Monday, September 08, 2008

Steve Greenberg: Tool of the Week

With Jay Mariotti thankfully going into self-imposed exile, we have been scouring the landscape for the next brainless tool to pummel, and what ho! We have a winner!

Steve Greenberg (at left), the supposed football expert for the Sporting News, in his latest column, seems to be hiding his knowledge of football extremely well. After the Chicago Bears dismantled the vaunted Indianapolis Colts who broke the seal on their brand new stadium on national television with an embarassing loss, Steve Greenberg had to caution us not the "overrate" the Bears or "underrate" the Colts. Huh?

His first point was that "the Bears did not attack the deep middle of the Colts' secondary even once. There were no gimmicky plays." I'm no football expert, but I believe football is a game of scrimmage line control, not "gimmicky plays." He continues:
That sounds good on the surface--line up and whup 'em--but it will not be difficult for most defenses to force the Bears to grind it out between the 20s and kick field goals. Orton is an average-at-best starting quarterback (although his career record as a starter--13-6--is pretty terrific.) Chicago's offensive line is an injury away from train-wreck status. And rookie running back Matt Forte, though he opened eyes across the nation Sunday night, probably isn't the next Adrian Peterson.
WTF is he talking about? Football is exactly about "line up and whup 'em", and why would any other team enjoy more success than the Colts who have one of the most feared defensive lines in the business? The game I saw showed Orton and Forte grabbing first downs at will all night. As far as Forte not being Adrian Petersen, I'm no "football expert" but if my memory serves, the last several Super Bowl winners did not have Adrian Petersen in the back field. Imagine that. Greenberg is correct to opine that the Bears should not be considered the "co-favorite" to win their division-- they are now the favorite, my friend.

His second point is that Peyton Manning was "rusty" and he may have a small point. But then he dissonantly asks, "You don't think the Patriots would love to trade places with the Colts right now--to be 0-1 but with their superstar quarterback on two feet? The Jaguars lost their opener, as did the Texans."

OK, so the fact that Brady is injured makes King Peyton's performance that much better? Finishing a game with an intact ACL now somehow merits a badge of honor? The fact is that Peyton Manning was schooled because he (finally) had pressure on him all night and he was unable to read the defense. Time-outs were used injudiciously and the Colts offense looked sloppy which is all evidence that the Colts were outplayed.

Thirdly, Greenberg feels that the Bears "will run Forte til he drops" and this is somehow a disadvantage. Forte had 23 carries for 123 yards and took a few good hits. I hate to burst your bubble, Mr. Greenberg, but I'm not sure the Colts put that much hurt on him. He seemed to be able to scamper into the Colts' backfield any time he wanted. The hit you seemed to think was so devastating was inflicted by a safety, not the defensive line.

Greenberg's fourth point was just a sonnet about his apparent man-crush on the Colts' Dwight Freeney:

Dwight Freeney is back. Not to worry about the foot injury that ended the Colts' Pro Bowl defensive end's season in 2007.

A three-play sequence in the second quarter showed why Freeney is such a dominant player. He jumped offside, giving the Bears a first down in Colts territory. On the next play, Freeney powered through left tackle John St. Clair for an 8-yard sack. Then he fought off two blockers to tackle Forte after a 3-yard gain.

The Bears threw too many quick passes for Freeney to be a major factor, but he looked very good.

Freeney "looked very good"?!! OK, let's run this down. Freeney jumps offside and is a non-factor the entire game but, golly, he would have been better if only those nasty Bears would only have thrown the ball to him, and after all "he looked very good." Listen, I know love is blind and Freeney does have a pleasant enough smile and I have no problem with anyone's personal lifestyle preferences (my problem with Jay Mariotti had nothing to do with his life choices), but such inane drivel has no place in an objective evaluation of a football game.

Greenberg's fifth point is just more of the same insanity: the AFC is "tougher to size up than we realized" because (again) Brady is injured and (again) the Jaguars lost. I ask: Does this somehow make the Colts better than the 29-13 thrashing they received?

Maybe Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy can write Greenberg's next column for him. Unlike Greenberg's column, Dungy's surmise of the whuppin' is very accurate: "We certainly haven't had one like that in a long time, where we got soundly outplayed. They outplayed us for four quarters."

You can imagine all kind of reasons how this could happen, but back here in the real world none of them would involve the Colts being "underrated" or the Bears being "overrated."

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