While Tebow makes strides, Raiders take step back


While Tebow makes strides, Raiders take step back

The Denver Broncos decided for a day not to remake Tim Tebow in their image, and with apologies for the Biblical suggestion, and succeeded by making themselves in his.This is a simplistic analysis that gives Tebow too much credit for Denvers 38-24 come-from-the-afterlife win over Oakland, but if you view Tebow not as the religious conscience of American sport but as a quarterback whose game was perfectly tailored to the college world, this was a significant development.As well as a damned impressive win.

All along it has been postulated that the Broncos have thrown Tebow into the wildly technological world of Sunday afternoons in hopes that they could get through this mutant experiment as quickly as possible. Sunday showed that they are more willing to work with Tebows idiosyncrasies, and become a more collegiate, if not collegial, offensive operation.Were starting to utilize a more collegiate style of offense, head coach John Fox said after watching his team move to with a game of the lead in the freefalling AFC West, where defense is essentially an afterthought. Were not there yet, but were working on it.Yes, they are indeed. Running a version of the classic option series, the Broncos got 163 yards from Willis McGahee and another 117 from Tebow -- both representing more yards than they gained in Tebows 21 pass attempts (when you include the 11 yards in sacks).And the acknowledgement that Tebow is a square peg who isnt going to triumph against a round hole was central to the Broncos win. Their offense isnt fully square yet, but it had more Tebowian edges to it Sunday, and will have to find a happy middle in order to beat the defenses that will learn from what the Raiders did not.Or would not.Either the Raiders didnt prep for it properly (the Broncos did gain 190 in a 45-10 loss to Detroit a week ago, so its hard to imagine how they couldnt), or didnt take it seriously enough. Whatever the reason, they chased a full house from the Coliseum well before seagull time, and have now cast doubt over a promising start to the season. Theyve given up 66 points to divisional opponents at home in successive weeks, and look as tattered and threadbare as they did in the worst parts of last season, and the seven before that.As for Hue Jackson, he offered this very Callahan-ic analysis of his team, its day, and its place: We're not a very intelligent football team right now.Fifteen penalties for 130 yards, 30 more than they accumulated running the ball, was one thing. Allowing 298 rushing yards a year after gaining more than 300 on the ground against the same team was another. They seemed collectively listless, confused, frustrated and, by the time of McGahees game-sealing 24-yard touchdown run, inert.Not intelligent, is entirely a matter of opinion. Not energetic, is indisputable. Clearly this is a rockier road they are going to travel than at first we thought, and Jackson has to find a way to relocate what this team did well early on, or risk losing it as his parade of predecessors have.Because, and this is the important point to make here, what Denver did was not all that radical, or different from what theyd tried to do in the past two Tebow weeks. But they committed to it more Sunday because the Raiders chose not to deal with it in an adult way.Tebow is still an erratic passer, and probably always will be. He will not be a classic anything, but he will thrive against teams that dont believe he can beat them. He put off the Armageddon of re-losing his job, and he is still part of the can-he-or-cant-he debate that gripped the nation early last week.As for the Raiders, they have reached the critical point that they have failed to conquer for most of the last decade -- confronted by their shortcomings in belief and detail work, they must regather themselves or watch the ground rush up to hit them in the face.But if it helps at all, Tim Tebow is praying for them.

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."