February 21, 2018

All Out Blitz: NFL News & Notes

Arizona Cardinals:  The Ryan Lindley experiment at quarterback can’t end soon enough.  How bad must John Skelton have been in coach Ken Whisenhunt’s mind to be replaced by Lindley.  Kevin Kolb may not be the long term answer behind center, but the team probably can’t wait for his return….Now I know RB Beanie Wells had two touchdowns in his return to action Sunday, but let’s not get to excited here, those TDs were about the only damage he did on the ground, and the Cardinals upcoming schedule is not suited for running the ball much.

Atlanta Falcons:  Falcon fans have been complaining that the team is not getting enough respect.  They probably have a point as Atlanta is 10-1 and is well on their way to home field advantage in the NFC.  Problem is, as silly as this sounds, they don’t win impressively.  Seems they do just enough to win games.  Think people believe that once they get into the playoffs and play some good teams they won’t last long.  Past playoff failures against the Giants and Packers don’t help any either.

Baltimore Ravens:  A win by Baltimore over Pittsburgh on Sunday (and with the Steelers more than likely not having Ben Roethlisberger, one would have to believe that is pretty much a lock) the Ravens will have pretty much locked up the AFC North…..That 4th and 29 catch and carry by RB Ray Rice for a 1st down against the Chargers last week was a thing of beauty but was also about as lucky as you can get, Ravens are living the good life right now.

Buffalo Bills:  What was WR Steve Johnson thinking when he decided to come out and say that coach Chan Gailey should give play calling and that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should take over those duties.  Umm, when did Fitzpatrick become the next Peyton Manning?  Best to let Fitzpatrick try and become an average NFL QB before putting more on his plate…..Speaking of Gailey, he has also decided that the 50/50 split between Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller will now be a 60/40 split in favor of Spiller.  Still think it should be higher, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Carolina Panthers:  Quarterback Cam Newton hasn’t been having the best of seasons, actually been a pretty big disappointment, but even he was able to tear apart the Eagles defense…..All was not rosy for the offense however, RB Jonathan Stewart suffered the dreaded the high-ankle sprain and although the Panthers are calling him day to day, it would be pretty surprising if he played Sunday versus the Chiefs.

Chicago Bears:  Seems highly unlikely that RB Matt Forte will play this week after suffering another ankle injury.  It doesn’t look like he will miss much time but the Sunday would seem to be the Michael Bush show…..I know that QB Jay Cutler is a hard person to like, I really don’t like him much, but you can see what a difference he makes to the team.  Behind that offensive line, backup QB Jason Campbell looked lost while Cutler looked firmly in control.

Cincinnati Bengals:  Don’t look now but the Bengals are right back in the hunt for the wildcard in the AFC, they may actually take over the spot with a win versus San Diego on Sunday and a loss by either Pittsburgh or Indianapolis…..WR Mohammed Sanu stepped up in a big way Sunday with two TD receptions.  Would be a real bonus for the Bengals if Sanu could continue to play well and give the team another option in the passing game other than A.J. Green.

Cleveland Browns:  Not sure how to feel about the Browns victory over the Steelers last week.  On one hand I picked them to win the game as I didn’t think the Steelers would do much offensively against the Browns, to many injuries, but on the other hand, Pittsburgh turned the ball over eight times, Cleveland once, yet they still only won by six points.  This game should’ve been a blowout…..Former general manager Mike Holmgren is now officially no longer a part of the team.

Dallas Cowboys:  The slim playoff chances that the Cowboys had took a major hit with a loss to the Redskins on Thanksgiving.  They are now two games behind the Giants in the NFC East and although only a game behind Seattle for the wildcard, a loss to Seattle earlier this season pretty much means that is a two game deficit as well…..Wide receiver Miles Austin suffered a hip injury Sunday but should be good to go this week against Philly…..Linebacker Bruce Carter won’t be so lucky, he was filling in for Sean Lee and was playing at a Pro Bowl level, but a dislocated elbow has ended his season.

Denver Broncos:  Well the Broncos pulled a fast one on everyone last week.  Everyone assumed that Ronnie Hillman would be the main ball carrier now that RB Willis McGahee is done for the season.  Well, apparently not, Knowshon Moreno took over the starters role.  Apparently the Broncos don’t believe Hillman can pick up blitzes well enough to handle the full-time role.  Remember, coaches lie, always have to take everything they say with a grain of salt.

Detroit Lions:  What can you say about the Lions loss on Thanksgiving?  Sure they were shortchanged by a terrible call by the officials on Justin Forsett’s touchdown run but I would say coach Jim Schwartz is much more to blame than the officials.  First, coaches are told before each game not to challenge scoring plays or turnovers.  Second, officials are told to err on the side of caution.  In other words, don’t blow the whistle unless your positive, especially on a scoring play where there is no harm in challenging the call.  Third, why did Schwartz throw the challenge flag so quick?  What was he trying to prove?  You have to know the rules as the head coach.  This all being said, have to believe the 15-yard penalty for challenging a play that can’t be challenged is enough, no reason that the play still shouldn’t be reviewed.

