Here are a few things to absorb ahead of this Sunday’s action in the NFL.  Let’s take three simple propositions.

Tom Coughlin is a better coach than Rex Ryan

It’s straightforward.  Forget about the implosion that has taken place this season and remember the two rings; the enduring relevance of the Giants franchise compared to the circus that is the New York Jets.

For the sake of comparison, it is only fair that we take the same starting point for both coaches.  This would be the 2009 season when Rex was appointed Head Coach of the Jets.  Since 2009, Rex Ryan’s record in the regular season has been 37-32.  In the postseason his record is 4-2, which includes two AFC Championship games reached with millionaire playboy, and part-time football player, Mark Sanchez at the quarterback position.  Competing in a division that includes the Patriots and Tom Brady, Ryan has managed to reach the playoffs in 50% of his four seasons.

Not bad, I suppose.  So we move onto Tom Coughlin.  His regular season record since 2009?  36-34.  In the postseason, Coughlin also has only four victories but the key to those four victories is that they all came in one go.  Which also means that in that same four-season stretch, Coughlin has only made the playoffs 25% of the time.  It was an improbable catch by David Tyree that bought Coughlin much needed time and breathing space in the stifling media market that is New York, and then it was a Wes Welker drop late in the fourth quarter of the 2012 Superbowl that elevated the Giants’ Head Coach to Hall of Fame status.

One man is a joke, the other a legend.

Josh Freeman is not a franchise quarterback

Here is something that is pretty incredible:  the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never given a starting quarterback a contract extension in franchise history.  Josh Freeman has now added his name to that illustrious list of players that were deemed to be just not quite good enough.  True, Freeman has been underwhelming in his three starts this season, placing him 29th in the overall QB ranking.  This still puts him above Schaub, Manning (guess which one), RGIII and Carson Palmer; quarterbacks that have all kept their starting jobs.

Freeman is only 25.  It is easy to forget that in 2010 he passed for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions.  The 2011 season saw a marked regression, however, as Freeman ranked 26th in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (“ANY/A”) and led the conference in interceptions.  He also managed only 10.4 yards per completion.  While 2012 saw the Buccaneers capitulate in the second half of the season, the first half saw Freeman improve significantly.  Through 10 games, Freeman was ranked second in the league in ANY/A and second in Net Yards per Attempt.  He was also third in the league in completions on throws of 20+ yards, trailing only Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning (by 4 completions and 1 completion respectively).  His sixth victory of the season came after some incredible clutch play against the Carolina Panthers.  Down by 8 with 20 seconds left, Freeman hits Vincent Jackson for the touchdown and the 2-point conversion before driving his team down the field in overtime and hitting Dallas Clark for the game-winning score.

The Panthers game was followed by 3 crushing losses to the Falcons, Broncos and Eagles by a combined 11 points.  The Buccaneers fall thereafter was a precipitous one, and Freeman won only one more game as a starter (Week 17 against a Falcons team with nothing to play for).

And how different this season could have been.  But for an inexcusable penalty in Week 1 and a missed field goal in Week 2, the Buccaneerss would have been 2-0, with one of those victories coming against the presently undefeated New Orleans Saints.  The defeat against the Patriots, Freeman’s final game, would have left Tampa Bay at 2-1.  Is Freeman being benched in those circumstances?  Is he still being released?  Not a chance.  This is Greg Schiano playing his final card.  He is recusing himself from responsibility for past failings and going all in on Mike Glennon to save his job.

Tony Romo chokes in the fourth quarter

An infuriating conversation.  Romo had an incredible game against the Broncos.  Then comes the fourth quarter.  Romo was tripped by his own offensive lineman and this culminated in a crucial interception.

‘It’s just another excuse’.  Consider this: Romo actually leads the league in fourth quarter passer rating among active quarterbacks (102).  This is 10 points higher than Tom Brady, the man that secured his 24th career fourth quarter comeback victory in Week 1 against the Bills.

‘What about interceptions?’  Romo has thrown only 19 in the fourth quarter since 2007; Superbowl champions Drew Brees and, again, Eli Manning, each have 32 over the same period.

‘What about big games?’  Romo has a stellar 114 passer rating in the fourth quarter of Sunday night games.

‘Do it in the playoffs’.  And herein lies the problem.  One mishandled snap against the Seahawks renders Romo a choke-artist for all-time unless he can win a Superbowl.  We find ourselves now in an absurd situation that is simply unwinnable for Romo: his failings in the regular season are held up as evidence for the narrative that we have already created for him, while his successes are discounted as irrelevant and insignificant.

Ryan, Freeman and Romo are kindred spirits in one sense.  The absence of a ring on their finger puts a bull’s-eye on their back.


Oggy’s Quick Slants

  • Russell Wilson has been accused in some circles of having a sophomore slump.  After the heights he reached last season, it is somewhat understandable.  However, it is worth remembering this incredible statistic: in his NFL career to date, Wilson has never lost a game by more than one touchdown.


  • There will be three NFL regular season games played at Wembley next year.  It is surely no coincidence that all three designated ‘home’ teams are currently dissatisfied with their stadium situations.  Do not get your hopes up for a UK franchise, though.  There is definitely a point at which the International Series will reach overkill, and I’m willing to bet that this point is reached significantly before eight games.