By NFL Gimpy (follow him on Twitter…he’s lonely)
Football is finally back! If you’re like me, you sat on your couch from about noon until midnight only getting up for food, beer, and bathroom breaks. At about 4pm I realized I hadn’t really eaten that day, so I gave up on actually making food and ordered pizza. Thus is the glorious life of a football blogger. Drinking hefeweizen, taking notes, and eating pizza. You know you’re jealous.
I want to discuss the young and old today. The young being the 5 rookie QBs who made their debuts on Sunday and the old being Archi…er Peyton Manning. Never before in NFL history have 5 rookie QBs started in week 1. The results were mixed to be fair. Part of my column every week this whole season (sorry Lawlor, you’ll have to fire me, I plan on writing aaaaallll season long) will be a quick glance at each rookie QB and how they fared. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere along the line a 6th rookie enters the fold as well. (Ed. note – I wonder what team/QB Gimpy could be talking about. Maybe he’ll tell us in the Nick of time)
But let’s go with age before beauty. I took special care to watch Peyton during Sunday night’s game versus the Steelers to get a good feel for where he’s at. There were a lot of questions coming into the season as to where Peyton would be at physically. Could he take a hit and get back up? Will his arm strength be the same? Can he maintain his elite mental edge?
I’ll start with the obvious. His arm strength isn’t all there yet. Despite what he said in commercials, Peyton didn’t always have a “laser, rocket arm.” He had very good arm strength when he first came into the NFL, but even during his last full season with the Colts, I could easily name numerous starters with stronger arms without an effort. He never threw balls on a frozen rope 60 yards downfield.
Even still, you can see a bit of a drop off from 2010 to yesterday. It’s fair to say some of his throws had a bit of wounded duck in them. But arm strength might not be in the top 10 of what makes a QB great. Peyton’s pocket presence was still incredible. His pre-snap reads and audibles that will drive anyone nuts were quite prevalent. He dropped back, moved in the pocket, found the open receiver, and got the ball there. It wasn’t always pretty, but all that matters is results and Peyton got results.
I mentioned a few weeks back that I think more often than not, veterans lose their mental edge before their bodies quit. Brett Favre still has the physical ability to play QB in this league. It wasn’t his ability to throw the ball hard and accurate that led him to retire. His passion waned. His competitiveness faded. His desire to win and be great wasn’t the same. Anyone who watched Peyton on Sunday knows that his competitive spirit is still quite alive. He has enough arm strength to make all of the throws and that’s because he knows how to move in the pocket and where to throw the ball too. He took a few shots against Pittsburgh, but none that I thought were big hits. I may have missed one grabbing another beer though.
As long as Peyton’s neck holds up, I’d say Peyton isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the NFL is a much better place for it.
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The newbies took over at QB on Sunday. 5 rookie starters and one 2nd year player (Jake Locker) got their first starts. Each week, I’ll post the rookie QB’s stats and go over some of the things I saw in their games. One thing I won’t fall prey to is paralysis by over-analysis. Rookie QBs grow at different rates. A rookie QB is a long term investment, not an immediate return. Ryan Leaf started off his career 2-0. Peyton was 0-2. ‘Nuff said. Let’s look at the numbers:
Andrew Luck: 23/45 309 yards 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions. 3 sacks-16 yards, lost fumble. 52.9 QB rating. 2 rushes for 9 yards.
Robert Griffin III: 19/26 320 yards 2 touchdowns. 1 sack for 9 yards.10 carries for 42 yards. 139.9 QB rating.
Ryan Tannehill: 20/36 219 yards 3 interceptions. 3 sacks for 23 yards. 39.0 QB Rating
Brandon Weeden: 12/35 118 yards 4 interceptions. 2 sacks for 7 yards. 2 rushes for 25 yards. 5.1 QB rating.
Russell Wilson:18/34 153 yards 1 touchdown, 1 interception. 3 sacks for 14 yards. 8 rushes for 20 yards. 62.5 QB rating.
