Monday, September 14, 2015

The weekend, revisited

And now a few thoughts from an over­stuffed weekend, in which the words “Buster Douglas” were heard again in the land, and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame got a break from God but found out He was still miffed at them, and it was once again verified that fans are insane, especially if they’re Colts

* Speaking of Colts fans ... we need to talk.

We need to talk you off the ledge. We need to get you to stop running around squawking that the sky is falling. We need to haul off and slap you, because I swear if you don’t stop your nonsense that’s what the Blob is inclined to do.

Let’s start with this: What happened in Buffalo yesterday was not the end of world, nor was it particularly surprising.

I don’t know where Colts fans have been holing up all offseason, but clearly it’s someplace soundproof, because they obviously were shocked, shocked to find out that the Bills defense is some kind of nasty. This despite the fact that everyone in the known universe has been telling us for months, and very loudly, that THE BILLS DEFENSE IS GOING TO BE SOME KIND OF NASTY.

Sorry for the capital letters. But, really, people.

Are you really that surprised the Bills handled your O­-line the way they did, when even the lowly Bears were getting to Andrew Luck when the 1s were on the field in their preseason game? And are you serious with this stuff about abandoning the run too soon, when it was pretty clear they weren’t
going to run on the Bills down seven with any degree of success?

Let’s Send Our Running Backs Into That Brick Wall Some More is not an intelligent offensive strategy, people. The Colts RBs ran the football 17 times Sunday. They averaged 3.8 yards per attempt. This is not how you get the other guys to respect the run. What, you thought if they averaged 3.8 yards another 17 times, the Bills might suddenly start putting eight in the box?


Look. Could the Colts have played better? Sure. But was this any kind of upset? Of course not. Because you know what else everybody was saying, very loudly, all offseason?

That if the Bills got any kind of quarterback play at all, they’d be a legitimate Super Bowl threat. And Sunday, Tyrod Taylor gave them that quarterback play, throwing for 195 yards and a touchdown and running for 41 more yards against a Colts defense that wasn’t impressive last year and didn’t really
figure to be this year – especially without Anthony Jones up front.

In short, the Colts are exactly who we thought they were: A bonafide, if flawed, Super Bowl contender in a flawed conference. And the Bills, on Sunday, were exactly who we thought they could be if all the pieces fell right: The same thing.

And so ... chill, people. It’s gonna be OK.

* Still struggling to put what happened to Serena Williams in some kind of historical context, not to mention struggling to realize that it happened at all.

Twenty-­four hours later, I still half­-expected to turn on the women’s final Saturday and see her cracking bombs off both sides.

Instead, it was Roberta Vinci who went off like a bomb on Serena, and don’t feel bad if you never heard of Roberta Vinci. Hardly anyone had ever heard of her. She’s 32 years old and had never come within sniffing distance of a Grand Slam final before. She was unseeded. Vegas had her at 300-­to-­1 to beat Serena when they stepped onto the court Friday afternoon.

But this is the great thing about sports: Human beings are fully involved. And so the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team beat a Soviet juggernaut that had crushed it 10­-3 less than two weeks prior. And Buster Douglas (those two words!), the rankest of journeymen, knocked out one of the scariest men ever to step in the ring, Mike Tyson. And Roberta Vinci, after losing the first set, just kept hitting the ball back and running and hitting the ball back some more, and suddenly the greatest women’s tennis player in history was extending her hand at the net.

What that reminds us of is that even the immortals are blood­-pumping humans with human failings, and occasionally, if the stars line up and the circumstances are just right, those failings can take them down. Friday was like that: Vinci played the greatest match of an undistinguished career on the
same day Serena finally succumbed (or seemed to) to the pressure of the calendar Grand Slam and the weight of history behind it. And a very different sort of history ensued.

Given the context, biggest upset since the Miracle On Ice.

* Somewhere this week, no doubt, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly is pulling the petals off a flower one by one, muttering “He loves me ... He loves me not ... He loves me ... He loves me not.”

“He” being the Almighty, of course.

And this after Kelly’s Fighting Irish pulled a rabbit (or some other woodland creature) out of a hat the other night, beating Virginia 34­-27 on a 40-­yard prayer to Will Fuller with 12 seconds left.

It was one of those luck­-of­- the-­Irish deals that forces you to believe what Domers have always believed, which is that, yes, Notre Dame is indeed God’s favorite football team. (Although it’s suspected He cheats on them occasionally with Boston College). And that would be valid, if it hadn’t been for this nugget: The guy who threw the pass was the backup quarterback, DeShone Kizer.

That’s because the starter, Malik Zaire, went down with a broken ankle earlier in the game. He’s gone for the season now, removing the expected engine of the offense from the picture. He’ll join Taurean Folston, the presumed engine of the running game, on the sidelines, Folston having gone
down for the duration against Texas.

So after two weeks the Irish are 2-­0, but they’ve have also lost their front­line quarterback and their front­line running back for the season. Which in turn forces you to wonder if God still loves His Irish but is really annoyed at them right now for some reason.

I’m thinking it’s those losses to Navy a few years back. Or maybe it’s that proposed new videoboard, the good Lord being nothing if not old school to the core.

Guess we’ll find out.

No comments:

Post a Comment