Monday, September 28, 2009

NFL recap, week 3

Dear announcers, it's better to keep the ball than to punt it. Pretty much any team can get one yard. Some coaches realize this. Too bad you don't.

  • Yeah, those are the Cardinals that we remember from the regular season last year. While conventional wisdom is wrong (you don't win by running the ball and stopping the run, you win by building a lead, typically with the pass, and protecting the lead, typically by running), there is something to the theory that you can't throw every down, but that's only true if you have a mediocre passing game, and right now that's what Arizona has.
  • Atlanta won't go 16-0, but I don't know that it says a lot that they were unable to win in New England. As long as they can keep pace with New Orleans, they should be in position for another playoff appearance.
  • The Ravens' offense is back again, and the defense looked pretty good against Cleveland. But then, what defense doesn't?
  • So T.O. may not make it to snow season in Buffalo, then. Because you know if he's having issues now, the first time he looks outside and realizes that there are six feet of snow in his driveway and no one else seems that bothered by it, he's going to really throw a fit when he doesn't catch any passes and Edwards doesn't keep throwing to him.
  • I didn't see much of the Bears, but it sounds like Jay Cutler doesn't really suck all that much after all. Patience, Chicago fans.
  • I'm not convinced Cincinnati is all that. On the other hand, they are winning games, and the defense is contributing. Of course, with Marvin Lewis in charge, any one of the main players could end up in jail by the end of October.
  • How can Eric Mangini be on the hot seat? Not that I like the guy, but hello? He just took over a bad team, a team which apparently has a lot of issues both on the field (can we maybe take a closer look at the idea that Brady Quinn is an NFL quarterback?) and off the field (not paying for hotel rooms? what?). Miami and Atlanta made progress in part because they added the right pieces and in part because they had talent there that maybe wasn't being used that well. Cleveland doesn't have either of those benefits. Give the man a chance.
  • Denver is not a 3-0 team. sorry.
  • One thing I liked from Detroit's game: late in the first half, Detroit was driving, Stafford completed a pass to rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew for a first down. Pettigrew was either winded or banged up, so as soon as the play was over, he ran back through the line and toward the Lions' sideline ... but Kevin Smith saw that Stafford was going to call a spike play, and fearing that there would be illegal motion, Smith caught Pettigrew and had him stand in the backfield (as he might in a fullback position) so Stafford could kill the clock. Great move by the second-year player ... hope he's not hurt too badly. How odd is it that Detroit hadn't beaten Washington in decades at one point, and now they top the Redskins to end the second-longest losing streak in NFL history?
  • Nothing can really be learned from beating the Rams, I'm afraid, but at least Green Bay fans have to feel relieved that they didn't play down to St. Louis' level like Washington did. Look what happened the next week ...
  • The Texans let one get away and it is going to cost them. Losing divisional games at home is never a good thing, and with Tennessee and Jacksonville struggling, this should have been Houston's chance to challenge Indianapolis for the division. Doesn't look like it'll happen this year.
  • The Colts are back to normal. Why do people blitz Manning and leave single coverage on receivers? I mean, you can do it if you overload one side and get there quickly, but otherwise you might as well just drop eight because if you show your defense, Peyton will pick you apart.
  • The demise of the Jaguars may not have been prematurely reported, but road wins are nice things to collect. The passing game still looks a bit ragged, though, and Jack Del Rio is going to have to get that straightened out if Jacksonville is to avoid double digits in losses.
  • Speaking of double digits in losses ... the Chiefs should be happy that Al Davis is crazy, because otherwise they'd be working on a fifteen-game losing streak. I'm not sure there are four winnable games on their schedule, and honestly I wouldn't be surprised if they lost 15 or even 16 games. This is a bad team. (Of course they can't lose 16 if the Browns do, and I'll bet that game in December is not a sellout, not even in KC.)
  • Time to test a former Michigan QB. Mr. Henne, that Brady guy got a permanent job thanks to injury ... Dolphins fans aren't expecting that much from you, but ... actually, yes they are. This Cinderella is probably going home in a pumpkin this season. I think Henne's had enough of a chance to show something in the NFL and hasn't done so, and the Dolphins need something. The Wildcat-style plays work a lot better when there's some threat of a pass.
  • BrettFavreBrettFavreBrettFavre. gah. Big win, though, especially with the Bears and Packers off to good starts. (Of course it doesn't hurt that the Williamses aren't ever going to get suspended. Discipline in sports is such a joke, it kills me that the players' association agrees to a system of discipline and then runs off and takes it to court any time there is a case they don't like. It's no wonder so many players cheat, why wouldn't you? You know the union will have your back no matter how big of a cheater you are. And never mind players like these two who might actually have taken stuff by mistake. Of course no one really wants to ask why it is that NFL players with access to better dietitians than pretty much anyone else in the world need to take weight-loss supplements.)
