The Ombudsdouche: all Kurt Warner-ed out

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 19, 2009



By Mark Wald
The Completely douch-y Cold, Hard Football Facts Ombudsdouche
 
Enough with the Kurt Warner lovefest already. 
 
Kurt Warner is a great story. Classy guy, played in the Arena League, bagged groceries, cured cancer, eliminated death and taxes. We get it.
 
We also expect more from Cold, Hard Football Facts than drooling over "dizzying numbers" when those numbers are accompanied by maddening inconsistency and a marked decline in playoff performance. 
 
Warner's career would be defined by missed opportunities if it weren't so sugar coated in Horatio Alger imagery.
 
While Brett Favre gets crucified for having the audacity to throw the football when his team is behind, Warner is CHFF's pet favorite because he had the good sense to get beat by the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.
 
As CHFF stated"If not for two bad passes – one into the hands of Ty Law and the other into the arms of James Harrison, Warner would be universally recognized as one of the best quarterbacks in history."
 
Nice sound bite. And if my aunt wasn't my aunt she'd be my uncle. The truth is Warner is a lot closer to being a three-time Super Bowl loser than a three-time winner.
 
Warner has never performed that well when the stakes are highest. In some of the biggest wins of his career he's played poorly, with big drops in production relative to his impressive regular season standard. 
 
1999
The Rams averaged 32.9 PPG in 1999 as Warner tore through the league. But Warner was fortunate to even make it to his first Super Bowl and just as fortunate to win it.
 
In the NFC championship game against Tampa Bay, the Rams struggled to put 11 points on the board as Warner played one of the worst big games of his career. He threw three interceptions and averaged almost 3 yards less per pass than he did in the regular season. The Rams and Warner were thoroughly manhandled by the Bucs, but managed to eke out a win when a very questionable call went against Tampa Bay late in the game. 
 
In the Super Bowl against Tennessee, Warner set passing records but he struggled to put points on the board again.  Don't take my word for it, watch the NFL Films video of the miked-up Dick Vermeil and learn the shocking truth: Warner was in such a funk that day the coaches almost pulled him.  Warner's game winning Hail Mary was answered, but he was clearly outplayed in the Super Bowl by the gritty Steve McNair. 
 
2000
In the 2000 playoffs against the Saints, Warner threw three interceptions and averaged a yard less per pass than the regular season. The Rams were one and done.
 
2001
The trend continued in the 2001 playoffs. After a spectacular performance against the Packers in the divisional round, the Rams rode Marshall Faulk to victory in second half of the NFC Championship when the Eagles held Warner in check. 
 
In the Super Bowl against New England, Warner struggled to put points on the board again.  Pundits make a big deal of Belichick's masterful defensive game plan in that game, but he used the Buccaneer's blueprint from the '99 title game.
 
We got the first inkling of Warner's propensity for big mistakes in big games when Ty Law returned one of Warner's two interceptions for a New England touchdown.  Warner finished with a passer rating 23 points less than his regular season rating in the crushing Rams' defeat.
 
2008
Warner finally appeared to put his sub-par playoff performances behind him in Arizona's postseason run last year. In three playoff games leading to the Super Bowl he was smoking hot.  But like a bug hiding below the surface, the Steelers picked up the rock in the Super Bowl and the centipede came slithering out. 
 
Warner had a good game, but once again he made the big mistake that separates him from the Joe Montanas and Tom Bradys of the world.  And for some reason Warner's mistakes aren't simple turnovers, they're killers.  The Steelers' James Harrison picked him off and ran the TD back for the devastating game sealing touchdown.
 
The not-made-for-Lifetime TV Movie conclusion
As Cold, Hard Football Facts indicated, Warner's resurrection of two franchises is perhaps his greatest accomplishment. He certainly has gaudy statistics on his side as well, even if it seems every quarterback has gaudy stats nowadays. His is a great story, and it's hard not to root for the likeable Warner. 
 
But right or wrong, quarterbacks are judged by big games and Super Bowl victories. If the goal is to rise to the occasion, to step up in big games, there's no disguising that Warner's performance has more often than not gone down in the playoffs.
 
Kurt Warner will take you to the big game, but he tightens up when he gets there.  It will happen at some point in the playoffs this year, you can count on it.
 
***
Warner's "resurrection" of two franchises is also little exaggerated in the case of the Rams. 
 
Warner was the first QB to deliver a Super Bowl victory for the Rams, but the franchise won two championships and participated in four other championship games before Warner arrived in 1998. 
 
The Rams have won 15 division titles, and have more playoff seasons to their credit than all but three active franchises (Giants, Cowboys, and Browns).  The number of playoff seasons isn't entirely due to the age of the franchise (which has been around since 1936), either.  Out of 32 active NFL franchises, only 9 have made the playoffs more often than the Rams, who've made the playoffs in 38% of their years of existence. 
 
