Category Archives: NFL

Back to (Run) School

The most unique spelling of his first name and the fifth leading rusher in the NFL. Mr. Stevan Ridley! (patriots.com)

Anyone catch the Oregon versus Washington game last weekend? If you did then you  might have noticed how similar the Patriots offense looks as compared to the Ducks. Fast paced no-huddle with tons of running out of the shotgun formations and short quick passes.

Just compare the Ducks 52-21 waxing of Washington to the 31-21 victory by the Patriots over Peyton Manning and the Broncos last weekend.

Team A: 497 total yards, 299 rushing, 198 passing, 32 first downs.

Team B: 444 total yards, 251 rushing, 193 passing, 35 first downs.

Pretty identical right? Team A is Oregon. Team B is New England.

Guess what? It’s not a coincidence. Oregon coach Chip Kelly worked with the Patriots’ staff this offseason and yet again Bill Belichick, with the help of Josh Mcdaniels has transformed the offense. In 2007 they were like Texas Tech with the air raid. Last season it was tight end city in a more Pro-Style. This season seems to be a move to spread run attack which is very college-like.

So while every team was ready for Gronk and Hernandez to rip it up it has been another two guys; Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden.

Integral part of the offense indeed. (patriots.com)

Ridley piled up 151 yards against Denver for his third 100-yard game of the season. He is ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing. Who is the last Patriot running back that really produced like this? Perhaps in the one-year revival of Corey Dillon’s career? If not that then its Curtis Martin. Now that’s not to say that five games is enough to compare him to a Hall of Famer (or former Jet) like C-Mart and a big part of it has been the system but what Ridley has done has been very impressive.

Then there is Bolden who was undrafted out of Ole Miss. His numbers aren’t as eye-popping (206 yards, one 100-yard game) but they don’t need to be. He spells Ridley and runs hard. Also still in the shuffle is the versatile Danny Woodhead who picked up the two biggest third downs of the game against Denver.

Also got to throw a ton of credit to the offensive line. With Matt Light and Brain Waters gone the unit had more question marks than a team would care to have and yet the line has held up. You have to have a skilled and conditioned line to run and offense like the Patriots did last week and it never looked like the guys were staggering down the field gasping for air/water/death.

Do the Patriots have the best running back group in the NFL? Probably not. However as the third best rushing squad so far, they certainly have the best system.

Wow, 373 words into a post and we haven’t even touched on the passing game. That has to be some kind of record. With the Patriots seemingly able to run the ball at will Tom Brady didn’t really have to be unbelievable. He completed a good amount of his passes (23-for-31) for a good amount of yards (223) and didn’t turn the ball over. (By the way he’s right behind that Brees fellow on that consecutive games with a touch down streak after another last week). However the numbers belie Brady’s most important contribution. There aren’t that many quarterbacks that could actually run the offense like the Patriots did. The amount of reads he has to make, the audibles he calls all while keeping everyone on the same page. There isn’t a stat for that but it needs to be said, this new system doesn’t work without No. 12 under center.

Sunday also officially put to rest the Wes Welker is being phased out rumor.  13 receptions, 104 yards and a touchdown. He’s had at least 100 yards and eight catches in each of the last three games. Sit down, shut up. Wes is just fine.

One of the victims, at least in terms of statistics, of this new power run offense is Rob Gronkowski. Gronk had just four receptions and 35 yards.  He’s had a few good games but is not at the level he was last season. Only three Gronk-spikes? Can’t say I’m not disappointed by that. However it’s coming with the offense playing a balanced and seemingly unstoppable style of ball so I also realyl can’t complain. Wins over fantasy points and stats all day erry day.

(Yes I just tossed out an erry).

Now let’s talk about the defense. It’d be awesome if the Patriots also looked like a college defnese like say Alabama. That’s not the case. Peyton threw for 337 yards on a bunch of passes that really wobbled and floated. At times it looked like a strong wind would just carry the ball away like the plastic bag in American Beauty. Still 337. The Patriots also had a open and shut game turn a bit more intriguing. That just seems to be the defense’s M.O. It can’t defend the pass very well (30th) and will let team’s back in the game if there is a top-line quarterback on the other side.

