Monday, September 19, 2011

Thoughts on Week 2 in the NFL

  • Good teams blow out bad teams; average teams struggle against them. 48-3, whether or not tampering charges were motivation, is a blowout. Last year, the Lions crushed St. Louis, 44-6, and then won just one of their next seven games. True, that included close losses to the Jets, Bears, and Bills, but the point is that last year's team lost those games. This year's team beat the Bucs in a close game. 
  • Speaking of "teams that look really good because they crushed the Chiefs", let's hold off on Ralph Wilson Memorial Super Bowl Appearance talk for now, and not because Ralph Wilson isn't actually dead yet. (He's no Al Davis.) Buffalo gave up 35 or 41 points to Oakland, depending on who you think caught Campbell's Hail Mary. Again, it's better than starting 0-2, but you still have to beat good teams to be a good team yourself.
  • If someone could explain how the Ravens gave up more than 350 yards to Matt Hasselbeck in a game they lost, i.e. not in garbage time, I'd like to hear it. Is their defense only going to play during odd weeks? Only against division opponents? And the offense ... Ray Rice can't do it all, people.
  • Is it too soon to start the "Donovan McNabb is done" talk? What's that? Yes, people have been saying it, but until last year, there was no real proof: his average net yards per attempt dipped last year, but that could just as well be because it was Washington's offense (insert Kyle Shanahan joke here). Well, [QB Redacted]'s ANY/A was actually worse last year than McNabb's was in Washington, 4.7 vs. 5.3. McNabb's dismal performance in Week 1 isn't likely to recur, but then the Vikings' '70s-era offense only wants a caretaker performance out of him this season, and that looks like it'll be enough to keep Minnesota under .500.
  • JAY CUTLER IS NOT THE PROBLEM. The problem is that the offensive line sucks. Yes, a QB can contribute – compare Peyton Manning to Kerry Collins – but the Bears know what kind of QB Cutler is, and yet they still have a Martzian offensive line. Obviously two-week stats don't extrapolate perfectly to a full season, but even at half of the current rate through the rest of the season, Cutler would be sacked 55 times, and the Bears have yet to play Green Bay and Detroit. Martz' decision to ignore TEs when the Bears had perfectly good TEs and weak WRs will prove to be a disastrous one, and Cutler will be the scapegoat. This Lions fan thanks the Bears fans who will make this happen.
  • Mark Sanchez is taking over [QB Redacted]'s spot as the most overrated QB in the NFL. Football Outsiders pointed out how Sanchez had a lot of luck with dropped interceptions, and yet his ANY/A was still a weak 5.4 last season. He looked better against Jacksonville (I accidentally typed Hacksonville at first; maybe I should have left it), but then that's kind of like beating Kansas City: it's an expectation, not a sign of improvement. 
  • I think I just saw the Pete Carroll bandwagon rolling past. Looked pretty empty. I'd say it's NCAA karma, but then that organization is going to blow up in about five years (there is pending litigation on several fronts that the NCAA can't stop). Anyway, while the Seahawks deserve full credit for knocking off New Orleans, this is clearly not the same team. The decision to let Hasselbeck go is reasonable, but Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer. 
  • I don't believe that the Shanahans have magically transformed Rex Grossman into an NFL quarterback, not yet. I do believe that the NFC West is actually worse this season than it was last season. Bill Simmons isn't convinced that the division will be won with more than six wins. I'm not either. I have a friend who's a huge Seahawks fan, and there's no truth to the rumor that his wife has removed all sharp objects from the house. 
  • Is it time to start asking questions about the Packers' pass defense? Drew Brees, sure, especially when trailing, but Cam Newton? I mean, Steve Smith is still good, right? 156 receiving yards? (Calvin Johnson is looking forward to those games, right?) And no, Newton isn't the next Peyton Manning. He's just a rookie who's been asked to throw the ball a lot. Kind of like Sam Bradford. So maybe he's the next Sam Bradford.
  • I see Tony Romo cost the Cowboys another win ... wait, what? Someone probably needs to explain to Jim Harbaugh that he's not coaching in the Pac-12* any more: take the points off the board, run more clock, and kick a shorter field goal. 
  • I think the Broncos ought to start Tim Tebow the rest of the season. That would show those fans. I mean, usually the starting QB actually has to struggle before they call for his head ... the Broncos will be raiding the waiver wire for WRs, and yet it'll be at Orton's feet when they lose. (Make sure Tebow's starting when Detroit comes to town, k?)
  • So I guess the Texans' defense is just fine, but what's wrong with the offense? 23 points against Miami? Just kidding. Beating non-contending teams is a requirement. Thrashing Indy was a good sign; struggling at Miami was OK, but not quite what Gary Kubiak needs to see. If Houston is making a run at the playoffs, they need to put these games out of reach.
  • Tom Brady blah blah high-powered Patriots offense blah blah. The injury to Mesko would be notable on most teams, but Belichick is one of the few coaches who can make decisions purely based on value and not on risk avoidance. If he had to go for it more often on fourth down, you wouldn't even notice. (It's interesting, though, how the Belichick coaching tree is quickly pruned everywhere else it goes. Coordinators, not bad: head coaches, terrible.)
  • If the league wants to get serious about head shots, Dunta Robinson will sit for eight games. He won't, mostly because the NFLPA has no balls when it comes to protecting their own. I've never understood why players' unions always protect the dirty players. Aren't the victims also union members? If you want to change behavior, you penalize it more and more heavily until it changes. Obviously guys like Robinson and James Harrison don't care that they're taking 20-30 years off their own lives, but they have no right to do that to their opponents. (If Mike Smith really teaches it that way, then suspend him for eight games as well. If he's just sticking up for his player in the press, well, everyone has the right to an attorney.)
    I wouldn't be at all surprised if Jeremy Maclin has post-concussion syndrome and is later quoted as saying he barely remembers the last half of Sunday night's game. That was an easy pass to catch – this Kafka kid, he can throw the ball, and I think the Eagles' offense resembles what he ran at Northwestern enough for him to fill in adequately if needed – and Maclin simply couldn't bring it in.
  • The Giants are in a no-win situation tonight. Their defense is banged up, Hakeem Nicks might not play, and yet if they beat the Rams, it really won't show anything at all. If they lose to a St. Louis team without Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola, it'll say something, and Tom Coughlin won't want to hear it.
Remember, you can't win anything in Week 2, but you sure can lose it. (No, really. Two weeks don't extrapolate to sixteen, but a difference of two poorly-played games can turn a good season into a non-playoff season.) The Lions are second in the NFL in points scored and also in points allowed (even with the Monday night game not having been played), and Stafford has not been sacked in two games: Detroit is the only team to allow no sacks so far. None of that will be true at the end ... but if the offensive line continues to protect the 2009 #1 pick, football in January might be worth watching in Detroit. 
* Hey, they only had 12 as of this post. It's not my fault.

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