Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011 week 6 recap

Time then for a more complete round up of the action from Week 6;

Panthers @ Falcons
No passing touchdowns for Cam Newton this time round. Three interceptions though. I'll give him a complete free pass for the final one, being that it was garbage time, and maybe a half gimmie for the tipped ball. But the fact still remains that 21/35 produced no scoring passes, although they did rush it in twice. It's just not enough though.

No, I'm not a Cam Newton fan, but I can perhaps grudgingly admit that it's early days and that he could develop properly in time. That's fine, but if people want to make that argument then the hype machine around Cam has to be shut down, and it has to be shut down now.

I - a lowly, no nothing blogger - was informed by any number of expert opinions on TV and around the web that Cam was going to be a physical beast that would light up the NFL like nothing you've ever seen before. Just like Blaine Gabbert... yeah, that one's turning out super special too. Maybe if there wasn't so much hype around Cam I'd be a little more lenient in my criticism.

But this is turning into the anti-Cam Newton blog at the minute and that's not fair to the rest of the guys on the field. Particularly the Falcons defense, who came up with two sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in a much better display than we've seen of late. They were getting a decent amount of pressure up front and generally looked a little more organised.

Credit as well to Falcons back Michael Turner. On a day when Matt Ryan was much below par, Turner went over 130 yards and had two touchdowns in a strong, consistent showing. Good things tend to happen to Atlanta when they trust their running game, as this game showed.

Colts @ Bengals
Let us not forget, the Colts had the opportunity to kick the game tying field goal, only for it to get blocked. And let us not forget that the Colts then got the ball back with a little over two minutes left in the game and the chance to drive for the game tying field goal again... till Curtis Painter got picked off. But then let us not forget that the Colts got the ball back again, again with the chance to drive for the game tying field goal... and then Pierre Garcon fumbled the ball away.

Or in other words, let us not forget just how bad the Colts and Bengals offense's are right now. Neither team could hold onto the ball when it really counted, and in the end it was the Bengals who profited most when Garcon's terrible ball security lead to the scoring fumble recovery and the icing of the game.

To be fair to the Bengals, they did look a little better this week. Andy Dalton's footwork improves with each game, as he seems to be getting a little more comfortable with his O-line and with standing in the pocket while under pressure. It's a start if nothing else. The running game will still have to carry this team though if they're going to make the playoffs, which isn't such a wild shout as it might seem given the way results are going elsewhere in the AFC.

49ers @ Lions
I'm still laughing about Jim Schwartz. The more I see a replay of that handshake, the more it makes me laugh. Alright, Harbaugh was a bit abrupt. Normally, you would stop for a second or two to exchange congratulations but c'mon, he just won a massive game against an undefeated side. Or make that now, once defeated side.

Because the Lions buckled as they've done all season in the first half. The difference is that they didn't get the opportunities for a comeback thrown their way in the second. In fact, Alex Smith may have had another slightly below average game as the 49ers quarterback, but the critical difference between now and last season its that he's not taking as many sacks and he's not turning the ball over anywhere near as much. Let's be real though my fellow 49er fans; he still sucks right now.

The big difference for me with regards to the 49ers of 2011 vs the 49ers of 2010 has been a) the play of the secondary, who have been revived with Carlos Rogers and Chris Culliver in there, and b) the play of the D-line/pass rushing linebackers. Specifically Aldon Smith joining Justin Smith, and to a lesser extent Ray McDonald and Ahmad Brooks. Together these four, Aldon Smith especially, are simply blowing people away right now. Ask the Lions O-line, they'll tell you what it's like.

In the meantime the 49ers are trying to generate big plays from wherever they can get them. Frank Gore picked up most of his yardage on two runs (running the same play, which I want to take a look at later in the week) and a Ted Ginn Jr. punt return. That's the worrying thing for the 49ers, that they're relying on generating three or four huge plays to put up most of their yardage.

More worried should be Lions fans. Their team was up 10-0 going into the second quarter and at half time trailed by just two. Despite this though, Stafford was asked to throw 50 times, completing less than 30. Calvin Johnson had a number of catches and went over 100 yards again, but the 49ers D did a good job of making his life difficult especially in the red zone.

