Monday, September 24, 2012

9 comments ...Our Pets' Heads are Falling Off!: Week 3

Pretty exciting week in the NFL this week. The best part was that I got NFL Network added to my cable package (thanks again Time Warner Cable) the day AFTER the Panthers and Giants played on Thursday night. Then on Sunday when three of the early games went to overtime I was informed I no longer had NFL Red Zone because I need a different sports package, even though Time Warner Cable sent me an email saying I had NFL Red Zone as part of the NFL Network package. So in summary, I had to turn the channel in order to watch football and didn't have the highlights handed to me on one channel. Life is hard.

New York Giants 36 Carolina Panthers 7

I'll start with the worst game of the week that was unfortunately given a primetime spot. The Giants didn't need Nicks, didn't need Bradshaw, and didn't need David Diehl. I always say, "that's why you have backups" when a key player goes down and the Giants exemplify this. Had the Panthers showed up and had a good showing, I'm still not sure they would have won the game. This is what happens when a quarterback in his prime goes against a defense that clearly isn't capable of giving a full, consistent effort. Cam Newton did score a touchdown and then get to do the Superman routine he loves so much. It was pretty much performance art at that point since the game was already decided. If the fans are going to waste their Thursday night on a team that clearly doesn't give a shit, then he may as well have given them 5-10 seconds of excitement. It seemed the only ones who couldn't catch an Eli Manning pass was the Panthers secondary, while the Panthers defense decided they prefer to watch the offense to play from behind for the third consecutive game. It's become a tradition now and they don't want to break tradition. The idiotic talking heads tried to design this game as Newton's "coming out party" while forgetting he is still a second year quarterback learning. It's fun to set unfair high expectations and then thrash a player when he can't reach those expectations. Eli Manning had those high expectations, was seen by many as sort of a game manager for a couple of seasons at the beginning of his career (lowering the expectations), and now everyone realizes he is actually a great quarterback. Quarterbacks have to have help and the Giants did a great job of getting players ready to go when Manning needed that help.

Oakland Raiders 34 Pittsburgh Steelers 31

It's weird, but it seems like every time the Steelers are missing a key defensive member they lose a road game. They were missing Ryan Clark and lost to Denver twice in Denver (once in the playoffs last year and the first game of the year this year) and in this game against the Raiders they were missing Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, so they lost to Oakland in Oakland. Oakland didn't move the ball very well in the first half, but in the second half Carson Palmer seemed to forget it is not 2005 and he started playing incredibly well. Of course Roethlisberger played very well also, as usual, and putting up 31 points should absolutely have won the game. It's a good thing they don't give out "Wins" for NFL quarterbacks like they do for MLB pitchers. If they did, I am sure Murray Chass would have said Roethlisberger needed to play to the score better than he did. Roethlisberger did the equivalent of pitching 8 shutout innings only to have his bullpen blow the lead in the ninth inning. In all seriousness, I am a bit surprised at how well the Raiders played offensively. After all he did during this game, I will not be surprised if Darren McFadden takes off either next week or the next two weeks due to an injury. An 18 carry game for McFadden has to cause him an injury in some way, right? He's like Mr. Glass.

Houston Texans 31 Denver Broncos 25

I used to always say when a John Fox coached team got down early in the game, that team had no chance to come back. I guess the one caveat to my line of thinking is who the quarterback for that John Fox coached team is Peyton Manning. I picked the Texans to win 9 games this year and they are already 33% there, which further proves I am an idiot and never pick a team's record correctly. I'm guessing the Broncos strategy of getting down early and trying to come back by throwing the ball to get back in the game is not working. They may want to switch this strategy around. This would never be happening if Tim Tebow was still the Broncos quarterback. If Tim Tebow was still the Broncos quarterback the Broncos would have somehow managed to not only come back against the Texans, but win the game and somehow manage to negate points the Texans had scored until that point. Anything is possible with ex-backup QB punt protector Jets. Obviously the Texans didn't feel they had a choice, but the Texans seemed to struggle defensively once they backed off being very aggressive and playing a softer defense. I'm sure Gregg Easterbrook will have something to say about that on Tuesday. Tracy Porter was benched in this game because the Texans figured out early what the NFC figured out a couple of seasons ago, that Porter isn't really that great of a cornerback. He did pick off a pass in the first game of the year to help the Broncos beat the Steelers, but it is hard to pick off a pass if the opposing team doesn't feel comfortable throwing in your direction. So the Broncos are now 1-2 and I wonder if this will cause sportswriters to prematurely write off the Broncos, just like they will prematurely write off the Steelers because they are 1-2.

