Sunday, November 13, 2016

Week 10 NFL Notes

Before last Monday night’s game against the Bills, the Seahawks Richard Sherman told us that the NFL was “no fun” anymore. Players should be allowed to be “themselves.” Sherman demonstrated exactly what he meant when he nearly amputated Bills’ kicker Dan Carpenter’s leg in the closing moment s of the first half of that game. I don’t care what Sherman’s defenders say; the eye test says it was dirty play, and that is all that has to be said about it. Yes, the officials erred by not whistling the play dead, and the Bills player who was supposed to stop the edge rusher on the play (Sherman) just stood up and watched him, like everyone else on the field, run unabated to the kicker. 

But Sherman seemed to be the only person on the field who didn’t know the play was “dead” the moment he ran off sides in what was a terrible play on his part on multiple levels, as was the officiating. The officials didn’t call him for roughing the kicker because he was “aiming” for the ball—except that Carpenter’s foot hadn’t even reached the ball when Sherman dove for his leg—not the ball. What was he thinking? What were the officials thinking? What were the “experts” thinking? The only person who got it “right” was the NFL Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino, who said that it should have been a 15-yard penalty. It didn’t “matter” that the play wasn’t whistled dead; everyone on the field knew the play was “dead,” and Sherman shouldn’t be “excused” on a technicality. He knew what he was doing, which was to injure Carpenter; anything he has to say to “justify” his actions just won’t wash. That is why the game isn’t “fun” for some people.

Elsewhere in what was an awful week in the NFL for my rooting interests:

Titans 47 Packers 25 After this game, I was thinking the Packers' defense has been giving off a foul odor lately, too. The second thought was “What happened to Joe Callahan?” Callahan was the undrafted Division III quarterback who came in and played very well for the Packers in the preseason while Brett Hundley was injured and Aaron Rodgers hardly played at all. It turns out that the Packers decided not to keep him on the roster, and he landed first with the Saints, and then with the Browns, and has yet to see one regular season snap. Why I was thinking about Callahan was a thought that I would never have entertained with Brett Favre: bench  Rodgers and see what this kid could do. But in “garbage” time in came Hundley, who was a fifth round pick for a reason, despite a fairly successful career with UCLA; according to an SI story about why he dropped from the expected 2nd round, “Teams reportedly liked much about Hundley’s skill set, but questions about his accuracy in the NFL, and a penchant for not being able to function well in a "dirty" pocket under heavy pass rush apparently scared off some suitors.”  Hundley was 1-4 for 8 yards against the Titans. 

Which means we Packer fans will have to suffer Rodgers until he can get it together again.

Cowboys 35 Steelers 30 I am really starting to hate the Cowboys again. I hated the Cowboys during the 70s, not so much during the 80s, then again in 90s (especially as the Cowboys were the Packers’ chief playoff roadblock), but then forgettable for the past 15 years. But this year they beat the Packers handily in Lambeau Field like they did in former days (as if most teams haven’t been doing that lately), and they keep winning, and winning, and winning with a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back running operating behind the best offensive line in the NFL. Is that a recipe for long-term arrogance from this alleged “America’s Team”? Do we have to suffer that again?

Redskins 26 Vikings 20 The Vikings scored all 20 of their points in the second quarter and 60 percent of their yardage, but reverted to the “form” of the previous three games. Don’t blame it all on Sam Bradford, who except for one interception late was the only reason the Vikings offensively were even in this game, but on the fact that this team can’t run the ball if their lives depended on it. Coming into the game, as a team they were averaging a league worst 2.7 yards per carry—a half-yard worse than the next team—and that wasn’t improved by this game’s 2.2 yards per carry. 

Ravens 28 Browns 7 According to the “experts,” the return of Josh McCown was supposed to be the “antidote” to the Browns losing ways. Or was it? After returning from a collarbone injury and playing well enough against the Jets two weeks ago, coach Hue Jackson decided to start Cody Kessler against the Ravens, but with the score 7-6 at half-time and smelling a “victory,” it was decided to insert the more “seasoned” McCown, and he only proceeded to throw two interceptions and aid the Ravens in a their biggest victory margin in two years. 

Dolphins 31 Chargers 24 The pregame “experts” expected both Jay Ajayi and Melvin Gordon to rush for more than a 100 yards, and neither even came close to that. Despite Gordon’s subpar rushing performance, he wasn’t the reason the Chargers’ lost; blame that on four Philip Rivers interceptions, the most critical coming with a minute to play after Gordon’s 20-yard pass reception nearly put the Chargers in game-winning field goal range. Rivers then airmailed a pick-6 delivery for the Dolphins. With still time on the clock, Gordon caught a 12-yard pass before Rivers ended the game with his final interception of the day.

Chiefs 20 Panthers 17 The Panthers led 17-0 at one point in this game, put the key sequence came on their first possession of the second half. Leading 17-3 and first down on the Chiefs’ 20-yard line; Cam Newton ran for minus-one yard, then was sacked on consecutively plays leading to a fourth-and-30. With the ball on the Chiefs 40-yard line, the Panthers punted the ball. The Chiefs then kicked their own field goal, and then Newton threw a pass that was intercepted by Eric Berry, which he returned for a touchdown. You know that had to put Newton in a sour mood the rest of the game, with predictable results.

Eagles 24 Falcons 15 After losing four of five games, the Eagles used their ground game to keep the Falcons grounded. Carson Wentz only needed to be serviceable as the Eagles gained 208 yards rushing, had 25 first downs to the Falcons 11, and a nearly 2 to 1 advantage in time of possession.

Rams 9 Jets 6 Who saw this coming? No, it wasn’t Ryan Fitzpatrick’s fault, since at least the team put up 20 or so points a game when he wasn’t turning the ball over with Harvard-educated braindead decisions. Bryce Petty was given his “shot” and he was horrible. But he still “deserves” another shot, says the pundits. The Jets are 3-7, so it doesn’t matter if old swell-head is forced to sit on the bench the rest of the season.

Broncos 25 Saints 23 This game turned on three critical mistakes by the Saints in the fourth quarter when they were ahead 17-10 and driving. A fumble after a pass completion led to a short field touchdown to tie the game, and then another Saints fumble led to a Broncos field goal. But the biggest mistake was after the Saints scored the apparent game-winning touchdown, the Broncos blocked the extra point attempt and it was returned for a two-point score and the victory.

Texans 24 Jaguars 21 How to overcome a 99-yard passing performance on 27 pass attempts? Play the insensible Jaguars, who gave up two touchdowns for the effort of only seven yards of offense. Brock Osweiler was awful again, but when you play against a whole team that can’t take a win when it is handed to them with glue attached to it, you can be afford to be awful.

Cardinals 23 49ers 20 This game shouldn’t have been this close, but four Cardinals turnovers and the team’s inability to convert yardage into points (much like in the Seahawks tie) made this a tie game until the final ticks of the clock. Colin Kaepernick is now 0-4 as a starter for the 49ers, and Chip Kelly is now 1-8 as the 49ers coach. It will be hard to see this guy getting another NFL coaching job after this season if things don’t improve pronto.

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