The Gents Re-Watch Review: Week 7
An unfortunate incident with a delete key and an inability to be able to hit ‘undo’, saw me delete 4000 words worth of my review last week, so after much huffing and screaming I wasn’t able to put it up. This week however it’s all saved and ready to go, so it’s time to get into the week 7 Re-Watch Review.
As always it’s predominantly 3 interesting points per game, these can be broad like “I liked the offence” or detailed, like “that one pass, was fantastic”. I will try and find unique points of view, but sometimes I will just have to state the obvious if that’s what stood out for me.
Starting with the Thursday night game, let’s get into It.
Seattle Seahawks 20 – San Francisco 49ers 3
- Marshawn Lynch: As good as Thomas Rawls has been for the Seahawks, there is no single difference maker on this team like Marshawn Lynch. When Lynch isn’t on this team they look flat against better defences. Lynch changes the whole dynamic of this offence and means that opportunities that wouldn’t usually present themselves become genuine chain movers, including but not exclusively the 43 yard pass to Tyler Lockett, which came from weak coverage on a play action pass. When you don’t focus on Lynch he moves the ball on his own. The Seahawks had 21 1st downs, of which I would say nearly all of them are down to not knowing what to do with one of the toughest running backs in the league.
- Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril: After last week’s loss there were cracks beginning to appear in the Legion of Boom and particular the relationship between the 3 key players. This week they played better, but played 2nd fiddle to the dominance of the front 7, in particular the 2 pass rushers, who much like Kam Chancellor, will cause contract issues next year, with Avril expecting an awful lot and Bennett wanting to re-work his current deal. Bennett and Avril combined for 5 sacks and continually gave a mobile QB nowhere to run and in fact didn’t give him a single rushing opportunity at all. Bennett and Avril are the popular names on this front 7, but with a secondary that has struggled to find it’s form, the whole front 7 deserves some credit and will no doubt provide some difficult decisions in the off season.
- Colin Kaepernick: I’ve had a few days to think about his performance and came to one conclusion. We can’t judge him on this one game. Now at this point his detractors will remind me he’s had a number of poor games and they would be right, but there is no doubt that the stripped back playbook he was working with over the previous 2 games, brought with it a QB that seemed more productive and there were definite signs of improvement. So really, this was the wrong time for Kaepernick to face the Seahawks, who were hungry for a division win and took advantage of a Kaepernick that looked lost behind a poor offensive line. The Niners will almost certainly miss out on a play-off spot, but it does present an opportunity for a stock take. If Kaepernick doesn’t show any signs of improvement after this game, I think it’s time to move on. But if he can put together a run, with a simplified playbook, with him easing into his role (that, yes, he’s been in several years), the Niners might be able to salvage a QB in a world where a franchise signal caller is like gold dust. I personally have my reservations however.
Buffalo Bills 31 – Jacksonville Jaguars 34
- The Jaguars Play-Calling: Despite taking the victory, the Jags nearly threw away a giant lead down to some awful play-calling. After some fantastic raw talent on both offence and defence the Jags were up 27-3 mid-way through the 2nd quarter. From here however it felt like they struggled to do anything right, up until the last touchdown of the game. Let’s start with the instance of using Toby Gerhart 4 times in a row on the 1 yard line as they desperately tried to put the ball in the end zone, failing on every single play. Gerhart finished the game with 8 yards for 6 attempts. None of the 8 yards were from the 4 attempts here. Despite being ahead, on the 4th down they still didn’t opt for the chip shot, or to give TJ Yeldon a go, this obviously would have been a great chance to put the game further ahead for the team. It wasn’t an inability to run the ball that saw the Jags eat up very little clock in the 4th quarter, but more a reluctance to do so. The Jags seemed to consistently miss passes and drop balls, rather than running the ball and eating up clock. The Jags 1st 2 drives of the 4th quarter clocked in at just over a minute, which left enough time on the clock for Buffalo to not only claw their way back, but actually go ahead. Despite some herculean performance poor play-calling kept Buffalo in this game. If they were facing a higher powered team, this could and maybe should have been a very different result.
