Posted on: September 24, 2008 10:58 pm

Carnage's Long and Boring Week 3 Review

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Week 3 of the NFL season had some really interesting performances and games.  I’m

having a hard time getting into the writing groove after the poor showing by my Packers on

Sunday Night.  I can take a little consolation in the fact that after being a fantasy doormat

last season (3 leagues, no playoffs) that I posted high scores for the week in all three

leagues I’m in this season en route to a 9-0 start.  My wife, in two leagues, is off to a 6-0

start.   Fantasy Sports happiness is high in the Carnage household.
        Sorry, I have to break that out and brag about my early fantasy success.  As I said,

The Packers getting beaten badly by the Cowboys is not having a positive effect on my current

state of mental health.  Sports are interesting that way.  You know, it’s really insane when

you think about it.   Here I am, emotionally vested in some team of rich athletes that I will

probably never meet in person.  I get absolutely nothing out of it if the team wins the Super

Bowl except for vague notion that I’m somehow a part of the team because I jump up and down,

hyperventilate, throw crap at the TV, and swear a lot….yet a loss can seriously dampen my

mood for at least a day…a win can make me disturbingly happy.    Anyway, now that I’m

finished with that, let’s get on to looking at the rest of this week’s games.

Bills over Raiders or “All alone at the top of the AFC East….”
       One of the most frustrating feelings in sports has to be when you have spend 9 minutes

kicking the stuffing out of a team on a 16 play, 96 yard drive only to have that drive

countered in one huge play to put you back down nine points with just over six minutes to go.

 That kind of thing is just a momentum killer, but how they handle that type of situation

tells you a lot about a team.
        Already having come back from a 16-10 deficit the previous week against the Jaguars,

the Bills worked some magic again.   In those 6:23 the Bills came up with 115 yards and 10

points while holding the Raiders to -2 yards on their possession.    The Bills made a lot of

big mistakes early.  Two fumbles, one leading to a field goal and one well within field goal

range.  A missed 42 yard field goal.  A very costly interception from their own 1 yard line. 

 To add to the early game woes, 7 of the first 10 Bills possessions began inside their own 22

with five being inside their 13.  That’s a pretty long field all day long.
         I really like this Bills team.  They can play some defense, they have explosive

offensive and special teams players, and they can pull it together when the pressure is on.  

        The Raiders have some talent but they just aren’t there yet.  Despite having a decent

looking stat line because of the big play (Which was almost all Johnnie Lee Higgins),

Jamarcus Russel played dismally.  He was 8/18 for 72 yards (only 3 completions to wide

receivers) prior to that play.  If Darren Mccfadden, Michael Bush, and Justin Fargus don’t

come out and run well this team cannot move the ball.  I felt Jamarcus had a reasonable

amount of protection but doesn’t seem to be going through his progressions properly. 
Statistical Notes – Marshawn Lynch has touchdowns in 4 of his last 5 outings.  He is on pace

for over 1500 total yards.  Trent Edwards is completing 67% of his passes this season.  Josh

Reed, who has averaged 38 catches over his six year career, leads the Bills with 13

receptions.  JaMarcus Russell is completing only 51% of his passes.  To his credit, he has 0

INT’s thus far.  Extremely high priced free agent Javon Walker has 2 catches and 18 yards so

Buccaneers over Bears or “The underachievers strike back!”
       Brandon Lloyd, Jerramy Stevens, Michael Clayton, and Antonio Bryant all made major

contributions  in this game.    Stevens (first round pick) tried to drink himself out of the

league, Clayton (first) tried to eat himself out of the league, Lloyd(fourth) is on his third

team in his six year career, Bryant (second) is on his fourth in six years. 
       I hate to be overly critical of a team that won the game, but what on Earth is John

Gruden thinking having Brian Griese throwing the ball 67 times?  That’s absolutely crazy.  

The Bears scored 24 points, encouraging the Bucs to throw more, but 17 of those points came

after the Griese INT’s and one INT came with the Bucs in field goal range, meaning those

turnovers were potentially a 20 point swing in the game.   Speaking of 20 points, that’s all

they managed to muster offensively despite the aerial barrage.    I realize that Earnest

Graham did not have a very good day trying to run against the Bears tough front seven, but

the Bucs are going to have to rethink this strategy.  I really don’t think they want to get

into a shootout with too many teams.  
      This loss had to hurt for the Bears.  The silver lining is that Kyle Orton played well

(Two INT’s, but one was a fluke), Brandon Lloyd looked like a legitimate offensive weapon. 

I’m getting more and more impressed with Matt Forte every week.  I still don’t like how he

runs.  He’s pretty tall already for a running back (6’1”) and he doesn’t get down.  He looks

like a huge target.  No matter, 400 total yards and 4.2 YPC says he runs fine.  I loved how

they tried to use him as a downfield receiver. 
      One Bear I was disappointed with was Charles Tillman.  Although he has never been to

the pro bowl or counted among the best corners in the league, I think he’s a solid, smart,

savvy, veteran.  In overtime after a huge defensive stop on 3rd and 9 with Tampa ready to

punt from its own 10 yard line….a scuffle breaks out near the line of scrimmage in the form

of a pile of several Bucs and Bears.  Tillman runs at least 20 yards to get to the play and

jumps on the pile.   Charles!  Your team just made a play that should put you in a great

position to win the game.  Don’t do anything stupid!  Besides?  What good is throwing  a 200

pound body on top of 1800 or so pounds of humanity?   The Tampa O-Linemen appear to have

started the brawl, but Tillman’s running, WWE dive drew the most attention and the flag.  

