Monday, October 20, 2008

NFL Roundup: How 'bout them Cowboys?

There's pleasant, there's fun, there's riotously enjoyable, and then there's the Cowboys getting absolutely dominated in a game they were supposed to win going away... and picking the game correctly to boot.

Oh, and Jerry Jones? Excellent use of the trade deadline, sir. Your acquisition of Roy Williams,, and the immediate long-term contract that you signed him to, in a week where he contributed nothing against a breathtakingly bad secondary... truly, sir, you have never occupied a warmer place in my heart.

The simple fact of the Cowboys right now is that there is no part of this team -- even the presumably dominant offensive line -- that can be counted on. Tony Romo was clearly making that group look better then they are (Brad Johnson was sacked five times today by the previously punchless Rams defense). Marion Barber got his 100 yards, but a lot of it was on one run. Felix Jones made that OL look better too -- and he's out for a few more games. The defense got killed on the ground. The secondary wasn't the huge issue here, but only because the Rams were content to play conservative and kill them with Stephen Jackson.

What's next? Well, let's face it... Jones just tried to fix a team with a bad back-up quarterback and secondary with another wideout. He even got him from Matt Millen's old team, to complete the transition. In post-game comments, Jones was blunt in his unhappiness.

He can't release players. And he just spent his Sunday watching a team that fired its coach on its bye week come back with two unexpected wins against presumably better clubs. Everyone also knows that Wade Phillips is on a Win Or Else leash after the past two playoff washouts. Finally, thanks to the Giants surviving the Niners today, they are two games back in the division, and in real trouble for making the playoffs.

Would Jones fire the coach? Will Romo come back next week at home against the Bucs, even if it's not a very good idea? Will Owens melt down? Is someone (Bill Cowher) getting a phone call with a Name Your Price offer?

Honestly, there's nothing these guys won't try or do. Which is, well, why today was such a gift from Heaven...

> As for the Rams... well, heck. They've won two in a row, and they play in a division with the Niners and and Seahawks. Start thinking playoffs, baby!

> Just when you thought the AFC was getting back to normal... the Colts go to Green Bay and played abysmal football, the Chargers get worked in Buffalo with LaDanian Tomlinson looking spent, Miami returning to seed at home against a presumably reeling Ravens team, the Raiders taking out the Jets in overtime... yeesh.

> So all hail your Titan Overlords, the Last Unbeaten Team, and the club that no one outside of Tennessee really and truly believes in. Maybe we should, given that they've got a dominant defense and some really good work going on in the running game -- they carried the ball 40 times for 332 yards today, albeit against the I-AA Chiefs. People call Kerry Collins a game manager, but he's more than that, given the strength of his arm and the fact that he's won some playoff games and gone to a Super Bowl.

But still, it's hard to shake the idea that some club is going to put together a good game and show all of the reasons why no one thought the Titans were going to go to the playoffs this year, let alone have a three-game lead in the division. Next week at home against the Colts should be Highly Interesting.

> By the box score, today's 29-17 Giants win over the Niners was by the book and easy; the only reason the Niners were even in the game was their second straight week with a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. But having watched most of the game today, I saw something different.

Shh... you remember Old Eli, the guy who made bad reads and gave the other team a lot of chances to make interceptions? He's back....

The Giants won this game because the Niners are, make no mistake, a terrible team. The defense did the job on Frank Gore (11 carries for 11 yards), and they ran the ball 29 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. But Manning was only 16 for 31 despite having all kinds of time and places to throw to, and this game was close until JT O'Sullivan made sure it wasn't. The NFC East is wide open, people.

> Continuing the Winless Dream at home today were your Cincinnati Bengals. How bad is this team? Cedric Benson qualified as the Bright Spot. They didn't sack Ben Roethlisberger, and everyone gets to sack him. They gave up 120 yards rushing to Mewelde Moore. Their fans are selling the tickets as fast as they can.

So, um... what does Marvin Lewis have to do to get fired?

> The wackiest game of the day might have been in Chicago, where the Bears rode their No Boring Outcome defense to a 48-41 win over the Vikings. This game might have single-handedly saved the year for a guy in my points league, who had Bernard Berrian (81 yards and a touch), Adrian Peterson (130 combined yards and 2 touchdowns), Greg Olsen (74 and a touch) and the Chicago defense (3 touchdowns, 2 sacks and 4 picks countered by 41 points allowed). Not exactly what anyone expected, really.

In between all of that was the continuing emergence of Kyle Orton, who tossed up another 283 yards, 2 touchdowns and no turnover game. If anyone has ever seen a previously terrible quarterback become reasonable this quickly... well, I can't remember it.

> If picking games in the NFC South were a fight, it would have been stopped by now on cuts. At least the Bucs were able to take out the awful, awful Seabags; it feels like the first right call that I've made in that division this year.

As for the Saints' um, effort in Carolina... well. at least their next game on the road is in London against the Chargers. So both teams can not show up for that one...

> The late game here in the Man Cave was the Raiders taking out the Jets in overtime, in a game that should have had Jets Fan tearing his hair out. On a day where they got 159 yards (!) from Thomas Jones, Brett Favre went back to terrible, with 2 back-breaking picks and bad accuracy (21 of 38). The Raiders took away the Jet wideouts (Laverneous Coles had 4 catches for 51 yards, while Jerricho Cotchery was made complete invisible with 1 catch for no yards by Nnamdi Asommugha).

But the really notable thing to me in this game was how the Raiders won it; it will tell you that they aren't going to win very often. With three minutes let in regulation, the home team went ahead on a 37-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal. On the next drive, the Raiders defense allowed Favre to escape pressure for a miracle conversion, and failed to make the plays (i.e., dropping interceptions) that would have prevented a tying Jay Feely 52 yarder.

Oh, and they also did that irritating Ice The Kicker thing, on a Feely miss. Can someone please, for the love of football, stop this already?

In overtime, JeMarcus Russell finally made a play to Zach Miller (like all bad QBs, he over-relies on the tight end). Three downs from there, after some remarkably conservative playcalling given that they were only on the Jets 40, the Raiders send Janikowski out to make a 57 yarder. Miraculously, he does it for the win. Had he missed, you have to think the Jets would have been able to move the ball 15 to 20 yards for the win from there, but never mind. It's not like you keep the coaching job in Raider Land from your intellect.

Jets Fan, you just lost a game to a team with a special needs coach. Sure hope that you don't need this game later...

1 comment:

Tracer Bullet said...

Jerry Jones, as has been said elsewhere, is Al Davis without the jumpsuit. No accomplished coach like Cowher will take that job, and Jones likely wouldn't offer it, because said coach will want control and lots of it. Even if Jerruh stays the GM (please, Lord), the coach will demand control over the roster, the locker room and everything on game day. No more post-game rants from the owner, no more signing players the coach doesn't want or need. Jerruh will be cold in the ground before he allows another coach to upstage him.