by NFL Gimpy
The NFL gets more and more bizarre every week. Here are a few of the crazy things that happened this weekend:
-Matt Ryan becomes the first QB since 1967 (Bart Starr) to throw 5 interceptions in a game and win.
-The Houston Texans became the first team in NFL history to score twice in overtime thanks to the new rule.
-Matt Schaub tied the 2nd highest passing yardage total in a single game in NFL history in that overtime win, with a total of 527 yards, behind only Norm Van Brocklin’s 554 in 1951.
-Three overtime games from the 1pm slot, all won by the team who was losing in the 4th quarter and scored to force overtime.
-Robert Griffin III had only one incompletion against the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s now only the 3rd QB in NFL history to have 2,000 rushing yards and 500 yards rushing in his rookie season.
Isn’t that all sorts of fun? A lot of other crazy events happened but those are the easiest to put in a sentence of two. We saw a rookie QB get his first career start, another rookie QB get on the field for the first time, a QB controversy form in Jacksonville, and the division leaders in the AFC (all but one have a 3 game lead with 6 to play) separate themselves from the pack.
Let’s start with QB controversies. One thing I saw this weekend was the amount of teams who have gigantic question marks at QB going forward. Not little ones, gigantic ones. In Jacksonville Blaine Gabbert has shown nothing in his 1.5 seasons and Chad Henne comes off the bench and does more in relief than Gabbert has his entire career. In Philadelphia, Mike Vick is clearly gone after the season and the Eagles don’t know yet what they have in Nick Foles or if the inevitable new coach will want him. Kansas City has absolutely nothing to work with given that Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are at best career backups. The Bills are openly discussing the idea of drafting a 1st round QB in 2013.
I’ll start with the Bills. It was barely over a year ago when they gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a puzzling 6 year $59 million contract with a $10M signing bonus. Since then, he has thrown 33 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. That’s not a good ratio. The Bills (and every other team looking to draft a QB) are in a tough spot because the 2013 draft does not have a top tier QB prospect. It’s even worse for the Bills because at 4-6 and likely to win 2 or 3 more games, they will be picking outside of the top 5 and could suffer when a top 5 team like the aforementioned Jaguars or Chiefs reaches for one. If recent history has shown us anything, it’s that NFL teams will reach for QBs by upwards of an entire round.
You can’t draft a 1st round QB and keep Fitzpatrick around. If you draft a 1st round QB it’s not for competition. It’s a commitment to do everything possible to make that QB the face of your franchise. Sure you can start a different vet for a season or two while the rookie learns (like in Tennessee with Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker) but you can’t start that guy while his replacement is sitting on the bench just waiting. It ends up a little dramatic.
The Chiefs probably have the worst QB situation in the NFL. Matt Cassel has been a bust and Brady Quinn is a never was. The Chiefs were a popular pick to make a playoff run (I made this mistake myself) but QB play has been so atrocious that it has hindered the entire team. If the season ended today, they would have the #1 overall pick via tiebreaker over the Jaguars. I’m sure Chiefs fans everywhere are thinking “why are we a season late?!?!!!?!!!?” The only controversy in Kansas City is whether or not Romeo Crennel should be fired. The answer to me is to build a time machine and never hire him, but if you can’t, I don’t know if it’s a good idea to fire 2 coaches in 2 years. All it does is create a lack of trust in players. If they do fire him, don’t be surprised to see a lot of roster turnover and another poor season in 2013.
As I mentioned, Blaine Gabbert has not shown much since he was drafted. In 25 games, Gabbert has never even had a 300-yard, 2-touchdown game. Yesterday, Chad Henne had 354 yards and 4 touchdowns. Before yesterday, rookie WR Justin Blackmon had 250 yards and a touchdown with a single game high of 68 yards. One game with Henne? 236 yards and a touchdown. Even without his 81 yard touchdown he still more than doubled his season high. Henne has always had the physical tools to be an NFL QB. It has been the mental side of things that hurt him. The Jaguars need to make a move for a QB in the offseason, but I would say roll with Henne while the new QB learns. Henne signed with Jacksonville as a backup QB so you’re not risking anything if he fails as a starter while a new rookie learns the ropes. If he fails, well, then you’re on par with your past 2 seasons with Gabbert.
For info on Nick Foles and the Eagles, feel free to read Tommy Lawlor’s other website, igglesblitz.com. It’ll be far more optimistic than anything I could write. Then again, that may be because of the possible PBR-Twinkie union. All Tommy would be missing is Megan Fox and we’d never see him again after he dies from a happiness overdose.
