Melissa’s Monday Musings NFL Week 12: The Good, The Bad and The Bizarre
I would be remiss if I didn’t begin by saying a final goodbye to the Rams’ 7-9 Era. With Sunday’s statement win over the Saints, the 8-3 Rams will not finish with a losing record for the first time sine 2006. Spoiler: They’re actually going to have a winning record for the first time since 2003. Boy, do the days of Jeff Fisher’s mediocrity seem so far in the rearview mirror. (Anyone think I can sell a screenplay titled, The Days of Jeff Fisher?)
The Sean McVay-led Rams currently hold the no. 3 seed in the NFC, while the Eagles occupy the top spot after walloping Chicago. Interestingly the Steelers, who oscillate between looking like Super Bowl contenders and looking like the second-half of the season Chiefs, hold the no. 1 seed in the AFC. In other words, the NFL’s two most boisterous fanbases are sitting pretty right now. There was plenty of other positivity Sunday, as well as clarity both good and bad. Let’s take a stroll down (very recent) memory lane.
– Tom Brady’s four touchdowns in New England’s 35-14 thrashing of Miami stand out, but he actually made a few mistakes Sunday. There was an interception, but most notably Brady had a couple of poor throws on the Pats’ opening drive. For a split second it appeared the Dolphins had an iota of a chance until the Patriots did what they do best.
4th and 9 on their own 36, the Pats succeeded with a fake punt. The Dolphins were stymied and Brady methodically marched the Pats down the field for an easy Rex Burkhead score. New England never looked back.
The Patriots out-scheme everyone. Perhaps in this case they saw something on film during the week they thought was exploitable. Scanning the rest of the AFC field the Pats honestly look unbeatable. While the Steelers hold the 1 seed, they are wildly inconsistent, and the Pats are poised to take back the top slot when the two meet during Week 15. Brady’s chemistry with Brandon Cooks has blossomed in recent weeks, adding another layer of doom for opposing defenses. As mentioned in my Thanksgiving column the only legitimate challenger may be the Chargers because at least they house defensive ends how can pressure Brady.
– While the Bears are hardly the best barometer, the Eagles defense may be as good as its offense. The Eagles, already leading in run defense, shut down Chicago’s strong running game. Jordan Howard had 7 carries for 6 which was HoF-like compared to Tarik Cohen’s 2 carries for -11 yards. This unit hasn’t allowed close to a 100-yard rusher all year and no receiver has topped 100 yards since Week 4. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has done a stellar job with shifting personnel and creating an effective, opportunistic unit. Schwartz could be a top head coaching candidate again, especially given the slim field this year.
– In addition to dominating on both offense and defensive the Eagles may have jumped to the top of the heap for group celebrations.
New favorite TD celebration pic.twitter.com/8MWuoBDLdA
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) November 26, 2017
The Rasul Douglas INT was overturned but this electric slide still tops any version I’ve seen at a wedding or bar mitzvah. pic.twitter.com/bP78nWX1jl
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) November 26, 2017
– Frank Gore came back to life Sunday amassing 17 for 62 yards and a 14-yard touchdown, which is a good time to remind everyone about the most mind boggling stat in football: 34-year-old Gore has not missed a game since December 2010.
– Jared Goff and Carson Wentz really look primed to take the baton from Brady-Brees-Manning era when is officially ends in 2028.
– Good for Tyrod Taylor for playing solid mistake-free football in the Bills’ win over Kansas City. Buffalo is now only averaging 2.5 interceptions a game over the last two weeks. McDermott still owes the football zeitgeist a better explanation for idiotically benching Taylor last week.
– Not to go all show me his birth certificate on you guys but can someone please provide proof that Julio Jones (12 catches, 252 yards, 2 TDS, most of it jaw dropping) is an actual human?
– You can always count of Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles to produce a thriller.
– My six-year-old son who will probably know more about football than I do by this time next year made this observation about the Chiefs: “They were doing well, now they’re doing stupid.” No one is doing more stupid than Alex Smith who is having some kind of second half meltdown. The offensive line issues are severe but Smith has transformed from MVP contender to Checkdown Charlie. His footwork and accuracy are off off and given Travis Kelce’s reaction to Smith’s game-ending interception, perhaps the rest of the team is starting to get frustrated with his performance. The calls for rookie QB Pat Mahomes are getting louder among fans and media. Andy Reid says Smith is still the starter – for now. I agree with that decision, not because my first Twitter bio read “Alex Smith Apologist, but because the Chiefs are still a playoff team if the season ended today and Smith deserves one more shot to see if he can hold them there. If not, bring on the rookie!
– Welcome to the regular portion of the column where we fire John Fox. Fox’s game management deficiencies and conservatism were again on full display in the Bears’ crushing 31-3 loss to the Eagles. This week’s special source of frustration for Bears fans came when Fox elected to kick on two fourth and short possessions, while the Eagles played the aggressor by converting on similar opportunities. But the worst foible of the game was this doozy:
Bears just called timeout to avoid a delay of game — on their own 1-yard line. They wasted a timeout to keep it 3rd-&-17 instead of 3rd-& 17 1/2.
— Vincent Verhei (@FO_VVerhei) November 26, 2017
You expect this with Fox. What you don’t expect is for his defense to lie down and get pushed around, which is what happened on Sunday. The longer he stays, the more Mitch Trubisky’s development suffers.
Every week in the TFG Newsletter we highlight a fan of the week. This person is definitely a contender.
– The Michael Crabtree-Aqib Talib melee that led to both players being ejected in the first quarter was pathetic, immature and deeply harmed both teams. Schedule another time to settle your differences. Broncos head coach Vance Jospeh pretty much said it all to ESPN: “We can’t have it — it’s non-negotiable.” Also pathetic: the Raiders fans cheering for Crabtree as he was escorted to the locker room.
– Speaking of bad fan behavior, how classless of Niners fans to cheer for Jimmy Garoppolo’s pending entrance while starter C.J. Beathard laid injured on the field. Many of the 49ers players were upset, including Eric Reid who vented to reporters.
– Before Paxton Lynch was injured, Paxton Lynch looked like he has no business being on an NFL field. Brock Osweiler is the team’s best QB, which sums up the severity of their issue. John Elway has flubbed his GM role in so many ways but leaving the QB room in shambles is inexcusable given his pedigree. I’m still not sure why he neglected to move forward with Colin Kaepernick as Peyton Manning’s successor after inviting the quarterback to his house in the summer of 2016.
Aside from a fidget spinner and the Pats-Dolphins final score, I have no clue what anything else in this illustration from Tom Brady’s Facebook page means.