Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here.
In addition to making every Chiefs fan want to swallow a box of Cascade, the Colts' comeback last Saturday set all kinds of batshit-crazy offensive milestones. It produced the highest combined yardage total in playoff history (1,049). It was the second-largest comeback in playoff history (behind you know what). It was the third-highest-scoring game in playoff history (which seems low!). And when you take all those gaudy numbers into account, it was the perfect litmus test for NFL fans. Either you loved all that scoring or you found it all a bit too easy. Too cheap.
It took a fucking polar vortex to keep the other scores last weekend reasonable. This year, NFL teams set records for points per game (23.4), and yards per game (348.5). In the past three years, NFL teams have averaged more yards per play than in any other year since 1947. And NFL teams also set a record this year for most first downs per game—19.9—even with Brandon Weeden starting a handful of games. That's roughly a full first down more than teams averaged just in the previous decade.
Now, you know exactly why these numbers are going up: a greater emphasis on QB protection, more penalties for headhunting, THE PUSSIFICATION OF AMERICA®, etc. I'm like a lot of football fans in that I'm conflicted: I like points as much as anyone else (SHINY POINTS!), but I want those points to feel earned. I assure you that plenty of fans (this one included) preferred watching Niners-Packers to Chiefs-Colts. If every drive ends in a touchdown, then touchdowns lose all meaning, I tell you!
But there's an easy way to lower scores but keep all the fun offensive shit, and that is to change first-and-10.
Football keeps operating in a Base 10 system even as the rules keep changing in the offense's favor. Wikipedia says first-and-10 has been around since 1912. Before that, you got three downs to go the same distance (like in Canadian football today). And since 1912, first-and-10 has proved amazingly durable. It's become the three strikes of football: a basic tenet of a sport that has helped keep it anchored for over a century. You get six points for a touchdown. You get three points for a field goal. And you get four chances to go 10 yards. It's set in stone.
It's amazing how elastic 10 yards can be on a football field. In everyday life, it's a dozen steps. It's nothing. And when Drew Brees is your quarterback, going 10 yards is hardly an intimidating task. The 5.4 yards per play that NFL teams gobble up seem like a given. But when you have a shit QB and a shit offense, 10 yards seem endless. You may as well be asking the Jets offense to build a fucking spaceship. You can pick up multiple increments of 10 yards on a single play, and then fail to pick up a first down for the next hour. That stretch of field seemingly expands and contracts based upon your offensive abilities, which is what makes football so interesting. It's demoralizing to watch your team claw to get 10 yards and then see Peyton Manning saunter onto the field and get a quick 30-yard gain. Stupid sexy Peyton.
But in this decade alone, offenses are averaging nearly 20 more yards per game than they did over the previous decade, which is a big jump. And if the NFL is unwilling to make it harder for offenses to physically move the ball, then they should consider asking them to move the ball a little bit farther, perhaps making first-and-11 ("Well, it's one more, innit?") the starting point. You would still get big plays, but that one extra yard would cool down record-setting offenses, and still be a small enough increase for shitty offenses to get by from time to time. You want good offenses to be good, but not TOO good. And you don't want shitty offenses get inflated stats, because then you can't make fun of Ryan Tannehill as much as you would like.
And if that's messing with a fundamental bedrock of modern football, I think the NFL has already fucked with the game plenty. They've tried to reinvent the game within its current parameters and, at times, the result has been ticky-tack penalties and inflated scores that often feel arbitrary. There needs to be SOME resistance to the offense. Not a lot! Jusssst enough to make it interesting.
As easy as it is to think that Americans are brain-dead consumers who like any sporting contest if there's lots more scoring, Fox had record numbers for Niners-Packers last Sunday, and the NFL has been the dominant sports league for the past two decades mostly due to parity and shitloads of gambling. Neither of those things has anything to do with increased offensive output. If you combined the scores from the two Pats-Giants Super Bowls—both insanely watchable contests that were viewed by hundreds of millions of people—they still wouldn't add up to the number of points the Colts and Chiefs scored last week in a single game.
