Week 1 is in the books, and overreactions are rampant. Prior to the preseason, I did my first hierarchy. For this version, only one team moved more than 3 spots. That would be the Giants, who I made the #1 team as sort of a courtesy for being the champs. They dropped all the way to 7.
• The Graveyard:
Nobody in the graveyard yet.
• Life Support:
Nobody on life support yet.
16) The Rams are Steve Jeltz. When he used to pop up weakly to 3rd base for the 4th time in one night, Jeltz’s batting average would barely go down. With the Rams’ loss this weekend, their winning % since 2007 went from .187 to .185. They’re 15-66. In this case, with a near win in Detroit, at least the Rams (to be known from here on out as the Jeltzes) hit a line drive and the outfielder had to make a diving catch. +3 in turnover differential, and yet… A familiar result in the standings: L
Last time: 15
15) I’ll just be honest here. I didn’t watch the Vikings-Jaguars game last week, and I’m not going to watch the Viking-Colts game next week. So really, anything I say here is going to be 100% guess work, but with the win, we’ll bump them ahead of the Rams.
I will say this though. The fact that Adrian Peterson was effective in this game was absolutely remarkable. He didn’t just tear an ACL. He completely shredded his knee. Torn ACL, MCL and meniscus. In 2005, Duante Culpepper tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL, and it wrecked his career. Tom Brady tore his ACL, MCL, and meniscus in 2008, and it took him two years to get back to where he was. Those are QBs, of course, and obviously healthy knees are less important to a QB than they are to a RB. Peterson is a medical oddity.
Last time: 16
14) Here’s what I wrote about the Panthers a few weeks ago:
The Panthers’ rushing attack:
Player Rush Yards YPC TD DeAngelo Williams 155 836 5.4 7 Jonathan Stewart 142 761 5.4 4 Cam Newton 126 706 5.6 14 Totals 423 2303 5.4 25
In a league that is building defenses designed to stop the pass, the Panthers are going to be very difficult to match up with for some teams.
The Buccaneers were dead last in rushing defense last season. They gave up 150.1 rushing yards last year. The Panthers, meanwhile, rushed for over 150 per game.
So they were going to run all over the Bucs, right? Nope. Ten rushing yards. 10.
Last time: 11
13) Here was the Buccaneers’ stadium at kickoff yesterday:
I actually watched this game. Snooze fest, but a nice win for first year coach Greg Schiano. The Bucs’ D looks very improved.
Last time: 14
12) After the Eagles-Browns game, I noted the difference between 1-0 and 0-1. There was a similar scenario in Arizona last Sunday between the Seahawks and Cardinals. 4th and G, down 4, :21 to go. Ohhhhh… The Seahawks are going to win:
Last time: 10
11) How ’bout my boy Kevin Kolb! Down 3, on the Cardinals’ final drive here’s what KK put together after John Skelton went down:
- K.Kolb pass incomplete deep right to L.Fitzgerald.
- K.Kolb pass short left to L.Fitzgerald to ARZ 46 for 14 yards.
- K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to A.Roberts
- K.Kolb pass short right to L.Fitzgerald to SEA 31 for 23 yards
- K.Kolb pass incomplete deep right to A.Roberts. PENALTY on ARZ-D.Colledge, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SEA 31
- K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to A.Roberts (R.Sherman). PENALTY on SEA-R.Sherman, Defensive Pass Interference, 9 yards, enforced at SEA 41
- K.Kolb pass short left to T.Heap to SEA 21 for 11 yards
- L.Stephens-Howling up the middle to SEA 18 for 3 yards
- K.Kolb pass short left to T.Heap to SEA 10 for 8 yards
- K.Kolb pass short right to L.Stephens-Howling ran ob at SEA 6 for 4 yards
- K.Kolb pass short left to A.Roberts for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Kolb had to come off the bench cold and face one of the best defenses in the league. He was poised, accurate, efficient, and the last pass to Roberts in the front left corner of the end zone was a beauty. That game should do wonders for Kolb’s confidence. Very tough test for the Cards next week in New England.
Last time: 12
10) I was wildly impressed with the game plan that Shanny put together in New Orleans. RG3 was awesome, as was the OL, the DL got pressure all day, and the secondary “held up.” For more of me showering praise on the Skins, I invite you to check out my post-game notes. There are all kinds of reasons for optimism, but let’s take it slow with them for now. The Skins got off to a similar start last season, and proceeded to immediately fall apart.
Beating very good teams isn’t anything new to the Skins. They swept the champs last year. They beat the Packers the year they won the Super Bowl. And in 2009, they took the Super Bowl Champion Saints to OT, although they lost.
