Preseason Is Stupid, or Why Football Is Better Than Bear Fighting

5 Sep

Sorry for the prolonged absence. Preseason. Preseason is quite stupid. But it’s over now, and we survived unscathed!

Well, except for all the injuries. And the return to vintage 2012 defensive football in week three against the Texans, or whatever melodramatic nonsense you’re in the mood to put out there right now. But we’ll get to that. First, let’s focus on the positive developments we’ve seen since my last post a month ago.

Charlie Brown doesn’t look all that bad, right? He gets bullrushed into his own passer only like once every quarter or so, which is an improvement. (Besides, Payton’s system still devalues guards, whatever that means, and Drew doesn’t need tackles anyway because he’s a sack repelling superhero. At least that’s how the experts explain it to me.)

Mark Ingram can run on a non-linear path longer than 3 yards! High. Motherfucking. Five. I don’t want to hear your hedging bullshit either. Maybe Pierre would have taken that screen to the house. Fuck you. Mark Ingram took a screen twenty-something yards I think in a fake game against a real opposing defense, and it seemed like it was 80, because Mark Ingram, and it took like 12 seconds and there were changes in direction (Eat your heart out, Marshawn Lynch!) and if that doesn’t make you happy you should stop being such a dick.

We got us a shiny new outside linebacker! Good thing, too, what with the one starting outside linebacker with no knee and the other starting outside linebacker that probably should have been a backup outside linebacker with another fucked knee, and the backup outside linebacker that probably would have taken the starting job by now if we were still crowdsourcing starting football rosters like we did back in the Good Ole Days when he was discovered on the message boards by a very thorough GM, except for the fact that he’s never really played in actual games as a linebacker very much and he’s also hurt right now, and then also on account of the other backup outside linebacker with the cool first name that also can’t seem to find the field.

But long gone are the days of trying to fill two spots left vacant by the injured backups to the injured starters at a key position on a brand new defense. No, sir, we only have to worry about filling one of those spots with a guy you hadn’t heard of three weeks ago, because we signed a linebacker you hadn’t heard of two weeks ago, and he comes from the haven of future great Dome Patrol linebackers that is the San Francisco Forty Niners, bitches! How could that possibly go wrong?

I know some of you technologically-challenged readers don’t peruse twitter, so I’m here to inform you: Parys Haralson is the real deal. See, the best of the best of Saints bloggers have been watching his film for years now, for some fucking reason. They’ve studied this guy just in case the 49ers ever drafted a young linebacker and the Saints had to deal with 14 injuries in one preseason and the inevitable trade happened.

Hell, I should have seen it coming too. All the signs were there. But I didn’t, so I have to rely on the strong takes from the film junkies. They fall into two categories:

1. Parys Haralson is the real deal (majority opinion as well as mine, as noted above). It’s really amazing if you think about it. Every bit of Game Film I found in my google search features him making tackles and breaking up passes and sacking quarterbacks. The dude is involved in every damn play. It’s practically like you’re watching a highlight reel! But it’s not a highlight reel! It’s Game Film!

2. Parys Haralson is a fucking waste of time and the lost 7th-round draft pick will set the franchise back 10 years because Marques Colston.

Kenny Vaccaro seems like maybe he’s good. And he likes to hit people at practices when you’re not supposed to, I think, sort of or something. More importantly, he’s a self-important dick who’s pretty good and hits people. Most importantly, every time he opens his mouth he comes off as an unadulterated fucking asshole. This guy is going to piss people off. He’s going to get suspended, and he’s going to cost us mightily sometimes in 15-yard increments.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a pretty big Kenny Vaccaro fan.

If all that wasn’t enough, the Ryan defense came out of the gates lookin’ GOOD! It seemed like the Chiefs’ offense just didn’t know how to move the ball. The Raiders’ offense looked completely inept!

The Houston game was a little tougher going. But it was a win. No, forget the final score. 17-16 at the half! That’s an entire fake half win against a real team, and that’s all you can ask from anyone in August. The defense did what it’s supposed to do, which is make the other team score less points than its own.

As Roman Harper will tell you, they made the plays when they needed to make plays. You know how they say, bend but don’t break sometimes. Show up big in big moments.

Do your job. Get lucky if they’re doing good and the quarterback might throw a really bad pass. Tread lightly with a big stick. Mottos!

Now some will crunch the “statistics” and “numbers” and “analyze” them and tell you that they indicate that the defense might not be good and actually they’re kind of “terrible” and “frightening”. Now some of these charts are fascinating, and it’s certainly interesting to see how, on the play-by-play level, teams get to wins and losses and worst-overall-ever labels. But when you find yourself wondering, “Is this defense good enough?” I’m asking you to ignore these doomsayers (no, read their blogs still, they’re very entertaining, just don’t get all doomsayery with them) and pay attention to what really matters.