Atlanta Falcons 27 San Diego Chargers 3

The Falcons are really on a roll right now. Remembering what a roll they are on right now, let's also remember they are only three and a half short months away from nearly getting shutout in a playoff game, so look forward to that. What's so impressive about the Falcons over the first three games of the season is the way the defense is playing. They are creating turnovers and looked very good overall, especially in this game against the Chargers. The Chargers continued to be that team no one can figure out. They are either (a) a good team who had a bad day or (b) an average team who had an easy schedule in the first two games and their true colors showed through in this game. The Chargers haven't done an excellent job of surrounding Rivers with talent. His best running back is Jackie Battle and his receivers are Floyd and Meachem, two guys who look great as the #2 receiver on a team. I'm still surprised about this whole new "big play" offense run by the Falcons. They have the horses to do it in White/Rodgers/Jones, but I always pegged Matt Ryan as a cerebral Peyton Manning-lite. He never seemed like the kind of quarterback who wants to chuck the ball all over the field. It feels like the Falcons are the team to beat in the NFC right now. We will find out more about them this weekend when they have to play Carolina. I'm just kidding, we won't find out anything about the Falcons in that game. Maybe this year the Falcons will win a playoff game!

Chicago Bears 23 St. Louis Rams 6

It seems the Bears have figured out a strategy to win games. Don't let Jay Cutler try to win the game with his arm and have the defense provide as many points as possible. Mr. Cavallari only got sacked two times in this game and was on his best behavior, thereby being an excellent role model for the demon spawn he procreated. I'm still concerned his child will end up being a moody cokehead with diabetes, but at least Mr. Cavallari is being a great role model at this point. The Bears offense offensively was going to struggle in some areas of the game without Matt Forte, but the Bears defense was able to take advantage of Sam Bradford turning back into the below average quarterback who is only able to connect on short passes. The Rams offensive line obviously studied too much tape from the Bears-Packers game because they showed the offensive line sturdiness against the Bears pass rush that the Bears showed in the Packers game. Bradford got sacked six times, yet because he is already dead inside and has no emotions, he did not yell at his offensive linemen. Cortland Finnegan took a shot at Cutler's performance after the game, because why the hell not? Kick him while he is down. Perhaps Finnegan was talking about when Cutler missed a wide-open Devin Hester in the end zone. Now if the Bears can just replicate this defensive game 13 more times.

Buffalo Bills 24 Cleveland Browns 14

Apparently the key to getting Ryan Fitzpatrick to play well is to begin to take away his strong offensive weapons. After C.J. Spiller went out of the game with an injury, Fitzpatrick stopped polite and started getting real. It did help Tashard Choice ran the ball well and Ryan Fitzpatrick started throwing the football like he did last year when he got the nice contract extension from Bills' management. I am sure this is just a tease and Bills fans can expect the average Fitzpatrick showing next week. The Bills' defensive strategy, which is a strategy that may be duplicated repeatedly this year, was to stop Trent Richardson and make the Browns throw the ball. Fortunately, Brandon Weeden is super-mature and made the Bills pay for this strategy by---I'm just kidding, he didn't make them pay for this strategy. It wasn't completely his fault because the Browns dropped passes and with Muhammad Massaquoi out after the second quarter he had even fewer offensive weapons to work with. If this game were a gun fight, after losing Massaquoi and having Richardson bottled up, Weeden came to this gun fight with a Super Soaker 50. Pat Shurmur did confirm to reporters after the game there are indeed "no magical answers" so it seems the Browns can cross that hope off their list when playing for the first win of the season. There are no "magical answers" but I am noticing the Browns do have what I would consider "obvious answers" on how to win games. The first thing I would have done is not draft a quarterback who is closer to 30 years old than to 25 years old when you have needs all over the roster and lack offensive playmakers. 