- EJ Manuel: There were no doubt mistakes made by the back-up quarterback. The 2 picks that happened, pretty much 1 after the other were down to Manuel staring down his target, which in itself is unforgivable. However I feel maybe I should stick up for him after a reasonable effort to bring the team back into the game. For starters he went into this game with no Percy Harvin or Sammy Watkins, which left Robert Woods, Charles Clay and Chris Hogan as his number 1 targets. On top of a lack of receiving talent, he also spent at least 3/4 of the game with no working headset, which regularly stalled the offence. Despite all of these issues, he did manage to string a few passes together to put the Bills in a decent position to win the game. Despite all of this though, the fact is if this was Tyrod Taylor, they probably go home with the win… sorry EJ, I did my best.
- Jaguars Defence: Despite poor offensive play-calling, the defence seemed to be relatively on point, combining safety blitzes with dropping versatile line-backers into coverage. There has been no doubt that this team has struggled to get a pass rush going all season, but it seemed that mixing up the likes of Sergio Brown and Jonathan Cyprien in the blitz packages worked, whilst dropping Posluszny and Smith into coverage seemed to cause confusion and force mistakes. This creativity could easily get them a few wins against division opponents, with in my eyes right now the AFC South being a total crap shoot. The Jags are very much still in the play-off hunt.
Cleveland Browns 6 – St Louis Rams 24
- Todd Gurley: There’s definitely a few names in the running for offensive rookie of the year as we near the half-way point, but Gurley should easily be the favourite. Gurley took full advantage of a Browns defence that is yet again struggling to stop the run. According to Pro Football Focus, Gurley broke 11 tackles and gained an average of 5.8 yards after contact per play. This combined with 128 yards and 1 touchdown, more than makes up for another less than exciting performance from Nick Foles. With McCown struggling on the other side and a slew of Browns running backs simply not able to move the ball, Gurley becomes the key difference maker in a matchup between 2 dull teams. Without Gurley and an opportunistic defence, this game would have been a lot closer.
- The Opportunistic Rams Defence: The Rams defence no doubt has their work cut out for them, with an offence that is ranked 31st in terms of both points scored and yards gained and 32nd in 1st downs, with only 88. Despite having next to zero offensive help, the Rams have only allowed 8 offensive touchdowns and managed to force 8 fumbles for a turnover, 2 of which came in this game. The Rams were missing a few key players in this one, yet the players like William Hayes came in and performed fantastically. The Rams are a great example of why it’s important to have depth on the defensive line. The Rams have made a few shrewd moves too, like picking up draft bust Mark Barron from the Bucs and changing his role to a nickel safety/ line-backer, who picked up 10 tackles in this one. All in all the Rams have a defence that allows very little, which combined with a dynamic back like Gurley, could (could), be the key to a surprise wild card spot.
- Josh McCown: Against an exceptional defence like this one McCown really struggled to move the ball, despite Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin being legitimate threats. The problem is, McCown also emphasised why he’s not a game manager, by putting the ball on the ground twice. With the deep threats taken away, McCown was forced to throw the ball short and moved the ball pretty well gaining 19 1st downs, but the consistent fumbling meant they only made it to the red zone once. McCown missed the end of the game with a shoulder injury, which forced Manziel in. The Browns could be forced into using a more dynamic play book. Regardless, this Browns team is good enough to beat the bad teams, but will struggle when they come up against a half decent defence and any semblance of a run game.
