Monday, September 17, 2012

8 comments ...Our Pets' Heads are Falling Off!: Week 2

It's post-Week 2 (except for the Monday night game) and at least one columnist in every city with an NFL team that is 0-2 has written a "It's not early to panic" column followed by the requisite statistics showing how many teams that start out 0-2 end up making the playoffs. It's all very predictable.

Green Bay Packers 23 Chicago Bears 10

I didn't get to see this game because Time Warner Cable is the only major cable provider in the United States (from what I know) that won't offer NFL Network to its customers. I heard the game was ugly and the highlights I saw looked ugly as well. Apparently the media took exception to Mr. Cavallari yelling at his offense line, receivers, and probably the hot dog vendor as well. I'm not in favor of a quarterback yelling at his offensive line or receivers, but I think Cutler is just such an easy target he gets picked on a lot by the media. You don't yell at your offensive line if you are a quarterback though, so I can't defend him for that. Cutler was sacked seven times for God's sake though. Imagine if Peyton Manning were sacked seven times in a game (which we know would NEVER happen) and got upset with his linemen, which we know has happened before...can you see the media jumping on Manning the way they jumped on Cutler? Cutler is an easy target for sure, but the Bears offensive line has to protect him. I said last week the Week 1 loss against the 49ers wasn't going to set the tone for the Packers season (sorry, there goes your narrative Gregg Easterbrook) and it didn't. The Packers defense played great, and even though Rodgers was sacked five times he still didn't get rattled. That's one difference in Rodgers and Cutler. Cutler gets rattled and gets overemotional, while Rodgers doesn't.

San Francisco 49ers 27 Detroit Lions 19

The lesson I could learn from this game is the 49ers have a really great defense and though the Lions' offense is capable of big plays, great defense can still beat a great offense (three "greats in one sentence, so top that). It's hard to beat any team if you can't score a touchdown and the Lions had trouble doing this. The 49ers did a great job of running the ball, and at the very worst, Alex Smith played Matthew Stafford to a draw. It appears the "throw the ball up to Calvin Johnson" play didn't work for the Lions as well against the 49ers as it has worked against the rest of the NFL. Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh proved before the game and after the game they are not only really good coaches but also really good actors, as they pretended for the NBC cameras they really do like each other. The 49ers were brutally efficient again and when their defense plays like it does against high-powered teams like the Lions and the Packers, then it is hard to see how any other team in the 49ers division is going to be able to move the ball against them. Cliff Avril tried to kick a 49ers player in the head out of frustration, further proving how Jim Schwartz isn't the best at creating discipline for his players on or off the field.

Buffalo Bills 35 Kansas City Chiefs 17

Not shockingly, the Bills defensive line played a lot better this week as compared to their previous game against the Jets. I wonder if Gregg Easterbrook will care to discuss the five sacks the Bills had against the Chiefs and if he will want to call out the high-priced line for underperforming? Probably not. Most likely Gregg will criticize the highly-paid players on the Chiefs' offensive line for not blocking the Bills pass rushers. The Bills gave up a lot of yardage to the Chiefs, but mostly when the Chiefs were just trying to come back in the fourth quarter. It appears Romeo Crennel is still that coach an NFL team wants to date, but not marry. Now they are trapped with him and being reminded of how well he coached when he was with the Browns. His 24-40 record with the Browns didn't happen by accident. I'm guessing that Bill Simmons is firing up some "Romeo Crennel staring vacantly into the distance" jokes that he did not use for Art Shell when he coached the Raiders. Though Chiefs fans should feel better when Crennel says:

"I thought that we would be better, and we're not,"

Or maybe this quote from Crennel makes Chiefs fans feel better:

"So we have to try and figure out what that is. From what I've seen, if we do what we're supposed to do, then we would be better."

So all the Chiefs have to do is figure out what makes them better, then do that, and they will be better. Sounds like a plan. It seems the Bills have figured out the best way to win games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback is to make it not necessary for him to throw the football. Whatever works I guess.

Cincinnati Bengals 34 Cleveland Browns 27

If Brandon Weeden keeps playing like this then it is going to be very hard for me to mock his ability to play quarterback. Trying to keep this all in perspective, the Bengals defense did give up 44 points to the Ravens last week, so perhaps the Bengals just don't have a very good defense. I think of it as Occam's Razor for a person like me who doubts Weeden and Joe Flacco are as good as they had shown against the Bengals. So as opposed to perhaps accepting Joe Flacco is a very good quarterback and Brandon Weeden can throw the ball and chew gum at the same time or any other theory I don't like, I will assume until further notice the Bengals have a terrible defense and that's why Weeden/Flacco looked great against them. The Browns were missing their top two cornerbacks, which is why Armon Binns, Brandon Tate and Andrew Hawkins each had a big day receiving. Some guys like Pete Prisco were amazed the Browns took a running back with the 4th pick in this year's draft, but Richardson seems to have taken a lot of pressure off Weeden by running the ball well. See, that's the purpose of a good running game, to take pressure off a young (I'm just kidding, Weeden isn't young at all) quarterback and maybe by the time Weeden is 30-31 years old he will be ready and accustomed to the speed the NFL game is played at.

