Monday, October 1, 2012

4 comments ...Our Pets' Heads are Falling Off!: Week 4

This wasn't the most exciting week in the NFL because there were quite a few blowouts and teams making statement games (New England, San Francisco), but like every week in the NFL, it wasn't boring. There were exciting games and Ryan Tannehill inexplicably went batshit crazy throwing the ball all over the field. After yesterday, I'm already ready for the playoffs and the season to be over. Is it too early to say that?

Baltimore Ravens 23 Cleveland Browns 16

I'm obviously not an NFL wide receiver, so I don't understand how Greg Little continues to drop passes when that seems like a very important part of his job responsibility. The Browns very well could have won this game if Little didn't continue to drop passes intended for him. His job is to be a wide receiver, which primarily consists of blocking, getting open, and then catching the football. If he can't catch the football, then there is no point in getting open. I'm not a Browns fan, but this is frustrating for me to watch, as I am sure it is for Browns fans as well. Joe Flacco played well in this game despite being sacked four times and Brandon Weeden was his usual mature self. Weeden will be an excellent quarterback by the time he hits 30 years of age. He's like a fine wine and it is a good thing his experience in the Yankees organization taught him to deal with failing because the Browns aren't winning too many games any time soon it seems. The Browns defense wasn't really that bad and though Cleveland had a chance to win this game mostly because of stupid penalties on the part of the Ravens defense, the defense are the ones who kept the Browns in the game. I don't believe Weeden can succeed in the NFL, but if he is going to succeed he desperately needs some wide receivers who can catch a football when it is thrown to them. At least the old officials are back and I don't have to write about them anymore. Pat Shurmur got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the fourth quarter. Does this mean Gregg Easterbrook is going to accuse Pat Shurmur of bullying the officials and trying to intimidate them like he did when discussing John Fox/Bill Belichick and how they bullied the replacement officials in last week's TMQ? Probably not.

Houston Texans 38 Tennessee Titans 14

 The good news for the Titans is that Chris Johnson had a great game. The bad news is the Titans defense didn't have a very good game and the Texans returned two interceptions for a touchdown. Oh, and Jake Locker is hurt, but only because he plays the game of football in a gritty, gutsy way just the way Brett Favre used to do. The Texans look and probably feel unstoppable at this point, which is great for them, but let's take a moment to see who they have played. Miami, Jacksonville, Denver, and Tennessee. Not exactly a Murderer's Row of NFL teams. Next week the Texans have the Jets, then the Packers and Ravens. So while I am impressed by the Texans start, they are feasting on some of the worst teams in the NFL, absent their victory over the Broncos. Actually, when I think about it the Texans have a pretty soft schedule so 14-2 or 15-1 isn't out of the question. After the bye week in Week 8 the Texans play Buffalo, Chicago, Jacksonville, Detroit, Tennessee, New England, Minnesota, and (twice) Indianapolis. That seems like a weak schedule for a division winner to me. Not much they can do about it of course, except play the games they are scheduled to play. The Titans have a few problems right now and having Matt Hasselbeck as the quarterback may not go a long way towards fixing these problems.

Atlanta Falcons 30 Carolina Panthers 28

The Panthers got seven sacks, an interception, and good play from special teams and the offense...and still lost. Cam Newton played well for 58 and a half minutes, then deciding he had silenced his critics enough, he promptly fumbled the ball backwards after gaining a first down which would have iced the game. Fortunately, he will avoid criticism from Peter King because Newton didn't pout or get upset that he had helped Carolina lose the game. Wouldn't want him to show that he cares about winning or losing. Ron Rivera chose to punt and make Matt Ryan go at least 40 yards with zero timeouts and a minute left in the game for a game-winning field goal attempt rather than go for it on fourth down, potentially get stopped and have Ryan go only 15-20 yards for a game-winning field goal attempt with zero timeouts. It was the right call in my opinion and Carolina managed to down the ball at the 1-yard line. I think in that situation you make Ryan go as far as possible with no timeouts. It's just my opinion based on this situation. Carolina then proved why they are a team that knows how to lose and the Falcons showed they know how to win when Matt Ryan lofted a 60 yard pass that inexplicably the Panthers defense allowed White to catch. I'm sure it is Cam Newton's fault. Michael Turner looked like a Pro Bowl running back again, but the Falcons offensive line looked incredibly shaky. Shockingly, Matt Ryan doesn't play quite as well when he is under constant pressure. Winning teams find ways to lose games and losing teams find ways to lose games. Newton's strong game and leading his team back from a 10-point deficit will be forgotten because he fumbled and Matt Ryan showed Newton how you close out a game.