However it was the numbers for the game that made me laugh the most. The Lions had 21 first downs to the 49ers 14, but still lost, in no small part thanks to the 5 sacks the 49ers generated. The 3rd down numbers for both teams are freakin' hideous. 49ers; 2/14. Lions; 2/15. Both teams were 2/4 in the red zone. And yeah, I accept that both teams have good defenses, but seriously, both teams are grossly over rated right now. This was not some NFC Championship game preview. This was the wild card preview at best. These two teams are not as good as their current records say they are, Bill Parcells be damned.

Rams @ Packers
This game was just bizarre and I still can't get my head around it. I'm not even talking about the Packers God forsaken throwback uniforms, which should be burnt at the earliest opportunity (I think putting your child in one technically counts as child abuse). I'm more baffled by the fact that the Packers looked like they were cruising at half time, up 24-3, and then the game effectively ended there. No more points. Not even close.

Rodgers was 17/28. The Packers were 4/13 on third down. They only made it to the red zone twice, and only scored once from there. They got three sacks on defense, but really that's a worrying second half of football if I'm a Packers fan. I dunno, you just get that sense right now about the Packers that they're kind of just easing their way through the season and not really taking it all that seriously. Of course the fact they can do that and be 6-0 says a lot about that team, but I just get the feeling I'm going to be using the phrase "pride comes before the fall" at some point in the not to distant future.

The Rams though, man they have some tough sleding to come. People have been criticising their receivers and there's an element of truth to that, but they still caught 28/44. That's ok. The Rams just seem to be in a kind of bizarro, limbo land, where they're good on offense and show flashes on defense, but can't produce any end product from their work. They were 3/13 on third downs, 1/4 on fourth downs and 0/3 in the red zone. If they can convert those 3 red zone trips into scores then we have a tie ball game. Calling Steven Jackson, calling Steven Jackson....

Bills @ Giants
They say defense wins championships. I'm not sure how much I buy into that statement, on the principle that no team has ever won the Super Bowl by scoring no points. And yeah, defenses can score points off turnovers, but it's not exactly a reliable, ready supply of points. What defense can do is to stuff the oppositions offense at critical moments and that's precisely what the Giants D did.

They got three big sacks from a D-line that is on fire lately. Perhaps more importantly they got what were basically two touchdown saving interceptions out of Corey Webster, who I hope ate and drank for free that night courtesy of his team mates.

It was really the Bills worst nightmare. Having spent the season living off turnovers, it was them that comitted the big mistakes. Not a sack in sight for the Bills, nor a pick. For once Eli Manning was clean as a whistle, lacking a touchdown pass himself but still piling on the yards as he drove his team down field where Ahmad Bradshaw finished the job on the ground with three short touchdown runs.

It must have frustrated the Bills who generated some huge plays on offense, with Fred Jackson burning off an 80 yard touchdown run and Ryan Fitzpatrick hitting Naaman Roosevelt for a 60 yard touchdown pass (they were gutted when Steve Johnson caught a 9 yard TD pass later; the Bills only like scoring on round numbers).

What this game really did was to highlight starkly the differences between the Bills and the Giants. The Giants are a defensive team with a better than average offense that can give anybody in the league nightmares... when they're not turning it over 4 or 5 times per game. The Bills are like the '08 Saints, and the '09 and '10 Texans; all offense, no defense. They're reliant on serious mishaps to generate turnovers or any kind of defensive impact. It's not a model that can sustain a season. We'll find out in due time if the Giants boom and bust model can (tip; no).

Jaguars @ Steelers
The Steelers should be wiping their foreheads right about now. Why? Because a Jaguars team that shouldn't be able to touch them in fact took them right down to the wire in many regards. The Steelers had five sacks (Brett Keisel, LaMarr Woodley; 2. James Farrior; 1) against a Jaguars O-line that simply looks horrible right about now, and yet still they managed to let Jacksonville hang around until the dying moments. The nervous sweat is probably only just abating.

Roethlisberger looked like he was in a lot of pain and was throwing really awkwardly at times. Rashard Mendenhall looked better this time around and nearly hit 150 yards on the ground which was a plus, but this was not the Steelers team that reached the Super Bowl last year. In fact this looks like one of the worst teams that they've fielded in years and the offensive line is not the sole problem.