Green Bay Packers:  That was an ugly game by the Packers versus the Giants on Sunday night.  The Packers are obviously one of the better passing teams in the NFL, but that offensive line is certainly not, and against teams that can rush the passer, they are going to have some problems…..WR Greg Jennings should return this week which should be a lift to the offense…..WR James Jones wasn’t targeted once in this game and now he goes back to being no better than fourth on the target list, maybe even fifth.  If Jennings leaves via free agency next season however, Jones could become pretty valuable once again.

Houston Texans:  Texans may have the best record in the AFC and are on track for home field advantage, but they have to be extremely worried about their secondary.  That is three teams now (Detroit, Jacksonville, Green Bay) that have absolutely torched Houston via the pass.  Not what you want to see when you just may have to get by the Patriots Tom Brady and their aerial attack to advance to the Super Bowl.

Indianapolis Colts:  If the playoffs started this weekend, Indianapolis would play Denver in the 1st round.  Do you think there might be a storyline or two that would come out of that game.  Pretty amazing job by this organization to turn things around this quick, even if they were to fade down the stretch and miss the playoffs.  Pretty goes to show, once you have a franchise quarterback, everything else will fall into place.

Jacksonville Jaguars:  Lucky DE Jason Babin.  When he was released by the Eagles Tuesday, there were only two teams in the NFL with a worse record that might claim him.  Jacksonville was one of those teams.  Not sure why the Jags made this move.  Sure Babin can probably still play, maybe even play well, but you’re not going to the playoffs and more than likely he is not coming back next season, so why spend the $1.64 million this season on a players who is 32 years of age?

Kansas  City Chiefs:  For the Chiefs, the off-season has to be all about finding a franchise quarterback.  Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel are not the answer and this team will remain as one of the worst in the NFL without one.  They will more than likely need a new head coach and number one wide receiver as well as neither Romeo Crennel nor Dwayne Bowe may be back.

Miami Dolphins:  Miami will have a tough decision to make next season with left tackle Jake Long.  He will be a free agent and might be able to command a big contract, but he is clearly not the same player.  He still may be the Dolphins best offensive lineman, but whether or not they want to commit top dollars to a declining player could define their off-season…..One player who is almost certainly going to depart is RB Reggie Bush.  Daniel Thomas has more than likely shown the staff that he can handle the starting job, and Lamar Miller should be due for a bigger role as well.

Minnesota Vikings:   Wide receiver Percy Harvin was a limited participant in practice Wednesday which means he will more than likely be a game-time decision for Sunday’s game versus Green Bay.  Even against a suspect Packer secondary, without Harvin the Vikings will have problems moving the ball in the air and Green Bay knows this as well and will load up on the line of scrimmage to stop RB Adrian Peterson…..TE Kyle Rudolph also is questionable with concussion and shoulder concerns.

New England Patriots:  Good to see the Patriots offense suffered with the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski.  They were only able to score 49 points against the Jets, and 14 of those were on defense/special teams…..The addition of CB Aqib Talib hasn’t made the secondary impenetrable but has solidified it, at least it has eliminated the deep pass for now…..Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd has to be one of the bigger disappointments so far this season.

New Orleans Saints:  Tough loss for the Saints last week.  Those two pick sixes that QB Drew Brees certainly took away any chance the Saints had at a win.  Luckily for New Orleans the Seahawks also lost which keeps the Saints one game behind the Hawks for the final wildcard spot…..Running back Darren Sproles returned to action and looked good, even with the glut of backs on the Saints roster, he is still someone you want to start in fantasy leagues.

New York Giants:  Amazing what a week off can do.  The Giants looked like a dying team before their bye week but came out and blasted the Packers on Sunday.  Quarterback Eli Manning looked rejuvenated and WR Hakeem Nicks looked like he had the burst that was missing since he injured his foot in the off-season…..All of the news wasn’t good however as RB Andre Brown is out of the season with a broken leg.  This means no more TD vultures from Ahmad Bradshaw, it also means rookie David Wilson will get to prove he deserves a bigger role in the offense.

New York Jets:  That was an abysmal showing that the Jets put up on Thanksgiving.  Watching QB Mark Sanchez try and make something out of a busted running play by hitting smack into the backside of one if his linemen and fumbling the ball, having it returned for a TD, then watching the team fumble the kickoff and having that also returned for a TD provided all the comic relief I needed…..The Jets need playmakers all over the place on offense next year.

