Saturday Divisional Recap.
1) The Colts victory over the Ravens was not a playoff win. It was a regular season win against an opponent who beat itself. Every bounce of the ball went the Colts way. For the Ravens, that is the way it works some days. For us as fans, it means do not be surprised if this Colts team gets tripped up. Yes, the Colts CAN go all the way. They are a very good team. Good teams get the bounces. But do not confuse this 20-3 win as something indicating the Colts are fine. Ed Reed’s INTs disappearing (one on a subsequent fumble, one on a penalty), the tipped Manning throw at the line of scrimmage that went to a Colt, the dropped ball in the end zone, the phantom two seconds of clock at the end of the half… The Colts were vulnerable, they were who everyone thought they were (the team that has narrowly escaped many times this season), and the Ravens let them off the hook.
2) Daryl Johnston made a remark in Q1 of the Saints-Cardinals game that gave me tremendous confidence that the Saints would win the game. He said that in pregame warmups out on the field, Reggie Bush was “in a zone” and was apparently oblivious to anything going except his own focus and preparation. That, combined with the elevated play we had already seen, told us exactly what the story was- Reggie Bush was delivering a game and a win for the Saints. Wonder and I agreed on one thing after the game was over- that was the best performance we have seen from Bush since he has turned pro. What happened? The criticism about Bush is that he has not been willing to be physical. Remember what we keep preaching about predictability. If a player is too soft, others know this and can adjust. In this case, it hurts Bush’s game because now other players know that Bush is going to look for ways to simply miss tackles instead of ALSO running over you. It manifests itself in other ways too- like Bush being more willing to go outside and miss contact than go inside between the tackles, where he was sure to take a hit.
The last time I checked, football was a contact sport. If you don’t like contact, don’t play football. Of all of the positions to not want contact, the single worst one has to be running back. A message to Mr. Bush: Better late than never. Are we to understand that now with the Saints finally in the playoffs, that he is turning the switch ‘ON’ and playing a complete game? You can look at it as him stepping it up and elevating the level of his game for the biggest moments. That can work in the long seasons of basketball and baseball, but it does NOT work that way in football. The Hall of Fame football players do not elevate their play in the playoffs- they play lights out every single game and leave it all on the field. Some of the greatest players of all time laid it out their for their teams in the most difficult of circumstances, and they did it during the regular season. Emmitt Smith the last game of the season vs the Giants. LT with one arm versus the Saints.
Am I turning this upside down, taking a positive from yesterday and turning it into a negative about the resume of Bush in his first 4 years? Yes, I am. The NFL season is 16 games and the reason why the sport is superior to the rest is that every game matters. Bush has not played every game with anywhere NEAR the intensity that he did yesterday. He has the tools, but apparently he picks and chooses when to use them. I’ll herald Bush when he delivers effort for his team on a season-long basis.
We as Giants fans like to trash Tiki Barber for his selfishness, but for one moment I’d like to juxtapose his heart in comparison to that of Bush. Barber had the same physical size (5’10, 205 lbs.) as Bush (6’0 203 lbs.). Barber was told he was too small, that he could not play and get too many carries. But Barber played hard for this team and delivered his all EVERY SINGLE GAME, regular season, post season, whenever he put that uniform on. To hear Bush trying to draw attention to himself after the game was over, saying “big time players make big time plays in games like this” rings more than just a little bit hollow. It is outright bullbrown, that is what it is.
3) Simms spoke this morning but said only one thing that needs to be passed along: “When you give up 40+ points in the NFL, it is more than the players.” He was of course referring to the Cardinals, but you know which team this blog is referring to.