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Pass Blocking Sucks

DAVIE, FLORIDA - JANUARY 30: Stefen Wisniewski #61 of the Kansas City Chiefs performs lineman drills during the Kansas City Chiefs practice prior to Super Bowl LIV at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southern University on January 30, 2020 in Davie, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. Buy Drew’s new novel, “Point B,” here.

Duck walks. When I played O-line in college, duck walking was the drill we had to do the most often. Lemme put you through that drill right now. Stand up. Go into a half-squat, with your hips directly above your ankles. Keep a wide base. Put your hands up like you’re trying to stop traffic. Now walk forward. And back. And forward. Now to the left, without crossing your feet. Now right. Forward. Left. Back. Etc. If you’re not tired yet, you will be three seconds from now.

My old line coach, who eventually became head coach after I graduated, used his thumb to direct us. I still remember that stupid thumb. It was a mean, thick stub of an extremity. A curt thumb. A coaching thumb. You never knew which way that thumb was gonna point, because opposing defenders never clued you into such things either. Wherever Coach pointed, we duck walked. Over and over. Every fucking day. If I see a literal duck out in the wild now, my first thought? Duck walks. Shitty, horrible duck walks. Me and my teammates stomping around on the weediest part of a practice field like we had a load in our pants. Forever.

That big diaper pose is the foundation of pass blocking. And pass blocking grows more and more important as you work your way up to higher levels of the sport. From high school down below, you can play on football teams that rarely, if ever, pass the ball. I know high school offenses have grown more sophisticated over the years, but if you have the sort of podunk local team that has one D1 caliber guy and a bunch of puds, that stud is gonna play running back and get 60 carries every Friday night. And the line, in turn, will get to run block on nearly every down.

Run blocking is fun. You put your hand down, fire out, and shove the other guy as far down the field as you can. Low man wins, etc. Ask any lineman at that level which kind of blocking they’d prefer to do, and they’ll tell you run blocking. When a coach is like, “We’re gonna run the ball down their fucking throats,” he’s talking to his line. He’s telling his line they don’t have to hold back. They’re gonna get to push people around all game long. Tell that line, “Guys, we’re gonna sit back and pass block for three hours!” and they’ll stab themselves with a pair a training room scissors.

Because pass blocking sucks. The old quip was that Ginger Rogers could do all the dance moves Fred Astaire could do, only backwards and in heels. Pass blocking is a far less graceful practice, but still a rough equivalent. The D-lineman—a roided-up bear, armed with his best war face—gets to charge at you full steam. Meanwhile you, the O-lineman, have to impede his progress WITHOUT moving too far forward. You have to keep your base and steel yourself for the onslaught, knowing that the other guy has all of the forward momentum on his side. That’s where the duck walking comes in. If you spend all practice duck walking, and we did, then you become more accustomed to constantly bracing yourself for impact.

It won’t shock you to learn that I was a terrible pass blocker. Every time we called a pass, I had a panic attack. Please God don’t let this fucker beat me. It’s like standing in right field and praying the ball doesn’t get hit your way. Only this time the ball is DEFINITELY coming your way. It also weighs 275 lbs. and wants to fucking kill you. And you can’t even hold onto it or else everyone will get mad at YOU for it. The fucking nerve. People got mad at me a lot when I tried to pass block: the coaches, my QB, all the other o-linemen. If I got lucky, I could get a hand under the DE’s pads and shove them up into his face. But they were usually too quick for me to pull that off. And shoulder pads aren’t as loose in 2020 as they were in 1993.

It takes an extremely special, and large, breed of athlete to be able to pass block consistently well. Jags legend Tony Boselli, who may one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame, comes to mind. Look at how easy it was for Boselli.

Imagine being able to swat away Datone Jones like he was a fly. Boselli made $30 million over his career for a reason, and he’d have made multiples of that if he had played today. All of it well earned. You can’t do what Boselli could do. I know I couldn’t. Anytime they called a run in our huddle, you could hear all the linemen squeal with joy. I have no statistical evidence to back this up, especially at the pro level, but good run blocking begets good pass blocking. You beat the piss out of the defensive line by ramming into them, wearing them down and leaving them flat-footed by play action. Then, when you have to do your duck walking on a third-and-long, they’re already tired out and dispirited. Life is already difficult as an offensive lineman, so every successful run makes every play after it feel easier by comparison. At least, that’s how I felt.