Jacksonville just weren't able to take advantage though. Their O-line is ridiculously bad. Still, Blaine Gabbert just exasperates the situation. Almost every time he comes under a heavy rush his response is to take his eyes down to the rusher instead of keeping them upfield, he loses his pocket awareness immediately, and then he bales out and often gets sacked. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion (12/26 for 109 yards and a touchdown).

The sole bright spot for the Jaguars was their D-line, who actually managed to pull three sacks out of the bag. One was for Tyson Alualu, who is really my biggest issue on that D-line. I put him on my rookie watch list from last year because I thought he was a good player. However much of what I'd seen of Alualu in college was playing defensive end. Now he's playing defensive tackle and he just doesnt seem to have the body type for it. He's not really big enough and his speed (for a D-lineman) is wasted taking on double teams.

The Jaguars are in a desperate hole right now. I don't think Gabbert is the answer, their defense needs a hell of a lot of work, and Jack Del Rio could well be out of a job before long.

Eagles @ Redskins
Dream Team huh? They looked pretty good for a while there, holding Rex Grossman to 9/22 with four interceptions. But don't get your hopes up if you're a Philly fan. As soon as John Beck hit the field, and this just sounds weird typing this, the game changed. Beck a game changer? Well in this one he nearly did, driving his team down the field to pull it within one touchdown.

It was the same old Eagles, same old problems. Red zone; 2/5. Two of five? Again? You have Mike Vick and DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy and all you can manage is 2/5? It's just pretty astounding how the Eagles can tear people into little chunks in the open field, then completely freeze up when they hit the red zone. The Eagles had close to 200 yards rushing against the Redskins, topped with over 230 yards of passing, yet still struggled to score.

Credit to safety Kurt Coleman of the Eagles who had three interceptions alone. In general the Eagles D played much better, at least until Beck entered the game, where he put up almost as many yards as Grossman had off just 15 plays. There was some actual hitting going on and they contained the Redskins on the ground, though there were only really twelve carries (if you exclude scrambles) so they don't get a free pass just yet.

There was one thing though that was a little disturbing for me. At one point Vick went down hard having been hit in the head and had to be taken off the field. The Eagles claim he had a little bit of dirt in his eye. Anyone with half a brain could see he was clearly displaying symptoms of at least a mild concussion and for some reason the Eagles not only got away with it during the game, but have got away basically free in the media as well.

Personally I think that's ridiculous. I don't always agree with what the league is doing to try and mess with the game, but I do at least grudingly agree that a player displaying concussion like symptoms should be pulled from the game. Trying to get around that by claiming a player had "dirt in his eye" is fucking stupid. Vick should have been pulled and the Eagles should be getting called out more vocally for that in the press.

Texans @ Ravens
I love it when a team scores 29 points in a game and only has two touchdowns. It's a field goal frenzy for the Ravens! What I hated seeing was Wade Smith of the Texans recovering a forward fumble for a touchdown. By rule you can recover it on offense, but you can't advance it. Me personally I'd like to change the rule so that a forward fumble can be receovered by the offense but has to be taken back to the spot of the fumble. But there you go.

Not that it made a huge difference for the Texans who failed to get their run game going, completed just a little over 50% of their passes and gave up four sacks. Looking on the bright side for Houston, having spent Saturday bigging up their pass rushers like Brooks Reed and J.J. Watt, it was actually the unknown, unheralded Tim Jamison who came up with two sacks, including a forced fumble which he recovered himself.

That's kind of where the good stuff ends for the Texans. They got burnt deep a couple of times, including a 51 yard sling to my top receiver from the 2011 draft class; Torrey Smith. Really it was weird watching Flacco, who was basically doing his best Cam Newton impression and just slinging that thing up for grabs, though in a slightly more controlled fashion.

Some hard running by Ray Rice on the ground (101 yards) helped to put away a Texans team that just can't seem to find a way over the hump. After a bright start they're slowly fading back to the old Texans who just can't get it done.