New England Patriots 52 Buffalo Bills 28

Well, okay then. The Patriots struggled to score points in the first half and then apparently made the greatest halftime adjustments in the history of the NFL and scored 45 points in the second half, including six straight touchdowns. I can imagine Gregg Easterbrook is going to happily pick on the Bills defensive line this week in TMQ since the Patriots ran the ball for 247 yards in this game and had 580 yards of total offense. Those are some video game numbers. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued his storied NFL quarterbacking career which can be best summed up by saying, "ehhhh...he did okay, except for those couple of passes" in that he threw for four touchdowns but also threw for four interceptions. As usual, he did good and bad things. The Patriots had 19 first downs running the ball and the Belichick took his anger at being fined $50,000 out on the Bills in the second half. I'm pretty sure this isn't the type of defensive performance the Bills had dreamed about when signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in this offseason. As if to further prove this just isn't the Bills' year to win the division, they lost two of their best offensive linemen (Cordy Glenn, Kraig Urbik) for at least a game due to injuries. Now if Chan Gailey can just get the media to start making excuses during this upcoming week for any losses without these players. Perhaps he should call Rex Ryan to see how he does this so well. Because giving up 34 points is completely Mark Sanchez's fault.

Minnesota Vikings 20 Detroit Lions 13

The Vikings are 3-1, thereby going even further to earn this year's title for "NFL team who wins a lot of games, barely makes the playoffs despite the fact there are tremendous deficiencies visible on the roster, and then is picked by experts to be 'the team to watch' in the following NFL season." I'm pretty sure last year's winner was the Detroit Lions. Last year Detroit could score, couldn't protect Stafford and couldn't play defense very well, but still were highly thought of coming into this season. Of course I know this now, after picking the Vikings to go 2-14 this season. I did pick the Lions to go 7-9, so maybe subconsciously I knew they weren't a very good team. The Vikings returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown and then proudly rode 227 yards of offense, including 111 yards passing from Ponder to a road victory. The Lions ran 20 more plays, had 8 more first downs and the Vikings only made it into the red zone once all game. Amazing. The Vikings are clearly living right. It's almost like special teams is actually an important part of an NFL team. Of course the Lions have Danny Crossman as their special teams coordinator and I have vast experience watching his special teams squad chase down punts and kickoffs that are returned for touchdowns. It's never his fault though and the head coach isn't looking to make a change. How many times did I hear that? In all seriousness, the Lions' offense didn't look exceptionally great and I think it is becoming clearer that teams are really focusing on Calvin Johnson and the Lions don't have any other offensive weapons that are scaring teams right now, especially when they can't run the ball.

San Diego Chargers 37 Kansas City Chiefs 20

The Chiefs turned the ball over six times. It's hard to win games when you do that. After the lopsided loss against the Bills two weeks ago Romeo Crennel insisted his team was going to figure out what it needed to do, do it, and then get better. That happened and the Chiefs beat the Saints. This week Crennel promised a specific plan to improve his team,

We're going to see if we can get better somehow, and play better versus good football teams."

Yes, "somehow" they will see if they can get better. Crennel isn't exactly sure how the Chiefs will get better, but they will somehow do it. I also think Crennel just said the Saints weren't a good football team, since the Chiefs beat the Saints last week and Crennel said the Chiefs need to play better against "good" football teams. I say we start a media-fueled rivalry over these comments. We have nothing else better to do. I'm just shocked and dismayed that a genius like Scott Pioli can't find the right guys to run his NFL team. He's such a personnel genius and the Chiefs players aren't giving him a chance to show this. The Chargers played well enough to win the game, though honestly if a team gets six turnovers and can't win the game that team should be contracted immediately. By the way, Philip Rivers has thrown for 25,000 yards in his career, which puts him 61st in NFL history past Bart Starr and Roger Staubach. I'm not sure the world is ready in five years for a "Is Philip Rivers a Hall of Fame quarterback" discussion.

