by NFL Gimpy (follow him on Twitter)
I’m still trying to wrap my head around how insane this weekend was. Ignore officiating, just the sheer craziness that happened on Sunday. The Lions score 2 touchdowns with their backup QB in the final 18 seconds to force OT then lose because of a failed 4th and 1 in FG range when a FG would have tied the game. The Jaguars get their first win of the season off of an 80 yard catch and run by Cecil Shorts III with 45 seconds to go. The Chiefs were down 24-6 with less than 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd and won in OT. The Vikings dominate the 49ers. Seriously, what the hell happened this weekend?
Parity happened. After tonight, 27 of 32 teams have 1 or 2 wins. There are 3 undefeated teams and 2 winless teams. This is exactly what the NFL wants. 3 weeks into the season and everything is still up for grabs. While no one should be surprised the Texans and Falcons are 3-0, even the most optimistic Cardinals fan was hoping for 2-1 at this point. No one thought they could beat the Patriots and Eagles in back to back weeks, but that’s exactly what they did. They weren’t fluke victories either, they looked like the better team in both games.
It’s really a shame because the product the NFL has on the field right now is incredible…except for the officiating. I’ve made it a point not to get into the finite details of bad calls, but I think the actions of coaches are starting to speak quite loudly. Bill Belicheat (or however you spell it) chased a ref down and gave him an earful. No one could have blamed John Harbaugh had he done the same. So did Redskins OC Kyle Shanahan. They’re doing things they know will get them fined and they’re willing to take it.
The NFL is hanging their hat on “we haven’t had a critical mistake cost a team a win yet.” Really? You’re using the lowest common denominator? That’s like saying “I’m so proud of my son, he’s only been to jail twice.” If this goes on one more week, I just might boycott watching any games on TV. Nothing is going to speak to the NFL other than fewer viewers. At the very least, everyone watch games on an illegal feed so you’re hitting the NFL twice-no ad revenue AND stealing.
I’m not sure how much longer I can stand by and watch this disgrace. I mentioned a few weeks back a coach has to be the fall guy. Someone has to bite the bullet and take the fine for the betterment of the NFL. I recall Bill Cowher chasing an official down to give him a picture that proved the Steelers didn’t have 12 men on the field that got them a costly penalty. When asked about it, Cowher said he didn’t care if he got fined. He had a point to prove.
You know who the NFL could use right now? Al Davis. If the NFL ever had a guy who would stick it to them when he knew he was right, it was Al Davis. Heck, I’m not even sure he needed to know he was right, he’d still stick it to them. Between Al Davis and Steve Sabol, the NFL has lost 2 of the greatest men to ever grace football in the past year. Al Davis was a key player in making the NFL the league it is today. Steve Sabol is the man who made sure everyone loved it.
Rookie QB Watch 2012
Andrew Luck: 22/46 313 yards, 2 touchdowns 1 interception, 0 sacks and a 75.7 QB Rating.
Robert Griffin III: 21/34 221 yards, 1 touchdown 0 interceptions, 6 sacks for 53 yards, 12 rushes for 85 yards and a touchdown, 1 lost fumble. 90.4 QB Rating.
Ryan Tannehill: 16/36 196 yards, 0 touchdowns 1 interception, 0 sacks, 3 rushes for 3 yards, 50.2 QB Rating.
Brandon Weeden: 27/43 237 yards, 1 touchdown 2 interceptions, 4 sacks for 30 yards, 65.7 QB Rating.
Russell Wilson: TBD, plays tonight against the Packers.
This roller coaster ride continues. After a great week across the board, all 4 QBs who have played already lost and were inconsistent at best. Luck had a pretty good game from what I saw flipping around (with nine 1pm games it’s a little difficult to see good chunks of all of them by Monday morning) but the Colts won’t go anywhere without a consistent running game. Donald Brown is a complete bust and I seriously wonder what in the world they were thinking when they didn’t sign Cedric Benson, Michael Bush, or BenJarvus Green-Elis. Not saying those guys would have gone to Indy, but I never saw any effort.
