((HT: Jim Lang Blog))
It's the end of Week 11 of the regular season in tackle football...
Clubber vents- as is our want...
This tweet from the NFL Network’s Kurt Warner perfectly sums up the wackiness that is the 2013 season; “This NFL is crazy! How do u figure out who is going to show up every week?? I can’t & my picks reflect that! #airandground”
He makes a great point. Consider some of the starting quarterbacks who led their respective teams to victory yesterday. Mike Glennon, Matt McGloin, Josh McCown and EJ Manuel were all winners yesterday. While Manuel is a first round pick McCown is a back-up and Glennon and McGloin were not even expected to see any playing time this year. This speaks volumes to the long held theory Coaches try to pound into their players heads; “next man up”. If you are on a NFL roster you never know when you are going to be asked to play or, in some cases, start. With that in mind let us take a look back at week 11.
The Broncos – First off the entire Broncos offensive line deserves a game ball for their performance Sunday night in their win over the Chiefs. Going into the game the Chiefs were leading the NFL in sacks. Led by Toronto’s Orlando Franklin the Broncos O-line pitched a shut-out not allowing a single sack or allowing Peyton Manning to get hit once. All that time allowed Manning to complete 24 passes for 323 yards and one touchdown as the Broncos handed the Chiefs their first loss of the year and grabbed, for the time being, the hammer in the AFC West.
Russell Wilson – Wilson is quietly having an excellent season and his performance in the Seahawks win over the Vikings was a perfect example of that. Wilson passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the Seahawks won their sixth straight game and improved to 10-1 on the year. Wilson’s passer rating in the win over the Vikings was a phenomenal 151.4. That was the fourth time in his last six games Wilson has posted a passer rating of 100 or better. In his last three games Wilson has been lights out, completing a remarkable 72.9 per cent of his passes. You take Wilson’s high completion percentage, their power running game and their physical defence and you get a Seahawks team that can hang with any team in the league.
Nick Foles – The Eagles took over first place in the NFC East after they beat the Redskins. The Eagles have won three straight games and Nick Foles has a passer rating over 100 in each of the three games. The most impressive stat from Foles is the fact he has yet to turn the ball over this year. While Michael Vick had three interceptions and a fumble Foles has clean sheet next to his name. Foles efficiency and ball security has allowed the Eagles to find their rhythm on offence and the rest of team is feeding off it. Is Foles Mister Right in Phialdephia? Only time will tell but with the Eagles heading into their bye week Foles is Mister Right Now. He is giving them a chance to win every week. Going into the bye week Foles has the highest passer rating in the NFL and is 10th in completion percentage.
Bobby Rainey – Because of numerous injuries the Buccaneers had to reach down way down on their depth chart to find a running back for their game against the Falcons Sunday. Well Greg Schiano made a brilliant decision by starting Bobby Rainey. The five foot, eight inch Rainey had 30 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns as the Bucs beat up Falcons. Coming to the game Rainey had run for a grand total of 79 yards on the season. Schiano was as surprised as anyone when he spoke to reporters after the game; “I don’t think anybody thinks that a guy’s going to come out and rush for, whatever he did, 163 yards. But [we are] very proud of him.”
The Bill defence – The Bills defence had four sacks and three interceptions in their win over the Jets. In 2012 the Bills had 36 sacks. After week 11 the Bills now lead the NFL with 37 sacks. On top of that the Bills are tied with Seattle with the most interceptions in the NFL with 16. Of all the things Doug Marrone did in the off-season the hiring of Mike Pettine as his defensive coordinator was one of his smartest moves. The Bills defence had 21 takeaways the entire 2012 season; through 11 games this year they have 20. Only the Chiefs have more takeaways in the AFC.
The Arizona Cardinals – Come on now, don’t laugh. The Arizona Cardinals have won three straight and are 6-4 after 10 games. That is an impressive turn-around by Bruce Arians considering the Cardinals were a 5-11 team last year. What a lot people may not realize is that the Cardinals have the third best run defence in the entire NFL. Now comes the fun part. The Cardinals next game is at home against Arians’ old team the Indianapolis Colts.
Jim Schwartz – Lions fans have every right to be pissed off at Jim Schwartz. With the Lions holding on to a 27-23 lead the Lions were in a fourth and five situation at the Steelers 10 yard line. But instead of kicking the easy chip shot field goal Schwartz decided to go for the fake field goal. The decision resulted in disaster for the Lions as Sam Martin fumbled after taking a huge hit. 16 plays later the Steelers scored what turned out to be the game winning touchdown. So instead of all but sealing the deal on what would have been their seventh win of the year, the Lions find themselves tied with the Bears atop the NFC North with a 6-4 record. Schwartz was in a snarky mood after the game when he spoke to reporters and tried to defend his decision to go for the fake field goal.
I am quite sure Lions fans don’t want to hear what Schwartz has to say right about now.
Roughing the passer in the NFL – Week in and week out there is a growing level of frustration of what constitutes “roughing the passer” in the NFL. Take a look at this sack of Drew Brees from the 49ers Ahmad Brooks.
Brooks was nowhere near the head of Brees yet he still got called for a game changing personal foul because the officials deemed hit the ‘neck area”. Yes, the league must protect the quarterback. But what Brooks did was a good football hit; there was nothing dirty about it. But officials are so trigger happy to call roughing the passer that anything, even it is borderline, is going to get called.
RG3 – Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Robert Griffin III. But there is no defence for his end of the game interception that he threw in the Redskins loss to the Eagles. RG3 was putting together what looked to be a thrilling fourth quarter comeback. On a third and one play at the Eagles 18 yard line RG3 was under pressure. But instead of doing the safe thing RG3 lofted up a prayer off of his back foot as he was falling down. The result was the easiest interception Brandon Boykin will ever have and another Redskins loss.
The Houston Texans – The season from hell for the Houston Texans just keeps getting worse. Sunday they lost their eight straight game. They lost it at home to a Raiders team who were forced to start an undrafted quarterback. According to the NFL, the Raiders Matt McGloin was the first undrafted rookie quarterback to throw three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a game since 1967. While McGloin was doing his thing for the Raiders, Matt Schaub was yelling at Andre Johnson on the sidelines after their failed fourth down pass attempt sealed the win for Oakland. It is getting ugly in Houston and there are few signs that it is going to get much better before the end of the year.
The Trent Williams allegations – After the Redskins loss to the Eagles Washington offensive tackle told Comcast Sportsnet that he was cussed out by a ref during the game.
As of right now these are only allegations. But Albert Breer of the NFL Network reported that the incident is under league investigation. If any of this is found to be true the NFL needs to take action against the official. It was one thing for a player and an official to speak to each other during a game but there is no excuse for that kind of behaviour.
The Monday Night game – Finally, a Monday Night game that will be worth staying up for. The 6-3 Panthers will try to extend their winning streak to six games when they host Tom Brady and the 7-2 Patriots in what should be a real slobberknocker of a game. The Panthers are number one in the NFL in total defence and they are number in scoring defence. The Panthers are also out to prove to everyone that they are indeed for real. If the win over the 49ers last week didn’t do it, a win over Brady and the Patriots tonight certainly will.