St. Louis Rams 19 Seattle Seahawks 13

Reality is really doing a great job of fucking up the whole "Russell Wilson is too small to win games in the NFL and look at him now, he's a very good NFL starter" movement. He threw three interceptions and looked just okay against a quality Rams defense. This loss wasn't completely his fault and he deserves some slack for being a rookie. Sam Bradford was his typical average-but-not-very-exciting self at quarterback, and while he played well, at some point the media is going to remember he is a #1 overall pick and expect more from him than just being a really good game manager. I'm not going to go on a rant, but the media (and me as well) seems to expect a lot out of first round quarterbacks, and while Bradford has improved this year he isn't exactly where he should be at this stage in his career. I know, I know, he has had injuries. Bradford is very consistent. He's good, but he isn't great. Of course, there isn't a quarterback in Bradford's draft class that has been anything more than occasionally competent. Lower the bar enough and he looks good. Steven Jackson made my point for me, saying,

"Right now, our kicker is the MVP of the season," Jackson said. "Pretty much, all we've got to do is get across the 50-yard line and we're in his range."

There you go. Sam Bradford has improved and the Rams need better guys around him, but I feel like he is flying under the radar a bit. He's improving, but I just care to see more. As far as Russell Wilson's struggles in this game I just take it as a sign the Rams defense is very much improved. The Seahawks didn't suffer a letdown after the Monday night victory against the Packers either. They played well, but couldn't win the game. That's pretty much the story, though the whole "it was a let down" angle gives the media a narrative to pursue. I'm terrified to face the Seahawks corners this upcoming Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers 34 New York Jets 0

In the Jets' defense, they didn't have Darrelle Revis. You can't expect the Jets offense to score points without Revis on the field. I never intended to keep updating this specific statistic, but I said after the Week 1 offensive explosion of 48 points that the Jets wouldn't score that many points in their next two games. The Jets are still at 33 points after their next three games and they probably aren't going to have an easy time scoring against the Texans defense next week. The Jets did themselves no favors in the first game by offensively destroying the Bills like they did. It gave heightened expectations for an offense that struggled to score in the preseason. It's getting more and more to be ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets time! The Jets' fans were chanting "Tebow, Tebow" at one point in the game and I just laugh. Jets management put themselves in this position and they have no one to blame but themselves. ESPN is probably going to move their entire Bristol campus to New York just in case ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets gets a heavier workload this week. I think the Jets should start him against the Texans this week. That way the Jets can get the player they are claiming to want. The 49ers stuck to their tried-and-true formula of running the ball and playing great defense. It wins games. I don't mean to do them a disservice by not focusing on them, but the Jets turned the ball over four times. Giving the 49ers turnovers and a lead is a good way to lose a game. Of course we all know ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets is now the better option at quarterback. Right?

Denver Broncos 37 Oakland Raiders 6

It never fails. I bash or criticize a player and he comes out the next game and makes me look like the asshole I probably am. I've made comments about Peyton Manning's arm strength wearing down as the season progresses and he make me look like a jerk who keeps tapenade in his fridge to eat during football games. Manning was brilliant at 30-38 for 338 yards passing. He didn't exactly throw deep balls, but I'm nitpicking. It seemed all together too easy for him and the Broncos offense. John Fox even called for a fake field goal! That little gambler always surprises me. He's a changed man. I can see Fox cruising the Rockies on a motorcycle wearing a leather jacket, smoking Marlboro Lights, not wearing a helmet listening to outlaw country music as he dutifully obeys the posted speed limit. Whenever we start forgetting the Raiders are the Raiders, they put up a performance like this one. Granted, the Raiders were missing their top two cornerbacks, Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell, but this only reminds us the Raiders starting cornerbacks are Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell. Darren McFadden reminded us how frustrating he can be and Carson Palmer started an internal argument I had with myself on whether he needs better receivers or he isn't a great quarterback anymore. I came to a compromise that it is better to pin the blame on the injured cornerbacks. After all, a team can't be expected to win a game if even one cornerback is injured. It's impossible for even the greatest defensive head coach in the history of the NFL (Rex Ryan obviously), so how can Dennis Allen be expected to recover from losing two starting corners?

Arizona Cardinals 24 Miami Dolphins 21 

Ryan Tannehill threw for 431 yards. Let's have a moment of silence for my sanity.

