Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MVPs and LVPs: Week 5


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Adrian Peterson (RB, Minnesota Vikings):

For the first time all season, the Vikings made a good choice - when your passing game isn't working, take a chance and lean on your star running back to get you through the game. Peterson had 29 carries for 122 yards, and had 3 TDs that all came in the first quarter. Donovan McNabb still looks lost in the quarterback role, going 10 for 21 for 169 yards with 0 passing TDs and 1 rushing TD, but Adrian Peterson proved that he can still keep this team in games all by himself, as he carried this team to it's first win of the season. Minnesota is now 1-4 in the extraordinarily tough NFC North, and it doesn't look like they'll be heading to the playoffs this year (or anytime soon, with the way they're playing), but Peterson once again showed us the talent he has that means you can almost never count the Vikings out of a game.

Matt Cassel (QB, Kansas City Chiefs):

After the first four weeks of the season, I didn't think that a member of the Chiefs would make it on to my MVP list for the rest of the year. But surprisingly, Cassel played a great game on Sunday, and the Chiefs are now 2-3. Cassel went 21 of 29 for 257 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs. The Chiefs were down by a significant margin against the Colts, who looked like they were finally going to get their first victory of the season behind the arm of Curtis Painter (who also had a great game). But Cassel helped the Chiefs to score 21 unanswered points and mount an impressive comeback. Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston made some great catches, and the Chiefs' two wins may have more to do with the fact that they were against the Vikings and Colts than anything else, but the Chiefs are at least no longer last in the AFC West, and if Cassel keeps playing this way, Kansas City might finally have something going for them.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB, New England Patriots):

Against a tough Jets run defense, most people (myself included) expected the Patriots to throw the ball often and press the Jets' secondary (which, with Revis, is also particularly nasty). Green-Ellis hasn't looked great so far this season, but he worked the Jets front seven, carrying the ball 27 times for a career-high 136 yards and 2 TDs. The final drive in which Green-Ellis helped the Pats control the clock and work down the field for the game clinching field goal was particularly impressive. It almost seemed as though every time the commentators said that the Jets defense was built to stop the run, Green-Ellis would break off a big one. The Patriots O-Line helped a lot, but this game showed that, when necessary, the Patriots can run the ball and their offense can avoid being one-dimensional with their pass attack.

Buffalo Bills (special distinctions go to Fred Jackson and the defense, especially Nick Barnett):

What a game against the Eagles. The main story of this game was the Eagles meltdown under pressure and their sub-par 1-4 start. But give credit where credit is due: Vick may have thrown four interceptions (a career high) and lost a fumble, but it takes a special defense to pick off both Vick AND Tom Brady four times each - Nick Barnett picked off two Vick passes himself, and ran one back in for a touchdown. Offensively, Jackson was a beast once again, running the ball 26 times for 111 yards and 1 TD, and catching the ball for 85 yards. He was the best player in that game, hands down. It was an all-around impressive performance by the Bills, who improved to 4-1 and are still ahead of the Patriots (also 4-1) and Jets (2-3) in the AFC East.


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Josh Freeman (QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers):

The Bucs game against Tampa was just a massacre. Completely awful on the Bucs' part. Honestly, against a weak 49ers secondary, I expected a lot more out of Freeman (especially because he's on my fantasy team - thankfully I didn't start him). But instead of picking them apart like most people thought he would, Freeman went 17 of 33 for 187 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs. So far this year, Freeman has 3 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs, and 6 INTs. That's a pretty poor start for a team that people thought would be a playoff-caliber team. Somehow the Bucs are still 3-2 despite Freeman's poor play, but if Freeman keeps this up, I'd be concerned for the Bucs continuing success.

Michael Vick (QB, Philadelphia Eagles):

I know that Vick did something impressive on Sunday when he became the NFL's all-time leading QB rusher and also threw for 315 yards, but there's no way you're going to win a game if you throw 4 INTs, even against a Bills defense that was playing superbly. The Eagles needed to win this game desperately, and Vick made way too many mistakes for them to even consider winning. That loss to the Bills put Philly at 1-4 - last in the NFC East, and trailing the Redskins, Cowboys, and Giants. They're gonna have to do something special to even get to 10-6 at this point, but to even have a chance, Vick and the Eagles need to right this ship and figure out how to fix their numerous issues.