There is modern precedent for this kind of drastic change. The NBA moved its three-point line in when scoring got too low and then—when NBA players suddenly got too good at shooting threes—they moved it right back to where it was. PRESTO. They rigged the league's scoring output without changing the fundamental nature of the game. I asked Chris Brown (@smartfootball, not the domestic abuser/singer) about the idea. Here is his opinion:
If the goal is to reduce scoring/increase punts, then 1st and 11 is an elegant way of short circuiting drives (while also probably forcing teams to be more aggressive, a la Canada 3 downs to get 10).
I also asked Spencer Hall if first-and-10 was too easy and he said, "No. It's still really fuckin' hard."
"Wouldn't that cut down scoring a reasonable bit?" I suggested.
"It would. But the question is how much defensive success do people really enjoy watching? Ultimately, you want defenses to lose."
Indeed. You just don't want them to lose quickly. You want to watch them die slow, and sometimes that's a simple matter of adding an extra yard for them to give away.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And during the playoffs, I pick the games because that's STRONG BUSINESS.
Niners (-1.5) 30, Panthers 20: I know that the Packers eventually lost, but Aaron Rodgers' 4th and 2 conversion to Randall Cobb is probably one of the greatest things I've ever seen. I mean, look at that play. Rodgers was fucking DEAD. He was deader than Eli on the Helmet Catch. I've watched it a zillion times and I still don't understand how or why he managed to get away. I think that it was so cold that each Niners pass rusher got to Rodgers and then hoped someone ELSE would finish the job of bringing him to the ground. Maybe Ahmad Brooks was just like Fuck, it's cold down there. Let Ray do the actual tackling. Or maybe they were just being polite. No no, YOU have the sack! Please! I don't wanna be a sack hog.
Seahawks (-8) 37, Saints 14: I bitched about the challenge system last week, and I have one other petty complaint: Why is the monitor so far away? The ref has to run to the goddamn pretzel counter to watch the replay. There is nothing more tedious than sitting there and watching the ref drag his sorry ass to the farthest possible corner of the stadium and then drag his ass alllllllll the way back out to midfield to tell you that the monitor was too foggy for him to see anything. Give that fucker Google Glass and stream that replay directly into his face. I HAVE THINGS TO DO.
Colts (+7.5) 26, Patriots 10: You know, all this talk about gay players possibly coming out and players like Chris Kluwe supporting gay rights and all that, we never really talk about GAY COACHES. Because there has to be a shitload of them. Gay men would be great for the job, frankly. There's no wife to deal with. Probably no kids. None of this stupid hand-wringing about spending time with your family. Lots of time to stay focused on FOOTBAW. Your gay coach could stay in the film room all night and then hop over to the Blue Oyster for a nightcap if he's gotta let off some steam. I hope my team's next coach is gay as can be!
Broncos (-9.5) 45, Chargers 33: I will regret picking Denver in the divisional round when this game is tied with 1:58 left and John Fox has Peyton Manning take a fucking knee. Onto the random crap:
1) I was dicking around on Twitter the other day and user @Sas5o pointed out something I did not know: that Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay is the world's biggest food wimp. Here is the evidence from Yankees beat writer Mark Feinsand:
Michael [Kay] mentioned that he had never had soup in his entire life (he thinks the slurping sound associated with it is grotesque). I found this amazing. He then told me he had never had any fish or seafood of any type, either. He informed me of several other things he has NEVER tasted in his life: bananas, condiments of any type (though he lost a bet on his radio show and had to eat a packet of ketchup, which made him sick), jelly, any cheese not on a pizza, veal, coffee.
Apparently, Kay will only eat steak, bacon, and chicken parmesan. I like steak. I like bacon. I like chicken parmesan. But come on, this is an awful human being. Do you want your sports brought to you by a guy who's too chickenshit to eat soup? No. You do not. Every has their food hangups (like me and mayo), but this is crazy. You're not five years old, Michael Kay. Suck it up. I guarantee you that Michael Kay doesn't eat seafood because it's not manly enough or something. "Only fruitcakes like shrimp!"