Browns @ Raiders
Uh oh, the bad officiating bug strikes back! Jason Campbell scrambled away from a pass rush, slid to the ground and coughed up the ball. My immediate thought on seeing it was "why is everyone getting so excited? He clearly gave himself up, his knee was down, no fumble." That's before I saw any replays. After seeing the replay I was even more convinced. Apparently me and the refs disagree on what constitutes 'giving yourself up'.

To me that suggests a runner going to the ground intentionally with the express purpose of avoiding being hit in exchange for being ruled down. To my eyes, that is exactly what Jason Campbell did. He slid to the ground to avoid getting hit. He had both knees down. There is no way in hell that was a fumble. I know refs get a lot of stick for stuff and having reffed a sunday league soccer game myself once, I know that sometimes you just don't catch everything and sometimes things happen so quickly you can't be sure about what you just saw.

But sometimes refs do themselves no favours. That was obviously a slide.

Anyway, back to the game. Can I just say (yes I can, it's my blog) how awesome it was to see Jacoby Ford run back a 101 yard kickoff. I know the NFL wants to remove plays like this in case someone gets hurt and because they might actually cause some fans to experience something called "fun" while watching football, but I personally hope we see more of these run backs. I'm amazed Ford managed to stay in bounds.

The biggest moment for me though was what happened at the end of the play, when Ford and his team mates celebrated with the fans. In a weird way, the death of Al Davis has helped the fans and players of the Raiders to come together in a way that no other team can boast. And no, the Lambeau leap doesn't count, because it's tantamount to a forced tradition which players these days seem only to use as a chance to pose for the cameras, as opposed to the genuine moment that Ford and his guys had with their fans.

It was lucky the Raiders got that score because Jason Campbells injury spelt the entrance of Kyle Boller. Let's put it his way; the Raiders are, as we speak (or at least I write), desperately shopping around for a new free agent quarterback, instead of going with Boller who has been with them since the start of the season. Still, the running of Darren McFadden, the boot of "Seabass" (no, I'm not attempting to spell his name) and a sneaky touchdown pass by punter Shane Lechler off a fake field goal proved enough.

If I was the Raiders though. I'd be worried. Where is your offense going to come from next week? Another trick play? Expecting Jacoby Ford to run back another kick? And if I was the Browns I'd be even more worried.

See about a year ago there was this guy. I can't remember his name. Peyton something? Was it Hillis something? And I vaguely remember him being good. I think they even put him on the cover of something, some video game.

Against the Raiders Hillis had 6 carries. Montario Hardesty was the carry leader with eleven. They asked Colt McCoy to air it out 45 times again, of which he only completed 21. I mean give the kid a chance. Give him some other offense, some other play calls. He made over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns with no picks, but the Browns have to find a way to work in their other assets on offense and try to diversify a little.

Cowboys @ Patriots
Most interesting stat in this one? Both quarterbacks threw 41 passes and completed 27. One of those quarterbacks threw for more yardage... which was actually Romo. And for once Tony Romo played in a game where he didn't throw the most picks. He also didn't throw the most touchdowns and that was really the key.

The Cowboys red zone efficiency was 1/3 (the Pats were 2/4). The 'Boys (of fall?... It's a song that I hate) had their opportunities and they blew them. The Pats actually turned the ball over four times, including a great pick by linebacker Sean Lee who is having what could prove to be a pro bowl season. But the Cowboys just could not get it done.

Rob Ryan did everything he could on defense. His side rustled up 3 sacks, including two for DeMarcus Ware, along with the two interceptions. They held Wes Welker to 6 catches for 45 yards and even a big chunk of that came on the last drive. All they needed was for the offense to come up with some magic in order to snatch a priceless, morale boosting victory. What they got from Jason Garrett were three runs and a kick.

You know what though, having thought about it overnight I'm actually going to give Jason Garrett some credit. He'd seen how well his defense had done and he was probably looking at the scoreline thinking, "if we can just hold on here, kick it away and then do what we've been doing all game and hold on, we can win this thing". The alternative was to let Tony Romo, the harbinger of doom himself, throw it a few times and risk getting picked off. And let's be honest here, it's not like Tony Romo doesn't have form when it comes to throwing pick sixes under pressure.

