Posted: Wednesday December 7, 2005 11:47AM; Updated: Wednesday December 7, 2005 3:07PM
All hard-core rankings fans, please give yourself a two-paragraph vacation and then pick up farther down. All grammarians, librarians, word jockeys and writers of dictionaries, please adjust your bifocals because this is for you. I want serious responses (sorry, Andrew) to something that is causing me much worry.
Where did the gross and shameless misuse of the preposition, "of," come from? How many times must I hear or read, endlessly hammered, "He didn't play that good of a game?" "It's not that big of a deal." It's ignorant. It's ugly. It's all-pervasive. And it's a fairly new phenomenon. I mean did it arrive with the bird flu? The turd flu? Help, please.
They're one win away from becoming the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. In this country you can't go much higher than that, although in certain European countries royalty still exists. And then the fun will start. Go restful or shoot for the 16-0 perfecta? If you're like me you'll be keeping a chart -- talk radio opinions, talk newspaper surveys, talk TV round tables. How many on each side? I'm guessing the voting will go around 80-20 in favor of the 16-0.
Shaun Alexander's two TD runs, of one and two yards, got him up to 92 touchdowns over a five-year period, one more than the former record holder, Emmitt Smith. I have never been impressed by records built on one and two-yard runs. So just for fun, I sat down and figured out how many of Alexander's 92 touchdowns were one, two and three yarders -- that's runs only (Ronzoni?). Pass receptions need not apply. How many would you say are a lot? "Around 60," Andrew said. Hmmm, can't match that. How about 46, broken down into 31 ones, six twos and nine threes? Is any of this interesting, meaningful, anything at all? OK, I see people yawning. Well I thought it was interesting, and so did my wife. Didn't you, honey? Wake up, please.
Offensive statistics the likes of which were run up against the Packers, not exactly an overwhelming defensive team, will get this team nowhere once the postseason action starts. For this reason, far-sighted fans are starting a movement to get Rex Grossman into uniform as quickly as possible, an abrasive thought for coaches, 90 percent of whom are superstitious about changing anything relating to a winner. It's the old conflict, the laity vs. the clergy. How will it end?
Same situation. As the defense gets better, the offense gets worse. Jay Feely's current slump notwithstanding, I think special teams have been a big plus for this club. Jeff Feagles is a terrfific cold-weather punter who can kill 'em inside the five. David Tyree gets downfield as if he were late for an appointment. Very important this time of year.
People say, "It all starts with those two big defensive tackles." Almost right, but not quite. Marcus Stroud is a plugger, pretty effective but not exceptional. John Henderson is the serious all-pro who plays almost the entire game without relief. But overlooked, just as he will be at Pro Bowl time, is MLB Mike Peterson, who really has turned into a tackling machine.
Maybe it's just the games in which I've seen them, but it seems that when a real clutch catch is needed, it's T.J. Houshmandzadeh (the name most feared by headline writers) who will make it and Chad Johnson is even money to drop the ball.
Just a little nagging thing. Their O-line wore down at the end of the Dallas game. Their defense sagged in the final moments against K.C. You know how people always say that Thanksgiving Day teams have a big edge, getting the extra three days to rest up for the following week? Well, this year's Thanksgiving quartet went 0-4.
Now here's some strange stuff. Stephen Davis started against Atlanta, carried four times in the first two series and only once more for the rest of the game, as DeShaun Foster buried the Falcons under his 131 yards. The week before that, Davis, who is listed as the starter, opened the contest and carried five times in the first two series and only once thereafter. Foster's output was 23-for-77. It must be the old theory of the shock troops. First wear down the enemy with soldiers who are expendable, then follow it up with the serious troops. Davis must attack people with such abandon, such maniacal fury, that they're hardly in shape to cope with what follows. If you go along with this theory, I've some more swell ones I want you to listen to ... for instance there's one about this guy who becomes a wolf every full moon, which is why his team never will be allowed to play in a Monday nighter.
The Oakland game was going along in orderly fashion on Sunday night, and then Mike Scifres, my all-pro punter of 2004, lofted one into the cool night air. When the play was over, I looked at my stopwatch. It read 5.74. Surely this must be a mistake. So during the timeout I ran the tape back and timed it four more times, and I got results ranging from 5.67 to 5.83. This is the longest hang time I have ever recorded in 40 years of noting this statistic. I am still in shock. On Monday I called the Chargers' special teams coach, Steve Crosby, and the result of that conversation, plus a whole lot of other nifty stuff, will be the subject of tomorrow's column.
I am watching LT Willie Roaf very closely because it's nearing all-pro time, and I am still missing a tackle, assuming Walter Jones will walk in. The Chiefs struggled when Roaf was out and improved when he returned, so his impact must be serious, right? Sorry, but I'm still not sure whether or not it's a case of him being that good, or the dropoff in talent being that severe when he's out. No, he's not a shoo-in. I have a feeling I'm going to find a sleeper somewhere ... I'm looking very hard at the Bengals' Levi Jones.