Kyle Orton (QB, Denver Broncos):

The fans of Denver finally got exactly what they wanted, when Orton played so poorly that Coach John Fox had no choice but to bench him in favor of Tim Tebow in the second half. Today, Tebow was named the starter for their next game against Miami. In the first half, Orton was 6 of 13 for 34 yards and 1 INT - that makes only 2.6 yards per passing attempt. Whether the benching was because of Orton's poor play, or the pressure from the fans, doesn't seem to matter it this point. Orton played himself right out of a starting job over the past few weeks as he led Denver to 1-4 (their only win was a close one against the Bengals), and even if Fox didn't want to bench him, Orton gave him no other choice.

Chicago Bears Offensive Line:

The Bears had a hard enough time against the Lions without the O-Line making things worse. Not only could they not stop the Lions front seven if their life depended on it - even though Cutler was sacked only 3 times, he was hit all over the place and never seemed to get a break - they committed 9 false-start penalties. That's inexcusable, and only making it even harder for your team to win against a tough defense. I know it was thunderously loud at Ford Field last night, but c'mon guys. Have more discipline than that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MEP of the Week: Week 4

Okay, okay. I know it's too early to name Aaron Rodgers my MEP of the Week again. I mean, he did break about 5 different francise and league records, and is playing pretty much the best football of his career, but we'll just hold off for now.

I'm sure he'll do it again later on.

This week, perhaps surprisingly, I'm actually focused on a QB that everyone seems surprised I don't hate: Drew Brees. I very much think that the Saints will be the Pack's greatest hurdle to the Super Bowl and definitely see them meeting again in the NFC Championship game, but even if that's so -- even if they keep us out of the Super Bowl altogether -- I could never hold that against Drew Brees. Ben Roethlisberger, sure. Matt Ryan, of course. Definitely Michael Vick. But Drew Brees has always occupied a soft spot in my heart.

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The first thing you have to respect is his dedication. About a year ago, Sports Illustrated did a spread on Brees and I remember reading that even when they're on a bye week -- even when they're not in season -- Brees will get out every Sunday and throw, just to keep himself in a rhythym. I think he takes the game seriously and I think he has a tremendous amount of respect for the game, which in turn I think earns him respect from virtually everyone. Can you think of one person who doesn't like Breesy?

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I think I, and most people, like Brees because he's just so understated. He's one of the best in the game, is the third-most accurate passer of all-time, has the tenth-best passer rating, and brought a struggling team in a devastating city to a Super Bowl victory. But he just doesn't draw attention to himself. I love Tom Brady, and I love Rodgers, but even I can admit that there are moments when I can see why they sometimes rub people the wrong way. They've both got that chip, they can both be arrogant. But Brees -- and I think I would put Peyton Manning in this category too -- is just an All-American, all-around nice guy who happens to excel at his position. And, while this may be an insignificant point, he's also a great husband and a great father. A lot of our best QBs right now are very young and very hungry -- you imagine that they just don't have time for a family. But Brees seems to excel at both, which is pretty much all a girl can ask for. And of course there's the Brees Dream Foundation, which does such great work for its communities. The guy is just firing on all cylinders, all the time. You've gotta wonder when he has time to sleep. (Though those Nyquil ads are pretty convincing).

Plus...the cherry on top? He looks great in a suit. I mean, really. There are no more words.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MVPs and LVPs: Week 4


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Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)

If you didn't see Rodgers play on Sunday, then you missed something special. He threw 29 of 38 for 408 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT. Not only was it an impressive air attack, but he also ran for 36 yards and 2 TDs, becoming the only QB in NFL history to throw for over 400 yards and 4 TDs AND run for 2 TDs in a single game. And when asked about it later, Rodgers shrugged it off, saying he didn't feel like it was his best performance. The headlines this year (and rightfully so) have been mostly about the pleasant surprises of the Bills and Lions, but the Packers are 4-0, only 1 of 2 teams to remain undefeated (the other: the Detroit Lions), and Rodgers is still playing in superstar mode (throwing for 1325 yards with 73% accuracy, and an average yards per attempt of 9.4 through 4 games). Even if the rest of the Packers team is struggling, Aaron looks like he capable of carrying this team all the way to another Lombardi Trophy.

Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans)

After coming back from injury and sitting out the majority of the first three games of the season, the Texans said that they wanted to limit Foster's carries in his first game back - maybe he would only touch the ball 20-25 times against the run-stuffing Pittsburgh D. Couple that with Ben Tate and the rest of the Texans' running backs doing a good job of running the ball while Foster was out, and you can see why almost everyone assumed that Foster wouldn't turn in one of his best days. But Foster proved them wrong, getting the ball 30 times for 155 yards - not only did he produce, but he looked untouchable, and made the Pittsburgh defense look silly in the process. It seemed like he hadn't been gone at all.

Detroit Lions (The entire team, special distinctions go to the defense and Calvin Johnson)

Once again, the Lions find themselves on my MVP list - and definitely because they deserve it. Last week they came back from a 20 point deficit against the Vikings to win. This week, they overcame a 24 point deficit against the Cowboys with some terrific defensive plays and some fantastic catches by Johnson, who became the first player in NFL history to catch 2 TD passes in each of the first four games of the season, and tied an NFL record by catching 2 TD passes in four straight games. The defense intercepted 3 Tony Romo passes, 2 of which were taken to house. It was one of the most exciting games to watch this weekend, and with the Lions tied with the Packers as the only remaining 4-0 teams left in the NFL, they have certainly gone from an up-and-coming team to a real contender.

Alex Smith/Frank Gore (QB/RB, San Francisco 49ers)

It's a rare treat that anyone from the NFC West ends up on the MVP list, let alone the 49ers, but they played a great game on Sunday, coming from behind to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-23. Gore (with the help of some great tackling) ran for 127 yards on 15 carries, and Smith went 21 of 33 for 291 yards for 2 TDs and 0 INTs against the Eagles secondary. They may not be astronomically stellar numbers for Smith, but he kept control of the ball late in the game, and did exactly what the 49ers needed to do to win. Both players had great games, and even though the Eagles imploded on themselves when it mattered most, the 49ers stepped up and handled the Eagles D when they needed to.


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Ronnie Brown (RB, Philadelphia Eagles)

A lot of blame could be placed in several different areas for the Eagles' dramatic loss to the 49ers. But I think Brown's ridiculous mistake not only takes the trophy for boneheaded moves, but also epitomizes the struggles that the Eagles have faced early on in the season. With 7:13 left in the second quarter, Brown was called in when the Eagles were at the 49ers 1-yard line. The goal was simple: run the ball 1 YARD and into the endzone. But when faced with pressure, Brown decided to do the opposite of every other RB in the history of football and would not simply go down with the ball to try another play later. No, on his way down to the ground, Ronnie decided to try to PASS the ball backwards to see if someone else could pick it up and run it in. Only problem was, no one else knew he was planning to do that; the play was a fumble, and the 49ers recovered it on the 4 yard line.

Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie. Seriously? That is literally the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you do in that scenario. Brown said after the game that the play was meant to be a run/pass option, but once you start to run the ball, I don't think anyone is looking for you to pass it anymore, especially to pass it backwards to no one. The Eagles had a lot of other things to worry about after that game, but the one thing they shouldn't have to worry about is stupid mistakes like that on their best team that money can buy.

Tony Romo (QB, Dallas Cowboys)

It's certainly been an up-and-down season for Romo so far, especially with regard to my MVP/LVP list. An LVP in Week 1, Romo followed that with an MVP worthy performance in Week 2, and a good game in Week 3. Now, Romo finds himself on my LVP list after helping the Lions overcome the 27-3 lead that his Cowboys had in that game. My criticism remains roughly the same as Week 1: he needs to make better decisions when the Cowboys are in the lead. He threw 3 INTs, two of which were taken back for TDs, to help the Lions win that game and suck all of the confidence out of the Cowboys. Romo needs to find a groove and stick with it, because if he keeps being this erratic, he'll never be able to get his team to the Super Bowl.

