The games aren’t even over yet, so we might get some more heroics and bizarre plays in the Pats/Texans game, but the Falcons and Seahawks seemed determined to come up with a game that was even more epic than Denver’s stunning collapse yesterday. Here’s some observations:
- Congrats to Matt Ryan. He sealed his “Matty Ice” nickname with two excellent passes starting at his own 31 yard line with 25 seconds left. All of this happened after what looked like a stunning Atlanta collapse that would have haunted Ryan for years. Instead, Seattle came up short after a great comeback. As a Cleveland fan, I know how Seattle fans feel.
- John Fox did his best Marty Schottenheimer impersonation, and the results were brutal for Denver fans, who had to watch their own version of “The Drive” against them engineered by Joe Flacco and the former Browns. Here’s Will Brinson regarding John Fox:
Remember when Fox decided on Saturday night that he shouldn’t give Peyton Manning a chance to win the game with two timeouts left, the Broncos on their own 20-yard line and 31 seconds left in the game? Yeah, he probably didn’t enjoy watching the Falcons take the ball at their own 31-yard line with 25 seconds and two timeouts and roll down for a score in about 15 seconds. It only emphasizes how bizarre his conservative coaching was against the Ravens.
Peyton Manning blew it in overtime with a rookie-type mistake, but he should have been given the chance to make 2 or 3 throws to get that last-second field goal in regulation. Also, before Flacco’s epic drive, Fox decided to run the ball on third down instead of letting Manning try to complete one pass that would have sealed the game. Brutal.
- Flacco was the hero and he made some awesome throws, but he also missed some open bombs and threw several passes that easily could have been intercepted. He made a ton of money for himself last night, but as a Cleveland fan I don’t mind seeing Baltimore eat up a ton of cap space for him.
- I was wrong about Russell Wilson. The kid can play and he was poised to be the hero, but Seattle left too many seconds on the clock for Atlanta after an epic comeback. That said, we saw today some of what we saw from Wilson in college. He’s at his best when his team is down and he can just try to create. In running a traditional pro offense he’s a little more limited. But, he had a hell of a rookie season and Pete Carroll made the right call starting him.
- Carroll did not make the right call trying to ice the kicker. Ouch!
- Atlanta did a good job playing the read-option today, and I think they’ll be ready for Colin Kaepernick. As for Kaepernick, people are focusing on the runs, and they certainly were huge in the win over Green Bay, but the guy has a rocket arm and he made the big throws that made the difference in that win. He’s still very raw on shorter throws and needs to shed the Derek Anderson approach of throwing short passes at 100 mph, but he’s a real weapon on offense. I’m not a fan of the read-option, and any team that uses it risks getting their quarterback beaten silly, but a team like San Francisco might sneak in a Super Bowl before that happens. The Shanahans weren’t so lucky with their irresponsible, high risk running strategy with RG3.
After an amazing day of playoff football yesterday, the NFL has never been more popular. But the drama on the field has been competing with stories surrounding player safety, and following recent stories about RG3 suffering a brutal knee injury, test results showing that Junior Seau suffered from brain damage and Bernie Kosar explaining how he’s being treated for the aftereffects of concussions, we now have an explosive profile of Jason Taylor by Dan Le Batard that will surely shake up the already hot player safety debate.
Basically, with this story, Jason Taylor will become the poster child for the crazy NFL player who will do almost anything, take any pain medication, have any procedure, to get back onto the football field. Of course the NFL teams, coaches and doctors are often willing accomplices, and they contribute to this warrior culture. But this mindset is deeply rooted in the players themselves. It’s taught from an early age, but in many ways it’s just an example of how many people are wired in general. The bonds created by team sports have roots in our tribal nature, and many players willingly assume the risk of playing football, and Jason Taylor said he would do it all again, despite how crazy that might sound.
You have to read the article to get an appreciation for how far Taylor was willing to go. The scenes of him getting excruciating shots in his feet will shock many of you. With the backdrop of the concussion lawsuits against the NFL, this and similar stories will be cited often in the upcoming debate.
Image source: Washington Redskins Official Facebook page
RGIII is off to a great start this season, but his comments about the St. Louis Rams taking too many shots at him seemed a little odd as he basically called them out as dirty players:
For example, a TV camera caught Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar give Griffin a forearm to the head as he got up from knocking Griffin down after a first-quarter pass.
