Archive for September, 2009

Fantasy Rankings: WR

So if you’ve been reading the site, you know I’ve been doing weekly rankings for fantasy football with some of the other hosts on the Fantasy Sports Channel over at TheFantasySportsChannel.com.

This week I thought I would give a little insight into some of my rankings here at the Blurb site.

It took a while but FINALLY – here is some of my reasoning behind some of the wide receivers and where I ranked them.

The easy, handy-dandy sortable list of all the rankings can be found here.

As I said in the earlier post about Tom Brady, I think the Pats bounce back

Moss looks to bounce back big in Week 3

Moss looks to bounce back big in Week 3

this week – Randy Moss among those who will explode. This isn’t a damning of the Atlanta defense. This is: 1) a praising of Jets CB Darrelle Revis, who shut down Moss last week and Andre Johnson the week before and 2) a reading of Moss’ veritable outrage and denial he got shut down.Revis is THAT good folks and Colston, Steve Smith and some other WRs had better be ready for him. Moss is THAT angry folks and the Falcons lack a guy like Revis to contain him.

Moss has a chip on his shoulder this week. He’s due.

I think Greg Jennings bounces back as well, and we can just pretend that donut last Sunday didn’t happen though it does eat at the back of my mind. I don’t think we’ll see it again though.

If DeSean Jackson plays, he could have an outstanding day. I just read he

Jackson will do what it takes to get in the end zone

Jackson will do what it takes to get in the end zone

practiced Friday – with Kolb likely throwing he ball, the Eagles will air it out and I think Jackson’s groin holds up and he has a great day.

Brandon Marshall (28) is easy to explain – still struggling with the plays, too many other weapons. Eddie Royal (25) might even be too high. I covered a few concerns for him earlier this week in my Trendspotting column and as I said there, it’s a pretty big Fantasy weekend for Royal.

Bottom line – he’s got targets, he needs to catch them.

Meanwhile, Johnny Knox shot up to 34 – a pretty big jump. I’m a believer in him and I think Jay Cutler is as well. Knox could be in line for many more targets and I believe he is a receiver who combines speed with route running and hands.

He’s a slower Hester with actual wide receiver skills. I mean, Hester is still trying to figure out this whole WR thing and is getting better but Knox has the better overall tools.

Wes Welker and Antonio Bryant are two guys who could go. If they do, my feelings on them are very different.

Welker is a blue-collar worker who has proven the last few seasons that he is

Welker's return would be a welcome one for Tom Brady

Welker's return would be a welcome one for Tom Brady

a solid, reliable receiver. If he comes back, look for him to have a big impact in the game – Brady may use him as a warm comfy blanket of security to get back on track. His value will rocket up the list.

If he plays. For now, I don’t know what he will do or if he will play. So he’s down on the list.

Bryant? He is not moving. One great season do not a Welker make. Bryant has burned us more than helped us and the knee injury, leg injury Byron Leftwitch and shaky offense have me worried.

He can play all he wants but unlike Welker, he gets no benefit of the doubt.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fantasy Rankings: RBs

So if you’ve been reading the site, you know I’ve been doing weekly rankings for fantasy football with some of the other hosts on the Fantasy Sports Channel over at TheFantasySportsChannel.com.

This week I thought I would give a little insight into some of my rankings here at the Blurb site. I like the sortable, easy ranking system the FSC uses but only one person can make a note per player which means we can overwrite each other.

Here are my thoughts on the RBs for Week 3 which again, you may peruse here with the handy sortable chart:

He's a bad little man!

He's a bad little man!

The world may end - I have Maurice Jones-Drew ranked over Adrian Peterson.

Houston couldn’t contain Chris Johnson and I think MJD is a better back. He may not survive he season, but right now he’s an excellent candidate to have a break out week.

Peterson faces a team which – as he has reminded us several times this week – once stifled him to under 20 yards. He’ll come in determined but the Niners are a very good defensive squad. He’ll have a good day but MJD will be better.

Speaking of the SF/Minn tilt, Frank Gore faces a defense which is hard against the run. Or is it?

Gore has been a man possessed...

Gore has been a man possessed...

It’s too early to really take much from the Team Stats category but the Vikes run defense isn’t as good as it was last year. Ranking 15th going into Week 3 isn’t a panic-inducing stat by any means, but having given up 129 yds to Detroit and then allowing 89 yards to Cleveland in Week 1 – not their best two weeks.

Add to this the clear intention of San Fran to run Gore until his wheels come off and there is a good chance he has a very nice game this week.

I have Brian Westbrook at 9 – I assume he plays. If not, LeSean McCoy should do very well against a slipshod KC defense. Not #9 ranking good, but very servicable as a RB2.

Finally healthy, Thomas looks to regain his job

Finally healthy, Thomas looks to regain his job

Pierre Thomas will be back this weekend (allegedly) and should get plenty of carries. Here’s hoping he re-establishes his fantasy value. The guy to watch might be Lynell Hamilton who isn’t on the list but has taken first team reps this week.

He may not perform now, but I’ve heard enough good things about him and have seen enough early injury in the Saints backfield to think he could have value this season.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Fantasy Rankings: QB

So if you’ve been reading the site, you know I’ve been doing weekly rankings for fantasy football with some of the other hosts on the Fantasy Sports Channel over at TheFantasySportsChannel.com.

This week I thought I would give a little insight into some of my rankings here at the Blurb site. I like the sortable, easy ranking system the FSC uses but only one person can make a note per player which means we can overwrite each other.

So here are my thoughts on the QB rankings I did. Again, check them out here if you haven’t already.

Honestly, there isn’t a ton to debate over the quarterbacks. Drew Brees is still your top guy. Warner slipped to eight but that’s more a case of me being high on the guys who precede him than concern for Warner. He’ll still have an excellent game.

Brady has felt the heat this season

Brady has felt the heat this season

I think Tom Brady will have a very good day – it’s possible Atlanta tries to press him the way the Jets did this past Sunday but I’m not sure they have what it takes. I think he’s going to come out determined to re-establish the passing attack and have a very good day in what may amount to a shootout.

Carson Palmer slips to 14 and while I think he may have a good yardage day and maybe even some touchdowns, I am concerned he could continue to turn the ball over.

Jason Campbell and Joe Flacco both face lackluster defenses but their fantasy value is harmed by what should be a lot of work on the ground. They may have good days but I wouldn’t want to start them over guys who are better bets to throw a lot more.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Football Outsiders, Brady and LOLCats

Scramble092309-1[1]I don’t normally throw out random non-post posts like this but this game me a chuckle. So if you’re a Jets fan, a Pats hater or a Pats lover with a sense of humor, please enjoy the above picture.

That’s some funny stuff right here. I can see a whole bunch of these in my future what with all the free time I don’t have.  Maybe we’ll have a photoshop contest.