First down Tampa!  Nine players later, game over.
Statistical Notes – Only four players in NFL history attempted more passes than Brian Greise

did this week: Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testeverde, George Blanda, and Jon Kitna.  Only

Testeverde’s game was a losing effort.  Cedric Benson’s first 3 games in 2007: 189 yards on

3.2 YPC, 3 catches for 28 Yards.  1 TD.  Forte’s first three games this year: 304 Yards on

4.2 YPC, 13 catches for 105 yards.  2 TD’s.  Brandon Lloyd’s last 100 yard game came in

November 2005.  Michael Clayton has 16 catches in his last four games.  Prior to that, he had

16 catches in his last 12 games.   The Bears, with 5 sacks in their first two games, failed

to record one despite 67 passes attempted this week.

Vikings over Panthers or “Are You sick of this color yet?”
Is it just me or does there seem to be an unusual amount of penalties being called this year?

 The two teams combined for 21 penalties.  The Vikings 9 penalties cost them 100 yards. 

Pretty costly considering the Panthers only gained 204 yards.  Out of those 21 penalties, 14

of them were Offsides or false starts.  These penalties are insufferable when your team is

guilty.   These plays happen due to lack of concentration most of the time.  Know your snap

After a subpar outing against the Packers in week 1, the Vikings front four are starting to

show signs that they can be as dominant as expected.  They held Joseph Addai to 20 yards on

15 carries and hurried Peyton Manning all game long last week. This week they held a team

with 2 talented backs to 2.4 yards per carry, sacked Jake Delhomme 5 times, and put up seven

points for their team.   After a solid first quarter of moving the ball, the Panthers

mustered only 40 yards of offense in the next three. 
Anyone else think Tarvaris Jackson could strangle Visanthe Shiancoe?  After dropping a

potential game winning touchdown pass last week, Shiancoe comes into this game and catches a

Gus Frerotte ball for the go ahead score.  I personally think the Vikings should have stayed

with Jackson.   Frerotte is a slow, 37 year old veteran with a career completion percentage

of 54.3%.  I really don’t see him as much of an improvement over Jackson.   I guess he was at

the Helm for the Vikings first win of the season but I’m skeptical. 
Statistical Notes – Julius Peppers recorded his first sack of the season.  This “Phenomenal

Pass Rusher” now has a whole 3.5 Sacks in his last 17 games.  Adrian Peterson’s Paltry 4.4

YPC performance on a bum leg dropped him all the way down to 5.2 YPC on the season.  Chester

Taylor leads the Vikings in catches with 7.   Jake Delhomme currently has a passer rating of

74.7.  He hasn’t been below 80 for a season since he tossed 73 balls for the Saints as a

rookie in 1999. 
Dolphins over Patriots or “Uhm, about that part in my start/bench column about Ronnie

Brown…..that wasn’t me.”
This was an absolutely wacky game.  I felt I was in an alternative universe.  The Dolphins,

2-18 in their last 20 games, faced the Patriots, 20-0 in their last twenty games.  The

Patriots, known for using crazy offensive formations where Mike Vrabel scores touchdowns

played a pretty conservative game.  The Dolphins, known lately for not really playing offense

at all…well….they tried something different.
The worst of Ronnie Brown’s four trick touchdowns was the last one.  With Ronnie Brown lined

up in the backfield and Chad Pennington split out on the left end, TWO Patriots defensive

backs were in the area that only Pennington was occupying.  I realize the Dolphins were

trying crazy things, but I’d think that one DB would be enough to cover a 32 year old that

runs a 9.2 40.   Two Patriots linebackers stood in one place, unsure what to do on a play

that they saw twice already.     I’ve loved the Patriots defense in weeks one and two, but

they looked very uninspired this week.
The Dolphins defense on the other hand, after Joey Porter came out yapping that “No Tom

Brady?  It shouldn’t be too hard”,  held the Patriots to just over 200 yards and 13 points. 

Despite the Patriots kick return game constantly giving them good field position most of the

game (only 2 out of their first 8 drives were inside their 30 yard line), the Patriots looked

bad.  At some point Matt Cassell has to start looking for Randy Moss.  Double, Triple

coverage?  Who cares?  Daunte Culpepper made a living heaving that ball up high for him.
At one point during the afternoon, after a Matt Cassell pass went clanging five yards wide of

the target, my wife looked at me and said “It’s just like people said.  Tom Brady is only

good because of the team around him.  He’s a system quarterback.  No better.”  I realize that

Tom Brady wouldn’t have been out there playing defense and stopping Ronnie Brown….and a Brady

Led Pats team may have still lost to the Dolphins today, but how people still cling to the

idea that Brady isn’t that great is beyond me.  To go from the highest scoring team in

history to 24th in the league in scoring in a single season is a pretty big deal.  The

Patriots lost (I think) two offensive starters from last year this offseason.  There was not

a huge upheaval.  I think it’s obvious even to the most ardent Brady haters what is going on

Statistical notes – The Patriots offense had 214 yards.  The Patriots kick return game had

248.  Joey Porter had three sacks Sunday and four on the year.  His season high is 10.5. 

Maybe he’s not as washed up as people have said. While Randy Moss is struggling with 6

catches for 45 yards in the last two, Wes Welker still is catching passes.  He has 19

already, putting him on pace for 101.  Raiders castoff LaMont Jordan leads the Patriots in

Rushing yards for the season…with 90.
Falcons over Chiefs or “Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Int, Int”
     Yup, if you are a Chiefs fan, that is the frustrating beginning of the game for your

offense.  Of course, two straight possessions where they scored touchdowns were next followed

by Missed Field Goal, Punt, Turnover on Downs, Interception.  Yikes!  Watching Tyler Thigpen

complete only 39% of his 36 passes and throw 3 picks was pretty ugly too.   The worst part

about it was, the Falcons didn’t put a lot of pressure on Thigpen and a lot of his passes

were not even close.   When will Brodie Croyle or Damon Huard return?
     After a rough week 2 game against Tampa, Michael Turner picked up where he left off

against the Lions.  Man, Turner is fast for a 240 pound guy.  He can hit holes, bump it

outside, or run between the tackles, carrying several defenders on his back.  There were

questions concerning Turner’s ability to be an every down back, but I think those have been

