by NFL Gimpy
Something I try to avoid is discussing the rookie QBs in the first section my column. They get their own section so why should I talk about them right away? I normally reserve this part for an overall look at the NFL or the top events of this weeks games. The interesting dilemma is that those rookie QBs continue to be one of if not the top story. Was there a bigger story yesterday than Russell Wilson leading 2 game-winning touchdown drives? I say 2, because the Seahawks D chocked big time to let the game get into overtime. What about 2 touchdowns in the last 3 minutes, including an 11-play, 75-yard drive in 1:07 to win? That’s what Andrew Luck did. RG3 hasn’t had a chance yet to do something spectacular, but with tonight’s game pretty close to a must win to keep pace with the Seahawks, you’ve gotta believe he’ll pull something incredible off.
I’m going to use Russell Wilson to go over something I predicted would happen awhile back and caught some flack for on twitter: the Bears defense isn’t holding up. Their 3 best players on the front 7 are on the wrong side of 30. Urlacher is probably slower than many offensive linemen at this point. Julius Peppers has 0 forced fumbles on the season. He hasn’t had less than 3 since 2005. Lance Briggs hasn’t declined as obviously as Urlacher thankfully.
The entire Bears defense is depending on 2 things: the front 7 stops the run and the secondary forces turnovers. With 2 losses in their past 3 games, one thing immediately jumps out: 1 forced turnover in those 2 games. Without those turnovers, the offense wasn’t put in favorable positions. Without a good lead, the defense had to play hard all 4 quarters and we saw what happened against the Seahawks.
They got tired.
The original game-winning drive for the Seahawks was a 12-play, 97-yard drive. After a 4th down conversion, the Bears simply couldn’t take it anymore and gave up 2 completions for 41 yards and a touchdown. They had nothing left in the tank and it was apparent, at least to me. Thanks to an incredible effort by Brandon Marshall, the Bears forced overtime, and maybe the football gods were going to let a last second score even out the Seahawks miracle against the Packers.
The Seahawks got the ball first and the tired Bears defense gave up a 12-play, 72-yard touchdown drive and lost. That drive included 3 third down conversions. Wilson was able to run for 28 of those 72 yards because the Bears defense lost contain when he rolled out of the pocket. With 3 losses in their past 4 games, 2 of those with some bad play by their defense, the Bears are faltering. Thankfully, 3 of their last 4 opponents have a .500 or worse record, so they aren’t in any danger of losing a playoff spot. However, it’s tough to think they’ll be able to do anything in the wild card round when their defense is fading down the stretch.
While on the topic of playoff teams no one is afraid of, the Baltimore Ravens do not look like a team that will be fighting for a Super Bowl. In the past 3 weeks, they needed a +3 turnover advantage and a punt return for a touchdown to beat a Steelers team led by an injured Byron Leftwich by a field goal, a 4th and 29 choke by the Chargers to force overtime and win, and finally a loss to a Charlie Batch led Steelers. In those 3 games, Joe Flacco has completed 56% of his passes at only 6.0 yards per attempt. He has 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, with 3 fumbles (1 lost). When Charlie Batch, who is technically old enough to be the father of an NFL player by now has more yards, yards per attempt, and a better completion percentage than you in a game, you have problems.
Unlike the Bears, the Ravens have a tough road ahead of them. The only opponent without a winning record, the Redskins, is still in the fight for a playoff spot. I wouldn’t bat an eye if they dropped their last 4 the way they’re playing right now. If that happens, it is possible they could miss the playoffs altogether. With 3 straight losses they’ll likely be playing the Bengals in Week 17 for a playoff spot.
Year of the Rookie QB
Andrew Luck: 24/54 391 yards 4 touchdowns 3 interceptions. 3 rushes for 33 yards and 2 sacks for 19 yards. QB Rating of 70.8 and a win.
Robert Griffin III: Plays the Giants tonight on Monday Night Football
Ryan Tannehill: 13/29 186 yards. 5 rushes for 19 yards and a touchdown 3 sacks for 10 yards and a lost fumble. QB Rating of 66.2 and a loss.
Brandon Weeden: 25/36 364 yards 1 touchdown 2 interceptions. 5 rushes for 11 yards and 1 sack for 11 yards. QB Rating of 88.2 and a win.
