Happy Friday, friends. Today, we digest the formerly ascendant Buffalo Bills, who have lately been pretty descendant. In fact, they’ve lost seven in a row and are 5-9. They've won two blowouts, lost four, and are 3-4 in close games. It’s been a weird season.
Really, the 5-2 start was the case of a team with below-average talent and no depth overachieving on the strength of excellent coaching and good early health. The good health significantly disappeared, some marginal players had to play, defenses started playing to take away the short passing game, and the overachievement ended. After the jump, we’ll explore the Bills in detail.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Last night's game had a rather interesting ending with plenty of implications, as Colts QB Dan Orlovsky led a 12-play, 78-yard drive to defeat the Texans 19-16. For Houston, the loss is a severe blow to their chances at nabbing a playoff bye and one of the top seeds; instead they're likely to end up with the #3 seed. Should the Broncos take the AFC West and the #4 seed, they would host the #5 seed in the first round, which will be either PIttsburgh or Baltimore, and unless Houston is knocked out by the #6 seed, Denver would have to go to Foxborough if they can pull off a first-round upset.
On the other end of things, the victory for the Colts is their second straight, and it means their stranglehold on the first-overall pick and chance to draft Andrew Luck is gone - Indy is now tied in the win column with the Rams and Vikings, and the Colts face their division rival Jaguars to close out their season. Due to strength of schedule, it appears the Colts would still get the #1 pick if they finish tied for the worst record with the Rams and/or Vikings. So the Colts/Jags matchup could be the determinant of whether Jacksonville has to face Andrew Luck twice annually for potentially the next 10 or 15 years. I'm not sure the Jags really want to win that game...
Gronk Gym: How The Gronkowski Boys All Got So Good At Sports
When Gordy Gronkowski’s five boys were little, he used to line them up in the backyard and chuck tennis balls at them. Hard. At first, he knew, the boys would be scared. There might be some bruises. But to be good at sports, you can’t be afraid of the ball. And so the balls would come, and the boys would have to catch them. Eventually, they did.
Gordy started this when the boys were 4 years old. The boys got older. They got wiser. Their hands got softer and their skin got thicker. So Gordy started hitting the balls at them. With a racquet.
I guess I'm supposed to admire Gordy Gronkowski for this, but honestly, I'm a tad creeped out. Maybe I should be relieved he didn't go all Patches O'Houlihan on his kids and bring out a bag of wrenches. If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge Ed Reed!
Video: Elway's 2012 Tebow options
Chris Sprow says that there are rumors that no quarterback will want to go to Denver through the draft or in free agency to compete with Tebow partly, because fans will be so much in Tebow’s favor. That is probably true. However, if a new starting-quality quarterback is brought in, it will be as the sure starter. The only way Denver will go away from Tebow is if it feels it has a better option.
Denver likely won’t have someone compete with Tebow. The Broncos are either going to be all in on Tebow or they are going to move away from him. They will not be wishy-washy here. All the indications I get is that Denver is leaning toward going with Tebow next year and it could announce its commitment toward him shortly after this season.
Once we get past Williamson's butchering of the English language, and if we assume he's not merely speculating (I know, quite a leap), he seems to be saying that Tim Tebow will be Denver's starter in 2012 from the get-go, or he won't be a Bronco at all. Williamson says a starter-type would only be brought in as the clear #1, which one could translate as either Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Andrew Luck. The only non-Tebow options the Broncos could reasonably present to their fans at this point are win-now type veterans (Manning, Brees) or the closest thing to a can't-miss prospect as there is (Luck).
Merry Christmas, USC: You’re getting one more year of Matt Barkley
For starters, he’ll open next season as the runaway favorite for the Heisman Trophy, with every USC passing record in his sights after a blistering finish to the 2011 campaign. He’ll succeed Luck as the undisputed No. 1 prospect in the 2013 draft, and enjoy the fruits of being the 21-year-old Face of College Football in Los Angeles.
I take no position on this. As Tim Tebow would say, "I don't know what's in his heart."
Money? The NFL? A Barkley craves not these things.
Mora: So-called tradition stops here
Jim L. Mora found out about the first one at UCLA - where seniors “go over the wall” to skip a day of practice - and he’s not happy about it. In fact, he made it very clear it’s one tradition that will stop the day he starts. “It’s completely unacceptable and it will not be part of the program going forward,” he said. “It’s a privilege, not a right to play football for the UCLA Bruins. With the commitment you make when you sign on to play here, comes a commit to do what’s asked of you by your coaches on a daily basis. I can just tell you, in no uncertain terms, that that tradition will no longer be a part of tradition going forward.”
