You should probably be panicking right now.
No doubt you will see many columns today about how there is no need to panic after your team loses a single NFL game. This has become the go-to Week 1 column in recent years for those in the football media who like to think they are calm, voices of reason who sit above the common fan. But these columns are dumb and wrong. Even they are written with good intentions — to assuage the masses, prevent riots and maintain the peace — they are still incorrect. Because all logic, all facts, all historical context says that if you root for a team that sits at 0–1, you should totally be freaking out.
Less than half the teams that lose their season opener go on to make the playoffs. That’s a fact. Here’s another one: 73% of Super Bowl champions during the past 11 seasons won their opener. And now for the most damning piece of truth of all: The Cleveland Browns have lost their kickoff game 11 years in a row.
So the evidence says that if your team lost its opener, at best its Super Bowl title chances are a long-shot and, at worst, they’re the new Cleveland Browns. Uhhh … what is not to panic about there?
Take any of the Week 1 losers and you can find any number of reasons to tear your hair out and take up chain smoking. The Steelers? Don’t let the one-score loss to the defending Super Bowl champions on the road without their top running back and No. 2 receiver fool you — this team is doomed. If your defense is so bad you don’t even know to cover Rob Gronkowski, you have no chance. Pittsburgh should be Panicsburgh right now.
The Seahawks? They’re basically on a three-game losing streak if not for Mike McCarthy and Brandon Bostick, the once-dominant defense is a sieve without Kam Chancellor and Pete Carroll is seemingly incapable of making a correct late-game decision. The people of Seattle don’t need coffee today. All-natural panic should get their blood pumping.
The Ravens clearly have no offensive weapons and their best defensive player is out for the season. Panic. The Bears still have Jay Cutler. Panic. The Texans benched their starting quarterback in the first game of the season, and the Colts got blown out by Buffalo and feature no defense or offensive line. Panic and panic. The Saints have issues across the board, and the Lions and Giants both just gave away easy wins that they will never get back. Panic, panic, panic.
Fans of the Browns, Jaguars, Raiders, Buccaneers and Washington would have every right to panic, too, but they never should have expected any success anyway. If those fans are panicking, it should be over how hopelessly naive they are.
Either way, nearly half of NFL fanbases should be in full-on Panic Mode right now, with a full 50% trembling and in a cold sweat after Monday night’s Eagles-Falcons and Vikings-49ers games are decided and two more hopeless losers identified.
Panic cannot be talked away or reasoned with, no matter how many football writers try. Panic is the new American default emotion. As football became America’s true pastime in recent decades, panic rose to dominate American society at the same time. Just look at Internet comments sections or Facebook posts or email forwards or the quotes from people running for elected office. Everyone is hysterical. Football and panic go hand-in-hand. Can you really even call yourself a football fan if you’re not freaking out this very instant? Can you call yourself an American?
Think about it: More than 6% of the season is over now — that’s like a baseball team starting out 0–10. Would that not be worth panicking about?
Of course it would be.
Don’t listen to people who tell you to not panic. They don’t know what it’s like to be fan. If they can convince you not to panic after one game, what are they going to tell you next: That’s it’s ridiculous to get emotionally invested at all in a bunch of guys you’ve never met who are wearing costumes and playing a game? Once people start thinking that way, the NFL and all of sports will go away and all we’ll have left in life is our lives.
That would be something to really panic about.
Quote of the Week
“After I have a couple beers.” — Rex Ryan, Bills head coach, when asked when he’ll start preparing for Buffalo’s Week 2 matchup against the Patriots.
Oh, Rex, you’ll never learn. Haven’t you ever watched spy movies? Spies always get information from people when they’re drunk. You’ll knock back a few at a Buffalo watering hole, start feeling loose, and strike up a conversation with a friendly man a few stools down. He’ll ask about your family and your job. Normal stuff. Then he’ll ask you a few questions about your playbook, you’ll say too much, way too much, and then that man will pay for your drinks and leave. You’ll have disclosed all of your secrets to a Patriots spy. You’ll lose by 40 points next week and it will be all your fault.
Good job on the Week 1 win, though.
Stat of the Week
The Titans season-high for points in a game last year was 28. That came in a home loss to the Browns. In fact, Tennessee hasn’t score more than 28 points in a game since Week 15 of the 2013 season (a home loss to the Cardinals).
But after one half with Marcus Mariota at the controls, the Titans put up 35 points. And, so, I think we’ve finally found Mariota’s “red flag.”
In fact, he has red flags plural. And they are these:
1) He’s a show-off who runs up the score;
2) He may have peaked too early in his NFL career.
Get rid of this guy, Titans. He’s not worth the hassle.
This Week’s Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans — 13-for-16, 209 yards, 4 TDs
Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers — 62 total yards, 2 TDs
Marcel Reese, RB, Raiders — 3 receptions, 26 yards, 2 TDs
James Jones, WR, Packers — 4 catches, 51 yards, 2 TDs
Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns — 3 catches, 89 yards, TD
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers — 5 catches, 110 yards, 2 TDs
Press Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
To Mike Tomlin: “Not being able to communicate with your coaches aside, did you enjoy the radio broadcast by Bob Socci, Scott Zolak and the entire team on 98.5: The Sports Hub?”
To Mike Pettine: “Is there any silver lining in today’s game, knowing that the Browns made history by setting the NFL record for consecutive season-opening losses?”
