I know that, in this day and age, it's de rigueur to crow about one's rights and how they are being infringed. That said, every time I hear someone reference "freedom of speech" or "right to free speech," I cringe. Not because I favor censorship, mind you, but because there's a 93.337846% chance that the person is talking about an issue that has absolutely nothing to do with the first amendment. Case in point, twice in the last week, I saw the concept of freedom of speech misused in a football-related context.
The first was Hank Williams, Jr., following ESPN's decision to pull his song from the intro to Monday Night Football shortly after his "Hitler" comments about President Obama. (No politics, please.) Before ESPN could decide whether they were going to pull the song for good, Hank spouted off, "By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech[.]" Around that same time, Matt Ufford from Kissing Suzy Kolber did a parody post about Bernard Berrian, which Berrian's representatives took offense to, causing them to contact Ufford about removing the post. In his reply to Berrian's rep, Ufford said, "my post about your client was 'highly inaccurate' because it is very obviously satire and part of my freedom of speech protected under the First Amendment."
Just for grins, let's take a look at the relevant text of the First Amendment. It reads: Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech[.] Note the first word after the colon? Congress. AKA "The Government." (Technically, I should say "AKA 'The Federal Government,' made applicable to state governments via the Fourteenth Amendment, as explained in United States v. Carolene Products Company, 302 U.S. 144 (1938)," but you already knew that.)
The meaning of the First Amendment, then, is not that everyone is free to say anything they want at any time and in any place with no legal repercussions ever; it is that the government cannot punish you for things you say. And even this guarantee has its limits --- there is no freedom of speech for obscenity, inciting people to riot, libel and slander, or willful disclosure of certain confidential government information, to name but a few. In fact, the government is even allowed to place restrictions on the time, place, and manner of your speech (i.e. requiring permits, banning loud demonstrations in certain areas during certain hours, etc.) as long as those restrictions are content-neutral.
I assume you see what I am getting at. Last I checked, neither ESPN nor Bernard Berrian's representatives were government agencies. Because Hank and Ufford were not being "oppressed" (as it were) by "The Man," free-speech concerns were simply inapplicable. (That Berrian's reps were complete assclowns and wouldn't stand a chance in hell of winning had they sued Ufford/KSK is beside the point, though it does make Ufford's decision to take down the offending post seem a little odd. But whatever.)
So why do so many people misuse the concept of freedom of speech? Your guess is as good as mine. I suspect at least part of it is due to this idea that we are all wonderful and unique, and anything we want to say is obviously important enough that we should be allowed to say it, so of course THAT is what the First Amendment stands for. Whatever the reason, though, the fact is that the Constitution only protects you from government intervention. If you say something slanderous about someone, if you go on television and say stupid shit that offends your employer, or if you just walk into your boss's office and tell him that his existence is the best pro-choice argument ever, there will be repercussions. And rightfully so.
I have rewatched the final play of the Texans-Raiders game at least thirty times, both on the DVR and on NFL.com, and I've come to this conclusion: while Matt Schaub shares part of the blame, the biggest reason that play didn't work was Jacoby Jones. Let's break down the film.
Presnap, we see Arian Foster in the backfield beside Schaub, Joel Dreessen and Owen Daniels on the right side of the line (Dreessen is the outermost player), Jacoby Jones in the slot to the left, and Kevin Walter split wide left. The play call is for Foster to swing out into the right flat, Daniels to cut across the front of the endzone, Dreessen to cut across the back of the endzone, and both Walter and Jones to cross one another and run to a spot and turn around with the DBs still behind them.
Because all the action was designed to the middle or left of the offense, my guess is that Foster coming into the right flat out of the backfield was the first option. Schaub looks there first, but an Oakland linebacker looks to have a good angle on the play, and Schaub looks to the other routes.
Working through his progressions, it looks like Owen Daniels was the second option, but Daniels is well covered. Dreessen has not yet made his cut.
Just before Walter and Jones reach their spots and turn around, Schaub feels the pressure and pulls the ball down to scramble and the Raiders' safety, Tyron Branch starts toward Schaub. There are still four seconds on the clock. In a perfect world, Schaub, with his momentum going that way already, fires a bullet low and away to Jacoby in the corner, where either Jones catches it or no one does, leaving time for one more play. He does not do this.