Dallas Cowboys 16 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10

Did anyone ever figure out why the official (I'm not going to use "replacement official" as their name anymore because it is clear they are going to be around for a while) threw his hat on the field when Kevin Ogletree fell over it? Ogletree wasn't out of bounds, so why the official throw his hat in that situation? More importantly, if he was supposed to throw his hat, why didn't he just drop it? This is one thing that unnerves me about every official on every level. Why do they have to throw the penalty flags on the field as close to the play as possible? Sometimes it seems like the officials are aiming for the players when they throw those penalty flags, but wouldn't it make more sense to throw them just a few feet away from their body so the flag doesn't hit a player (like it did hit Orlando Brown a few years ago)? When I'm watching a Cowboys-Buccaneers game, these are the thoughts that go through my mind. I'm always afraid a player is going to take another penalty flag to the face. Josh Freeman looked terrible and Doug Martin had another "Eddie George special" type of game, where he had 58 yards rushing, but it took him 19 carries to get to that point. Tony Romo was sacked four time and fumbled three times and the Cowboys offense didn't look great. It's all Tony Romo's fault naturally. There were no victory kneel-down issues in this game, though Greg Schiano did call two timeouts during the kneel-downs in the hopes the Cowboys would fumble the snap. Schiano must believe a fumbled snap in a kneel-down situation happens a lot.

Tennessee Titans 44 Detroit Lions 41

If you hate defense, this was a great game to watch. Jake Locker was accurate and threw for 378 yards against an "improved" Lions secondary and Shaun Hill led the Lions' semi-comeback. With Locker being accurate and Shaun Hill rallying the Lions to an almost-victory all was upside down in my world, but the world seemed right knowing Matthew Stafford got injured. An NFL season doesn't truly start until Matthew Stafford gets injured. The Lions threw a Hail Mary which Titus Young caught for a touchdown that led to overtime. I always love it when analysts yell "just knock the ball down" in that situation, like the Titans weren't trying to knock the ball down. Then in overtime, the Lions were going to kick a field goal, but decided to attempt to draw the Titans offsides first. Due to a "communication issue," that I don't fully understand, Shaun Hill decided to try to sneak for one yard on fourth down rather than call timeout and kick the field goal. Jim Schwartz called it a "communication issue" but it sounded more like "I'm covering for my stupid asshole backup quarterback" issue. I'm not sure how the instructions "try to draw them offsides and then call timeout" can be miscommunicated into "try to draw them offsides, but then once the play clock is running down dive forward to sneak it for one yard," but that's the story we are supposed to believe. The media is getting their shorts all shit-stained in believing a Titans trick play used in this game is similar to the Music City Miracle in 2000. They are very similar plays, as long as you don't count that the stakes around the Music City Miracle in 2000 involved a playoff game and if the Titans didn't get at touchdown on that very play they were going to lose the game. But hey, a trick play in Week 3 of the 2012 season where there aren't even close to stakes that high deserves a really catchy nickname too.

Jacksonville Jaguars 22 Indianapolis Colts 17

I swear I thought these two teams had played already this year. They have not played. This was another exciting game where somehow future Hall of Famer and greatest quarterback to ever put on an NFL helmet Andrew Luck lost a game to future mutual fund manager Blaine Gabbert. Taking away the 80 yard pass to Cecil Shorts, Gabbert would have thrown for 75 yards in this game. The Jaguars should thank goodness for Maurice Jones-Drew who ran for 177 yards in this game. If Jones-Drew doesn't demand a trade after this season I am going to be very surprised. Prior to the 80 yards pass to Shorts, Gabbert went into the huddle with full confidence the Jaguars were going to win the game. Kudos to the Jaguars offensive players for not laughing. I probably would have. Andrew Luck claims he made bad decisions in this game, which we all know isn't true. He was only 22-46 on the day, but if we check the box score I am sure we will see Luck's receivers had 24 drops on the day. It would be nice if the Colts had made an effort to give Luck a running game. I'm still surprised Donald Brown is getting 18 carries in a game. In fact, I have a trade I would like the Browns and Colts to think about. Trent Richardson for Donald Brown, Reggie Wayne, and a third round pick. It gives the Browns a veteran receiver who can still catch the ball, a decent running back, and a third round pick to use on a really, really old position player in next year's draft. Who says "no" to that?

