Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week Six NFL notes

There were only a few games in week six of the NFL season of interest to me. The Green Bay Packers played a Miami Dolphins franchise that hasn't been relevant for 20 years. The present squad has no one who can be called a legitimate star, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill who hasn't been horrible, but when a quarterback is actually digressing in his third season--going into the game averaging less than 10 yards per pass completion and a passer rating that is hovering below the mean--you get the feeling that the Dolphins are team that is just happy to be mediocre.

On the other hand, I can't help but observe that Aaron Rodgers has been more inconsistent this season than in previous years. Three times in six games he has passed for less than 200 yards despite a running game that has failed to get on track. Against the Dolphins he flirted with a fourth, except that after the Packers fell behind after allowing three consecutive 80-yard touchdown drives in the second half, and with the running game still operating mostly on fumes and the downfield game nonexistent, it was time to "relax," take a stroll down the field, dink here and dunk there, recover an inconvenient fumble, and casually throw the game-winning TD pass with three seconds to play. So what how you looked getting there. As a fan, you have to learn to "relax" and "trust" fate.

Elsewhere, I watched most of the Denver Broncos-New York Jets game, and it is beyond my feeble comprehension how anyone can believe that there is any possibility that Geno Smith is just a "weapon" or two away from even a hint of competency. The game turned out to be a "trap" game insofar that for intervals Peyton Manning did not look comfortable, particularly in the second half when he threw for only 64 yards, even though the game was far from in the bag. It was the Jets' defense--not anything that Smith did--that made this resemble a "competitive" game. 

On two touchdown drives, Smith was 7 of 10 passing for 73 yards and two touchdowns. This was certainly an improvement over his performance last week, although no more than .01 is better than .00. The rest of the game, he was his usual horrible self, completing just 16 of 33 passes for 117 yards. With the score still 24-17, after so many failed opportunities, the Jets still had one more shot. But Smith fumbled the ball in the end zone which was nearly recovered by the Broncos for a touchdown. On the next play, replays showed that his knees touched in the end zone for a safety, but the officials missed it and allowed the Jets another chance. Given that opportunity, Geno didn't disappoint; he capped off his usual display of discombobulation under pressure by throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown.  

After the game, commentators were still "cautioning" fans not  to blame Geno. He "works" and "practices" harder than anyone else on the team--he even knows the playbook better than anyone. A scary thought if you are a Jets' fan. One suspects--given the prior estimation by draft experts of his true character--that this is all smoke and mirrors to disguise a bad decision. If Andrew Luck with all his intangibles was on this team, does anyone doubt that the Jets could at least be "competitive," or that Luck's numbers would look a lot better than Smith's regardless of who was on the field? Don't blame the Jets' running game, which was fourth in the NFL coming into the game. Not every team is going to be able to run the ball against every team every week--and Smith still looked awful when it was making positive progress.

A team needs its quarterback--the most important position on the field--to step up to the plate and be the leader who is expected to deliver; otherwise, what's the point of having him on the field, or on your roster at all? Smith is nothing more than a back-up at best--and the reality is more likely that he is fortunate to be on an NFL roster at all. If he was cut tomorrow, who would be dumb enough to take a flyer on him?

Meanwhile, upsetting expectations seems to be a habit in the NFL; the winless Oakland Raiders blew a fourth quarter lead in an upset bid against San Diego, while the New York Giants returned to earth. After observers marveled how Eli and company had "mastered" a new offensive system, they played like they knew the playbook about as well as Geno, losing to Philadelphia 27-0.

No comments:

Post a Comment