Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
It’s Championship Weekend for the NFL and we’ll soon know who advances to the Superbowl and who goes home until mini camps open in August. There’s quality in all four teams yet there are stark differences in how they got to where they are. Some of that skill and fortitude made me compare and contrast the Mets’ own quest for a title.
They are an offensive juggernaut. They rank 7th all time in points per game. They are the Big Red Machine or 1927 Yankeees. Considering how often the Mets struggled to score at all, there is not even a vague parallel to the current Mets team. However, they’re not a one-trick pony. They have a prolific starting quarterback in Matt Ryan, one of the league’s best receivers in Julio Jones, two quality and capable running backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Campbell. The Mets hit the long ball. Nothing else. Oh yeah..they also have the guy who leads the league in sacks – Vic Beasley. So they have a balanced attack on both sides of the ball. The Mets’ own defense is pretty offensive. While they are adept at keeping the opposition from scoring, that’s more a tribute to their fine pitching.
Anyone who’s read my thoughts on the Mets is going to be quite surprised by my parallel here. The Packers looked dead and buried until they rallied around their leader, Aaron Rodgers, who pretty much single handedly motivated his team back into contention. Given the outcomes of the past two years, that seems to describe what the apologists attribute to one Terry Collins When the Mets looked lost and ready to pack it in, he was able to keep them focused enough to get into the post season. Despite injuries that threatened their season the Packers are on the brink. However, this parallel is an unfortunate one as I believe the Packers will have hit the end of the road when they face the superior Falcons, just as Terry Collins was not able to motivate his team to win when the game was on the line. Then again, no one is better at the Hail Mary than Aaron Rodgers...
Lead by a Bartolo Colon-like heavy, slow but consistently competent older quarterback, the Steelers have been able to blend in superior young talent on offense like LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown to know they legitimately have a shot of scoring any time they need to do so. Their once vaunted defense was transformed through the draft and a slew of young players combined to give the Terrible Towel bunch a way of stopping opposing offenses, something they were not able to do last year and early this year. Imagine a team that had enough confidence in its young, unproven players to give them the chance to grow and not bench them after a brief slump (or inexplicably after a good game). Mike Tomlin is no Terry Collins and everyone in Pittsburgh is very happy about that indeed.
Here you have the very blueprint for how a franchise should be run. They constantly look to improve their roster. That’s very un-Alderson of them. They almost never make mistakes. That’s very un-Collins. They use the rules to their advantage and seek to maximize every edge they can find. Again, I find no parallel to Collins. They are not above breaking the rules. I can’t say I’ve ever seen the Mets do that on the field since the allegedly corked bats of Howard Johnson. They don’t care about personal character so long as the player performs and helps them win. Drunk driver Michael Floyd is the latest example of that. Well, the Mets go both ways on character issues. They have turned a blind eye to the likes of Jose Reyes, Jeurys Familia, Marlon Byrd and Bartolo Colon, but quickly parted ways with Frankie Rodriguez and seem ready to do so with Jenrry Mejia. Even though the Mets are not as squeaky clean as they once tried to be it makes you wonder how they would have handled the Aaron Hernandez situation. The Patriots released him immediately and took the salary cap hit when it would have been more beneficial financially to leave him on the roster and have him forfeit his salary as his incarceration made him unable to play. I’d like to think that the Mets would have held public opinion and principle as highly as the Patriots did, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.
My prediction is a Patriots-Falcons Superbowl with my hope being that the Falcons somehow emerge victorious. In the words of comedian Doug Stanhope, “Rooting for the Yankees is like going to a casino and rooting for the house.” Rooting for the Patriots is the football equivalent.