Monday, October 04, 2010

Full Sunday round up

It's time to look back at the rest of Sundays games (I covered the Bears @ Giants last night. You did read it didn't you?). However sitting back and reviewing the blog I'm concerned. It takes approximately 5 hours to collate all my notes, review all the stats and figures, to develop my final thoughts and then to put it all down on an electronic page. The biggest chunk of that time is spent flicking back and forth looking at all the numbers and making sure I have everything down right. Somehow that aspect just doesn't appeal right now. While I enjoy and take pride in highlighting some of the performances that might otherwise get over shadowed by the mainstream press, particularly defensive players who put in good showings (those defensive guys never get enough love), it's also very time consuming and it strikes me that most people have the capability (you obviously have an Internet connection if your reading this) to check such stats themselves. So I'm going to try and focus more from now on on the opinion side of things. On that note, let's begin: Jets 38 @ Bills 14 -- You can't believe how smug I am right now. When LaDanian Tomlinson was released by the Chargers I made the argument, contrary to almost all the "expert" opinions that LT still had something left in the tank and that his declining production was caused by a combination of the Chargers O-line, their pass orientated approach and their use of LT in certain shorter yardage situations. I believed that behind the O-line of a more run heavy team like the Jets, he would once again come good. Another 19 carries for 133 yards and 2 TDs to add to his seasons tally, and that call is looking pretty damn good right now. Unlike the Bills, who just look awful. Bengals 20 @ Browns 23 -- Time for some more smugness? I think so. Terrell Owens was widely touted to be nothing more than a washed up wide out who would struggle to make any kind of impact. I disagreed, feeling that TO still had plenty of go. Another 10 catches, 220 yards and a TD later, and once again I was proved right. Unfortunately the rest of the Bengals weren't quite as productive. This includes an O-line that gave up four sacks to the Browns. The Browns! In fairness to Eric Mangini's team, they've played hard and kept the faith this season. This is their first reward and there may be more to come. FB Peyton Hillis has emerged as a powerful runner who can gain the tough yards, and is a nice complement to QB Seneca Wallace who may not light up the scoreboards but does enough to help his team through. Ravens 17 @ Steelers 14 -- Time for some more smugness? No. I was sitting down patting myself on the back for picking the Steelers over the Ravens, especially given the surge of Ravens support for this one. Then with 32 seconds left, I was undone. Despite some hard running by Rashard Mendenhall who took home two TDs, it wasn't enough to put the stop on 'Air Flacco' finding receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the end zone to spoil the party. The Steelers will stay positive though, understanding that with Big Ben coming back things can only look up for their offense, while the Ravens are still looking at their pass offense and wondering when it is going to explode. Broncos 26 @ Titans 20 -- I still don't know how the Broncos won this. They managed just two sacks to the Titans six. The Broncos ran 20 rushing plays for a net total of 19 yards. Everything about this should spell defeat. Of course it helps when your opponents forget that Chris Johnson is their best offensive player. 19 carries plus 3 catches doesn't cut it. I've long been a believer that at this level, tactical skill is relative. Everyone has a complex system, everyone watches tons of film. Therefore the question of personnel and its effective use becomes paramount. The under utilization of Chris Johnson is a concern for me. Lions 26 @ Packers 28 -- What was I just saying about under utilization of personnel? Jahvid Best = 12 carries and 5 catches. Am I the only one who saw what Best did to the Eagles defense? (Shame about the Lions D though). At first the Packers seemed to be cruising but the upstart Lions fought back. However four drives in the last two quarters that ended with field goals really cost the Lions. Their inability to find the end zone must be frustrating for a Lions team that isn't really as bad as their record shows. They're like the Bears in reverse. 49ers 14 @ Falcons 16 -- Once again the 49ers astound the world with their ability to throw games away. In Bill Walsh's book "Finding the Winning Edge" (I'm starting to sound like Michael Lombardi) he brings up points that he considers fundamental truths of football (I forget the precise title of the segment; the book is not to hand and I can't be bothered to get up and go get it). One of the points he makes for the defense is that on any long run after a turnover, there is a risk of players losing concentration and fumbling the ball right back. Nate Clements should really try reading it. (During the proof read I have decided to go and look it up. The section is called "Reinforcing Defensive Axioms" on pages 314-315. The exact line is; "Everyone should be aware that 'Big' fumbles often occur at the end of 'big' plays. For example, after an interception or a fumble recovery and a subsequent run, a defensive player - not used to handling the ball - can have it knocked loose.") More to the point, how can the state of ball security in the NFL be this lax? Is this not a fundamental of the game? If players are complaining about the length and usefulness of mini-camps and training camps, should not their basic skills in return