Russell Wilson: 23/37 293 yards 2 touchdowns. 9 rushes for 71 yards and 2 sacks for 10 yards. QB Rating of 104.9 and a win.
Nick Foles: 22/34 251 yards 1 touchdown. 1 sack for 11 yards. QB Rating of 96.6 and a loss.
Ryan Lindley: 10/31 72 yards 1 interception. QB Rating of 28.0 and a loss.
I’ve already covered a little of what Andrew Luck did late against the Lions, but it’s important to note he was having an awful game before that. Under 50% completion percentage, 3 interceptions, one of which was awful. Luck was forcing things all game long and it hurt the Colts a lot. He came through in the end for the win, but if he plays a better game the first 55 minutes, he probably doesn’t need to. That’s what makes Luck so special. He had an awful game but made a ton of plays in the end to pull off the win. QBs need to have a short memory. The great ones always do. Luck is quick to forget his mistakes and keeps on chugging. It’s scary to think what he’ll do when those mistakes become rarer.
RG3 has a huge matchup tonight. The Redskins are 5-6 and a loss will put them 2 games behind the Seahawks for the 6th spot and 3 games behind the Giants for the division with 4 games left. Win and they’re only a game behind each. For the sake of an interesting race to the finish, I’m rooting for RG3 and the Redskins. I also like him significantly more than Eli Manning.
Tannehill had a rough game against a vastly improved Patriots defense. They put a lot of heat on him and it shows up with his poor completion percentage. The game wasn’t as close as the score dictates and I don’t think the Dolphins ever really threatened. With this loss, the Dolphins fall to 5-7 and makes it virtually impossible for them to make the playoffs. A road game against the 49ers next week will likely seal their fate.
Brandon Weeden had a typical Brandon Weeden game. Some nice places, 1 or 2 boneheaded mistakes, but overall not bad. Thankfully they were playing the Raiders and the defense kept them in check. Fellow rookie Josh Gordon had a great game with 6 catches on 7 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. I’ll keep pushing the “Browns aren’t that bad” angle. The pieces are there. The defense needs some help in the secondary and pass rush and the offense needs someone opposite of Josh Gordon worth something.
I’ve already gone over Russell Wilson’s heroics. He essentially led 2 game winning drives on the road late in the 4th quarter and in overtime. Tired Bears defense or not, that’s a heck of an accomplishment for a rookie. The Seahawks have 3 of their last 4 games at home where they’re currently 5-0. That bodes very well for their playoff hopes, especially given their road opponent is the Bills.
Nick Foles played a really good game against the Cowboys. Good completion percentage (65%), no turnovers (thanks to a dropped interception), and really good pocket awareness. He played his best game since taking over the starting gig but unfortunately his defense is allergic to covering and Bryce Brown is making sure the Eagles get a high draft pick with his fumbles (that’s why, right??? Right???). He got smacked a couple of times when he stepped into his throws and he showed no fear. He read the Cowboys defense well and executed the plays. If he shows the continued improvement as time goes on, maybe the Eagles won’t need a high draft pick at QB. Obviously that depends on who the head coach is, I wouldn’t want Foles to run Chip Kelly’s offense. Greg Roman’s? Absolutely.
As is the usual custom, I’m going to ignore Ryan Lindley. I’m sorry, but there are better QBs still on the street than Lindley (at this point, not hating on his future, just his current level). David Garrard could step in right now and completely 55% of his passes for 200 yards with 1 week of the playbook. There were numerous WRs who had more yards than Lindley threw for. Wes Welker had more catches and yards. Larry Fitzgerald averages 75 yards per game for his career. As a Pitt fanboy it pains me to watch Larry Fitzgerald’s talent go to waste. Hopefully he gets a QB or finds his way to a better team.
This weeks MAQB Rookie of the Week Clipart Certificate was easy. With 2 game winning drives and no turnovers, Russell Wilson gets the nod.
Overpaid/Underpaid Players of the Week
Sorry not to include this segment last week. I spent all day Tuesday going between my bed and the toilet so I wasn’t my sharpest on Monday so this is a segment that got cut.
