Sunday, September 9, 2007

Endzone to Endzone: Around the NFL Week 1

As painful as the Dolphins loss was, it’s great to have the NFL back. Week one provided some serious Monday morning water cooler topics, such as:
The Eagles putting the “special” in special teams
Vince Young still just winning football games…sorta
Rex Grossman finding more ways to embarrass himself
The two miserably failed flea flickers
Jon Kitna and Josh McCown combining for over 600 yards passing and 5 TDs, seriously
… only to be outdone by Tony Romo and Eli Manning in the late game.
Despite my floundering record of 6-7-1, Durden is 8-5-1 against the spread heading into MNF. And TPS did its part in winning money for our fans as both myself and Durden nailed our recommended two team parlay’s (‘Hawks/Bolts, Texans/Vikes). You’re either with us, or against us. If you’re with us, you’re welcome.

For those who were unable to catch all the games, here are a few highlights from around the league…

New England Patriots 38 – New York Jets 14:
Tom Brady (22-28, 297, 3 TDs) and co. looked like everyone expected them to look and managed to keep Randy Moss (9-183 and a touch) happy for at least another week. If week one decided the season, we would be getting ready for Pats/Colts in the AFC title game. Those two look to be eons ahead of the rest of the NFL…at least for now.

Steeler fans may take exception to that, but playing a close game against the Browns would have been like a top 5 college team losing to a D-II school, or something completely unfathomable like that. So, I'm going to need another week or two before bumping the Steelers up my imaginary power rankings.

Denver Broncos 15 – Buffalo Bills 14:
This was a crazy game and not just because of the dramatic finish. There was a 74 yard punt return for a TD (Rascally Roscoe Parrish), a missed 2 pt. conversion, 3 missed FGs, one FG hitting the upright and going through, and the game winner being kicked while the clock was approaching zero since the Broncos didn’t have a time out to set it up. Travis Henry ran wild as expected, but Cutler looked like Jake Plummer reincarnated at times. He had trouble with a couple of snaps, threw a terrible interception in the red zone (along with quite a few other questionable passes). But, at the end of the day he had decent numbers and made some big plays to lead them on a nice plummer-esque comeback drive for the game winning FG as time expired. Marshawn Lynch looked good, particularly on his TD run.

Unfortunately, contributing to the craziness of this game was Kevin Everett making a special teams tackle that left him motionless before being taken to the hospital where he underwent lengthy surgery for a serious spinal injury. Let’s hope the prayers from around the league are answered and we hear some positive reports on Everett’s condition in the coming days.

Tennessee Titans 13 – Jacksonville Jaguars 10:
Vince Young threw for a whopping 78 yards, rushed for 22 more, and had an INT and a fumble. But it was VY’s 2 yard TD run on a designed QB Draw that gave the Titans the lead and eventual win. It should probably be noted that the Titan defense shut down Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Taylor, and kept Garrard under wraps as well. Oh and the Titans ran for over 280 yards (19 carries 175 yards for Chris Brown) which allowed them to hold the ball for 37 minutes. But let’s be honest with ourselves, Vince Young just wins football games.

Philadelphia Eagles 13 – Green Bay Packers 16:
I warned about this game earlier in the week, but I’m still a little surprised. It seemed like Donovan was moving around well and B-Rabbit did his thing both running and receiving, and the defense was solid too. But as mentioned in the opening notes, the Eagles struggled mightily on special teams. First, they fell victim to a flukey TD where the Packers juggled and booted a muffed punt (by Greg Lewis) from around the 20 yard line all the way to the end zone before deciding to fall on it for their only TD. Lewis made a bad decision on another punt prompting the announcers to say
"Greg Lewis is doing a good job of letting everyone know he has never returned punts before," before being replaced by J.R. Reed. Finally, one more miscue on a punt late in the game (this time by Reed) resulted in another turnover. Shortly thereafter, the Packers setup the game winning Field Goal from rookie kicker and game MVP Mason Crosby (3 FGs – 37, 42, 53). So, even though the passing game struggled, this loss falls primarily on the shoulders of the special teams.

