The Harbaugh Bowl

2013-01-20 23_38_58-Baltimore Ravens vs

A lot of people think that this years Super Bowl will either be A) awesome or B) terrible and they base this opinion on their feelings about a member of the Harbaugh family.  This logic would make sense if we were talking about the parents of a serial killer, mass murderer or a Sandusky, but actually we’re talking about the biggest game of the year that will be played in front of the largest national audience this side of the Oscars, so why the strong feelings everyone?  The answer, according to me readers, is a fairly interesting one and one that I feel deserves a mailbag-like treatment. The only event that I can talk about with any authority is what I call (and shall henceforth be forever known as) the Harbaugh flip-out seen-in-not-so-real-time heard ’round the world that pissed off many sitting on the fence of which Harbaugh team to route for in the Super Bowl.  Yes, like many political junkies before me, I think in not-so-subtle Schoolhouse Rock parody video form, that’s just how I roll.

Since I don’t have strong feelings either way with regards to the Harbaugh Bowl, I feel like I should leave it up to my readers to determine my level of interest and/or topic of interest when covering this story.  And seeing as how I thought Jim Harbaugh’s reaction to that call on the Douglas catch in the fourth quarter was more like a sniper kill in Call of Duty than any sort of human reaction to a man-made event it appears as if many readers feel as though I’m not taking this as seriously as I should be.  So, I will leave it to my readers to set the topics and level of concern for the events of the next two weeks and if today’s responses are any indication we are about to have a whole lot of fun on the way.

“Why do the Atlanta Falcons get to go down as a team that doesn’t choke after they blow a 24-7 lead in the NFC Championship game at home?  Why is Matt Ryan now getting more respect from NFL commentators than Joe Flacco who is headed to the Super Bowl?  This makes absolutely no sense.”  – Ray, Charleston, West Virginia

Atlanta had an absolutely horrific defense this year.  They could stop the run, but they got obliterated whenever anyone tried to throw the ball on them.  The Falcons actually played the read-option play relatively well until the fourth quarter when they let Frank Gore just run wild on them.  What Atlanta did wrong was they assumed that Colin Kaepernick was the single biggest threat they faced on the football field on Sunday when in reality this is an incredibly balanced San Francisco 49er football team.  In the first half, I saw Kaepernick complete a pass to Vernon Davis.  I was sitting home thinking: where was this guy when my fantasy team needed him (weeks 12-17) where he had just three catches for 30 yards?  I felt like Stan in South Park every time Kenny gets killed, I just wanted to shout at Kaepernick: “you bastard!”  You can’t just use Vernon Davis because your star wideout allegedly raped someone (in actuality, as Bill from Pittsburgh informed me, you can, it’s called pulling a Roethlisberger.)

What I will say about the Falcons is that they probably should have lost that game to Seattle and won this game against the 49ers.  I have absolutely no idea what they were thinking with that fourth down play that decided the game.  Why you would send Roddy White across the middle of the field as your only reliable throwing option in front of Navorro Bowman is kind of beyond me, but I’ve been on Mike Smith’s case long enough.  The fact of the matter is that the Falcons are the Colts of this decade.  They’ll have great regular seasons and then crash in the playoffs, heck it’s what Peyton Manning was known for when he was in Indy (and will be subsequently known for in Denver henceforth.)  The biggest thing about Matt Ryan in this game though was the fact that he turned the ball over twice.  The team with the least turnovers wins the game 68% of the time.  In the playoffs that number shoots up to better than 80%.  The thing that holds Matt Ryan back from being an elite quarterback is the fact that he has all the supporting tools around him yet still finds ways to fail in simply epic ways.  As a quarterback, how do you forget to look for the football when you snap the ball?  There just isn’t a satisfactory defense to that one.