For those of you who might not have been with us last year, this seems like a good time to explain our patented defensive metrics. See, while it hasn’t quite become as viral as I’d hoped, we here at The Angry Who Dat Dot Com have developed an all-inclusive defensive metric called Points The Other Motherfuckers Actually Scored (PTOMAC™), and it embraces every facet of defensive performance as it affects the outcome of the game. It’s calculated by looking at the scoreboard, asshole.

Now it’s early in the season, and we’re about to get a little more complicated, so just take the leap of faith with me and hopefully I won’t lose you. (This might be the bit that even experienced PTOMAC™ veterans need a little refresher on.) The beauty of PTOMAC™ is that if you take a defense’s gameday PTOMAC™ total, and subtract the other defense’s PTOMAC™ total, you have something called PTOMAC™ Opponent-Index Net Total, or POINT™. A positive POINT™ predicts a loss. A negative POINT™ predicts a win. No, that’s not counter-intuitive.

Of particular note: this index is proven to provide 100% predictability as to wins and losses, making it the most advanced defensive metric on the internet.

So build all the charts you want. Calculate third-down conversion percentage, and first down rushing yards, and quarterback rating differential under pressure or whatever you guys are tracking nowadays. That shit is interesting. When I understand it.

Just know this: when your indices and my PTOMAC™ differentials do not predict equivalent outcomes, when they trend differently, when they make you feel all weird in your stomach in a different way, mine will always be correct. Every time.

So, in conclusion, shut the fuck up about stats and enjoy the wins.*

*Don’t shut up, Ralph. We love you.

Well, that about covers the preseason. SUMMARY: The defense might be good, or maybe not. Injuries suck and trades are good or maybe terrible. Mark Ingram might not be infuriating, and Kenny Vaccaro’s an asshole. Things are looking up. And we’re like 4 or 5 days from playing the Falcons at home in the season opener – I’m not sure because I don’t know yet what day I’ll set this post to publish, as I’ll be snorkeling or some shit in Freeport or Nassau while you read this bullshit in your little cubicle. That probably sucks.

You should let all that go, though. Football Happen As It Do, no matter your opinion or prediction. So just enjoy it. Embrace the utter spectacle that we take for granted so often: the Superdome on gameday. It’s that spectacle, the insanity that is a Saints home game, that brings me to my final bitch before Kickoff 2013.

 

You’ve got it all wrong, Junior. That’s a terrible comparison. It’s just not fair. To us.

First of all, the Roman Coliseum, by modern estimates, held something like 50,000 people. WEAK. More important than sheer numbers, though – to the fans at least – is, well, the fans’ mindset. You can’t convince me that these Roman fucks really cared what happened down there between Drutismus and that big fucking bear they dragged in from Gaul. It’s been a while since I watched the historical documentary starring Russell Crowe, but it seems like the crowds were rooting for Maximus by the end. I’m thinking that’s largely horseshit. Most of those guys couldn’t even stay alive long enough to build a fanbase. I mean, the mob wanted entertainment, and they wanted blood, but let’s be honest: Bovius and Vistalus didn’t retire to a bar after Drutismus got his head torn off by a lion and mope about it. They didn’t dwell for two years afterward about how he had the lion on the fucking ropes, man, one more cut, and he just couldn’t finish!  What if he hadn’t taken that terrible angle?  What if he swings his sword just a few seconds later? Why was Jenkins in single coverage against that fucking lion in the first goddamn place? No, they saw blood, they cheered, they got drunk, and they moved on with their lives.

That was the Roman Coliseum: 50,000 people that really didn’t give a shit what the outcome was as long as it was fun. Sounds a lot like a Falcons game to me. HEYOOO!

Meanwhile, in 2013, we’re all a bunch of assholes who take this stupid game way too seriously, and we’re pissed a year later over some dude we never met firing another dude we never met for a year and making a team full of guys we mostly never met like, lose more games than they should have probably.

It’s not rational. It’s not even healthy. But it’s real. I won’t speak for you, but I’m still pissed, I can’t let it go, and even if I could, I’m not sure I’d be ready to any damn way.

Because the rage and hate and resentment I feel over that bullshit a year later makes the start to this season that much more special.

And don’t think Payton and his team don’t understand it too. As Reid at SaintsWin observed regarding Payton’s recent admission that he feels like he got screwed (I’m paraphrasing there):

Aside from his simply reacting to being railroaded and scarlet-lettered, Payton, perhaps, more specifically intended to illustrate publicly that he hasn’t rolled over, that he hasn’t lost his nerve, that he hasn’t been neutered by Goodell, and that when the moment necessitates, he’s capable of acting not out of fear, but instead out of fearlessness, intact with that familiar intrepid streak encapsulated by Ambush, the ballsiest of decisions in the most precarious of situations, with the biggest of prizes on the line.