Houston Texans 26 – Miami Dolphins 44
- A Changed Miami Dolphins: The last 2 games we’ve seen a Miami Dolphins team that looks completely different to the abomination we saw in London. There could be a number of reasons for this. Teams do tend to come back fresh from a bye week, after having a chance to assess where they’re going wrong, also it doesn’t hurt that the 2 teams they have faced have been the less-than-brilliant Texans and Titans. However, there is no doubt that the most popular and my opinion, most correct reasoning will be the sacking of Joe Philbin, who by his absence has pretty much proved that they simply didn’t want to play for him. This is a completely different looking team. Suh had pretty much given up despite the giant contract he signed in the summer. Since the introduction of Dan Campbell as Interim Head Coach, Suh has been instrumental in improving the pass rush for the Dolphins, gaining 2 sacks and making room for a hungry Cameron Wake to pick up 6 sacks in 2 games as well as 2 forced fumbles in this game. Brent Grimes looks like the player we expected him to this season, just all but completely taking a top receiver like DeAndre Hopkins out of the game. On offence Tannehill looks not only reliable, but dynamic. Whilst he doesn’t force the ball deep, he utilises his quick yards after catch receivers and hits them in stride. Rashad Matthews wanted a trade pre-season when the team picked up DeVante Parker, he’s looked nothing short of excellent and gained 75 yards on 3 receptions and a touchdown. Finally their getting the ball to Lamar Miller, who now has been given the chance to prove himself. In this game he picked up 236 total yards and 2 touchdowns. What we’re seeing is the team we thought we’d see, and all it took was a change at Head Coach. Not to a dynamic College name, or to a proven NFL entity, but to someone who is well liked and who’d let the Coaches do their job. Dan Campbell has made the Dolphins want to be part of something that could be pretty special and if you want evidence, see the blocking Landry gets down field in his incredible touchdown run, oh and how the player react to the rain on the side-lines. These guys loving playing for this team right now.
- Texans Defence: There is no lack of talent on this unit. JJ Watt is still one of the best players in the league. Brian Cushing is supposed to be a bully. Vince Wilfork is a potential hall of famer. So why can they not complete a tackle? The defence just don’t seem to play as a cohesive unit, there were so many plays where defensive backs and line-backers just didn’t know who they were supposed to cover. The Dolphins quick receivers just seem to be able to find easy gaps. On top of which, tough players like Cushing are being embarrassed. The Texans offence was poor there’s no doubt about it, but with a beaten up Arian Foster and a revolving door of awful QB’s, there never really has been a lot of hope for them, but the defence was supposed to be one of, if not the, best in the league and they’ve been worse than poor. The Texans talent is being put to waste and you can guarantee we’ll see coaching changes in the off-season if something doesn’t improve sooner rather than later.
Pittsburgh Steelers 13 – Kansas City Chiefs 23
- Landry Jones: When my write up disappeared last week, I’d written in depth about my concerns for Landry Jones and the hype he’d received. Well in this one, bar a couple of passes to incredibly athletic receivers, who managed to make insane plays to get the ball, it was a bump back down to earth for the 3rd string QB. Jones threw 2 interceptions that were nowhere near their target. Jones’ is better than Mike Vick no doubt, but the Steelers will be hoping Ben Roethlisberger makes it back next week.
- Charcandrick West: A much better performance from the running back in this game against a Steelers defence that of late has given up reasonably little on the ground. With the emergence of West, Alex Smith came to life again as a viable option again, who was able to move the ball through the air. Charcandrick West will need to have a similar performance against the Lions in London, if the Chiefs are to continue their fight back going into the bye week. If the Chiefs can’t move the ball on the ground, their entire offence collapses.
- Tamba Hali and Justin Houston: At the risk of stating the obvious, the Chiefs outside line-backers present a difficult decision. Last year Justin Houston nearly broke the sack record thanks to teams concerns about the exceptionally talented Tamba Hali. This year people are very aware of what Houston can do, but are left wondering who to block. As a result neither player has an insane amount of sacks, but both share a total of 7. Whilst this is a relatively modest amount, focus on these 2 players has opened up some opportunities for other players to benefit on the interior, including Allen Bailey, who has racked up 4.5 sacks. The point is that although these 2 aren’t getting the numbers were used to, they are doing a great job at keeping pressure off the interior, which should slow down the run game and create more interceptions. This is what a pair of bookend pass rushers can do for a team.