Year of the Rookie QB
Andrew Luck: 27/50 334 yards 2 touchdowns 3 interceptions. 1 rush for 4 yards 1 sack for 5 yards and a lost fumble. QB Rating of 63.3 and a loss.
Robert Griffin III: 14/15 200 yards and 4 touchdowns. 12 rushes for 84 yards and 2 sacks for 8 yards. QB Rating of 158.3 (perfect) and a win.
Ryan Tannehill: 14/28 141 yards 1 touchdown 2 interceptions. 1 rush for 7 yards 3 sacks for 17 yards. QB Rating of 46.9 and a loss.
Brandon Weeden: 20/35 210 yards 2 touchdowns. 2 sacks for 18 yards and a lost fumble. QB Rating of 93.8 and a loss.
Russell Wilson: Probably never left the team facility in Seattle and has been studying tape for the past week. Technically had a bye week.
Nick Foles: 21/46 204 yards 2 interceptions. 4 sacks for 27 yards. QB Rating of 40.5 and a loss.
Ryan Lindley: 9/20 64 yards (not a typo). 3 sacks for 27 yards and a lost fumble. QB Rating of 52.9 (what!!!???!!) and a loss.
7 teams had a rookie QB play relevant snaps in Week 11. That’s 22% of NFL teams. C’mon Broncos, get Brock Osweiler in a game somehow that doesn’t involve a Peyton Manning injury to make it 25%! I’ll take it easy on the two noobs, Foles and Lindley. Foles was given a tough task, with 4 backups on the OL in front of him and a running game that couldn’t get going. Lindley just isn’t ready. You can’t go from San Diego State to the NFL in less than one season.
The big matchup heading into the week was Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady. Fans and analysts were hoping Luck could somehow renew the great Manning-Brady rivalry. We’ll have to wait at least another year because Luck isn’t ready for that. Luck is still an incredible prospect doing incredible things for the Colts but he’s nowhere close to Brady’s level yet. I have confidence he will be but you can’t replace 13 years of experience in any amount of time less than 13 years. Luck had 4 turnovers, 2 of which were taken for touchdowns right away. He made numerous good plays but he had some bad ones. Belichik is a master at tricking QBs with defensive schemes and Luck fell into several traps.
Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins are fading fast. What’s happening is what many call the rookie wall. The offense didn’t score a touchdown until midway through the 4th quarter. Tannehill benefitted from a great running game earlier in the season but with that struggling, he has as well. A real threat in the passing game would do wonders for the Dolphins.
Brandon Weeden and the Browns continue their season of “almost.” Of their 8 losses, 5 are by one score. This time they almost beat the Cowboys in regulation, but a last minute drive forced OT. The Browns failed to score in OT and lost. The Browns, like the Dolphins, are a weapon in the passing game away from making more noise on offense. I just hope that the Browns keep the coaching staff there, because while it isn’t showing up in the win column, this is not a bad team on the level of Jacksonville and Kansas City. Weeden had 2 great red zone touchdown passes. He just needs more consistency and talent around him.
Then there is RG3. Look at those stats. One incompletion. 4 touchdowns. Those numbers look like he’s back at Baylor. He had a perfect QB rating of 158.3. He was certainly aided by 2 long touchdown passes that the Eagles screwed up big time. One a wide open Aldrick Robinson caught a 49-yard touchdown and had no eagles DB within 10 yards. The other Kurt Coleman failed to defend a jump ball and Santana Moss snatched it for a 61-yard score.
RG3’s stats were simply sick. Bad defense or not, QBs don’t complete 93% of their passes for 4 touchdowns often. Then throw in 84 yards rushing where he made the Eagles defense look like they were running in sand and you get a blowout. With those sick stats, RG3 gets the coveted MAQB Rookie QB of the Week Clipart Certificate. I look forward to seeing RG3 and possibly Nick Foles in person when I head to Philly on December 23rd. If you can find me, I’ll buy you a beer. I’ll be the guy wearing a LeSean McCoy jersey.
Overpaid/Underpaid Player of the Week
Overpaid: Philip Rivers, QB San Diego Chargers
I know I keep giving this award to QBs but there are too many that are playing at an awful level. The Chargers didn’t score a single point on offense until late in the 3rd quarter. How did their first 12 offensive possessions go? 10 punts and 2 turnovers. 12 drives, 0 points. Rivers finished the game with 2 interceptions and 3 fumbles (1 lost). He continues to have more turnovers than touchdowns in too many games. His defense spotted him 9 points and he still didn’t manage to ever give his team the lead.
