NFL -- Second Quarter Update
Although we're technically not quite through the halfway point for many of the teams in the NFL due to bye weeks, I figure we are close enough for me to get my thoughts about the state of the league down "on paper" here now. Of course a lot has gone on as usual in the No Fun League, but here are some of my thoughts that maybe go just beyond the normal stuff you'll hear about and read about at all the usual sites.
Lions wideout Calvin Johnson has the same pompous streak in him as the Eagles' DeSean Jackson. This is pomp and circumstance drives these guys to be among the best performers and the greatest deliverers of big plays at their positions. But it is also the same pomp and circumstance that leads Calvin Johnson to repeatedly "pull a DeSean" and taunt the opposing team on many of his big touchdown plays. Calvin, if you keep stopping at the 1-yard line and waiting for your opponents to nearly tag you before taking it into the paint, you're eventually going to blow a big score in a huge spot. Just ask DeSean how that feels, and how his coach reacts when it happens.
Tim Tebow sucks. This was already obvious, but I just don't understand what his supporters are looking at after this most recent effort in Week 8. You can give the guy credit for last week's sick comeback win over the hapless Dolphins, but to do so you have to flat ignore the fact that Tebow was 4 for 14 for 40 total yards passing through 56 minutes of that game, and the needed an unbelievable fumble by Dolphins qb Matt Moore to even have a chance to come back like they did. Against the single worst team in the NFL. You may love God, you may love the Florida Gators, but you can't do shiat to change the fact that Tim Tebow is an abject waste of space behind center. After Week 8's 18-for-39 performance for 172 yards, one touchdown, one pick-6, and a fumble leading to a score as well, plus 7 sacks, we're now looking at a guy whose accuracy (47% thus far this year) is among the worst you'll ever see of any player allowed to start in this league. I know it looked a couple of weeks ago like John Fox had no choice but to give Tebow the rest of the 2011 regular season to prove himself one way or the other, but this guy is so foul at the quarterback position that I just don't see how Fox can feel secure in his own job if he keeps putting Tebow out there much longer.
And speaking of dicksuckitty quarterbacks, how the hell is nobody even talking about how awful Kevin Kolb has been so far this year for the Cardinals? After being traded to the Cardinals by the Eagles in the 2010-2011 offseason in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plus a 2nd-round pick in 2012, and heading to a team with former NFL best wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald perennially highly productive tight end Todd Heap among his targets, Kolb has put up a paltry 57% completion percentage so far in 2011, to go along with 7 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and five fumbles to boot. So far Kolb has done more to justify a benching than he has to explain why he was worth even a single late-round draft pick, let alone a 2nd-rounder plus an established NFL player. And pretty soon people aren't going to be able to ignore it any longer -- and I don't care how white Kolb's skin is.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert is also probably worth mentioning while we're on the topic of hapless hurlers in the NFL. I know he is a rookie so I don't want to write his ass off after just six games, but in addition to perhaps the league's worst mullet, Gabbert has posted a 69-for-143 throw record for a putrid completion percentage of 48% -- including two games this month with an under 40% figure -- with just four touchdowns and two picks for a qb rating of 69.4. And believe me, if you've actually sat and watched him play over his six real chances so far this year, Gabbert hasn't even been close to that good. This league is full of quarterbacks who were flat-out hideous in their rookie seasons but who ended up being great NFL stars, but even most of those qbs were more productive than this right from the getgo, so there might be some cause for concern here.
The Cincinnati Bungles might actually be not-horrible this year! After this weekend's blowout of the shitty Seahawks, the Bungles are 3-1 on the road, and the GM made the best move in the past decade-plus for this franchise by duping the crap out of the Raiders into getting a 1st- and a 2nd-round draft pick in exchange for interception machine Carson Palmer earlier this month. The Bungles certainly do not hold a candle to the class teams in the AFC this year, but at 5-2 as we near the halfway point of the season, it may be time to stop discussing this team like we have every other year of the past, what? 15? 20?
The San Francisco 49ers are 6-1, despite ranking in 31st place out of 32 teams in passing, and despite giving up passing yards to opposing quarterbacks more readily or worse than three-quarters of the teams in the league today. What's the 49ers' secret? Fabulous coaching from rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh, playing in without a doubt the worst division of my entire lifetime, and, most of all, controlling the run on both sides of the ball. Rejuvenated back Frank Gore headlines the NFL's 6th-best rushing attack through seven games here in 2011, and meanwhile the team is allowing the 2nd-fewest rush yards per game at just under 75 yards on the ground. Like the Bungles in the AFC, the Niners have no prayer whatsoever of holding up against the truly great teams in the NFC -- in particular with a guy like Alex Smith taking the snaps -- but Harbaugh has done in half a season what many (myself included) expected former coach Mike Singletary to do but could not even approach doing in a couple of seasons at the helm in San Fran.