Indianapolis Colts 23 Minnesota Vikings 20

The Vikings continue their difficult early season schedule this week by playing the Indianapolis Colts one week after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. Next week the Vikings are scheduled to play Savannah State I believe. I'm just kidding, the 49ers are up next for the Vikings, so that should sufficiently suck for Minnesota. The Vikings played well, but ran into a future Hall of Famer when playing the Colts and Andrew Luck. Some people may say Luck probably should have known the clock was already stopped when he spiked the ball before Vinatieri came on the field for the game-winning try, but Luck was just taunting the Vikings and he in no way doesn't know the rules of football. The Colts still seem to have trouble running the football and if Luck is going to be the greatest quarterback in the history of history then he needs a running game to take some pressure off him. Who am I to question Donald Brown's ability to run the football when he was drafted by Bill Polian? What will probably get lost in this game discussion when people are fawning all over Luck is the Christian Ponder didn't play terribly. I'm guessing the 49ers defense may end up being a bigger challenge than the Colts defense for the Vikings though.

Miami Dolphins 35 Oakland Raiders 13

The Dolphins apparently decided it is best to beat the Raiders by running the ball down their throats, which they did very successfully. The Raiders claim part of the problem for them was their starting field position, but we have learned from Kevin Kelley and Gregg Easterbrook that field position is overrated, so that can't be part of the reason the Raiders lost this game. Field position is overrated, right? Carson Palmer's 373 passing yards do look impressive until you learn the Raiders couldn't run the ball at all and he only completed 50% of his passes. Ryan Tannehill avoided any turnovers and managed the game very nicely for the Dolphins, while Reggie Bush played well enough to remind everyone that it just feels like he should have had a better NFL career than he has had.

Arizona Cardinals 20 New England Patriots 18

If I'm a Patriots fan I am at least a little bit happy their kickers seem to hit clutch kicks in important playoff games at least. Not to mention, Gostkowski had hit four field goals prior to the miss that lost the game for the Patriots, so he did his part on the day. For the final bit of honesty, the Patriots got lucky Ryan Williams even fumbled the ball so they could get the ball back and get a chance to kick the game-winning kick. Really, if the Patriots could have punched the ball in the end zone then the game would not have come down to a game-winning kick. The Patriots got a punt blocked and just generally had a bad game. It happens. Of course this loss led to Patriots sportswriters writing articles that have a byline which says, "Wins that used to be automatic now seem anything but for Bill Belichick's team." It is as if NFL teams aren't supposed to occasionally lose a football game.

All that talk about how the Patriots have a better defense now is gone because the Patriots dared to lose an NFL game. I am sure once the Patriots win next week the narrative will change again and the Patriots will be a defensive team on the rise. It's very difficult to keep up with the reactive narrative of sports journalists. Kevin Kolb didn't do anything stupid to lose the game and continues to prove that as long as the Cardinals don't officially name him the starter and in no way expect him to be the long-term starter, then he possibly could help the team win games. Just don't put any pressure on him because that's not what he wants. The Cardinals have started off 2-0 this year, but in both games they scored 20 points. That's probably not going to cut it in every game this year.

New York Giants 41 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34

Eli Manning had a typical "Eli Manning-like" day. He threw a couple of interceptions early in the game and then when things got tight he won the game for the Giants. He can be clutch like that. I wasn't as impressed with Eric Wright's interception return for a touchdown as others may be. Wright has a lot of practice at returning interceptions because teams know he isn't a very good cornerback and continue to throw in his direction. At a certain point with all these passes being thrown your way as a cornerback, you start to learn how to intercept a pass and have plenty of practice at returning those interceptions for a touchdown. I guess that is one benefit to getting picked on by the offense. You can't return an interception for a touchdown if the ball isn't thrown your way.