CHFF wroteThe Rams, meanwhile, have never won more than 12 games in a season save for a 13-win year in 1999 and a 14-win year in 2001 with Warner at the helm ... notice a trend here?
 
As a matter of fact I do notice a trend. I notice a trend of CHFF continually and conveniently leaving out a crusty little nugget of information that changes the entire context of what they say, deliberately leaving you with a misconception (see "The Gap" from the CHFF Playbook).
 
Prior to 1978 when the league went to a 16-game schedule, a team could win less than 13 games and still win at the same or better rate than a present day 13-3 team.  In other words, a 9-1 (.900) record in 1945 is better than a 13-3 (.813) record today.
 
CHFF should not have counted the number of seasons the Rams won at least twelve games; they should have counted the number of seasons the Rams won at least 81% of their games.  But Warner might not look quite as heroic that way. 
 
Since CHFF won't provide the real data, I will.
 
Since 1940, a total of 105 teams have won at a rate of at least .813. That sounds like a lot, but since that time there have been over 1,500 seasons played by all teams combined. That means only 7% of teams since 1940 won more than 81% of their games in one season.
 
Number of Seasons – at least 81% Win Pct (1940 – 2008)                                
Team
# Seasons
Chicago Bears
9
San Francisco 49ers
8
Green Bay Packers
7
Indianapolis Colts
7
Minnesota Vikings
6
New York Giants
6
Oakland Raiders
6
St. Louis Rams
6
Dallas Cowboys
5
Denver Broncos
5
Kansas City Chiefs
5
Washington Redskins
5
Pittsburgh Steelers
4
Buffalo Bills
3
Cleveland Browns
3
Miami Dolphins
3
New England Patriots
3
Philadelphia Eagles
3
Tennessee Titans
3
San Diego Chargers
2
6 Teams
1
 
Only four franchises have more .813 win-rate seasons than the Rams franchise, which has six.  Warner was there for two of them.  Do the math. 
 
When you get right down to it, taking the Rams to a Super Bowl was nowhere near the feat taking the Cardinals to the Super Bowl was, which is something akin to pulling a gold nugget out of your ass.  Which happens to be the same place Cold, Hard Football Facts comes up with some of their facts.
 
***
 
Ridiculing someone's NFL picks is kind of a bush league move. It's easy to look smart in hindsight since things always look clearer after the fact. And to be honest, CHFF is having a pretty good year.
 
But CHFF's pick of the Bengals to not only cover the spread, but to beat the Vikings outright in Minnesota last weekend was a blatant attempt at wish fulfillment. It deserves ridicule because it wasn't fact-based and it wasn't honest. Cold, Hard Football Facts flat out wanted Brett Favre to lose. 
 
Going into the game, a 30-10 blowout won by Minnesota, the Vikings possessed the number three defensive hogs, the number three offensive hogs, an offensive YPA above 7.0, and had a solid edge in passer rating. 
 
The Bengals aren't too shabby in the quality stats department either, but don't be fooled by CHFF's half-ass attempt at statistical justification (Real and spectacular picks: Philly-style cheese).  With the Vikings 6-0 at home, 2-1 against quality opponents, and coming off a tough loss, if the Bengals weren't decidedly overmatched in this game they—at minimum—were drawing the Vikings at the wrong time in the wrong place. 
 
If any other quarterback was involved in this game, CHFF lays the points with the home team. There simply was no solid reason to believe the Vikings, possessors of the second best record in the NFL, would lose to the Bengals at home. 
 
But CHFF has a lot invested in the Vikings-Favre experiment not working out. We've covered this ground before.
 
Then again, I could be overlooking the significance of CHFF's buffalo wing lunch with Private Comey, who apparently expressed doubts about Favre's performance against Arizona the week before. 
 
As in, "if even Private Comey is questioning the Vikings..."
 
Beg your pardon if I don't view that with the same reverence as Warren Buffet souring on a stock.
 
Cold, Hard Football Facts, congratulations for looking foolish again.
 
                                                            ***
 
Last week we were told The Buggered Boy from the Cold, Hard Football Facts Radio Show "actually made some semi-intelligent contributions" in the latest installment. 
 
I usually refrain from contemplating my own influence. The OmbudsKING's logic is unassailable, his words sacrosanct and all-knowing.  It is the job of others to sort out the ramifications of my pronouncements as I forge ahead, plowing new ground in the field of NFL knowledge.  But it's obvious the buildup of the Buggered Boy was in reaction to my heartfelt, benevolent criticism a couple weeks earlier. 
 
My curiosity was aroused, though. Maybe this was the week I wouldn't gnash my teeth in anguish listening to The Boy Bill &Ted his way through another ten minutes of Dante-level suffering.
 
The strategy was apparent from the start. Set up The Buggered Boy with a softball question or two, he jumps in on cue with a scripted safe-as-milk answer, then the Chief Troll comments on what a good job he's doing.
 
I haven't seen someone this propped up since some of Reagan's second term State of the Union Addresses back in the 1980s. 

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