Philip, take your $10.2M salary and help your coach Norv Turner find a new house wherever he’s working next year, if at all, as an offensive coordinator. I still recall when the Chargers replaced Martyball Schotteneheimer (spelled that right without google! Go me!) with Norv Turner and I thought “that’s not going to work.” Sorry San Diego fans.
Underpaid: Cecil Shorts, WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Lost amongst the incredible stats in the Texans-Jaguars game is WR Cecil Shorts. I try to avoid guys on their rookie deals, but Shorts is a 2nd year player from Mount Union, a D3 school in Ohio. D3 writers like Keith McMillan (@D3Keith) have to be pumped to see him doing well in the NFL. Shorts has been a surprising deep threat for the Jags with 20.1 yards per catch. He has 32 receptions for 642 yards and 5 touchdowns right now. Against the Texans he had 3 catches for 81 yards and a 67-yard touchdown.
Cecil, take your meager rookie salary and help the Jaguars pay for some scouts to get you and Justin Blackmon a better QB. A below average starting QB would probably give the Jags 3 more wins this season.
-Rutgers and Maryland to the Big 10 (or B1G or whatever the heck they are now)? I have conference realignment “dontgiveacrapanymoreitis” and I can’t believe this one. Well, I understand Rutgers. The Big East is an absolute joke and Rutgers helps with the Philly-NJ-NYC market. Granted, very, very few people in those areas care about Rutgers, but it’s not an awful decision by the Big 10. What I don’t understand is why Maryland is leaving. Maryland just cut 7 or 8 scholarship sports because they couldn’t afford them anymore. How is paying a gigantic exit fee going to stabilize your athletic budget? If Big 10 is dropping tens of millions of dollars for that exit fee that leads me to really question WTF they’re doing.
-Congrats to Pitt grad Nate Byham on his first ever NFL touchdown. Nate is a blocking TE for the Buccaneers and has gotten solid playing time for them since signing.
-Despite a great game on Sunday by Andre Johnson, at WR, it’s Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, AJ Green and everyone else.
-At 5-5 and only one game behind the pack for last wild card spot, I think the Saints are very much in contention for the 6 seed and the rest of the NFC is really hoping they don’t make it.
-Same thing for the 5-5 Bengals. They’re only one game behind the Steelers and Colts for a wild card spot and the only real threat in the AFC to those two teams. The Bengals still play the Steelers once more and with Big Ben out hurt, the spot is primed for the taking.
-Mason Crosby of the Packers has only made 6 of his past 13 FG attempts. That’s not good.
-The Falcons run defense is not good enough to win a Super Bowl. I firmly believe the Seahawks, Vikings, or Bucs could exploit that in the divisional round (assuming the Falcons get a bye).
-Former NFL coaches who could jump back into the fold should not be announcers or commentators, Jon Gruden. Announcers should not be the subject of conversation.
-Joe Flacco: not a Super Bowl winning type QB. He drove me nuts last night throwing a ton of low percentage passes. When you’re up against a good defense on the road, take what they give you.
-Have a Happy Thanksgiving American readers! I have a lot to be thankful this year, but the above and beyond goes to my dog, Max (I’ll tweet a picture of him). Back in January Max was diagnosed with Stage 5B lymphoma. After 6 months of chemotherapy, Max beat cancer. If you met him you’d never know he was sick minus the spot on his leg where fur won’t grow anymore thanks to the constant shaving where they put the needles in. He got a nice long walk on Saturday (about 2 miles) and all he wanted to do when we got home was play. I’m a huge wimp when it comes to dogs and I’m thankful my dog is here to get some table scraps on Thanksgiving.
Monday Night Football Battle of the Backup QBs
It’s Colin Kaepernick vs. Jason Campbell on Monday Night Football. Campbell was a below average starter during his time but I think he’s a pretty good backup QB. Kaep is still an unknown, only playing in run heavy packages that utilize his athletic ability. I think the 49ers will run the ball a lot to minimize any passing mistakes the young Kaep may make. Chicago is slow at the LB position and the 49ers have one of the best OLs in the NFL.
For Chicago, I expect more of a balanced offense. They’ll try to get Campbell to force feed the ball to Brandon Marshall to keep the 49ers defense honest. The bad news for Campbell is that the 49ers defense has shutdown several offenses and it’s not going to be pretty for either side.
The 49ers pull off a 17-13 win via Kaepernick’s legs.