Melissa's Monday Musings - Week 8
By: The Football Girl | Posted: October 29, 2012
During an interview I did last week with a decidedly non-football outlet I was asked why so many Americans were drawn to the NFL. I honestly don’t remember my exact response but if I had a do-over it would go something like this: The NFL has compelling characters, an intricate, every-changing rulebook, and a schedule that makes almost every game properly important. But its greatest feather is being far less predetermined than any other sport. In the NFL a great team that we truly believe is a playoff contender one week can become average the next. The same goes for players. Week 8, with its Vikings, Dolphins and Jay Cutler was no exception.
On a somewhat related note, here are some of my random observations for the week so far.
Breaking News: Andrew Luck is the Real Deal.
Luck finally got the monkey known as his first road win off his back in the Colts’ thrilling come-from-behind win over the Titans. It was Luck’s third come-from-behind victory in a seven game career. This kind of stat is the trademark of a great quarterback. Another is having a sizeable disparity in talent between you and your teammates and still leading your team to a 4-3 record. Robert Griffin III, with his flash and unique cocktail of assets, gets far more publicity (and advertising money!) but it is Luck who is (ever so slightly) more incredible this season, at least in this humble muser's opinion. (Look to Kim O’Hara’s upcoming Rookie Report Card for more on their respective progressions.)
Drop it Like it’s Hot
Speaking of Bob Griffin III, he may have even a greater disparity between his own talent and that of his teammates than Luck. This is certainly true of his wide receiving corps of Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Joshua Morgan and a collection of mediocre tight ends. This crew combined for TEN drops in yesterday’s 27-12 loss to the Steelers. Even worse than the drops stat may be this excuse from Morgan after the game:
"Just a bad weather game," Morgan said. "Lack of concentration. We can't point the finger at any one guy. It was slippery out there. Wet ball. Wet grass. Jersey's wet. It makes our jobs 10 times harder. As a pro they expect you to make every catch and every play. All of us have good hands. [But] you can't make every play. Robert's not gonna make every throw. We're all human. We make mistakes."
First of all I don’t see what a wet jersey or a wet field has to do with anything. A wet field makes your feet slip; it doesn’t attack your hands. A wet jersey can cause all kinds of problems, like having a wet jersey. But affecting the hands? C'mon. And if the wet ball argument was viable, wouldn’t the ball have been slipping out of Griffin’s hands left and right? I hate to see how Morgan is going to react when it starts snowing in D.C.
Morgan and the Skins were not alone in their game of hot potato. It was an eerie day of dropped passes. Calvin Johnson had three. Steve Breaston had a big one for Kansas City at a time they could have re-entered their game. And there were honestly so many more I can’t remember and quite frankly, don’t want to remember.
Peyton vs. Brees
Many things struck me about this 34-14 drubbing by the Broncos, most notably how far the Saints have fallen offensively and truly can't function without Sean Payton. In particular, Brees seems to be quite out of sync with his receivers, the same guys he’s been working with for years. Meanwhile, Manning’s chemistry with his new receivers is improving dramatically and seems light years ahead of Brees and company. You can't just blame the respective secondaries, the Saints version being significantly weaker of course. It is about timing, trust, intricate signaling. Manning has it down; Brees does not.
Also is it just me or could these two guys be the stand-ins from Ivan Drago and Rocky Balboa in the Rocky IV remake (that is not really happening but I still dream about often)?
Falcons are Soaring
I may have called Matt Ryan overrated a time or two. I now take that back. Of course Ryan has an elite arsenal but he really does create a lot of plays out of nothing. The touch of the ball is perfect, and one of his most improved upon and impressive traits is a keen awareness of his ticking clock. That means the ball desn't leave his hand too soon out of fear or too late out of inability to read pressure.
In addition, Ryan may be the most consistent quarterback out there these days, something we're not seening out of even the so-called “elite” quarterbacks this season. In my mind, Ryan still has to win a playoff game to enter that conversation. He currently sits at 0-3 in that department. (Do you agree that a quarterback must win a playoff game before he warrants an elite tag?)
But this Falcons team has the makeup to win playoff games. Holes are starting to close up here. Even the previously poor rush defense held LeSean McCoy to 45 yards yesterday. Of course, the Eagles were airing it out toward the end, but it’s still a nice feat to build on.
Given the Bears and Giants respective issues in their barely there wins, the Vikings jumping from the cloud and the 49ers passing game issues, the Falcons are in a marvelous position. And yes, I realize we’re only in Week 8.
Devin Hester…You. Are. Respected.
Carolina head coach Ron Rivera is on the verge of being fired. That is evident. A 1-11 record in games decided by 8 points or less is one reason. Another is failed strategy, which was on display yesterday via the Panthers special teams. Panthers placekicker Justin Medlock had a series of dribbling kickoffs in an effort to keep Devin Hester from having a chance to return, which subsequently resulted in the Bears receiving fabulous field position.
Here’s the issue with that decision: Hester is not nearly the threat he once was. He is way more effective on punt returns; and in fact has only taken one kickoff to the house in four seasons. And it’s not Hester’s talent that has diminished; it’s his supporting cast. The Bears were in or near the top of the special teams leaderboard in the late 2000’s not only because of Hester’s ability in the open field, but because of the personnel that helped create that open field. A lot of these guys were so talented they moved on to more prominent roles with the Bears or other organizations (see Brendon Ayanbadejo, the former Bears linebacker who receives ample playing time on defense with the Baltimore Ravens).
It’s Tebow Time: There is no other way to say it.
What is Rex Ryan trying to prove by keeping Mark Sanchez in as his starter? Entering yesterday’s matchup at Miami, Sanchez was dead last in the NFL in pass completion percentage at 53.7% His career average is 55%. This is just an awful situation that needs a remedy. A quite obvious (winning) one is sitting on the bench.
The longer Ryan sticks his neck out for Sanchez I can only drum up two possible culprits:
1) There is some weird collusion amongst certain general managers going on where the Jets agree to sign Tebow and never start him to clear the path for the team that is paying Mike Tannenbaum a hefty sum or hording crates of boxes containing Woody Johnson hand fetish videos. (Hello, Patriots!)
2) Ryan is like one of those seedy senior management types who likes to hand pick his middle manager because that guy will help execute the company’s inefficiencies with a smile. Both are widely threatened by the new kid with the "big ideas." They stick together and pretend like new kid doesn’t exist.
Quote of the Day
ESPN’s Tom Jackson, a former Denver Broncos lineman, following a Sport Science segment dissecting all the ways the Denver altitude affects one’s body: "With all due respect to John Brenkus, when the Broncos were losing for 13 seasons, we never heard anything about altitude. Then suddenly the Broncos start wining and no one can breathe"
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