The Washington Redskins are absolute shit. You had to know this even after the team started the season 2-0, but my god, is there honestly any worse franchise in all of football today? I mean, this team has only made the playoffs three times since 1993. Holy shit, just think about that. In contrast, the division rival Eagles have appeared in the postseason 9 out of the last 11 seasons, the Cowboys have been there in 11 of the past 20 seasons, and the Giants have been in the postseason in 8 of the last 16 years. In the Redskins' last three games, runningback Ryan Torain has led the team in rushing with an unbelievable 22 yards in Week 6, and now 14 yards in the team's Week 8 crushing at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. 14 yards as your leading rusher, and it's not even an outlier? Is that stat even serious? Meanwhile, current starting quarterback John Beck is just the latest in an amazingly long line of consecutively shitty qbs, following up on Rex Grossman, a worthlessly old Donovan McNabb, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Mark Brunell, Patrick Ramsey, Tim Hasselbeck, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, Tony Banks and Jeff George, which is every hurler to start a game for the Skins since the 2001 season. This team is going nowhere fast and at this point has once again assumed their rightful position at the bottom of the NFC East, a place Daniel Snyder must be getting very used to since taking over the team in 1999 as his team has recorded only two finishes better than 3rd place in the division since 2000.
Staying in the NFC East for a moment, Eli Manning is quietly having a pretty solid season for the Giants, following up on his worst season as a starter in 2010 for the Giants with an efficient and productive effort consisting of a very respectable 63% completion percentage and 1778 yards over 7 games so far this year. Very importantly, Manning has cut down on his 25 interceptions from 2010, tossing up only 5 INTs thus far through 7 games in 2011 to go along with 11 touchdowns. Although the Giants are sitting pretty right now at 5-2 with a full 2-game lead in the NFC East, we're about to learn just how much Manning has cleaned up his act since 2010 as the team's schedule is about to get a lot tougher, with its next six games featuring matchups at 6-2 New England, at 6-1 San Francisco, vs. an upstart Eagles team, at 6-2 New Orleans, vs. the 8-0 Packers, and then at the currently 3-4 but always tough divisional rival Cowboys. Given that the Giants have not played consistently well so far in 2011, it's a safe bet that the NFC East will look a lot different a month and a half from now than it does today nearing the midway point.
Watching Tony Romo lead the Cowboys on two long drives only once the game had become 34-0 with 11 minutes to go on Sunday night against the Eagles reminded me just how much this guy loves to pad his stats with worthless yards and touchdowns late in games. For a guy with lifetime 4th-quarter stats as "good" as Romo's, he has got to be one of the least clutch players in the NFL today, very possibly the literal worst, and this is a trend that looks to me only to be getting worse here in 2011. And my god, will somebody please find someone for the Cowboys to stick at center who knows how to snap a ball to the quarterback, at least a little bit? I can say with confidence that I've never seen during my lifetime anyone consistently make shitty snaps for such a simple play, and retain his job week in and week out.
Which brings me to my beloved Eagles. The Eagles took a big step towards pushing for the NFL East crown this year after their horrid 1-4 start to the 2011 regular season, with Sunday night's absolute blowout defeat of the hated Dallas Cowboys at home in every single aspect of the game lifting the Eagles to 3-4 and a tie for second place in the East through nearly half of the 2011 regular season. With the Packers, Niners and Saints looking like near-locks to win their respective divisions, and with the Bears, Lions, Buccaneers and Falcons all ahead of the Eagles (plus the Cowboys still tied) through Week 8 of the year, the Eagles are likely going to need to win the East to have any real shot of playing in the postseason this year, but this week's win over the Cowboys combined with the Redskins' loss at Buffalo this week positions the Eagles at 3-4 within striking distance of the Giants, with a bunch of winnable games coming up in the second half of the schedule, including games at home against the Bears, Cardinals and Redskins, and road matchups with the Giants, Seattle and Miami, in a division where 9 wins might just be able to take it in a tiebreaker. Star runningback LeSean McCoy just better learn how to hold the ball, though, as he is bound to lose some game-crushing fumbles in the near future if he doesn't stop cupping the ball loosely against his right wrist while nearly fully extending his arm while running for 100+ yards in almost every game.