This past weekend found me in South Bend, IN for the annual battle between the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame. Apart from my father being born and raised in Detroit I have no allegiance to either team but do have a cheering interest in the Wolverines. My friend Billy, however, is a passionate Fighting Irish fan and traveled with grave concerns that this trip would mirror the failure of last year's which saw his team fall to Southern Cal.
Expectations can be hard to manage and unlike Billy I boarded the plane not caring who won but also not expecting anything from the campus. Students, alumni and aesthetics were a completely empty box that was left at home. This would be something pure and clean. No preconceived standard based on television coverage or the experiences of others. What would be gained? The prestige of this storied institution surely must preclude any limited idea of what I might believe it should be.
Thankfully it worked out for the best. By far the best collegiate experience of my life as everything that was observed was untainted by my assigned standards. I could go into further detail but that is for another time.
When I caught myself being embarrassingly negative during the Colts/Jaguars game my mind drifted back to South Bend. How had I lost my balance? Post game there was an internal apocalyptic struggle regarding what to write. Once again the Jaguars managed to drag fans across the emotional landscape in the last minute more than the previous fifty-nine.
Then it hit me: the problem stemmed solely from not getting what I wanted. I had set the wrong expectations. It was easy to enjoy Notre Dame winning because the goal was only to be there. In fact the best experience was observing others celebrate. But with "my" Jaguars there was almost a demand that they perform to a level "I" set for them. A level that, in hindsight, was irrational and distinctly emotive. There was no way I could possibly enjoy the game based on the standard erected. All this edifice of my own creation served to do was obscure my view of the thing itself.
Based on a variety of game reviews there is a unified sentiment of what is wrong with Jacksonville and that some of the problems are malignant. Yet we must remember the NFL is evaluated on a week to week basis and is predicated on the foundation of familiarity of name and potential of action. It is one thing to get frustrated because there is no cause to set high expectations and it is a completely different position to be in where the expectation itself can only produce frustration. Are you extrapolating the now into a far too unknown future rather than an event much closer in time?
Michigan owned Notre Dame in almost every statistical category, including number of turnovers. I do not recall any Irish fan leaving the stadium bemoaning how they won. We can point out what went wrong but we can not assume it will carry over into the remaining games. An ugly win is still a win.
Now let's get going.
- My personal expectation for the season is 5 wins. Anything above 7 would be shocking.
- An additional inspiration came from the E:60 piece titled "Jack's Heat". Winning at something, and not necessarily by being first, can change your mental outlook. For Jack Burleson, being on the track team changed him such that others noticed how much greater he excelled in other areas. How much does winning the Colts game alleviate the sting of the Vikings loss? How much more belief does the team have that they can execute in crunch time with the "big play"? We shall see.
- When Tim Tebow was in Denver what was his Modus Operandi? Inefficient for most of the game and then come through in the clutch. Should not the "Tebownites" be happy with the way Blaine Gabbert comes through in the clutch?
- So is Gabbert then "inefficient"? I have no idea. Nate Dunleavy seems to think Gabbert was a "train wreck". If the Colts game was anything like the Texans game then there were not many options down field. The question that needs to be answered is whether Gabbert is not pulling the trigger and why.
- The sad thing is that we are again having the discussion: is it the receivers or is it the quarterback? Nine years and counting.
- If you are going to rip on Gabbert for overthrowing his receivers, of which I believe maybe half of his 11 incomplete passes were overthrows, then be consistent and harp on Andrew Luck for underthrows. The Jaguars missed at least three chances to intercept Luck simply because of ball placement and had one taken away due to a questionable pass interference call on Rashean Mathis.
- If Blaine steps into that late 4th quarter throw to Kevin Elliot I think he completes it.
- Telling stat: Luck targeted his running backs twice in 44 attempts. Gabbert targeted his five in 21.
- Herb Taylor or rookie Mike Brewster and RT is Guy Whimper. Your primary WR is rookie Justin Blackmon. You have lost Laurent Robinson to a concussion with the rookie Elliot replacing him. What are your expectations?
- Mike Greenberg of ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" fumbled his way through the video/audio clip of Gabbert to Cecil Shorts. First he tried to wrap his mind around the score by doing the math on the fly. "Jaguars finished with 22 so they had 15...no that is wrong...Colts finished with 17 so they were up by 4...no wait...Colts just kicked a FG to go ahead." Next he leads into Brian Sexton's audio call with "now let's go to the call courtesy of WKOV".
- Three games in and it seems obvious that you give Maurice Jones-Drew the extension this off-season and let Rashad Jennings test the market.
- On the whole the defense looked good. Andre Branch pressured Luck and the DBs held their own when the pass rush failed to impact Luck. Tyson Alualu even had a moment or two, but still falling way short of producing for where he was picked. On one occasion he was failed to demand interior attention allowing the Colts guard to help double on Jeremy Mincey.
- The unsportsmanlike conduct on Mike Brewster was amazing. The official threw the flag after the Colts Cory Redding head butted him. What did he see?
- I do not know if it was Bill Macatee or Steve Tasker (I think it was Tasker) but one of them needs to re-read the pass interference rule. Dwight Lowery making contact with Donnie Avery as the ball is arriving is not pass interference. What makes less sense is that in slow motion the timing is more obvious.
- Of all things that concern me, not getting a touchdown on 1st and goal from the 9 tops the list. I get the run on first down but Gabbert's lob pass to Blackmon was a terrible read. Not sure Elliot catches the 3rd down ball even if he was looking for it.
- Regardless of the fact it is not your head, Austin Collie please retire.
Dirty play by Raiders RT Willie Smith on a blatant chop block on Steelers Ziggy Hood. On the replay you can see him size up Hood and go low. I got a tweet from someone about this, thinking Hood was not engaged by two players. I decided I might need to look up the chop block rule and while correct on the fact of dual engagement I was wrong on my interpretation. The rule states the following:
“On a running play, A1, an offensive lineman, chops a defensive player after the defensive player has been engaged by A2 (high or low), and the initial alignment of A2 is more than one position away from A1. The rule applies only when the block occurs at a time when the flow of the play is clearly away from A1.”
- I am officially convinced roughing the quarterback should be a reviewable penalty. Matt Schaub was hit cleanly by Denver's Joe Mays and another player I did not document. Schaub's helmet came off and he immediately put his hands on his head. We would come to find out the helmet padding ripped a part of his ear but the initial reaction seemed directly related to his helmet coming off and how he reacted. Mays made contact at shoulder pad level. The impact knocked off the helmet. My impression is that there is too much feeling placed into these calls and not enough reason.
- Big thanks to my Detroit Tigers and UCLA Bruins for breaking my heart.
- Damn you Toyota Prius commercial! Get out of my head with your catchy tune and upbeat lyrics. On second thought, just hang out a bit longer.
Thirteen more games to go. I sure do hope we are not having this same discussion then.
Seems like life is a palindrome
Cry when you die, cry when you're born
In between it's all about the ups and downs
Add them all together, they'll cancel each other out
Glen Phillips - "Duck and Cover"
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