by NFL Gimpy
I love Thanksgiving. I ate a ton of food and watched football the entire day. It’s heaven. Rex Ryan got steamrolled, the Cowboys lost, and the Texans won a close one again. Unfortunately due to Sunday night travel I didn’t see the Packers-Giants game but I’m not surprised the Giants won. They’re just a week early turning their season around. They normally suck the entire month of November.
I won’t dig too much into the playoff situations. It’s pretty much the same as last week except now the 6th spot in both conferences has several teams tied at 6-5. It’s crazy to see the “top teams” struggling though. The Texans have squeaked out 2 overtime victories the past 2 weeks to vastly inferior teams and the Falcons have had two even uglier wins. I’m very impressed with the improved play from the Patriots secondary, we’ll see if it holds up. If it does, the Tom Brady and company have a very good shot at their 4th Lombardi. The 49ers look like the most complete team in the NFC but can a QB change this late in the season mean a Super Bowl?
At this point, the playoffs need to come sooner rather than later. The rest of the regular season is pretty much going to be who gets the 6 seed in both conferences and who gets what seed. The top 5s are set barring a crazy collapse by one of them. With that said, let’s look at some rookie QBs! It was a fun week to watch them, including a rookie QB faceoff!
MAQB Rookie of the Week
Andrew Luck: 20/37 240 yards 1 touchdown 1 interception. 6 rushes for 20 yards 4 sacks for 15 yards. QB Rating of 71.9 and a win.
Robert Griffin III: 20/28 311 yards 4 touchdowns 1 interception. 6 rushes for 29 yards 4 sacks for 16 yards. QB Rating of 132.6 and a win over the Cowboys.
Ryan Tannehill: 18/26 253 yards 1 touchdown 1 interception. 4 rushes for 33 yards 1 sack for 7 yards. QB Rating of 97.1 and a win.
Brandon Weeden: 17/26 158 yards 1 touchdown 1 interception. 2 rushes for 8 yards 4 sacks for 28 yards. QB Rating of 78.7 and a win.
Russell Wilson: 21/27 224 yards 2 touchdowns. 5 rushes for 38 yards 2 sacks for 8 yards. QB Rating of 125.9 and a loss.
Nick Foles: Nick gets his 2nd start tonight against the Panthers in the NFC Toilet Bowl.
Ryan Lindley: 31/52 312 yards 0 touchdowns 4 interceptions. 1 rush for 1 yard 2 sacks for 11 yards. QB Rating of 44.7 and a loss.
The first thing that jumps out at me (other than how awful Lindley was) is that the only QB without a turnover, Russell Wilson, lost. The second is that Brandon Weeden, for all of his faults, is still significantly better than Charlie Batch. He could be the best RB on the Steelers too, he didn’t have a single fumble and had a significantly better yards per carry average. For the purposes of the rest of this section, I’m going to pretend Ryan Lindley doesn’t exist, just like Larry Fitzgerald must do in private.
Luck is great at winning without gaudy numbers. His stats don’t always look pretty but when you’re watching him he looks so much better than what the stats show. He’s making rookie mistakes, but at 7-4 and making fewer mistakes than a veteran like Philip Rivers, it’s scary to think what he’ll do when those mistakes vanish. He’s doing something that many great QBs do: he’s making others around him look good. Reggie Wayne is on pace for career highs in catches and yards. Rookie T.Y. Hilton has 3 receiving touchdowns the past 2 weeks. As a fan of a team with QB issues, I hate the Colts for how perfectly the chips fell for them. One awful season is going to enable them to have 20-25 years of great QB play between Peyton and Andrew.
RG3 accomplished one of my favorite things in the NFL: beating the Cowboys. I love watching the Cowboys lose. On national TV on Thanksgiving? Even better! Fans across the country were thankful for RG3 on Turkey Day. The Cowboys looked like they overdosed on tryptophan in the first half and went into halftime down 28-3 thanks to 4 touchdowns in the 2nd quarter.
The most impressive thing about RG3 is the high level of execution he runs the offense at. The Redskins have beaten several teams with a read option play-action deep throw. That’s not a coincidence. Teams have seen this play on tape numerous times (RG3 fakes a read option, throws it deep) and it’s still working. That’s because they’re executing the read option so well that defenses have to respect it. Then when a DB bites on the play-action, it’s 6 points. Pierre Garcon had a really good game and with him healthy, don’t be surprised to see the Redskins make a solid late season surge. It’ll be tough to make the playoffs, but a 4-1 finish will give them a very respectable 9-7 record. The past 2 weeks, RG3 is 34/43 passing (79% completion) for 8 touchdowns. Wow.