RG3 had a rough day and a huge chunk of that was due to the Bengals pass rush (more on that later). Even still, he led them to 24 points offensively and they won the turnover battle. That should be good enough, but for the second week in a row the Redskins defense let them down. The Redskins continue to run the ball effectively (128 yards with RBs and WRs) using normal and option plays. A full blown option offense will not consistently work in the NFL, but mix it in with a normal offense and it’s highly effective. The Redskins have done that so far.
Ryan Tannehill started off strong…and then Reggie Bush got hurt. Tannehill simply isn’t ready to carry an offense. Luck and RG3 are. Weeden has shown some signs and we’ll see if Wilson can continue his growth tonight against Clay Matthews and the Packers D. But Tannehill? He’s not going to win you games on his own. 1 touchdown pass in 3 games? With a dominant running game (4th in the NFL right now), Tannehill should be more productive. I’m just not seeing it. For the sake of Dolphins fans, I hope he takes a big step in Year 2, they’ve suffered for far too long at QB. They’ve had good teams since Marino left, but have yet to find a QB solution.
So, I’ll give Andrew Luck his first ever Week 3 Rookie QB of the Week Clipart Certificate. He’s now tied with RG3 and Russell Wilson. However, Wilson could steal that Certificate tonight Andrew. I might retroactively award it to him if he pulls off a W tonight.
While on the topic of young QBs, I paid attention to the sophomore class a little bit yesterday too. Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, and Andy Dalton are starting to show a little bit of either who they are or who they can be. After a fantastic rookie season, Cam Newton is coming back to earth. It’s obvious to me that he’s caving mentally under the expectations. Mental focus is the difference between Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning. Mental focus helps you work harder, push through the tough times, and stay sharp on the field. Cam is not focused right now. The Panthers are very close to collapsing. They play the 3-0 Falcons next week and the Seahawks and their top defense the following before their bye week. It’s very possible the Panthers could be 1-4 headed into their bye week. If Cam Newton isn’t making plays and their defense continues to be allergic to tackles, the Panthers may be written off by midseason.
Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton are very quickly closing the gap between a young, growing QB and a solidified starter. Ponder is taking advantage of Adrian Peterson and making plays with his feet, arm, and head. Ponder was smart, efficient, and made plays when he needed to against a very, very, very good 49ers defense. The stats don’t show it, but he had an incredible game. He is very quietly having a solid season for the 2-1 Vikings. Dalton has been borderline Pro Bowl good the past 2 weeks. He has 646 yards passing, 6 touchdowns, 1 interception, all while completing 74% of his passes. It makes life a lot easier with AJ Green there, who I think is now the 3rd best WR in the NFL, after 1a and 1b, Fitz and Megatron.
Jake Locker has been up and down at best. He torched the Lions secondary yesterday for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns (although the Lions could have the worst secondary in the NFL), but before that Locker looked lost. Blaine Gabbert has yet to really show anyone anything. Before what was a lucky 80 yard touchdown pass with less than a minute to go, Gabbert was 9/20 for 75 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew had more yards than that on 2 carries.
Locker can be a good QB, but he has a lot of work to do. Gabbert? I wouldn’t be surprised if Jacksonville threw in the towel. He doesn’t have the physical skills like Locker or Newton to make up for all of his flaws.
Overpaid/Underpaid Player of the week
Overpaid: Jason Witten, TE Dallas Cowboys. A TE has 2 basic duties. 1) Block on running plays and some passing plays. 2) Be a consistent, reliable target for the QB. Jason seems to have forgotten the second one because he’s had a case of the dropsies Braylon Edwards would be ashamed of. Jason had 3 drops and 2 false starts against the Bucs and if Tampa had anything resembling an offense, those plays could have easily cost the Cowboys a win. Witten had 4 drops in the previous 2 games as well.
