Quotes of the Week
“If we’re not starting fast, it’s my fault. Put that on my shoulders. I’ll take it. We’re not starting fast because of me.”
—Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, and truer words this season have not yet been spoken. Griffin’s team has fallen behind in the first two games 33-7 after 32 minutes, and 31-7 after 38 minutes.
“Everybody talks about us out there on the West Coast and Southern California, but we got a lot of gritty, tough guys. We knew what this game was going to be. We knew it was going to be a track meet from the standpoint of how fast they were going to go offensively. We kind of no-huddled the no-huddlers as we got going.”
—San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, after the Chargers came east on a short week and outlasted Philadelphia 33-30.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
At Stanford, the official title of offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren is “Andrew Luck Director of Offense.” A Stanford booster endowed the position; another endowed the “Willie Shaw Director of Defense” (defensive coordinator Derek Mason) and David Shaw’s head coaching job is called the “Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football.”
All three positions, plus the endowed strength coach job, have not been funded in their entirety by contributions. But wealthy and enthusiastic fans of the program—such as Freeman, a Los Angeles investment executive and Stanford trustee who has contributed millions to the university—have funded much of the salaries of those coaches.
Stat of the Week
We will all debate now whether Johnny Manziel will be a good NFL quarterback. I feel strongly he’ll be playing on Sundays, almost certainly beginning in 2014 after the first NFL draft for which he’ll be eligible … of course, barring the kind of off-field immaturity Manziel has been sometimes known for while at Texas A&M. But as a football player, he’ll certainly be good enough to fit into the NFL’s current mélange at quarterback. Some teams like pocket guys. Some teams like mobile guys. Both types are prospering today. The Manziel style can work, certainly.
I may be damning Manziel with faint praise here, but stylistically as a college player, he has some things in common with Tim Tebow. Manziel can make people miss more, and he’s by any measure more accurate. But there is one thing they definitely don’t have in common: Tebow’s second game against ‘Bama, in the 2009 SEC title game, was mediocre; Manziel’s second game against Alabama, after the Tide worked all offseason to be ready to stop him, was a success—despite two turnovers. He threw for 211 more yards in his second game against Alabama than in his first.
The stat line from Manziel’s two games against the Crimson Tide:
You can say a 6-1, 210-pound quarterback (or whatever Manziel is) will have trouble lasting in NFL. He may. But it’d be because of his off-field nonsense, not what he’d do on the field, in my opinion. Just watch Russell Wilson. Watch a more pocketed Drew Brees. Small guys can play. Especially small guys who put the fear of God into Nick Saban.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
I finally got to experience an American tradition I’d missed in my 56 years: a football game at Michie Stadium at West Point, hard by the Hudson River. For those who haven’t experienced it, I highly recommend it. West Point’s an hour north of Manhattan, but the traffic chokes up near Michie Stadium.
Beautiful day for a game—bright sun (giving way to first-half clouds), temperature in the mid-60s, with a slight breeze. First thing you notice: It’s hilly here. Everything’s a hill. I walked down through the alley between the stands and the river, and there’s a rock/country group of cadets (with acoustic violin) playing “Sweet Home Alabama” and other ditties. We see the cadets march in and take over half of the bleachers on the Hudson River side of the stadium … and then the mules come out—Raider, Ranger and Scotty. The mule has been a tradition since 1899, a symbol of its Army usefulness over the years in carrying ammo and guns and supplies. Then the parachutists land perfectly on the field as though out on a stroll, one of them delivering the game ball.
I came too early for the foliage, which will be breathtaking in a month. But the sight of the hilly Hudson River valley, with green trees as far as you can see beyond the clear water, and the campus to the left, is a sight not many football venues can match. A very good day.
Tweets of the Week
“I would like to see Carroll and Harbaugh have a rage-off at midfield during halftime.”
—@ChrisWarcraft, author and former Vikes punter Chris Kluwe, watching Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines during the first half of Seahawks-Niners.
“I’d love to see that boy get tired.’’
—@RealJoeNamath, Alabama grad and fan, watching Johnny Manziel—at the point when Manziel had 398 total yards in the first 50 minutes of Alabama-Texas A&M—shred the Alabama defense. It wasn’t enough, but you get Namath’s point.
“Passed an electronic billboard on I-94 north of Chicago that reads ‘TRESTMAN: The only good thing to come from Minnesota.’ “
—@TomPellisero of USA Today, referring to the coach Chicagoland is having a honeymoon with, Marc Trestman of the Bears.
“The bad: 12 hour bus ride last night from Durham to Providence. The good: off day allowing us to go to Pats v Jets game tonight.”
—@shelleydunc, Shelley Duncan of the Durham Bulls Triple-A team, upon arriving in Rhode Island for the break day in the International League Championship Series with Pawtucket. Sounds like Shelley scored some ducats for the Thursday-nighter 26 miles up the road in Foxboro.
“Instead of writing a column on this Jets game, is it OK if I just ring your doorbell and punch you in the face? Same thing.”
—@StevePoliti, columnist for the Newark Star Ledger, in the second half of the 13-10 Patriots win over the Jets.
It wasn’t a very good game.