Now I know why Rahim Moore has been experiencing problems. It's all because of this insidious "over the wall" thing!
Why so serious, Jim? I realize Senior Skip Day is a slippery slope--skip a day of practice here, and eventually, we'll find you in an alley with a needle sticking out of your arm--but isn't it enough to simply end the tradition and move on? Is there really the need for the over-the-top rhetoric? It's not like we're talking about a whole team of Maurice Claretts. Just end it and it's done. There are bigger fish to fry. Pete Carroll didn't make USC into a powerhouse by getting all hardcore. He did it by
violating NCAA rules building strong relationships with his players.
I predict Mora is gone in three years. He's proven before that he knows how to misapply the tough-guy shtick. I'm just glad he didn't accept John Fox's offer to become defensive coordinator of the Broncos.
Denver Broncos Respond To Petition For Team To Produce 'It Gets Better' Video
“The Denver Broncos are committed to tolerance, acceptance and respect for all in the community,” said Smyth. “The National Football League is currently working with USA Network on its ‘Characters Unite’ campaign combating prejudice and intolerance, and our organization is in full support of that movement to help raise awareness for this very important cause.” Smyth declined to provide a specific comment on It Gets Better.
Although it's disappointing that the NFL and the Broncos won't support or even comment on It Gets Better, it's great to hear the league is working with USA Network's campaign to promote tolerance and fight discrimination in all forms. I hope it's not an empty promise from Smyth and the Broncos/NFL, because Characters Unite doesn't appear to have the sharpest of teeth to it - they've only put out two press releases in all of 2011, there are zero corporate entities on their list of official partners, and they haven't updated their Facts & Statistics page in over a year.
Packers are the real America's team
22% of voters say the Packers are their favorite team in the NFL to 11% for the Cowboys, 8% for the Bears, Giants, and Steelers, 7% for the Saints, 6% for the Patriots, 4% for the Redskins, and 2% for the Jets. 24% say someone else is their favorite team or that they don’t have a favorite. Tim Tebow, as expected, edged out Eli Manning (12 percent) and his brother Peyton (10 percent) for the title of America’s most popular quarterback. Tom Brady, Drew Brees and MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers finished next, with 6 percent of the vote.
I'm filing this under "Another reason John Elway should give Tebow more time." Put aside wins and losses (I know it's hard) and put aside what you think might happen at quarterback. Simply imagine you are Joe Ellis. Imagine you're concerned about the short-term (3-5 years) monetary situation of the Denver Broncos. Imagine your market research tells you that you've got the most popular quarterback in America--so popular in fact, the entire state of Florida liked you on Facebook, DJs on Air 1 Radio (yeah, I listen, I'll admit it) are converting thousands each day to the orange and predominantly blue, and even Randall Cunningham is--as we speak--telling everyone in the Greater Las Vegas area to pray for Tebow. What are you going to do?
Wins? Losses? Tebow's the guy with the
gun audience. He's a 240-pound mint. I'd be inclined to have a sitdown with John Elway and give him some lessons in the time value of money.
Study Links Winning Football and Declining Grades
When a college football team is successful, students put down their books and pick up some beers. In examining the grade-point averages of the Oregon student body and the performance of the Ducks’ football team, the researchers found a relationship between declining grades and success on the field. “Our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education,” the paper’s authors — Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen and Glen R. Waddell — wrote. They said their work was among the first to take a look at the “nonmonetary costs” of college sports. Male students were more likely than female students to increase their alcohol consumption and celebrating and decrease studying when a team fared well, resulting in lower grade-point averages, according to the study.
When you see studies like this, you should always be skeptical. It sounds logical to conclude that when a school's football team is doing well, students are probably having a little more fun and spending less time on their studies. And it may be true. In fact, I'd be surprised if it's not, to be honest. However, after reading the quote from the authors, I'm struck by their sheer conviction. Academics aren't above jumping to conclusions based on one set of data--in this case, the University of Oregon's football team from 1997 to 2007. Further, they're not above taking on a topic in which they can make a name for themselves. Imagine if their data didn't prove their conclusion. It wouldn't make news; it wouldn't get their name into the press; it might not be worth a paper at all.
In order to support the claim that big-time sports are a threat to education, I'd like to see more data from more schools and see it benchmarked. Everything is relative, as they say.