Nicks and Cruz had a fantastic day and I wonder how much "Ronde Barber is playing at a high level at the safety position" talk we will hear this upcoming week? Doug Martin again had the "Eddie George special" day of running the football. He got twenty carries and averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Greg Schiano, who is the next great NFL head coach, instructed his team to go after Eli Manning on the final kneel-down, thereby helping his team find that discipline which was missing under the previous regime. The Bucs said they just like to play to the final snap, but personally I think they were just being a bunch of assholes. On a final kneel-down it is important to try to jump over the line and cause a fumble and Schiano did do that at Rutgers, which means it shouldn't be an issue in the NFL too, right? What's with the ego on some of these NFL coaches? Yeah, a team wants to play until the final snap, but jumping over the line and trying to cause a fumble on a kneel-down goes past being competitive and into a different direction of just being an asshole.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 Baltimore Ravens 23

The Eagles weren't so shaken and scared by this new high-powered Ravens no-huddle offense (325 total yards for the game) they just laid down and let the Ravens walk all over them. From all I have read from Joe Flacco and Peter King I thought this new Ravens no-huddle offense was going to revolutionize the game and turn Joe Flacco into a quarterback who does more than go 22-42 for 232 yards with an interception and a touchdown. I guess I was wrong. It was the Eagles who ran the no-huddle effectively in this game. Jim Caldwell has found teaching the no-huddle offense is a lot easier when he has Peyton Manning running it. Ray Lewis wasn't happy with the officiating, but the NFL doesn't care as long as the officiating doesn't blatantly change the outcome of a game they will stick with the replacement officials. As soon as a team is cost a win due to bad officiating, then and only then will the NFL start more serious negotiations with the regular officials. The Eagles keep turning the ball over and they keep winning games. I can't figure out if this will eventually come back to bite them in the ass or they are just going to be all that much more dominant once they stop turning the ball over. One thing is for certain, the inconsistency of Joe Flacco is very consistent.

Carolina Panthers 35 New Orleans Saints 27

The Saints attempted to further prove their innocence in the bounty scandal yesterday by trying to step on a helmet-less Cam Newton's head for free, without being paid any bounty. Very noble of them. In the third quarter Newton had run to the left and been tackled, losing his helmet, whereupon a scrum started where Saints players attempted to step on Newton's head at that point. They failed to hit his head (which is pretty much a metaphor for the Saints defense, so close but still a bunch of failures), but did manage to tear Newton's uniform. Of course Drew Brees knew nothing of this and would never believe his Saints teammates would be dirty enough to try to curb-stomp an opposing player, even though FOX video clearly showed this happening.

Thank goodness this game didn't get ugly because it could have. I thought I saw Cam Newton throw a half-punch/shove at a Saints player at one point. Steve Smith and whoever was defending him probably deserved at least one unnecessary roughness penalty. If the officials had spent more time ensuring both teams didn't try to cheap shot each other and less time making sure Newton couldn't hand the football to a fan after a touchdown (as is his tradition) I would have been appreciative. The Saints (still) don't have a great defense and if the offense isn't scoring points the Saints defense has to stop the run, which they can't do very well. The Panthers just ran the ball very well and got pressure on Drew Brees enough to keep the pressure off their offense from having to outscore Saint Brees. I still don't know if I panic if I'm a Saints fan. I think they can recover from being 0-2.

Houston Texans 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 7

It's almost not fair for Blaine Gabbert to get such confidence last week and then have to face the Texans defense this week. The Texans got to an early lead by running the ball and dared the Jaguars to catch up, which they couldn't do. Gabbert was terrible and the Jaguars offense couldn't get anything started. Normally, this is a game I would say forget about and move on...but the Jags and Gabbert played like this last year as well, so it concerns me they haven't improved and last week was an anomaly. Sure, going from playing the Vikings to the Texans is a tough haul in terms of defensive pressure on the quarterback, but there is only so much babying of Gabbert the Jags can do. He has to produce. The Texans reminded me why they were picked to win the division and why I am such an idiot for picking the Titans. On a positive note, Chad Henne came in the game and went 2-2 for 23 yards. Maybe he can pull a "Kevin Kolb" and play well when there isn't any pressure on him.

St. Louis Rams 31 Washington Redskins 28

Robert Griffin III (at what point can he make us forget about the NFL exploits of RGI and RGII that I can just call him "Robert Griffin?") played well again. Sam Bradford played like Rams fans had been wanting and expecting him to play in leading the Rams to a comeback victory. Griffin looked good again though. It should be another week or two before the media starts setting unreal expectations for him as if the NFL doesn't watch film and teams aren't going to try and take away what he is good at and in some ways succeed at doing this. Then the media will write "Has the NFL caught up with RGIII" columns, while seeing any struggles by Andrew Luck as just a part of his development. So basically I expect a few struggles for Griffin in the near future. Danny Amendola caught 15 passes causing fantasy football owners everywhere to scour the waiver wire in order to pick him up, not knowing they will be disappointed in three weeks when he goes back to posting 3 catches for 43 yards in every game. Trust me, I've had Danny Amendola on my team. He is not the answer to your wide receiver issues.