Brady of course was anything but fierce. Jets Coach Rex Ryan kept the Pats offense in check with many blitzes, sometimes throwing six or seven guys at Brady at once.

Brady hates that pressure and I have rarely seen him get ‘Happy Feet’ like he did on Sunday. Will Atlanta be able to upset him in this way?  I think BRady and the Pats come back angry and maybe – just maybe – Ton Brady’s fierce face will not resemble the one above which isn’t so much fierce as it is ‘Lord where is the bathroom’.

The article attached to it – by FootballOutsiders.com – is good as well. Pretty much par for the course. For a stat-geek site, these guys keep it entertaining.

Check them out and tell them I sent you – the blank stare when you say my name will be funny too.

The article itself covers various fantasy stumbles from the week, comments on a few plays and then completely derails at some point discussing ridiculous crap we buy like the snuggie and grooler (grill + cooler if you didn’t know).

Tags: , ,

Trendspotting: Eddie Royal, WR Broncos

It’s way too early in the NFL Season to define what exactly is a trend and what is pure happenstance. However, it’s never too early to examine what is happening to various players and why it might be happening.

More importantly, we can examine whether it is likely to happen again.

Even with minimal data, one can start to see patterns. With this column every week we’ll look at a few players who have concerned or excited us in the previous games and see if we can spot something before anyone else.

Part of this column – an important one I might add – is your input. Is there a player I missed? Someone I haven’t hit yet who is doing a great under-the-radar job? Email me and let me know at thunderingblurb(at)gmail.com.

 Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos

WR Eddie Royal has seen his share of struggles so far.

WR Eddie Royal has seen his share of struggles so far.

During the preseason, with all the drama surrounding his fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall, Royal said and did everything right.

He spoke about team-first, about how much he liked the system. He played and practiced hard. Everything pointed towards a second good season for Royal.

Five catches and just 38 yards later, owners are worried. Royal has stumbled out of the gate and hard.

What happened?

Analysis

Well, it’s not lack of targets, though you could debate the quality of them. Royal has been thrown to 13 times in two games, as much as Brandon Marshall and more often than Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney.

Gaffney and Stokley have done far more with their targets though and have made some veteran plays Royal seems unable to pull off.

Comparing Royal at this point to a veteran like Stokley points to perhaps part of the problem.

For much of Royal’s time on the field, he seemed to be pressing and trying to make plays happen instead of working with what the situation dictates.

On one play late in the first half, he catches a short pass from Orton and has a chance to make a nice gain after the catch – maybe another five or so yards. Instead, he cuts and reverses across the field.

Unfortunately the Browns defense actually does it’s job and he’s stopped short, gaining just a few yards and eating valuable clock time as Denver is driving to close the first half.

Contrast this with Stokley who several times during key drives not only got his first down, but had the awareness of clock, defensive presence and what his offense needed in order to allow him to get out of bounds.

This sort of play – while making more perhaps of a play than perhaps designed for – still boils down to an awareness of what you can do in a situation, rather than trying to force something in a situation that makes it nearly impossible.

If Royal keeps this up, it could get worse. 

Sometimes Second Year Players Like Royal Try to Do Too Much

Sometimes Second Year Players Like Royal Try to Do Too Much

In my opinion, he is simply trying to do too much.

Quarterback Kyle Orton may be throwing the ball a ton to Royal now, but Stokley is becoming the guy he is able to count on, not Royal.

If Royal makes medium plays little while trying to force them big, continues to drop balls and generally stays inconsistent, he may find his targets drop.

Of course, Orton is also part of the problem. He has had some problems trying to get the ball to Royal at times, either because of coverage or because the two haven’t clicked in timing.

Again, if Orton keeps having issues getting the ball to Orton he may try less often especially if Stokley and Gaffney continue to be effective.

Advice

While I am concerned about Royal, I wouldn’t drop him. If he could be fitted into a trade, fine, but you probably won’t get fair value for him.

I do believe he will get it together at some point soon. A lot of the issues seem to be him getting comfortable in this offense and with Kyle Orton – and Orton with him as well.

Those things take time.

I believe if you hang in there he will get better, but I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at a fair offer if it came across my desk.

The next few weeks will be critical for Royal and his owners. We must watch for two key indicators – first his targets must stay up. Second, he must stop pressing and do something with those passes coming his way.

Royal is a player whose value is in flux still and a few strong performances may find him back to being a viable fantasy earner. For now, it’s hard to see him as more than a WR3 at best.

Tags: , , ,

NFL Rewind: Week 2 (part 2)

Redskins 9 Rams 7

Redskins

Individually, the Redskins put up some decent numbers. Clinton Portis had 88 total yards (79 on the ground, a pair of catches for 9), Chris Cooley had 83 yards receiving and Jason Campbell threw for 242 yards. But overall the offense couldn’t get anything going, especially in the red zone where they went 0-5. Not much more to say about this game which showed that the Redskins have a lot of problems in their offensive scheme than we suspected.

Rams

The Rams didn’t look much better as only Steven Jackson had anything resembling a real productive day with 104 yards on the ground. They also involved him in the passing game this week which added four catches and 15 yards to his total.

The only other moment for this offense was a two yard pass from Marc Bulger to Laurent Robinson in the second quarter. Overall though, this is a team still struggling in all areas of the game and you have to wonder if they are looking to reboot the whole team, perhaps with the exception of Jackson.

Bills 33 Buccaneers 20

Bills

Coming off a terribly disappointing loss to the Patriots in Week 1, the Bills played determined football on both sides of the ball and jumped out to a 17 point lead early, with quarterback Trent Edwards connecting with Lee Evans for a 32 yard touchdown and Safety Donte Whitner nabbing an interception and returning it 76 yards for a touchdown.

Fred Jackson carved out even more of a permanent space in the backfield with a brilliant 163 performance on the ground, his second game in a row where he had more than 140 total yards. Terrell Owens caught his first touchdown as a Bill in the fourth quarter and totalled three catches for 52 yards. The Bills offense seems to have not missed a beat after firing their offensive coordinator just before the season.

Buccaneers

Quarterback Byron Leftwich had a decent game, completing 26 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, he turned the ball over twice, including the Whitner pick six I mentioned in the Bills recap. Kellen Winslow continues to play well, catching seven balls for 90 yards and touchdown. Maurice Stovall filled in for injured Antonio Bryant and caught three balls for 80 yards. Carnell Williams had a nice day in the pass game as well, hauling in seven balls for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Unfortunately he and the rest of the backfield stalled out on the ground. Williams had an awful 9 yards on seven carries, while Derrick Ward only had 32 yards and Ernest Graham totalled 16. Part of this was due to falling behind so far so early, but even when the Bucs closed in, the run game could not move the chains.

