AFC East 2012 NFL Preview – FootballSunday, September 9, 2012 7:08
2012 AFC East preview and predictions.
NFL 2012 Preview
Rotten Apples to Moldy Oranges
Let’s compare scandals for a moment.
Forgive me for bringing up the Patriot’s infamous cheating again, but I personally enjoy torturing New England fans–and the comparison to the Bayou Bounty Bonanza is valid and compelling.
Five years ago, Bill Belichick–after repeated warnings from the league dating back to his stint in Cleveland–was caught red-handed taping his opponent’s defensive signals.
Fanatical Patriots fans–if blog comments count–insist, “taping was legal; the Pats were caught taping from the sidelines which is nothing more than a ‘minor violations of the rules.’”
Here are the facts on the Wikipedia summary about “Spygate”…I checked all the original news accounts or stories cited and they were all accurate:
Page 105 of the 2007 NFL Game Operations Manual states, “No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.”
Pretty clear to me what “no video recording devices” means.
Belichick contends if he didn’t use the info during that game, he was abiding by the rules, based on the following:
Belichick stated that he believed that if footage so collected was not used during the game, its collection was legal, as the NFL Constitution and Bylaws stipulate that “…any communications or information-gathering equipment, other than Polaroid-type cameras or field telephones, shall be prohibited…including without limitation…any other form of electronic devices that might aid a team during the playing of a game.”
Sorry BB, I don’t see how you justify using “any video recording device” to tape an opponent’s defensive signals or want us to believe the practice is not clearly and repeatedly prohibited in the rules cited above–especially given this little factoid:
In a September 2006 memorandum sent out by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson…all teams were told that “videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game.”
Interestingly, Belichick insisted the tapes were never used to gain an advantage.
He managed to say it–still does to this day–without snickering.
Belichick attempted to minimize, distort really, the advantage gained by such cheating and his relationship with team videographer, Matt Walsh.
U.S. Senator, Arlen Specter spoke to both allegations on the Senate record:
Specter also released a floor statement following the meeting that mentioned Walsh turning his Patriots sweater inside-out and being issued a generic, not team, credential for the 2002 Patriots-Steelers AFC Championship game.
[In a meeting with Specter] Walsh also noted that he was surprised when he heard of Belichick’s comments that Belichick “couldn’t pick Walsh out of a lineup,” because Belichick had spoken with Walsh on more than one occasion, and Bill’s former wife Debbie gave Walsh a sweater for Christmas in 2001.
The penalties for the Pats’ repeated cheating? $500,000.00 fine and a loss of a 1st round draft pick. Belichick, who is also the Patriots GM, was not suspended. All sanctions were unprecedented in the 90-year history of the NFL.
Remember, we know Goodell destroyed the evidence Matt Walsh provided to the Commissioner’s office.
We know Belichick lied about being unable to “pick Walsh out of a line-up.”
We can make a compelling case Belichick was lying about tapes being used during a game. It was basically proven when Matt Walsh turned over tapes Roger Goodell demanded.
One of those tapes was from the 2002 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If the tapes of the game you are recording are of no use to you “during that game,” then what good could videotaping a conference championship game do you? Teams change signals every year–at least that often. Belichick wants us to believe he only used ill-gotten signals to glean “only” a tendency, here or pattern there–in future contests?
Surely, he and his staff wouldn’t use championship game tapes during halftime…
Even if your naïve enough to answer “Wrong,” that doesn’t change the facts: in 2007 Roger Goodell was in possession of evidence showing the Patriots used championship game footage to gain a competitive advantage–in that game.
“Spy-Gate” directly, irrefutably compromised the integrity of the game.
Only “good soldiers” like the Rooneys and television pundits dismissing the significance of the scandal kept it from getting the legs the Saint’s bounty scandal seems to be running on.
Why does the NFL want to portray the recent Bayou Bounty discovery–given Goodell meting out much harsher sanctions–as significantly more egregious?
Like Belichick, the Saints were repeatedly warned. Like the Patriots, the Saints were caught red-handed on a recording device. The question is: How red?
According to Duke Naipohn, CEO of Sleep Pointe and a researcher who was given access to all the meetings in question, the now infamous recording of Gregg Williams urging his Saints’ defense to target the heads of concussed players and the ACLs of gimpy players was edited and condensed, and included content from a meeting that lasted more than 15 minutes.
Saints players interviewed since the scandal broke insist that they were not instructed to intentionally hurt anyone, while other NFL players do say Williams may have gone over the line. How far over will forever remain a mystery, but if any football fan thinks John Harbaugh and his DC didn’t remind their defense Big Ben had a sore ankle during their last 2011 game–to determine the AFC North Champion–they are seriously delusional.
If I owned the Ravens and knew Harbaugh didn’t tell his players where his opponents were vulnerable he would be fired.
The Saints’ bounty scandal in no way compromised the integrity of the game.
Several players in various media admitted to in-house bounties going back to college football.
If Roger Goodell had investigated, scrutinized, and levied penalties for Spygate that he has to Gregg Williams and Sean Payton he would have risked losing a lot of NFL fans, and the legitimacy of all Patriots victories–including their AFC Championship and Super Bowl wins–would be tainted by and even darker stain.
The irony dripping from comparing the Bayou Bounty Balderdash with the “Spygate” Cover Up is thick with the stench of hypocrisy.
- In one instance Goodell destroys valid pertinent, and compelling evidence that would have exposed the depth of Belichick’s cheating…
- In the Bounty Scandal, Goodell edits and/or alters tape and makes the recording public to, ostensibly, expose a bounty program that any honest fan knows exists in some fashion in many NFL locker rooms.