(waits 30 seconds)

Okay, Ryan Tannehill threw for a lot of yardage, but he was close (okay, not really close) to Big 12 country. Maybe he just throws the football better west of the Mississippi River? Of course the Dolphins lost the game, so I'm sure he doesn't care about his yardage all that much. Kevin Kolb was sacked eight times and still won the game. It was not a good day for teams who sacked the opposing quarterback a lot, as two teams had 7 and 8 sacks respectively and both lost their games. The rise of Kevin Kolb continued, but he isn't the starting quarterback at this point. Don't put that pressure on him. He doesn't need it. The Cardinals insist winning five straight games in overtime isn't luck. Ken Whisenhunt says,

"It can't be luck as many times as we've been successful with that."

They may need to reconsider that position a little bit. "That" isn't really a strategy, so I'm thinking it is a little bit of luck. That is unless Whisenhunt thinks "win this game in overtime" is a specific strategy that other head coaches aren't trying to achieve also. Of course, don't tell Whisenhunt that,

"Fortunately for us, the overtime thing continues to work for us," Whisenhunt said.

Oh yes, "the overtime thing" continues to work for them. I see. The Cardinals must practice getting behind in games and then driving back to force overtime. Do they also practice the coin flip and having the opposing quarterback throw an interception that puts them in a position to gain 19 yards for a field goal attempt? I'm sure they do.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 10

I keep wanting to make excuses for Blaine Gabbert because a part of me believes he can be a good NFL quarterback. Then another part of me sees him through for 186 yards when the Bengals are missing their top four cornerbacks and just gives up on fighting the unwinnable fight. Yes, Gabbert wasn't terrible, but at a certain point a performance like that just isn't acceptable. I think we are at that point. In my mind, he had to play better against the Bengals defense in this game. The Bengals defense held the Jaguars to 212 total yards and when the Jaguars did have a chance to score, like on an interception by Kyle Bosworth, he fumbled the football without being touched. Jaguars fans really deserve better than this. It appears the Jaguars changed their game plan to put the game on Blaine Gabbert's shoulders and take advantage of the Bengals' missing cornerbacks, thereby taking the game out of Maurice Jones-Drew's hands. This is a questionable strategy no matter how many cornerbacks the opposing team is missing. Andy Dalton looked really good and A.J. Green looked great, while the Bengals defense sacked Gabbert six times. Having won games against the Jaguars, Browns, and Redskins, while getting their ass kicked by the Ravens I can't decide if the Bengals are a really good team that can compete with other really good teams or a really good team that can only beat average or bad teams. They play Miami and then Cleveland over the next two weeks so let's hold that question for a little while before we get the answer.

Green Bay Packers 28 New Orleans Saints 27

Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers were both great in this game. Neither team played a ton of defense either, which meant the game was fun to watch because good defense is boring. Though the new-old officials tried to screw over the Packers again, they still escaped with a win. Darren Sproles fumbled the football and the officials ruled him down by contact. The Packers couldn't challenge because they were out of timeouts. This is where the replacement officials would have really come in handy, because they would have allowed the Packers to challenge the call even if they didn't have any timeouts left. I miss the replacement officials. They knew when the rules of the game needed to be ignored in order to overturn a bad call on their part...except for the times when they were making bad calls of course and overturning these calls on replay. Cedric Benson still stubbornly refuses to score a touchdown in determined defiance of the wishes of those who have him on their fantasy team. Drew Brees did all he could to help the Saints win the game, but it is clear this just isn't the Saints year. They got most of the breaks in this game (Harrell fumbling on the goal line, beneficial calls from the officials) and just couldn't win the game. Aaron Kromer isn't exactly padding his resume as an NFL head coach and I can't help but wonder if Joe Vitt will appeal to Roger Goodell to extend his suspension in order to have no part of his seemingly sinking ship. The Saints may want to try to get their running game going. Over the past few seasons we have seen the Saints lauded for their three-headed running attack, but this season they have found it isn't so easy to run the ball when your team doesn't have a lead.

Washington Redskins 24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22

Billy Cundiff missed three field goals in this game and he is eager to get cut later this week apparently,

"In order to really find out a lot about yourself, I really feel like you have to be tested."