As far as your Matt Ryan – Joe Flacco comparison, look I think each quarterback in the NFL gets judged differently.  Peyton Manning is still looked at as a clutch player despite the fact he’s gone to the Super Bowl just twice in his NFL career despite playing on several elite teams.  Peyton Manning is probably the greatest regular season quarterback of all-time, but would you want him under center in the playoffs?  I sure as heck wouldn’t and I think the same goes for Matt Ryan.  All of those people out there who talk about how Matt Ryan doesn’t get the respect he deserves are overlooking the biggest statistic of them all – Championships.  Time after time, Matt Ryan simply hasn’t played at a level that gives his team the best chance to win the game.  He played better in this game against the 49ers, who are vulnerable against the pass, but in the end he made too many costly mistakes and it cost his team the game.  Joe Flacco has played lights-out football in the playoffs.  He’s taken his team to multiple AFC Championship games and this year he’ll be playing in the Super Bowl.  In the playoffs this year, Joe Flacco has nine touchdowns, zero turnovers and a nearly perfect passer rating of 155.4.  I don’t see how there can even be a comparison at this point.

Jim Harbaugh seems to complain after every call that goes against him.  Is there a course he can take in not-so-over-the-top reactions that he can take, preferably televised on a major network with play-by-play?  Jay, Miami, Florida

Boy, Gus Johnson would be perfect for this.  My dad loses it when Jim Harbaugh loses it, so I understand where you’re coming from.  I try and imagine how I would act if that were me out there and millions of people were watching my reaction, but that’s probably not a fair comparison.  I’m a writer, he’s a coach, so I guess he’s got to put on a show for his bench or something.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to completely just lose your shit on national television but I wouldn’t have had the balls to make half the gutsy decisions that Jim Harbaugh has made which is probably why he makes millions of dollars coaching a football team and I’m answering your questions on a Sunday night.

Jim Harbaugh seems like the Judd Nelson character in the Breakfast Club.  He just has a problem with conformity.  Maybe throw Emilio Estevez out there on the sideline just to calm him down occasionally.  John Harbaugh reminds me of that drinking buddy who always hits his limit after two beers and just shuts down for the rest of the night and I think that’s why I can stand John, but not Jim.  – Chuck, Washington D.C.

Was there a question there?  I mean, I love that you’re here throwing out the John Hughes deep cuts, but the mailbag is generally reserved for well thought out critiques.  The Breakfast Club?  I don’t even know where to start with that reference.  I guess if I were going to comment on your observation what I would say is that John Harbaugh seems like the sober Harbaugh and Jim Harbaugh is that guy who you should never, under any circumstances, hand the keys to your car over to.  If you are in Washington you must be covering the inauguration and for that you have my sympathies.  Stay safe.

Do you think the Harbaugh storyline will detract from the Super Bowl?  There are players on these teams and one player has a torn bicep that usually sidelines a player for the year and he just seems to be playing right through it.  Doesn’t that deserve a little attention?  And how about Joe Flacco?  Nine touchdowns and no picks?  Really?  – Jess, Hartsfield Landing, New Hampshire

Yes, yes and yes.  The media and what I refer to as pseudo-journalists (people who hype stories so that they can participate in the hype) will play the Harbaugh story to death as I have here.  Personally, I don’t really care, but like the Lance Armstrong doping scandal or the Notre Dame dude’s fake girlfriend or whatever I’m sure it will get a lion’s share of the news coverage.  For whatever reason we just can’t seem to focus on anything that matters anymore.  Five people were killed today when a 15 year old kid shot two other kids and three adults fatally, but wait, it’s too early to talk about gun control.  Forget the fact he used a Bushmaster (a modified AR-15 for those still sitting on the sidelines of our gun debate) and had a history of severe mental illness, the issue is Obama and his dictatorial power and socialist economic policies.  Yeah, I’m all for talking about something, heck anything else, but the media doesn’t seem all that interested, so for the time being we’re stuck in neutral for as long as this thing rages on.

E-mail me during the week: WeiglCJ@gmail.com and I’ll feature at least five e-mails next week.

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