The thought had lingered all weekend — for the past couple weekends, actually — but it took Matt Schaub’s trip to Foxborough for it to take hold. Houston had just completed another seven-yard pass on a third-and-8, and as it became clear that the Texans’ tailspin would end with nothing more than a death rattle, I wondered whether this was it for Matt Schaub.
This doesn’t mean I think Schaub’s time in Houston is over. Matt Schaub will be the Texans’ starting quarterback next season, and he probably should be. In every season in which Matt Schaub started 16 games, he’s thrown for 4,000 yards. He’s been to the Pro Bowl twice, the most recent trip being just last season. In the world, there are probably 15 men better than Matt Schaub at what Matt Schaub does. The problem for the Texans, and the problem for a handful of teams around the league, is that Matt Schaub’s competence may actually be their undoing.
Erwin Schrödinger's in town, so we meet at Ye Rustic on Thursday night. The Bengals are playing the Eagles, and for some reason this historic contest of champions is being broadcast in prime time. Schrödinger and I are, respectively, the third and fourth people who show up to watch it unfold. We could have gone somewhere cooler and done something better, but I want him to see how I actually live, and while I'm not totally comfortable with what this says about me, this really is a pretty significant part of how I live these days — in the back of Ye Rustic with a notebook open, half-watching pro football and contemplating what I hope to gain by doing so. Besides, Schrödinger's taste in surroundings is even worse than mine, so he grasps the charms of the place immediately — the wood paneling, the aquarium-glow lighting, the on-point and prodigiously inked-up wait staff. "They look like retired Suicide Girls," he observes, which is totally true.
With all the rookie quarterbacks in the NFL BQBL this year, you'd think that there would be more fresh faces on the BQBL Summer Jam Screen. Aside from the artist currently known as Ryan Lindley, the rookie crop has been more or less serviceable. The most entertainingly inept TAINTers have actually been quarterbacks that were at one time labeled franchise guys, guys considered for the elusive (and ridiculous) “elite” label. Look at this week’s top three: Matt Stafford (remember when he was giving the Lions “swagger”?); Ryan Fitzpatrick (remember when his brain was saving Buffalo?); and Josh Freeman (someone that works here at Grantland may or may not have written less than a month ago that he continues “to be totally, unequivocally, 100 percent sold on Skinny Josh Freeman and the undeniably explosive Bucs”). Let’s see how that worked out in Week 14 for Skinny Josh Freeman and his “undeniably explosive Bucs.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this year’s BQBL Bowl is over. It wasn't the BQBL points scored in the Jets-Cardinals game that made it special. There's no way to appropriately quantify this brand of failure, no stat that captures how terrified each quarterback was, and no metric for embarrassment to measure what happened in New Jersey on Sunday. There is just the film. Let’s go to the tape.
Jets (Sanchize and Greg McElroy) 84 points, and Cardinals (Ryan Lindley) 65 points
In anticipation of this column, I rewatched this entire game. I had my eye on it and everything Sunday, but when a game like this is played in front of cameras and microphones, and it's your job to bask in the ineptitude of quarterbacking failure, you would be a fool not to savor these performances. Also, as I mentioned, there's no number that can capture the experience of watching these men attempt to move the football forward. The most dynamic part of this adventure from kickoff to final kneel-down was tracking the tortured reactions of both the play-by-play team of Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick and the Jets fans in the stadium. I now present to you a running diary, of sorts, of the 2012 BQBL Bowl. No lie — I might go back and watch it again.
Our oven at home is the size of a P.O. box, so we go to the desert for Thanksgiving. I drive my wife and my daughter out. My mom flies down from San Francisco and drives in with my sister. We get a dinner reservation for Thursday at one of the fancy hotels out here — nobody's going to have to scrub cranberry-sauce crust off the good forks, it'll be great — and a budget-baller house with a pool and a hot tub. You can see some real high-definition mountains when you look up from the pool.
Eighty degrees by mid-morning. It's our first real cold-weatherish holiday in Southern California and we're steering into the weirdness of it.
That's Tuesday. We wake up on Wednesday and my wife's brother calls from the doorstep of our house in Los Angeles. He's supposed to be feeding the cats from now until Saturday. He calls to say he's found the hide-a-key box but we've forgotten to hide a key in it. Somebody has to drive all the way back to L.A. and drop a key off.