To Chuck Pagano: “Do you think your team has what it takes this year to make the playoffs and earn a participation banner?”
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
What kind of question is this? Of course he should have thrown it on fourth down in overtime, because running it didn’t work. And in the Super Bowl he should have run it because passing the ball didn’t work. And trick plays are idiotic when they don’t work and genius when they do. Also, teams should stick with plays that are working, unless the other team shuts it down and then they should have changed up the play-calling more. Always remember, too, that going for it on fourth down is the right call when it works and that it’s hopelessly stupid to have a kicker attempt a long field goal if he misses it. Coaching is easy.
A Random Number of Random Things
1. During Peyton Manning’s last five games as starting quarterback of the Broncos, playoffs included, he has three touchdown passes, seven interceptions, and a 67.6 quarterback rating. During Tim Tebow’s time as starting quarterback of the Broncos, playoffs included, he had 13 touchdown passes, six interceptions and a 74.6 quarterback rating. Manning was also out-rushed by his predecessor over this time period, 686 yards to minus-16. Tebow and his ilk often are criticized in the mainstream for putting faith over science and facts and numbers. Well, I just gave you numbers that show Tebow is a significantly better quarterback than Peyton Manning is today. If you think otherwise, you’re just going on faith. (I didn’t mean to blow your mind in a Week 1 column. Please gather your mind chunks from around the room, place them back in your skull and come back next week for the Week 2 Hangover. Thanks!)
2. The Browns have lost 11 openers in a row, and it’s hard to put into words exactly how skilled they are at crushing their fans hopes and dreams before each season really even gets going. But as the saying goes: “A six-second Vine paints a thousand words.” And nothing captures a new Browns season better than something going from promising to awful in an instant.
3. Washington reportedly played RG3 as a scout team safety this week. I guess this vindicates former Texas coach Mack Brown and proves he was right all along to recruit RG3 as a defensive back and not a safety. It’s time to get that guy an NFL job. In fact, he’d be a great fit in Washington once Jay Gruden gets fired.
4. Word is that Dan Snyder and the people he employs are trying to humiliate RG3 so he quits. That’s to be expected of an organization run by terrible human beings. But can the networks please stop showing Griffin on the sideline after every good or bad play? He’s a third-string quarterback who doesn’t dress. His reactions shouldn’t and don’t matter. Please stop trying to catch him in an emotion that can make him look bad. Don’t help Snyder smear the guy. O.K., thanks, networks. Thanks for listening. Everything else you do is absolutely outstanding.
5. Matt Cavanaugh is Washington’s quarterbacks coach. He has overseen the final destruction of RG3 and whatever you would call Kirk Cousins’ development. Before coming to Washington, he was Jay Cutler’s quarterback coach in Chicago. Before that, he was Mark Sanchez’s quarterbacks coach with the Jets. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator at Pitt, where he managed to make a Big East offense featuring LeSean McCoy pedestrian. Before that, he was offensive coordinator of Brian Billick’s Baltimore Ravens, which should have ended his career full-stop. I’m not sure if it’s more surprising that Cavanaugh keeps getting jobs or that someone this skilled at ruining quarterbacks has never been employed by the Browns. I suppose that’s his next job.
6. If I had a kid who made Eli Manning Faces, I would spend all day telling him terrible news for my own personal enjoyment. I suppose this would make me a bad parent, but big deal. That’s one of the things I’d tell the kid to earn the delicious Eli Faces: “You are stuck with an awful father.” Then I’d laugh and laugh and laugh.
7. Hey, who out there loves Houston Texans football andShakespeare?! I know. We all do!
Bill O’Brien: “A quarterback, a quarterback! My Watt for a quarterback!”
Texans GM: “Keep losing, my coach. And I’ll draft you a quarterback.”
O’Brien: “Yes! I have set my life upon Mallett, and now I’ll watch this season die.”
8. It appears that new Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio decided to dye his hair blonde. He is a 52-year old man.
This after sports radio host Colin Cowherd debuted a horrific dye job during college football coverage on FOX Sports after moving to California. The California water ban really needs to be expanded to include all fluids, including bottled dyes. If we’re all going to die of thirst, at least don’t make our last vision be of terrible hair.
9. Panthers star linebacker Luke Kuechly got hurt on Sunday. Ravens defensive leader Terrell Suggs got knocked out for the season. Clearly the NFL needs to do away with the preseason and Week 1. Let’s just have a 15-game season and then no one will ever get hurt. Hooray!
10. Nick Foles, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy all played well and won games on Sunday. Marcus Mariota had maybe the best debut ever by an NFL quarterback. It wouldn’t be fair to judge Chip Kelly’s moves after one game, but if the Eagles lose their opener Monday night, I implore you to listen to Philadelphia sports radio for the entertainment experience of your life.
11. The best part about Sunday’s action was that it didn’t include the Patriots. So we were free from DeflateGate talk or coverage of any new Patriots-related Gates, Headset or otherwise. I propose we have the Patriots always play on days other than Sundays so NFL fans can continue in this bliss of NFL Sundays having nary a mention of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and friends. Plus, if the NFL is going to keep us all home from church to watch football, the least they can do is not celebrate pure evil on Sundays, right?
12. Fans: the dumbest people?
Not you guys, though! You’re great! Please read again next week.