49ers 23 Seahawks 10

49ers

The big story here – from an offensive standpoint, virtually the only story – was Frank Gore’s 246 total yards and two touchdowns. Gore showed both toughness when running between the tackles and big play ability with his long touchdown runs, the first for 79 yards and the second for 80. The rest of the offense was relatively lackluster, but when you have Frank Gore you ride him and that’s what the game-plan is and will continue to be for San Francisco.

Seahawks

Seattle had a rough day. First the defense gets absolutely embarrassed by Frank Gore. Then they lose. And in the process, QB Matt Hasselbeck went down with a rib injury. Seneca Wallace stepped in and did very little more than fill a spot, throwing a touchdown to Julius Jones and an interception to 49er Safety Dashon Goldson.

The interesting ‘watch this guy’ moment of the game was running back/fullback Justin Forsett who played pretty well both on the ground (five carries for 35 yards) and in the receiving game (six catches for 57 yards). We know Edgerrin James and Julius Jones aren’t long term answers. Could Forsett emerge as the main back at some point? Keep him on your radar. Hasselbeck’s x-rays were negative and the ribs are bruised, not cracked. Watch him this week as he could very well miss the next game.

Bears 17 Steelers 14

Bears

For the most part Chicago looked far more together against the Steelers than they did Week 1 against the Packers. QB Jay Cutler looked much more confident and settled, throwing 27 completions for 236 yards and two touchdowns, one to emerging threat Johnny Knox and one to tight end Kellen Davis. The tight end we thought would get those touchdowns – Greg Olsen – only had three catches on the day.

Back to Cutler though – he looked much more poised and made far better decisions than in his game against the Packers in Week 1. Cutler worked underneath a lot and took what the Steelers gave him, rather than forcing the ball long. It worked very well. Matt Forte continues too look bad in the run game, gaining only 29 yards on 13 carries for a pretty weak 2.23 yards per carry. On the plus side he caught five balls for 33 yards, but he’s not gaining anything on the ground. Whether this is merely too many defenders in the backfield or Forte having a huge case of sophomore slump is hard to say this early. But he’s not playing well and that’s a huge concern for the Bears.

Steelers

Last week the Steelers made up for a lackluster run game with an outstanding passing attack. That didn’t happen on Sunday as Ben Roethlisberger didn’t find the same success. Big Ben only totalled 221 yards and a touchdown, while also throwing one interception. He did also run for another touchdown, but he was the only one who could find room to do that. 

Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore combined for just 99 yards though Mendenhall’s 39 came on just three carries. Wide receivers Santonio Holmes (5-83) and Hines Ward (6-57) both came back down to Earth though they had solid overall games. The Steelers were able to stay in the game though, but in the end, the offensive stalled on two successive drives which were capped by a pair of Jeff Reed misses and ate up too much of the clock to come up empty-handed.

Broncos 27 Browns 6

Broncos

Kyle Orton may be no Jay Cutler, but he’s also no JaMarcus Russell – he can actually find his wide receivers. And while nobody broke out in a huge way, he moves the chains well enough. Two things of note in this game: first Corell Buckhalter looks good and continues to excel. His 76 yards and a touchdown on nine carries was a great performance and while rookie Knowshon Moreno nearly equaled it (75 yards), CBuck is still playing more effectively. Peyton Hillis was almost nonexistent but did get a touchdown.

The second thing to take away from in this game is the continued poor showing of Eddie Royal. It’s not as if Royal isn’t getting targets – he was thrown to nine times in this game – but he isn’t doing enough to haul those balls in. He only got three catches for 20 yards. Why is he struggling so? It’s hard to say right now, but he needs to get back on the same page as Orton if he is to be effective this season.

Brandon Stokely (5-70) and Jabar Gaffney (3-82) stepped up in his stead but Brandon Marshall continues to do very little, catching only three balls for 34 yards.

Browns

Well at least you can say Braylon Edwards had a good game. Edwards’ six catches for 92 yards was about the only bright spot for this team which was stifled on both sides of the ball by an overpowering Broncos team. Even Joshua Cribbs – he of the big play ability – had a miscue, fumbling the ball. Overall nobody looks very good on this team and it doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon.

Ravens 31 Chargers 26

Ravens

The Chargers were without Defensive Lineman Jamall Williams and the Ravens took advantage of that with a very solid rush attack. Willis McGahee continues to be impressive (and healthy!) gaining 79 yards and scoring twice. McGahee is shaking his injury prone label thus far and seems to be flourishing. Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain were relegated to bystander status, but that didn’t matter for the Ravens especially as Rice added 46 receiving yards. While the pass game wasn’t very impressive, the backs did the job and the Ravens came away with a win.

Chargers

I bet many fantasy owners thought they had better match-ups than this one and sat Rivers like me. If that’s the case then, like me, you missed a huge game as Rivers threw for 436 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was so good in fact that the two interceptions were barely a blip. Rivers had his team set to win, until Ray Lewis smushed diminutive Darren Sproles on a 4th and 2 to end the game.

Sproles was outstanding filling in for LaDainian Tomlinson, though his damage was caused in the passing attack. Sproles (7-124-1) was one of two Chargers who topped 100 yards, Vincent Jackson and his 141 yards being the other top performance. Both players accounted for a touchdown as well. Sproles is certainly a serviceable replacement for LT. Still, you have to wonder if a healthy Tomlinson might have been strong and big enough to shove past Lewis for the critical first down. 

Giants 33 Cowboys 31

Giants

Eli Manning had an outstanding day, throwing for 330 yards and two touchdowns. He was able to find his receivers often and deliver solid throws to them and the receivers stepped up. Steve Smith has played pretty well since entering the league and he had a great day, catching 10 balls for 134 yards while Mario Manningham caught another 10 for 150 yards.

Smith and Manningham were the recipients of Manning’s touchdown throws not to mention nearly all his throws (20 of Manning’s 25 completion went to one of those two receivers).

With the passing game clicking, the ground game fell by the wayside and both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw had sub-par days.

Cowboys

Fresh off a victory they thought answered all the questions about them, theCowboys opened their new home by letting their secondary get blown up by the Giants. As good as Tony Romo looked in Week 1, he looked equally bad Sunday night. His 127 yard, one touchdown to three interception performance was pretty brutal, the only bright spot being Jason Witten’s touchdown.

On the ground it was a different story, as Marion Barber totalled 124 yards and a touchdown and his partner in crime Felix Jones had his own touchdown to go with his 96 yards on just nine carries. Overall the Cowboys stayed close, but like the Redskins in Week 1, they couldn’t seal the deal.

