Another death this week, and for the second week in a row, it’s from the NFC South.
Obituaries this week:
I’ve been saying all season long that the Panthers can’t tackle. Here’s one example from my Giants-Panthers preview earlier in the season:
The Panthers had some major tackling issues Week 2. Mark Ingram drove a pile for about 5 extra yards on the opening drive, and there were some other really ugly whiffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed 15-20 tackles. The Giants haven’t run the ball effectively/consistently in a long time. As noted above, Ahmad Bradshaw has already been ruled out against Carolina. I don’t care. This would be a great game to get their run game on track, even if they’re without Bradshaw.
I was curious to see if Pro Football Focus and I were on the same page on the Panthers’ missed tackles, and also wanted to get a feel for how they compared to the rest of the league in that regard. Turns out PFF agrees:
Take a look at the top two teams for missed tackles. They both happen to be the only two teams in the graveyard so far. Tackling is something that isn’t going to magically fix itself throughout the course of the season. It’s a “fundamental” and “toughness” thing. You either have it, or you don’t. The Panthers D does not have it. They’re already 4 games back from the Falcons in their division and they have the worst point differential in the NFC at -33. I had them sneaking into the playoffs as a 6 seed this season. Dumb. I guess I forgot about that pesky little necessity called defense.
14. Baby steps.
13. Here’s the Lions 1-3 start in a nutshell:
Here’s the Harvin return:
Even the Lions’ FANS do a terrible job here. When your team just blew a game the week before by giving up two TD returns to a bad team, and then on the opening kick you give up another one, you boo the crap out of them. Booing 101.
12. Nine sacks last week. OK… I see you, Rams. Since 2008, the Rams have used three 1st round picks on their defensive line:
- 2008: DE Chris Long
- 2011: DE Robert Quinn
- 2012: DT Michael Brockers
It’s beginning to pay off. It appears that Robert Quinn may be the real deal (3 sacks last week, 6 so far on the season), and Chris Long has gotten progressively better in each of his first four years in the league:
Add in a vastly improved secondary with Cortland Finnegan and the very impressive rookie Janoris Jenkins, and the Rams look like they may have themselves a nice D.
Their offense still sucks, but they’ll have an extra 1st round pick in each of the next two seasons to help fix that. This team could be scary in a couple years.
They’re winning ugly (and unfairly in one case), which is fine for now, but this is not a realistic contender with Russell Wilson at QB. At least not this year.
On a side note, this just looks unnatural (to the right).
10. Mild concussion for RG3… Aaaaaaaaand the RG3 “injury prone” watch has begun. Here’s how I see that unfolding:
- First injury: Fans of another team in the division start a thread on a message board somewhere that RG3 is “injury prone.” It’s gets little attention. We’re already there, mind you.
- Second injury (assuming it’s not a major one, like an ACL or something): Bleacher Report will assign one of their guys to write an article with the headline “Is Robert Griffin III injury prone?” The answer in the article will be “Yes.” This will be written purely for SEO purposes. Skip Bayless is sure to chime in at this point as well.
- Third injury: He’s the “new Michael Vick.”
9. I haven’t written about the Cowboys all week, since they’ve been on their bye. Apologies. Here’s where the Cowboys are right about now, after their embarrassing loss to the Bears Week 4:
Don’t poop in the refrigerator again, Cowboys.
I know some Cowboys fans are worried about Mackenzy Bernadeau matching up against Haloti Ngata. Personally, I’d be worried about Mackenzy Bernadeau matched up against anybody, but he probably won’t have to worry about Ngata. Ngata plays RE, which means that Tyron Smith, Nate Livings, and Ryan Cook will see him the most. Livings and Cook have actually been surprisingly good, in my opinion. But enough on that… We’ll get to that stuff in the game preview.
At Baltimore this week, then a trip home, followed by another trip right back to the East coast against a bad Carolina team. Then they get the Giants at home, followed by consecutive trips to Atlanta and Philly.
After their big Week 1 win in NJ, the Cowboys had a great opportunity to build up some equity for this tough stretch. They played a Seattle team that they should have handled and they had a couple home games, one against a cupcake (the Bucs), and one against a sneaky good team in the Bears. They came away from that 3 game stretch 1-2. Big missed opportunity. You never want a non-conference game to mean so much early in the season, but I think that this road game in Baltimore is a very pivotal one in the Cowboys season.
8. The 4-1 Vikings! Wow. I finally had a chance to take a good hard look at them in preparation for their matchup this weekend against the Redskins. They’ve found ways to win, but offensively, they’re doing a lot of their damage with smoke and mirrors. Christian Ponder is the 10th ranked QB in the NFL as this point, but it has mostly been through an extremely conservative approach. At some point, teams are going to make Ponder take shots down the field. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles that challenge. If you want more on the Vikes, I wrote about 1000 words on them this morning, with some visuals.
7. This has to be the worst offensive line in the NFL, right? The 4-0 Cardinals were a fun story (OK, not so fun for the fans of the teams they beat), but this team is going nowhere with that offense.
6. Typically, losing to Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh is nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of teams lose to Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. However, I think there’s a perception that the Steelers defense is force of nature. I didn’t see it. Troy Polamalu missed most of the game, and James Harrison looked ineffective to me. Take those two guys out of the equation, and this is not the scary Pittsburgh defense that we’ve come to expect. Opportunities were there, but there were too many times where the Eagles simply didn’t execute. This game was there to be won.
If you’re an Eagles fan, the loss shouldn’t infuriate you, but Michael Vick’s “shit happens” attitude toward his fumbling issues most definitely should. Here’s what Vick said after the game, per CSN’s Geoff Mosher:
“Everything happens for a reason,” Vick said afterward, “and if it was meant to be, I wouldn’t have fumbled the ball at the goal line. But I have no explanation for it.”
What?!?!? Are you for real, Mike? If the touchdown was “meant to be” you wouldn’t have fumbled? Is that really your effing answer?
5. Aaron Rodgers’ numbers at this point in the season compared to his first 5 games last year aren’t all that different in a number of areas. The number of completions are identical (on 8 more pass attempts this season), and a TD-INT ratio of 14-2 vs 10-4 is the difference between being out of this world, and merely awesome. The biggest difference? This…
No explosive plays. In fact, they have a grand total of ONE pass play of over 40 yards this season. That puts them in the same company as the following teams with only 1 or no 40 yard pass plays: Cardinals, Bears, Jaguars, Vikings, Raiders, Seahawks, Chiefs. Or put more bluntly, some of the worst offenses in the league.
4. Earlier in the season, I expressed concern about the aging Bears defense, noting that their best players on D are getting long in the tooth:
- Brian Urlacher: 34
- Julius Peppers: 32
- Lance Briggs: 31
- Charles Tillman: 31
Urlacher looked really slow against the Cowboys a couple weeks ago, but there’s nothing wrong with Charles Tillman or Lance Briggs. Tillman and Briggs have combined for 4 TDs over the last two weeks.
The following teams did not manage to score 4 TDs in their last two games: Cowboys, Eagles, Cardinals, Ravens, Jaguars, Chiefs, Jets, Steelers, Seahawks, Rams, Buccaneers, Titans.
3. 14-0 deficit in the first 5 minutes? Meh. The Giants have an offense that can deal with that.
2. Hey, Arthur Blank… I dare you to raise an “NFC South Champions” banner before your game this week.
They would have done that in the MC Hammer days:
1. In Week 3, the Niners lost:
In Weeks 4 and 5, here’s how they responded:
The moral of the story: If you have to play the Niners, don’t play them after they lose.