Houston Texans 20 – Kansas City Chiefs 3:
The Chiefs are bad…real bad, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited about my preseason sleeper looking great in their opener. If you’re keeping score at home –well, you shouldn’t be, but… Mario Williams has more touchdowns (one to zero), almost as many total yards (38 to 47), and of course, more wins than Reggie Bush. I’m not sayin’… I’m just sayin’.

Carolina Panthers 27 – St. Louis LinehRams 13:
Ever get that creepy déjà vu feeling?
2007 Rams/Panthers stats (2006 Rams/Panthers stats):
Delhomme: 191 yards passing (201 yards passing)
Steve Smith: 118 yards receiving, 1 TD (90 yards receiving, 1 TD)
Panthers: 186 rushing yards (234 rushing yards)
Bulger: 22/42 167 yards, 1 TD (19/34 142 yards, 1 INT)
Holt: 73 yards, TD (68 yards)
S-Jax: 61 total yards (57 total yards)

Panthers win both. Scott Linehan, you fail.

Minnesota Vikings 24 – Atlanta Falcons 3:
As Durden said he would – Yoey did do Yoey things, throwing two picks on the day. Adrian Peterson is well on his way to fulfilling my ROY prediction, but not without competition (see Marshawn Lynch, Calvin Johnson, Mason Crosby). The Falcons are exactly what we thought they’d be. I know it’s early, but I think the Falcons can start working on their merchandise and marketing plan for Brian Brohm. I can see it now - The wholesome kid out of Louisville with a golden arm, a clean criminal record, and a coach in Petrino who’s like a father to him (Read: He’s white!!).

Pittsburgh McBeams 34 – Cleveland Browns 7:
A pretty good team beat up on a really bad team. Normally I’d say ignore the highlights, but if you haven’t seen the Browns punt attempt where they had 4 penalties on one play, click here.
And if you think TPS isn't extremely concerned about only having a few more weeks to fit in all of our Romeo Crennel jokes before he gets fired, you're sorely mistaken.

Detroit Lions 36 – Oakland Raiders 21:
1 win down, 9 to go for the Lions to fulfill their quarterback’s fearless prediction of at least 10 wins. The Lions jumped out to a big early lead only to see Josh McCown bring the Raiders back in front of a crowd that was cheering “Daunte, Daunte!” in hopes of provoking a QB change after the early struggles. McCown persevered to the tune of 313 yards, 2 TDs and a completion percentage of 75% to put the Raiders up 1 in the 4th quarter. But the Lions roared right back and finished the game the same way they started it (Two TDs and a FG unanswered) to pull away with a comfortable victory.

Seattle Seahawks 20 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6:
Seattle won fairly easily, but it was about as unconvincing as a 14 point win can be. I don’t trust any of the Seattle wide receivers against a decent defense, and Shaun Alexander was just “ok”. The bright spot was that Julian Peterson, Patrick Kerney and the crew did their job by applying a lot of pressure (5 sacks) and forcing three fumbles. It will be interesting to see if Seattle was playing down to their opponent or if they’re not as good as I originally thought. Either way, they still play in the NFC West, so they got that goin’ for them.

San Diego Chargers 14 – Da Bears 3:
Both quarterbacks were unimpressive. The Bears did more than enough on defense to contain LDT and give them a chance to win the game, but as subpar as the Chargers were on offense (Antonio Gates being the exception), the Bears were worse. Grossman managed to cause himself to fumble without getting touched while trying to elude the rush, it might not be a new one for Sexy Rexy, but certainly entertaining - must be those small hands that make it hard for him to handle the snap. He also threw a pick, and both of the Bears running backs (Benson, Peterson) helped to fumble away any chance of winning the game.

PS – Does anyone know why Joe Buck kept referring to SD WR/Punt returner Craig Davis as “Buster” Davis. Is that a nickname of his I’m not aware of or did Buck simply confuse him for the former FSU linebacker drafted in the 3rd round by the Arizona Cardinals and cut before the season started? I gave Buck the benefit of the doubt the first couple times (not sure why - I never have before), and then when no one on the crew corrected him I thought for sure that I was the one mistaken – so if you know what’s up, please share.

