Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Hangover: 11-3-2008


First really interesting weekend of NFL football in a while, so let’s get right to The Hangover…

• Congratulations to Brett Favre for becoming the first quarterback in NFL history with 300 interceptions. What Favre fan won’t remember where he or she was when the gunslinger gunslinged his way past this gunslinging gunslingstone. My answer: Sitting at a bar, not realizing that I was about to order two Jameson shots to take the edge off of history. If Brett Favre came back because he has so much fun playing, then throwing while being completely off balance with no clear mechanics or plan must be the most fun thing ever, because that’s pretty much all he’s doing these days.

• Sitting out of a game because you’ve got a case of the sickies seems very not beast mode, Marshawn Lynch.

• Also, is there a more misshapen body in the NFL than Jay Feely? Do they have to special order a helmet for a head that big?

• If the Lions had a quarterback who knew enough to put the ball high to Calvin Johnson instead of proving that they can throw darts (the sign of young quarterbacks with great physicality and limited mental tools), the Lions win yesterday’s game easily.

• Which brings me to the Daunte Culpepper signing: It’s…not a bad move? I mean, this feels distinctly NOT Lions-y, but here they’ve managed to sign a quarterback with the tools to develop and highlight the core of their team (Calvin Johnson), and the arm to open up the middle of the field (which could help RB Kevin Smith find some holes, and Rudi Johnson not have to make a spin move five yards behind the line to avoid losing yardage). Furthermore, a two year deal gives them some flexibility to pick up a quarterback in the draft and develop them for a year (unless Drew Stanton turns out to be the guy…which, when your offensive coordinator says he’s keeping you out of the game to avoid embarrassing you, seems unlikely). I’m not saying that this fixes a team filled with holes, but it certainly looks to make things better, and buys the team at least a shot at competence during the inevitable rebuilding post-Millen (look upon my works, ye mighty…).

• This is a disgustingly disappointing year for the Jaguars, but before we all throw dirt on their graves and declare last year a fluke, just remember that this team lost three starters on their offensive line in the first few weeks. I don’t love Jack Del Rio, but he deserves some leeway based on that alone.

• Ok, now, with that said, there have to be some creative ways of getting one of your most dynamic weapons (MJD) involved. 12 all purpose touches for 62 all purpose yards isn’t enough for a back like Drew. Screens, flats, and under routes would all be a way of getting him more useful touches in space that complements his quickness, and could make Matt Jones (who, LIKE I TOLD YOU ALL, is having a breakout year) even more dangerous downfield. These guys will be back, but I’d like to see some signs of life this year, if possible.

• Whoever is out there spreading the gospel that the Browns need to get Jamal Lewis more involved in order to start winning games, you’re wrong. VERY wrong. Lewis turned 19 carries into only 49 yards, for a pathetic 2.6 yard average on Sunday. Meanwhile, against a secondary that couldn’t deal with either his speed or his size, Braylon Edwards had only four receptions. Yes, he dropped an easy TD late, and yes, he's dropped 11 passes on the year, but that shouldn't discount his obvious talent in comparison to the playing field, and once he showed how clearly he was beating the Ravens secondary, everyone else needed to take a backseat to him in that offense. Also, in case you’re wondering what kind of effect going from three effective receivers to two has on a team, the Browns are ranked 26th in the league in pass yards per game. Last season, they finished ranked 12th, and had almost 60 more pass yards per game.

• Why do I think Joe Flacco is going to be just fine? Because with an ok offensive line, he’s helping a receiver like Derrick Mason, who runs the 40 in about the time it takes you to read this column, 136 passing yards and a TD. If/When Demetrius Williams comes along and the team picks up another downfield target, this team will have the makings of a scary pass offense.

• Some “L. White” character on the Titans averaged 9.6 yards a carry on Sunday. Don’t tell me that’s Lendale White, because I didn’t see a player on the sidelines being constantly revived via the use of defibrillators and bypass surgeries, and Lendale needs that any time he rolls past six yards on a carry.

• How do you put together a cleanly thrown passing game (201 yards with 2 TD and no INT), a solid rush attack (183 yards, 1 TD for a 5.1 yard-per-carry average), and still lose? Look, nobody is saying that the Chiefs are a great team, or even decent, or really any adjective that doesn’t carry horribly negative implications, but the drives after their second quarter score look like this: Punt, FG, Punt, Punt, Punt, FG, Punt, No score. Of those possessions, only two ate more than 3 minutes of game clock, and only one of those two produced points. Aside from that one scoring drive of almost 6 minutes, the chiefs controlled the ball for just 13 minutes and 2 seconds on seven possessions, or less than two minutes a possession…when they are DESPERATELY trying to run out the clock. I’m not saying that Herm Edwards can’t read a clock; I’m just saying that if you talked to him, he’d probably ask you why that mini-score in the center of the scoreboard kept changing every second.