Of course, if I had been in charge of play-calling, we never would have passed the ball at all (also, I never would have had to pull). I would have gone the full Martyball and—say it with me—ESTABLISHED THE RUN with a merciless persistence. This is because when you’re a big guy, which I was, it’s not terribly fun to play the big guy position on the football field and discover you’re not allowed to use your bigness to your advantage on, like, half of the plays. There’s a nuance and choreography to pass-blocking that I was both too unskilled and too unmotivated to ever master. I wish I could tell you that I’m more grateful for my own team’s pass protectors more, given this firsthand knowledge. But I’m not. I still yell at them for blowing an assignment like everyone else does. That is because pass-blocking is a shitty, rotten duty designed to forever go unappreciated. Avoid it at all costs.

The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.

Five Throwgasms

Bills at Cardinals: I got nice takeout on Saturday night to celebrate the Biden win and I have a piping hot take to deliver right to your doorstep as a result: The worst kind of takeout, bar none, is traditional American restaurant food. If you’re ordering takeout, it’s always best to stick with the classics: pizza, subs, Chinese, Popeyes, Thai, burritos, etc. But if you want, like, fire-grilled salmon or some other kind of upscale shit? Forget it. That’s a complete waste of time, and I’m not saying that to throw direct shade at the place we ordered from that night. In my experience, this has been true when I’ve ordered that kinda food from any American restaurant ever. These are dishes that were never designed to be eaten anywhere other than at the goddamn restaurant. You clearly know this better than I do, since I just spent $100 on extremely average bar fare. But in case you don’t, consider this a PSA.

Four Throwgasms

Seahawks at Rams: In case you missed it, the NFL acted this week to boost minority hiring by passing the following resolution:

I’m with the chorus of people who have been like, “Uh, wouldn’t this actively DISSUADE teams from hiring Eric Bieniemy if the Chiefs stand to profit from it and not them?” The counterargument is that if you gave those picks to the team that hires Bieniemy, they could just fire him a week later to keep the picks and then go hire fucking Cam Cameron instead. That is what the Jets would do. I guess you could add a provision that says the hiring team has to keep its new coach aboard for, like, at least a one or two seasons. But what if that coach blows? Or what if he commits murder? Basically what I’m saying is that nothing about how this league conducts business will change until we jail all of the owners.

Three Throwgasms

Chargers at Dolphins: Unless you happen to be the Packers, there will never again be a compelling argument to keep a rookie QB on the bench for any period of time. Not even for the first month of the season. The QB incubation period is no longer necessary. What’s more, both Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert have already proven that they don’t need to wait. College offenses and pro offenses have grown more closely aligned over the past decade, with coaches like Bill Belichick and Andy Reid freely cribbing from Power Five playbooks. These guys are ready and they’re fucking cheap. You gotta use them while you got ‘em. I know everyone felt bad for Ryan Fitzpatrick because he got the hook despite playing well but trust me: Ryan Fitzpatrick will be fine. He’s worth a fucking mint and every network will shit hot knives to make him an analyst the day he retires. You draft a QB, you play him. No sense in wasting time. This is especially true if you drafted Daniel Jones and we all wanna take a dump on you for it.

Colts at Titans: This is such a classic TNF matchup, and yet it's a good one, at least on a superficial level. Will it end 9-6 anyway? YES.

Two Throwgasms

Texans at Browns: Oh hey, look at that: Every important professional athlete in Houston wants to get the fuck out of Houston.

How Houston gradually became our most despicable sports town is the kind of story you could make a whole fucking book out of. The Astros are MAGA-style thin-skinned cheats. The Rockets are a fun vacuum owned by Porky Wallace. And the Texans have decided to mistreat their (one) female employee after getting tired of mistreating all of their black employees. The guy in charge of personnel there also may or may not be a con-man televangelist. Never in my life did I think to myself, “You know, one day a sports city will come along that manages to be worse than Boston,” BUT HERE WE ARE. Deshaun Watson should be legally allowed to void his contract extension on account of just “Houston.” That deserves to hold up in Federal court.

Of course, there are the Texans. They’ll probably cut Deshaun anyway because he’s a bad “cultural fit” and then replace him with Blaine Gabbert.

