Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Football Roundup: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Could Dallas' DeMarco Murray be the best running back in the NFL?
 By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Every week, editors Jeremy Conlin and Joe Parello bring you the good, the bad, and the ugly from the pro and college football weekend that was.

The Good

DeMarco Murray

After a rough start to the year, the Cowboys have rolled off three straight wins and look like an offensive juggernaut thanks to this guy, and the improved play of quarterback Tony Romo. Murray has been arguably the league's best back this season, mostly because Dallas is FINALLY giving him the ball, and Romo has benefited from the newly functional ground game.

After throwing 37 times in a season-opening loss to San Francisco (compared to 23 rushes), Dallas hasn't thrown more than 30 times in any of its next three wins. The Cowboys are averaging 36 rushing attempts in those contests, and Murray has gone over the century mark and scored a touchdown in each of them.

Not only is that great for my fantasy team, it's also pretty good for Dallas' reality team. The Cowboys are much tougher to stop when Murray has the ball in his hands, and when Romo doesn't have to carry the entire offense on his back.


Eli Manning

The difference between good Eli and bad Eli is about as vast as any quarterback this side of Joe Flacco, but we got a glimpse of very good Eli Thursday night as the Giants signal caller painted a masterpiece against division rival Washington.

As if four touchdowns through the air weren't enough, the less-than-fleet-footed Manning added one on the ground as well.

After starting the year with 3 TDs and 4 INTs with a completion percentage floating around 60 percent through two games, Eli has been on a tear in his last two, completing 73 percent of his throws for 6 TDs and a single INT. Oh yeah, the Giants started 0-2 and are now 2-2. New York had plenty of other problems, but when Eli is playing well, they suddenly don't mean as much.


The Bad

Cutting Steve Smith

Yeah, you may never want to get on Steve Smith's bad side. Six months after getting cut by Carolina, the only NFL team he'd ever own, Smith delivered on his promises of there being "blood and guts everywhere," torching his old team for 122 yards and two scores.

The Ravens obliterated the Panthers 38-10, and Carolina's impressive start is now a distant memory after back-to-back blowout losses against AFC North foes.


The Ugly

Pittsburgh's Epic Collapse

After the Steelers forced Tampa Bay to turn the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter Sunday, Pittsburgh took over with 1:49 to play and a 24-20 lead. Sure, the Bucs had a pair of timeouts, but Pittsburgh's win probability still sat at exactly 95 percent. As the Steelers attempted to run out the clock, forcing Tampa to use its pair of timeouts, that probability slowly dropped to 91 percent just before they punted with 40 seconds to play.

But a poor punt and a long pass to Louis Murphy (who also beat the Steelers on a long catch as a rookie with the Raiders back in 2009. Both of those teams were terrible and stole games at Heinz Field, and I was there to witness both of them. Neither was fun) sank the Steelers' probability to a minuscule 7 percent, a drop of over 83 percent in two plays.

Moments later, Vincent Jackson hauled in an out-route to seal Pittsburgh's fate, and every Steelers mistake contributed to the loss. If Shaun Suisham connects on a field goal earlier, or if Ben Roethlisberger doesn't fumble it away early leading to the quick Bucs lead, or if any of Pittsburgh's 13 penalties for an astounding 125 yards don't happen, they probably win the game.

But, as my sister who lives in Tampa said after, Pittsburgh lost in the most Bucs way possible. After all, Tampa Bay is the team that lost FOUR DIFFERENT GAMES WHERE THEY HAD A 90+ PERCENT WIN PROBABILITY IN THE FOURTH QUARTER last year.

So yeah, maybe there was some poetic justice at work in the Burgh Sunday.


Brady Hoke's Dangerous Coaching

It's one thing for Brady Hoke to be a bad coach. He is, by the way. But his handling of quarterback Shane Morris, who had just suffered a viscous helmet-to-helmet hit in Michigan's embarrassing loss to lowly Minnesota, is the kind of stuff that should get you fired on the field.

Hoke left an apparently concussed Morris in to continue taking punishment in a game that had long since been decided, before he finally could not physically continue and former starter Devin Gardner came on in his place.

Morris first suffered an ankle injury, but stayed in. Then, while hobbled, was nailed in the head by a Minnesota defender, drawing a roughing the passer penalty. Morris then needed to be stabilized on his feet by an offensive linemen, appearing to wobble, unable to keep his balance at first. Hoke has since said that Morris did not suffer a concussion, which I don't know if I believe, but even if he didn't, that's just dumb luck for Hoke.

He still left a guy that had taken a nasty shot to the head in the game when he appeared to have lost his balance.

Many in Ann Arbor are calling for Hoke's head (no pun intended), and with good reason, but if I were Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, I wouldn't have allowed Hoke to do the post game presser. His inept coaching earned him a quiet firing at the end of the year. This reckless disregard for a player's well being should have resulted in a very public, humiliating firing on the sideline before he could address his team in the locker room.


The New England Patriots

Look. I don't want to talk about it. Okay?

Seriously, this Patriots team is probably going 2-14.

But I don't want to talk about it. I spent most of the second half watching The Lost World on AMC. Roland Tembo was more entertaining than the Patriots.

That's all I have to say about that.


No comments :