It’s easy to say RG3 had the best day and Weeden the worst. One thing that really jumped out at me when looking at the box scores was how little Indy and Miami tried to help their QBs. Indy ran the ball 13 times with their RBs. Miami? 17. It’s not like the run games were completely useless for either team. Reggie Bush had nearly 5 yards per carry. Donald Brown wasn’t setting the world on fire for Indy, but he still had roughly 4 yards per carry outside of his 18 yard touchdown run.
Attention coaches in Miami and Indy: Help your QB!!! It’s one thing for the Eagles with Mike Vick to refuse to run the ball. It’s an entirely different thing for a rookie QB on the road against a playoff contender. But that’s exactly what Miami and Indy did. I understand that the NFL is a passing league. I understand you were going against good opponents. But you simply can’t expect to win with a rookie QB without a relatively even run-pass ratio.
While only RG3 got the win on Sunday, Cleveland and Seattle kept it close with good defense and taking pressure off of their rookie QB. Washington ran the ball 34 times with their RBs. Certainly an early lead helped that ratio, but on Washington’s first full touchdown drive, they had 5 called runs, 2 QB runs that I believe were not designed runs, and 5 passes. Most of the yards were through the air and via RG3’s legs, but the point is that they kept running the ball to take the pressure off.
Seattle ran the ball 25 times with RBs. They were a Braylon Edwards catch on 4th down away from victory. Cleveland had 20 runs called despite the running game being completely ineffective. Brandon Weeden was nothing short of dreadful and you can see that his WRs are not good enough yet. Same problem in Miami. Miami and Indy will not get very far this season unless they help their QB out with more running plays. Cleveland won’t get anywhere unless Trent Richardson gets going. Help your QBs ya jagoffs.
So, the Week 1 Rookie QB Champion is: Robert Griffin III. RG3, send me a check written out to “Cash” with your signature on it. I’m not sure what shipping and handling will be yet, so just leave that part blank. I’ll make sure you get your coveted MAQB Week 1 Rookie QB Champion Clipart Certificate as soon as the check clears.
Overpaid/Underpaid Player of the Week
I’m very happy to bring back Overpaid/Underpaid Player of the Week. A lot of people do some type of MVP/Goat of the Week award, but I like to throw an extra caveat in there. Is it really fair to say Peyton Manning and his $90 million contract was the best player? For that much $$ he should consistently be one of the best players of the week. I also don’t want to give a “you suck” award to a guy making the rookie minimum because he fumbled a punt that cost his team the game (you’re safe for now Kyle Williams, just don’t do it in the playoffs again). Let’s hold the big names to their contracts and give credit to the little guys who come up big.
Overpaid: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Buffalo Bills.
Sorry Bills fans. But Fitzpatrick is making nearly $10M per season and he somehow accomplished the impossible: he made Mark Sanchez look good. Sure, the defense helped, but when Mark Sanchez looks better than you, it’s scary. By the time Fitzpatrick decided to show up, the Jets were ahead 41-7.
Your first drive after a Sanchez interception? You threw a pick to Darrelle Revis. YOU DON’T EVER THROW TO DARRELLE REVIS. I DON’T CARE IF STEVIE JOHNSON HAS A GOOD HISTORY AGAINST HIM!!! You set the Jets up with a momentum reversal and a short field that led to a touchdown.
Next series? Another interception on a short pass. You gave the Jets a short field and they scored. CJ Spiller gets you back in the game to make the score 21-7. Spiller does fumble on the next series and screws you over, but your first pass of the 2nd half? A dreadful pick 6 to Antonio Cromartie that effectively ends the game. It was an awful decision to throw that ball. No excuses.
You can mail your game check ($2.8 million salary equals $175,000 per game, I’m nice and excluding your signing bonus proration) to Antonio Cromartie’s attorney so he can use the funds to pay child support.
Underpaid: Kevin Ogletree, WR Cowboys.