answered.    Of course, when the Falcon’s running game is going, backup Jerious Norwood puts

up some yardage, too.  He has been very effective when given chances.  Having two good backs

should help Matt Ryan develop.
      Last season when Michael Turner was a Restricted Free agent, a lot of people thought it

would be foolish to try to give a first or second round pick to the Chargers for a guy that

had been a backup for three seasons and nothing more.  People cited his gaudy 6.0 YPC average

as being due to playing in “Garbage Time”.    As a starter, he’s pounding out 6.3 YPC and any

team that doesn’t have a back they like would likely be happy to give up a draft pick for

him.   Of course, the Chargers were smart enough to know they were sitting on a guy who could

fill in for Tomlinson for a few games if need be so they were not selling.
       Speaking of Matt Ryan, if you give him time to throw he can perform.  I think he’ll be

a solid quarterback within a year or two.   It has to be nice to have 70 and 61 yard TD

passes under your belt after three games in the league.    He has a strong arm and throws a

pretty ball.
        The Chiefs are in a bad way.  They are 28th in points scored, 26th in points allowed.

 24th in yards gained, 26th in yards allowed.  They can’t really move the ball on anybody and

they can’t really stop anybody.    It’s going to be a looooong year for this team.
Statistical Notes – Michael Turner leads the league in rushing yards and touchdowns.  He is

on pace for 1952 yards and 27 TD’s.  Roddy White has 232 receiving yards putting him on pace

to become the first Falcons player in 900 years to gain 1000 yards receiving in back to back

seasons.  Dating back to last season, John Abraham has 8 sacks in his last four games.  He’s

starting to become a machine.  Larry Johnson averaged 5 yards per carry in a game for the

first time since December 2006.  A few more like that he’ll break the 4 YPC mark for the

season.  The Chiefs are 8th in pass attempts but 25th in passing yards.

Wal-Mart, the place where you can get ANYTHING
        I’m not a huge fan of Walmart.  Dealing with the large crowds is less convenient to

me than saving $.40.  Today, I decided to go there anyway.   My place has radiator heat and

it collects a LOT of dust.   My wife is a bit allergic to dust and occasionally will go on

sneezing jags so I figured I’d try one of those air purifiers to see if that makes a

        Anyway, as I approached the store I was asked by someone on the side of the building

for a light.  I handed her my lighter and she asked If I “Needed any Oxy’s or Xanax.”  She

still had my lighter so I figured I’d play friendly and ask how much.  Apparently the going

rate at Walmart for a 40mg Oxycontin tablet is $25 and the going rate for a 2 mg Xanax bar is

$3.  I continued on.  Mostly because I don’t do drugs, partly because 3 Oxy’s and 5 Xanax

instead of the air purifier I planned on getting didn’t sound like a good plan.
         I got into the door and some dude was standing there saying “Hey, Hey, Hey buddy,

how ya doing?”  I informed him that I was doing allright and he told me I could be doing

better.  “I’ve got teeners of white for $80.”  I asked him if he was afraid of getting in

trouble with the Wal Mart Security standing nearby.  He yelled “Hey Man!  This one is

paranoid!  Can you disappear for awhile!” to the Wal mart security guy who promptly made

himself scarce.  I told him I didn’t have any money and went into the store.
         A little perturbed, I found my air purifier and an awesome deal on Red Bull (6 pack

for $7.  First time I’ve seen a six pack, and that’s a great price) and headed out the door. 

There was a very nice looking young lady that was wearing some very flattering attire.  She

informed me that I looked a little lonely and for $25 (Oddly enough, the cost of one Oxy)

she’d be some really good company for about 20 minutes.   The wife was at work, the girl was

cute, and I’m a guy so I had to think this one over for a second.  I decided any girl willing

to sell herself at a Wal-Mart for $25 probably isn’t the kind of woman you want to take

chances with….that and the good husband that I am I felt guilty just thinking about it so I

continued on.
       My last encounter was a guy asking me for $10.   I told him that I was out of money

and if I had $10 I’d be standing next to him trying to get myself another $15 as I pointed to

the lady.  I asked him why he thought people would give him money for free when you could by

sex or drugs here instead.  He cursed and told me I was right and he was going to head over

to the Office Depot across the street.
Titans over Texans or “Could this be the team to beat in the AFC?”
   With the expected powers in the AFC struggling early, my eyes are really turning to the

Titans.   They are a football purist’s dream.   They have committed to the run (Actually

running on 60% of plays), the defensive line is absolutely dominating the line of scrimmage,

they create turnovers, and the defense gets involved in the scoring game.   Although Kerry

Collins isn’t a fantastic quarterback at this stage in his career, I couldn’t help but

realize how much the dynamic of the team has changed with his ability to throw the ball

downfield.  If Collins has one thing, it’s a big arm. 
     This offense has absolutely nobody that can be construed as a Superstar but they take

their physical game and grind away.  Chris Johnson may soon be considered at that level, but

not quite yet.  For now he’s just a fast explosive back that compliments that 240 hulking

human bowling ball LenDale White as he runs between the tackles.
       The defensive, however, is building a nice little cast of potential pro bowlers. 

Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanderbosch anchor the front, 2006 seventh round pick  is looking

like another potential pro bowler.  Imagine if Pacman had stayed in and made the playbook

rain all night long and was on his best behavior.  The Titans could be looking at a fantastic

CB tandem.
         The poor Texans.  I really have been liking them the last two years and they start

out with two vicious matchups (Titans, Steelers) and look like an NFL Europe team.   Matt

Schaub is looking like the goat but for a guy under constant pressure that has been sacked

four times a game, he’s completed 60% of his passes.  Yeah, the five INT’s aren’t so good,

but he probably could have been worse.   Had Andre Davis and Kevin Walter caught those end

zone balls, his stats would not look that bad.    Being in the Red Zone six times and coming

away with 12 total points is poor.
        On the other hand, the weak part of the team, the running of Steve Slaton, looked

fabulous.   In the end, he rushed for more yards than the previous two teams that the Titans

faced combined.  I don’t know what the story on this guy is.  To me he came out of thin air. 

