Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Uh, We Might Have a Problem

  • Okay, we have to face the facts: that was pretty bad. The defense was bad, the offense was terrible, and everything I feared would happen when Jordy Nelson first went down in preseason happened.

  • The Denver Broncos defense held Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to 77 yards passing, and just 140 overall. Denver (500 yards) had more than triple Green Bay’s total yardage.

  • The Broncos had 24 first downs to Green Bay’s 14 (it felt like four), and 7.9 yards per play compared to 3.0 yards. To be clear, it sucked.

  • The only way the Packers managed to move the ball was off of Denver penalties. The Broncos racked up 93 yards on 11 penalties, meaning that they had more penalty yardage than Aaron Rodgers had passing yards.

  • Rodgers was facing a ton of pressure all night, which, combined with the receivers’ inability to get open, made for a very long night for the reigning league MVP. I seriously kept on counting how many players Denver had on the field because it felt like they were playing with an extra defender. They were bringing pressure on every single snap and still somehow also perfectly covering Green Bay’s receivers.
C'mon, Green Eyes! We need you to step up!

  • Sunday night’s game was a faith-shaking wake-up call for Green Bay fans, and it was probably needed. As Cris Collinsworth mentioned during the broadcast, the Packers came into the game ranked 22nd in passing yards, total and per game, so the offensive issues are not out of the blue. The Packers do have a lot they need to figure out, but there are a few reasons that fans shouldn’t overreact to Sunday’s loss:
    • Denver’s defense is the best in the league. They are really, really good, both up front and in the secondary. They lead the league in total yards allowed, yards per game, yards per attempt, touchdowns allowed, sacks, and sack yards. They are second in the league in opposing quarterback passing rating and in takeaways. As I said, very good.
    • Peyton Manning was having a “shut the #$&% up” game after weeks of speculation from the media about his career being over, whether he should be benched, should he retire, &c. The normally affable Manning was curt and defensive in his media session the last week, clearly sick of answering the same questions about his declining play over and over. His game against the Packers (340 yards, 72% completion, 12 yards per attempt) was one of his best in a shaky season (he has 11 interceptions to seven touchdowns). It was a statement game on the national stage. Hopefully the Packers won’t be playing against any other aging icons who are trying to defend their legacy and prove an entire country wrong. 

    • Combine Peyton’s game with the fact that the Packers lost their best cornerback, Sam Shields, to a shoulder injury early on in the game, and then his backup, Quinten Rollins, to the same injury. (Not a good night to be a Packers’ defensive back’s shoulder.) The injuries also forced some of Green Bay’s remaining defensive backs to play positions that were not their natural position. Casey Hayward, for example, typically covers the slot, but was forced to move to the outside after Shields went down.
      • Side note: speaking of poor Casey, why the heck didn’t the Packers try to help him (and later Demarious Randall) cover Demaryius Thomas?? Single coverage was obviously not doing it against Thomas, and rolling over a little safety help wouldn’t have been amiss much earlier in the game. I felt bad watching them get beat over and over again.

  • I am not a Richard Rodgers fan. I’ve tried to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but his blocking is too often atrocious and he might as well be playing with concrete gloves. Furthermore, he was 100% responsible for the safety. It was his man who blew by him to strip Aaron Rodgers, then he couldn’t pick up the ball before it went into the endzone, then when he recovered it in the endzone, he tripped and fell. Geez. 

  • Also, his face bothers me. I think it’s because after every time he drops a pass, he smiles serenely, and jogs slowly back to the huddle without a care in the world.

You can see he's even smiling while dropping passes.

  • No rest for the weary/injured -- the Packers have will have another tough road game against the 7-0 Carolina Panthers.

  • Ugh, the now 7-0 Broncos just acquired tight end Vernon Davis from the San Francisco 49ers. Like they need the help.

  • Normally an interception isn’t a highlight for an offense, but check out Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones insane speed in somehow catching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defender who grabbed an interception in the endzone. He looks CGI'd!

  • Let’s all take a moment to remember that the 1-7 Detroit Lions, the Detroit Lions who lost in London on Sunday 45-10 to the 3-5 Kansas City Chiefs, were in the playoffs last year, and one controversial call away from the divisional round. From the press conferences, it's hard to tell who's checked out more, head coach Jim Caldwell or quarterback Matthew Stafford.

  • JJ Watt had 2.5 sacks on Sunday to go with nine quarterback hits in the Houston Texans’ win over the Tennessee Titans. The Titans had an, er, interesting approach to blocking the best defender in the league, putting a lineman one-on-one far more than most teams do (which is never). When asked how many times he had a one-on-one matchups in the game, Watt replied, “Well, how many hits did I have?”
Oh, snap.

  • Does anyone inspire less confidence during a game winning drive than Matt Cassel? No, really, I’m trying to think of a current quarterback who would make a fan feel worse in that situation. The Seattle Seahawks kicked a field goal with 1:06 remaining to take a 13-12 lead over the Dallas Cowboys. There was absolutely no thrill or suspense when the Cowboys took over because no one had any faith in them. The Dallas offense went incomplete, incomplete, sack, false start, incomplete to end the game. Your fake confidence is fooling no one, Matt.

  • Okay, I take it back. I can think of one other quarterback who inspires less confidence. The San Francisco 49ers have decided to start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback next week. Sooo they're playing for a draft pick, I guess.