“They were doing a lot of dirty things,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I still think they have an extremely good team. That doesn’t take anything away from them. But the game was unprofessional.
“Who am I to talk? I’ve barely been a pro for very long, but from what I experienced against the Saints to that game, it was definitely unprofessional, and it does need to be cleaned up.”
As a rookie and a quarterback you’re probably better off keeping these things to yourself. This is even more true for Robert Griffin III as the Shanahans have him running from the quarterback spot. I can understand their desire to take advantage of all of RGIII’s skills, but having him run out of set option plays seems a bit too risky to me. He already has a target on his back, and now with these comments you’ll have more defensive players happy to welcome him to the NFL.
After all of the hype and attention from the draft and the offseason, most football fans can’t wait to watch the heralded rookie quarterbacks play for the first time. It’s only a preseason game, but I was anxious to see if Robert Griffin III passed the eyeball test. He did.
Moments later, there was Griffin, not just alive — but enraptured. Well before Pierre Garcon, on the receiving end of Griffin’s screen pass, somersaulted into the corner of the end zone, Griffin had his arms raised to the sky. He circled around toward midfield, grabbed a knee, crossed himself and pointed quickly to the sky. Then, he used his sprinter’s speed to chase down Garcon in the end zone, engaging his new favorite receiver in a running, leaping chest bump.
The third of Griffin’s three drives during his abbreviated appearance in the Redskins’ exhibition opener against the Buffalo Bills, a 7-6 Washington victory, transformed his night from a sobering exercise in reduced expectations to an unqualified success that will only enhance his standing with title-starved Redskins fans as the franchise’s new savior. Taking the ball from his 20-yard line, Griffin led the Redskins down the field in eight plays, three of them crisp completions to Garcon, the last of which, from Buffalo’s 20, resulted in the touchdown.
I only saw the highlights, but RG3 looked pretty comfortable in the pocket and he made some nice throws. Griffin definitely has a weapon in Garcon, but as Dave Sheinin pointed out in his column, the Redskins have some issues on the banged up offensive line. We’ll all be watching closely to see how he progresses leading up to the season.
From a fantasy point of view, Griffin has those incredible wheels, so you know guys will be looking to grab him as a #2 quarterback as he should run for more than a few TDs this year.
With OTAs, everyone can look good playing in shorts without real pressure. But coaches and journalists can now see these guys in person and on the practice field, and the early reports are enthusiastic when it comes to Robert Griffin III.
The power is so great the Washington Redskins don’t describe their prodigy’s throwing as a verb but rather a noun.
“The Arm,” they say. And every conversation about Robert Griffin III includes some mention of “The Arm” because those players who have experienced it don’t appear to have seen something quite like “The Arm” before.
They try to describe it, putting into words the strength that awes them. And as they do, the stories get larger and seemingly more preposterous, except that the men don’t smile when they tell them. They say “The Arm” is real, even if their attempts to make it come to life sound ridiculous.
“It’s more of running to your left and flicking your wrist and throwing the ball 70 yards,” Washington’s backup quarterback Rex Grossman said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Then he shook his head.
“His arm almost comes off like a whip,” Grossman added, holding his own hand above his head, then flinging it forward about a foot in a vain attempt to demonstrate the way Griffin throws.
It looks a lot like the way Michael Vick throws, Grossman finally said. Perhaps nobody in the NFL throws the ball harder with seemingly less effort than Vick. Except maybe now, RG III.
I saw Vick play live in college and I was struck then with his sling-shot arm. Despite his drama-filled career we all got to see that arm in the NFL as well. Yet Vick is also an example of how arm strength and speed will only take you so far. Time will tell if RG3′s impressive physical talents leads to championship-level play.
As for Brandon Weeden, he doesn’t have the star power of RG3, at least not yet, but he’s benefiting from being compared to Colt McCoy. The Cleveland media has been pretty hard on Colt, saying that he looks like a little kid next to Weeden, but McCoy hasn’t helped his standing much with his demeanor. All of the confidence seems to be gone, and watching Weeden make rocket throws down field hasn’t helped things. Weeden is bigger and stronger and he has a much better arm. There’s no disputing that, even if we’re just in OTAs. Of course Weeden has to prove he can deliver against a pass rush, but he has the tools to succeed.