Schaub gives one pump fake to try to freeze Branch, but it doesn't work. There are still 0:04 on the clock. His momentum is still carrying him in Jones' general direction, though Jones has started to break his route. Most annoyingly (in retrospect), at the moment Schaub pump fakes, this is his field of vision:
That would be Kevin Walter with good position on his DB standing in the endzone, looking for the ball. Best I can tell, Schaub never saw Walter because he was focused entirely on Branch to see if he was going to bite on the pump fake.
Here's where the wheels start to fall off. Schaub breaks to his left, but overreacts and turns his shoulders past parallel to the sideline. He is now running slightly away from the endzone. Also of note, Jones has made a break running toward the middle of the field, parallel to the goalline, and Dreessen is a second away from being wide open all alone in the back of the endzone.
Believing that Jones is going to continue on his current trajectory, Schaub turns his shoulders back toward the endzone and floats a soft throw that Jones should easily get. Unfortunately, Jones has again changed his route; he appears to either be attempting to break toward the post or to stop and spin around Michael Huff in order to get back to the corner.
Because Jones gave up the inside position he had on Huff and changed course, Huff was able to cut underneath Jones and easily pick off what was (theoretically) a sure TD pass.
Along with being a great visual representation of the addition of vectors, this picture shows the overarching problem on the play. Once Jacoby broke straight across the goalline, he needed to CONTINUE THAT PATH rather than trying to make a double move of some sort. Schaub had a safety closing in, wasn't going to be able to score with his legs, and was (apparently) not going to throw the ball away to get a second crack at things. While I disagree with the decision not to scuttle the play and try again, I also have to acknowledge that Schaub did not have the luxury of knowing how much time was left once he got outside the pocket, so it's hard to fault him for that.
It's much less difficult to fault Jacoby Jones on this play; literally, all he had to do was either (a) not run and simply hold his position in the corner or (b) continue running the same direction he ran at the beginning. There was no reason at all to try to be creative and fake out the DB. And that's before we even get into the part about how, with Schaub's momentum and how close to the sideline Jacoby was making his move, the chance of completing that pass before Jones wound up out of bounds was exceedingly slim.
I don't pretend like Schaub is the perfect QB, nor would I suggest that he played well overall on Sunday. Something was wrong with his delivery and he was so worried about getting balls tipped that he started jacking with his throwing motion. That said, I'm not about to crucify him for his actions on the final play, considering that a minimally competent WR probably turns that pass into a game winning TD that has people fawning over the Texans' new-found ability to win close games.
And Then There's This.
The Raiders only had TEN players on the field on that final play!
Guh. (h/t socctty)
Two Tangentially Related Thoughts On Marriage.
1. A lawmaker in Mexico is trying to get a law passed that would allow people to get married for two years. This marriage license (marriage learner's permit?) would preemptively list who owned what property, who was to have custody of the children, and other attendant details. When the two-year period ended, the couples would have the option of renewing the license for another two years. The rationale behind the bill is to save couples the high costs and legal nightmares of getting divorced should the union not be all they hoped it would be. Rather than pay for a divorce, couples would know that they were always no more than 730 days (731 if there's a leap year) away from being able to walk away, no questions asked.
I have to say that I like the concept generally, especially as it relates to the initial two-year license. I knew within about six months of my first marriage that it had as much chance for success as Crystal Pepsi. I'd have LOVED the option to know when to fold 'em and walk away in two years. Instead, we were married for a little over three years. Blech.
2. Mentioned in that article is Mexico's high divorce rate, which they calculate by comparing the number of people married in a given year and the number of people divorced in that same year. The flaw in this approach should be obvious: the fact that half as many people got divorced in 2010 as were married does not account for the many, many people who were already married prior to 2010. Yet people make this mistake all the time. (That's where the oft-quoted statistic that "50% of new marriages end in divorce" comes from.)
In reality, and depending on who you ask, the actual divorce rate is somewhere between 20 and 40 percent overall, and the rate for second marriages is lower than that for first marriages. If there was a two-year trial period for first marriages, the rate would almost certainly be much lower than that.
Catches by Jacoby Jones on Sunday.
