Shaming Florio, placing the Bears' defense in historical context and fully realizing J.J. Watt's tween appeal. All in this week's Bears Notebook.
Mike Florio is the man behind the curtain at Pro Football Talk. He's been in the blog game for years, and has made a career for himself churning out NFL news at a startling pace. Florio has put an admirable amount of time into his site and it's paid off: he's one of the world's most popular sports bloggers by any measure. PFT was credible enough to be acquired by NBC, which has earned Florio over 364,000 Twitter followers and a recurring appearance on national television each week before Sunday Night Football. His success is a testament to power of the block quote and maybe even the concept of hard work.
These are the simple facts and they are unarguable. It's all just kind of unfortunate because Florio has proven himself to be a really bizarre, possibly deplorable, dude.
Pro Football Talk is perhaps best known for its "Police Blotter", a series of links in chronological order charting NFL arrests. It looks like something straight out of the Drudge Report and it's equally irrational. Forget that "Police Blotter" actually used to be titled "Turd Watch", something that presumes Florio is marking athletes guilty of wrongdoing before proven innocent. The entire concept reeks of twisted conservatism, a point only hammered home by the godawful excuses for human beings that make up the PFT comment section.
Florio being bad and weird is hardly breaking news; like the first paragraph says, he's been doing this for years. It was a Wednesday appearance on Chicago sports talk radio, though, that cemented Florio's off-kilter lunacy and proved to be example No. 1 of why you should get your football news from anywhere but PFT.
Florio joined 670 The Score to talk about Bears-Texans. Earlier in the day on the same station, it was revealed Bears star Charles Tillman may miss the pivotal primetime affair with Houston because his wife is due to have the family's fourth child. Florio took exception. Of course he did.
One would think the birth of a child is a reasonable excuse to miss a mid-season football game even if you didn't already know about the health problems of Tillman's daughter Tiana. Tiana was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy a couple years back, a disease which caused her heart to become enlarged and weakened. Her heart does not pump blood efficiently and she almost died because of it. Tillman and his wife have spoke openly about their struggles and do lots of charitable work in the area, which includes the couple's own foundation for local children with health issues.
It's easy to understand why Tillman would want to be at his wife's side. Unless you're Mike Florio, that is.
"This may not not be the most popular position in the world, but I fall into the ‘This is the life we’ve chosen’ category," Florio told The Score’s Laurence Holmes and Matt Abbatacola, who were sitting in for McNeil and Spiegel. "There are ways nowadays – there are technologies that you can plan when you’re going to have a baby. There are four fairly important months out of the year when you work 16 Sundays and you get paid a lot of money to be available those 16 Sundays. You try to avoid being in a position where you have to make that decision on Sunday that you’re getting paid a lot of money to be available to play a football game. It’s easy for me to say this because I’ve never been and never will be in this position, but I think you gotta show up and do your job. Guys who are over seas don’t get to fly home if they’ve got a spouse going into labor, and they get paid a heck of a lot less money.
Oh good, I'm glad we brought the military into this. What ass-backwards logic. NFL coaches are notoriously crazy and hard-headed, but even Lovie Smith said he would support Tillman's decision to miss the biggest game of the season thus far to witness his wife give birth. It's an insane, pageviews-driven platform by Florio custom built for a good shredding, and thank goodness noted Internet powerhouse Bobby Big Wheel did just that this morning at the mothership. Seriously: read that column, it's fantastic.
Oh, and those PFT commenters we mentioned earlier? Yeah, they agree with their overlord:
Perhaps Tillman should have his baby momma schedule a c-section on any other day of the week besides game day. Problem solved.
Tillman is married and everyone who reads PFT may as well just bury their head in Fox News. Sometimes people are painfully stupid.
Aaron Schatz: I don't know about single-game records, but from 2000-2011 a cornerback only forced at least four fumbles in a SEASON 18 times. By the way, five of those times were ... Charles Tillman.
As I wrote on Monday, that might have been the most thoroughly satisfying Bears win of my lifetime. Such destruction is not a normal part of Bears football. Then again, the things this defense is doing would be foreign to any fanbase. FO also put the Bears' D in historical perspective this week:
The Bears have moved up from the fifth-best defense in DVOA history to the fourth-best defense in DVOA history -- and remember, FO counts turnover returns based on what the average return does on similar interceptions (based on location and pass distance), not based on how long the actual return is. So in our stats, the Bears aren't getting as much credit for all those defensive touchdowns, and they still have a historically great defense. Ignore anyone who argues that the Bears are feasting on easy opponents, by the way. They've played a very easy schedule of opposing defenses, but an average schedule of opposing offenses.
Discussions about regressing to the mean certainly have merit -- at this pace, the Bears will score 14 defensive touchdowns this season, which would shatter the previous NFL record of nine. It stands to reason the defense won't get in the end zone every damn game. But until proven otherwise, I have some advice: embrace it, enjoy it. This type of dominance is so extraordinary.
-- More stats! Courtesy of Pro Football Focus:
- Jay Cutler had a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating when throwing to Brandon Marshall.
Cool, cool, cool.
3. This headline from KHOU.com caught my eye:
J.J. Watt turns into tween idol: Little girls swarm Texans star with or without Bieber
Yeah, it's as good you'd expect.
Few defensive players in history have changed games the way Watt and Tillman are, week after week after week. Even fewer ever became a tween idol in the process.
That list stops at one: Justin James Watt. The Milk Man from Wisconsin plays in much more than America’s heartland. Watt doesn’t just swat down passes, he knocks away the boundaries of typical demographics too.
Watt noticed it himself when he showed up at a Justin Bieber concert (where else do you think NFL players spend their weeknights?) and received a screaming, shrieking, oh-my-God reaction that was almost worthy of Bieber himself.
Important: the word "tween" is said four times. I think you can go to jail for that.
But before we rip Watt -- who I am legitimately terrified of this week -- too much for going to a Bieber show, the article points out he took a pair of kids who lost their parents in a car crash to the concert.
But shouldn't he have been spending more time in the weight room, Mike Florio?
4. Finally, Jay Cutler knows you make fun of him. From KSK:
Phil Simms: Jay, you know, you said something, there’s just so much out there. The TV cameras are always on you. Are you aware of all the things, the blogs, and everything that’s said about you? I didn’t know about it, somebody showed me, there’s one out there [called] Smokin’ Jay Cutler. Have you seen these and had a laugh about them?
Jay Cutler: I’ve seen that. With some of them, it’s funny. It’s hard to keep up with everything during the week.