be flawless? I give up. Panthers 14 @ Saints 16 -- Last week the running theme was teams putting up big yardage numbers without much end product to speak of. This week it seems to be about using your best players wisely. Enter now the Panthers. When DeAngelo Williams busted out a 39 yard run for a TD, that should have been the hint that the Panthers needed. Put the ball in the hands of your best guys and watch the resulting fireworks. But no. Williams and Stewart accrued a massive 20 carries between them. The Saints stuck to what they know. Brees threw 48 times for 275 yards, but they have to be worried that teams are starting to take away the deep ball and asking the Saints to drive all the way down the field on 15 play drives. New Orleans may be 3-1, but how long will that winning record hold out? Seahawks 3 @ Rams 20 -- Minus two kick off returns for a TD and the Seahawks look bad. They just don't seem to have an offense tucked away in there. Or maybe it was just down to a Rams defense that has quietly roared out of obscurity. If you ignore Kansas and Minnesota who were on a bye, the Rams defense is placed third for least points conceded, right behind the Steelers and the Dolphins. Yes, the Steelers and the Dolphins! They also tie the Steelers D for first in Forced Fumbles with 9 each. All this is allowing Sam Bradford to develop without the pressure of having to make miracles happen on the field, though with nearly 300 yards through the air he's certainly giving it a go. Colts 28 @ Jaguars 31 -- I've checked. I've double checked. I've triple checked. And yes, the Jaguars did indeed beat the Colts. David Garrard remembered what is was like to be an NFL QB again, at least for this game. It was also fun to watch him run an option play with MJD for a TD, especially given the rhetoric from various NFL commentators/analysts etc as to why option plays couldn't possibly work in the NFL (usually the argument is that defenders are too quick, which completely ignores the fact that offensive players are pretty quick themselves). MJD got 26 carries and paid off with 105 yards, a TD and another TD on a quick catch. But Colts fans shouldn't despair. Their team is still very good and it could be argued that they beat themselves to some degree. Now, if NFL just decides it's going to start enforcing the rule about 'pick' plays, then that's a different matter..... Texans 31 @ Raiders 24 -- The Texans O-line is probably the most surprising package of this year. Given the pass heavy nature of the Texans in recent years, I've been really amazed at how well they can run block. And running backs Derrick Ward and Arian Foster have been loving every minute of it. Foster was benched at the start of the game due to discipline issues related to turning up late for team meetings, but he soon found his groove. I also feel sorry however for Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski. His two interceptions came from a tip and dropped pass that was batted up in the air. He deserves better and I think he will get it if Oakland sticks with him. I was also wrong about Richard Seymour and Kamerion Wimbley. In fact I was wrong about the entire Raiders D as they failed to generate a single sack. Redskins 17 @ Eagles 12 -- I'm almost choking to death from the amount of smoke and bluster that is circling the web over Donovan McNabbs successful return to Philadelphia. The Redskins put up 17 points against an Eagles defense that has looked incredibly suspect so far this season. In addition McNabb completed just 8 passes, less than half of the 19 he threw. All this "I bet the Eagles wish they hadn't traded him" is so dumb it's amazing. Quite the opposite, I bet Andy Reid went home, had a whisky to quell the upset over the loss, then fell out of his chair laughing at how clever his move was. He traded McNabb to the Redskins who have looked just as bad as they did last year, meanwhile the Eagles used the second round pick (37th overall) that they received in the trade to pick up Nate Allen, a very promising young safety. If it wasn't for Vick going down injured this one had all the makings of a victory romp as Vick calmly picked the Redskins defense apart. As it was, Kolb checked down once too often and the Eagles slipped to 2-2. Cardinals 10 @ Chargers 41 -- Ho-ly crap! TE Antonio Gates caught 7 passes for 144 yards and 2 TDs. RB Ryan Matthews and FB Mike Tolbert combined for 155 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Then on top of that the Chargers defense rustled up 9 sacks, including 4 by LB Shaun Philips who also returned an interception for a TD. With this game the Chargers proved that there is life still in the 'bolts'. The Cardinals proved that they are even worse than anyone previously thought at the beginning of the year. They look lost on offense and absolutely putrid on defense. QB Derek Anderson was pulled in favour of rookie Max Hall, but that had little effect on the result. Man, what a butt kicking!! So, that's all the games and it leaves me pick wise for this week at 7-6, with the Dolphins hosting the Patriots tonight and carrying with them my hopes of going 8-6 and finally putting up a winning pick performance in this aberration of a season. I'll probably be back later to recap the game but in keeping however with the opening to this post, it's likely that I'm going to have to cut back the number of posts. Currently I've tried where possible to squeak out at least one post per day, but from now on I'm thinking of scaling back a little. Do keep checking back as I will be keeping the blog active, just not so much on a daily basis anymore. Have a great day everyone.

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