Just some thoughts from Week 6
2011 NFC Championship Game Rematch: 49ers Fail to Show Up Against Injury Plagued Giants
The Giants demolished the 49ers in a surprisingly dominant victory. I don't think this loss speaks very well to the San Francisco 49ers. I think this game tells us a lot about both teams, but more importantly the 49ers.
The 49ers have a problem: The QB. Alex Smith
is a game manager. We all know that. And we also know that he runs that offense very efficiently, but whenever the 49ers trail or get down early, they are going to struggle to stay in the game unless defense and special teams dominate. They put a ton of pressure on that defense to perform each and every week. If they get down by two scores early, then they almost have to run a completely different offense than what they want.
They rotate second year QB Colin Kaepernick
in and out of the game. Against inferior opponents he has been a great surge in the running game out of that wildcat offense. But against the Giants he simply struggled to run the ball, and he stalled the offense. Instead of running a traditional offense with Frank Gore
or Kendall Hunter
, and keeping the chains moving, they lost yardage constantly and played from 3rd and 10+ yards. That is simply not the offense the 49ers can run. Alex Smith doesn't push the football down the field in that manner, and gets exposed as QB more and more when he's forced to carry the burden.
Is there a QB debate or competition? I don't think so. I don't know if Kaepernick is ready to take on that kind of role, but I think the 49ers, internally, are going to be considering it sooner rather than later. Kaepernick has a big arm, and it's really powerful. He can push the ball down the field. They have weapons now on offense. Vernon Davis, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss are guys who can get down field. Davis has been the only weapon used successfully this year, but that has been due to play design. Smith doesn't have the consistent ability to force the ball into tight windows down the field. He relies on play action, roll outs and long developing deep crosses. He relies on scheme.
The 49ers run a three level offense to one side of the field, predicated on run action and play action. Against good defenses, this becomes a simple thing to cover when you stop the run. And the 49ers, are, ultimately, reduced to check downs. Or you see Alex Smith throwing into a stacked box with all kinds of traffic. Antrel Rolle
didn't respect the deep ball at all, and he was cheating up all game long. They actually did burn him deep on a bomb to Randy Moss late in the game, but by then it was too little, too late.
This offense simply cannot be relied on to make plays against quality defenses late in the season. You cannot trust Alex Smith. It's what it comes down to. They have been bullies when it comes to mediocre teams, but against the Giants, a team who will be there in the playoffs, they looked average. Alex Smith is not going to get this team to a Super Bowl. Conservative is okay during the regular season. In the playoffs, you need your QB to be a difference maker. There hasn't been a conservative QB in the Super Bowl since Brad Johnson. And, for as good as the 49ers defense and running game are, I don't think they are dominant enough to hide the shortcomings of Alex Smith.
The Giants came into the game still banged up. Hakeem Nicks
played, but didn't look explosive. The Giants running game became unstoppable late in the game. The offensive line played much better, especially on the right side. David Diehl
saw action in run heavy sets as an extra blocker, and the Giants were extremely effective running the ball. Their offense looked solid against a good defense.
got away with a couple near INTs, but played efficiently and relied on the offensive line and running game. He stayed clean. 0 INTs and 0 sacks taken. That was the difference in the game. Manning stayed clean and didn't make any costly mistakes.
was the difference maker in the game for the Giants. This is exactly the kind of tough, physical game he plays best at. Coming off a 200 yard rushing day last week, he capitalized that with another 100 yard day against a stingy run defense. He played very well and ran physical. David Wilson
also exploded late in the 4th QT for some gashing runs. His kick off returns also have played key roles this year in field position. They got big and unexpected production out of their backfield. If Wilson continues to gain confidence and Tom Coughlin
continues to gain confidence in Wilson, then this RB tandem can become something special. This would be an entirely new dimension to this offense, especially when Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz
start getting it going.
The defense of the Giants played lights out. And they played good football without Kenny Phillips
. He's a big part of their defense, but Antrel Rolle stepped up and played an aggressive downhill style of defense. The defensive line played okay. They weren't dominant, which is to be expected since the 49ers have a very good offensive line. Jason Peirre-Paul
had a few splash plays (two sacks, batted ball, tackle for loss, drew a holding penalty), but had a relatively quiet game. Justin Tuck
... I can't believe what I'm about to say, but Just Tuck looks horrible. He simply cannot rush the QB anymore. I don't know what the issue is, but when he's kicked inside... he's about as ineffective as it gets. He's never been an elite pass rusher from the edge, but his pass rush is simply non existent now. He runs and then waits to try and bat the ball at he line, which he never does. He holds the point of attack fairly well, but even his run defense has suffered a bit. His career looks over. He's been one of my favorite players since college. Maybe I've always overrated him, but what I'm seeing now... it's just terrible football. He's not an impact player. He's a JAG... at best.
