49pm

well some of them were pretty funny.

Personally I liked the caption that Eli was waiting for his batteries to be changed.

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#105 by Independent George // Feb 11, 2016 - 10:36am

Do you remember when the word was that Brady going soft because he got married?

I sometimes forget what passes for analysis outside of sites like this. Even our worst and most pedantic arguments here are at a higher level.

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#88 by young curmudgeon // Feb 10, 2016 - 6:47pm

re #60--That bothered me, too, and it would be fairly easy to get into a high dudgeon about it: "What a message to the youth of America, that the best possible way to celebrate an achievement is to consume a large amount of alcohol!" or you could replace the word 'alcohol' with "a third-rate alcoholic beverage!"

Hey, his team is from Colorado. Why not, "I'm going home, kiss the wife and kids, and fire up some righteous weed!"

Come on, he's Peyton Manning, he has more money than some third-world countries, and he's bypassing the thousand-dollar magnum of champagne to swill down some Budweiser!?!" But, of course, one reason he has so much money is that he has trained himself to recognize an opportunity for a plug.

Then again, back when Disney paid off the SB MVP to make an announcement after the game, I always wished the MVP would look at the camera and say "Screw Disney World, I'm going to Tahiti!"

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#114 by doktarr // Feb 11, 2016 - 1:13pm

"It's weird about Cam. For most of the season I felt the media were pumping him up way too much, giving him sole credit for what were team victories. And now the same people are tearing him down, again unfairly. As others have pointed out, Cam is held to a standard that other elite QBs have not been held to."

I agree that Cam is held to a standard that many other (white) players are not, but I don't think that a quarterback being overly hyped in victory and unfairly buried in defeat is unusual. That's pretty much standard fare for unthinking pop media football commentary.

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#63 by Kevin from Philly // Feb 10, 2016 - 3:46pm

How can both Yes and No be losers on the "three scores in a row" bet?

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#85 by LyleNM // Feb 10, 2016 - 6:20pm

Also, according to Jim Nantz, it's almost time for the Super Bowl 51 (or LI) halftime show.

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#87 by Shattenjager // Feb 10, 2016 - 6:31pm

Okay, so I have not even heard of The Power Broker before, let alone read it, but I find it nearly impossible to believe that there has been better nonfiction written than The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson or The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. Or of course Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. ;)

(I put The Power Broker on my Amazon list, so I will find out at some point, but I just immediately thought of those two works when you said, "the greatest nonfiction book ever written.")

Do I somehow write in a particularly spammy stile for my FO comments? I don't think I've posted one without it saying "SPAM!" in the last year.

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#104 by Shattenjager // Feb 11, 2016 - 1:16am

The wink was to denote that it was a joke. Because the style of the novel is very much in the style of pretending to be non-fiction. I would in all seriousness rank it as the greatest fantasy novel I have ever read, however.

Edit: And this one got through as not-spam. So apparently it isn't everything at least!

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#101 by herewegobrowni… // Feb 10, 2016 - 11:10pm

"But I don't buy The Admired Man narrative, either. (Not saying it's untrue. I just have no idea."

Only real argument I've heard against is the alleged face-sitting from 20 years ago.

(Odd to see Steelers fans bring it up before the most recent game, without any hint of self-awareness, when I was browsing their boards.)

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#103 by t.d. // Feb 11, 2016 - 12:33am

the 'next peyton manning' is already among us, it's aaron rodgers, he just avoided all of the narrative garbage by winning early enough in his career to keep HOT TAKES off his back. since then, he's been historically unlucky, and his 7-6 postseason record is about halfway to manning's 14-13

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#106 by dmstorm22 // Feb 11, 2016 - 10:45am

How has Rodgers been historically unlucky? I get that he's lost three OT games, but the only one the Packers actually blew was the Seattle game last year. You can make an argument about the Cardinals game too, I guess.

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#107 by t.d. // Feb 11, 2016 - 11:24am

He's lost 4 times on the final play of the game, including three in overtime in which he has a grand total of one offensive snap (where there was an uncalled defensive penalty that should have negated the game-winning score). If anything, he's had worse luck than Manning

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#108 by dmstorm22 // Feb 11, 2016 - 11:38am

He was extremely lucky (and skilled) to get this year's game to OT. The 49ers loss in 2013 was just a normal loss. They didn't have the lead in the 4th quarter, I believe. I'll give him Seattle, that was just a disaster and he did a good job just getting it to OT.

I think if he goes another 1-2 more years without getting to at least a Super Bowl the RINGZ crowd is going to start getting on his case.

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#110 by theslothook // Feb 11, 2016 - 12:47pm

Id say hes been really unlucky. But is there really an anti clutch rodgers crowd? He won a sb pretty early in his career which tends to kill that virus before it has a chance to spread.

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#116 by bmay // Feb 11, 2016 - 6:35pm

Can't believe I'm the first one to say it, but the guy in the commercials is Steve Harvey. Steve Garvey played first base for the Dodgers and Padres back in the '70s and '80s.

Points: 0

#118 by Sid // Feb 12, 2016 - 3:27am

second time I got second in best of the rest

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