• Kurt Warner deserves to be in the discussion for NFL offensive MVP. Considering he’s second in the league in quarterback rating, yardage, touchdowns, first in completion percentage, and has a better record than anyone ranked ahead of him in any of those categories, that should be a no brainer. What should also be discussed is why we don’t at least mention Kurt Warner as a potential hall of famer. If he gets the Cardinals anywhere in the playoffs, he’ll have helmed a second team to overachievement. He’s a two time MVP, a Super Bowl winner, a Super Bowl MVP, the second most accurate QB of all time, and has the passing statistics to back up all of those awards. Just something I want to float out there for discussion now…

• Signs of life from the Vikings, where Gus Frerotte put up 3 TD and AP tacked on another (along with 139 rushing yards for an absurd 5.5 per carry on 25 carries). Don’t look now, but if a surprisingly coherent Vikings offense can take advantage of a bad Packers rush defense next week, then pick up a win against a Chicago team that was lucky to escape Detroit alive, these guys could stumble into the playoffs and become a team that nobody wants to play, considering how good that offense has looked in recent weeks.

• Why, when the passing offense is clearly the center of the game, does Andre Johnson only get 4 catches, while Owen Daniels is racking up 11, particularly considering the Texans’ need to go down the field FAST toward the end of the game? Sage Rosenfels must only throw to you if you’re whiter than a mayonnaise and cocaine sandwich on Wonderbread.

• Here’s an interesting stat I found while doing that QB research earlier: The quarterback with the fourth highest YPA is Chad Pennington. Seriously, what Handsome Chad is doing with what the Miami offense has is unbelievable.

• On a related note, how great is THIS story? It’s a shame that him and Kellen Winslow hate each other so much, because if the phrase “soul mates” should apply to any two people…

• The Oakland Raiders are awful, awful, awful, awful, awful. At this point, what can they possibly do to prevent Jamarcus Russell from being a complete bust thanks to a lack of consistent coaching and a totally inadequate offense around him?

• Biggest stat of that game: The Raiders controlled the bal for 14 minutes and 45 seconds. That’s less than one quarter of game time. I feel like they’re obligated to pay their television broadcasting partner back for lost revenue. There has to be some kind of implied breach of contract there.

• Don’t underestimate the value of Matt Ryan not throwing any picks on Sunday. A less intelligent QB would probably have tried to force the ball to his favorite target (Roddy White) on deep routes, even though Nnamdi Asomugha was covering him, and would have paid the price for it. Instead, Ryan found White on safe routes when he could, and let Michael Jenkins do the dirty work on deeper plays against a corner that isn’t built to handle him. If Ryan gets this team to the playoffs, you pretty much have to give him the offensive ROY, even if Chris Johnson and Matt Forte are better on paper.

• I always have to remind myself that no, there is no “minor leagues” for football when I hear that fans were chanting for Brooks Bollinger to replace Brad Johnson. Don’t you have to have some sort of real enthusiasm to start chanting for something? Who can muster that for Brooks Bollinger? I have trouble finding the strength to even make fun of him.

• Seriously, Cowboys, at least the Raiders had the decency to keep their crappy offense off the field for the horrifically unbelievable majority of the game.

• The Koren Robinson TD pass from the Seahawks-Eagles game was the single slowest play I have ever seen unfold. There are sitcoms that take less time than watching that play in slow motion. Koren Robinson had time to go to the sidelines and do a hangover vomit before that replay was done.

• Obligatory note on the most boring game of the day: This “Matt Cassel could be decent” talk is ridiculous. 204 yards with an INT against a shaky defense isn’t getting the job done (and didn’t last night). I get it, pundits; he’s very pretty. Save the fawning for when he winds up on one of your talk shows and you can play footsie under the table or something, because this is just embarrassing.

• I figured it out: Who wants to bet that Herm thought Daylight Savings time ending factored into the game clock?

That’s all for today. We’re back to a normal schedule here (the sixth time I say that is the charm), so expect more consistent stuff from here on out. Until then, enjoy the Steelers and Redskins tonight.

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