This article is also posted at BleacherReport.com.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NFL Rewind Week 2 (part 1)

Falcons 28 Panthers 20

Falcons

Matt Ryan continues to play very well in his second season with the Falcons, as he totaled three touchdowns in their victory over the woeful Carolina Panthers. As during Week 1, Ryan found tight end Tony Gonzalez for seven catches, totaling 71 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t ignore last years main target Roddy White, who caught six passes for 53 yards and his own touchdown.

Michael Turner made his own noise, carrying the ball for 105 yards and a touchdown, though it took him a huge amount of carries (28) to do so and he also lost a fumble. The defense played well, forcing two fumbles, sacking Delhomme once and grabbing a key interception in the end zone to seal the game.

Panthers

For 99% of the game, Jake Delhomme did everything he needed to in order to make Panther fans forget his awful Week 1 performance. Unfortunately it still wasn’t enough and his interception in the end zone just reminded everyone of Week 1 Jake. Still, a massive improvement for Delhomme even though the team couldn’t get the job done. He looked to veteran Steve Smith (8 catches for 131 yards) often, and spread the ball around quite a bit to keep the Falcons from keying on any one player.

On the ground, the Panther continue to move the ball well, if not quite as good as they did in 2008. DeAngelo Williams (79 yards and 1 TD) got most of the work while second year man Jonathan Stewart (65 yards) looked just as good in his spot duty. Unfortunately both running backs coughed the ball up, although only Williams was lost. In the end, though the offense played much better than last year, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Falcons.

Vikings 27 Lions 13

Vikings

For a half it looked like the wheels had come off the Vikings bandwagon already and you had to worry for the safety of the tons of fans preparing to leap off of it. But the ship righted itself and again – largely on Adrian Peterson’s back and with some great defensive plays, the Vikes came out on top. While Brett Favre did find both rookie Percy Harvin and Visanthe Shiancoe for touchdowns, he still has timing issues and his botched hand-off to Adrian Peterson was largely his own fault.

Still, he found Bernard Berrian six times for 46 yards and Sidney Rice three times for 29 yards and even Peterson four times for 24 yards, adding to his 92 on the ground. The Vikings still go as Peterson goes, but slowly and surely Favre is becoming more of the weapon Minnesota was hoping for.

Lions

What can you say about the Lions that hasn’t been repeated many times? Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford is still getting hit and hurried way too often. Stafford was sacked twice and picked off twice (by the same player no less) and still looks very much a rookie. But there are moments where he looks better – his accuracy to Calvin Johnson (5 catches for 51 yards and 1 TD) was much improved and though he threw less passes towards Johnson this week (7 down from 13) he made more out of them. He has also started using fellow rookie Brandon Pettigrew, hitting the tight end four times for 40 yards.

Running back Kevin Smith also struggled with the offensive line woes but gained 83 yards on 24 carries. In the end though, the Lions still had no defensive answer for Peterson or the rest of the Vikings offense, and the offense could not keep up.

Bengals 31 Packers 24

Bengals

The Bengals should have won last week against the Broncos, but couldn’t get their offense going and couldn’t make the big play defensively when they needed to. Today they did both, with big games by Carson Palmer (three touchdowns), Cedric Benson (141 yards) and Chad Ochocinco (91 yards and 1 TD).

Palmer is still struggling overall and really this was all about the defense being able to disrupt Packer QB Aaron Rodgers to the tune of five sacks and numerous hits. Defensive End Antwan Odom owned the Packer offensive line and notched all five sacks himself. Rookie Rey Maualuga continues to make a nice impact as well, getting a pair of forced fumbles in the game.

Packers

If you looked at the stats and not the score, you might think the Packers had won. QB Aaron Rodgers completed 21 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown, running back Ryan Grant had 46 yards and a touchdown and Donald Driver caught half a dozen balls for 99 yards and his own score. But looking closer, several things stood out. Greg Jennings had zero catches, disappeared for much of the game and dropped a ball.

Left tackle Chad Clifton went was carted off the field and you could tell the line suffered a bit for it. Overall, it was a disappointing game for the Packers who seemed to take a step back on both sides of the ball after a reasonable nice debut against the Bears. 

Cardinals 31, Jaguars 17

Cardinals

After dropping a game to division rival San Francisco in Week 1, the Cards bounced back hard and landed on top of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The offensive line gave QB Kurt Warner decades to set up and pass – and pass he did, setting a record for single-game completion percentage of 92.3%. He even got an early hook after a very good 243 yard, two touchdown performance.

Running back Tim Hightower continued to contribute, this time on the ground with 15 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Chris Wells looked good as well, shredding the Jags defense for 44 yards on just seven carries. Steve Breaston led the way through the air with five catches for 83 yards, with Anquan Boldin right behind him with more catches (8) but less yards (69). Larry Fitzgerald came away with the aerial touchdown for the trio. When this offense is firing on all cylinders, they are deadly and today the Jags couldn’t touch Warner and found that our first hand. 

Jaguars

Jacksonville did too little too late, coming back in the second half while the Cardinals were already focusing on post-game activities. QB David Garrard had a good stat-line with 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns, hitting Mike Sims-Walker for six catches, 106 yards and a TD. It’s deceptive though when it comes against a defense just trying to keep the clock running in prevent.

Maurice Jones-Drew was relegated to spectator for part of the game and his 13 carries for 66 yards was a disappointment even with 17 yards added from the passing game. 

Raiders 13 Chiefs 10

Raiders

Oakland almost lost a second close one but managed to lose less than the terrible Chiefs and come away with their first win. QB JaMarcus Russell continues to look generally mediocre though he lead the offense on a nine-play, 69-yard drive in 1:31 which led to a Darren McFadden touchdown which won the game.

McFadden was mostly quiet otherwise with 35 yards on 12 carries as was his partner in the backfield, Michael Bush who only had 35 yards as well. Overall it was a win, but it wasn’t won the Raiders should crow too loudly about. 

Chiefs

Matt Cassel survived his debut with the Chiefs but was roughed up both physically (a pair of sacks and numerous hits) and mentally (two interceptions). He was able to find his top receiver, Dwayne Bowe, for a touchdown and 56 yards, but the score came while all world cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was out of the game. He also hit Bobby Wade six time for 72 yards and scrambled for 34 yards as well.

Larry Johnson was able to put together a nice total of 78 yards. Overall though this offense continues to struggle and are due for many hardships against better overall defenses than the Raiders bring to bear. 

Jets 16 Patriots 9

Jets

Rookie QB Mark Sanchez may not be tearing up statistical records, but he’s getting the job done. He looks confident and poised in the pocket, even in the face of blitzing linebackers and even when he got knocked down or almost intercepted, the ex-USC Trojan bounced back with a good play.

He had ample help on the ground from both Leon Washington (58 yards) and Thomas Jones (54 yards) and from his wide receiver corps of Jerricho Cotchery (4 catches for 87 yards) and Chansi Stuckey (4 catches for 37 yards) including some key first downs. Dustin Keller also continues to get a ton of love from his rookie passer, including the lone touchdown of the game. The offense isn’t perfect but does what it needs to and is rolling very nicely after two solid games.

Patriots

After the last minute heroics of last week, it was hard to believe the guy with Brady on his jersey was the same one who played on Monday night. But Jets coach Rex Ryan and his defense took a page from the Giants Super Bowl win playbook and blitzed on every down they could get away with it. Brady hates pressure and Ryan brought the thunder, occasionally with seven players. With that and a great job by Darrelle Revis on Randy Moss, the Pats failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time since December 10th, 2006 against the Miami Dolphins.

Saints 48 Eagles 22

Saints

Drew Brees threw for another 300+ yards and three touchdowns, hitting Marques Colston for two scores in a game that at times seemed closer than it really was. After not having one catch in Week 1, Colston totaled eight catches and 98 yards to go with his pair of touchdowns. Both Reggie Bush (33 yards rushing, 42 yards receiving) and Mike Bell (86 yards rushing, 9 receiving) had very good days as well, though Bell left the game late with a knee injury which has since been categorized as a slight sprain.

Eagles

Amazingly, Drew Bress didn’t throw for the most yards in this game – Kevin Kolb did. But Kolb’s 391 yards and two touchdowns were marred by a trio of interceptions. DeSean Jackson had an outstanding game, reeling four balls for 101 yads and a touchdown while tight end Brent Celek 104 yards.

Unfortunately as the Eagles fell behind early,the run game wasn’t very effective. Brian Westbrook only had 66 total yards and left the game late in the fourth with an ankle sprain which Coach Andy Reid termed not very serious. Westbrook’s status should be watched all week, as should that of Donovan McNabb who still looks like he will miss the Eagles’ Week 3 game. Jackson also suffered a groin strain although he had a similar issue last week and still played.

Texans 34 Titans 31

Texans

After the disappointing loss to the Jets in Week 1 where QB Matt Schaub was hit early and often by the Jets, the Texans had a much better game offensively. That may be an understatement of tremendous proportions with Schaub throwing for 357 yards and four touchdowns, two of which found Andre Johnson. Johnson caught ten balls for a total of 149 yards, exploding in production after being stymied by the Jets secondary in Week 1.

Jacoby Jones and tight end Owen Daniels both contributed a touchdown as well with Daniels catching six balls for 72 yards as well. The rushing attack is still lacking punch though, with Steve Slaton running a pedestrian 34 yards on 17 carries. Still, this was an offense which showed us it can be as dynamic as any other when Schaub gets protection and time to throw. 

Titans

If I merely told you Chris Johnson had 197 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, I imagine you’d be suitably impressed. It’s an outstanding day, no doubt,. But what if I told you he added nine catches for 87 yards and another touchdown to the total? That’s right, Chris Johnson dropped three touchdowns and 284 total yards on the Texan defense and the Titans are still 0-2.

 The problem is, the game became a shootout and nobody but Johnson stepped up. Nate Washington had a touchdown but only 36 yards. Justin Gage and Kenny Britt fell back to earth after big games in Week 1. LenDale White didn’t do anything of note. So while Johnson had a great individual game, the Titans ended up losing. Defensively this team is out of sorts and while they put some pressure on Schaub, they never sacked him and their secondary was summarily picked apart.

 

This article was also posted at BleacherReport.com…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

San Francisco 49ers: Where In The World Was Glen Coffee?

Gore had a rough day in the trenches - where was his relief, Glen Coffee?

Gore had a rough day in the trenches - where was his relief, Glen Coffee?

Count me amongst the many fans, analysts and Fantasy Football people who thought 49ers rookie running back Glen Coffee would spell veteran Frank Gore often when they met the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.

While you’re at it, count me amongst the folks who were definitely shocked Coffee got a grand total of ONE carry.

With multiple analysts spending the week leading up to the Arizona game asking not ‘if’ but ‘how many’ carries Gore would lose to Coffee, it makes you wonder what was going on.

It’s not as if Gore was a monster moving the chains. 22 carries for just 30 yards doesn’t leave you with much more than a cringe when you look at the statline. The two touchdowns were very good but in terms of moving the ball, Gore just couldn’t.

It certainly wasn’t Gore’s fault. The offensive line played badly and I counted easily half a dozen or more times where he was met – and hit by – Cardinal defensive players in the backfield.

In fact his touchdown on the ground highlight what he can do when he gets some blocks, in this case a nice hit by David Baas.

Yet overall, Gore spent most of his effort trying to get inches not yards. As that’s the case, wouldn’t you expect a little more rest time by utilizing Coffee?

Here are a few things to consider in respect to that question.

1) Rookies struggle with blocking: Quarterback Shaun Hill felt pressure early and often from the Arizona defensive linemen and linebackers. He was at times rushed, he was sacked four times and overall didn’t find as much protection as he needed.

Rookie running backs often struggle with blocking. Well ROOKIES struggle with blocking but for a wide receiver it isn’t as critical.

While Coffee had a very nice preseason carrying the ball, he’s still improving his blocking. Gore has more experiance with it and is better.

If your quarterback is getting hammered, you’re going to keep your more reliable players in to try and stem the tide. That’s Gore.

He’s also a good pass catcher and having Gore in there means you are telegraphing your plays. With Gore in the backfield, he could be a threat to run the ball, or he can slip out to the falt for a nice catch.

It payed off wonderfully in the fourth quarter when Gore did exactly that for a nifty three yard touchdown which ended up being the difference in the game.

It’s a nice added dimension and on a third down, having a player who can block and catch is almost a neccesity for a team.

Can Coffee catch? Sure. But Gore can catch, block and run – so why take him out when you know he’s someone you can count on for all three.

With fewer snaps, Coffee was just involved less overall. It doesn’t explain just one carry, but it was no doubt a factor.

2) Gore is the engine in this offense: When it comes down to it, Frank Gore is the thing that makes this offense effective. We already know Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye wants to run a ratio of about 60% run-to-pass plays.

If you plan on doing that, you go with your best back. That’s Gore, no matter how good Coffee looked in the preseason.

If your offense is struggling, you keep hammering with your main guy looking for some momentum. If something is going to spark the offense, it’s going to be that guy.

Despite poor offensive line play, Gore looked good running. He kept his legs moving and fought for every millimeter of ground he could get. When he broke free for that touchdown run, he still had to run an Arizona player over.

You want Gore in there because you know he CAN run that player over.

3) It’s early: Frank Gore is healthy and will never feel better this season than he did in week one. As the season goes on he – like every other player – will start to feel the accumulated effects of many weeks of having his body battered.

In fact, the fear that Gore will wear down towards the end of the season is what drove many to predict Coffee would carry the ball early and often.

