It’s too bad NFL.com just doesn’t have an entire section devoted to “Stupid Things Marshall Faulk Says” because it would make my job a lot easier. Instead, I spent 20 minutes perusing their video archives to unearth some recent nuggets of wisdom.
We talked about it on the podcast yesterday, but the trap that we all fall into time and again is that we expect the former players who show up on our televisions and call themselves analysts to, you know, actually know what they’re talking about. That, clearly, is asking too much.
The obvious exceptions: Ron Jaworski, Merril Hoge and Mike Mayock. I also like Deion Sanders because, despite the occasional misguided rant, he’s a smart dude who understands the cornerback position. Some folks are also high on Trent Dilfer. And there are others, too, I’m sure.
But Marshall, the former Colts and Rams running back who deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, speaks with the certainty of high school math teacher working through a proof, but his analysis usually lands squarely between absurd and patently wrong. Time and again. (If nothing else, he gets points for consistency.)
And, look, we’ve all been wrong. That’s not my point. My issue with Faulk is that he’s allegedly an expert, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t prepare for his job. It’s one thing to say that the Steelers will lose because their offensive line is in shambles and they have inexperienced wideouts. It’s something else entirely to suggest that Dick LeBeau won’t be able to employ his “fancy defenses” because the Jets will run all over the Steelers.
(And if the NFL Network argues that Faulk does prepare then, well, that’s even worse. It would be less embarrassing if they just said, “Yeah, he just rolls out of bed, shows up, inhales a few bear claws, and just starts making shit up.”)
It wasn’t unreasonable to think that the Jets had a chance against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. New York did beat Pittsburgh in Week 15. It’s just that Marshall has no use for logic when formulating his argument.
Before we get to the damning evidence, a word about why I even care. No idea. Really, I can’t explain it. I’m a grown man with plenty of other things to occupy my time. And it’s not like I haven’t been writing on the internet long enough to know that this type of myopic analysis is a staple of sports network programming. Maybe it’s because the Steelers are in the Super Bowl and my senses are heightened. Or perhaps it is because I’m getting older — and more crotchety (is that possible?). Whatever it is, I just don’t have the patience for stupidity like I once did. I can’t help myself. And who knows, maybe this’ll inspire Marshall to not suck at his job.
Onto the unintentional comedy…
Here’s Marshall on January 20, explaining why he likes the Jets over the Steelers:
“Listen, I’ve been riding with the Jets all year and I’m not gonna stop now. When I look at the way Ben plays … the fact that he’s a guy who holds onto the football, and that they are not committed to the run, you become a one-dimensional team against the Jets. You can’t beat that defense one dimensional.
“[Rex Ryan] came up with a game plan to beat the great Peyton Manning. He came up with a game plan to beat the great Tom Brady. Well, look who’s next … look who’s next. I’m a ride with the Jets.”
It took me 15 seconds to find the stats from the Week 15 get-together to refute Marshall’s allegation that the Steelers “are not committed to the run.” Net rushing yards against the Jets in that regular-season matchup? 146. And the Steelers averaged 5.8 yards per rush, including Rashard Mendenhall’s 99 yards on 17 carries. Weird.
There’s more, of course. Here’s Faulk from January 16:
“I don’t like this matchup for Pittsburgh because when I look at Pittsburgh defensively, going up against the Jets, Dick LeBeau don’t get to use his fancy defenses because the Jets are gonna pound the football on you and make you play the run. And now your corners have to play one on one against two receivers that could be dangerous if you play them man. And on offense, when the Steelers have the ball, Ben — this defense of the Jets, they want the quarterback to hold the football. And you know what Ben does: he’s the pat, pat, pat, pump, pump, pump kinda guy. And if you stand back there, the sacks will happen, just like they did the first time.”
God almighty. In the first game, the Jets ran for 106 yards, 15 coming from Mark Sanchez. Shonn Greene had 40 yards on 12 carries (3.3 YPC), and LaDainian Tomlinson had 49 yards on 11 carries (4.5 YPC). Not exactly 2009 Chris Johnson-type efforts there. Might have had something to do with the Steelers’ No. 1 defense.
As for the Jets two dangerous receivers: Braylon Edwards had 8 catches for 100 yards, Santonio Holmes had six for 40 yards. And Sanchez ended the day 19 of 29 for 170 yards and no touchdown passes.
That’s not to say that Edwards, Holmes and Sanchez couldn’t get hot and put up points, but they didn’t do in the first matchup — without Troy Polamalu. What made Marshall think that would suddenly change?
For what it’s worth, some noteworthy stats from the AFC Championship game:
– Sanchez: 20 of 33 for 233 yards, 2 TDs
– Edwards: 3 catches, 50 yards, 0 TDs
– Holmes: 2 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD
– Cotchery: 5 catches, 33 yards, 1 TD
– Greene: 9 rushes, 52 yards, 0 TDs
– Tomlinson: 9 rushes, 16 yards, 0 TDs
Solid work, sir.
I’m nicknaming Faulk “Costanza.”
“If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” Sounds familiar.
Here’s to hoping Marshall likes the Packers or I’m going to have to do some serious reevaluating.