By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)
Another week, more takeaways from the National Football League.
This week saw the first Wembley game, more controversy from the officials and the dolphins threatening to win a football game.
Tuesday sees the Trade deadline shut for NFL teams wanting to adjust their rosters for the business end of the season.
We’ve already seen players like Mohammed Sanu move from Atlanta to New England and Emmanuel Sanders move out west to San Francisco. They have been able to slot in to their new teams seamlessly and it remains to be seen whether or not that could be the difference between a runners up prize or the Vince Lombardi.
Other teams have traded with the future in mind though, as Miami running back Kenyan Drake is that latest player to move cities as he packs his bags for Arizona.
Expect teams to make a few phone calls to try and get last minute deals but one thing is for certain, there’ll be no extension granted to that deadline #brexitjoke.
they’ll be kicking themselves
This season has seen the most missed kicks (XP and FG) through week 8 in the last 25 years with 121.
The next closest in terms of misses is 109, which was “accomplished” in 2017 and 2001.
You’d think with all these misses, the coaches would try and make it as easy as possible for them… Nope.
Matt Nagy and Dan Quinn doing their kickers no favours whatsoever and we of course have the hall of Fame quote from Bruce Arians from a few weeks back that his kicker Matt Gay’s Field Goal miss was “better from 5 yards back”.
Add to that a plethora of missed FGs in controlled dome environments, it wasn’t a week where you’d get many highlights from a special teams standpoint.
Shout out though to Adam Viniateri, who poked one through from 51 yards (again with no help from Frank Reich!) to help his team win the game vs Denver despite having his troubles in this game and this season.
Who is the King of the NFC North?
Probably safe to say the NFC North will be sending 2 teams to the playoffs this year as we reach the midpoint in the season.
Question is though, who wins the division? Both the 7-1 Packers and 6-2 Vikings have looked red hot in recent weeks and both teams enjoy a favourable homefield advantage for different reasons.
The Packers currently have the edge with a game lead and the tie breaker against the Vikings after beating them in week 2.
Getting a home game in January is paramount in having a deep run in the playoffs and that will be the goal for these two teams on the back 9.
The week 16 clash between these 2 teams will likely decide who’ll get that home game in January.
Did I Reid that right?
Say what you like about Andy Reid’s time management skills or coaching decisions, but you cannot undersell his abilities as a coach.
Many were expecting a bloodbath in Kansas for a few weeks when Mahomes went down with a dislocated knee, but Matt Moore went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday Night Football to the tune of 24-of-36 (66%),267 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions which gave them a halftime lead. Moore completed passes to 7 different receivers and looked like he had been in that 1st team offence for months, not days.
Playbooks and play-calling does not have to be rocket science, but Andy Reid makes it’s that easy for whomever is his quarterback. Remember, this was a guy that made Alex Smith look like an MVP.
Sunday saw a battle of traditions go blow for blow as the Chargers doing Charger things battled the Bears’ kicker woes.
It seems that the force is strong with the Bears’ woes with kickers as Eddy Piniero hooked his FG attempt wide and saved the Chargers from themselves.
It’s amazing how certain things can get engrained into franchises (just look at the Browns!) and you have to wonder how this would have all played out if Robbie Gould had just been re-signed…
Let’s not forget the circus act of the offseason where the Bears had a competition to identify their new kicker!
If Piniero does get kicked to the kerb at some point, I wonder how long the line will be at Soldier Field to try out for the gig.
Shanahan Can Masterplan
The 49ers obliterated their stiffest test to date, putting up a 50 burger on the Panthers who were coming off a bye.
Brian Baldinger does some great content (Baldy’s breakdowns) on Twitter and he looked at the Kyle Shanahan offence from this game.
It shines a microscope on the level of detail in a Kyle Shanahan offence and there are multiple instances of the same paly being drawn up but a different player getting the ball upon reading the defence reaction.
You can kind of understand why some players have historically found it hard to adjust when joining the 49ers or why rookies struggle out of the gate. Multiple players including the great George Kittle have come out an divulged at how difficult the system is to get to grips with.
When you get used to the system however, the results are yards, touchdowns and just disarray on the defence. Just as Shanahan dialled it up.
As for the 49ers collectively, even the most stubborn of nay-sayers must now understand that this team is a legitimate one.