Joe Flacco/Mark Sanchez (QBs, Baltimore Ravens/New York Jets)

This was an interesting game to watch defensively. Offensively...not so much. It seemed like there was a turnover on every other play. Both QBs played terribly (Flacco only had a 32% completion rate and threw 0 TDs and 1 INT, while Sanchez had a 31% completion rate and also threw 0 TDs and 1 INT), and both were the leading point producers for the opposing team. Not much else needs to be said. This game should have been better than that. I couldn't decide which one to put, so I thought they both deserved to be on here.

Marion Barber (RB, Chicago Bears)

His inclusion on this list is not because of how he played on Sunday. In fact, kudos to Barber for scoring his first TD as a member of the Bears. But if you're gonna celebrate a TD, make sure you can do the celebration before you try. Or a least don't forget to stretch first.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Double Coverage: Week 3

1. Youth League Restrictions


Though we primarily cover the NFL on this blog, it is at its heart about football generally, and the first topic I'd like to discuss today is this article I read earlier about the Arkansas Wilson Intermediate Football League imposing a scoring restriction, named the "Madre Hill rule," on 11-year-old Demias Jimerson. Apparently, the running back's scoring was getting so out of hand that the other kids on the field were beginning to lose interest. WIFL Commissioner Terri Bryant said that "Jimerson is going to score almost every time he touches the ball."

The article does note that Jimerson knows when he reaches the 7th Grade, no more restrictions will be applicable. But I don't quite see the difference that being in 7th Grade or 6th Grade makes in terms of the eligibilty of restrictions. The whole concept of holding a talented player back doesn't sit well with me. Instead of trying to punish the kid at the front of the group, why don't they encourage the kids at the back to catch up? He should be an inspiration and a drive to work harder, not held back so that he doesn't disengage the other children.

Especially in a sport as competitive as football, slowing kids down for exceptional talent will do nothing but harm them in the long run. When he's trying to get a scholarship and then trying to get drafted, he's going to be up against other exceptional players who were never held back. And the message it sends to the other kids -- basically, "we are doing this to help you because otherwise you wouldn't be able to play at his level." It's just a bad situation, all around.


This seems to me like a misguided attempt at fairness. The thought that holding back one kid in order to keep the other kids "involved" in the game seems ludicrous to me. I agree with Michelle that the idea of holding one talented child back and not giving him every opportunity to play and stretch his abilities is absurd. I would think that, as a coach, I would encourage my players to have the opposite approach: don't just wait for the point in the game where this kid isn't playing anymore - instead, use it as an opportunity to challenge the defense and give them a real test. Don't shortchange one kid because the rest can't keep up. Use it as a learning tool, a chance to see that these are the types of players you'll see later on in your football careers. Sometimes, you meet a guy you just can't stop. But that doesn't mean the league should institute a rule that prevents them from trying every chance they get.

Sure, the rule has several provisions built in, such as his touchdowns don't count only if he's scored three times in the game already and his team is ahead by 14 or more. But no such rule is in effect in high school, college, or the NFL. Why should an intermediate youth league build up kids' expectations to believe that such a rule will always be there to help them out? If the kid has scored on you three times already and the team is up by more than 14 points, the damage is done. Most likely, you're gonna lose. In making this rule, though, the league gives Jimerson all of the power. They have played him up to be supernatural, some sort of unstoppable football god. Instead, they should give Jimerson every attempt to hone his skills, and the defense every opportunity to prove they can stop him. Even if he has already gashed them more than anyone else.

2. Are refs actually not doing enough to protect Vick?

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Well, Vick has since apologized for his comments, saying that he has nothing but "respect for the referees and their decisions" and we won't hear him "complain about it no more." I'm still struggling between whether his comments were appropriate and useful, or just another example of what former ref Mike Pereira has said about the Eagles: they complain more than any other team.

Lucas doesn't necessarily agree from me that Vick's comments stem from some sort of insecurity about his character or belief that people are more prone to discriminate against him. That's not the exact claim I'm making, per se, but I think inherent in Vick's claims is an assertion that refs are more fair to other QBs than to him, and therefore, some sort of unequal treatment accusation. In that respect, I think Vick needs to let his time on the field do his speaking, and stop getting himself into more trouble with his unchecked tongue. I do believe that Vick's comments are taken more seriously than other QB's. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. among others, have made some incendiary comments lately, but the press just loves to jump all over Vick.