It is very common, though, for rookies to hit what is termed the ‘rookie wall’. Particularly running backs who get hit every time they touch the ball, often even on the runs where they don’t get tackled.

For thos unfamiliar with the term the ‘rookie wall’ is usually a point late in the season where a young player just hits a point of exhaustion he cannot overcome.

The NFL season is longer than most college seasons and is much. much harder on the body.

Sure, we’re worried about Gore wearing down. The team may be worried about Coffee wearing down as well.

If Gore can carry the lion’s share of the early load, there is a better chance Coffee can shoulder a bigger burden near the end of the season when every game could make a difference in a birth for the playoffs.

If the team does make the playoffs, Coffee may still have something in the tank to be a factor in those games.

Meanwhile if Gore carries the ball a little less in December, he will be mroe rested for the playoffs.

This may seem like thinking a little further ahead than necessary, but be sure Coach Mike Singletary will be thinking that far ahead on some level.

Keep Coffee fresh early, gradually give him more carries as we get deeper into the season, rest Gore more often towards the end and perhaps have two running backs who are not exhausted for the playoffs.

I havenj’t even touched on the idea that Coffee may still need some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Preseason doesn’t fully prepare a guy for the difference between college and the NFL.

So Coffee may get eased in, in part because they don’t want to overload him.

None of the three reasons I stated fully explain the paltry three carries for a rookie we all expected to burst out of the gate.

However I feel they all factor into that low total to some extent.

I believe we will see more of Coffee this Sunday in the game with the Seattle Seahawks.

However I also believe we will still see a lot more Gore than we originally expected to when we finished the preseason.

And I think in the end, that will be a good thing for the 49ers and their fans.

 

This story was also posted at BleacherReport.com.

Tags: , , ,

NFL Week One Recap – Pt 2

BRONCOS 12, BENGALS 7

 

BRONCOS

If it wasn’t for a lucky – but still skillful – play by Brandon Stokely this game would be viewed as a disappointment. Instead, Kyle Orton’s ok-but-not-fantastic 243 yards and a touchdown looks much brighter and the Broncos might feel better about a game where they could not get their rhythm going. Correll Buckhalter was the most effective back, but Coach McDaniels seemed determined to get rookie Knowshon Moreno a bunch of work. Both got eight carries but Moreno could only accumulate 19 yards to Buckhalter’s 46. Orton moved the ball around a lot, but no receiver stood out. Brando Marshall only saw four catches, Eddie Royal had just two and overall there were many drops from Orton’s targets. The Broncos may have run, but their offense looks shaky at best.

 

BENGALS

Carson Palmer had a good yardage total (247) but his two interceptions showed some of the rust he accumulated from so much time on the I/R. Chad Ochocinco was back to normal form with five catches for 89 yards but Chris Henry – who Palmer had gushed over all Summer – was almost nonexistent with his expected targets going to second year wide receiver Andre Caldwell who had six catches for 54 yards. Veteran Laveranues Coles had several drops and was a non-factor. Cedric Benson continues to play well for the Bengals (76 and one TD) and might have some nice fantasy value this season. Overall though, not the start anyone hoped for with Palmer and Ochocinco finally healthy.

 

JETS 24, TEXANS 7

 

JETS

Mark Sanchez looked calm and cool in the pocket as he threw far more than many expected and totaled 272 yards and a touchdown in his Jets debut. His one interception proved he has a ways to go – he made a bad decision and threw right into the arms of Safety John Busing. Still a nice performance. Dustin Keller had a very nice game with four catches for 94 yards and Jerricho Cotchery caught six balls for 90.  Chansi Stuckey was the recipient of Sanchez’s first touchdown and also had 64 yards on the day. Despite the 107 yards and two touchdowns, Thomas Jones looked horrible for most of the game. He looked bad in preseason and until he broke loose for a pair of long runs (one for a touchdown) his yards per carry was weak. True to Rex Ryan’s word, Leon Washington got a lot of carries – 15 in total – gaining 60 yards on the ground to go with his 24 through the air.

 

TEXANS

The Jets defense spent most of  the day in the Texans’ backfield and that made things difficult for quarterback Matt Schaub. If Schaub can’t get some protection, he’s going to get hurt again. He was only sacked once, but spent a lot of time picking himself up off the turf. The entire offense was out of sync, as the Jets defense threw multiple looks at them and they had no answers. Andre Johnson had a quiet game – just four catches for 35 yards – and was shadowed effectively most of the day by Jets corner back Darrelle Revis. Running back Steve Slaton found no room to run on the ground and got just 17 yards, salvaging the day a little with three catches for 35 yards.

 

VIKINGS 34, BROWNS 20

 

VIKINGS

Are you convinced Adrian Peterson is a stud now? That he’s the engine for this offense and should have been the number one pick in every fantasy draft? Sure, the 198 total yards and three touchdowns came against a pretty bad Cleveland team. It doesn’t lesson the fact that he’s a man amongst boys. Watch him as he dismisses Browns defenders when he rips off a 64 yards touchdown run. (The 57 second mark is the best spot) It’s his team and will continue to be so. Newly un-retired quarterback Brett Favre looked like a man who had skipped Training Camp, missing Sidney Rice in the end zone and generally not on the same page with his receivers. This happened with the Jets last season and will last another three to five weeks. Rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin was the only real story in the receiving corps, as he had a nice touchdown from Favre and carried the ball twice for 22 yards to add to his 36 receiving yards. Bernard Berrian was there but might as well been invisible and Rice only got 17 yards on a pair of catches.

 

BROWNS

Brady Quinn looked serviceable in his performance, throwing for 205 yards, one touchdown and one pick. Tight End Robert Royal was his favorite target, gaining 60 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Jamal Lewis held the starting job for another week and totaled 57 yards on the ground, though surprisingly added 47 yards on a trio of receptions. Will this keep up? If Quinn keeps having to check down, it might and Lewis may have some value yet.

 

49ers 20, CARDINALS 16

 

49ers

Shaun Hill wasn’t very pretty but got the job done with a 18/31, 209 and one touchdown effort. As he did often in the preseason, he found Vernon Davis often, helping the newly minted team captain to a five catch, 40 yard day. Veteran Isaac Bruce had a huge 50 yard catch on his way to a four catch, 74 yard day. Josh Morgan started out hot but ended up with just three catches for 38 yards. All three got more targets than catches, but at times Hill just wasn’t quite on point with his throws. Still, that will come with time, and the day was encouraging. Frank Gore couldn’t get much going on the ground, which is a huge concern for a team which purports to run the ball 60% of the time. Gore supplemented his 30 yards on 22 carries with another 18 on three receptions. Gore did score twice, once on the ground and once through the air.

