By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.
Obviously, the biggest story about the Ravens' loss was Billy Cundiff's missed field goal. But the other story I read the most about on the Ravens side was how Joe Flacco showed that he can be a franchise quarterback. It's as if all these analysts had their memories wiped clean just before this game. Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News wrote an article entitled, "Despite Loss, Joe Flacco Takes Big Step Forward"; in support of Flacco getting a long-term deal, Clark Judge of CBS Sports wrote, "Flacco made enough big plays in critical situations to put Baltimore in a Super Bowl. Better yet, he outperformed Tom Brady, one of the best ever to play the position."; Brian Costello of the New York Post penned, "Flacco silenced his doubters, including those within his own locker room, with an outstanding performance in the AFC Championship. He finished one throw short of pulling it out, though, in a 23-20 loss to the Patriots."
Flacco DID play a great game. He DID outplay Tom Brady. But was that really all that surprising? The knock on Flacco hasn't been that he's a bad quarterback but that he is inconsistent. QB rating isn't exactly the best measure but it's a useful tool and looking at his stats from this season, Flacco had 6 games with a QB rating above 100 and 7 games with a rating below 75. It's that wild inconsistency that has puts Ravens fans on edge about calling him their franchise quarterback. No one knows which Flacco will show up. Is it the one that dismantled the rival Steelers in the opening week or the one that averaged just 3.6 yards per attempt in a horrendous Monday night game against the Jaguars?
Let's also not forget the situation on Sunday. Sure, it was the AFC Championship game and the pressure was on but it was also against the Patriots that gave up the second most passing yards per game. So was it really that surprising that he put up those numbers? Do the Ravens really think that this is the game that solved all of his problems? The answer is they don't have much of a choice. Flacco will be their quarterback next year and will almost definitely receive an extension beyond that because, while inconsistent, he is still young and he's better than the alternative. But let's not take his performance on Sunday as a sign he's ready to take the next step and lead this team to the Super Bowl, let alone simply become someone the Ravens can rely on every week. On to the awards!
Mike DeCourcey of the Sporting News takes issue with Syracuse's scheduling: Top-ranked Syracuse hasn't played anyone on the road rated in the RPI top 50. They haven't played anyone away from home that ranks in the top 60. They've only played twice at the Carrier Dome against opponents rated in the top 30. Essentially, the Orange climbed 25 flights of stairs and tricked a computer into believing they had surmounted Kilimanjaro. Under ordinary circumstances, none of this would matter to anyone except those who make sport of annually haranguing Jim Boeheim over his stay-at-home non-conference schedules.
This has always been a knock on Syracuse. They never travel outside of the state. A tournament in Atlantic City? Practically a home game. Playing a tournament at the Garden? That's in their backyard. There are so many things wrong with this but the biggest one is the little-known secret that just about every team does this. Most of the top teams hadn't played many road games either and even fewer had played against quality opponents. The reason is simply money. Why would these big programs that draw huge crowds (none bigger than at the Carrier Dome) go on the road and lose a chunk of change? It might not be the way things ought to be but Syracuse is definitely not the exception.
If a Tree Falls in the Forest...
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel is afraid the Lakers will steal yet another big man in Dwight Howard: The Lakers have won 11 championships since they moved from Minneapolis to L.A. in 1958, but they would have none of those titles if they had to rely solely on their own talent evaluation. Here's all you need to know: Jerry West was considered a genius when he was the general manager of the Lakers and then he went to Memphis and was never heard from again.
I won't argue that the Lakers have benefited from players wanting to play in L.A. It beats Orlando...But I will quibble with his assessment of Jerry West. West went to the Grizzlies and did a terrific job with some awful talent. He even won the NBA Executive of the Year award in 2004. Does that sound like someone who was never heard from again?
Most Ironic Thing Said in Paterno's Death
All the stories about Paterno were exactly the same. He did so much and he shouldn't be remembered for not being vigilant enough with the Sandusky report. His legacy will be strong but there will always be a bit of a black mark. If you read one obit you read them all. But I did laugh a little at something Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe wrote:I'm guessing that the 75-year old Joe Paterno, good Catholic that he was, could not wrap his head around the idea of man-on-boy molestation.
A catholic is surprised by child molestation? He did follow it up with: I'm guessing he, like many people who never grasped the severity of the child-abuse charges leveled against all those priests, regarded such activity as creepy, not criminal.
So now because he's catholic he never grasped the severity? Religion clouding judgement? I've never heard of such a thing!
Super Bowl Is Overrated
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times believes the Sunday with the two conference title games is far superior to the Super Bowl: When as the last time the Super Bowl produced something so memorable that it was given a name? The Wardrobe Malfunction?
This Sunday's conference title clashes will be more of the same, a Super Bowl without some highbrow casual fan staring at the TV shouting "Super!" while other fans spend time grazing in appetizer bowls.
He makes a lot of valid points in this article. Real football fans watch the conference title games whereas everyone watches the Super Bowl. Commercials aren't as big of an attraction as the game. The games are played in home stadiums which make for much better crowds. But in the past decade we have been treated to some truly remarkable Super Bowls. 6 of the 10 have been decided by a touchdown or less and there have been so many memorable plays from Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI to David Tyree's helmet catch in 2008. Maybe the plays don't have names attached to them but that doesn't make them less dramatic.
Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald wrote about Eddy Curry's comeback this year and how Dwyane Wade and LeBron James kept him motivated: Curry insists it wasn't sloth that derailed him. He had an ex-girlfriend and 3-year-old daughter murdered and sank into darkness. His aching knees kept him from being able to exercise. That, he says, is how he got close to 400 pounds.
Curry said he had other trials in his life, things he won't talk about publicly, but that "D-Wade and LeBron know all the details.
Other trials he won't talk about? How could they possibly be more hurtful than his ex-girlfriend and daughter getting murdered? I don't know if that was more shocking or realizing Eddy Curry isn't even 30-years-old yet. I do fear the Heat making the Finals and reading a thousand stories on the redemption of Curry.