Targets of Jacoby Jones on Sunday. He caught the first ball thrown to him, gained 9 yards, and then decided that being a huge pile of suck was more fun than trying to be a real NFL WR. (In case I was too subtle, he blows, and I have reached a point of severe hatred when it comes to JJ. He's maddening as a PR, what with his bizarre two-second pause before he runs and his willy-nilly handling of the ball as if he'll die if it touches his torso, and he beyond terrible as a route runner, blocker, and receiver. I honestly cannot think of reason that he should be on this team right now, unless "irritate MDC to the point that he goes on a five-state killing spree" is part of the core objectives of your Houston Texans.
Number worn by both Jacoby Jones and Jacoby Ford, the only two Jacobys in the NFL. Seriously, what are the odds of that? Former Indians 3B Brook Jacoby wore number 26, in case you were wondering.
Rushing yards gained by Arian Foster on Sunday. It was his lowest total in any game where he had at least 20 carries.
Receiving yards gained by Arian Foster on Sunday. It was his first career 100-yard receiving day. His previous career high was 75 yards against the Titans last year.
Jacoby Jones' single-game high for receiving yards. He achieved this last season against Denver. It's the only time he's ever cracked 100 yards.
Highest number of catches in a single game by Jacoby Jones. Kevin Walter has reached or bettered this total 8 times in a Houston uniform. Even Eric Moulds had a 10-catch game in his one abysmal season in Houston. Speaking of Moulds, his 57 catches in 2006 were 5 more catches than Jones has had in any season. And, lest you forget, we HATED Eric Moulds because he was an underachieving bag of suck.
Total number of sacks compiled as a Houston Texan by all non-Mario Williams members of the active roster. Mario Williams has 53.0 by himself. The highest single-person total on the list? Antonio Smith's 12.5.
One thing that I am fascinated by is the idea of the "neglected positive." You have all these words --- for example: disgruntled, impetuous, insufferable, nonplussed, discombobulated, inept --- where the negative prefix (i.e. "non," "im," "in," "dis," "un," and "non") suggests that the root word could stand on its own to mean the opposite of the one you are used to hearing. So someone who was "gruntled" would be content and satisfied with his job. Someone who was "petuous" would not act until thinking the action and its consequences out ahead of time. A "sufferable" person would have a bearable amount of arrogance or conceit. You get the idea.
What I am fascinated by is the absolute non-use of the root word in these situations. It doesn't seem like a word such as "disgruntled" could exist without "gruntled" showing up first, yet ... it seems like it did. The same goes for most words like this, though I assume that at least some are not negations of an existing word. Nevertheless, I propose that everyone try to use the neglected positive of common words in everyday conversations. I mean, the worst that could happen is someone thinks you are a little eccentric. At best, you seem cultured and insightful and whatnot. At worst, you seem a little odd. Chicks dig odd, especially when it doesn't involve coprophagia or Jetsons cosplay.
Chris Johnson and Arian Foster's yards/carry, respectively, in 2011. Johnson has 250 yards and 1 TD in 5 games; Foster has 256 and 1 TD in three games.
Yards per game for Chris Johnson and Arian Foster. Foster's 256 yards and 1 TD have come in three games (or 2.5 games, if you want to be technical about it), while Johnson has 250 and 1 TD in five games.
15; 41; 1.
Chris Johnson's carries, yards, and touchdowns, respectively, against the PIttsburgh Steelers. Arian Foster had 30 for 155 and a TD against a better Pittsburgh defense (that had James Harrison).
Joel Dreessen's career high, single-game yardage total prior to Sunday, when he had 112.
NCAA Fun Fact #1.
Minnesota has given up 103 points in the last two weeks (58 to Michigan, 45 to Purdue). They have scored 17 (all against Purdue). They are ostensibly a D-I team playing other D-I teams in their own conference.
NCAA Fun Fact #2.
Michigan Allowed 31 points to Notre Dame in week 2. They have allowed a total of 44 in their other five games. Their 12.5 points/game is a 25 point/game improvement over last season. Also, at 6-0, they are already bowl-eligible, which is something that only the Houston Cougars (6-0) can say among D-1 schools located in Texas. So, like ... go Coogs?
NCAA Fun Fact #3(a).