He’s elusive, he can break tackles, and he can just plain run.  If that keeps up, the Texans

will have a much better chance than teams expected.
Statistical Notes – Again, Fantasy owners worried about Lendale White and Chris Johnson had

nothing to fear.  Both players are going to get their touches (106 between them in three

games).   Steve Slaton put up 100 yards on the ground, the third such performance by the

Texans in the last three seasons.  Third year DB has 4 INT’s and a TD in 3 games.    Kyle

Vander Bosch has 8.5 sacks in his last seven games.

Redskins over Cardinals or “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! RIGHT?”
Scott Suishiem shanks a 52 yard field goal to give the Cardinals the ball back, down by 7

after a 9 minute Redskins drive where no points were scored.  3 plays later the Cardinals

face 4th and 4 at the 48 yard line with 2:46 left.  Down by 7 with three timeouts left the

Cardinals know that if the Redskins get the ball back a single first down ends the game. 

Your average gain per play for the day has been 5.6 yards.  Time to go for it…or….no.  In

comes the punting unit.   One Redskins first down later, game over.   You are at midfield

with a chance to go 3-0 to start the season, and you punt?  Ugh.
I’m still unsure that this Redskins team of the last two weeks was the same one we saw the

Giants destroy in week 1.   I chastised the play of Jason Campbell.  I blasted the play

calling because they failed to get Chris Cooley involved.  Suddenly, Campbell is playing

well, Cooley is involved, and the Redskins are looking like the team I expected them to.  Of

course, they are still in last place…..with a 2-1 record.  The NFC East is a combined 10-2…

with the two losses being between each other.
What I like about Campbell this season has been his ability to find dynamic playmaker Santana

Moss.  For a stretch of time last season, he utterly refused to throw to his Wide Receivers. 

I see him looking downfield more often.   I like that.
It was kind of a letdown game for Kurt Warner.   After competing 70% of his passes the first

two games and playing mistake free ball, he had a hard time getting over the 50% hump and

threw one away.   I have appreciated the fact that despite the incredible tandem of wide

receivers, the Cardinals have remained committed to the running game.  Even more surprising,

the cardinals play calling has been 93/87 in favor of rushes the first three weeks.  Tied for

the 49ers for first place, the Cardinals are currently the best team in this division ahead

of the struggling Seahawks and the dismal Rams.
Statistical Notes – How good are Anquan Boldin and Fitzgerald?   After three games they are

averaging 11 catches,  180 yards, and 2 TD’s between the two of them.   They are on pace for

176 catches, 2900 yards, and 32 TD’s as a duo.   Santana Moss has scored in five straight

going back to last season.  Touches are important for fantasy backs, and Clinton Portis has

20+ touches in his last six.  He also has 7 TD’s in that span. 
Running Back By Committee evolved
     Fantasy Football players everywhere have been lamenting the dual running back scenario. 

Suddenly, there are “Primary Backs” putting up huge totals and secondary backs putting up

acceptable totals.  Spelling your backs leads to fresh legs, huge in every game.   In the

second half of the Packers/Cowboys game, Dallas down by three….Marion Barber III got a break

from his continuous pounding of the ball to let a fresh Felix Jones in.  Jones promptly took

the ball and went 60 yards to pay dirt.  The Result?  150+ total yards and a TD by Barber,

70+ yards and a TD for Jones.  The Titans Lendale white and Chris Johnson have both been

getting over 15 touches and a game.  Chris Johnson has been breaking the long ones, Lendale

White has been fighting for the tough yards and at the goal line.  Both are viable starters. 

The Raiders have been alternating to keep their guys fresh, creating two or three viable

starters.   Tim Hightower has made some plays and kept Edgerrin James more fresh and

productive than he has been.   The Jaguars finally ran the ball and divided the carries….the

result being 100+ yards for both Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred TaylorPierre Thomas has made

Reggie Bush more effective by taking the tough yardage downs and letting Reggie play all over

the field which suits him best.  Each back hit the end zone twice.    Suddenly the potential

player pool is getting large for running backs.
Denver over Saints or “Broncos are playing?  Bet the over.”
Looks like Broncos fans had better get used to down to the wire shootouts.   If I would have

told you that a team featuring Dre Bly and Champ Bailey at Cornerback would be the team

giving up the most yards through the air, you’d have thought I’m crazy.  The Broncos are

giving up over 300 passing yards a game.  I guess back to back Chargers and Saints matchups

will do that to you.
Of course, the Broncos offense is scary in its own right.   Jay Cutler wasn’t quite as

dominant as in the first two weeks, but he still looked good.    I’ve heard a lot of people

referring to his 2nd quarter interception to let the Saints really get back into the game as

evidence that Cutler makes a lot of poor decisions.  I’d say that’s a little overboard. 

Certainly he should not have forced the ball into double coverage as he did, but his good

plays have come more often than the bad.
Of course, it helps to have Brandon Marshall on your team.  Seriously, he’s starting to

remind me somewhat of a young Randy Moss.  He’s big and strong, making it difficult for

corners to cover him, and is he ever fast.  Early in the game, Marshall ran a fly pattern

right into the end zone.   The Saints CB, expecting safety help, played him for a shorter

pass.  The safety, with no other Broncos in the area to worry about, simply let Brandon

Marshall blow by him for six points.
Facing 2nd and goal from the one, the Saints got stuffed.  Facing 3rd and goal from the one,

Drew Brees fumbled the snap.  Realizing that the momentum was shifting in their favor and to

go into halftime tied would be huge, I applauded as the Saints went on 4th and goal from the

one.  Pierre Thomas gets stuffed going up the middle, turnover on downs with 27 seconds left.

 Unfortunately for Denver, they couldn’t just kneel on the ball and trot into the locker room

even thought the Saints had zero time outs.   A QB sneak usually doesn’t lose yardage. 

Instead, Cutler hands the ball off in the middle of the end zone and Andre Hall gets creamed

and the Saints end up getting two out of the deal.  I absolutely love the decision to go for

it here.
Drew Brees, without top wide receiver Marques Colston, was fantastic.   Seriously, the Saints

WR group isn’t really that awe inspiring.  I don’t think anyone not named Tom Brady or Peyton

Manning goes through progressions and finds the most wide open man better than Brees does.  

Luckily for Brees, Reggie Bush is starting to look like he knows where he needs to be and

seems to always be available for a short route or check down.  Team supposedly game plan for

Bush.  If that is so, why is Reggie always left wide open?
What’s up with Deuce Mccallister?  Is he not really healed yet?  He was suited up again but

did not play.  It’s really a shame that Deuce blew his knee out twice.  He was a fine player.

Statistical Notes – Drew Brees is completing over 74% of his passes and his on pace for 5226

yards this season.    The Saints already have six players with 100 yards receiving.  Reggie

Bush has an insane 26 receptions thus far.  That puts him on pace for 139 on the season. 

Bush is averaging nearly 10 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards more than his career

averages.  Brandon Marshall is averaging 12 catches, 160 yards, and a touchdown in the two

games he has played.  Michael Pittman has 20 touches and 4 TD’s.  A touchdown every five

times he gets the ball! 
49ers over Lions or “Why does Matt Millen still have a job?  Seriously?”
The Lions are a complete mess.    Millen has decided to continue to draft skill position

players in the first round (And this is high first round…it’s the Lions…remember?) every year

for six decades or something.  Ok, that’s exaggerating, but to Lions fans it might seem even

longer.  Want to know a secret?  Without an offensive line your QB gets sacked and you can’t

run the ball.  Without a defense the other team scores mobs of points.   The solution?  Fire

the coach every few years.  It’s OBVIOUSLY his fault.
Jon Kitna is starting to remind me of Rocky in his fight against Ivan Drago (Not the winning

part, just the beatings) as he’s constantly running for his life as 1, 2, or 3 defenders rush

in unblocked on every play.   It is just ugly.
For the second straight week, Frank Gore got 19+ carries, which means for the second straight

week the 49ers won.  They are now 14-1 in the last three years when Gore Rushes 19 or more

times, 0-20 when he does not.   Gore found gaping holes in the Lions D to run through.  What

a shock.  Note to Fantasy players.  Start every player  on your roster when they go against

the Lions.
Mike Martz made a good call going with J.T. O’Sullivan this season.  Alex Smith is hurt

anyway but J.T. really does seem to know the offense and throws some pretty passes. 
Statistical Notes – Gore has gone over the 100 total yard mark each of the first three games.

 Last season it took until week 12 to get three such games.   The Entire Lions team had 240

yards of offense.  Rudi Johnson had 131 of those yards.   Kitna, sacked 63 and 51 times in

the last two seasons is on pace to be sacked 65 times.

Jaguars over Colts or “Don’t blink, you’ll miss the Colts on offense…”
      In terms of Time of Possession, this is the most lopsided game I can remember.   The

Jaguars held the ball for 41:35 but needed a miracle at the end to finish this game off.  

This owes a lot to the Jaguars inability to get it done in the red zone.  Four times the

Jaguars got within the Colts 10 yard line.  Out of those four trips, they came away with 13

points.  Ouch.    It gets harder to run (And pass) the closer you get to the goal line.   You

run out of space and teams really clog up the middle. 
    The Jaguars need to be able to count on David Garrard and the wide receivers to make some

plays at the end of the field.    Another devastating play for the Jaguars was the third

quarter interception.  Chewing up 60 yards and 8 and a half minutes and coming away empty

handed is painful.  Garrard should not have thrown that ball.  Josh Scobee obviously is

capable of making field goals in the 47-48 yard range.  It’s demoralizing to the team to work

that hard and see the ball going the other way.  Of course, hyped free agents Jerry Porter

and Troy Williamson got injured in the preseason and have 2 catches between them.  The Jags

tried to fix their passing game by signing these two, but I don’t think I am the only one who

thought that was a bad idea.
      I did love that the Jaguars finally got back to their bread and butter, pounding the

ball all day long with their two talented running backs.  The Bob Sander lacking Colts are

already a bit softer on defense and as the game wore on they started to look REALLY soft.
      The Colts offense came out right away and looked really fresh.  They can still be

explosive, but I was shocked at how bad they looked at times.  I think the prior two games of

intense pass rush were really getting to Peyton Manning as he looked pensive at times in the

pocket.   His pick six by Rashaen Mathis occurred on a play where he had a reasonable amount

of time to throw the ball but simply made a very poor read.  Marvin Harrison had Jaguars one

either side of him. 
      On a lighter note, the Colts offensive line finally found a little running room for

Joseph Addai.   If they can keep that up I would think that the Colts offense will soon be

hitting on all cylinders.  Peyton Manning simply has too many weapons and is too good of a

quarterback to count out.   Still, I think the secret is out that you can run on the Colts

and they still have to play Jacksonville again, the Titans twice, The Steelers, and the

Chargers…..four teams that like to run the ball and are quite effective.   They also have

games against the Patriots and at Green Bay.   At 1-2, this team is not a lock for the

playoffs and could end their six year postseason run.
    Statistical Notes – Peyton Manning has 3 TD’s and 4 INT’s after three weeks.  He hasn’t

opened the season with more INT’s than TD’s since his rookie year.  The Colts have allowed

four 100 yard rushers in three games.  Over the last five meetings against the Colts, Fred

Taylor and Maurice Jones Drew have combined for 965 yards rushing (193 yards per game), and

have six 100 yard games between them.  David Garrard had 3 INT’s in 2007.  He has 4 already

in 2008.  He is on pace for 5 TDs and 20 INT’s. 

Ravens over Browns or “Brady Quinn, coming soon to a huddle near you!”
     I thought that the Browns not trying to dealing Derek Anderson this offseason was a

curious move.    Despite attempts to upgrade the defense, I claimed that the Browns were not

a playoff team and an 0-3 start was a very real possibility.  If ever I got anything right,

it’s this.    Fun games left on the Browns schedule include the Giants, At Redskins, at

Jaguars, Broncos, at Buffalo, at Tennessee, at Philly, at Pittsburgh.    Six wins is starting

to look like a lofty goal.
       In the first half the Browns mixed it up a little, actually handing the ball off to

Jamal Lewis 8 times.  Jamal Lewis was averaging nearly 5 yards per carry.   The Browns went

into the locker room enjoying a small lead.  They came out in the second half throwing 5 of

the first 6 plays.  The result?  Interception at their own 12.  Touchdown.  Interception at

their own 32 taken in for a touchdown…and the rout was on.
       The Ravens defense wasn’t quite as dominant as we were used to last year.  Ray Lewis,

Ed Reed, and Chris McAlister are aging.   Even in fantasy football, where name recognition

can go a long way, nobody was looking at the Ravens Defense even as a top ten unit.  Knowing

that the team isn’t suddenly void of talent, I happily scooped them up after other teams had

taken teams like the Panthers, Saints, and Raiders.   Averaging 160 yards allowed, having 5

turnovers, 7 sacks, and a touchdown in two games shows that reports of their demise were

greatly exaggerated. 
       Unfortunately for the Ravens, they lost Kyle Boller (Did I just say that) and had to

throw Joe Flacco right into the fire.    He isn’t playing very well at this point.  With the

lack of AFC teams really playing well, the Ravens could be in the playoff chase.  The fact

that they are going to be one dimensional all season will hurt their chances.
      I have really liked the Ravens using a true fullback, Le’ron Mclain, in an actual ball

carrying role.  Mclain is 260+ pounds and is a load to tackle. 
Statistical Notes – Anderson and Flacco treated us to a combined 27/67 for 254 yards, 1 TD,

and 5 INTs.  The Ravens are third in the league in rushing touchdowns and fifth in the league

in takeaways…despite playing in only two games.  Last years’ Browns team was 8th in the

league in offensive yardage and points.  They are Worst and second worst this season in those

respective categories.  Braylon Edwards in on pace for 42 catches for 390 yards.  Despite

having fewer touches, Mclain has more Yards and Touchdowns than Willis McGahee and Ray Rice

Prognostications or “Carnage guesses the winners of games”
I went 11-5 this week and can’t figure out why I picked the Rams and Lions to win games. 

Hmph.  Not bad.  That puts me 32-15 this season.  Yay.   Pretty good considering I went 3-13

in week 3 of 2007.
Atlanta over Kansas City
Redskins over Cardinals
Tampa Bay over Chicago
Patriots over Dolphins
Giants over Bengals
Titans over Texans
Vikings over Panthers
Bills over Raiders
Lions over 49ers
Broncos over Saints
Rams over Seahawks
Ravens over Browns
Colts over Jaguars
Chargers over Jets
Cowboys over Packers
Steelers over Eagles

Eagles over Steelers or “Steelers introduce new “El Matador” blocking scheme.  Fantasy owners

exhale as Brian Westbrook’s MRI is negative.”
“Quit Messing with the Tivo already” one of my friends told my dad.  “We don’t have Tivo” my

dad said.  “Then why do we keep seeing that same play where four Eagles are jumping on Ben

Roethisberger?”  Obviously my friend was being sarcastic but it did seem like every play that

Big Ben dropped back looked exactly the same.   When you trot your already injured franchise

quarterback onto the field, you need to do a little better job of protecting him.  In

addition to the nine sacks on Roeslisberger, the Eagles defense stripped the ball from him

another time and forced him into a grounding penalty in the end zone.  They also were credit

for 7 tackles for a loss.  The Steelers offensive line were completely and utterly dominated.
The Eagles faced two scares in the same game.  Injures to Westbrook and Mcnabb had everyone

in Philly and many fantasy owners cringing.  Westbrook looks like he’ll be ok and Mcnabb

obviously returned to the game.   Correll Buckhalter, although he is no Brian Westbrook ,

stepped in and played pretty well, especially considering he missed two entire years with

injuries.  Willie Parker was also injured and the Steelers may not be so fortunate.
Statistical Notes – Big Ben is on pace to get sacked over 60 times this season.  Hank Baskett

is on pace for nearly 70 catches and over 1000 yards.  Buckhalter led both teams in total

yardage with 87.    This game wasn’t very exciting statistically. 
Scoring – Note just for the offense anymore
Last season I noticed an unusually high number of scores by the defensive/special teams side

of the ball.  This week the defenses put up 72 points (Counting TD’s as 7.  10 TD’s and 1

Safety).   Defensive touchdowns and punt returns on demoralizing plays.   This has a huge

impact on fantasy, as a touchdown from your defense can really give you a boost.  Be sure to

watch teams that have a knack for their defense putting numbers on the scoreboard and be sure

to start those teams.
Seahawks over Rams or “Is Billy McMullen a more viable fantasy option than Tory Holt?”
Oh boy are the Rams bad.  For some reason I picked them to win.  You know, playing at home,

having highly paid Superstars like Steven Jackson, Tory Holt, and Marc Bulger.  Playing

against castoffs like Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett as well as people grabbed off the street

(Billy Mcmullen, Michael Bumpkis, Courtney Taylor.) 
What was I thinking?  Steven Jackson still looked impressive, but the rest of the Rams on

both sides of the ball were terrible.  Let’s just say that you had to be pretty bored to

watch too much of this game.  On a lighter note, Julius Jones seems to be benefitting greatly

from a chance in scenery.  He doesn’t look like the guy that couldn’t gain 4 yards per carry

for the Cowboys.
Statistical Notes – The Rams have the third worst offense in terms of points and yardage and

the worst defense.  Still, Steven Jackson is on pace for 1600 yards in this mess.  Tory Holt

is on pace for 68 catches for 650 yards and five TD’s.  Over the last EIGHT seasons he’s

averaged  94 catches for 1384 yards and 8 TDs.  Seriously.  That’s really really good. 