I don't know if this an indictment on the 49ers or not. I know the Giants played with incredible passion and energy. And that is exhausting. But I don't think one single player went out there and dominated on defense. Rolle would be the closest, but he had a busted coverage in the 4th QT that lead to a huge Randy Moss pass play. For as dominant as the Giants were... they didn't seem overly dominant. I think a lot of it has to do with the 49ers just playing as poorly as they did. The Giants took away the running game and Vernon Davis
. They made Alex Smith beat them by throwing outside the numbers and deep down the field. The blueprint is there.
My Admiration for Ted Thompson Continues to Grow: Packers Destroy Texans
Everyone is talking about Aaron Rodger's
6 TD performance against an undefeated Houston Texan's team. Did Rodgers look great? Yeah, he usually does, but what I have been most impressed with is the defense and the amount of young talent playing, and getting great minutes by the Green Bay Packers.
This was the first (6) picks of the Green Bay Packers Draft Class from 2012:
Round 1 - Nick Perry, OLB, USC
Round 2 - Jerel Worthy, DL, Michigan St
Round 2 - Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
Round 4 - Mike Daniels, DL, Iowa
Round 4 - Jerron McMillian, SS, Maine
Round 5 - Terrell Manning, LB, NC State
This defense was atrocious last season. Coming off a Super Bowl season, and a great year defensively, they failed miserably on the defensive side of the ball. And Ted Thompson
went out and did exactly what you're not supposed to do. He drafted based on need
. You don't draft based on best player available and take a bunch of defensive players, who end up, coincidently, being some of your most dire positions of need.
But when you're Green Bay, and you have built a Super Bowl caliber team with a dominant offense... I guess the general rules don't apply to you. And that's the art of great drafting. That's what makes Ted Thompson good. He understands he strengths and weaknesses, understands scheme and he takes players, productive players with good college track records, and simply implements them in the offense or defense like they born to play the position they drafted for.
I haven't disliked a first round pick since AJ Hawk
in 2005. For some reason I thought they should have drafted DeAngelo Williams. Hawk, who I liked a lot in college, still turned out to be a solid pro. Since then I've liked most of their draft picks. The 2012 draft may be the year they end up getting this defense turned back around.
I liked Nick Perry
and Jerel Worthy
a lot coming out of college. Both players have played well thus far. Worthy has been giving great minutes and looks like a future stud along the defensive line. Motor issues were there in college, but he has filled in great for BJ Raji
. He is having a great rookie season. Their best rookie has to be Casey Hayward
. I didn't watch any of Hayward in college, but he does not play like a rookie. I think he has a real good chance to develop into a Pro Bowl caliber CB. He's already showing more ball skills in the last two games that I've seen that most second or third year CBs aren't able to do. He trusts his speed and his coverage abilities. Perry and Worthy have shown signs that they can be above average players, but Hayward, from just two games, looks like a future steal. Jerron McMillian
has also played well at safety. Those four players have been the difference in Green Bay defense compared to last year. And if they continue to improve throughout the season, then the Packers may start looking more and more like... the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers sent a message and silenced the critics. I don't expect 6 TD passes every week, but it just goes to show how great of a player he is in this league. And that he's still the best QB in the game. He might not have the best season, but the talent and ability is there. The Packers are serious contenders. They will be in it for the long haul. They'll just have to win in different ways. The offensive line has struggled. Newhouse
don't match up well on one-on-one's. And the running game is still going to be suspect until Alex Green
proves himself as more than just a running option from the shotgun. The Packers success is going to come down to coaching. Can they transform they way they played last year, and try to win a different way? With solid defense and a balanced offensive attack that's not as high powered. Mike McCarthy
is one of the elite coaches in this league. And I think the way he handled the loss to Seattle showed that more than anything.
As far as the Texans go... nothing has changed. This is not a dominant team. One person I didn't highlight in my initial review of them was Jonathan Joseph
. He has been getting abused the last two weeks on prime time TV. The Jets no name WRs ate him alive all night and the Packers didn't stop that trend. He has got to be better than what I've seen from him if this defense is going to get back to playing at a high level. There should be some serious concerns in Houston. That was a pitiful performance, and if Joseph isn't going to continue playing like a top tier CB, then things are only going to get worse. They're going to need more than JJ Watt
to be an effective defense. We also might learn just how big of a loss Brian Cushing
is to this team. He is a great player in this league. That was a big blow. The pass rushers on the edge are going to have to step up.