Texas has never scored 50 or more points against Oklahoma (They've hit 45 twice: 2005, 2008). Counting Saturday, Oklahoma has cracked half a century five times: 1908 (50), 1973 (52), 2000 (63), 2003 (65), and 2011 (55). Saturday's 38-point margin of victory was the sixth-largest in the history of this series, with Oklahoma being on the winning end of all six of those blowouts (2003: 65-13, 1908: 50-0, 2000: 63-14, 1956: 45-0, 1973: 52-13).
NCAA Fun Fact #3(b).
Texas holds a better record overall in the Red River Shootout, 52-45-5, and they lead in the modern (read: post-1945) era, 33-31-3.
I'm Just Going To Drop This Picture Here Without Comment.
Les Miles is Crazy Like a Fox. A Crazy Fox, Mind You, But a Fox Nonetheless.
Against Florida, slightly into Florida's side of the field, LSU punted, and it was a beauty. The Tigers killed it on the 5. But --- wait! --- a flag on the play for illegal formation on LSU. The Gators, not relishing the idea of facing LSU's D with no room to operate, opt to have the Tigers re-punt.
Enter the evil genius, Les Miles. Same personnel group. Same punt formation. And a picture-perfect fake, with the Australian punter taking it up the left sideline, all the way to the house. Of course, because Les does not exactly focus on the mental part of the game, the punter began gesturing toward the Florida players at the five, and, with the new live-ball-foul rules, it was a fifteen yard penalty from the 5, 1st-and-10 at the 20. Still, you gotta love a coach like Miles, who knew that a rookie head coach like Muschamp would not even consider that LSU might fake instead of just kicking it again.
These Ones Go To 11.
I love mockumentaries. Spinal Tap, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Best In Show ... the fake documentary is one of my very favorite styles of movie. I am much less fond of TV shows that use this style, however, and I think I've figured out why. When I watch "Parks And Rec" or "The Office" (UK or US), I have this nagging thought in the back of my head, asking "why are these people being filmed for a documentary?"
What I mean is, what is it about Dunder-Mifflin that (a) has a documentary crew filming them every day and (b) is so compelling that the same crew also follows the employees around when they leave work? What's the premise of the documentary? When will it end? Does no one find it strange that they can't go have a personal conversation in their own home without some camera crew following them?
Random Archer Quote.
That was fun. Seriously. Not many women could bring me to orgasm in front of my mother. . . I wouldn't think.
A Theory That I Fleshed Out Last Night And Will Now Foist Upon You.
My concern with the Mario Williams injury is not solely because he's my favorite Texan and I feel cheated out of getting to see what he could do over a full season in Wade's defense. That's part of it, sure, but the bigger part is that I have this niggling suspicion that Mario Williams is more important to the 2011 Texans than is Andre Johnson.
My reason is, when Dre is out, this team still has one of the best RBs in the league, one of the Top 5 (or Top 7) TEs, a solid WR in Kevin Walter, and an unknown (but apparently talented) quantity in James Casey. The offensive line is also good, Oakland performance notwithstanding. Losing Dre slows the offense, but does not cripple it.
My fear is that losing Mario will cripple the defense. No one else on the team comes anywhere near the impact that Mario has, both in run defense and as a pass rusher. In limited snaps Sunday, Brooks Reed looked lost at best when he wasn't just rushing the passer. Connor Barwin is solid, and he seems to be improving every week, but he's no Mario Williams. The problem is that Wade Phillips' defensive scheme centers on having that elite pass rusher that teams have to account for on every snap. Without that, I worry that the defense will lack the motor that really makes it go. I hope I'm wrong.
Top 10 Movies That I Quote Far Too Often.
- Pulp Fiction
- Wayne's World
- The Princess Bride
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
- Major League
- Office Space
- The Big Lebowski
Speaking of Fake Punts...
Beyond the fact that the Texans got gashed on the play, what screams out to me from this picture is that Roc Cartwright has run 15 yards at this point and Danieal Manning and Brandon Harris still have no idea this is happening. I dunno, maybe it's just me, but this seems odd.
Why does it seem odd? Well, for one thing, teams have used a fake punt successfully against the Texans in the past. (I suppose the silver lining on that play was that the two defenders running with the right-side gunner realized that there was a fake punt happening. The downside, of course, is that Montell Owens scored on the play due in part to Jacoby Jones' tackling about as well as he plays wide receiver.)