2) I also found out that Guy Fieri won't eat eggs. How can you be a professional chef and not eat eggs? It's like when a vegetarian chef shows up on Chopped and is like, "I won't work with meat." Really? Then why the fuck are you here? Leave. You're a first exit waiting to happen. "I love being a chef. I just hate food, that's all!" Guy Fieri and Michael Kay should be locked in a cage and force fed old quiche for two straight weeks.
3) I was giving my kid a bath the other day when I had to go piss, so I told her, "Hey, I gotta go to the other bathroom and pee for a second."
HER: Why do you have to go to the other bathroom? So I can't see your penis?
ME: That's right.
HER: But I've seen your penis before!
ME: OH GOD.
HER: (closes eyes) I can picture it with my mind!
ME: DON'T DO THAT.
HER: (starts laughing) It's hairy!
ME: GAHHHHHHHH YOU WILL HATE YOURSELF 10 YEARS FROM NOW FOR THAT I SWEAR.
And so I peed in the other room. Parenting is horrifying.
4) I was hanging out with my son the other day and he seemed cranky and a bit off, so I told my wife, "Hey, I think he might be sick." A day later, he vomited all over the basement. And I was strangely excited because I had TOTALLY called his illness. Nothing's more thrilling than making a correct amateur diagnosis. And cleaning up barf is still better than your kid making a mental image of your penis.
5) If you are someone who likes interrupting people in real-life conversations (I do this because I'm awful), it's amazing how seamlessly that characteristic translates to Gchat. I never let people finish on Gchat. They'll be like, "So I was going to the store..." and I try to GUESS what comes next. "OMG YOU GOT HIT BY A BUS." And I never guess right. People don't Gchat me often.
Last Week: 0-4 (2-1-1 vs. the spread)
"Take My Bones Away," by the great Baroness. From Byron: "The whole band was almost killed in a bus accident last year which is pretty metal."
I did not know this about Baroness. But this was no mere bus accident. Turns out the bus fell off a fucking viaduct:
The guard rail and the 20 or 30 trees we ploughed through snapped like matchsticks as we went fully airborne and fell down more than 30 feet off of a viaduct to the ground below ... There was nothing anyone on the bus could have done during our descent to avoid the crash, and no one, the local residents, the police or any of us can believe we survived the impact... The (arm) bone was shattered into seven free-floating pieces, and my wrist and hand were swinging behind my back, spasming freely. Instinctively, I reached behind my back, grabbed my wrist and re-broke my arm forwards.
HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. Read the full account and then go hug your loved ones.
Like David Brooks, I assume that Gregggggg aspires to higher pleasures than simple intoxication. A good book! A car that has a manual transmission! Finding all the flubs in an episode of Almost Human! You pathetic losers out there getting high and not thinking about the universe are missing out! Anyway, let's see what higher, AUTHENTIC pleasures Gregggg has in store for us this week.
"Baby it's cold outside" is the theme of the rest of the NFL season.
You mean Roger Goodell is gonna feed us alcohol and then rape us? Seems like the standard NFL business model.
It's as if the weather gods are weighing in on the cold-weather Super Bowl plan.
Indeed, the WEATHER GODS—who occasionally flood Indonesia if not presented with proper cheerbabes—will have a few things to say to the football gods about this game, perhaps in conjunction with the stadium gods, who are not to be confused with the Traffic Gods, who operate out of the New Jersey governor's office.
A coming TMQ will detail why I never use the press box, the press box being the worst possible place for sportswriting.
Jamboroo would posit that the worst possible place for sportswriting is wherever TMQ is sitting. BOOM ROASTED BY THE ROASTING GODS.
Being outdoors in the cold is thought to build character.
By you! You're the one who keeps demanding cold cheerleaders and coaches! Don't passive voice that stupidity. OWN IT.