Ravens at Patriots: You know who else has given up on the pandemic entirely? The NFL.

Oh wow Marlon is back less than two weeks after testing positive? That’s… great news. BUT WAIT IT GETS EVEN BETTER.

Another miracle. Amazing how every NFL player who gets COVID heals at lightning speed and never comes into dangerous contact with their teammates, even while practicing with them. One of these players is gonna drop dead. Possibly Lamar Jackson. Going by our national pandemic response, no one will even give a shit when THAT happens. Life here got real cheap real fast.

Bengals at Steelers: One of the pleasant discoveries of quarantine is that I have become a Warranty Dad. Many things have broken around this house over the past year. But I’ve had all the time in the world to check all the manuals (we have a file for them!), look up the warranty, and then call the company DIRECTLY to get my shit replaced. I’ve cashed in warranties for earbuds, Nerf guns, activewear, and even an inflatable hot tub. My warranty powers have spiked parallel to the national virus caseload. I’m gonna quit writing and become a warranty consultant to other middle-aged men. It’s my true passion now.

Niners at Saints

Broncos at Raiders

Bucs at Panthers

Vikings at Bears

One Throwgasm

WFT at Lions: Matt Prater has been awful this season. I’m not used to a world where the Lions have a terrible kicking game. It’s never been the case in my lifetime. The Lions suck everywhere ELSE, but their kicking game has always been strangely lethal. If they can’t even have that this season, then I fear what other fragile threads holding the world together will come unstitched.

Eagles at Giants

Jaguars at Packers

Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall

“Kiss of Death,” by Mutoid Man! So nice to have Mutoid Man back in the Jamboroo. Always trust a band that breaks out the legendary Gibson Explorer model. Here’s reader Paul:

Although Stephen is better known for leading Cave In, Mutoid Man does some great stuff, and this song just punches! Best part is the drummer whipping Stephen with his belt while recording the vocals, and they left it in. 

As well they should have. Session music needs more whips. Possibly chains as well.

Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week

Remember the Four Seasons Total Landscaping fiasco? Fucking hilarious, right? Well not if you were Amanda Mull of The Atlantic.

There’s nothing people love more than being told that something funny is not funny. It adds such joy to the room. The best part is that Mull doubled down in nearly every reply underneath the initial tweet.

THE COMEDY JUDGE HAS SPOKEN. The worst takes of all are the ones that presume everyone else is thinking what the taker is thinking. “Remember when we all PRETENDED it was funny that the President of the United States was hoodwinked by his own staff into believing a presser held next to a dildo store was going to be held at a four-star hotel that instantly disavowed him? Good thing we know better today!”

Magic Johnson’s Lock Of The Week: WFT (+3.5) at Lions

“I love the new name of the Washington Football Team, because that is truly what they are!”

2020 Magic record: 4-4

Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!

EAGLEMAN! From John:

This is the absolute GOAT bad local commercial from Chicago. If I'm like the 83rd Italian Beef-scented person to send it to you, I apologize. But seriously, check out this Criterion-level work, complete with some fantastic 90s in the Midwest hair. Bonus: terrible Spanish dub. I saw this one first during a bout with the flu and thought something had gone wrong with my brain.

I think it has, dear friend. I absolutely laughed out loud when Eagleman shat an egg out onto the roof of that car. Don’t tell Amanda Mull.

Fire This Asshole!

Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2020 chopping block:

Bill O’Brien—FIRED!
Dan Quinn—FIRED!
Mike Zimmer
Anthony Lynn
Adam Gase***********
Matt Patricia*
Mike McCarthy
Vic Fangio
Doug Marrone
Joe Judge
Matt Nagy

(* - potential midseason firing)

The Jets still haven’t fired Adam Gase, presumably because keeping him around triggers the libs. But while we’re watching Gase shovel shit into his own eyes, I’d just like to point out that the Jets have drawn more flags (74) than any other NFL team this season. Oh, but it gets BETTER. According to the MNF crew this week, the Jets have 10 roughing-the-passer flags on them this season, which is six more than ANY other NFL team has had. Gregg Williams is still overseeing a headhunting operation and no one in the league office gives half a fuck. He’s the pandemic of QB bounties. WHY IS THIS MAN NOT IN PRISON.

Great Moments In Poop History

Reader Steve sends in this story I call POOPY AND THE BANDIT.