In terms of Vick's actual claim: that he isn't getting enough calls from the refs, I disagree with what Andy Reid said, which is that the refs can't treat Vick like a running back when he runs with the ball. Actually -- that's exactly what they can do, and mobile QBs like Vick, Roethlisberger, and Rodgers take the chance of whenever they run getting hit by defenders as hard as they'd like, except of course if they slide. If Vick doesn't want to slide, he has to accept that he's going to get more hits. That's just the way it is.

Ultimately, I think this whole issue has spawned a bigger problem that Pereira identified. Now, if Vick gets more calls the refs are going to look as though they were "bullied" into giving them, and if he doesn't, the complaints are going to continue. Ultimately, he needs to be aware of when he's playing like a QB and when he's playing like an RB and expect the flags to fly accordingly.


This is one where you have to look at the stats. As I pointed out in my MVPs and LVPs post, the Eagles lead the NFC East in roughing the passer calls over the past two years. Former NFL vice president of officiating, Mike Pereira (an extremely outspoken Vick critic this week), pointed out that Vick ranks 9th on the list of NFL quarterbacks that drew the most roughing the passer penalties in the past 19 games, ahead of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but behind such stellar quarterbacks as Jason Campbell, Colt McCoy, and Jay Cutler. Yes, it is tough to referee for a guy like Vick. He moves in and out of the pocket so much that it may be hard for officials to see if he is in front or behind the line of scrimmage, and guys are running after him so fast that it may be difficult for them to stop once he's thrown the ball. That doesn't excuse late hits, but if you look at the stats above, it seems like Vick has been getting plenty of calls in his favor. 

Honestly, Vick pointed out that, if you look at the game tape, he is on the ground after every play. But as I said before, I don't think that's the refs fault. For better protection, he needs to look to the weak Eagles offensive line. But I've already made my case for that. Realistically, all that Vick has done is make all referees who call future Eagles' games targets for criticism, as stated (correctly, I believe) by Pereira. If they call penalties against opposing defenses, it'll seem like Vick's comments forced their hand. If they don't call a lot, it'll seem like they're trying to punish Vick. It seems like a lose-lose situation. So Vick may have gotten what he wanted: referees will certainly pay closer attention to Eagles' games, though I'm not sure that it'll be for the right reasons.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MEP of the Week: Week 3

This week's MEP is one of those players that absolutely doesn't get the respect he deserves. Granted, when your division includes Greg Jennings, Donald Driver (Matt Forte, if they moved him over to the position permanently), it's hard to make a name for yourself at receiver, but Calvin Johnson is absolutely on fire. He's good at what he does -- and he looks good doing it, too. 

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Johnson, along with Pettigrew, definitely carried the Lions' O in Week 3 against the Vikings, averaging almost 10 yards per carry. Think about it this way: while rankings aren't everything in this game (as the 10-6 Super Bowl Champ Packers can tell you), the Lions currently share a 0-3 record with the Pack. One may clearly be the better team, but at the end of the day, if the Lions win just one more game than the Pack due to any number of reasons (injuries on Green Bay's end and Johnson on Detriot's are certainly a couple), they will be at the top of a division of which, for many many years, they clung to the bottom.

If anyone has seen How I Met Your Mother, you know about Barney's theory of "The Cheerleader Effect." Sometimes, a group of [in Barney's case, women, for my purposes, football players] are really attractive (I mean, hello, a sea of shoulder pads and eye black?), but then when you take each of them separately, not so much. I sort of think the inverse is happening with Calvin Johnson. He's a really great player surrounded by...a lot of not-really-that-great-players (but, yes, yes, I'll admit that seems to be changing), so it's easy to overlook how talented he really is. 

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But as any fantasy player (including Lucas, who happens to have him) will tell you, Johnson is an invaluable addition to any team -- fantasy or otherwise. I think he's a big reason behind the Lions' sudden pendulum swing, and maybe with his help the Lions can just secure themselves a Wild Card in this year's playoffs...