Most people saw Ogletree’s heroics on Wednesday. I’ll over them again quick. 8 catches (on 11 targets, great ratio) for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns and the game clinching catch on 3rd and 10. Ogletree caught a 13 yard pass on 3rd and 10 right before the 2 minute warning. Since the Giants had no timeouts left, Tony Romo was able to take a knee 3 times to end the game.
A little background on Ogletree. Ogletree originally made the Cowboys 53 man roster in 2009, but played sparingly in 2009 and 2010. He played a little bit more in 2011 but not much. He was slated to be a restricted free agent after the 2011 season and the Cowboys eventually decided he wasn’t worth the restricted tender. Ogletree ended up signing with the Cowboys for either the minimum salary or dang close to it at $615,000.
It’s safe to say the Cowboys are happy they brought him back and probably wouldn’t complain if they had paid him the extra $400k or so the restricted free agent tender would have cost them. With Miles Austin fighting to stay healthy and Dez Bryant fighting to stay out of prison, Ogletree could be in line for a big year. Laurent Robinson had a great season as the Cowboys #3 WR in 2011 and parlayed that into a big free agent contract with the Jaguars. Perhaps Ogletree can do the same (Jaguars fans are hoping it’s with a different team).
-Boy did that Steelers defense look slow in the 2nd half last night. I wonder if it was the elevation and/or conditioning or a sign of what will come in 2012. The numbers don’t look bad on paper, but 334 yards and 3 touchdowns in only 25 minutes on the field? That’s fine if you’re the Green Bay Packers, but the Steelers thrive on a great defense.
-When I watch Chris Johnson run, I don’t see the explosiveness we’re used to seeing. He’s still fast, but it feels like he isn’t running with the same passion he used to. Maybe it’s Chris Palmer’s offense but I just don’t see the same CJ2K we saw 2 years ago. If this keeps up, CJ2K will be mailing me a blank check at the end of the season for his “MAQB Overpaid Player of the Year.” Clipart Certificate.
-I mentioned this on Twitter last night, but can we please stop acting like Peyton Manning and Brandon Stokley are long time teammates? Stokley played 4 seasons in Indy. 4 year total? 139 catches for 1,916 yards and 15 touchdowns over 41 games. Roughly half of the catches and yards came in one season. All but 5 of the touchdowns were in one season. Peyton has played in over 200 games. He has thrown 401 touchdowns. Their last game together was December 10th 2006. This was their first season together in nearly 6 years. Outside of 1 season (2004), Stokley had 71 catches for 839 yards and 5 touchdowns. Like I said, they weren’t long time teammates. I think it’s actually kind of an insult to Stokley by implying he spent more time with Peyton than he actually did. Stokley has had quite a good career outside of his time as Peyton’s slot receiver.
-I won’t go into a lot of detail, but the replacement refs almost cost the Cardinals the game against the Seahawks when they awarded the Seahawks a 4th timeout. They said that an injury within the last 2 minutes of the game would not cause a team to lose a timeout if the clock wasn’t running at the time of injury. WRONG. Mike Pereira actually called them liars on air. They were either blatantly wrong or lied to cover their tracks.
Then they almost let Denver decline a false start penalty (the play was run after the false start and the result benefitted Denver better than the false start) when it’s an automatic penalty. First off, they shouldn’t have let the play run. Then when Denver tried to decline, they initially awarded it to them. You actually heard the official say “penalty is declined…wait no!” B-e-a-utiful. I’ll ignore giving the Steelers a challenge after the next play was already run.
-Congrats to David Akers on his 63 yard FG. It just barely bounced in, but it counts for 3 points all the same. Akers tied the NFL record for longest FG.
-I’d love to get up to 200 followers on Twitter by the end of the week. I don’t have any incentive in mind if it happens, but I’m up for suggestions. Currently at like 179 or something.
-Over 2,200 words. Sorry Lawlor, I had too much fun writing this