Seattle Seahawks 27 Dallas Cowboys 7

One week after Tony Romo had finally turned a corner and the Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC East, the Cowboys receivers dropped passes and the Cowboys are now too weak and not physical enough to contend in the NFC. The story when a rookie quarterback wins a game will always be that rookie, but Marshawn Lynch ran the ball well and the Seahawks defense shut down the Cowboys. So Wilson was good, but Lynch and the Seahawks defense was great. The best secondary in the history of the NFL did okay against Russell Wilson, but the run defense is where the Cowboys struggled. No worries if you are a Cowboys fan, Rob Ryan will probably correct this issue. He doesn't subscribe to the old Mike Shanahan view of coaching. If you expect Mike Shanahan to coach like the genius he is, then he needs great players to do this. You wouldn't expect the genius of Mike Shanahan to show through with Rex Grossman throwing the ball do you? There is about as much to take away from this Cowboys loss as there was to take away from the Cowboys victory over the Giants last week. We still don't know who this Cowboys teams truly is. The team that dominated the Giants or the team that was beaten up by the Seahawks?

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 New York Jets 10

I said last week the Jets weren't going to score 48 points over their next two games. Perhaps I should have said they wouldn't score 48 points over their next three games. The good news is ex-backup QB punt protector Jets showed up and ran for a 22 yard gain. I'm sure if Rex Ryan had allowed him more snaps then he could have inspired and led the Jets to a victory on the wings of love while angels serenaded the crowd with hymns. He just needs a chance. I haven't read any New York papers today, but I imagine the unfair high expectations set for Mark Sanchez last week are now being reconsidered. Going 10-27 is Gabbert-esque. The Jets missing Darrelle Revis is a good excuse to use this week, but I wouldn't even be concerned about the defense of the Jets, since the offense seems to have jumped back to being inconsistent. This season is already starting out like ex-backup QB punt protector Jets and his fans had it planned. It's a five-step approach really to getting ex-backup QB punt protector Jets as the starting quarterback:

1. Mark Sanchez has a wonderful first game, thereby raising expectations and the fall back to reality being harder. Once the fans see what Sanchez is capable of doing, even if he isn't capable of it on a consistent basis, they don't know why he can't play like that every game.

2. Introduce a succubus to tempt Mark Sanchez with her older feminine wiles (Eva Longoria).

3. Sanchez struggles in his next few games to get the Jets offense to move the ball and attention for how badly he is playing begins to wear on him as the succubus takes his time and energy away from studying film.

4. The Jets begin to rely more on the Wildcat and ex-backup QB punt protector Jets to move the ball during the game.

5. Because the Jets move the ball well from the Wildcat, ex-backup QB punt protector Jets is named the starting quarterback and then the mania in Denver starts all over again in New York and NFL Network/ESPN stop showing any other NFL highlights and focus completely on ex-backup QB punt protector Jets. The nation needs to be on suicide watch.

San Diego Chargers 38 Tennessee Titans 10

Everyone in the first row duck! Jake Locker is trying to throw the ball! I've never entirely thought a quarterback could be taught accuracy, but Brett Favre is always used as the example that proves this supposed rule. I see Favre as the outlier. I realize a couple of games doesn't mean a hell of a lot, but Locker has played in two blowout games and only threw for 50% completion rate in this game. I'm not convinced Locker can be taught accuracy. I really shouldn't be picking on Jake Locker since Chris Johnson is stinking up the joint this year, again. He had 17 yards rushing and didn't take any pressure off Locker and the Titans passing game. The Chargers defense played well and Philip Rivers looked great throwing the ball, even without Antonio Gates in the lineup. It appears the Broncos coronation as the best team in the AFC West is still somewhat in question. Of course, the Chargers have played the Raiders and Titans, while the Broncos have played the Steelers and Falcons. There is a slight difference in the level of competition each team has faced so far. The Chargers had the ball for 43 minutes during this game. That's crazy, almost as crazy as Chris Johnson averaging 1.1 yards per carry this season.


Anonymous said...

Interesting read. I saw that there was a new post today and thought/hoped that it was Peter King related. Not sure if you've seen his latest MMQB, but lets just say he ends it on a very Easterbrookian note.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, glad you at least found it interesting. I am working on MMQB as I write this. I can't believe he wrote a haiku.