Julius Jones has not had back to back 100 yard games since October 2006 before this season. 

He is third in the league in rushing yardage.
Cowboys over Packers or “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Packers got killed.  Al Harris has a ruptured spleen and may or may not miss the rest of the

season.  He left the field after the play that ruptured his spleen and came back in a few

plays later.  He made a solo open field tackle on Marion Barber.  We havn’t seen too many

without TORN INTERNAL ORGANS be able to tackle Marion Barber alone.
Letting Charles Woodson cover Terrell Owens with a safety lurking around was a great game

plan.  Owens was less of a factor than I have ever seen him be.  Of course,   that left some

guy named Michael Austin to make some really huge plays.  Oh yeah, the fact that the Packers

got run all over by Barber and Felix Jones didn’t help either.  Jason Witten can do so many

things he’s virtually not coverable.  The Packers must have shared pass blocking ideas with

the Steelers because they used the Matador Technique a lot, too.
Statistical Notes – Marion Barber has at least 100 total yards and a touchdown for the first

three weeks.  What’s that about him not being able to handle the load?  Greg Jennings is on

pace for nearly 2000 yards.    Aaron Rodgers is one of three QB’s (Jason Campbell and

Jamarcus Russell) without an interception this season.  He has the most attempts of the

Next Week’s Games
Panthers over Falcons
Browns over Bengals
Jaguars over Texans
Broncos over Chiefs
Saints over 49ers
Cardinals over Jets
Packers over Bucs
Titans over Vikings
Chargers over Raiders
Bills over Rams
Cowboys over Redskins
Eagles over Bears
Ravens over Steelers
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 25, 2008 7:28 pm

Sports Web Sites - Failing to use Web Effectively

  The Internet has changed the Media as we know it tremendously.  Somewhere in the late 1990's, the Internet just exploded with popularity.  Households began to find computers and high speed connections affordable.   The ease of finding sports box scores made Fantasy Sports more viable.   In my earlier Fantasy Football days, I had "Primetime" to get a peek of how my players did, and the Monday Morning paper.  Now, you can check scores, injuries, waiver wires, trade poposals, opinions...whatever you want...24/7 and usually in real time.

   Fantasy Sports have prospered but what about other aspects of sports?  With multimedia hitting the web, analysts blogging all day long, and the general ability to put just about anything you want on a web page, are the major sports media sites giving us the right content?

  My personal feeling is that they have really bungled things.  The news aspect of the web sites is a good thing.  We get injury updates, player moves, and player performances.  That is about where it stops.

   Analysis is completely dead.  It seems that every "Analysis/Opinion" article is meant to make everyone feel good about the players.  "He looked terrible but he should bounce back."  "He's a thug but he learned his lesson in humility and is a changed person."  "Players that got into a fight have sat down over a cup of Cafe' Mocha and now are friends again."  "Team that went 2-14 last season thinks they are ready to make the big step."  What kind of analysis is this?  I can't stand the way the major sports sites fail to analyze anything.  Don't tell me that Matt Ryan is a happy man, his team mates are behind him, and he intends to continue to work hard.  Tell me what he has done well at so far (Is he going downfield, is he going through his progressions, is he evasive in the pocket, is he utlizing his tight ends, is he developing a rapport with a specific wideout?)  and what he needs to improve at (Does he overthrow a lot of passes?  Does he miss a lot of reads?  Does he understand the check down?).   Tell me straight up how bad Alex Smith is that he lost his job to J.T. O'Sullivan.  Don't give me a bunch of garbage about how Alex Smith is smiling and embracing his new role.  Don't give me the "Well, O'Sullivan played with Mike Martz before."  Don't tell me it's because he "Understands the offense."  Tell me what parts of the offense he understands.  What parts Alex Smith doesn't understand.

   I know football is supposed to be entertaining, but I love to learn about the game.  I think it's more interesting when you understand the Cover 2, the Spread Formation, The Zone blocking scheme, the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3, what the west coast offense really is.  By understanding more about the game than just the basic rules, your ability to enjoy and appreciate what goes on will increase. 

   I RARELY, if ever, see actual articles describing game plans or offensive/defensive packages that certain teams utilize.  Video's showing me Nick Barnett's car?  Sure.   Descriptions of the Colts new home?  Sure.  Reports that Lane Kiffen is confident with his team (because coaches usually come out and talk about how bad certain players of theirs suck.)?  Of course!   Video's of Brett Favre running laps for messing up in practice.  Oh yeah.  That's a big deal.

   How about actually showing us the difference between previous 49ers offensive systems and what Mike Martz is likely to implement?  How about showing us how the Giants defensive schemes that took apart the Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots high powered offenses in the playoffs last year?  How about actual content?

   Luckily, message boards allow me to get a little more insight . When I want to get a chuckle from fluff NFL articles, I go to the professionals.  When I want to get actual opinions on how a player has looked, I check out what some of the posters on this board whom I respect have to say.  Maybe they aren't professionals, but they'll at least give me their real feelings on the matter instead of some uninsightful, uninspired nonsense.

Posted on: July 19, 2008 12:50 am

QB's Drafted high. Will they Boom or Bust?

    Most seasons, when the NFL draft rolls around teams that have endured utter disappointments for seasons often to look to the Quarterback position to turn their fortunes around.  Almost every year a quarterback or two will create a buzz amongst the media and fans.  In the last 13 seasons, at least one quarterback has been taken in the top five 10 times.  The position had a player picked first overall six times in that span.  

