Week one in the NFL was a sloppy, albeit entertaining, MESS. Turnovers were rampant, defensive backs need tackling lessons, and Jake Delhomme and Jay Cutler could use a hug. And that’s just the beginning…
What’s with all the turnovers? I could not believe what I was witnessing. I went back to see if this was the case last year. It was not. The first 14 games played in week one of 2008 (I excluded the two games played on Monday night) produced 157 penalties for 1,227 yards and 33 Turnovers. Yesterday’s games produced equal penalties (156 for 1,191 yards) and 49 turnovers. Forty-Nine! That’s more than an additional turnover per game. While the NFL is discussing shortening the preseason and extending the regular season, the league’s players apparently require some extended practice time.
Defensive backs (DB) in today’s NFL are disgracing the position. They can be grouped into one of two categories; the Deion Sanders Pansies, or the Professional Wrestlers. Allow me to explain. The Deion Sanders Pansies are those that try to avoid contact altogether. They’ll grab onto an opponent and wait until their teammates come to finish the tackle or they’ll try to tackle with a simple push, a la Deangelo Hall against Mario Manningham today. Most of the current DB’s belong in the Professional Wrestlers category. Like a professional wrestler bouncing off the ropes, a DB will torpedo himself at a ball carrier and only throw a shoulder into him. I saw Asante Samuel do this twice today; LaRon Landry missed a few tackles via the shoulder torpedo as well. If the shoulder torpedo connects with the opponent the defensive player might deliver a huge hit, but too often the DB bounces off the offensive player or misses completely. Why not involve your arms in the process and wrap? I know it’s a foreign concept, but the arms are critical to an effective tackle.
I applaud Mike Singletary’s unconventional timeout towards the end of the 3rd quarter. The scene: Singletary’s young squad had just blown a 10 point lead and the Arizona Cardinals were driving. In the NFL, second half timeouts are precious and saved for the closing minutes, especially in a tight game. With 1:32 left in the 3rd quarter, Singletary called a timeout and brought his defense over for a chat. This happens all the time in basketball, baseball (meeting at the mound), hockey, etc, etc, but timeouts are rarely used to stop an opponent’s momentum in the NFL. Following the timeout, the Cardinals got one more first down (on a 49ers penalty) and then were forced to settle for a field goal. On the 49ers subsequent possession, the offense went on a 15 play, 80 yard touchdown-scoring drive that ate 7:26 off the game clock. The Cardinals offensive stats for the 4th quarter: 14 plays, 39 yards. It may not always be as effective, but on this day, Singletary’s timeout calmed his team and swayed the game’s momentum. (Great job by FOX play by play man, Sam Rosen, for not ignoring the significance of the timeout at that juncture of the game.)
Congratulations to Eagles RT Winston Justice. It’s been nearly two years since that horrific night against the Giants where he was manhandled by the Giants’ defensive line. You probably didn’t notice he was playing today (this is a good thing for an O-lineman). Other than surrendering a sack to Julius Peppers in the fourth quarter, (Kevin Kolb was to blame for not passing to Kevin Curtis on the WR Screen) he played quite well.
That was Impressive…
- The Eagles’ defensive stand on 4th and goal with 30+ seconds to play was a perfect tribute to their departed coordinator, Jim Johnson.
- Sean McDermott’s and Bill Sheridan’s defensive performances in their first games after replacing two well-respected and well-liked defensive coordinators.
- The head-bob Andy Reid gave after DeSean Jackson’s Punt Return. Rarely see emotion like that from Big Red.
- The gutsy fake FG by the Washington Redskins. Without it, that game might have gotten away from them.
- Resilient Kansas City Chiefs would not go away and made the Baltimore Ravens play all 60 minutes to beat them.
- Jon Beason’s interception of Donovan McNabb. Most linebackers do not catch that ball.
- Performance of both the Bears’ and Packers’ defense.
- Of course, the improbable game-winning catch by Denver’s Brandon Stockley.
- The New York Jets domination of the Houston Texans.
Not so much…
- The Eagles defense celebrating after they prevented DeAngelo Williams from scoring on 4th down. Unfortunately, they forgot that he still got the first down.
- Chad Ochocinco not going after a tipped ball at the 6:30 mark of the 2nd quarter because he was going to get laid out.
- Chris “Beanie” Wells forgetting to take the handoff from Kurt Warner on his first NFL play and nearly getting Warner killed in the process.
- Every time I tune in to a St. Louis Rams game, Richie Incognito is being flagged for a personal foul. Never fails. He received two today.
- Albert Haynesworth looked a little overwhelmed and fatigued in his first NFC East battle.
- Cutler almost throws an INT on two consecutive plays in the 1st Quarter, and then actually throws one the very next play (he finished the night with 4).
- Watching Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler throw off their back foot and across their body nearly all game long.
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A
QB Drew Brees: 358 YDS, 6 TD
RB Adrian Peterson: 25 Carries, 180 YDS, 3 TD
WR Reggie Wayne: 10 Rec, 162 YDS, TD
WR Santonio Holmes: 9 Rec, 131 YDS, TD
TE John Carlson 6 Rec, 95 YDS, 2 TD
D Eagles: 5 Sacks, 7 TO, 10 Points Allowed, TD
Probably should have stayed in bed
QB Jake Delhomme: 4 INT, FUM
RB Steve Slaton: 9 Carries, 17 YDS, FUM
WR Anquan Boldin: 2 Rec, 19 YDS
WR Braylon Edwards: 1 Rec, 12 YDS
TE Anthony Fasano: 2 Rec, 10 YDS, 2 FUM
D Chiefs: 501 YDS/38 Pts Allowed (Lions played the Saints, I graded on a curve)
I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of disdain the Redskins and Giants, and the Bears and Packers exhibited toward each other. Football is more entertaining when the teams really don’t like the opponent. Sadly, HEATED rivalries are a dying phenomenon in sports. Other than Yankees/Red Sox, baseball does not have any, basketball’s rivalry glory days have passed, and hockey is year to year. Football is our last hope for consistent and intense rivalries.
Does any coach look more flustered and confused than Jim Zorn of the Washington Redskins? From the view on my couch, his team doesn’t really like him.
My favorite part of having NFL Ticket? Being able to hear Gus Johnson call the end of the Broncos/Bengals game live. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I witnessed the game winning three-pointer in a Sweet Sixteen game in March.
Was Brett Favre wearing an offensive lineman’s jersey or did he pick up that jersey at Dick’s on the way to the game?
When McNabb went down, my heart sank straight to my toes. My dad’s response to the event: “Did you see Vick salivating up in the box when McNabb went down? Lurie had to wipe the drool off his shirt.”
The Giants and Eagles will battle all year to see who has the better defensive line. Both rotate 7+ players, both love to blitz, and both can get pressure with a four man front.
HBO’s “Hard Knocks” manipulated me into believing in the Bengals. Since I already got suckered, I’ll believe in them for a few more weeks.
Jay Cutler: 17/36 277 YDS 1 TD 4 INT Kyle Orton: 17/28 248 YDS 1 TD 0 INT It’s a long season, but it’s nice to see the whiny baby end up on with the short end of the stick. At least for now.
NFL helmets are by far the coolest part of any uniform in any sport. No question about it.
Interesting, yet totally irrelevant fact: After tomorrow night’s games, every division in the NFL will have a combined 2-2 record except for the AFC South (1-3) and the NFC East (3-1). Why should anyone care? I don’t have an answer for that.
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