No, I am not saying that the Texans should have expected a fake punt against the Raiders. That's not the type of play that anyone really expects (unless you are playing against Les Miles). I am simply making the observation that, yet again, someone in Joe Marciano's bailiwick showed a lack of awareness. Between Jacoby Jones' catching punts over his shoulder at the five, Jacoby's bizarre two-second-pause-stutter-step that he seems to do on EVERY SINGLE PUNT RETURN, Jacoby's two negative-yardage punt returns Sunday, Brandon Harris's tripping penalty on a punt return Sunday, the blocked punt that set up the Raiders' second score, Dominique Barber's holding penalty on a punt Sunday, Tim Dobbins' holding penalty on a kickoff against Pittsburgh, Brandon Harris' holding penalty on a punt against Pittsburgh, Danieal Manning blocking Dan Sepulveda in the back against Pittsburgh, Brooks Reed's block in the back against New Orleans, a number of missed blocks by Lawrence Vickers as the up man on kickoffs, the fact that the Texans have already allowed five kick returns of 30 yards or greater ... there's a disturbing lack of awareness and fundamentally sound play on special teams.
No, it's not all bad. Jacoby Jones does have the punt return TD against Indianapolis. Danieal Manning has looked really good as a kick returner. The Texans have blocked two FGs. Brett Hartmann's ability to drop the ball inside the 10-yard line is fantastic. I'm just not sure how much credit for those things goes to Joe Marciano; it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realize that the safety you just brought in who is also a good kick returner should be returning kicks for the Texans, nor is it brain science to think, "hey, maybe those ridiculously tall, hyper-athletic guys should be in the middle of our FG-block formation." But, fine, let's give Marciano all the credit in the world for the positive aspects. Does that outweigh the weekly brainfarts and screw-ups? I'm not sure it does.
Oh, yeah, credit where credit's due: notice how the Raiders' sideline (save for one dude) does not give any indication that something surprising is going on. It's like they all contracted Art Shell disease and are now devoid of emotion. Impressive stoicism, yo.
And, as long as I am griping about this play, I should note that the Raiders got away with an illegal block that should have negated the whole thing.
That picture doesn't totally do the block justice, but Dominique Barber was the only Texans with an angle to catch Cartwright, and the longsnapper Jon Condo shoved him from behind, knocking him to the ground. So there.
Random '90s Rap Video.
Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer Inexplicable Decision Of The Week
Much like the decision to name your daughter "Marijuana Pepsi," the ruling on the play where the Raiders had 12 men on the field and Mike Brisiel committed a facemask penalty seemingly made no sense. If there were 12 men on the field, then nothing that happened after that should have counted, right? Or, at the very least, they should have offset, no?
In a word, no. And no. The NFL Rulebook states,
Section 1 Players
Article 1. The game is played by two teams of 11 players each. If a snap, free kick, or fair-catch kick is made while a team has fewer than 11 players on the field of play or the end zone, the ball is in play, and there is no penalty. If a team has more than 11 players on the field of play or the end zone when a snap, free kick, or fair-catch kick is made, the ball is in play, and it is a foul.
Section 3 Fouls by Both Teams
Article 1. If there is a double foul (3-11-2-c) without a change of possession, the penalties are offset and the down is replayed at the previous spot. If it was a scrimmage down, the number of the next down and the necessary line is the same as for the down for which the new one is substituted.
(1) If one of the fouls is of a nature that incurs a 15-yard penalty and the other foul of a double foul normally would result in a loss of 5 yards only (15 yards versus 5 yards), the major penalty yardage is to be assessed from the previous spot.
Note: If a score occurs on a play that would normally involve a 5 vs. 15 yard enforcement, enforce the major penalty from the previous spot.
So, combining those, the 12-men penalty did not stop the play, and, because it was only a 5-yard penalty, while the facemask was a 15-yard penalty, once the play was over, the 5-yarder was declined by rule and the 15-yarder was enforced. Unfortunately, the practical effect of this was that the Raiders gained 6 yards, despite having 12 men on the field. Ugh.
TXT MSGs Of The Week.
Looks like Cush got a "prescription" refill this week.
My shitty FF team has Janikowski & the Texans Defense. Fun stuff. Oh, and you're an asshole for beating me by 0.7 points last week.
Allen needs to be shived in prison.