By: Shawn Davis
Quarterbacks get a lot of the credit and most of the blame. The position is so polarizing that there can be no other way than to pass judgment by such lofty extremes. Wide receivers need the ball to make plays (and turn into divas), a running back needs a strong offensive line, an extra power blocker or two, and a dedicated offensive mind to stay committed to establishing a ground threat. Football, at its core, is a dependent game and so many little things need to go well for just a simple five yard passing route to be completed; moving parts aplenty.
I lead with the thought above because I watched the Denver Broncos-New England Patriots contest thinking that Peyton Manning would need to play like the full-strength, younger version of himself to win the game. He was close to doing so with a line of: 31/44, 345 YDS, and 3 TD but the Patriots were too complete on Sunday. Manning needed Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark to walk out of Foxboro as a victor – and the last time I checked those players are all wearing other jerseys. Honestly, it was a testament to Manning’s ability to make plays that the game ended 31-21 because the Patriots were moving the ball with little resistance from the Broncos defense. Weren’t they supposed to arm Manning with the type of defense he didn’t consistently have as a Colt? Why didn’t Demaryius Thomas protect the ball? Where did Willis McGahee’s hands go on two critical possessions? There isn’t a single player in the NFL that can do it alone.
The rest of the slate:
BAL 9 @ KC 6: I’m going to get this out-of-the-way early: I did not see this game – and telling from the final score I’m happy that I missed it. However I did see the head injury that knocked Matt Cassel all the way to the training room. The fans want Brady Quinn? Ok great now he’s in but to boo a head injury is disgusting. Any fan that sat in Arrowhead and booed Cassel when he was escorted off the field is someone who really needs to look in the mirror. Sickening.
MIA 17 @ CIN 13: Remember the groaning to begin the season when Ryan Tannehill was named the starter? Well he’s playing good enough that he’s not a liability and that’s a good thing for a rookie quarterback. Both defenses kept this game tight and I have to say that I’m a little surprised to see how the Dolphins defense kept the Bengals from scoring in the 20’s.
GB 27 @ IND 30: At halftime the scoreboard read: Packers 21, Colts 3. Final score in Indianapolis: Colts 30, Packers 27. Green Bay’s defense isn’t being bailed out this season by the offense – like they were last year – and this is the byproduct of that. The Colts were competing with heavy hearts while the Packers are looking for answers on the defensive side of the ball…looking. By the way Reggie Wayne is not washed up (13 REC, 212 YDS, 1 TD) and he wasn’t last year. What a difference a competent quarterback can make on a receivers reputation; the proof is in the numbers.
CLE 27 @ NYG 41: The Giants spotted the Browns a 14-7 lead and then woke up. Look at the final score; Victor Cruz could have taught a class with the amount of dancing he was doing.
PHI 14 @ PIT 16: I trust the Steelers coming off a bye against almost anyone, especially an Eagles team that keeps turning the ball over like they want to set up obstacles for themselves. I trust Ben Roethlisberger more than I trust Michael Vick. Also, never give Roethlisberger the ball with the chance to win the game. It doesn’t turn out well for the opponent when they do.
ATL 24 @ WSH 17: The Redskins stepped up to look the Falcons square in the eyes without blinking and Atlanta rose up to take the victory. Has anyone heard of the tight end Tony Gonzalez that plays for the Falcons? With 13 receptions, 123 yards and a touchdown I think that guy has a future in the league.
SEA 16 @ CAR 12: Someone told me the Seahawks won. Ok.
CHI 41 @ JAC 3: The only nugget that I found interesting from this game was that Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman both returned a Blaine Gabbert interception for a touchdown, both were 36 yard returns. Crazy right; want more? It’s the first time in league history that two defensive players scored touchdowns in consecutive weeks (they also did it last week against the Cowboys).
TEN 7 @ MIN 30: Is America paying attention to what the Vikings are doing? More eyes should be tuned in on them because they are defending, hurting opponents on special teams, and not shooting themselves in the feet with dumb turnovers (Philadelphia Eagles anyone?). Percy Harvin is the Swiss Army knife of NFL offensive weapons because he’s just dispatched in so many ways. He had over 100 yards receiving with a touchdown and also had a rushing td as he eluded 3 tackles in tight space before crossing the goal line. I’m looking closely.
BUF 3 @ SF 45: Really, Bills? The 49ers gained 621 yards of offense (310 passing and 311 rushing) while the Bills mustered 204 for the entire game. Buffalo has spent a lot of money reshaping their defense for games like this – they have to be glad the guys they paid showed up this week.
SD 24 @ NO 31: The Saints’ defense has the same problems the Packers unit has: Too dependent on the offense to cover their asses. It worked this week as Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas’ half-century-old record by throwing a touchdown pass for a 48th consecutive game. Honestly I have no idea what the record means with how pass wacky the game has become. Make no mistake, I LOVE airing it out but I’m not sure how to view the accomplishment.
ARI 3 @ STL 17: I am stunned that Kevin Kolb actually walked out on his own two feet because he was sacked nine times. That’s just the sexy numbers on how he was legally assaulted last Thursday night. He was under duress or sacked on 21 dropbacks – seven more than any quarterback this season – and pressured or hit over 30 times…in that game alone. How do you pay a guy with a big contract (Kolb) and not spend money to protect him? Now Kolb did cost his team two sure touchdowns and he does hold the ball a bit too long but the Rams rushed four for the majority of the game. The last time I looked, an offensive line is composed of five players whereas the Rams base defense has four defensive linemen. Do the math!
HOU 23 @ NYJ 17: The Texans took care of business when they should have. They gave the Jets a bit of life but they won the game…and that’s all that matters. The way Brian Cushing got his knee cut out was dirty – and he’s out for the season with a torn ACL. Jets fans need to calm the hell down on the idea to insert Tim Tebow into the starting lineup; Mark Sanchez is still a better quarterback. Tebow may well be a better leader (I think he is) but Sanchez doesn’t have a single receiver that scares anyone; the Jets are severely lacking weapons on offense.
Former great receiver, Cris Carter said poignantly that “Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens are better than any receivers the Jets have.” Sanchez needs weapons to reach his full potential, but sadly the front office is blind to this reality. I believe Sanchez can have a great career but it seems it will have to be in another uniform.
See you next week.