It's good to hear Billy Cundiff likes to get tested because maybe he can take the Series 7 exam to become a Financial Advisor after he gets cut this week and no other NFL teams choose to sign him. Robert Griffin looked very good again and it is good to see Mike Shanahan's offensive genius coming back to the forefront now that he (finally) has a quarterback worthy of his offensive play-calling talents. It's so hard to see when a genius like Shanahan doesn't get a chance to display his genius. What's so impressive to me is how the Redskins are running the ball. It is taking pressure off Griffin and allows him to feel comfortable when working out of play-action. This is the part where I mention Doug Martin had a 4.1 yards per carry average and that isn't bad at all. What is bad is that he only got eight carries in this game and LeGarrette Blount got six carries and punched (get it, Boise State fans?) a touchdown in during the game. It's sad to see a running back who runs so hard not get many carries because the Bucs had to throw the football, which they did pretty well. Consider me saddened the Bucs are giving up on 3.5 yards and a pile of dust in favor of throwing the ball to their quality wide receivers.

Philadelphia Eagles 19 New York Giants 17

Surprisingly, the first half of this game was fairly boring. I was expecting to see more offensive fireworks ("Ah-ensive" fireworks, not "Uh-offensive fireworks," though the game was in Philly so anything was in play) than I saw in the first half. Andy Reid called a timeout to "ice" Lawrence Tynes, as if a kicker who has made quite a few important field goals in his career would suddenly get really nervous at having to kick a game-winning field goal in Week 4. Through nothing but dumb luck, Tynes missed right as Reid called timeout and then missed again when it counted, after the timeout was granted. This icing the kicker thing has to stop. I don't believe it works and I really believe it doesn't benefit the team trying to block the kick for their coach to call timeout. I think this is especially true when the timeout isn't granted in time for the kick to go off and that team's players have already tried to block a kick which no longer counts. Good NFL kickers like Lawrence Tynes aren't going to do anything but learn from a kick they just missed, but no longer counts because the opposing team called timeout. Andy Reid got lucky. The Eagles actually ran the ball in the second half of this game and it worked. LeSean McCoy had 123 rushing yards, nearly all of them in the second half. I don't know how the Eagles are 3-1 this season, but they are, and I guess that is all that matters. There are two ways to look at it. Either the Eagles haven't achieved their potential, yet are winning games, or the Eagles aren't a very good team and will eventually lose these games later in this season. But seriously, stop icing the kicker, especially when Lawrence Tynes is that kicker.


Drekkan85 said...

My own personal take on the Jags is that when I'm using rotating fantasy defences, and I rotate to "Whatever team is facing the Jags this week"... that's a sign.

A somewhat unrelated question - but looking at that Rams/Seahawks game - is there a more multiple-personality team in the league than Seattle? At home they seem utterly dominant, as soon as they enter another stadium they seem completely pedestrian.Is that stadium really SUCH a homefield advantage?

I ask because if it is I think JJ and just about every other owner who's built a stadium since Seattle's was built is a moron. I think Seattle's shown the importance of noise to a team and establishing home-field advantage. You'd think task one is "How do I acoustically design this place to echo sound and be as loud as humanely possible?" I know they have other goals (like making money), but you don't make money as a football team by losing games (see Jaguars, Jacksonville).

Bengoodfella said...

Drekkan85, as far as I know CenturyLink Field is a huge advantage. It is loud in there and the Seahawks do seem to play better at home. I know the fans there call themselves "the 12th man" because of the effect they have on opposing teams.

If I were an NFL owner I would want to set up my field so that I maximize the value of the seats and make money, but to also have a huge homefield advantage in the acoustics and noise the opposing team can hear. That's just me though and it is probably hard to do both. I know some Redskins fans long for the old RFK stadium because they feel FedEx Field isn't loud enough and the fans don't feel like they are as much a part of the game.

koleslaw said...

Lewis Black has said, "Our current two-party system is a bowl of shit looking in the mirror at itself."

That's kinda how I feel about the Jets' QB situation. I think if you put Sanchez on a team that has people who can block for him and people for him to throw to, he could have some pretty good games. Now with Holmes out, you might as well start Backup Jets QB/Punt Protector. He can not throw the ball to their non-existent WRs just as well as Sanchez.

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, either option doesn't sound very good. Ex-backup QB Punt Protector Jets at least gives Jets fans the illusion of hope, but once they pull Sanchez for him, the genie is out of the bottle. Unless Ex-backup QB Punt Protector Jets plays incredibly poorly, Sanchez would have a hard time getting back in the lineup.

It's the illusion of hope aspect of it and I see the Jets going to it after the upcoming loss to the Texans or maybe the week after that. I see them using Tebow for 15 plays this weekend though.