Welcome to Week 2 of the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Maybe it’s the lockout or maybe it’s legit, but this feels like one of the most exciting NFL seasons in recent memory. The week fizzled out on Monday night, but Sunday was phenomenal. Here on TMB, I’ll break down each game each week and hopefully never have to do so with a punctured lung. Let’s start with the perennial playoff contender Buffalo Bills.
This was certainly the most interesting Raiders– Bills matchup in years. I heard one of the announcers say “We’ll be back with this thriller in Buffalo.” When do you think the last time the verbiage “thriller in Buffalo” was used in seriousness? This was a great game. McFadden showed what he can do when he is healthy, and Fitzpatrick and Steve Johnson showed why they’re worth owning and why the Bills are better than you think.
Which quarterback will be more talked about this week: media darling Aaron Rodgers or the mega-controversial, No. 1 overall drafted Cam Newton? Rodgers walked off the field with the win, but Cam Newton has almost 1,000 yards in his first two starts in the NFL. He’s less than 100 yards behind the magnificent Tom Brady through two games. Combine that with his rushing capabilities and he’s got to be all over sports talk radio this week. I have been critical of Newton since the draft for nothing other than his college scheme and lack of playing time. But he gets the Jags in Carolina on Sunday and will likely put up more stellar stats. At the very least, it’s time for Newton to come off the waiver wire in all leagues.
Believe it or not, the Chiefs defense did not look terrible, as abysmal as the final score makes them seem. They remained competitive for the first three quarters. But how much can you expect their defense to do when their offense is so pathetic? Once Charles went down with injury, it was left to Dwayne Bowe, who has proven that his mind will never match his talent. Beware: Stafford was wincing, stretching, and flexing all through the second half. But until he’s pronounced as “out,” you’ve got to start him.
Count yours truly among those who lost Jamaal Charles for the year today. It’s always terrible to see a season-ending injury for a football player, but it’s even more excruciating to see an entire franchise go down for the season with him.
The story of this game is Delone Carter. His 11 carries versus Addai’s 14 means that once Addai goes down—and he will go down—Carter will get a lot of work. Watch out for Carter in the second half of this season. Colt McCoy and Kerry Collins both had subpar passing numbers. Peyton Hillis looked fantastic, but I maintain that his head-first power running style is shortening his career with each and every run.
The Buccaneers’ success rides on LeGarrette Blount just as the Falcons’ success rides on Michael Turner. Each of those teams has great receivers and even greater quarterbacks, but the running game is the X-factor, especially for the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers had no points at halftime, but once Blount got going, they made a furious comeback and won a game that they should’ve had in hand by halftime.
On the Vikings’ side of the ball, Adrian Peterson proved why he was worth the No. 1 pick in all formats. There is no arguing with 120 yards and two TDs against a respectable front seven. He is so strong, so fast, and so decisive that he is unsittable during the season and impassable in drafts.
The Saints D was able to control a Bears offense that really doesn’t seem that explosive, but overall the Bears were able to stop the big play, which is their M.O. Brees and Henderson did get the one great 79-yard touchdown, but the Bears were otherwise able to keep them to under 20 yards on receptions. Unfortunately for the Bears, the Saints have such a great cast of playmakers that they can play short all day and move down the field.
To illustrate: the Saints had eight players catch passes and four players with positive rush yards, adding up to three TDs and three FGs. However, in my estimation, that’s three too many field goals based on the amount of catches and short runs New Orleans was able to make. The Saints are a great offense but continue to flirt with being just good enough on each drive to get points instead of really going for the throat and making sure there are no comebacks. When playing an offense like the Bears, you may be able to win with fields goals. However, as we saw last week, if you can’t score touchdowns, you can’t beat high-octane offenses such as the Packers. In a division as strong and fast-paced as the NFC South, the Saints need to up their red zone efficiency if they want to win their division.
The Jaguars, similar to the Chiefs, just don’t have the offense to contend this year. Down to essentially one playmaker, they tried to get MJD going, and he did his best with 18 carries for 88 yards. An average of 4.9 yards per carry is pretty good against what may be the stoutest defense in football. Despite MJD’s effort, the Jets defense took advantage of Jacksonville’s miserable quarterback situation, and the turnovers made this an easy contest. Watch for Keller to continue to be effective this season. He’s streaky, but Sanchez does look for him, especially when Holmes is the first but is covered.