Sorry to disappoint with it not being Peter King related. I wanted to do something NFL-related for Mondays but PK's MMQB is sometimes hard to get posted on Monday. I thought it would be fun to write a weekend in review for a few weeks to see how it goes.

No worries though, I will get to MMQB and his apparent need to do a haiku.

rich said...

First off, I read PK's column this afternoon at work... holy shit is it bad.

"Five takeaways from Sunday" had six fucking items. I'm sorry, but that's not nitpicking, that's absurd. No one picked up on it? Seriously?

And it'd been so long since I had read it that I completely forgot they didn't let you read it on one page. No sir, you have to load 5 pages to read his horseshit.

Time Warner Cable

In Philly I had one choice - Comcast. It sucked.

Here in Kansas City I have one choice - Time Warner. It's worse.

No NHL package (even if there had been a season) and no NFL package. I was stuck watching Chiefs - Bills (unwatchable), Seahawks - Cowboys (unwatchable) and Raiders - Dolphins (unwatchable).

Fuck you Time Warner.

So we have to try and figure out what that is

Having watched a good portion of this abomination as well as the Chiefs-Falcons game last week it's quite simple:

Matt Cassel sucks.

Even including Tebow and Sanchez, I have never seen a more useless QB in my life. He's so bad that even I was getting pissed off at him... and I couldn't give two shits about the Chiefs. At least Jets FB can run. Cassel has the Tebow's accuracy, Chad Pennington's arm and Tom Brady's mobility.

It's impressive to see his stat line at the end of the game and go "how did he manage those stats when he played like shit?"

Here's a typical Matt Cassel play:

Bounces around
Pats ball
Pats ball
Sees defender 6 yards away
Throws ball into defender's knees.

He doesn't try to scramble, doesn't move around the pocket, he just up and throws the ball at the defender.

San Francisco 49ers 27 Detroit Lions 19

One thing of note - the officiating in the first 2.5 quarters in this game was horrid.

It seemed like every other play resulted in a flag and half of those resulted in the refs huddling up to figure out the call... and getting it wrong.

The officiating in the other games wasn't particularly good either, but at least it was "passable." In the Lions-Niners game, it was becoming unintentionally hilarious how incompetent the officials seemed to be. Play clock runs out... three seconds later there's a snap, no call.

Hell the first quarter fucking ended and no one seemed to notice and the Niners got an extra play off.

Nothing is more hilarious than the crew chief exiting a 2 minute conference to make the call and stumbling over his words like a buffoon.

In the Chiefs game this was an actual call:

"Delay of game def... offense number seven, five yard penalty, automatic first down"

What... the... fuck.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, yeah I noticed that as well. I always go to print the page and read it like that on one page.

Wow, that's bad in Kansas City. During the week, we have good options here since I am a Panthers fan, but on Thursdays I would have to go somewhere to watch the game. It's kind of silly.

I've seen Cassel play a bit over the past few seasons and he hasn't ever incredibly impressed me. Since you are in KC, is there a movement to get a new QB, or are they happy with Cassel?

They gave up too much for him anyway and he was so hyped b/c he came from the Pats system. I'm not sure Scott Pioli is the genius he believes himself to be.

The officiating was worse this week, but it was bad last week too. I think the bad calls are starting to accumulate in people's heads and people think it's getting worse. I thought last week was bad, but this week some of the calls and the officials inability to control the game and the game's flow was very noticeable.

JimA said...

Funny, I didn't see Cutler yelling at people as much as he could have. I did see him pat guys on the head after they screwed up. I saw Peyton Manning go up to guys and give them what was called "encouragement" after they made mistakes, and saw the Great Aaron Rodgers nearly run downfield to chew a guy out for running his pattern wrong. Those guys were leading, though. Cutler didn't play well, but he had a lot of company.

Bengoodfella said...

Jim, I wouldn't argue with my offensive line if I were Cutler. It just doesn't seem smart to annoy them when they protect you. Cutler's big mistake was his shove of Webb being caught by the cameras. Otherwise, I've seen quarterbacks talk tough to their linemen and chew out a receiver for running the wrong pattern. I won't excuse Cutler, but some quarterbacks get excuses made for them. If Manning got sacked 7 times the public sentiment is that he had a right to be upset because they weren't blocking for him.

JimA said...

That would be a good point except for one thing: they don't protect him. Webb shouldn't be starting on an NFL offensive line. Cutler is no prize, but that O-line sucks.

Bengoodfella said...

Jim, I agree. I just don't think yelling at your linemen is going to win Cutler any fans. Still, they do a shit job of protecting him. He gets emotional and then gets criticized for not being a leader. If another quarterback gets in the face of a lineman he is just trying to get him to do his job.