Oh, yeah. That’s a badass sentence. More specifically:

“Never Forget,” or what-have-you, might not be the central message, but there’s an elemental aspect to it that’s undeniably present. They might not say it publicly. They might not even say it to each other. But they’re sure as shit thinking it.

Aren’t you?

Yes. Yes, the hell you are.

Because we’re not asshole Romans. Whether it makes sense or not, we give a fuck what happens out there. We take it personally. We lose sleep at night over it. This bullshit makes us cry. And when we congregate in the Benz, a building that, historic nostalgia aside, makes the Roman version look like some pussy amateur shit, we become a really pissed-off, 70,000-strong drunken writhing mass of rage and resentment and alcohol and noise and really inappropriate profanity because there’s a kid right there but hell I didn’t see him and it’s the fucking falcons man and fuck them anyway, an historic, seething collection of hate unlike anything any Roman slave ever encountered in his days slaying tigers and shit, and Junior Galette damn well better not forget it.

This is different. This is, as even a Falcon fan can assure you, the beginning of a redemption narrative.

 

Let the butthurt flow, Godfrey.

So, sure, you might be sick and tired of hearing about bountygate. You might just want it to go away, to forget it, to leave it as some relic of a shitty past that after 2013 will seem less real somehow, to let the hope of the new season wash it away into irrelevance. But you’d be doing yourself a disservice, my friend. You’d be robbing yourself of part of what makes this Sunday special.

The comparisons to the Rebirth game have already been made; they will be made by media types, and they will largely be melodramatic and overwrought. But if you get past the stunning discontinuity in a comparison between redemption narratives after something as horrific as Hurricane Katrina and an inconvenience as trivial as a year of mediocre football, there is a vital similarity to be found beyond the obvious (return to the Dome after something shitty, Falcons as living strawmen): the game as something inseparable from the events that make it important.  You should read Bradley Warshauer’s Katrina Day re-living of the Rebirth game, but first, a relevant excerpt:

The stuff taking place on the field had a direct relationship to the stuff that had gone on and which was still going on every day. That’s the thing national commentators who talk about the distraction the Saints offered us back then don’t understand. The 2006 Saints weren’t a separate narrative pulling us out of our stressful lives; they were part of that same story.

As Reid astutely pointed out, Payton and Company are doing everything they can to separate this year from the last; yet we know that they cannot simply forget the circumstances of 2012.  We, as fans, certainly cannot and will not.  Like 2006, no matter the vast separation in gravity of the two events, 2013’s home opener will not simply be a new chapter in the history of this franchise.  Today is nothing without yesterday.

To be clear, Falcons Hate is a beautiful thing. Destroying the hopes of Falcon fans is a valiant cause. In any year. But this year, it’s more special. Because it’s about more than the Falcons. The Falcons are a prop, a patsy, a tackling dummy. As they were in 2006. Like 9/25/2006, this Falcons game isn’t a return to normalcy, it’s a shift to a new strangeness, a brilliant one-day aberration in contrast to the miserable fucking dark strangeness of 2012: it’s an opportunity for release.  This time, a release from simple football-related rage, at least, instead of breathtaking real-life misery and heartbreak.

So start early Sunday morning.  Drink. Think about 2012. Don’t forget it. Not yet. Read the book if you must. Get pissed. And from kickoff to the final whistle, let 2012 course through your veins like that Heisenberg shit. Fuck the Falcons. Fuck Roger Goodell. Peter King and the rest of the Bountygate 12, fuck them. In attendance at the Dome or in your living room or at the sports bar, let ‘em have it. Everyone will understand. If Matt Ryan’s stupid grin doesn’t piss you off enough for your tastes, picture Rog’s fat rich privileged asshole face inside that helmet every time he comes on the screen. Let the frustration out, break shit if you must, and when the clock hits zero and Roddy White and the asshole 0-1 Falcons are on their way back to their shitty little Applebee’s-infested rathole of a city, you can relax and let 2012 go. I promise, it’ll feel better if you wait.

Until then, stay angry. It’s more fun that way.

2 Responses to “Preseason Is Stupid, or Why Football Is Better Than Bear Fighting”

  1. arcjones September 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    awesome rant… I am already finding a place to watch the game, (they are always on the same time as the dolphins in south florida) no worries though I am so ready to stuff the crap out of those dirty birds. WHO DAT BABY!!

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    […] Preseason Is Stupid, or Why Football Is Better Than Bear Fighting | The Angry Who DatSorry for the prolonged absence. Preseason. Preseason is quite stupid. But it’s over now, and we survived unscathed! […]

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