This year the Steelers are likely to be somewhere between the seven-turnover loss to the Ravens last week and their shutout of the Seahawks this week. The Seahawks are another miserably undermatched team and have one of the worst offensive lines the NFL has ever seen. Because of this, I would not own anyone out of Seattle, and I wouldn’t get too excited about the Steelers’ play. Pittsburgh’s offensive line doesn’t look much better, and their defense will not shut down a strong offense the way they were able to shutdown these Seahawks. I’m avoiding all Seahawks, and I’m figuring any Steeler is worth wherever you drafted him.
Last week, the Ravens rode the wings of seven turnovers to a much more impressive stat line. This week, all Baltimore pass catchers combined for only 15 catches and 197 yards. For now, the Ravens are one of the best teams in the NFL in my eyes, and I’m willing to chalk this one up to a trap game. They came off a fantastic victory and probably had no belief in the Titans. Matt Hasselbeck is a great veteran quarterback who took advantage of a Ravens team that seemed to be looking past the Titans. I don’t mind Hasselbeck as a bye-week fill-in or an injury backup, and he’s certainly got Kenny Britt poised to have a career year.
It’s interesting that two pass-first teams met and the story is the running backs. Beanie Wells rushed a healthy 14 times for 93 yards and a TD, and Tim Hightower rushed a whopping 20 times for 96 yards. The Cardinals threw the ball twice as often as they ran it while the Redskins were 55/45 in their pass/run ratio. I know Grossman isn’t the savior of the Redskins, but I expected much more passing than that. Santana Moss did haul in respectable receiving numbers again, however. I was certain this was the most boring game of the week until I ran into the brick wall that was Monday Night Football.
I’m not worried about Tony Romo. Yes, he’s not as mistake-proof as Brady, Brees, and Manning, but we can’t expect every good quarterback to be as great as those guys. Romo is dynamic, he wants to make plays, and he wants the Cowboys to win. In pursuit of those goals, he sometimes makes a boneheaded mistake or gets injured trying to make unnecessary plays, but he cares about his team and gutted it out in San Fran with what turned about to be a pretty dire injury. In the third quarter, I was thinking that if Alex Smith and Jon Kitna changed jerseys, maybe they could complete passes to the correct team. However, when Romo brought competence back into the game, Dallas came back and stepped it up in overtime. It wasn’t as pretty as it could have been, but the ‘Boys came away with a win.
Kyle Orton. Tim Tebow. Eric Decker. Jerome Simpson. A.J. Green. Andy Dalton. I’m really not interested in any of these guys. Is it likely they will each have some big games? Yes. Is it likely that Decker and Green might even have consistent fantasy points? Certainly. I, however, look for players on teams with the arrows pointing up on their seasons, and both of these teams may already have as many wins as they’ll end up with by the end of the season.
On the other hand, did you see Tebow come in as a receiver? That was the best block I’ve ever seen! He has the heart of a lion, and if he can block like that on a couple of downs then he can certainly have a Hall of Fame career as a passer! Let’s trade Brandon Lloyd and make Tim Tebow our No. 1 wide receiver! Ok, I do have faith in Tim Tebow, but let’s calm it down until he can prove it. If Orton is better than Tebow on the practice field, then Orton is the starter. It’s that easy.
Early on, it’s looking as though Brandon Marshall may be the steal of this draft. He’s putting up top-10 numbers right now, and he was a fourth- to sixth-round fantasy pick. The man is a red zone beast and is among the hardest to tackle in open space. As long as he doesn’t get stabbed by any more women, I can see him putting up numbers similar to the Texans’ main man, Andre Johnson.
Speaking of AJ, a touchdown per game seems like an afterthought for him. If he finished a game with 60 yards and a score, I might think he missed a quarter or two. In other playmaker news, Foster rushed back from his hamstring injury and aggravated it. If he actually wants to be successful this year, he needs to sit long enough to fully regain his health. All he is doing by taking a few handoffs before having to leave is upsetting the rhythm of his offense. Despite that, Schaub and Ben Tate were enough to keep the Texans in the lead to the end of the game.