New York Jets 23 – New England Patriots 30
- Tom Brady: Brady’s stats should have been even more ridiculous, thanks to a total of 10 dropped balls, the majority of which coming from Brandon LaFell. Brady is about as good as it gets at making the most of mismatches. Gronk had an okay start to the game, with Calvin Pryor doing as good a job as we’ve seen taking him out of the game. Pryor however went off injured and we saw Marcus Gilchrist put in a valiant effort, but struggled to keep the walking mismatch down, with Brady smelling blood in water. Brady did a great job at taking full advantage of any opportunity that presented itself, including the game winning touchdown, where a blitz saw Brady get the ball out quickly to an unmarked Rob Gronkowski. There were other examples, like Brady seemingly throwing passes against Deon Bailey and a variety of line-backers who had the unenviable job trying to keep up with Edelman and Amendola. Brady can play in a variety of different ways and seems to relish putting the team on his back and I can’t see any defence besting the player that is in my opinion, right now the league MVP, although I still think Rodgers has a few surprises up his sleeve.
- Patriots Defence: It will go under the radar, but the front 7 played a great game on Sunday. A number of players stood out in my opinion. Dont’a Hightower seemed to singlehandedly stop the Jets run game and racked up 10 tackles. Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones took full advantage of interior pressure, regularly forcing Fitzpatrick to get the ball out quickly, which leads me to my defensive MVP of the game, Rob Ninkovich, who got his hand to no less than 4 passes and was instrumental in stopping the Jets passing attack, when Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler struggled against the Jets big receivers. While we were all concerned in the off season about the losses on the secondary, we didn’t stop to take note that the Patriots have one of the top front 7s in the league.
- Jets, Down But Not Out: This will be a tough loss for New York, there is little doubt about that, but the bigger picture is that there are some great building blocks for a future championship contender. The defence is solid. Bowles has his hybrid line backer safeties, in the likes of Gilchrist and Pryor, who are both having far better seasons than I think anyone thought. The front line, is one of the best 3-4 lines in the league, with the biggest issue being where the money will come from to pay for them. It’s on offence that they have a few questions. Fitzpatrick is doing a fine job right now, but is he good enough to contend in a Super bowl? I doubt it, but what do you do? Draft another QB? Give Geno another shot? All questions that at some point need to be addressed. The same can be said for a number of the Jets weapons. Chris Ivory is a solid back, but injury prone, so what do you do? Do you go and pick a back in the draft, but know they might not get much playing time? Finally they have an issue at receiver in that Brandon Marshall, loves to make silly mistakes. So far with every team, he’s got progressively worse every season, so do they need to pick up another wide out? If the Jets are to be a future Super bowl contender, it might involve them being a little ruthless.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 – Washington 31
- Kirk Cousins: Here at the Gents clubhouse, we’ve been desperate to come up with a solid rule for what it takes for this Washington team to get a win. I’m now willing to throw all of those rules out the window and leave it to just 1. Washington are better if Jordan Reed plays. Cousins though deserves the credit in leading the team back into the game, hitting 5 different receivers for at least 48 yards each throwing 3 touchdown passes, even though the team were down 24-0. With this performance you would hope that the ‘will Cousins get benched’ conversations will stop. Cousins is without question, the 1st string QB for Washington.
- Jameis Winston: Technically a pretty great game for the number 1 overall pick, but there has to be some concerns about not being able to move the ball for 2 1/2 quarters. We did however see a more sensible, accurate Wilson, who linked up with Mike Evans nicely for 164 yards. Winston is definitely improving, but you have to think his full potential won’t be realized until it’s too late this season.
- Mistakes, They’ve Made a Few: The problem with Tampa Bay seems to be a lack of discipline. Whether its blown coverage or the constant stream of flags that hit the field this team has big issues that will continually hinder them in having the opportunity to win games. What’s worrying is that this remarkably reminiscent of what Bears fans experienced when Lovie was the Head Coach in Chicago. False starts, holding, blown coverage (at times from the likes of Major Wright and Chris Conte), these are all traits of a team that has serious inherent discipline problems, which won’t change unless Lovie does.