    Conventional wisdom tells us that the Quarterback is the most important position on the team and if a team can grab a hot young talent as their field general for the future, they should do so.  Being a Quarterback drafted in the first two rounds usually indicates that the team that drafted you intends to try to make you their QB of the future.  They are going to invest time and money to develop you.

   I am wondering if that is such a good idea.  I've always thought that what happens in the first two seasons as the starting QB will dictate how that player turns out in the long run. Poor performance early can affect a player psychologically...having nobody to throw to ball to, having to win the game without the benefit of a running back to help shoulder the load, and having a porous line that leaves you flat on your back are all ways to shatter confidence.  

   From 1995 to 2006 (Arbitrary years selected by me), 35 Quarterbacks were drafted in the first two rounds.  Of those 35, 19 have been busts while 15 have had adequate to outstanding careers (I will refer to those players as "Booms" for the rest of this discussion).  Aaron Rodgers is to be determined. All of these players showed some flash of talent in college that made scouts believe they could succeed at the Professional level.    The purpose of this article is to determine if there is a reason other than their own talents that charted the path of these players.

   Let me take the time to say that for some of these players, boom or bust is subjective.  Some of you may not agree with me on some of my placements.  Some players may be too early to say.  Examples: Alex Smith is a Bust.  Jason Campbell is a boom.  Kordell Stewart...also a boom.  I did not apply specific criteria to my labels...mostly if a players talents managed to keep him on the field for any length of time AND that player led a team to some degree of success they were not a bust.  Here are the complete lists.

   Bust: Alex Smith, J.P. Losman, Byron Leftwich, Rex Grossman, Kyle Bollar, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Patrick Ramsey, Quincy Carter, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Cade Mcnown, Shaun King, Ryan Leaf, Charlie Batch, Tony Banks, Todd Collins, Marques Tuiosisopo, and Jim Druckenmiller.

   Boom: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethilisberger, Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer, Michael Vick, Drew Brees, Chad Pennington, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper, Peyton Manning, Jake Plummer, Steve Mcnair, Kerry Collins, and Kordell Stewart.

   I decided to try to dig up some indicators that could give us reasons for success or failure.  Here are the factors and why I chose them.

1.  Number of wins for the team in the two years prior to the player taking over.  I chose this to see if I could get an idea what kind of teams these players were walking onto.  Personell can turnover a lot in two years, but I wanted some way to measure the overall talent of the team.

2.  Number of years from when the QB was drafted until the reins were handed over to him.  I always have felt that a QB sitting for an entire year is a good idea.

3.  Number of players on the QB's inaugural season lineup that have had 1050 yards recieving at least once in the last two years.  This gives an idea of the talent of the pass catchers the player has to work with when they take the field.  I use prior years because a WR/TE/RB recieving numbers are directly related to the performance of the QB.

4. Number of times in the QB's first two years that he had a 1000 yard rusher in the backfield with him.  This tells us if the QB has to carry the load by himself or if he has a stud back to lean on.  I felt it better to use the numbers from when the QB takes the field because the performance of a RB is less directly related to the QB.

5. Average Number of times a QB was sacked per game in his first two seasons starting.  Granted, some of this is the fault of the QB, but I thought this was a good indicator of what types of offensive lines they are playing behind.

The average number of wins the previous two seasons is 6.5 for busts, and 7.25 for booms.  This difference is not enormous and suggests the players are put, for the most part, onto losing teams.  (Note: Kerry Collins, Tim Couch, and David Carr do not get factored in as they were on expansion teams.)

The amount of time the busts got to spend learning from someone behind them is significantly lower.  The average bust had .3 seasons before hitting the field while the average boom had 1.2 seasons as an understudy.  To widen the gap, I have Rex Grossman down for 3 seasons before starting a significant number of games but that is more due to injury than anything else.  14/17 of the busts were thrown into the starting role in their first years.  Of the 15 "Booms", only 4 were thrown right into the starting role (The Manning brothers, Kerry Collins, and Big Ben).  

The number of competent pass catchers for the busts is on average 0.87.  For the Booms the number sharply rises to 2.13.  Some of the players that had 1050 yards recieving were aging by the time the new QB's took over, but the difference in the quality of talent that surrounded the booms is huge.

The number of 1000 yard rushers QB's enjoyed their first two seasons shows us a similar trend. The average bust could expect 0.71 years with a 1000 yard rusher while the average boom had 1.46 years with a good back.  If we compared the numbers further, the "Booms" had some backs with Huge huge years while most of the busts had backs just squeaking by the century mark.  

Finally, we have the sacks.  The Average bust was sacked 2.5 times per game while the average boom was sacked 1.75 times per game in their first two seasons....and this is with Joey Harrington being sacked only .56 times per game...the only player not to be sacked at least once per start his first two seasons out of both categories.

I decided that team wins wasn't really statistically signficant so I came up with a formula.  Number of years on the bench + Number of 1050 receivers + number of 1000 yard rushers - sacks per game.  The average outcome for busts was a -0.5.  The average for booms is 2.75.  
   What this tells me is that a player allowed to spend some time on the bench, having some decent pass catchers, having a RB to lean on, and having a line that protects them early on in their careers tends to make them far better QB's over the course of their careers.

With this in mind, I would think that rebuilding teams may want to consider putting some pieces in place before putting that Franchise QB in the mix.  When making a cake you mix a bunch of crap together and let it bake while carefully planning how you want the icing to look and taste.  When the cake is finished baking, you apply the icing...which completes the cake.  History warns to treat the QB as the icing, and not part of the mix.  Rebuilding teams like the Falcons and Dolphins should give this some thought if they want Matt Ryan and Chad Henne to turn into stars of the future instead of broken, skiddish, multi-million dollar busts.

Note: Tuiosisopo, Druckenmiller, Rodgers, and Todd Collins did not have a large enough body of work for me to use them for any significant numbers so they are not part of the statistical analysis.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com