Ravens vs Cowboys: Ravens Win the Battle, but Lose the War
The Baltimore Ravens squeaked out an ugly win against the Dallas Cowboys to move to 5-1. They boast the best record in the AFC and have a strangle hold on the division, but they lost Ray Lewis
for the season. For a defense that has been getting beat with regularity, this is an especially damning loss for the Ravens front 7. He is the heart and soul of that team. His leadership and knowledge of the game makes everyone around him better despite his declining performance. To add insult to injury they lose a top 10 caliber CB in Lardarius Webb
for the season as well. This is not nearly the kind of loss of Ray Lewis. Because (1) they have quality depth in Jimmy Smith
and Carey Williams
. And (2) Webb, even though he's a better player than Ray Lewis at this point in their careers, does not have the same emotional impact that Lewis provides.
also left the game with a leg injury, but returned. When he came back, he looked like a shell of himself. He was manhandled. Think about that. The Ravens best player, and arguably the best defensive linemen in football for the last four years being manhandled. By Phil Costa
and Mackenzy Bernadeau
. It was sight not even seen in his rookie season... consistently being pushed three and five years off the line of scrimmage. Getting washed down the line as if he was on roller skates. As big of a loss as Lewis and Webb will be to this already underperforming defense... if Ngata does not fully recover from this injury, then Ravens are going to have serious problems. The arrival of Terrell Suggs
can't come soon enough. Even though Suggs is set to return in the near future, I don't think you can expect him to play like he did last year, and he also risks the chance of doing more damage to that knee.
This was a brutal win for the Ravens. Even though they won on the scoreboard, I can't help but think about how much they lost during this game.
The Dallas Cowboys defense proved that it is not up to the task to carry them to victory. The Cowboys played well on offense. They played smash-mouth football and consistently ran the ball down the throat of the Ravens defense. No gimmicks, no wham blocks or traps, just straight, downhill road-grading run blocking. It was a sight for sore eyes. Their offense looked good. DeMarco Murray
was sensational in the first half before going down with an ankle injury that's more serious than they are playing off. Felix Jones
got in the mix and actually got some touches. I was surprised to see Jason Garrett not only running the ball, but constantly come back to it. Time and time again. That offensive line was dominant. There is no reason for that kind of performance to be wasted in a losing effort. Phil Costa and Tyron Smith
were dominant. Those guys helped pave the way for 227 rushing yards.
But it comes back to Dallas Cowboys defense. The special teams decided to let Jacoby Jones
return a kick off 108 yards through a gaping alley. Only tying an NFL record. But the Ravens had the ball for 19 minutes. 19 ******* minutes. And you give up 31 points. In 19 ******* minutes. I don't even know what to say. What is there to say? Their defensive line was dominated. The Ravens have a great offensive line. It's time we start recognizing that. It's one of the best in Football. DeMarcus Ware
has been the only player on the Cowboys you can count on to show up, but he was completely shut out aside from one QB sack. He literally didn't do a thing after that. This was a sad performance. I don't know how else to sum it up other than 31 points in 19 ******* minutes.
And on a side note... Tony Romo
has thrown an interception in every game. It's about time you stop doing that. This is such a waste of talent.
Broncos Comeback Against Chargers... To the Tune of 35 Unanswered Points.
led a big comeback that reminded us of vintage Peyton Manning. The Denver Broncos have won their first two division games this year, in a division they are going to have to feast on to make the playoffs, which they probably will since the Charges may be officially removed from contention with this loss alone.
Coming into the season everyone, including myself, was anticipating what kind of team the Broncos would have with Peyton Manning under center. Their defense was much improved last year. Every one loved the idea of Von Miller
and Elvis Dumerville
off the edge. Champ Bailey
in the secondary and how strong they played in the second half of last season gave a lot of people hope that this would emerge as a Top 10 caliber defense.