Minnesota Vikings 28 – Detroit Lions 19
- Stefon Diggs: Diggs seems to have come from nowhere, but a solid performance this week will have seen him earn the no. 1 spot. Not only did Diggs finish the game with 108 receiving yards, he added a show reel catch for a touchdown, reminiscent of a fully healthy Alshon Jeffrey. Diggs’ rise through the Vikings ranks is pretty amazing when you look at some of the talent that’s gone by the wayside over the last few years, with the likes of Patterson, Johnson, Rudolph and Wallace all playing 2nd fiddle to the 5th round pick. Diggs also showed his blocking ability, by keeping Zach Line safe downfield for a few crucial extra yards. Expect big things from this rookie, who should be in the running f0r rookie of the year.
- Eric Kendrick’s and Anthony Barr: These 2 are a defensive duo to keep an eye on that could be the Vikings own Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Both just seem to be all over the field. Kendrick’s natural run stuffing ability means the Vikings can commit more to the pass rush, including an incredibly under the radar player in Anthony Barr, who had a solid rookie season last year. These 2 combined with the likes of Floyd, Griffen, Joseph and weak side line-backer Chad Greenway. This is a defence that could get very good, very quickly.
- Lions Offensive Changes: Really I don’t think there is any doubt that a change needed to be made. Yes the offensive line has played poorly, but there is serious talent on this team that simply isn’t being exploited. If the Lions can’t move the ball, because Matt Stafford, is spending half the game on his back, then it’s time to do something different. Maybe hit the likes of Tate and Riddick for consistent quick short gains, or at least try to run the ball. If Abdullah’s not doing it, give Bell a go, he’s been pretty effective in the past. The Lions can move the ball, but they just don’t seem to be able to do it consistently. Detroit will need to have a better 3rd down conversion rate of 1/10 if they’re to stay relevant in the NFC.
New Orleans Saints 27 – Indianapolis Colts 21
- What’s up With the Colts? Let’s start with the fact that this hasn’t been a good team for a couple of years. Last year I described them as the “best bad team in the league”, that were only moving the ball because a handful of decent players including their QB. Then they added a handful of luxury players that seemed to all be in the latter stages of their career, of which they added very little to offensive line or to the run defence. Next they added yet more luxury players in the draft, headed up by Phillip Dorsett at receiver, who currently has a total of 11 receptions for 157 yards on the season and 1 touchdown. Then finally they changed the way they play. Less 2 tight end sets, less extra line help, more empty backfields and funnily enough it doesn’t work. Now they’ve got the added problem, that due to a lack of coaching, line help and just generally being put in no win situations, Andrew Luck seems to be hesitating and starting to make mistakes. Firing Pagano is not the answer. The Colts need a fresh start with a new GM and a completely new group of coaches, or their only decent asset could be lost forever. In regards to this game, they shouldn’t have even been close.
- Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson: Slowly but surely they’re becoming one of the best running back duos in the league, with Ingram doing a lot of the leg work and Robinson taking on the role of a goal line back and it’s working. The Saints had 5 red zone attempts and converted 4 of them, thanks in part to Robinson’s 2 conversions. The Colts poor run defence isn’t a great measuring stick for just how good these 2 are, but it does mean we should see a more confident Saints running attack in the future.
- Saints Defence: Again, I am aware that this isn’t the best team to measure a defence against, but there is no doubt that despite, losing a large chunk of veteran players to the salary cap, the new additions all seem to be fitting in nicely. Stephone Anthony career best game here, picking off Andrew Luck once and just generally being everywhere. Anthony currently leads the Saints in tackles. Hau’oli Kikaha had a rough game here, with his special team’s presence having the biggest impact, but up until this game he seems to have done something impressive with every game he’s started. Delvin Breaux is a player I’ve talked about before and in this one he was simply out matched. Despite giving up big plays though he’s generally been impressive and an important part of a weak Saints secondary. These combined with a resurgent Cameron Jordan, should lead the charge for a half decent Saints defence in the future and might… might, save Rob Ryan his job.
Atlanta Falcons 10 – Tennessee Titans 7
- Zach Mettenberger: Kind of a mixed bag for the backup QB. Mettenberger was a little conservative, which isn’t what we want to see from a QB with a big arm. The Titans only moved the ball 256 yards and managed just 1 1st down. Mettenberger has always been a QB that deserves a starting role somewhere, but now I have to think he’d work in the exact right situation. Which is why we’ll probably see Mettenberger stay as a backup for the Titans. One excuse for Mettenberger however. He was going up against one of the best secondary’s in the league. Any other week he might have had a little more success and risked a few more deep balls.