Next up are the Rams in St. Louis. As noted above, the Rams have won just 15 games since 2007. Two of those are against the Redskins. In fact, the Skins have faced the Rams in each of the last 4 years. They’re 2-2, and the Rams have outscored the Skins 66-59 in those games. Huge opportunity for Washington to go 2-0 in the conference. You have my attention, Skins. Let’s see some consistency.
Last time: 13
9) The Lions almost lost to the Rams. At home. Interesting stat from ESPN: The Rams sent 4 or fewer pass rushers on 36 of Matt Stafford’s 48 pass attempts. Early in the game, he struggled against the added personnel in coverage, but the Lions were able to adjust late:
Still, this is not what Lions fans had in mind Week 1. The Lions have the oldest OL in the NFL, and not a lot of depth there. Their season could be dependent on the health of that group.
Last time: 6
8. The Falcons handled the Chiefs pretty easily on Sunday, as they typically do against bad teams. (Not that the Chiefs are bad, mind you, but they were missing Tambi Hali and Brandon Flowers, along with two other defensive starters). Last season, the Falcons played 7 teams with winning records. They beat the Lions (10-6) and the Titans (9-7). They lost the other 5 (to the Packers, Saints x2, Texans, and the Giants in the playoffs), and were outscored 137-65 in those 5 losses. Denver and Peyton Manning come to town Monday night. That’ll be a better litmus test. I know the Falcons can beat lesser competition. I don’t know that can handle the good teams.
Last time: 8
7) On the Giants’ last drive of the game with the Cowboys expecting pass, Ahmad Bradshaw took a draw play for 33 yards. Here were the Giants’ carries otherwise Wednesday night:
2, 3, 3, 2, 2 (fumble), 3, 5, -2, -1, 0, 2, 5, 2, 5, 10 (TD), 5, 0, 4.
The Giants’ OL couldn’t open up holes in the run game last year. So far, not so good after one game this year. However, they were able to score last season because Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were outstanding. Wednesday night, Hakeem Nicks, in my opinion, didn’t look like he was fully recovered from his broken foot and Victor Cruz had a terrible game. I have little doubt that the Giants will bounce back next week against the Bucs, but obviously this was not the rushing attack they were hoping for when they appeared to have made a concerted effort to improve that aspect of their offense this offseason.
Last time: 1, although that was just sort of “reigning champs” courtesy.
6) SEEEEEEEEE?!?!? I told you the Cowboys would be awesome this year. DeMarco Murray looks great. As does Tony Romo. Kevin Ogletree stepped up in a major way. Jason Hatcher is off to a great start as a compliment to DeMarcus Ware in the Cowboys’ pass rush. Bruce Carter looks like he’ll be a significant upgrade over Keith Brooking and Bradie James. Sean Lee is Chuck Norris. Anthony Spencer set the shit out of that edge. And Jay Ratliff didn’t even play!
All of the above is true. However, I noted above that I think the Giants will bounce back from that bad loss. I used the words “bounce back” because I thought they made an abnormal number of unforced errors. That’s not to diminish what the Cowboys did Wednesday night. They played well and deserved to win. But to me, they looked a lot like the team that occasionally dominates bad teams, which is exactly what the Giants were Wednesday night.
Great start for Dallas.
Last time: 9
5) My podcast buddy Tommy Lawlor does a detailed review of every Eagles game. This week’s version was 7000+ words. Ridiculous. Fans of every team should have a site that does this. Anyway, here is what Tommy wrote about Michael Vick:
VICK - Bad game. I’d love to tell you that he was rusty early and then righted the ship and led us to a win, but that would be ignoring the pass he threw prior to the TD that should have been picked off. Vick did play better on the final 2 drives, but he got away with a careless, critical mistake that a veteran QB just can’t make. Ugh.
My biggest issue with him is that he made poor decisions and/or played slow. Guys would come open, Vick would see them, and then he’d throw the ball. By that time, defenders would either have the player covered or would be on the way. If this was 2009, I’d understand. Vick started 25 games over the last 2 years. He is a veteran QB. You must anticipate plays and throw the ball when the player is about to be open or is just coming open. You cannot wait until he is wide open and then throw. That’s too late.
Vick did play better on the final 2 drives. Made an excellent read and throw on the TD. Hit Celek prior to that to set up the TD and that was good. He seemed more under control. I hope that’s a sign that what we saw for 3 quarters was an anomaly and won’t be repeated.