An offensive line that moved people and pounded rock. This team was supposed to look different than what's it been, but it's forming into a look we've been accustomed to. Similar traits as the Indianapolis Colts. The morfing of the offense has been a little surprsing. I expected this team to take a similar approach as they did with Tim Tebow
They pounded the rock and pounded the rock last year. This year they have relied on Peyton to be Peyton Manning. To run three and four WR sets. Utilize average TEs in the passing game and make them above average. Only use the running game sparingly to maintain a minimal form of balance. Rely on the offense to put up points early so the defense can pin their ears back and rush the QB. Similar to Dwight Freeney
and Robert Mathis
It is incredible to me with just how much the Broncos offense can change from week to week, let alone one year to the next. I'm looking forward to this offense gaining continued chemistry with Peyton Manning. Demaryius Thomas
already looks like he's going to maximize his incredible potential. Thomas is emerging as a Pro Bowl #1 WR. His route running is getting much better, but his dominance after the catch is something Peyton Manning has never had. Erick Decker
is a very good #2 WR that relies on route running. This offense is very talented and the offensive line is slowly improving, and getting back to what it was last year.
now added to the offensive line is going to help this rushing attack even more. Willis McGahee should be enjoying a career resurgence with how he performed last year, but he's not quite the same player this year like he was last year. And that probably has a lot to do with the system change and the decrease in consistent touches.
Peyton Manning is shaking off the rust in each every game. He's looking better and better, more and more comfotable. His second half performance against the Charges was nothing short of incredible. The Denver Broncos are the favorites to win that division, but they are going to need that defense to step and play like they did in the second half against the Charges. Forcing 6 turnovers? That's more than what Peyton Manning knows what to do with.
It is an undersize defense. Teams are going to be able to pound the rock against the Broncos. Their secondary is still mediocre, but Champ Bailey is still playing at an elite level. He still takes away one side of the field. I think he's there best player. Derek Wolfe
was a guy I liked a lot coming out of college, but he wont be the one thats going to help this run defense. He will add another pass rushing threat, and a good one on the inside.
This wasn't an impressive performance from the Broncos since the Charges handed them the game, but the look like they are making some progressions. The defense is going to have to catch up to the offense. And the offense is going to need to starting coming out of the gates faster. You shouldn't need to comeback from 24 points down in the second half against the Charges.
San Diego's days are over. Norv Turner
has been wasting Philip Rivers
for several years now. They are going to nowhere. They are a mediocre team and have been so for several years. The Eagles and Andy Reid made some noise by saying he needed to blow the team up. This franchise needs to turn their back on Turner. It's over. It's been over.
The Charges offensively lost Kris Dielman
and Marcus McNiel
to retirement, fairly unexpectedly, but this team would not be much better with them in the lineup. This offensive line is terrible for the offense they run. Jerome Clary
is an average OT if you hide his weaknesses. The vertical passing game, the deep, 7 step drops and long developing plays do nothing but expose how slow he is and how much he struggles with speed rushers. Then you have an undrafted rookie free agent proecting Rivers blind side. Mike Harris
isn't actually that bad, but once again, when you ask him to pass protect for four seconds with a speed rusher who is pinning his ears back... he almost has no chance.
It is very simple. First and foremost you have to understand your personnell. The Broncos know theirs. They can change their offense from a run oriented offense to pass oriented offense by changing their QB. They design their scheme around their QB. The Charges have a scheme and expect players to execute the scheme when it exposes their flaws. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. Norv Turner should realise that he's just putting Phillip Rivers in bad situations time and time again.
And this offense lacks talent. You never know what your going to get out of Malcom Floyd
. One week he's going up and making circus catches, going over 100 yards and catching upwards of 7 or 8 passes, and then the next... he's almost shutout and a complete nonfactor. Robert Meachem
is a one trick pony. He runs deep clearing patterns. That's almost all he does. He doesn't get open. If the front office thought this tandem was going to accomodate the loss of Vincent Jackson
, then I think it's about time they start to realize how valuable of a commodity Jackson was. Jackson and Antonio Gates
were the passing offense. Gates has not looked like himself in recent years. And although he looks better than he has in about three years, he's still not the same player he once was. Vincent Jackson was the only consistent weapon they had. He was a great player and they simply let him walk. Biggest mistake they have made, especially when you paid Robert Meachem like he's something more than #3 option.
The window for a Super Bowl is slammed shut. I think we all know that, but as long as Norv Turner is there... the playoff window is also slammed shut. They can't beat anyone outside of their division. And they're wasting Phillip Rivers, who's been in the NFL for 9 years now. That window is going to be closing before they know it. They need to find a Head Coach and do it fast. The performance that was displayed on Monday Night was embarassing. They lack talent on both sides of the ball and have idiotic play calling and players playing in critical positions that don't fit their scheme. This is about as average as an NFL team gets.
I will speak highly of the defense for a second by mentioning one player. Eric Weddle
is a great safety in this league. He really has developed into a complete player capable of playing at an extremely high level in the box. Weddle is one of the few bright spots on defense. He looks like he's the clear cut best safety in the AFC these days.