- Matt Ryan: Despite the low score, Ryan did manage to move the ball, just stalled getting it into the end zone, It was the whole offence in fact. Julio managed to get a touchdown and picked up about as quiet a 92 yards as you’d expect, but still not the dynamic performance we’ve grown to expect. The same for Devonta Freeman, who picked up his customary 100+ yards, but couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone. This is still the 4th ranked offence in terms of points scored, but after the last couple of games they need to find some momentum. 10 points won’t be enough to beat a lot of teams.
- Falcons Defence: Despite having in my opinion, a top 5 secondary, this team is still ranked 25th in passing yards allowed. What’s impressive is the effect that the front 7 has had on the run game, keeping opponents to an average 3.7 yards per attempt. I guess what I’m alluding to is that despite a rough couple of weeks, this is still one of the league’s best defences and looks completely different to what we’re so used to seeing. This is still a fun team, they just need to find their groove.
Oakland Raiders 37 – San Diego Chargers 29
- Philip Rivers: The score line flatters the Chargers, but this is in no part to Philip Rivers, who is about as up against as any QB in the league. Rivers is still generating yardage and touchdowns on essentially a bad team. Rivers was forced to throw 58 times in this one. The run game was supposed to have improved but a poor offensive line has held them back, which is a credit to Rivers who is still performing despite being under constant pressure. Rivers escaped this game with just 1 sack despite an ever collapsing pocket. The one shining light is Keenan Allen who has been a consistent reliable target for Rivers, but with a poor o-line, poor secondary and no semblance of a run game, the post-season seems like a long way away.
- Derek Carr and Amari Cooper: Derek Carr has taken another step forward to being a franchise QB, there is little doubt about it, however a great amount of credit should go to rookie receiver Amari Cooper, who has looked every bit the player they expected him to be. Amari Cooper fought for every single one of his yards, with the 2 big receptions being a catch and run into the end zone and the other being a pass thrown up in the for Cooper to go up and get it. Amari Cooper’s presence has made every other weapon on this team more valuable. Crabtree for the 1st time in his career is staring at single coverage and Latavius Murray isn’t looking at a loaded box, unlike last year, where there simply weren’t the weapons. The addition of Cooper has turned an anaemic Oakland offence into one of the most exciting units in the league and although the Raiders might be another year away from a playoff spot, they’re probably not the worst team in their division right now.
- Chargers Fans: Or lack of. It felt like the Raiders were the home team. I think it might be time to move to LA, Chargers, somewhere Rivers won’t have to use a silent count.
Dallas Cowboys 20 – New York Giants 27
- Greg Hardy: It feels like every week he becomes a more loathsome human being. This week it became apparent he might be having a negative effect on the team and no matter how talented he is, probably deserves to be jettisoned from Dallas. Greg Hardy knocked the clipboard out of their special teams coach’s hand and got into an argument with the never quiet Dez Bryant, who paid his own way to be with the team. Hardy’s deplorable actions along with his side-line conduct and what he said about Tom Brady, surely has to be enough to stop Jerry Jones turning the other way, no matter how much he’s earned. Yet Jones wants to give him a long term contract. This cannot be good for team morale.
- Matt Cassel: There was good and bad with Cassel. For starters he did enough to make the run game relevant and Darren McFadden had his 1st good game in… well a long time. Cassel also made some pretty decent throws, hitting players in stride with accuracy in decent coverage. That being said Cassel also made 3 consecutive interceptions, of which at least 2 of them were 100% on him. It felt like every interception spent a lifetime in the air just waiting for Rodgers-Cromartie to pluck it out of the air, which happened twice, once for a score. Cassel might need to look at his decision making before taking the field next time.