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MVPs and LVPs: Week 3


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Buffalo Bills (The entire team, special distinctions go to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the defense):

I said last week that it might be time to start thinking that these guys are for real. This week definitely asserts that. As a Patriots fan, this game was hard to swallow, and it will be a long time before I forgive Chad Ochocinco for dropping that likely TD pass late in the fourth quarter, but I have to hand it to the Bills, they looked really impressive. It takes a lot to come back from a 21-0 lead, especially against the Patriots, but Ryan Fitzpatrick did just that, throwing for 369 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs to overtake and beat the Patriots 34-31, along with some phenomenal help from Fred Jackson, David Nelson, Stevie Johnson, and the rest of the Bills offense. It also takes a special defense to make Tom Brady look foolish, and the Bills picked him off 4 times, matching his total number of interceptions for the entire 2010 season (although much of that was Brady's fault). It was a well-played game by the Bills, who are now 3-0 and 1st in the AFC East, ahead of both the Patriots (2-1) and Jets (2-1), and was an exhilarating game to watch.

Torrey Smith (WR, Baltimore Ravens):

Another hard game to swallow for me, as Torrey Smith's amazing performance came at the expense of a 37-7 drubbing of the Rams. As a rookie, Torrey Smith had not made much of an impact as a member of the Ravens offense during the first two games of the season. In fact, before Sunday, he had never made a catch during a regular season game; Lee Evans had taken over the number two spot across from Anquan Boldin and occupied the speed receiver slot very nicely. Yesterday, though, Evans was inactive, and Smith made his presence known to the rest of the NFL. Smith caught 5 passes for 152 yards, the first three of which were all touchdown passes for 74, 41, and 18 yards, a total of 133 yards on TD passes alone. I liked Smith coming out of college, but never expected him to perform like this so early. I don't think the Ravens did either. If Smith can continue this kind of production, the Ravens may have found one of the most potent and explosive receivers in the NFL for years to come.

Darren McFadden (RB, Oakland Raiders):

I have to say, part of this comes from me having McFadden on my fantasy team. I was considering not playing him, since he was up against the Jets tough run-stopping defense, and playing Ahmad Bradshaw instead, as the Eagles defense seemed like a better matchup. I decided to play McFadden; in hindsight, I should have played both of them (and not Michael Turner instead of Bradshaw), but McFadden in particular had a beast of a day. He ran for 171 yards on 19 carries against the Jets defense for 2 TDs - that's an impressive day against any defense, but especially against one of the premier run defenses in the league. The Raiders won the game 34-24, but the real story here for me was McFadden. He currently leads the league in rushing yards with 393 after 3 games and has 84 yards receiving on 11 catches, and Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports makes a case that McFadden might be proving himself to be the best running back in the NFL not named Adrian Peterson. With the way other backs in the NFL are performing, it sure looks that way.

Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions):

Who would have thought that both the Bills and the Lions would be 3-0? I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but Detroit sure looked like a playoff-caliber team Sunday, coming back from a 20-0 deficit against the Vikings to win 26-23 in overtime. But the real player of the game was Johnson. He caught 7 passes for 108 yards and the only 2 TDs of the game for the Lions - he also caught a great catch that put the Lions in position to kick the game-winning field goal in OT. It seemed that whenever Matthew Stafford wasn't sure what to do, he would just throw it in Johnson's general direction and know that he would come down with a catch. It was a great win for the Lions, a horrible defeat for the Vikings (that's their third game in a row that they've lost after leading in the first half), and the Lions won for the first time in Minnesota since 1997.


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Minnesota Vikings (The entire team - no special distinctions):

It really makes one wonder when this statistic is thrown out: the Vikings have now become the fifth team in NFL history to blow three straight leads of 10 points or more. The only team to do it twice? The Minnesota Vikings. I thought the Vikings would be last in the NFC North this year, but this is sad. The Vikings are now 0-3, and there isn't much for them to do; a lot of people are pointing to the declining skills of Donovan McNabb as the cause, but even though he isn't looking good, there is plenty of blame to be placed on both sides of the ball. All they can really do now is pick themselves back up and hope that next week turns out better, because right now, things don't bode well for the rest of the Vikings' season.