I'm kidding clearly.

New York Jets 23 Miami Dolphins 20

The two starting quarterbacks in this game combined to go 36-81 with one touchdown and three interceptions. After saying the Jets won't score 48 points in their next two games after Week 1, the Jets have scored 33 points in that time. I sort of said the Jets wouldn't score 48 points in their next three games the week after that, so I'm really counting on the 49ers defense to hold the Jets to 14 or less points next week. Of course, the Jets have the Texans the week after that, so maybe it will take four weeks for the Jets to score 48 points? In ex-backup QB punt protector Jets news, ESPN told me the following:

Tim Tebow called a fake punt and ran for 5 yards and a first down,

I wasn't even aware that ex-backup QB punt protector Jets was the offensive coordinator or special teams coordinator for the Jets. Who knew? It seems ex-backup QB punt protector Jets can call his own fakes, which is something I did not know. It's like giving a gun to a child. He also had a pass bounce off his helmet, but I'm not concerned and neither is ex-backup QB punt protector Jets. He's going to learn to catch a football one day, he swears. He said:

"I was not expecting it that quick, but I guess I'll learn," Tebow said.

Yes, maybe one day he will learn to catch a football. At this point, with his ability to throw a football I am deeply concerned that perhaps ex-backup QB punt protector Jets' father didn't spend enough time throwing and catching the football with a son who ended up playing football in high school. But someday, he will learn to catch.

Darrelle Revis also went out with a non-contact football injury, which I originally concluded was only a more covert attempt to hold out for a new contract. It turns out he has a torn ACL, which if I believed in karma, would sort of be karma for threatening to hold out of training camp. Revis was going to choose to not play football and now he can't play football. Ryan Tannehill had another "bleh" game as an NFL quarterback and the Dolphins running game kept them in this game. Joe Philbin called timeout at the end of the game to ice the Jets kicker, which negated a blocked punt by the Dolphins and then the Jets' Nick Folk made the second try. I'm one of those people who may never get why coaches call these timeouts. Maybe I just don't believe enough that icing the kicker is necessary or even a real thing. It just seems these last-second timeouts give the opposing kicker a chance to practice from the exact distance he will be making the kick and allows the kicking team to see how the opposing team will line up to block the kick.

Minnesota Vikings 24 San Francisco 49ers 13

The Vikings managed to get ahead of the 49ers and force the 49ers offense to try and comeback in a game. This strategy seemed to work for one week. Of course, getting ahead of the 49ers isn't an easy thing to do, but watching Alex Smith throw the ball around the field in an attempt to come back is a much better sight for opposing teams than having the 49ers control the ball and clock with a 7-10 point lead. So all NFL teams out there, try this new strategy...try to get ahead of the opposing team as quickly as possible. This is a strategy that may work. Spirits were so high in Minnesota after this game that Brett Favre announced he was looking to come out of retirement and join the Vikings team this season. Favre stated he would only do this as long as he was handed the starting quarterback job. The Vikings didn't even bother to return Favre's repeated phone calls. Christian Ponder played really well and provided us with this Ryan Lochte-like quote:

"There was a big running lane, and I figured that if my ... legs were fast enough, maybe I'd get there," Ponder said. "And I got there, so it was good."

Jeah. It was good.

The officials in this game gave the 49ers two chances to withdraw a timeout in order to challenge a play. I used to think the NFL was going to stick to these new officials until they manage to change the outcome of a game, but now I'm not so sure. At this point, I think the NFL won't budge on negotiations with the old officials until a blunder by the new officials actually ends up with a coach having a heart attack or a player being severely injured. Speaking of NFL coaches having heart attacks and wanting to smack a bitch...