How aggressive is too aggressive?
Talking of dialling up plays, there’s a lot of scrutiny on the other end of the phone these days on every single play from scrimmage in the National Football League.
As time progresses, the more analytical the world becomes. This is especially true in sport.
One area that’s always under the spotlight is coaching decisions on 4th down depending on the point in the game, the yardage required and the scoreboard.
Hindsight usually dictates the social media view on these plays and this week was no different.
Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals had a 4th and 1 in the 3rd quarter down 10-6 from their own 30 yard line which resulted in being stuffed on a run up the middle.
Other games saw Jon Gruden and his Raiders and Andy Reid’s Chiefs punting lateish in the 4th Quarter in their respective games. Neither coach got the ball back meaning the game was lost but lead to some criticising those decisions.
Depending on your mentality as a person or whether you’re playing Madden, there’ll always be these debates on when it is the right time to “go for it”, but essentially when the gavel comes down, the opinions of the majority are based on whether you won or lost the game.
PS. Follow @surrender_index on twitter for an index on cowardly punts.
Can you teach this Darn-Old dog new tricks?
Sam Darnold seems to be reverting back to his 2018 self. 7 Interceptions through his last 2 games and now 8 on the season for him in his 4 starts.
More ghastly interceptions, more ghostly shenanigans, Sam Darnold will do well to get through this rough patch. Whether he is still feeling the effects of mono and isn’t quite there yet remains to be seen but the season is now done for gang green so if he is still not 100%, Gase should think about who should be under center.
Talking of Adam Gase, the Jets Head Coach in his career as “the guy” is now more likely to lose by double digits (has happened 25 times in his career) than win a game (24). He isn’t a quarterback whisperer and is an imposter of a Head Coach. You have to wonder whether the Jets front office will blow the whole thing up once more in the offseason. More so for the sake of Sam Darnold, who seemingly isn’t going to progress whilst Gase is at the helm.
The antics of Jacksonville were somewhat entertaining though, with Jackson De Ville jumping down into the stadium as a ghost and the Jumbotron showing Darnold’s lowlights to date playing to the tune of Ghostbusters.
Ravens should start Browns-nosing
I hope Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh were watching the game between the Patriots and the Browns on Sunday.
Despite what the boxscore says, the Browns matched the Patriots in quite a few categories and if it wasn’t for 3 consecutive turnovers, 13 penalties and some absolutely shocking output from the Kitchen, the Browns could’ve given the Patriots a real scare.
Yes, the conditions helped play in to the script of the game but the Cleveland Browns put a show on how to potentially beat the Patriots and the Ravens could capitalise considering their modus operandi.
One thing going against Jackson and the Ravens though is the way Brady, Belichick and the Patriots have taken care of all the 1st round Quarterbacks in the 2018 draft so far this season. Jackson is last on that list.
In most companies, there is a something that needs reporting, you should be able to confidentially whistle blow on bad practice.
In the NFL though, whistle-blowing has caused many fans to feel aggrieved at the official’s practice.
Yet more instances on Sunday of perhaps whistling that may have been a bit premature.
Leonard Fournette has almost toted the rock 200 times this season, is the 2nd leading rusher in the NFL but only has 1 touchdown to show for his efforts. If Brad Allen and his crew held off for just a second or two more whilst the pile was being pushed, it would have been paydirt for the second time this season for the Jags RB.
The biggest one of the weekend was definitely in Nashville, though, where Brett Kern fumbled the ball on what appeared to be a botched Field Goal attempt. He scooped the ball up and made haste for chains but got his soul taken from him by the Tampa Bay defence. Of course, when you lose your soul, you also lose the football. Unfortunately for the Bucs, Adrian Hills’s zebra crew blew this one dead and whilst the ensuing return from the Bucs was credited with possession of the football, they were not rewarded with 6 points that they perhaps could’ve have inherited due to the play being blown dead.
Whistleblowing eh? Makes you want to keep quiet.
One for the road…
it was Touted to be a poor game
Despite what the announcer may have said, there were quite a few empty seats at Wembley for their first International Series game of the season.
Very much a sore point with NFL fans across the UK, the touts may finally be getting the point.
With plenty of people happy to point out how low ticket prices were for the Rams vs Bengals game, you have to wonder if the tide is now turning not only for the NFL, but for events in general.