Thursday, November 08, 2007

Since I last posted, I've been wondering whether the Steelers are the team to beat the Patriots. On Monday Night Football, provided that you could sit through the forced banter between the three hosts who have no business working with each other and stomach Tony Kornheiser desperately failing to channel Howard Cosel and/or be funny, you'd have seen a team look just about as good as a team can. But it was against the wreckage of the Baltimore Ravens.

The Patriots are slightly better than the Ravens offensively, in the same way that eating Thanksgiving dinner is slightly better than getting kicked in the shins a half dozen times. But the Steelers, more than any of the teams the Pats have played to this point, have all the pieces on defense to give stopping this juggernaut the old college try. Having the pieces and bringing them to the game and having them work the way the coaches drew it up isn't as easy as one could hope, though.

No matter how good they are, the Steelers cornerbacks are all considerably shorter than Randy Moss. And with Moss getting away with offensive pass interference the way no one on this Earth has since Michael Irvin brought his talents to the broadcast booth, he is a disconcerting prospect. And there is the question of whether or not the Steelers can find a way to stop Wes Welker finding every little hole in every zone. If they can't do that a handful of times, they're not going to get the Pats off the field on third down.

Then there is the zone blitz scheme which Dick Lebeau practically invented. It's greatest strength is its capacity to baffle, confuse and frustrate pass protection schemes and force them to break down while closing off the quarterback's outlets. Unfortunately, you can't do that to Tom Brady and his offensive linemen. As a group, the five linemen and their field general do not possess enough intelligence to be baffled, confused or frustrated. And while there are coaching staffs and teams that can come up with plans to outsmart any opponent, is there a plan to outdumb the morons on the Patriots?

On offense, the Steelers can run the ball, even though they didn't do much of that against Baltimore. Even if the size and strength of the Patriots defensive line leads you to believe that Fast Willie Parker will be contained, don't forget that the Steelers can throw Najeh Davenport at the Pats. Even though he's best remembered for being arrested after an ex-girlfriend awoke to discover him befouling her closet in the middle of the night, he still has the potential to run all over the Patriots like Marion Barber did in Dallas.

Pass protection could be a problem, since Mike Vrabel seems to have borrowed Rodney Harrison's fountain of youth. And Big Ben loves to hang on to the ball, even though he moves well in the pocket and shrugs off defenders because of his size and strength, this could hurt the Steelers. If he makes even one mistake when it comes to ball security, that could provide the Patriots with the opportunity to take a lead which no sign seen to date points to them relinquishing.

One thing this secondary for the Pats has yet to face is a deep threat like Santonio Holmes. If the Steelers can protect Big Ben, this could burn the Pats badly. Then again, if any of the ifs I have brought up to this point in the season had amounted to anything more than a small colossal waste of time in this giant colossal waste of time that is this blog, the damn Patriots wouldn't be undefeated and I'd look like less of a tool.

Speaking of tools, it provides an inelegant segue into a group of people who badly need criticism. NBC is saving the environment, whether we like it or not. I was reluctant to blog about this a few days ago, because I expected the Bush Administration to have a change of heart along the lines of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol when Matt Lauer went to Greenland to break the story of global warming, but I was disappointed.

While NBC is making hypocritical gestures like sending a waste of space to Greenland to waste even more time and space than he usually wastes and shutting off a few lights in its studio, a serious question is going unanswered. NBC wants me to be conscious of my carbon footprint (and as a subsidiary of GE, the network is far less a threat to the general environmental health of the planet than a guy who doesn't even own an automobile, right?), but did they really need to send one of their talking heads to Greenland to do it?

I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm assuming that Matt Lauer didn't row himself up to Greenland in a boat. So he must have taken a plane or a boat to Greenland. And since NBC probably didn't buy him and whatever personnel were required to support him and his crew tickets on a Southwest Airlines flight to the middle of nowhere in Greenland, some genius must have chartered a plane or a ship to move those people and their equipment to Greenland, unless of course the natives there have all the necessary equipment for broadcasting "news" across the globe.

So NBC spent how much money, transported how many people and how much equipment to Greenland to get me and a few million other people to think about their impact on fragile ecosystems? It seems like that could have been done more efficiently. What with the fact that these people (unless Matt Lauer can provide heat, shelter, food fresh drinking water and whatever other necessities a film crew in the middle of nowhere Greenland require with the powers of his mind) must have done some damage to the pristine ecosystem they visited, how much do I have to scale back my carbon footprint to offset what they did while they went up there to tell me to scale back my carbon footprint in the first place? Good job NBC.

No comments: