GMS Academy member Micah Yongo looks at the NFL landscape with a quarter of the regular season now gone. So here are 10 observations following week four.
1. Jay Cutler needs to watch game film of Peyton Manning holding the ball in the pocket. Two hands, clutched to his chest and pocked high. Not one-handed and hanging at the hip like an outlaw ready to sling a pistol. That’s how fumbles happen, Jay.
2. Geno Smith needs to watch the same game film.
3. People need to be more nuanced in the metrics they use to define great quarterbacks. Dan Marino was a great one who never won the big one. Peyton Manning has ‘only’ one Superbowl ring – something often used as a knock against his greatest-of-all-time credentials – but I’m not sure how you do it better than how he’s doing it right now.
Defensive coordinators must feel like he’s telepathic. 1470 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and no picks in the first four games. Man’s a quarterbacking Jedi.
4. The New York Giants are reaping the consequences of a culture of complacency. The players were complacent at 0-2. Justin Tuck, defensive team captain in week two; “we’re not a bad team, we’ve been here before, we know what we have to do.”
Clearly they didn’t, because now they’re 0-4 after getting steam-rolled by the Kansas City Chiefs at the weekend.
5. I think that complacent culture at the Giants includes some of the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride, has failed to make adjustments to his play-calling despite the O-line’s inability to keep Eli Manning upright.
How about getting the ball out of his hands before the rush gets there, Kevin? How about some three-step drops, quick slants, instead of all these long downfield patterns which mean keeping your QB in the pocket for 3-4 seconds, waiting to taste turf.
6. I think Terelle Pryor could be better than Cam Newton. The raiders missed him this week in their loss to the Washington Redskins, but last week in Denver he showed poise and played no-mistake football. Not his fault the Denver offence are balling out of their skin right now.
7. I think there’s no way Christian Ponder keeps his job as starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Adrian Peterson dropped F-bombs last week when hearing about how teams had been spending months gameplanning for him and the Vikings running game during the offseason.
Everyone knew Ponder’s inaccuracy and profligacy would render him as little to no threat, no need to defend the pass. And so through three weeks defences have routinely loaded up with nine-man fronts to stop the run, basically daring Ponder to beat them.
Last week Ponder gets injured. Matt Cassel steps in this past Sunday at Wembley and reminds the Vikings what efficient and productive QB play looks like. The Steelers’ defence loosens up from the line of scrimmage, realising they’ll actually have to bother covering receivers. And bingo, Adrian Peterson rushes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Welcome to the bench Christian.
8. I think the NFC East is shockingly bad. Giants 0-4. Eagles 1-3. Redskins 1-3. Cowboys
2-2. Not a good look.
9. I have no idea how #8 happened. Each of those teams, for all their flaws,
were a relatively tough out last year. The beauty of parity in the National Football League.
10. The San Francisco 49ers should always listen to Frank Gore. Gore reportedly expressed displeasure to the coaches last week after rushing for 80 yards in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts, and being handed the ball just three times thereafter.
This week, the 49ers go back to doing what they do best. Against the St. Louis Rams, Kaepernick handed the ball to Gore 20 times. The running back went ahead and rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown. Point made, Frank.
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