Oakland Raiders:  Still can’t believe the Raiders owe the Bengals yet another number one pick next season for the Carson Palmer deal.  Yeah, how’s that working out for the team?  Running back Darren McFadden is expected to return to the team this week, and while this shouldn’t bring an end to touches for RB Marcel Reece, it will obviously mean some sort of reduction.

Philadelphia Eagles:  Watching the Eagles since the end of September is like watching a train wreck.  They have lost eight straight games when some thought they were a Super Bowl contender in the pre-season.  There head coach (Andy Reid) is a dead man walking.  Starting QB (Michael Vick) is likely to miss yet another game with a concussion and more than likely won’t be back next season.  Top RB (LeSean McCoy) is out with a concussion that he suffered with two minutes remaining in a game that Philly had no chance of winning.  There top WR (DeSean Jackson) was just placed on IR this week with fractured ribs.  They just released a DE (Jason Babin) who had 18+ sacks last season.  Not to mention they made a scapegoat out of their defensive coordinator  (Juan Castillo) when they fired him mid-season.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  The Steelers are decimated by injuries right now.  It was bad enough when they lost QB Ben Roethlisberger to injury, but then backup Byron Leftwich went down, and third stringer, Charlie Batch, is proving that he really shouldn’t be on an NFL roster anymore.  What doesn’t help matters any is that no one has stepped up to help the offense.  Wide receiver Mike Wallace was actually demoted to co-starter, along with Emmanuel Sanders, after some lackluster play since big Ben went down.  Rashard Mendenhall was demoted to third string at RB after not doing much since coming back from injury.  I know there are some thoughts to having Ben play this week, but he’s not ready, and another blow to his ribs could be the end of his season.  Best to sit him this week, take the loss, and hope Roethlisberger will be ready to go for the remainder of the season in Week 14.

San Diego Chargers:   If I was a betting man, I would put my money on San Diego being the team that Andy Reid coaches next season, that is assuming he doesn’t want to take a year off.  He is from the area and may relish the opportunity to rehabilitate his image which has taken a beating the past couple of seasons, either way coach Norv Turner is gone.

San Francisco 49ers:  Coach Jim Harbaugh is taking some heat for how he is handling his starting QB situation.  He has sort of been talking out of both sides of his mouth.  Saying that Alex Smith was his starter but wanted to be cautious about his concussion yet naming Colin Kaepernick his starter even when Smith is completely recovered.  I understand Harbaugh has a dilemma.  He has a QB in Smith who was playing well this season but is limited in what he can do on the field.  Kaepernick has the tools to be one of the better QBs in the league, and is someone who might be able to win a game by himself while Smith will need the help of his defense.  Harbaugh was trying to spare Smith’s feelings which is all fine and good, but in the end, unless Kaepernick fell on his face against New Orleans last Sunday, Smith was going to have to face the fact that he is no longer a starting QB in San Francisco.

Seattle Seahawks:  The Seahawks are in a very tough spot now due to the probably suspensions of their two starting cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.  They are 6-5, tied with Tampa for the last playoff spot and one game ahead of several teams.  They can’t win on the road as they seem to prove over and over again, and they play in Chicago this week.  While both of those CBs will play this week, there is a pretty good chance they still lose the game, fall to 6-6, then will play down two starting CBs for the last four games of the season.  Not liking their chances of making the playoffs anymore.

St. Louis Rams:  Wide receiver Danny Amendola played last week but was not a major factor in the game plan.  Actually seemed to be more of a decoy than anything else.  Amendola has also not practiced this week so he certainly won’t be at full strength this week either…..Cornerback Janoris Jenkins showed why the Rams were so happy to see him available in the second round of this past April’s draft.  He returned two picks for TDs against Arizona.  The only reason he lasted to the second round was because of concerns about his mental makeup, not his physical abilities.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Tough loss to the Falcons last week for Tampa.  Quarterback Josh Freeman finally had a subpar game, he missed a wide open Mike Williams at least twice for what would’ve been easy touchdowns…..Now many don’t like coach Greg Schiano, and I would be one of them, but he has done an amazing job in turning around this organization.

Tennessee Titans:  Wide receiver Kenny Britt finally had a touchdown last week, but like RB Beanie Wells with Arizona, that was about all he did.  It’s probably not going to be until next year before he makes a big time impact once again…..The Titans fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer this week, guess someone has to take the fall for what has been a disappointing season so far in Tennessee.  This also may not be the last change for the organization, head coach Mike Munchak could also be on the chopping block.

Washington Redskins:  Don’t look now but the Skins are actually in the playoff hunt.  They are two games behind the Giants in the NFC East and play the G-men Monday night in Washington.  Like QB Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, Robert Griffin III is paying off big time for the Skins.  Think of how much better he will be also, as the Skins surround him with more talented players in the season to come…..Wide receiver Pierre Garcon looked really good versus the Cowboys, displaying really good hands, and playmaking ability.  Another big time weapon for RGIII.


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