All the players involved in Saturday's postseason concussions are adults who know the risks they are taking, and are well compensated. So if they want to gamble with their future neurological health, why shouldn't they?... But the NFL sets the example for 3 million youth-league and 1.1 million high school players who aren't adults and aren't compensated.
OMG WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? The cheapest, easiest way for any columnist to seize the fabled MORAL HIGH GROUND is to just throw kids into the mix. Kids and the troops. If only we had KID TROOPS. It's the same haughty logic that Hall of Fame voters use to justify all of their grievances. "But what will the CHILDREN think? These distractions could harm our precious kids! Support our troops!"
A publicly subsidized enterprise must set a good example for the public.
So true. If I build a bridge, I want that bridge to attend church.
TMQ readers know my compromise with my Baptist upbringing is to be pro-topless but anti-gambling.
But what if your CHILDREN see all those topless women and then hump their sheets and then you have to clean them? And what kind of example do publicly subsidized cheerbabes set for the public... the helpless, slobbering peasantry who don't have the Brookings Institute experience to fend off such temptations?
Home teams in the NFL divisional round are the surest thing in sports... Since the current playoff format was adopted in 1990, home teams in the divisional round are 67-25, a 73 percent winning figure.
That's awesome if you have the world's dumbest bookie! Against the spread, those same teams are 48-42-2, and AFC home teams are 20-25-1. It's like Vegas is just giving money away! #EasterSimmons
No one from the Kansas City secondary even attempted to run with the guy who already had 160 yards receiving — and was about to catch the game-winning pass... That's seriously sour.
EXTRA tout sour.
Michigan State leading 24-20 with 1:47 remaining in the Rose Bowl — excuse me, the Rose Bowl Game — Stanford faced fourth-and-1. The Cardinal lined up jumbo without wide receivers, everyone packed in close to the quarterback, then simply plunged straight ahead. No man-in-motion, no shift, no misdirection, no fakes of any kind. You don't need to know anything else about the contest.
But... but... but... so many tight ends! Many of whom won't be good enough to play pro! That's a recipe for victory! But Greggg is right here. GAME OVER. I don't even know why they kept playing. Once it hits the NOTEBOOK, the end result is ironclad, and is, in fact, more viable than whatever happens during the play. I hope Greggg turned off his TV when he saw the formation and found a microphone to drop.
The football gods have been smiling on the Hoosier state
Must be all the hefty tits there!
The Football Gods Chortled: Auburn made the B.C.S. title game despite, five months before, receiving no votes for the preseason Top 25. Preseason polls had Ohio State second-ranked, Stanford fourth and Georgia fifth; all lost their bowl games.
This is why no ranked team should ever be allowed to win things!
The Bolts have surged to 5-2 in TMQ's quirky Authentic Games metric, and now trail only Denver and New Orleans.
Does it mean something? POSSIBLY. Could those authentic wins be more authentic than unauthentic wins? CRAZY BUT YOU NEVER KNOW. Now, for this week in Gregggg taking everything literally...
"Look how much time he has!" NBC color man Mike Mayock exclaimed as Andrew Luck stood in the pocket — then threw in 2.5 seconds. "He's got all night!" Al Michaels of NBC exclaimed as Nick Foles stood in the pocket — then threw in 5 seconds. Five seconds is a lot by modern football standards, but the acceleration of life makes it seem "all night!"
Look at these announcers, using look-at-me metaphors to describe things. Stick to the facts, fellas!
The magic fairy dust on Nick Foles wore off, while the football gods seemed to prefer the Saints.
So then, did the football gods brush the dust away? Or are the weather gods in charge of FOOTBALL DUST?
Reader John has a story I call CADDYSHART:
When I was kid, my family belonged to this fancy pants country club and insisted on my siblings and I going to the pool every day. It was usually fun, except for all the hoity-toity dickheads and bitches and their awful children. I had a friend there, though, and we were pretty good about raising what hell we could.
