Excitement was nearly non-existent in this year’s NFL Wild Card round, which featured four fairly dull games. Even the expected awesome showdown between rookie sensations Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson turned out to be a dud when we ended up with half a RG3 in the second half.
However, an unexciting environment is also one that is conducive to learning. And I learned the following things this weekend:
-The Bengals will always be the Bengals.
You can put the Bengals in the playoffs, but that isn’t going to stop them from being Bengals. The combination of Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton did very little to convince anyone they are capable of winning a playoff game for Cincinnati. And at some point, just getting to the postseason can’t be enough of an accomplishment for the franchise that long defined ineptitude.
Perhaps the worst thing about the Bengals 19-13 loss to Houston is that it ended up being the “best” game played all weekend.
-So that’s why Christian Ponder starts.
I was one of those people who figured the news of Christian Ponder being made inactive against Green Bay was good news for the Vikings. The dude is lucky to complete any throw over 15 yards downfield, and perhaps Joe Webb would give Minnesota’s offense an element that the Packers defense had not prepared for.
It turns out that element is shittiness.
Webb completed 11 of 30 passes, threw an interception that could have been caught by no one by Packers corner Sam Shields, and basically looked like every Bears quarterback from 1996-2004.
I will never question Christian Ponder again. Sam Steele is on to something.
-Bruce Arians should be the hottest coordinator sought by NFL teams
The Colts went 9-3 without head coach Chuck Pagano this season as Bruce Arians took the helm in an interim role.
On Sunday, Arians missed Indy’s game at Baltimore as he was hospitalized due to sickness. The Colts lost.
Pagano’s story is an inspirational one, but the work Arians did in his absence cannot be ignored.
-Russell Wilson is the Rookie of the Year
OK, so you really can’t go wrong when picking a Rookie of the Year in the NFL this season. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III both did phenomenal things in turning their teams around, and Alfred Morris would be the winner in virtually any other year.
But Russell Wilson is the last man standing, and there’s a reason for that. The guy has tremendous poise, and is proving that a midget can play quarterback in the NFL. Wilson may end up opening the doors for other undersized quarterbacks in the future — here’s looking at you, Johnny Football — and can change the way the position is assessed in the future. The significance of his breakthrough should be rewarded.
-When your QB is hurt, nobody wins.
Mike Shanahan is getting all the media flak today for not pulling an obviously injured RG3 from the game as the Redskins saw a 14-0 lead slip away as they were unable to cross the 50 once he was rendered useless.
But the trouble with the NFL’s culture is that no matter what, somebody was getting hammered for this. If Griffin pulls himself from the game, he is branded a wuss like Jay Cutler. If Shanahan pulls Griffin like he should have — but to the protestations of Griffin — he is upsetting the franchise player even if the move is for the better of the team.
Given those scenarios, it is no surprise that we got what actually happened — Griffin, the football-playing son of a military man, decides to tough it out because anything else would be letting his team down in his own mind. Shanahan acquiesces, because who the hell pulls their franchise quarterback when the guy says he can go… and ends up getting hammered like he was Petain sending his men into suicidal machine gun fire at Verdun.
Moral: If your star quarterback gets hurt, you’ve got virtually no chance of winning on or off the field.