I wonder if the Patriots are the first team in NFL history to have three of eleven men on the field with “kowski” in their last name on field goal attempts. For that matter, I wonder if they’re the first team with two Gronkowskis. Watch for NBC to sometime turn this into a hyper-specific obscure stat: “Tom Brady is the first quarterback to complete 15 or more passes to two tight ends with the last name Gronkowski in the same half while playing below the Mason-Dixon line.” Maybe Chad Ochocinco could change his name to Chad Johnkowski just to make sure the record is never broken. Then again, he would have to get involved enough in the offense to actually get onto the field.
The Chargers started by doing what they do best by setting up the run with the pass, and Mathews looked good throughout the game. They are trying to give Mathews the job; he just has to continue to improve. Even though the Bolts had a lot of sloppy turnovers, the game was still relatively close. I would say that this loss should not be too harrowing, especially since it was lost in Foxborough.
Now, how about that Vincent Jackson! Some people love quick, lightning bug playmakers like Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, Wes Welker, and Miles Austin. I, however, am smitten by the giant physical receiver. I’ll take Vincent Jackson, Greg Jennings, Dez Bryant, and Calvin Johnson any day. There’s nothing more exciting to me than seeing Vincent Jackson leap over four defenders to haul in a 50-yard TD pass, or seeing Brandon Marshall catch a short pass in the flat and proceed to manhandle several DBs and a linebackers in pursuit of the end zone.
If you have a target that’s huge and fast, you can send him out wide and throw indefensible passes for major chunks of yardage. Once in the red zone, a big receiver’s value grows exponentially, as jump balls to the back corner are likely to result in either a touchdown or pass interference. When considering which WRs to draft (after examining their QB situation), I always look for fast and big targets.
This game could’ve been a stinker. I don’t care how great the “Vick returns to Atlanta” storyline is, if the game isn’t electric then the storyline build-up is pointless. I don’t care how many playmakers you have, if it doesn’t have exciting headlines then it won’t get your attention. No, this game wasn’t a surefire, trademark game-of-the-season until Samuel L. Jackson took the field to scream a fiery cult-like chant to inspire the crowd. I don’t see how any team being enchanted by the only man awesome enough to play Nick Fury and Mace Windu could possibly lose.
That sweet Sammy J. mojo took the form of Michael Turner, who dominated this game. This offense runs through Turner, not Ryan, as long as he is healthy. That’s why all Philly’s strength in the secondary couldn’t stop the Dirty Birds. I’m well aware that Ryan threw the touchdowns, but Tony Gonzales would certainly not have been that effective had Turner not steamrolled the Philly D and forced them to play heavy run defense.
On the Eagles side of the ball, Vick proved exactly why he is not my QB in any league. He may be the most complete athlete in the NFL, but anyone who gets hit that often is too risky for my blood. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first sack or the forty-first, if you’re getting hit you’re likely to be hurt. Fantasy football is a weekly game, and Michael Vick is not going to perform every week for you.
My favorite line from this game: “Hoomanawanui tackled by Mathias Kiwanuka.” I’m sorry, what? If only Lofa Tatupu could’ve made it into the conversation somewhere. Coming into this game, I pondered what the NFL schedule makers were thinking when they made this the Monday Night Football selection. This is a perfect 1 p.m. Sunday nap-time game, and both teams played it like one. It was sloppy, it was slow, and the Giants weren’t nearly as good as their four-touchdown score looks.
Sam Bradford continued to show he’s worth the pick and the paycheck , even in an ugly mess of a terrible game. Bradford is physically gifted, but he really shines with his cerebral quarterback play. I’ll take the smart quarterback over the fast or strong quarterback every time. These Rams feel like the Lions when they were coming off their 0-16 season. They’re still a couple years away from being truly good, but their arrow is pointing up and they have the quarterback to make them elite. Watch for St. Louis to draft some big names at receiver and be a fantasy force to be reckoned with next year.
P.S. – Man, Hakeem Nicks is really good.
$#^! Chris Collinsworth Says
Nearly every Sunday night, Chris Collinsworth says something ridiculous. This week, however, he was generally respectable in his commentary, no outrageously obvious nuggets. No, this week the role of Collinsworth was taken over by the normally fantastic but just as goofy Jon Gruden. Coach Gruden on the St. Louis Rams’ ineffective red zone play in the first quarter: “If the Rams don’t get their red zone offense under control, they’re going to have problems beating anyone!”
And that’s it! Week 2 is in the books, and, gosh, it’s good to have football back. Check back next Tuesday for more breakdowns and fantasy advice.