 

CARDINALS

While Kurt Warner was able to throw for 288 yards, he struggled often and threw a pair of picks as well as a touchdown. The 49ers defensive line did an outstanding job of disguising their defensive schemes and Warner seemed to have a hard time adjusting. Larry Fitzgerald contributed to the cause with 71 yards and a touchdown, while Anquan Boldin only had two catches for 19 yards. With Steve Breaston out, Jerheme Urban caught five balls for 74 yards. Warner did have a 100 yard receiver but it wasn’t any of the usual suspects – instead it was running back Tim Hightower who caught 12 passes for 121 yards. Hightower and rookie Chris Wells both struggled on the ground and neither ran the ball more than eight times, with Wells gaining 29 to Hightower’s 15.

 

GIANTS 23, REDSKINS 17

GIANTS

Eli Manning and the Giants offense allowed the Redskins to hang around far too long and were unable to finish them off until Steve Smith recovered an on-side kick with 1:30 left to play. Manning played well, totaling 256 yards and a touchdown with his favorite and most reliable target being the aforementioned Smith, who hauled in six catches for 80 yards.

Brandon Jacobs was never really get any traction on the ground, gaining just 46 yards over the course of 16 carries. Number two back Ahmad Bradshaw had a little more luck, totalling 60 yards on 12 carries. Bradshaw added 11 receiving yards and Jacobs compiled 17 himself through the air.

Unfortunately, the two biggest stories for the Giants were injuries. Third stringer Danny Ware was injured on the opening kick-off, sustaining  a dislocated elbow while rookie wide receiver Hakeem Nicks left in the fourth quarter with what turned out to be a sprained ankle. They dodged a bullet with Nicks as the initial injury looked far worse than the 2-3 weeks he should be out. The extent of Ware’s absence is currently unknown and as of Monday morning he is out indefinitely.

REDSKINS

The Redskins were in the game a long time, but were unable to do much until the end of the game. Quarterback Jason Campbell was inconsistent, connecting with tight end Chris Cooley for a touchdown at one point and finding Giants corner back Corey Webster for an interception another. The run game was also average at best. Clinton Portis earned every yard of his 62 yards, finding it extremely tough to gather any momentum against a tough Giants run defense.

Antwaan Randel El had the best game of the Washington wide receivers, catching seven balls for 98 yards. As mentioned, Cooley got the touchdown and added 68 yards to that. No other wide receiver had more than a pair of catches as the offense never got going on a consistent basis.

SEAHAWKS 28, RAMS 0

SEAHAWKS

Seattle came out firing against the hapless Rams but were far from perfect. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s 279 yards and trio of touchdowns were solid, but he also turned the ball over twice. Nate Burleson had seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, but also fumbled the ball twice, losing it once. Still the bright spots were dazzling. Second year tight end John Carlson had six catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns while running back Julius Jones carried the ball 19 times for 117 yards and his own touchdown.

Newly acquired receiver TJ Houshmanzadeh had a solid day, gaining 48 yards on six catches and should be a bigger part of the offense as the season progresses.

RAMS
There isn’t much good to take away from the Rams efforts. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson had the most yards with 87 yards on five catches. Donnie Avery seemed healthy and ran for eight yards on top of his 46 yards on six receptions. But Steven Jackson was limited when the Rams fell behind and while his yards per carry was an impressive 4.19, his totals topped out at just 67 yards.
 
Jackson was also virtually ignored in the passing game after the Rams had said he would be a bigger part of it. They’re going to have to get him more involved if they have any hope of overcoming offensive line problems.
 
 
PACKERS 21, BEARS  15
 
PACKERS
Neither of the quarterbacks in this game were pretty, but Aaron Rodgers limited his mistakes and got the job done. His 184 yards and a touchdown didn’t have visions of highlight reels dancing in your head but he won and that’s all that counts on the field. Fantasy-wise, he’ll do better and owners should worry. Wide receiver Greg Jennings got his year off to a booming start with six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown and he continues to make his mark with every game. Donald Driver had a little less success -just 39 yards on four catches – but he is a steady presence and someone Rodgers can look to when it gets dicey.
Ryan Grant got nearly every carry and put in a workman-like performance with 61 yards on 16 carries. He also found the end zone once for 6 points.
 
BEARS
Just a guess, Jay Cutler might have been hoping for a better start to his regular season Bears career. The Packers new 3-4 scheme continues to impress and kept Cutler on his heels all night long and forced Cutler into four interceptions. Those picks made his 277 yard, one touchdown stat-line almost irrelevant and while he settled down after the first three, his final interception (to Al Harris) with a minute left just capped off a bad night.
 
Devin Hester had a great night, totalling 90 yards and a touchdown on just four catches. Rookie Johnny Knox made the most of his two catches with a yards total of 82.  Edgar Bennett built up the Vandy-connection discussion a little more as his college teammate found him seven times for 66 yards. But there were times when the wide receivers looked over-matched and a few of the interceptions might have been due to some confusion over routes and timing.
 
Matt Forte started his second year off with a ‘oof’ as it took him a total of 25 carries to get just 55 yards. He was also just about forgotten in the passing game, a concern many had due to Cutler rarely checking down to his running backs last season in Denver. Forte was a huge dissappointment, perhaps worse than Cutler and Bears fans and fantasy owners have to hope this was just a blip on the radar and not a sign of things to come. It’s too early to panic, but it is a situation that bears watching (pun really NOT intended), especially since life doesn’t get easier against the Steelers next week.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NFL Week One Recap – Pt 1

FALCONS 19, DOLPHINS 7

 

FALCONS

While they started out a bit slow, Matt Ryan and the Falcons eventually got their offense in gear and had little trouble moving the ball against Miami. Ryan’s 22/36 got 229 yard performance wasn’t the stuff of legend but he made few mistakes and found his receivers twice for touchdowns. One was by new Falcon Tony Gonzalez, whose touchdown capped a five catch, 73 yard performance. No other receiver had what you might term a big game, as Ryan spread the ball around quite liberally.

 Michael Turner also had a very quiet game with just 65 yards on 22 carries. That’s only 2.95 yards a carry which is unusual for him. Owners shouldn’t worry yet, but given the enormous amount of carries in 2008, it’s something to watch. 

 

DOLPHINS

When 2008 started we knew Miami wasn’t as bad as they had looked in 2007. We also knew going into this year they weren’t as good as they looked in 2008 either. They likely lie somewhere between though tonight they struggled in every aspect of the game. Chad Pennington had a decidedly pedestrian night, totaling 176 yards and one touchdown, while also tossing an interception as well. He also fumbled away the ball once as did tight end Anthony Fasano.

Many people expected big things from running back Ronnie Brown but he was only able to get 43 yards on ten carries, adding ten yards on three catches. Even the vaunted Wildcat looked more mild than wild and Pat White, named #2 presumably to run the Wildcat, didn’t do much. No receiver stepped up, the best being Davone with seven catches for just 57 yards.

