Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 8 NFL notes

Not much of interest save for one or two items in week number 8 in the NFL. Green Bay seemed to have the upper hand against New Orleans until Aaron Rodgers pulled up lame early in the third quarter, and was clearly hampered in his throwing style the rest of the game, throwing two interceptions—one a badly thrown ball at the goal line that Rodgers should have able to easily lead the receiver into the end zone with. With Rodgers not 100 percent, the defense decided that it no longer needed to expend anymore effort to keep the game “close,” or at least that is how it looked to me. The Saints looked like the offensive juggernaut in the second half that they have not been in a series of close losses; but then again, they were playing a Green Bay team once again exposed with serious secondary issues.

Fortunately for the Packers, Tom Brady very much ended any hopes that Chicago might maintain for staying in contention in the NFC North; unfortunately, yet again the Detroit Lions pulled a rabbit out of their hat and won another improbable come-from-behind win with Matthew Stafford’s best weapon largely inoperative. Down 21-0 against Atlanta, all Stafford had to do is throw a lot of passes, and as long as the other team wasn’t catching them, eventually someone on his team would, and enough so to score just enough points to frustrate Packer fans.

Elsewhere, the Arizona Cardinals won their first marque game (the win over San Francisco didn’t “count”) of the season against a one-loss Philadelphia team. Does this mean that Arizona has serious pretensions about winning the NFC West, ahead of mighty Seattle and San Francisco? I think that a victory over Seattle in one of their two upcoming meetings will determine the division, especially since the Seahawks and the 49ers still have their two divisional games to play. 

Andrew Luck threw for more than 400 yards and Indianapolis scored 34 points—except that when the opposing quarterback puts together one of the most remarkably prolific passing performances in NFL history, there is little that one can do but accept defeat with grace. Ben Roethlisberger completed 40 of 49 passes for 522 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in Pittsburgh’s 51-34 victory. Luck actually brought back memories of the stunning comeback victory over Kansas City last season by shaving a 35-10 deficit to 42-34, but there was no stopping Big Ben in this game, and there was only so much Luck could do when the Colts defense was standing around admiring the “performance.”

Let’s see—did I forget anything? Last Thursday, Peyton Manning once more demonstrated that he is a bit of a self-absorbed fraud by whining about the scoreboard operator supposedly causing fans to interfere with his selfish desire to pad his stats with the game already over. We’ve seen this behavior before, Manning getting upset about not getting his way all the time, raging at teammates who disagree with his play calling, blaming others for his mistakes, etc. I’ve said this before, so it is just more grist for the mill. 

Last, but definitely not least, are we finally going to see the end of the Geno Smith Era in New York? Smith had more passes caught by Buffalo Bills’ defenders (3) than his own team (2) before he was benched in the first quarter. Michael Vick came in adn excited Jets fans by leading two touchdown drives in the second quarter, but he apparently could not overcome the lack of a team concept that had been destroyed with the insistence of keeping someone as clearly incompetent as Smith as the starter. If the intention was to win ballgames, Smith would have lasted no more than four games. But the intention—at least in the Jets’ front office—was to give Smith time to “develop,” and this clearly was not happening. 

Smith was not good last year; that Jet team was a 4-12 team that happened to catch more than few opportune breaks and officiating calls. The Jets are the same bad team with Smith as the starting quarterback that last season’s fool’s gold team was, and it failed to warn the powers-that-be that he was what he is. The question now is whether Rex Ryan will have the gonads to stand up to the management and dump Smith. His tenure coach at New York is likely already numbered, but I’m sure he has some pride and doesn’t want to go out as someone who lost games because he was too afraid to make the independent decisions necessary to plug up the holes in a sinking ship.

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