Any integrity the NFL and its Commissioner had went up in flames with the tapes Goodell burned.
Trace Goodell’s heavy hand from the Big Ben suspension and the lack thereof for much more serious if not criminal behavior by players who repeatedly disgrace the game, to Michael Vick, the Dog Killer, through the league’s two major scandals we’ve examined herein.
Goodell’s actions have nothing to do with what is right or for the “good of the game.” Goodell only cares about his ego and the image of the league.
The image that defines the NFL is “The Shield”…
Talk about irony…
Division Record: 33 – 31
2011 Record: 6 – 10
For the life of me I can’t understand some owners and how they approach hiring a new coach.
Even given my pounding on Belichick’s cheating, I’ve always acknowledged his talent evaluation skills and how he gets the most out of that talent. He’s the best at it since Chuck Noll and Tom Landry. The Steelers, G-Men, Packers, Ravens are the teams who the Rams, Bills, and AFC Souths teams should emulate. It is not rocket science…
- Hire a successful defensive coordinator.
- The successful ones have a record as assistants in evaluating talent they’ve coached. Make a damn phone call!
- Mike Tomlin was only a coordinator for one year but made his rep in evaluating the secondary in Tampa–one of the league’s best five years ago.
- If you hire an OC or STC, determine if they hand a successful hand in evaluating talent, then determine if he is willing to turn the defense over to a preferably successful DC who, most likely, is not in line to be a head coach–and, if he can work with a GM. (Jim Harbaugh/Vic Fangio, Mike McCarthy/Dom Capers?)
Certainly, there are exceptions, but when you see the leagues top four or five most successful teams follow the same pattern, pay attention…
If you had a business worth 800 million dollars wouldn’t you try to copy your more successful competition.
Samsung and Apple, anyone?
So why did the Bills hire Chan Gailey? In their defense, Bill Cowher insisted the Steelers hire Gailey after “The Chin” retired. Thankfully, Pittsburgh followed its own protocol.
Gailey has something to prove this year. He did draft the second best CB, Stephon Gilmore, and nabbed LT Cordy Glenn in a second round steal–the offensive line should be excellent.
The Bills just aren’t deep enough. They have first-string talent to play with anyone, but their depth at the offensive skill positions is suspect–and because of Gailey’s background, they don’t utilize what might be a great offensive line and pound the ball.
Ralph Wilson should have made a couple phone calls.
Predicted Finish: 7 – 9
Major Story: The Bills sign papers to make the move to Toronto.
2011 Record: 6 – 10
Owner Stephen Ross is the AFC’s version of Jerry Jones–he drives a clown car and wants everyone to think it’s a Bentley.
The Fins moved up to the eighth pick of the draft and then draft Ryan Tannehill, a QB who had very little experience on the college level and clearly isn’t ready to start. Joe Philbin passed on Matt Flynn. But, if you look at last year’s starter, Matt Moore, he had a decent year.
Instead of drafting for need–the offensive line, secondary–they let the Pat’s pick Donta Hightower at linebacker and the Bills snag Stephon Gilmore at receiver, two NFL ready prospects on every team’s draft board.
Owners’ and GMs’ obsessions with landing a franchise quarterback often lack vision, intelligence, and common sense.
- Sam Bradford with the Patriots receivers = franchise QB
- Peyton Manning with Steelers OL = broken neck
- Matthew Stafford with no defense, no line, and no Megatron = busted scapula and 20 games missed in first 2 years
- Trent Dilfer with one of the greatest defenses in NFL history = Super Bowl Champion.
It’s not rocket science!!!
Belichick must love coaching in the AFC East.
Predicted Finish 7 – 9
Major Story: Matt Moore lights it up out of the gate. Now what do the Fins do?
New York Jets
2011 Record: 6 – 10
Speaking of clown cars–the Jets need a bus–things are interesting as ever in the Big Apple.
Just when you think Rex Ryan has learned the pitfalls of sticking his own feet into his mouth, he kicks off his shoes, flips off his socks and starts slathering his toes with butter–right before saying something like this:
“I’m not afraid to say it: I think this is going to be an outstanding football team, the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here…I don’t know if that’s the national perspective, but it’s my perspective.”
Really Rex? You had the 25th ranked offense in the NFL and you drafted only one offensive player, an unproven–albeit fast and good blocking–receiver in the first three rounds. You bring in Tebow, you pass on Baylor receiving phenom Kendall Wright and then get all pissy when reporters inquire about the circus-like nature of your team.
Send in the clowns–make sure you get the real short bus.
Predicted Finish: 6 – 10
Major Story: Tebow named starter after the Week 9 bye.
New England Patriots
2011 Record: 13 – 3
I mentioned how much Belichick must love being in the AFC East–it’s the least competitive division in football. No fault of the Patriots, mind you, it’s just that, except for ’09 and ’10, in the last decade the division has been mostly a joke. Since 2002:
- The Pats have won an astonishing eight division championships.
- They placed third in ’02–tied with the Fish at 9 – 7.
- The only year they came in second–I still don’t know how they missed the playoffs–was the 11 – 5 season in ’08.
- In only three of the eight championship-winning years was New Englands’s nearest rival not more than two games behind in the standings.
- In those two more competitive years, the second place team was never better than 9 – 7.
- The Patriots have not lost more than 2 divisional games a year.
Maybe this little collection of data explains New England’s 2 – 3 record in recent Super Bowls; why they’ve played in so many tight, AFC Championship games; and never won a Super Bowl by more than a field goal.
It’s also incontrovertible proof that great teams find ways to win close games.
Still , things don’t get much easier than the AFC Least.
Predicted Finish: 11 – 5
Major Story: Dona Hightower wins Defensive ROY.
Next Up – AFC North
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