So Brady drove the field and scored. The Cowboys just played their coverage a little too loose, perhaps hoping the clock would run out. It didn't. Unless you mean for them on their final possession. On the plus side, I got some great examples out of the game of what I've been talking about with Brady and him staring down receivers. More on this later.

Saints @ Buccaneers
It's not every week that Drew Brees throws 3 interceptions. Usually he seems to wait until I pick the Saints to win easily, describing how they'll take the other team apart etc, then he throws them. To give Brees a fair hearing, one of those interceptions was an unlucky bounce off a player, one was pretty blatant defensive pass interference, and the third was a case of "score now or go home" at the end of the game.

Still, the Saints were 1/4 in the red zone. One of four? The Saints? Their running game stunk, which again is classic for the Saints after I bigged up their running game on Saturday. Darren Sproles had just one carry. At least Tight end Jimmy Graham and receiver Marques Colston showed up, both going over 100 yards.

This is why I hate the Saints though. In '08 when I was semi-cheerleading them they stunk. In '09 when I moaned because people kept giving them games, they won the Super Bowl. Now that I'm giving them credit again they're stinking it up once more. I hate the Saints.

Of course the big news out of this game was Head Coach Sean Payton taking a big hit on the sideline and mashing up his knee. It's rumoured he might have to coach from the press box but I can't see a fiery guy like Payton giving up that easily.

The news I'd rather talk about was the Buccaneers offense. Earnest Graham went over 100 yards off just 17 carries and Josh Freeman threw an interception free performance, with over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. He didn't even take a sack (there were no sacks at all in the game). 4/14 on third down isn't great, but the interceptions plus some big plays made do for Tampa. It was a good comeback after their mauling by the 49ers, but they still have a long way to go offensively.

The Saints need to take a long, hard look at their defense. It's back to the '08 standards. And that was hideous.

Vikings @ Bears
The minute Hester caught that pass and ran it in for the 48 yard score, that was the ball game. It was the first score of the game early in the first quarter, but it did two things; first, it established that the Bears were willing to use extra men to protect Cutler and only send two guys down field. Second, it took the wind completely out of the Vikings sails. They were expecting to come in and rock the house with their pass rush. They never came close.

Alright, so Jared Allen eventually got a sack, but the Vikings didn't look like the Vikings and the Bears didn't look like the Bears. McNabb spent most of his time running for his life. The safety was particularly embarrassing as he probably could have extended the ball out of the end zone. The Bears finished with five sacks, including two for Julius Peppers. I got the distinct feeling watching the game that they could have had more if the Vikings hadn't swapped the younger and quicker Christian Ponder in to replace old man McNabb.

Ponder was my top quarterback in the 2011 class and did well with his time. He was basically thrown into the pit of impossible escape, from which he threw 17 passes and completed nine for 99 yards and had an 8 yard run for a first down. He looked crisp and mobile, but it was never going to be anything more than a quick venture out into garbage time.

The real story of the game for me were the running backs. Specifically, Matt Forte had 17 carries for 87 yards, Adrian Peterson had 12 for 39 yards and a touchdown. What drew my ire was how long it took to get Peterson involved in the game. It was the third quarter before Minnesota really started to lean on what is undoubtedly their best player. By that time they were down 26-3 and it was mostly over as a contest. Any doubt was removed when Devin Hester took back the ensuing kick off 98 yards for a touchdown.

I just don't get the Vikings sometimes. They are absolutely in a priveliged position with Peterson. He is without question one of the best backs in the game and yet they hardly use him. He has one or two runs stuffed here and there, so immediately they just assume that the defense has his number and abandon the running game as if it's never worked out for them before.

The Bears meanwhile gave Forte his healthy dose early on and he fought, scratched and clawed for his yards. That's one thing I like about him as a back this year; consistency. He picks up good yardage on each carry, as the title of the blog says, keeping the chains moving. It's also fun to watch him planting his shoulder into a defensive backs head, like watching Michael Turner of the Falcons, or Adrian Peterson (when he's allowed to carry).