  • Tom Brady isn't 100%, and word seems to be going around that he won't be 100% for quite some time, maybe not this season. Karma for Spygate? No, probably just the inevitable decline of a franchise that's had a very successful run. QBs like Manning is and Brady was are the exceptions, not the rule; it's a very difficult position to play for years and avoid serious injury.
  • New Orleans may have had a fairly easy schedule so far (other than the Eagles), but they're dominating those teams, and that's a good sign. Great teams tend to blow out bad teams; good teams squeak past bad ones. Brees may not set any records this season, but if the defense continues to play well, he won't have to. Pierre Thomas had a nice game, and if he and Mike Bell can continue to be productive, maybe Payton will finally put Reggie Bush where he belongs, as a wideout and occasional third-down back. It should be clear by now that Bush isn't an NFL RB.
  • Same thing for the Giants: run over a bad team and that's a good sign. Plaxico who?
  • Mark Sanchez hasn't necessarily carried the Jets this far, but he's certainly helped them more than the average rookie QB would. It's still early, and he may not turn out to have a Ryan-type season, but right now I don't think Jets fans really care about much of anything other than 3-0. The defense deserves a lot of credit for that, but they should save some for the rookie from USC.
  • Oakland is bad. Baaaaaad. JaMarcus Russell is not an NFL QB. Al Davis is not an NFL owner. I'm not sure Tom Cable is an NFL head coach. But hey, they have a win.
  • Kevin Kolb wasn't terrible against the Chiefs, which really doesn't say much. Michael Vick wasn't effective in his brief appearances, which doesn't say anything at all. (The man was in prison, for goodness sake.) With Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Washington next, this team should be 5-1, and if they are, we still won't really know how good they are.
  • Pittsburgh's off to something of a rough start, and the NFC North doesn't look quite as bad right now as some people thought, so there are some tougher games ahead. Then again, the Steelers play the AFC West, so there are also some easier games ahead. And did someone say Cleveland?
  • The Rams are really bad. Steve Spagnuolo has his work cut out for him. I mean, the expansion Buccaneers lost 26 in a row in the '70s, the AFL nearly-expansion Raiders lost 19 in a row in the '60s, the Millened Lions lost 19 in a row just now ... and it's not out of the question for the Rams to match Tampa Bay this season. In their next six games, the only really winnable ones are games at Jacksonville ... and at Detroit.
  • News to Chargers fans: running backs are fungible. Of course, you might have realized this by now, as Darren Sproles fills in just fine for the injured LDT. Now, lose one or two linemen, and you've got yourselves a problem. P.S. Not worth the money. Well, unless it's an uncapped year.
  • San Francisco has to be kicking themselves after letting one get away in the Metrodome. (Can't wait for that stupid thing to be torn down. At least the Twins don't play there any more.) With Seattle and Arizona crashing and burning, there's no reason why the 49ers couldn't wrap up this division in November ... but to do that, they've got to finish off teams, even teams that don't have FavreFavreFavreFavreFavreFavre. Hey, that Hill guy isn't such a bad quarterback, is he?
  • Let's not talk about the uniforms. Let's talk about Jim Mora Jr. throwing his kicker under the bus. A) replacement-level kickers are pretty bad, so after you piss this one off, you're still screwed, and B), maybe you should be asking why it is that your kicker had to try to bail out the offense six times, Jimmy boy. You may not be aware of this, but kicking outside isn't that easy.
  • Raheem Morris, oh man. There's a reason why no one else was really looking for this job.
  • I think Jeff Fisher can probably write his own exit when he feels like it (or at least ought to be able to after what he's done in Tennessee), but do you wonder if maybe he's lost just a few too many assistants? Or maybe he just doesn't have the same fire that he used to, and his teams are losing those close games they used to win. 0-3 is not a good place to be, and at this point you can probably write off the division, which means you better start looking at the AFC East as your challengers for a wild-card spot. Get going, Titans.
  • Jim Zorn. Problems in Washington. A six-point loss to the Giants was very respectable, but then a two-point win over the Rams (ouch), a loss to the Lions (oh no) ... Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Kansas City up next. If the Redskins aren't at least 3-3 going into the Philadelphia game, the next head coach will have to deal with the same mess every other Dan Snyder coach has had to face: how to piece together a bunch of parts that don't fit. Someone on ESPN said it right, it's like Snyder is putting together a fantasy team. It's not just "talent", Dan.

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