There was the pool, a golf course, some tennis courts, and then this big open picnic area in the middle of the everything that never got used. It was basically the middle of the parking lot, surrounded on two sides by parking spaces, one side a fence to a busy street, and the other the entrance to the property. Big trees, lots of shade, some playground equipment, not a lot of privacy. One day, my buddy and I took a break from the pool to eat over at the picnic area. I was 13, I think, a couple years before being diagnosed as lactose-intolerant. I also ate a lot of fast food at this time of my life. The night before, I probably had a bunch of Wendy's, and that morning a big bowl of Cracklin' Oat Bran.
We got our pieces of pizza, headed to the green space and sat at a table, and within minutes I knew I was in trouble. A ten-minute turtle walk through the packed pool area from the closest available bathroom, my buddy just sat there laughing as I started to legitimately freak out, sweating, panicky. He pointed to a tree and said, "Just do it over there." I'm like, NO WAY MAN ARE YOU CRAZY THIS IS A PARKING LOT THERE'S NO PRIVACY AND THERE ARE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!?! He kept smiling and shrugging.
So yeah, fuck it. I waddled my ass over to the tree, pulled my trunks to my ankles, and crouched down. As the feces started to drop, I looked up and realized I made no plan whatsoever for concealing what I was up to, which was, essentially, standing in the middle of a picnic area and shitting on a tree. My buddy was laying down on top of the picnic table, facing away from me, laughing his ass off. I dropped the turds, wiped with the napkins we'd brought and (yes, just like that) ate my piece of pizza with my buddy, both of us sitting no more than thirty feet away from where I just finished taking a rather large open air shit.
When we finished, I tucked the napkins into a folded over paper plate and tossed them in the garbage. We went back to the pool area and I hustled straight to the bathroom to finish wiping, clear the chamber, and wash my hands. All set, all clear, no big deal.
For the next week, though, he and I both knew there was a pile of human turds at the base of that tree in the middle of the picnic area. I came to the pool every day and made a point to check on the pile. Slowly but surely, it vanished. Maggots were at it to all hours, maybe someone's dog took a few bites, and however else it happened, a little over a week later most of it was gone; within another week, it disappeared completely.
Circle of life, I guess.
Cracklin' Oat Bran is pure evil on your bowels, I tell you.
"This week, I like the Panthers (+1.5)—HOME UNDEROOS!—to win at home vice versa the Forty Nighters, and add pants to the NFC Tidal Game! I believe the Panthers defense is vestly underbated! UNGERALDED. I think they're good enough to take down Colin Magictrick! I know I'm in the priority on this one, but I'm willing to go OUT ON A LAMB!"
Emmitt Smith 2013 record: 7-9-2
For Chiefs fans, it's Andrew Luck. When you're desperate to hold onto the lead and the opposing quarterback scores by recovering a freakin' fumble off the helmet of his stupid lineman, there can't be anything more aggravating. It's like five hundred Dallas Clark third down conversions all rolled into one. I'd be livid.
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we'll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year's end or sooner. And now, your updated 2013 chopping block:
- Gary Kubiak—FIRED!
- Mike Shanahan—FIRED!
- Leslie Frazier—FIRED!
- Jim Schwartz—FIRED!
- Greg Schiano—FIRED!
- Rob Chudzinski—FIRED!
- Mike Munchak—FIRED BUT WALKS AWAY WITH HIS DIGNITY!
- Jeff Ireland—FIRED!
- Joe Philbin—START TROLLING CAREERBUILDER!
- Dennis Allen—JUH?!!
I still think the Browns fired Chud with the goal of hiring Josh McDaniels, and the fact that McDaniels turned the Browns down is both a relief and a sign of complete and utter damnation (odds that reports of him not being the frontrunner came out only after he turned the gig down, no?). On one hand, Cleveland avoided having yet another shitty Belichick retread at the helm. On the other hand, this was apparently the best master plan the Browns could muster, which is just fucking terrifying. It's not fair. I genuinely hope that gas siphoner Jimmy Haslam stumbles bass ackwards into the next Tom Landry just for the sake of Cleveland fans. They don't deserve this. The Redskins, on the other hand....