Baltimore Ravens 31 New England Patriots 30

Torrey Smith played a great game. I will hold back on the snark to say that. What a tough game under tough circumstances. I'm shocked he even played. Bill Belichick shouldn't be in trouble for touching the official. Officials aren't the Pope and he simply grabbed the officials arm in order to get his attention and then gave up as the official ran off the field as fast as he could. I thought the officiating in this game wasn't very good. What I think gets lost in this disgust towards the new officials is that the old officials didn't always get things right, but the perception is the new officials are incompetent so they are being held to the standard that even a close call that is the correct call will be seen as wrong. I think players are acting out a little harder on calls to play to the idea the officials are incompetent. What used to be a small amount of frustration at a call turns to the player jumping around and acting like it was the single worst call in the history of the NFL. Having said that...there were some really fishy pass interference calls in this game. I didn't hate the last call (which I think was on McCourty for interfering with Jacoby Jones) because I thought McCourty had Jones' shoulder as the ball was in the air, but otherwise, there were some bad calls leading up to that point. The Ravens had 14 penalties for 135 yards. As much as I bash Joe Flacco, he looked very good against the Ravens and outplayed Tom Brady...or maybe it was a draw, which is still a credit to Flacco. Of course Flacco has an actual running game with Ray Rice leading the way, which always helps.

Kansas City Chiefs 27 New Orleans Saints 24

Drew Brees promises the Saints are going to turn this all around (of course Brees also promises he didn't know of any bounties being placed on opposing players by the Saints defense). I'm sure he means it. Unless he knows how to play defense, I'm not sure that is happening. It's taken two or three seasons, but my insistence the Saints can't stop the run is coming true. The Saints defense has never been that great, but they never had to be great when the Saints offense could put up points and put pressure on the opposing team's defense and offense to score points quickly. Now that the Saints aren't piling up the yardage on offense (288 yards in this game), the opposing team (the Chiefs in this game) can focus on establishing the run. The Chiefs had 510 yards of offense in this game, which is an incredible amount, even if the Chiefs had the ball for 42 out of 68 minutes in this game. I don't think the issue is that difficult for the Saints personally, but there isn't an easy solution. They rely so much on Drew Brees, they can't run the ball and they can't stop the run. Pierre Thomas had 6 carries for 11 yards and Darren Sproles had 7 carries for 62 yards, but 47 of those yards came on one play. Peter King's favorite future NFL head coaching candidate Aaron Kromer isn't exactly wowing the NFL with the job he is doing right now. The Saints defense did a good job of keeping the Chiefs out of the end zone, so that is a positive, but the blueprint is out right now on how to beat the Saints. Run the ball, don't turn the ball over (which the Chiefs did and still won the game) and get pressure on Brees.

Cincinnati Bengals 38 Washington Redskins 31

Robert Griffin (I'm leaving off the "III" because I don't like writing it) got sacked six times in this game and the Redskins defense gave up a lot of big plays. I thought coming into this year the Redskins defense would be a source of strength, but in this game it seemed like a liability. I wonder if Griffin thought all that hard tackling by the Bengals was dirty play, like he thought last week about the Rams. These NFL players sure do hit hard, so that must be considered dirty play to Griffin. Griffin still almost led the Redskins to victory and the end of the game was weird. The new officials called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Redskins because they were on the field after what they thought was the final snap, even though the Bengals were also on the field. It was pretty bizarre to watch. The officials then decided to push the Redskins back 25 yards instead of 20 yards they were supposed to push the Redskins back. I'm not sure why the officials tacked on an extra five yards to the penalty. I'm sort of enjoying these new officials. Watching them is like a game in itself. You never know what they are going to do next. It seems this game came down to Andy Dalton being able to throw deep for quick scores, while Griffin had trouble getting the ball downfield to get big plays. Griffin did lead the Redskins in rushing and had 12 rushes for the game. I still worry he won't be able to hold up over an NFL season since he isn't the sturdiest-built quarterback.

