Sunday, October 4, 2015

Week 4 NFL notes

Ravens 23 Steelers 20 This was about as badly played game by both teams as could be imaginable, with inept offensive play throughout. Yes, I realize that Snoop Dog or whatever he calls himself was on twitter excoriating Steelers kicker Josh Scobee for missing two late field goal attempts that would likely have won the game, but that only illuminated his lack of insight into the variables of the stadium that “his” team plays in. Scobee was forced to kick into the open end of Heinz Field, where the wind blows in, which has been a wasteland for many a kicker attempting kicks of 45 yards or longer. Scobee has an 80 percent career field goals made percentage, and in 2011 hit 5 of 6 from 50+ yards while playing for Jacksonville; in fact in his nine years on that team he was arguably the “best” player on that sad franchise.  

So, I’m not going to lay all the blame for the loss on Scobee. Much of the blame also lies with Michael Vick, subbing for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Joe Flacco averaged less than 5 yards net per pass attempt, and up until the final possession of regulation, he was doing everything he could to lose the game. But Vick was worse, being fortunate to be afforded short fields after Raven mistakes. He completed 19 of 26 passes, but for only 124 yards, and 96 net. Time after time, the Steelers allowed Le’Veon Bell to lay fallow despite having his way with the Ravens’ defense, and kept to a passing game that rarely advanced five yards, and in head-scratching moves passed the ball on short downs. In overtime, the Steelers lost the ball on downs twice on third and fourth down with 2 or less yards to go in Ravens’ territory, relying on Vick. After this winnable game went down the tubes, one wonders of the Steelers will get out of this stretch alive without Big Ben.

Colts 16 Jaguars 13 With Andrew Luck out with an injured shoulder, 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck comes in to overcome a stagnant running game, throwing 47 passes with his well-rested arm for 282 yards in leading the now 2-2 Colts to an overtime victory. Meanwhile Blake Bortles just looks like another young quarterback bigger on “hope” than “expectation.”

Jets 27 Dolphins 14 Ryan Tannehill apparently needed that sleep therapy, completing just 19 of 44 for 198 yards and two interceptions. He’s obviously not the “answer” in Miami. Meanwhile, the now 3-1 Jets are in a “quandary” of sorts: What to do with Geno Smith, who is currently “healthy” at least physically, if not necessarily in the head. It is doubtful that the Jets actually want him back on the field with Ryan Fitzpatrick doing just enough to put more points on the board than the opponent, but in Jets’ fan territory, one bad game is enough—unless, of course, your name is Geno Smith, and then everything is “forgivable."

Giants 24 Bills 10 The Giants beat the Bills on the road in another game where stats are misleading. Tyrod Taylor completed 28 of 42 passes for 274 yards, but it is one thing to move the ball on occasion, and quite another to actually score—especially when you blow opportunities deep in the opponent’s end of the field.

Panthers 37 Buccaneers 23 Jameis Winston was 26 for 43 passing for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Cam Newton threw for just 124 yards, and ran for another 51. But tack on four interceptions, and out-gaining the opponent 411 to 244 has an empty feeling about it.

Redskins 23 Eagles 20 If Mark Sanchez was quarterbacking the Eagles to a 1-3 start, people would be putting all the blame on him, wouldn’t they? Sam Bradford looked bad again, despite his 15 completions going for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Four of those completions went for a combined 176 yards in second half with the Redskins ahead by two touchdowns and the Eagles looking positively inept offensively in the first half. How long will this continue? Until Bradford actually gets it? When fans start calling for Sanchez’s number? You can’t be selective about blaming the offensive line depending upon who the quarterback is.

Bears 22 Raiders 20 After being bulldozed the last couple of weeks, the Bears were mostly just written-off for the season, but with Jay Culter returning to the field against another mediocre team, it seems that mediocrity is also a relative term.

Falcons 48 Texans 21 Are the Falcons for real? At least we can say they are an opportunistic team, running up the score on fumbles returned for touchdowns. Looking at their schedule, the “toughest” games they have are against the Panthers. Now that is the recipe for opportunism.

Bengals 36 Chiefs 21 When is it bad when your quarterback not known for “big” games throws for 386 yards? When the best performance on your team is by your kicker. Alex Smith threw for all of those yards, but not a single touchdown came out of it, with Cairo Santos hitting all seven of his field goal tries. Andy Dalton threw for 321 yards on just 17 completions, and the Bengals “only” scored five times, all touchdowns.

Packers 17 49ers 3 For the second time in three games, the Packers found a way to beat the “zone-read” or “read-option” or whatever they are called quarterbacks that have been their nemesis the past few seasons. Two weeks ago it was Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, this week it is Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t particularly on fire, but once more didn’t throw an interception. With Eddie Lacy back in the lineup, the Packers mostly kept the 49ers in check with a ball-controlling running game, and a defensive performance that could be interpreted as either “punishing” or another indication of Kaepernick’s descent into apparent mediocrity. 

Rams 24 Cardinals 22 Well, you can’t be “perfect,” as Carson Palmer ignored Chris Johnson with time left on the clock despite Johnson running well against the Rams, throwing three consecutive incomplete passes on second-and-two on the Rams’ 43-yard line with less than two minutes to play. A first down and few more yards would have put the Cardinals into field goal range with time running out and moving to 4-0. Alas, it was not to be. Turnovers leading to 17 Rams points didn’t help, either.

Chargers 30 Browns 27 Another game when fans are taken to impossible highs to great depression within a minute or two. The Browns tied this game in the waning minutes only to lose on a last-second field goal. Too bad, as if anyone really cares.

Broncos 23 Vikings 20 This is one of those games where you know that one team really has no chance, but somehow you hold out hope. Peyton Manning kept the Vikings in the game with two interceptions which led to 10 points on short fields, perhaps because he was embarrassed by his team rushing for more than 200 yards and he really wasn’t a factor in the game, so he thought he’d make things interesting on his own.

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