Tannehill rebounded from a few rough games in order to pull off a close win against fellow rookie Russell Wilson. The most impressive part about the victory is that the Dolphins scored 17 points in the 4th quarter to pull off the 3-point win. Ignoring spikes to stop the clock and the early Christmas gift roughing the passer penalty that took back an awful interception, Tannehill’s stats in the 4th quarter were incredible. 7/8 for 156 yards 1 touchdown plus a 15-yard run on the game winning FG drive. You can certainly criticize his play in the first 3 quarters but Tannehill made some great plays in the 4th quarter. His game tying touchdown to H-Back Charles Clay was a beautiful toss.
Russell Wilson had some of the nicest stats you’ll ever see in a loss. What killed the Seahawks was their complete inability to run the ball. Outside of a 16-yard run by Marshawn Lynch, he had 30 yards rushing on 18 carries. When you stop the Seahawks from running the ball, they struggle. They continue to find ways to lose on the road (all 5 losses have been 1-score games on the road) and that’s something that needs to be fixed if the Seahawks are going to make a playoff run. They’ll probably have to find a way to either beat the Bears on the road or the 49ers at home in order to make the playoffs. Lose both and the Bucs, Vikings, Saints, or Redskins may steal that spot.
As stated many times before, beat the Cowboys and you’re almost a mortal lock for the MAQB Rookie of the Week Clipart Certificate. With incredible stats on a short week on the road, RG3 is an easy pick.
-I absolutely love this quote from Bengals OT Andrew Whitworth: “I’ve got two contracts in my life. One, with my wife because we’re married. And, two, I’ve got a contract to protect Andy Dalton. I’ll do both of those to the best of my ability.” For a little context, Andy Dalton was hit after a false start penalty blew the play dead by Raiders DL Lamarr Houston. Whitworth made sure Houston knew that wasn’t acceptable by going after him.
Whitworth will likely be fined but not suspended for the incident and quite frankly, any OL that doesn’t take that fine doesn’t belong in the NFL. When your QB takes a cheap shot late in the game it’s your job to show the rest of the NFL it won’t be tolerated. I’m sure this will be one of those fines where Whitworth finds some cash in his back pocket that magically covers the entire fine.
-Speaking of the Bengals, I love how they beat down Carson Palmer. They were up 24-0 at halftime and the Raiders didn’t even score a touchdown until late in the 3rd quarter. Palmer semi-retired before the 2011 season saying he’ll never play for the Bengals again because they’re a garbage organization. The Bengals luckily were able to trade Palmer for a king’s ransom at the trade deadline last year. I said at the time Palmer was a whiny little girl and history is proving me right.
Since the start of 2011, the Bengals are 15-12 and could make the playoffs in back to back seasons. The Raiders are 11-16 and 4 of those 11 wins had Jason Campbell as their starting QB. While certainly the Bengals were and still are a flawed organization, it’s blatantly obvious that Carson Palmer was part of the problem.
-I mocked the Steelers earlier but 8 turnovers? Wow. 5 lost fumbles and 3 interceptions. The fact that this was only a 1 score loss says wonders about how well the Steelers defense played. They even scored a touchdown. If Big Ben can’t come back next week, the Steelers will likely be 6-6 and on the outside looking in at the AFC Wild Card Race.
-You will never see a worse play by a defense than the Chargers had late in the 4th quarter yesterday. 4th and 29, a stop wins the game. Then, Joe Flacco checks the ball down to Ray Rice 20ish yards away from the first down with at least 5 Chargers between him and the first down mark. Game over, right? Wrong. Ray Rice somehow gets those 20 yards and the Ravens got a FG to force overtime, then won. I can’t even describe in words how bad the Chargers defense looked.
The incredible play by Ray Rice has protected Joe Flacco from a lot of criticism on his decision. A checkdown on 4th and 29? I don’t care if Ray Rice got it, that was not the right throw. He can play it up in the press that he had confidence Ray would make the play, but it was the kind of thing that shows Flacco is not a big time QB.
-Congrats to last week’s underpaid player of the week, Cecil Shorts III. The Jaguars won their 2nd game of the season and shorts had 4 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. He now has 32 catches for 642 and 5 touchdowns in 2012. He now has a reception of 30+ yards in 8 of 11 games. It’s safe to say Chad Henne is going to keep the starting job in Jacksonville for the rest of the season no matter how healthy Blaine Gabbert is.
-If you aren’t pumped to see what Colin Kaepernick can do for the 49ers, you must not like football. I’ve never been a big Alex Smith fan and Jim Harbaugh has coached Alex Smith up to his ceiling, which is a solid QB who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, but will never be a consistent playmaker. Kaepernick has shown explosive playmaking ability and he had Troy Aikman gushing on Sunday. He must have read my Twitter feed the past few weeks to see all the mancrush praise I’ve thrown at him.
-I have an offseason column I’m excited to write when there’s less to talk about regarding the dangers of reaching for a QB. There are many recent examples of a team who desperately drafted a QB when he wasn’t worth a high pick and it hasn’t panned out too well for those teams. Amusingly enough, the teams who drafted according to a more proper value are doing better.
Monday Night Prediction:
The NFC Toilet Bowl will not be pretty.
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