SMASH! From Jason:
These things are from Norway and they're basically just bugles covered with chocolate. It's easy to forget you paid your left nut for a bag (fucking Norway) and eat the entire thing in one sitting.
BORK BORK BORK those look tasty. I would SMASHKILL a bag in half a second. By the way, virtually everyone who travels to Scandinavia comes back telling you how expensive it is. What gives you the balls to have the world's most insanely inflated currency, Norway? Your country is frigid and dark for six straight months. You're lucky ANYONE comes to visit your sorry ass. Bring your currency down so that I don't have to sit on a plane for twelve hours just to empty my bank account for some pickled herring.
Goldmine! From Christopher:
Available at your closest Whole Foods Market for $2.99/sixpack. They now have Gold mine light, as well! Tastes like the sweet, sweet sweat of the Forty Niners cheerleaders.
That actually looks somewhat tolerable. I'd drink that. I mean, if it came from Whole Foods, it's probably fancier than your average shit beer. That place has a grain bar, for crying out loud.
Now, are you ready for another story about Chibuku, the world's worst beer? Here is another encounter from Justin:
I had this "beer" in some random village in Africa while visiting a Peace Corps friend. The Peace Corps was throwing a huge 4th of July party, and they bought all of the beer in the entire village for a burried pig roast and beer cricket tournament celebration. The night before the party, we went to a place called Cafe de la Restaurant (Its real name). Mysteriously, Cafe de la Restaurant only had enough beer to last us about an hour, because they couldn't restock that day. We walked to the other, more scarier bar across the street. No beer. The remaining options were shitty Russian vodka or Chibuku Shake Shake. Chibuku looked hilarious and fun. I made the purchase, and a few shakes later it was ripe for drinking. I immediately spit it out and started gagging. Undrinkable. The terribleness of the taste is only outmatched by the shittiness of the texture.
The only option I had was to steal a local dude's Coke off the table next to me in an attempt to get the taste out of my mouth. I apologized in drunken English, which did not translate well to the local language, and offered my remaining Chibuku to make things right. But the local guy wouldn't even drink it. I then bought a coke as a peace offering and drowned a shitty Russian vodka shot in hopes that the vodka would kill any Chibuku that be lingering in my body. The carton of Chibuku went to a friend. The night escalated with a huge dance party in the middle of the bar where the locals frequently challenged us to dance-offs. The Americans won all of the dance-offs. The night ended with the aforementioned friend trying to drink the rest of the carton. He failed and yelled, "Fuck You Chibuku Shake Shake" while hurling the rest of the carton against the wall. The carton exploded into curdles and liquid. There was nothing else to say or do so we left. Everybody lived happily ever after.
There is a 10,000-word #longread on Chibuku waiting to happen, people.
Time to start thinking about who the leaders will be for the NFL's MVP award. So every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
"Baby, my favorite for NFL MVP is Peyton Manning of the Broncos! You think that smuggled penis in New Jersey was good at blocking traffic? HE'S GOT NOTHING ON EVANS, BABY. I remember back when we were filming Chinatown, I bribed the LA city council into letting Paramount shut down the 405 any time I saw fit. Crooked? YOU BET! Handy? OH GOD YES.
"I remember we were having a wrap party at the studio, and Roman Polanski had a sixteen-year-old cousin there that he was dying to get his hands on. Well, this girl flees the party early, and Polanski tells me that he's gonna burn the film if he can't see her again. So what does Evans do? One phone call and it's gridlock time, baby. I walked with Polanski along the highway until he found his prize, and there they made love in the backseat of a tan Jaguar. Roman let me take photos! I WILL TREASURE THE MEMORY. We forgot to tell the city to end the traffic jam when Roman was finished. I think it took a few months for it to finally clear up. That's the real magic of show business!"
Captain Phillips, which is great and includes a protagonist with a heavy New England accent for MAXIMUM GRIT. Every Tom Hanks movie should feature him stuck in the middle of the ocean.
"Arr! This picture will serve me well on those lonely nights at sea."
Enjoy the playoffs, everyone.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.