We introduced the "margarita theory" of preseason football this past weekend to sum up the faith we put in exhibition games: none.
With that said, the first full weekend of preseason games did raise some interesting questions as we consider how the 2006 regular season might unfold.
Should Herm Edwards be coaching high school football?
You gotta give some credit to the guy who gave us this famous contribution to football philosophy: "Hello! You play to win the game."
Or how about this little addition to gridiron lore from Kansas City training camp last week: "When you smell the popcorn and see the crowd fill the stands, it's time to play football."
Anyone who played high school football knows that clichés are the foundation of the sport at that level. We all know that "there's no 'I' in team." And, when life backs you up against a wall, it's always helpful to remember that "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."
While it works with testosterone-fueled 16-year-olds, wethinks it's not as effective a tool in the pro ranks. Still, Edwards tosses out more clichés than your average assistant offensive line coach at TinyTown High. Coupled with a healthy love affair with the camera and the microphone, you get the epitome of the quote-friendly coach who the media – and PR-conscious owners – fawn all over.
There's a reason why Kansas City dished out $12 million (over four years) for a guy who's just a shade below average according to the only coaching stat that matters. His career record is 39-41 (.487) and 2-3 (.400) in the postseason. His five years with the Jets included the franchise's only two losing seasons since the Rich Kotite Era ended in 1996. But the media loves him because he's always ready with a high-school-coach-style quote.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts, as you might imagine, are not so kind.
Edwards takes over a consistent offensive powerhouse in Kansas City. He has one of the most explosive ballcarriers in recent memory in Larry Johnson, while Trent Green is consistently one of the most productive and most unheralded quarterbacks in the game.
But an Edwards-led offense needs all the help it can get. Despite all his chummy, high-school pigskin witticisms, Edwards, a defensive specialist, has shown no ability to oversee effective offensive teams. The Edwards Era Jets ranked in the top half of the league in scoring just once (15th in 2002) and cracked the Top 20 in total offense just once as well (12th, in 2004).
The Herm Edwards Era in Kansas City got off to an inauspicious offensive start this weekend. Playing against Houston, the worst team in football last year, the Chiefs generated just 172 yards of offense (66 through the air) and 11 first downs in a 24-14 loss.
We won't say that Edwards should be coaching high school football. But if the Kansas City offense under Edwards performs the way the Jets offense did under Edwards, we're fairly certain he will be coaching high school football in the near future.
Should Clinton Portis be switched to defense?
Portis is a fine running back for the Redskins. In fact, before the 2005 season, he earned a prominent spot on our list of the game's top ballcarriers. He then proved he belonged with a franchise-record 1,516 rushing yards last season.
However, his smackdown tackle of Cincy defensive back Keiwan Ratliff after an interception was worthy of highlight-reel footage for months to come. Unfortunately, he separated the wrong guy's shoulder – his own.
Portis does expect to be back in time for the regular season.
When he does come back, the Cold, Hard Football Facts would love to see him on both sides of the ball. Of course, we'd like to see every NFL performer play both ways.
What happened to the historic hurricane season we were told would unleash its fury on the Americas this summer?
It seems pigskin "pundits" are not the only ones prone to misleading preseason hype. It turns out the same phenomenon afflicts the weather "pundits," too.
The mainstream media – the same folks who gave you the dreaded pigskin "pundit" – were in their glory back in May, as one "expert" after another predicted one of the worst hurricane seasons in history.
Needless to say, the weather "pundits" and global-warming worshippers are disappointed by the lack of death and destruction they had hoped for this year, if only because it would have "proved" them right. In fact, they're probably disappointed by the fact that they can't blame natural, age-old fluctuations of solar activity, water temperatures, the hurricane cycle and the global climate on certain political leaders. With hurricane season half over, Atlantic waters have produced just three named storms and zero (count 'em, 0) hurricanes – numbers far, far below hysterical pre-hurricane-season predictions. But you know what's going to happen: We'll soon be told that global warming – caused solely by the United States and, more specifically, by a single person in the White House – is to blame for the unusually quiet hurricane season.
Sure, it's not football, but it proves something that loyal readers of the Cold, Hard Football Facts have long known: "Pundits" have no f'in idea what they're talking about.
Score: Mother Nature 1, Weather "Pundits" 0
Is the wrong guy starting in Jacksonville?
Byron Leftwich is a promising young talent who helped guide Jacksonville to a 12-4 record last season. His ability to protect the football – Leftwich tossed just 5 INTs last year – was key in a league where INTs translate directly into losses.
But he has all the mobility of a beached whale, has struggled with injuries and, to put it most bluntly, has proven no better than his backup, David Garrard. In fact, one could argue that the Jaguars might be better off with the far more athletic Garrard leading the team. Each quarterback saw significant playing time last year, so we have a pretty decent basis for comparison.
Here's a look at how the Jaguars fared last year under each quarterback:
Points per game
Completion percentage
Passing yards per game
TD passes
Yards per attempt
Rushing yards per game
Rushing TDs
Granted, the Jaguars had a pretty easy schedule with Garrard at the helm. Their five wins came against Arizona, Cleveland, San Francisco, Houston and Tennessee.
The Jaguars under Leftwich, meanwhile, beat NFC champion Seattle, AFC North champion Cincinnati and Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh (in overtime, with Tommy Maddox playing in place of Ben Roethlisberger).
But Leftwich struggled in his post-injury return in the playoffs against New England. He led the Jaguars to a mere three points, against a defense that couldn't stop anybody for much of the season, and completed just 18 of 31 passes for 179 yards, 5.8 yards per attempt, 0 TDs and 1 INT.
In Jacksonville's first preseason game, a 31-26 win over Miami, Garrard certainly played better than Leftwich. Garrard completed 6 of 11 passes for 172 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs in a backup role. Starter Leftwich was 6 of 12 for 100 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Leftwich played almost the entire first half (five series), leading his team to 10 points. Garrard was in the game for just three possessions, leading his team to 14 points.
Is Brett Favre having third thoughts?
The Cold, Hard Football Facts position on Brett Favre has been well-documented on several occasions: He was once one of the all-time greats; today, he's just a shadow of his former self.
The early part of the offseason was a tragi-comedy marked by Favre's inability to decide whether he should return to football, and Green Bay management's ball-less inability to force the issue.
In Green Bay's preseason opener, a 17-3 loss to San Diego, the Packers looked like a ship without a rudder. The offense was impotent and the OL displayed more holes than the cheesehead hats worn by Packers fans. Favre was routinely pressured and was sacked on back-to-back plays midway through the first quarter.
The Packers generated just 49 offensive plays and did not score a single point until their lone field goal came well into fourth-quarter scrub-squad time.
It was clear to everyone back in April that Favre was unsure about returning for a 16th NFL season. His performance – and his team's performance – certainly did little to make him or Green Bay fans feel better about the prospects for 2006.