- Dwayne Harris: Really very little I can say here except that the Giants came up big on both special teams and defence for touchdowns when the offence stuttered. Dwayne Harris scoring against his old team had to have been a good feeling, especially when he then saw Cowboys current return man drop the ball at an important moment in the game. The return by Harris was a great play, but the Giants should have been able to get Randle and Beckham more involved and pulled away before this was needed.
Philadelphia Eagles 16 – Carolina Panthers 27
- The Frustrating Eagles Offence: It feels like running a ton of 2 tight end sets seems to be the key, something that’s worked in the few wins they’ve picked up this season. Before we go any further, a little peak behind the curtain. To do some research on this I looked up some older articles and found one on Bleacher Report about how the 2 tight end set was the key to success for the Eagles… this was from 2013. So why are they simply not lining up in 21’s the whole time, or even 22’s, with either Murray and Sproles on the field, running behind 2 tight ends to bolster a beaten up offensive line. It feels like the egos of the coaching staff are stopping them from running a system that will a) work and b) eat up clock and keep the defence off the field. In terms of Matthews and Murray I get it. Murray is the every down straight ahead runner, Matthews is the change of pace back that can bounce to the outside on 3rd down. Just why not give them the best chance to succeed.
- Jonathan Stewart: There is only so much praise I can give Mr Newton, week in, week out, so time to share the offensive love with Jonathan Stewart, who seemed to gallop to 125 yards in this one. Stewart has played so well when he’s been healthy and doesn’t have to split reps with DeAngelo Williams. Stewart’s so far had a quiet season and this could be the game we see him use as a spring board to become that missing piece on this offence. I’d imagine Cam is very grateful of what Stewart can do when he’s 100% ready to go.
- Panthers Defence: This defence is loaded with talent. We all know about Kuechly and Norman, but Thomas Davis, Kawann Shorts , Josh Norman, Bene Benwikere and Roman Harper, have all been exceptional, just to name a few. In particular for me, Josh Norman heads up a very different looking list of cornerbacks in my top 10 currently, with probably the whole top 4 making way for the likes of Norman and Trufant. Davis and Kuechly are doing their usual exceptional job, doing the work of 3 line-backers and doing it incredibly well. This defence looks as good as ever and whilst they might have a potential MVP on offence, on defence they have a vast amount of pro-bowl talent.
Baltimore Ravens 18 – Arizona Cardinals 26
- Chris Johnson: I have no idea what’s happened to Chris Johnson. Some credit has to go to the best offensive line he’s run behind for a long time, but he’s getting a decent amount of his yards after contact. Admittedly in this one he did get quite lucky, being tackled by Brandon Williams, but landing on him meant he didn’t touch the ground, which then saw him break off a 62 yard run for a touchdown. But he’s playing at an insane level. It’s as if the Cardinals went back in time and picked him up from 2008 to play this season.
- Cardinals Defence: They might not be the best unit (although I think they actually probably are), but they are the most fun defence in the league. It feels like the team is loaded with hybrid safeties, often lining up with as many as 7 all of which are as comfortable blitzing as they are in coverage. The master seems to be Tyrann Mathieu, who is having a career year. But players like Jerraud Powers, Deone Bucannon, Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson make for a pretty good supporting cast, with the front 3, or even occasionally front 2 seem to generate the same amount of pressure as a 4 man defensive front. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with the versatility we see from this unit, similar to the Jets, they are the ultimate read/ no-huddle offence killer, with insane amounts of versatility.
- Joe Flacco: This was actually a reasonable performance for the under fire QB, hitting 9 different receivers for 252 yards, as the Ravens continue to struggle with a lack of offensive weapons. This was actually a pretty impressive performance considering the mood the Cards defence was in. Steve Smith was the leading receiver and picked up 78 yards as he continues to recover from his broken ribs. The Ravens night was ended with an interception to Tony Jefferson and the Ravens are now 1-6, despite a brave fight back and being within 1 score of every one of the teams losses. It seems unlikely that the team will now go on a 9 game winning streak to make the play offs.
And that was week 7! As always, let us know what you think, I’d love to know what I got wrong, or maybe even what I actually got right! Listen out for the pod for the view points of all the Gents.