The strangest play of the final drive was a run. It was 3rd/10. Vick took off since he had lots of room. Got near the line and had defenders to deal with. Tried to go through them. Got hit hard and the ball fell to the ground, as did Vick. He alertly recovered the ball and set up 4th/inches. That wasn’t a time to slide and I’m glad he sold out to try for the 1st down. Vick is tough.
Final numbers: 29-56-317 … 2 TDs, 4 INTs … 7 rushes for 32 yds (3 kneel downs).
#1 – Got pressure from the left side. Went wide of that and had some time. Saw Celek over the middle. Threw across his body and back to Celek, but it was a pass that shouldn’t have been thrown. Can’t lob balls across your body and over the middle.
#2 – Tried to get the ball to Clay Harbor on an intermediate route. Clay was open, for maybe half a second. Vick made a slow read and late decision. By the time the ball got there, 3 defenders were there. 1 tipped it, another picked it off.
#3 – Tried to hit Maclin on a crossing route. The ball was just a bit too wide. Mac got a hand on it and the ball bounced into the air. Joe Haden picked it and took off down the sideline. This was more poor execution than poor decision-making. I can live with mistakes like this, but don’t want to.
#4 – Vick wasn’t under much pressure, but just forced a ball into coverage. Threw it right to LB D’Qwell Jackson, who picked it off and ran it back for a TD. This pick was the worst. Made no sense.
Another issue for Vick was pocket presence. Sometimes he held the ball too long and didn’t respond well to actual pressure. Other times he got nervous when he did have a clean pocket and created pressure for himself by not just staying put. Vick is inconsistent with this on a regular basis, but it was a problem on Sunday.
The Eagles aren’t going anywhere if Vick doesn’t play better. Fortunately, the defense looks like it’s fixed. Football Outsiders has the Eagles as #1 in DVOA on defense, #27 on offense. In Week 2, the defense will have to deal with the Ravens’ new hurry up offense, and their always tough defense. They won’t have Brandon Weeden to bail them out anymore. A more balanced offense would be a nice. Doubt we’ll see that though.
Still, a W is a W, and anytime you can get one on the road, even if it’s against one of the worst teams in the league, you’ll take it.
Last time: 4
4) The Bears suddenly have a really intriguing mix of skill position players with the additions of Brandon Marshall and a player that is a perfect mudder for their shitbag field, Michael Bush. Combine those players with an interesting mix of guys with different skill sets in Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffrey, Earl Bennett, and the do-everything awesomeness of Matt Forte, and they may really have something there. I also think that Jay Cutler is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. Awesome talent.
Conversely, their 4 best defensive players are aging.
- Julius Peppers is 32.
- Brian Urlacher is 34, and recently had knee surgery… in Germany.
- Lance Briggs will turn 32 in November.
- Peanut Tillman is 31.
This team is going to score points, although I worry about some of their older players wearing down as the season progresses. I would not want to play the Bears early in the season, and they’ll happen to catch the Packers a little bit on the ropes tomorrow night. Tomorrow’s Thursday night game is must see TV.
Last time: 7
3) I’m not going to panic on the Saints yet. That team is just far too talented offensively to play the way they did Week 1 against the Redskins. I expect them to bounce back next week in Carolina. Bad timing for the Panthers to have to face them after that loss on Sunday.
Last time: 3
2)Here’s what I wrote about the Packers before the preseason began:
Still an awesome team, but far from perfect. Here are the major deficiencies that would scare me if I were a Packers fan:
- The Packers secondary was horrid last year. At this time last year, the secondary was perceived as a major strength, with Charles Woodson, breakout star Tramon Williams, and rookie surprise Sam Shields at CB. Woodson made a few plays, but the group as a whole got shredded to the tune of 299.8 passing yards per game. Only one another team (the Saints) were within 40 yards of that average. In fairness, the Packers often held leads on their opponents, who were forced to throw more than normal, but 300 yards per game is still an unacceptable total, any way you slice it. The loss of Nick Collins to a severe neck injury last season really hurt them.
- B.J. Raji is a big name, but he stunk in 2011. NT is such an important position in the 3-4, and if the Packers can’t jump out to big leads regularly like they did in 2011, they can’t afford to have Raji pushed around in the run game like he was last season. He needs to be much better in 2012.
Last time: 2
1) The Niners held the Packers to 7 points through 3 quarters, and one of the Packers’ scores was on a punt return. Best defense in the league, and they don’t turn the ball over on O. New receiving threats Randy Moss and Mario Manningham were targeted a combined 8 times. 8 completions, including a TD (to Moss). Thank God they didn’t get Peyton Manning.
Last time: 5