Overpaid: Drew Brees, QB New Orleans Saints
I hate the trend of giving this award to QBs, but Brees easily had the worst game of any player I saw this week Mark Sanchez is excluded because I’m not sure he deserves the title of NFL Player. 5 interceptions thrown, and most of them were on Brees. That doesn’t include completely screwing up at the end of the 1st half and throwing the ball short of the end zone with no timeouts. Darren Sproles was unable to score and the Saints somehow came away with no points despite being inside the Falcons 10 yard line. That’s a rookie level mistake. Brees needs to get rid of the ball quickly and out of bounds so they can take an easy FG.
Drew has many games under his belt where he won something that should have been lost so I have no doubt he’ll rebound. But that doesn’t exclude him from criticism when he sucks and I’m sure he’ll be harder on himself than anyone else could. Winners are like that and Drew Brees is a winner.
Underpaid: Brady Quinn, QB Kansas City Chiefs
It feels crazy to give Quinn this award, but I really want to recognize his game and more importantly, the external adversity the Chiefs faced heading into this game. I’m not going to comment on what happened, but when you lose a teammate the day before a game in such a crazy manner, it’s tough to keep your composure. I was an emotional wreck the day I found out my dog had cancer and I had to leave work early. My job isn’t NFL QB and as much as I love my dog (who kicked lymphoma’s ass), losing a teammate and friend like that is much harder to handle. The Chiefs have been a laughingstock in the league this year and with nothing to play for but pride and a perfectly legitimate excuse to have a bad game, Quinn didn’t let it happen.
Quinn was 19/23 (82%) for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. His second touchdown was on 4th and goal with no time left in the 1st half. The Chiefs were down 14-10 at that point, but logic dictates you go for the FG to make it a 1 point game. Nope. The Chiefs went for it and Quinn made the play with a 1 yard touchdown to TE Tony Moeaki.
Brady, you changed a lot of opinions yesterday, mine included. Your composure during the game and afterwards was remarkable. I still saw the overrated QB from Notre Dame who never panned out as an NFL starter. Kudos for rising to the occasion as a man and a QB.
-The Bills offense is being held back by Ryan Fitzpatrick. There’s a reason they’re openly discussing making a move for a QB in the offseason. CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson are a great combo at RB and should take a ton of pressure off of the passing game but there’s still a lot to be desired there. Thankfully, it’s still a lot better than the Jaguars passing offense, which has come back down to reality. Chad Henne remembered that he’s Chad Henne, but that’s still better than Blaine Gabbert.
-Humor me this, readers. Is Pitt vs. WVU, the Backyard Brawl, a college game you’d pay attention to? It was one of the longest standing rivalry games before conference realignment cancelled the series. I’m just puzzled that the Pinstripe Bowl opted to take Syracuse over Pitt given that Syracuse was there last year and the matchup means nothing. To me, it makes so much more sense to take a big rivalry, no matter what the order of selection should be. I understand how that process works, but I also understand that $$ triumphs over all in the bowl system.
-If Christian Ponder wants to keep the title of “game manager” and not become “backup QB” he shouldn’t throw across his body into the end zone. Throw the ball away, play another day. The game was very much in contention at that point and 3 points would have been a lot better than none.
-I’ll happily take a hit to my pride on Colin Kaepernick over another tie between the 49ers and Rams.
-If I told you the Packers would have 150+ yards rushing, Aaron Rodgers would throw for 286 yards, only get sacked twice for 3 yards, and their offense would only turn the ball over once, how many points do you think they’d have? I’d bet most of you would assume more than 23. 435 yards of offense and only one turnover normally means a lot more than 23 points.
-Even though they lost, I want to give some credit to the Buccaneers secondary. EJ Biggers, Danny Gorrer, and LeQuan Lewis were their CBs against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Manning only had 6.4 yards per attempt and an interception. He did have 3 touchdowns, but the fact that Peyton didn’t light them up for 400 yards is impressive.
-I think the anonymous Broncos players talking about Tim Tebow are trustworthy. It sounds like the comments are legit. The anonymous players say they really like Tim and want him to succeed, but it’s just not as an NFL starter. I can see why the comments were off the record, since they called him a “gimmick” player. That’s not very flattering.
-It’s hard to believe it’s December already. Only 4 weeks of football until the playoffs start. College Bowl season is starting soon. Yet, no hockey. Ugh.
Monday Night Football Prediction
RG3 tears the Giants D a new one.
For those who wish to follow Gimpy on Twitter (I’m primarily talking to supermodels, sorority girls, and pop star divas)…here ya go.