Arizona Cardinals 27 Philadelphia Eagles 6

Mike Vick fumbled twice in this game, which continues a trend we have seen all year. Kevin Kolb got his "revenge" for the Eagles trading him away to a place where he can have a starting job. I'm not entirely sure why Kolb is angry he was traded away so that he could be the starting quarterback in Arizona, but sometimes athletes get motivated by some of the strangest things. It's not like Kolb would have gotten a $60 million contract staying in Philadelphia and he hasn't exactly earned that money in Arizona, so he should be thanking the Eagles for trading him, which helped Kolb get a chance at a starting quarterback job and a large contract. The Cardinals can expect Kolb to keep playing well as long as they don't name him the starting quarterback. He doesn't need that kind of pressure. The Eagles couldn't protect Vick and Vick couldn't get away from the Cardinals defense. The Cardinals had five sacks on the day and the defense looks really strong, which is something I didn't expect. I very much underrated the Cardinals this year. It can't be long before Eagles fans are tired of Mike Vick and his turnovers. He can be really fun to watch, but I feel like his progression as a quarterback is discussed more than it actually has occurred on the field. He looks sort of like the same quarterback today, except a little slower, as he was almost ten years ago.


ZidaneValor said...

As a Cowboys fan, I think Greg Schiano was right to call those timeouts in victory formation because the Cowboys centers usually just snap the ball to Romo whenever they want. I was legitimately concerned for a fumble.

That being said, I don't know why he let the game clock run down from 40 seconds to 15 and THEN called timeout. That made no sense to me.

Bengoodfella said...

Zidane, I didn't mind Schiano calling those timeouts either. I thought it was a good strategy. I thought it was interesting that he did call those timeouts after last week's incident in New York.

You don't need to know why he let the game clock run down to 15 seconds. That's because HE ALWAYS DID IT THAT WAY AT RUTGERS!

Anonymous said...

You mislabeled one of the games. Per ESPN's side ticker (is it called "what's on" or "up next" or something like that?) the game is properly known as "Luck vs. Jaguars." I guess it's to be expected, though, as you're a blogger, not a real journalist like the folks at ESPN.

ZidaneValor said...

Why do I have the feeling that TMQ is going to rip Jennings for attempting a "selfish, hero, DIVA, me-first, stat-padding" interception instead of batting the ball down? Like in the Detroit-Tennessee game.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, my bad on that one. I am not a real journalist, so I wasn't aware it was Luck v. the Jaguars. It doesn't shock me they put that up there. I guess Luck v. Gabbert doesn't have the same draw.

Zidane, oh yeah I wouldn't doubt that Gregg does that. He will probably also make it sound like Jennings is pouting about his lack of a new contract. We are going to get a lot of second-guessing in this week's TMQ.

Anonymous said...

speaking of TMQ. I think the slow, but sure hybridization of Gregg and Peter is soon coming to a head. Peter finished with another haiku and felt the need to comment on shirtless Tebow (which I wasn't aware of from this past weekend, because of, you know, the games).

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, yes I saw that. I am posting MMQB today and I can't believe he put a haiku in there. Peter also referred to Tebow as "the girl who wants to be known for her brains" but this girl keeps wearing skimpy clothing.

I am mystified at much of what Peter writes sometime, but the haikus take the cake for me.

koleslaw said...

I completely agree about icing the kicker. I can kinda sorta understand why a coach might try icing a basketball player who has to make key free throws, but you're right about the kicker. If I were a kicker, I'd relish the opportunity to take a practice swing. When was the last time you saw a PGA golfer walk up to the tee and just swing and hit the ball?

“@shakysmithson: Man if they put them replacement Refs on Madden 13 I swear to God I won't touch a game system anymore” Lmfao haha
— Desmond bishop (@Desbishop55) September 25, 2012

OMG, "Terrible Ref Mode" on Madden is exactly what that game needs to breathe some life into a game series that is complacent because it's the only one with an NFL license.

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, obviously it is the coach's call, but I don't get the icing the kicker idea. Mostly because it seems like the team trying to block the kick doesn't know the TO is coming. So they try to block the kick and then their effort doesn't count. Icing the kicker like that seems like it doesn't benefit the team trying to block the kick as much as it hurts the kicking team. Golf is different from football, but your point stands. The kicker (assuming he gets the kick off) is able to practice his kick before the one that counts.

I don't get icing the kicker. I am not entirely sure it works, but I also think it takes some of the energy out of the team trying to block the kick.

I couldn't handle "Terrible Ref Mode" on Madden. It would be funny, but when calls when against me I might break the game console.