  • At the age of 39, Charles Woodson was named the defensive player of the month and leads the league in interceptions (he got the 65th of his career on Sunday), which is pretty amazing, but Charles doesn’t understand why everyone’s so surprised:

  • That list includes a player who was knocked unconscious on the field (Ricardo Lockette), my favorite Dolphins player (Cameron Wake), and a 15-year veteran receiver (Steve Smith). All three of those are season-ending, which brings up an interesting situation for Smith. Smith, who was already playing with broken ribs, has said he would retire after this season, but coach John Harbaugh seemed confident that Smith would be back. Just in case he’s not, he should take a bow:

  • The Bears had to call the police after they cut nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff when Ratliff returned to the facility, saying that he was the devil, wanted to kill everybody in the building, and wanted staffers’ kids to die. Ratliff apparently has a history of violent outbursts. The most incredible story about Ratliff that has come out in the past few days is how last season, he flipped out at practice, started screaming at teammates, destroyed a game clock on the sidelines, and shoved a coach to the ground -- and then-head coach Marc Trestman made Ratliff a team captain the next day. I’m totally speechless.
Trestman has written a book on leadership, by the way.

  • I was originally going to complain about the alternate uniforms that the Cleveland Browns wore in their 34-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. I mean, if your team name is the Browns, shouldn’t you have more than just two tiny stripes of brown on your jerseys? But then I saw the team name on the pants, and now these are kinda my favorite uniforms ever.

Every team should do that. It looks so cool!

  • Holy wow, how about that New Orleans Saints-New York Giants game? The losing quarterback completed 73% of his passes, had 350 yards, and threw six touchdowns! Drew Brees had a 78% completion rate, 505 yards, and seven touchdowns!! And the game was decided by a punter and a kicker. New Orleans scored a touchdown to tie the game 49-49 with 36 seconds left. New York went three-and-out and had to punt with 20 seconds left, and the game looks like it’s going to overtime. The punt, however, was returned 24 yards, just across midfield. The returner FUMBLED, but New Orleans recovered the ball. There’s only five seconds left, which would pretty much mean the end of regulation, except that the Giants’ punter committed a facemask penalty!! That 15-yard-penalty put the Saints on the Giant’s 32-yard line. Kai Forbath, the New Orleans kicker who was signed two weeks ago and had yet to attempt a field goal for the Saints, knocked down a 50-yard field goal for the 52-49 win.

  • Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has reportedly been playing with broken ribs since Week 3, which makes his poor play of late make a little more sense. The Colts, however, never disclosed a rib injury, and Luck hasn’t appeared on the injury report the past two weeks, which is a serious violation of the rules. It'll be interesting to see how the league decides to punish the Colts, assuming the report is true.

  • With eight minutes left in the game, the Colts were down 23-6 to the undefeated Carolina Panthers. Then Indy scored a touchdown, forced a three-and-out, scored a touchdown, and forced another three-and-out! Then they had a nail-biting, grind-it-out, 16-play drive that ended in a field goal, sending the game to overtime! Then the Colts got the ball in overtime, scored a field goal, then Carolina scored a field goal. But then Andrew Luck threw another interception!! Gah! The Panthers kicked a field goal to win the game.  

  • I really thought the stars were aligning for a incredible, season-saving Colts comeback. I mean, a series of crazy things had to happen:
    • Carolina missed an extra point early in the fourth which meant the Colts only needed a field goal to send it to overtime rather than a touchdown.
    • During the Colts game-tying drive at the end of the fourth, there was a catch that looked like it may not have been a catch, but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn.
    • During that same drive, the Panthers tackled a Colts receiver in bounds, but the refs incorrectly called him out of bounds, stopping the clock with 19 seconds left and Indy out of timeouts.
    • The Colts were doing all this against a defense like this:
    • Linebacker extraordinaire Luke Kuechly dropped an interception in the endzone with two seconds left in regulation that would have ended the game right there.
    • Ted Ginn Jr. dropped a touchdown in overtime that would have been the game winner.

  • How could the football gods set us up for disappointment like that? A bedraggled and downtrodden team suddenly puts together an amazing fourth quarter against an undefeated opponent, gets several crazy turns of luck, only to lose on a field goal? That's not how Disney would have written it. Also, now Carolina is a game ahead of Green Bay in the NFC. Next week is huge.

  • The loss dropped the Colts to 3-5. But no worries! They're in the AFC South, so they're still tied for the division lead! Haha, the joke's on the rest of the league and the winning teams that will lose a playoff spot to the AFC South!

  • The AFC is pretty much wrapped up. The New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, and Denver Broncos are all atop their respective divisions at 7-0. Only two other teams in the entire AFC have a winning record.

  • One of those other teams is the Oakland Raiders! Perhaps it’s because their head coach, Jack del Rio, is a cartoon superhero come to life.

  • And here’s what he looks like before he finds a phone booth:

  • The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Diego Chargers on a field goal, and kicker Justin Tucker thought that deserved a celebratory dance.

  • The Minnesota Vikings scored a touchdown against the Chicago Bears to tie the game 20-20 with 1:49 left in the game. The Bears ideally would get into field goal range, burn the clock, then kick an easy field goal with time expiring. If you can’t do that and aren’t able to score, you want to at least run the clock down and take it to overtime. If you can’t score and can’t run the clock out, you at least want to take as much time off the clock as possible. What you really don’t want to do is lay a three-and-out that takes all of 49 seconds, punt the ball, allow gains of four, 35, and nine yards, and then watch as the opposing team kicks a field goal with time expiring. Chicago took the latter route.

  • The Vikings are only one game behind the Packers in the NFC North. Just something to keep in mind.

  • When the San Francisco 49ers lined up just outside their own endzone, the St. Louis Rams didn’t even bother to cover TWO San Fran receivers on either side of the field. And Colin Kaepernick still decided to stick with the run. The Rams scored a safety on the next play.

  • Last season, Green Bay was 8th in passing yards. After Sunday’s game, they’re 27th. That’s what Jordy does.

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