Antonio Cromartie (CB, New York Jets):

I'm not saying the loss to the Raiders was Cromartie's fault. A lot of it had to do with the Raiders (especially McFadden) just playing really darn well. But after his monster game last week against the Jaguars, I had hoped the days of the bumblin'-stumblin' Cromartie were behind him. Instead, Cromartie was making mistakes all over the place - forcing penalties, flubbing kick returns, and just generally getting dominated by the Raiders. Darelle Revis is one of, if not THE, best corners in football, but a team is only as good as its weakest link. Cromartie needs to help support the Jets secondary (and especially Revis) by, at the very least, not making silly errors.

Tom Brady (QB, New England Patriots):

After two straight weeks on my MVP list, it's hard to put Brady here. But after his game against the Bills, it's hard not to. He threw 4 INTs, one of which was returned for a TD - that's equal to the total number of interceptions Brady threw throughout the entirety of last year (during the regular season). If you discount the interceptions, Brady had a good game (30 of 45 for 387 yards and 4 TDs). Much of the Bills' comeback win had to do with Buffalo playing great, but it's hard to believe that the Pats would have lost if it had not been for Brady's mistakes.

Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line:

For a few seconds here, I'm gonna weigh in my thoughts on Michael Vick's comments about "being on the ground constantly." It was directed at officials (a quick tidbit: the Eagles have been the recipient of more roughing the passer penalties in the past two years than any other team in the NFC East - just sayin), but it also should be a shot at his offensive line. Despite their best efforts to upgrade, the O-line in Philly just looks shoddy and slow. They had four false starts in the last game alone, and have allowed Vick to be sacked 4 times in 3 games, not to mention all the times he's been hit after releasing the ball. They flailed in short yardage situations Sunday - when it's your job to move a defensive lineman just a yard off the ball so that the runner can get through, and you can't even do THAT, you have a serious problem. Vick has a right to be frustrated after getting a concussion, hurting his hand, and getting knocked down on almost every play. He's just pointing the finger at the wrong guys.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MEP of the Week: Week 2

I think Lucas is going to be upset if Tom Brady is not my Week 2 MEP, especially since he asserted that he should have been my Week 1 MEP. I guess I'm just rolling with the assumption that Tom Brady will just keep on keeping on this way all season, so I can have him as my choice of MEP for any week. 

Of course, if he ends up dropping the ball halfway through the season (horrible pun intended...at least it's more polite than the other expression that popped into my head), I can still put him on my MEP list because, I mean, he's Tom Brady. Have you ever seen him?

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That's just for me. The eye black gets me every time. 

To prove to everyone once and for all that I lead with my head and not with my heart, I am selecting for my Week 2 MEP another quarterback, but one that I actually have never liked all that much. It's not that Tony Romo probably isn't a nice guy. I've just always felt like he was a little overrated (win a Super Bowl and then we'll talk), and I mean, he did break up with Jessica Simpson the night before her birthday. I don't care how you feel about Jessica Simpson (and I can't say I'm a fan), that's just RUDE. 

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I also think that Romo exists in a distinctive category for me of QBs I don't like much more as a representative of and reflection of the team for which they play, unlike the QBs I don't like just for being themselves (that distinction goes to Eli, mainly, and Big Ben. Sometimes Cutler, though I waffle on that because I'm a nice person and I guess maybe as a Packers fan I currently feel a little guilty for hating the Bears). I mean, I know the Cowboys are "America's Team" and all, but then again I was never a six-year-old boy (shocking, I know), so I didn't have that inherent fascination with the Cowboys from a young age. 

However, heroic displays of football bravery are always a win in my book, and they don't get much better than Romo's last Sunday afternoon. Any QB who withstands an injury that forces him to leave the game and then makes his way back to save the day always scores some points. But it turns out that Romo broke a rib and punctured a lung. And yet back he came, and in full swing, finding Jesse Holley (another pretty awesome story) for a 77-yard pass. 

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Of course, I guess Tony Romo isn't technically eligible, having just married Candice Crawford (and becoming brothers with Chase Crawford...weird). But you know what I mean.