From here the Bears go to London where they have a great chance to beat the Buccaneers in front of a half empty stadium. Well the Buc's are the designated home team; we just wanted to make them feel at home. In all seriousness, Cutler proved on Sunday night that he can lead a team from the quarterback position, providing he gets the protection he needs and that the offense is a little more varied. There is a blueprint here for the Bears and Mike Martz. They certainly have the defense to support it, if Martz can just be convinced to keep roughly to the scheme used to beat the Vikings.

The Vikings meanwhile are into the dreaded quarterback controversy territory. McNabb or Ponder? The thing you have to remember is that even though McNabb was pulled, he was 19/24 for 177 yards, and could have had more if it wasn't for some bad drops (everyone look at Bernard Berrian). The whole "mixing in Joe Webb for a wildcat type thing" was also a disaster that only served to disrupt McNabb's rhythm and shit on his confidence. If you're going to run the ball, why the fuck would you use Joe Webb? That's Adrian Peterson back there! I hate the Vikings right now.

I think Ponder will get the job. To be honest he might as well. He's young and he looked pretty handy, so give him a season to show you what he can do. Then next year you can ship out Berrian and design your offense around the strengths of your new QB. And your future hall of fame running back.

Dolphins @ Jets
Ages and ages ago I wrote a post about Darrelle Revis, "Revis Island" and all that. In it I offered up my observation of how to beat Revis given the way he was playing. The Dolphins did just that to get the ball to Brandon Marshall a few times... with a few drops just to annoy me. I was excited because I was thinking "here we go, vindication". According to Google that post generates the most number of unique page views that I get, so I was excited that people would see the correlation between what I'd been saying and the evidence on the field.

Then Revis picks off Matt Moore for a 100 yard interception return touchdown. Fuck.

On closer examination of the replay though, we learn a little more about the play. What we saw was the same thing that Torrey Smith encountered for the Ravens on Sunday Night Football a while back; Revis tugging the shirt. And it wasn't a little tug, it was a full on, 'over you go' type tug that gave Revis the chance for the pick.

And that really bugs me.

If it were anyone else then that play would have had flags all over it. If it was any other defender then you know that would have been a spot foul and everyone would be looking at the corner like "dude, what the f**k are you doing?". I don't know why I felt the need to censor that, but there you go. That's before we get onto the fact that supposedly there is a ref watching every single receiver to check for interference and dangerous hits. So where was the guy watching that one?

Now I'm in favour of receivers and defenders being allowed to jostle with their arms a little. Not pushing each other, but a bit of incidental contact should be allowed as they move down field and then jump for the ball. But when people start pulling shirts to hold back the receiver or drag him to the ground, that should get the flag for me. That's not a situation where two men are being allowed to contest a jump ball. That's one guy playing by one set of rules and the other guy playing by a different set, which inevitably leads to a mismatch.

Even Jon Gruden agreed on the commentary, which either means that it was so blatant that even Gruden couldn't miss it (he still got in his trademark "this guy is the best blah, blah") or it means I'm wrong by default because Gruden agrees with me.

Regardless, other stuff happened that was interesting. Matt Moore took over at quarterback due to the injury to Chad Henne and was seriously let down by his receivers. There were bad drops all over the place which would have made a huge difference had the receivers been able to hold on. And even when the Dolphins did get the ball, five fumbles? What are they, the Giants now?

The Dolphins heavy pass rush once again failed to materialise, marking probably the most intruiging turn around this season. What has happened to Cameron Wake? He was on fire last year. This year he's been nothing but a damp squib. Two sacks as a unit is nothing compared to the standard they set in 2010.

But perhaps the funniest thing to come out of the game has been while milling around the interwebs since the game ended, as seemingly everyone is talking about how the Jets got their offense fixed and how they were much improved. Simply put, what the fuck are those people talking about?

Sanchez was 14/25 for 201 yards and a touchdown. Shonne Greene struggled to get going at times and the Jets receivers didn't look they were about to bust the game open at any moment. The Jets were 6/15 on third down and put together just 13 first downs. Luckily the Dolphins seem to be playing "suck for Luck", whether intentionally or not, going 2/13 on third down and 0/3 in the red zone. That is just magnificently bad.