  

 

 

COLTS 14, JAGUARS 12

 

COLTS

 The Colts totaled some impressive numbers but in the end, still only just beat the rival Jaguars as the defense stood up at the end and forced the Jaguars to turn the ball over on downs. Peyton Manning looked to be in mid-season for, totaling 301 yards with one touchdown, though he also threw a pick.

 His biggest weapon ended up being Reggie Wayne, who not a week ago was saying he expected good but not great numbers this season. How’s ten catches for 162 yards and a touchdown for good, not great?

Another guy for whom expectations might have been low was running back Joseph Addai, who responded with 77 total yards and a touchdown. The guy nipping at his heels, Donald Brown, did pretty well with eleven carries for 33 yards and another 16 added with two catches.

 

JAGUARS

The bright spot for the Jags was running back Maurice Jones-Drew who wasn’t much slowed by the bruise he sustained in the preseason and had 123 total yards and a touchdown. He looked every bit the top back many thought he would be coming into the season and he got all the carries. But that in and of itself is a concern. 

We have long contended that a constant string of 20-25 carry games will wear him down. Whether he will continue to get that workload or not is unclear – after all, Jack Del Rio said he wouldn’t get that many carries during the preseason. If the rest of the offense can’t get going, it may get harder and harder to move the chains. And the question remains – who will carry the ball when Jones-Drew doesn’t?

  

 

 

RAVENS 38 CHIEFS 24

 

RAVENS

Baltimore started off hot, then cooled off for a while before finishing the Chiefs off late. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked good aired the ball out often, ending up with 26/43, 307 yards and a trio of touchdowns. His one interception didn’t kill him either. He looks confident and cool in his second year. We’ll see what happens when he hits a better defense before getting too excited though.

A guy who does get us excited though is running back Ray Rice. Rice had an outstanding day gaining 108 yards on 19 carries. He added a pair of receptions for a dozen yards. Willis McGahee added a pair of touchdowns and 75 yards while the third head of the monster – Le’Ron McLain – managed a touchdown of his own. Mark Clayton had five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, showing no ill effects from his preseason injury.

 

CHIEFS

The fact that the Chiefs managed to claw back into the game speaks volumes for their grit, especially since newly minted starter Matt Cassel was slotted to be out due to injury. Yet backup Brodie Croyle stepped in and while he didn’t blow anyone away, his 177 yards and two touchdowns were a credible effort. More importantly he didn’t turn the ball over.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was stifled for the most part with 40 yards and a touchdown and while Mark Bradley had 73 yards, he couldn’t get into the end zone. Larry Johnson had exactly what he predicted happen – he saw a lot of bodies determined to stop him and they did – LJ had a paltry 20 yards.

 

EAGLES 38, PANTHERS 10

EAGLES

The good news here is the Eagles put a lot of points on the board. Brian Westbrook looked OK when in the game with 64 yards on the ground, just 8 through the air and a touchdown. Things got crazy early so Westy got more rest than he might have otherwise. LeSean McCoy looked good in his stead with 46 yards on 9 carries.

 DeSean Jackson had an 85 yard punt return touchdown. New tight end Brent Celek had a great day with six catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Donavan McNabb had three touchdowns – two in the air, one on the ground but the last one was very costly as McNabb ended up with a broken rib on the play.

The current thought is he is ‘doubtful’ for week two (the team officially haven’t ruled him out) and it’s likely he will miss the game against the Saints. But rib injuries can linger and it may affect him throughout the year. 

PANTHERS

When you miss, you miss and boy did we seem to miss on Jake Delhomme. He usually has a bad game now and then, but to look as awful as he did was a surprise. Just 73 yards with four interceptions was a terrible stat-line and you have to wonder if the team will look to acquire a free agent like recently freed – I mean dropped – ex-Raider Jeff Garcia or trade for a backup like displaced Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

With Delhomme playing badly, Steve Smith was nonexistent and was clearly frustrated by the game. DeAngelo Williams had to give up running for a while, but still put together a nice night with 42 yards through the air to match his 37 on the ground. Williams also had a touchdown. Jonathan Stewart looked OK in his carries as well with 35 on 11 carries and also caught a pair of balls for 32 yards. Overall though it’s a game the Panthers have to put behind them and quick.

 

SAINTS 45, LIONS 27 

SAINTS

The score makes it look closer than it was and that’s saying a lot. I said Saints QB Drew Brees was set for a great game but who knew he’d drop 358 yards and six touchdowns on the hapless Lions defense. His target of choice was not Marques Colston, Lance Moore or Robert Meachem but Deverey  Henderson who totaled an unconscious 103 yards and a touchdown.

Reggie Bush caught five himself for 55 yards, but had no luck on the ground with just 14 yards. The man toting the rock was Mike Bell who made some hay with 143 yards – a career total. Jeremy Shockey got his first touchdown as a Saint, followed soon by his second. Brees spread the ball around a lot, hitting eight different receivers for 26 completions. 

LIONS

Rookie quarterback Matt Stafford had a relatively rough outing, throwing three picks in his debut as Lions starter. Running back Kevin Smith did most of his work in the pass game after the Lions had to basically abandon the run. Smith got 72 yards total and a touchdown which saves his day from a fantasy standpoint but wasn’t enough to help turn it around for the Lions.

Neither did Calvin Johnson’s 90 yards but as happened so often in 2008, Johnson only got three catches. The Lions defense was terribly over-matched as the Saints spread the field and used constant multiple receiver sets to rip the secondary apart. 

  

 

COWBOYS 34, BUCCANEERS 31 

COWBOYS

Maybe you can get addition by subtraction – or at least Dallas quarterback Tony Romo can. After the team ejected Terrell Owens, Romo had a career day, totaling 353 yards and three touchdowns without any turnovers.

Patrick Crayton had an outstanding day with 135 yards and a touchdown on just four receptions. Roy Williams (86yds, 1 TD) and Jay Witten (71yds) performed well also. Marion Barber had 79 yards and a touchdown while his sidekick Felix Jones didn’t look as sharp as he did last year, with just 22 yards on six carries.  

BUCCANEERS

Byron Leftwitch looked OK in his Buccaneers debut, with 276 yards and a touchdown, hitting ten different receivers for 25 completions. Antonio Bryant was sharp and showed no signs of lingering issues from his knee, catching a pair of balls for 29 yards.

The real story here was the return of Cadillac Williams to the lineup. Williams was very good, carrying Cowboy defenders at times as he totaled 97 yards and a touchdown in a great performance. The number two, Derrick Ward, had a good game as well, with 62 and a touchdown as well. Earnest Graham will be the odd man out here if this keeps up – he got no work and really shouldn’t have the way the other two were going.

Tags: , , ,