I agree to take the bullet. It's barely a bullet, though. I am a 35-year-old man with a learner's permit and I am in love with driving.
If a tie in the NFL is bad, then a tie in fantasy football is considerably worse. There are plenty of silver linings to be found on both sides after Sunday’s 24-24 draw between the Rams and 49ers. While they didn’t win, the Rams outplayed an elite division rival and might be the league’s second-best last-place team. The 49ers can blame the poor showing on Alex Smith’s concussion and take solace in the fact that they remain strong favorites to win the NFC West.
In the case of a fantasy tie, there is no saving grace. For example, your only hope for a victory (or a loss, if he happened to score negative points), Owen Daniels, is declared out for Sunday Night Football with hip pain, and the tie is official because, outrageously, there isn’t even an overtime period to settle the stalemate. And unlike Danny Amendola, you know it.
A few hours after the Bengals beat the Giants, I'm in the passenger seat of a blue rental car with Colorado plates, driving to Pasadena with my friend Enrico Fermi, half-listening to the Latin pop hits of yesterday and hoy on Exitos 93.9 FM.
I've known Fermi for 14 years. We've lived in a lot of the same cities — Boston, San Francisco — but almost never at the same time. You know that person you've known forever with whom you're able to instantly dial back in every time you see him, as if no time has passed, even though for whatever logistical reason he hasn't been part of your day-to-day life for years in between? That's Enrico Fermi.
I pretty much owe him everything. Literally — he was the first person to pay me to write something, which means that if there's a parallel timeline out there in which I’m a bitter B2B copywriter with a WordPress blog (no shots, bitter B2B copywriters; I respect the hustle), it's probably because that version of me never met Enrico Fermi. But I also owe him in a million harder-to-quantify ways. He introduced me to Teena Marie and Solaris and stayed friends with not one but two of my ex-girlfriends.
I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t spend a ton of time watching the Bengals last year. Don’t get me wrong. I knew Andy Dalton and A.J. Green were good and stuff, but most of the exposure I had to their rookie campaigns came through scattered highlights and fantasy football games in which I was getting trounced. Imagine my surprise, then, when exposed to all those highlights in one place.
Sarah Larimer is the co-editor The Triangle, she knows I am sensitive and didn’t have the heart to tell me that no one wrote in about the BQBL this week. There is a very good chance that the below e-mails are just Sarah pretending to be readers and writing herself from alias accounts so I don’t get bummed out. I am going to answer them as if they are real anyway.
The Bad Quarterback League has twisted the lens through which we watch the NFL. Never before has anyone been so excited for Tarvaris Jackson to take the field, or so shocked when Alex Smith repeatedly completed passes to members of his own team. And certainly, never before has anyone ever said: “Can you please put the Titans and Jaguars on the big screen? I need to see this.”
There is too much attention and praise showered on the modern elite quarterback. The Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings and Aaron Rodgers of the league are celebrated as genius demigods, just because they can make split-second decisions and deliver precise passes while being chased by gigantic men who spent an entire week figuring out ways to injure them. Blah fucking blah. The more compelling narrative is that of the modern failure. Because when things go wrong for an NFL quarterback, they go spectacularly wrong. And there will be no shortage of that this season. On-field arguments. Botched handoffs. Locker room backstabbing. Seeing that unfold is way more fun than watching Brady sling the ball around for a bit, droneishly drop clichés at the press conference, then go home to the hottest woman on the planet.
This year, we're going to make it even more interesting, using an old trick: adding a draft, a scoring system, and gambling.
Here’s your Tuesday whip-around on the stories dominating the headlines and lingering in the margins of the NFL. No pads needed.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning just got off the PUP list and, man, is his neck tired. When pressed on how he was feeling following his neck surgery, and how his condition has impacted his throwing motion or his ability to be disappointed in his receivers, Manning humorously invoked his right to privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. “I don't know what HIPAA stands for, but I believe in it and I practice it. I'll leave it at that,” he said. Upon hearing the statement, backup QB Curtis Painter began to frantically look for the “HIPAA Set” in the Colts’ playbook.