Last semester, my roommate got a boot put on his car. He was not happy about this. In retaliation, he decided he wanted to rub shit all over it. Now, seeing as we didn't have any fresh shit lying around, someone was going to have to harvest some. Being the most morally depraved person in our house, that someone ended up being me. I decided to acquire said shit by stretching a plastic grocery bag across the top of a toilet. (I'm a city boy, can't shit just anywhere.) That worked out without much incident, aside from some toilet water getting all over the place and a smell that lingered for a good half an hour. That gets done, so now we have a pretty sizable turd wrapped up in plastic. Only way we can think of getting the shit onto the boot without possibly getting it all over ourselves is to sort of pull the plastic down, basically unwrapping the turd and smearing it on the boot. It was like writing with a warm Snickers; the turd was surprisingly more solid than I'd expected. (Oh, and once we were done with the turd, I left it resting outside of another roommate's window. Can't be wasting poop.)I go with my roommate to bring it back to the station, completely covered in poop. He walks up to the main desk, directly saying, "This is covered in poop." Luckily, the officer he's handing it to doesn't immediately process what he said, grabbing it by a shit-stained handle. Immensely satisfying, albeit a bit unsanitary.

Just a bit. Anyway, if YOU would like to poop on an officer of the law, please assail them with bags of feces DIRECTLY. We wouldn’t want some innocent meter maid caught up in these shenanigans.

Gametime Snack Of The Week

Butter snaps! One of our finer pretzel shapes. And why aren’t ALL pretzels butter-flavored, I ask you? Wouldn’t be hard to pull off, MISTER SNYDER OF HANOVER.

If you enjoy your pretzels with cream cheese (highly recommended) or peanut butter, the hardy butter snap maintains its integrity better than a pretzel knot, or a pretzel stick, or even a pretzel log. They sell pretzel crisps at the store and you would think THOSE were the hardiest pretzel model for dipping and spreading. You would be wrong. With the faintest pressure, those fuckers shatter like fine china. The snaps are pretzels you can count on.

Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week

For make benefit glorious nation of Uzbekistan

Раупхон Чешское Злато Мягкое! You know the one! From Uzbekistan! Reader George tells us about the beer we all know and love!

Here's an excellent jar of piss from the otherwise charming Uzbek city of Bukhara, but don't ask me to translate or pronounce it. The house suggests a pairing with the national dish of "Jiz," which comes replete with paper and costs a tidy sum of 25,000 Uzbek Som. You can also have your Jiz with vegetables, if that suits you. Eat the jiz and wash it down with this piss, Drew. Enjoy.

Oh I will. For deeper input, I Googled “uzbek jiz” and somehow was NOT greeted by the sight of an oil baron lemon party. Instead, I found this.

What we appears to have here is Central Asia’s answer to haggis. And you know what? I MUST HAVE IT. Bonus points for its full name being “jiz-biz,” because I wasn’t making enough cum jokes before I knew that.

Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!

“You need to have jam on you, because jams keep, OK? I have every type of jam stored in my Oldsmobile Silhouette: strawberry, blueberry, thornberry, peach, beef, lime, maple, carrot, peyote, Listerine… all of it. If I ever need some energy, and I’m a big guy, I get a spoon from my spoon bag and there you go. Instant nutrition. The key to a good jam is… you gotta let it sit. You put it in the shade for a few months to let the fruits do their fruit thing, then you scrape off the mold with a hunting knife and there you go. If you’re lucky, all those months get a little booze going on in there.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Jets Fans

Freejack. Have I seen Freejack? No. Will I ever? No. In fact, I just watched the trailer and I still don’t even know what Freejack is about. Apparently, Emilio Estevez is a race car driver who dies (money shot at the :10 mark), and is transported into the future because that’s how death works. There, he has to deal with cheaply made tanks and a sinister Mick Jagger, who knows who’s behind “this”—“this” I assume meaning the cool Death Future—even though it would very much appear to be a collecting-his-check Anthony Hopkins responsible for all this freejackin’. One of you has seen it, I bet. Please tell me how shitty it in down in the comments.

Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“Attention, this is Principal Skinner, your principal, with a message from the Principal's Office. All students please proceed immediately to an assembly in the Butthead Memorial Auditorium. [to himself] Dammit, I wish we hadn't let the students name that one.”

Enjoy the games, everyone.

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