He’s also a little unsure about his first duty to. Witten combined with Doug Free to let Bucs DL Michael Bennett go free and absolutely destroy Tony Romo. It’s the kind of hit defensive players dream about. I’m pretty sure if you watch it in slow motion you can see Romo’s grandma wince in pain. While I love watching Romo get smacked around as much as the next guy, Witten can’t let that happen.
Witten’s salary gave him about $227,000 for the game. Jason, take that check and give it to the Cowboys MVP for that game, Josh Freeman. If Freeman doesn’t go a putrid 10/28 for 110 yards the Cowboys probably lose. 64 of Freeman’s passing yards were on the final drive. Yes, you’re reading that correctly, Freeman had a whopping 46 yards passing until there were about 2 minutes to go in the game. You’re lucky I didn’t want to give this award to a QB this week Josh.
Underpaid: Michael Johnson, DE Cincinnati Bengals. I tried to avoid giving the award to a player still on his rookie contract, but Michael earned an exception. Keep in mind, he’s on the final year of his rookie deal and he was only a 3rd round pick, so he’s playing for an extension. Let me go over his stat line, which doesn’t even remotely tell you the whole story: 6 tackles (5 solo), 4 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 7 QB hits, and a pass defended. This game was the one that stayed on my TV the most because Cowboys-Bucs was an awful game and the others were on my computer.
Johnson lived in the backfield. He harassed RG3 all day. It felt like everytime RG3 dropped back, Johnson was in the backfield. Let’s compare Johnson’s one game to Mario Williams over 3. So far, Williams has 7 tackles (5 solo) 1.5 sacks, and 2 QB hits. Mario got $50 million guaranteed this offseason. Be careful Mario, you might end up with an overpaid award very, very soon.
Michael, give Mario a call to see how you too can join the $50 million guaranteed to be average club. Johnson was a marginal player his first 3 years in the league and perhaps he has finally turned a corner.
-It’s time to take the Steelers and Ravens out of the upper echelon of NFL defenses. Just look at the results. Steelers fans might try to say it’s injuries, but they’ve always had a “next man up” philosophy that has worked for years. The Ravens lack a pass rush without Terrell Suggs and the back 7 isn’t getting it done in coverage.
-A few crazy stats so far:
1) The Titans are the first team in NFL history to score 5 touchdowns of at least 60 yards in one game.
2)The Saints are 0-3, and each loss is to a team with only a win against them. So their 3 losses are to teams who are 0-6 against other opponents. They also didn’t score a point on their last 6 series nor get a first down on their final 5.
3) The Eagles are the first team in NFL history with 1250 yards of offense through Week 3 and less than 50 points.
Thanks to the twitter pages I stole those stats from!
-I think where the Saints are missing Sean Payton the most is in-game adjustments. They aren’t able to change what they’re doing to accommodate what their opposition is showing. Their offense in the 2nd half yesterday was a prime example.
-I benched Jamaal Charles in fantasy. Oops.
-I don’t care if the Jets are 2-1, their last 2 games have been putrid on offense. With Darrelle Revis out for the season due to a knee injury, stick a fork in them.
-If you want a good laugh, watch the fake FG the Bengals tried yesterday. If the Packers fake FG that led to a Tom Crabtree touchdown was a work of art, that was a guy on bath salts painting with a brush up his nose.
-Brian Billick is so bad and uninformed at announcing I wonder how he ever became an NFL head coach. I understand when an announcer isn’t a super smooth talker or stutters a little. I like guys who can give informed analysis like Mike Mayock even if the delivery isn’t always smooth. But Billick was wrong so many times I stopped keeping track.
-If you didn’t watch the Clemson-FSU game Saturday night, you missed a thriller. If you like good defense, this wasn’t your game, but wow was it fun to watch if you like fast offenses. A ton of credit to FSU coming from behind and not letting up. Great teams go for the kill when they smell blood and FSU did just that.
Prediction for Monday Night Football:
The Packers win a defensive slugfest. The Seahawks DL controls the line of scrimmage and the Packers struggle to move the ball but their offense doesn’t make enough plays to pull off the upset.