Quarterback Issues Abound
It is almost inevitable that in today’s philosophy of passing the ball more than running, and with a 16- game schedule, that quarterback injuries would increase from the prior generation of NFL Football.
Certain teams lack pass blockers sufficient to deter the superior pass rushers of today’s game, and all sorts of inventive disguising of pass rush have contributed as much if not more to the troubles.
Just two weeks into the 2016 NFL season, two teams are already on quarterback number three, and others have gone to quarterback number two.
In Cleveland, where the Browns were weak enough before losing Robert Griffin, III and Josh McCown, rookie Cody Kessler will get the start this week at Miami. Adam Gase’s defense is not the issue in Dolphinland. Expect Kessler to be running for his life early and often.
New England is down to quarterback number three only due to Tom Brady’d suspension. If the Pats can sneak through two weeks with Jacoby Brissett, then the king can return. And, if something should happen to Brissett Thursday night against Houston, we may see wide receiver Julian Edelman move to quarterback. Edelman has beaten Buffalo and Miami while playing quarterback, but that was when he was at Kent State, and the two teams were the Buffalo Bulls and Miami of Ohio Redhawks.
Jay Cutler’s thumb injury could be reason for John Fox to go with Brian Hoyer. The Bears, already struggling on offense, may have a difficult time matching the Rams for points in the near future.
Then there is the case of a possible Wally Pipp injury. When Tony Romo went down in Dallas, rookie Dak Prescott entered and drew comparisons to Roger Staubach. Staubach once came in as a replacement to Craig Morton. It took a little shuffling, but Morton soon became a bench-warmer before becoming a New York Giant and Denver Bronco. Staubach led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl Championships and two others, where Dallas came very close to winning.
And, there is Sam Bradford in Minnesota. This Vikings team may have to totally change the way it plays now with Adrian Peterson out for a lengthy time and maybe the season. Bradford showed signs of returning to form in the Sunday night win over Green Bay. The Vikings have been down this road before. After the Joe Kapp, Dave Osborn, Bill Brown days of plodding offense, and the two-year babysitting of the job by Gary Cuozzo, Fran Tarkenton came back to Bloomington after a five-year sojourn in the Big Apple, and he teamed up with John Gilliam and Jim Lash, while the Purple People Eaters’ defense continued to dominate, leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl three times in four seasons. Might this be the year the Vikings make it back? The NFC looks like a wide-open race this year.
Two Weeks Are Not A Trend, But
Through two weeks of the season, the average score of an NFL game comes to less than 42 points per game, or less than 21 points per team. The Los Angeles Rams have three field goals in two games. The Seattle Seahawks have three field goals and a touchdown in two games, and that one TD came with 30 seconds remaining at home against Miami. Is it because the Dolphins and Rams have great defenses that Seattle is averaging just 7.5 points per game? Are the 49ers and Seahawks so strong defensively that LA averages just 4.5 points per game?
San Francisco gave up close to 50 to Carolina last week. The problem at the L.A. Coliseum is an archaic offense that Jeff Fisher refuses to alter. He is a Mike Ditka disciple, but he needs to realize that the 1985 Bears are not coming through the Coliseum locker room doors. He does not have Eddie George in his backfield, even though Todd Gurley is talented.
Sports metric experts have shown that the key to winning in the NFL is being able to pass the ball and being able to stop the pass. Running stats are padded by winning teams because they usually run the ball to eat the clock when they lead in the last 20 minutes of games, and the losing team abandons the run to try to catch up. Fisher is basically the Gene Mauch of football. Mauch took a lot of excellent baseball teams and guided them to respectable 90-win seasons, while the talent on hand was good enough to win 100 games.
Fisher isn’t alone. Mike Mularkey and Rex Ryan think you can be the 1985 Bears or even 1963 Bears and win the Super Bowl. It is true that Denver won last year without a dominating passing game, but they did not have a dominating running game. They dominated by stopping the pass and by getting just enough passing yards to win. Even a damaged Peyton Manning was good enough to accumulate necessary passing yards. The Broncos did not run early and often. They did not run on first down, run on second down and then pass conservatively on third down. The metrics actually show that passing on first and second down and on third and less than five is the better percentage play, while running becomes the better option only on third and six to 12 yards. And, for that matter, going for it on fourth down and less than 4 when outside your own 30 yard line is the better statistical move (as is going for it on 4th and less than 4 when in field goal range).
Certainly, going against the traditional methods will occasionally cost a team a win, but in rebuttal, going against tradition will allow teams to win games they would have lost by using the old playbook tendencies. And, the ignorant media will run a coach out of town on a rail for going against tradition and losing while never complimenting the coach that bucks the system and wins. Hey, they are in the business, because they didn’t do so well in math class.
This Week’s Ratings
|Current NFL PiRate Ratings|
|A F C|
|N. Y. Jets||103.9||101.6||105.1||103.5||62||42|
|N F C|
This Week’s PiRate Spreads
|New York Giants||Washington||4.2||2.7||4.5||27-23|
|Tampa Bay||Los Angeles||1.5||0.9||1.2||17-16|
|Kansas City||New York Jets||0.9||2.9||0.4||24-23|