Dallas Cowboys 45 – New York Giants 35:
I know the Giants defense is already banged up and had question marks to begin with, but I’m not looking forward to that Dallas offense coming to Miami next week. The Dolphins don’t have someone I feel confident in covering Patrick Crayton, let alone T.O. and Witten. Anyway, this game was real fun to watch, so much so that both teams defenses decided to stand around and take it all in (900+ total yards, 10 TDs, a botched extra point, a boat load of receptions over 20 yards, a couple long runs as well). Good win for the Cowboys, tough loss for the Giants (especially if the injuries to Brandon Jacobs, Osi Umenyiora, and Eli Manning force any of them to miss significant time).

Which brings me too…

Washington Redskins 16 – Miami Football Dolphins 13 (OT):
UGH…I said in my preview that it felt like 17-13, it played like 17-13, and the Dolphins had a chance to make it 17-13 late in the fourth but had to settle for a game tying field goal after a couple bad penalties. In fairness, the Dolphins dodged quite a few bullets just to get into OT:
1) Cam’s clock management at the end of the half was something Herman Edwards would have been proud of. Fortunately a nice scramble, pitch and catch bailed him out as the clock hit zero and the Dolphins went into the half up 7-3 instead of down 3-0 and stranding the ball inside the five yard line.
2) A seemingly atrocious pass interference call is what gave the Dolphins the field position to attempt the game tying FG. Not to say the drive wouldn’t have continued on without it, but that was a huge call, and completely inexplicable from the camera angles I saw. That being said, it still should have resulted in the game winning touchdown for the Dolphins. (angry face)
3) Fred Smoot.
4) The Dolphins have been more unlucky, than lucky on the Hail Mary, but my heart skipped a beat either way.

A handful of quick shots before I wrap this up:
-CATCH THE F*&($%* BALL!!!!! Trent Green was solid, and his numbers don’t even do him justice - at least five world class drops. I mean, these things were hitting hands and numbers, these were not guys diving for balls and not being able to corral them.

-I wasn’t unimpressed with Cameron’s play calling so much as I was surprised. 18 rushing attempts against that porous D-line and run defense? Really? I know the O-line is bad, and our backs struggled, but it just seemed odd to me. That being said, the passing game was clicking against a highly touted secondary so I’ll give him a pass on the play calling for now.

-I won't give him a pass on the penalties and drops that killed drives. Fix it asap.

-There is no excuse for Randle El finishing with 162 yards at 32.4 yards per reception. The lack of pressure on Campbell from a skilled front 7 and respected D-Coordinator was devastating, and we simply can’t afford that with the lack of talent in the secondary. We’re going to see big play after big play if that’s not fixed in a hurry. Oh, and T.O. is in town next week…

-I know the Redskins offensive line is good, but there are good offensive lines in the NFL, you have to find ways to beat them and we have the talent to do it (especially when they lost Jan Jansen to a broken ankle in the second quarter). You HAVE TO pressure the quarterback.

-It wasn't all bad. Trent Green looked much better than most expected him too, and didn't take too many hits. Chambers was regularly involved, and it's ok to admit it...Ted Ginn had everyone just a little excited on that one return (it'd be nice to see him in the passing game soon). The secondary (a huge weakness) did actually create a couple turnovers.

For a new coach, with a lot of new players, and a new offense, not the worst start we could have had on the road against a talented team. It will take some time, but man... I can't help but feel we had this one.

-A winnable game, on the road slips through our hands and tests my belief in football. How can you do that to me in week 1?!

Well, NFL, my faith is shaken, but not broken, bring on the CowBit#@%$!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Chambers and Green might actually be able to put up some big numbers this year. Poor Ronnie kept having to pound it up the middle on damn near every run even though it wasn't working at all...they should've done some swing passes or had him bounce outside some more.

Run D was as bad as I've seen it in a long time, and I have no idea why. Didn't hear much from Porter and Roth yesterday.

And can someone PLEASE tell Capers to stop blitzing on those 3 and longs??? That KILLED them yesterday, and you could see it coming every time.