Credit where it's due though to the Jets defense. Including the dodgy pick, Revis had two. Calvin Pace had two sacks and a forced fumble, Bart Scott had a sack and a forced fumble, Aaron Maybin had a sack and two forced fumbles, plus another forced fumble from Jim Leonhard.

It was a scrappy, dirty, ugly game of football. I hope ESPN enjoyed it, because this is what they're paying a little over $1 billion per year for.

So with that game done I rolled in at 9-4 for my picks this week. My thanks to Rex Grossman, Drew Brees, Leslie Frazier, and the Cowboys for the four defeats. That leaves me 54-36 after 6 weeks of football or expressed another way, exactly 60%. Must do better. I've got a good feeling about week 7. Now some things to end with.

- Hello to reader Teoita, who has the unfortunate disposition of being a Patriots fan ;). As Teoita commented yesterday, the highlights posted of this weeks games to NFL.com were remarkably short and shit. I found it oddly amusing that one of the worst games (Steelers vs Jaguars) got the longest highlights (four minute reel) and even that was a minute of just Jamie Dukes talking, which isn't all that bad because Dukes is a pretty good analyst at times.

It does contrast starkly with previous seasons, where for example back in '08 you used to get;
1) "Gameday" highlights (short, with the studio crew blabbing over the top, as now),
2) the highlights with radio calls, which had about 5-6 minutes worth of game highlights with the teams affiliated (and passionate) radio announcers providing the (then) live game cast (presumably they stopped doing these because the comments sections were constantly filled with people saying how much they preferred these to the "Gameday" tripe that was otherwise offered up),
3) You used to get a highlight package of each quarterback, including basically every pass that went more than about ten yards, every sack, every interception,
4) You used to get highlights of the running backs, presuming they'd run for a decent enough yardage. Only the more explosive plays over five yards were usually featured, but it was a nice touch.

All of this was easily accesible from the front page of the website and the number of adverts was significantly less than it is now. Since then the whole thing has gone down the pisser. All the highlights are broken up individually, in order to allow the greater interspersing of adverts every other video. Luckily for the NFL the advertisers themselves don't use the service, because if they did they'd figure out in minutes what every fan who uses the service already has; the mute button on your computer or the off button on your speakers is your best friend.

Back in ye olde days of NFL.com I could sit throught the odd advert every now and again. There were even some that amused me. Now I can't stand them. Adverts are a sign for me to mute the sound and go have a quick look at my e-mails or something. I simply refuse to sit and endure the torture of yet another 30 second advert (the same advert that's already been run 20+ times today) just so I can watch a 40 second clip. And that's providing the actual clip loads some time this year, then doesn't freeze the picture half way, jump the sound backwards and just generally glitch out as NFL.com videos have a want of doing. I could rant about this for hours, but I must move on, if only for my own sanity.

- So far this season all the talk his been about passing games exploding and the big numbers being put up. Lost in all this has been the fact that rushing attacks have also been exploding. The number of 100+ yard games seems to be on the up and total rushing yardage also appears to be on the rise. Among running backs with more than 90 carries there are five backs (Darren McFadden, Frank Gore, Fred Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte) who are averaging over 5 yards per carry. Maybe if some of them can keep up the pace one of them might even hit 2,000 by the end of the year? (McFadden and Jackson are currently both on pace for 1,800+ yard seasons).

- For the coming week I have my plan of posts already laid out. I want to take a look at Frank Gore's two big runs from the game with the Lions, which both came on the same play call. I want to follow up my post from last week about the outside zone run that every team seems to be running these days by looking at it's sibling; the inside zone. And I want to follow up my various comments about Brady staring down his receivers by digging up as much film evidence as I can and sticking it into one post. That's if you can all stomach watching videos on NFL.com. And I may just have another stab at the whole "Revis Island" thing, mainly just for the benefit of clearing the rant from my brain.

Well that's your lot for today and there was a lot looking back. If you exclude the time it took to watch (endure?) this weeks Monday Night game, this post has taken me eight hours to put together, check, edit etc. On that note, do me a favour, tell someone about it. Don't let all that work go unrewarded!

You can also comment in the thing below or you can e-mail me at; keepingthechainsmoving@live.co.uk

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