Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weekend Football Roundup - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Plenty of QBs put up huge numbers this weekend, but perhaps nobody scored a bigger win than Andrew Luck in Indy's come-from-behind victory over Seattle.

 By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Every Tuesday during football season, editors Jeremy and Joe will bring you the good, the bad and the ugly from the college and pro football weekend that was.

The Good

Quarterbacks in Losing Efforts

Among quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning, there's a strong argument to be made that the three best performances from quarterbacks in Week 5 came from losing teams. Manning's counterpart, the tragic figure of Tony Romo, threw for over 500 yards at an obscene clip of 14.1 yards per attempt. He added five touchdown passes (and one ill-timed interception that was more bad luck than bad football) and some of the most precise throws seen all season. Joining Romo among the losers was Jay Cutler (24-33, 358 yards, 2 TDs, 128.1 Passer Rating), who out-dueled his more-acclaimed opponent in Drew Brees (29-35, 288 yards, 2 TDs, 120.0 Rating), and Matt Ryan, who had an exemplary performance on Monday night, completing 36 of 45 passes for 319 yards and two scores, including a late touchdown drive that included two 4th-down conversions to take a 28-27 lead that was eventually squandered by a porous Atlanta defense.


Cincinnati's Front Seven

The Bengals' pass rush absolutely decimated New England's offense Sunday, producing four sacks and keeping Tom Brady under constant pressure. Over the first few weeks of the season, the Patriots' receivers have had a difficult time getting open even when Brady has time to throw, but when Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry are spending more time in the backfield than on the other side of the offensive line, the New England passing attack is basically hopeless. Brady completed just 18 of 38 passes and saw his streak of 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass broken.

Inclement weather was also a factor late in the game, leading to a game-sealing interception by Adam Jones, but even early on, there was no rhythm to the Patriots' offense whatsoever.


Andrew Luck During "Winning Time"

Maybe we have to just accept that Luck has a flair for the dramatic. Everyone was riding this Colts regression bandwagon (*cough* Jeremy *cough*) because Indy went 9-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less last season. Well, guess what? The Colts are again winning close games against good teams this year, and it's because of Luck, with a capital L.

Luck's two time consuming  drives in the Sunday's final frame erased an 11-point Seattle lead, and gave the second-year signal caller his 9th career fourth quarter comeback. That's already a record for quarterbacks in their first two seasons, and Luck's still got 11 games left this year.


The Bad

Miami During "Winning Time"

The Dolphins had numerous chances to tie or beat the Ravens in the fourth quarter Sunday, but were just never able to do it. You can forgive rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis for missing a 57-yard field goal, but you can't excuse Miami's offensive line surrendering three sacks on the team's final two drives (Including one to Elvis Dumervil that made a tying FG attempt nearly impossible) and six overall.

Plus, the suddenly average Dolphins defense allowed slumping Joe Flacco to march his team down for the eventual game-winning field goal in the final three minutes. This is the same Joe Flacco that Buffalo abused the week before.


The Patriots' Offense

See above.


The Panthers' Offense

Basically the same thing.


The Ugly

The New York Giants

Like, seriously.

They were playing at home in effectively a must-win game (there isn't exactly an illustrious track record of teams starting the season 0-5 and going on to make the playoffs). Michael Vick left the game in the 2nd quarter and didn't return. Eagles not previously incarcerated totaled 61 yards on 30 rushing attempts. Nick Foles played the entire second half. The Eagles secondary is unspeakably bad.

Nick Foles finished with a quarterback rating of 114.9, almost 60 points higher than Eli Manning's 56.1. The Giants lost by 15. At home. Against a team entering the game 1-3. Against their backup quarterback. Against an offense entirely predicated on their zone running game who couldn't run the ball.

Like, seriously. The Giants are really, really bad. If the Jaguars weren't really, really, really, really, really, historically bad, this would be an even bigger story. Through five weeks, the Giants are the worst team in the NFC and there isn't a close second.

(In a related story, in the preseason I picked them to win the NFC East at 10-6. My only solace is that Joe picked the Redskins to go 11-5 and win the division. I think we might end up collectively being off by 20 wins each in the NFC East.)


The Jacksonville Jaguars

They stay in this spot until we see a reason otherwise, and losing by ONLY 14 to a bad St. Louis team doesn't count. Once again the Jags failed to cover a robust spread (Getting 12 points against the Rams) and things should only get worse this week against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

The opening line on that game? Broncos -28. I still think I'll bet against the Jags.


Monday Night's First Quarter

Perhaps it wasn't as ugly so much as supremely bizarre. Here are some of the things that happened in the first quarter:

1. New York blocked an Atlanta punt. A member of the Atlanta punt team scooped up the ball, scrambled towards the sideline, threw a pass WHICH WAS COMPLETED for a loss of eight yards and a turnover.
2. Geno Smith over-throws his intended receiver. The ball is tipped (and nearly intercepted) by an Atlanta defender. The ball is then caught by Jeff Cumberland for a 12-yard gain and a first down on 3rd-and-8.
3. The Jets ran the Wildcat. Like, full on running back taking a shotgun snap with another running back in motion for a jet sweep while the quarterback is split out wide.
4. Matt Ryan completed a pass to Roddy White over the middle. White takes two steps, fumbles the ball directly into the arms of a New York defender, who can't scoop it up. The ball rolls around until Julio Jones picks it up and gains another 18 yards before he's tackled from behind.

They basically should have just played Yakety Sax in the background for the entire first quarter.


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