If it wasn’t for some fortunate miscues by Willis McGahee, that game could have ended up being even tighter.

Speaking of top-line quarterbacks have to take some time to mention the Manning-Brady rivalry. Brady is now 9-4 against Manning so its nice to see that the Patriots still own at least one of the Mannings.  A few too many Papa John’s adds probably slowing No. 18.

So the secondary is weak but the front seven. Ahh, the front seven. Chandler Jones is a beast even if his numbers don’t always show it.

Familiar sight, this time with Ninkovich making Peyton pay. (patriots.com)

He’s the only pass rusher that seems to get after the quarterback ferociously every down. Jerod Mayo still piles up tackles.  Vince Wilfork clogs the hole as well as ever and I mean the line of scrimmage not his arteries. Brandon Spikes has had a great bounce back season thus far. Also Rob Ninkovich, with a pair of forced fumbles against Denver,  needs to be given more credit. He’s a return of the Bruschi/Vrabel type linebacking corps of the early 2000s.

The Patriots will take on Pete Carrol (remember that failure of a Patriots coach?) and the Seattle Seahawks this coming weekend. Carrol has some experience against an Oregon-type offense with his tenure as the USC head coach. Guaranteed Carrol will go back to some of that knowledge to game plan for the Patriots. Another guarantee is that the Patriots offense will probably adjust accordingly. This week they’re running but with so much skill on the roster, it seems like the Patriots will just keep switching things up while very other team in the NFL tries to catch up.

-Phil

Will the Patriots stick with this offensive plan all season? Are the defense’s weaknesses too much for New England to overcome or can the front seven make up for it? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Tale of Two Halves

Nothing like a 52-point beatdown to get those spirits up. (patriots.com)

It was the worst of times and then it was the best of times.

For the first half and beginning of the third quarter in Sunday’s game against Buffalo the Patriots looked as if the wheels were seriously falling off and that despite all the talent on the roster, a 1-3 start was in the future. Then someone flipped on a switch and suddenly that same Patriots team that could only manage seven points in the first half erupted and laughed it’s way to a 45-point half.

All in all the game ended with the Patriots getting back to .500 with a 52-28 thumping of the Bills that included a 31-point outburst in the fourth quarter.

The usual suspects were involved in the offensive onslaught. Tom Brady looked like the Tom Brady completing 22-of-36 passes for 340 yards and three scores. He made throws all over the field. The short dumps to Woodhead and Welker. The deep throws to the outside to Brandon Llloyd and the deep seams to Gronk. He even dazzled us with his glorious mobility and speed with a whopping FOUR yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.

Speaking of Welker, I guess all that hoopla about him being phased out was just that. In his last three games he has 22 receptions for

Only three catches, for 50 yards and a touchdown for B-Llloyd. But that was really all that was needed. (patriots.com)

366 yards including the nine-catch, 129 effort he had against the Bills. Some people will mention that his production has only gone up with Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman out but  it’s looney tunes to think that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels decided to put more trust in a guy who was getting arrested for groping chicks last season than Wee Wes, the man for whom a 100-reception season is just another Thursday.

Production wise Gronk looked like his old self again as well. In fact we even got a GRONK SPIKE in this one. He caught a 28-yard pass early in the fourth for the score and with all his momentum carrying him into the end zone he just did one of the sprinting spikes. That is my second favorite type of spike he has done with the top one being when he shakes the ball a little, does some sort of stanky leg impression and then hurls it at the turf like the Hulk taking care of Loki at the end of The Avengers. In the first half though Gronk looked a little lost. He dropped a few passes including a sure touchdown (albeit he was hit during it) and fumbled. He also caught five of 11 total targets. Still it was nice to see him be a tight end and not just a very expensive decoy.

But where the offense continues to be surprising is in the running game. Really this game was won with a balanced offensive attack. GASP. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden seemingly ran wherever and whenever theywanted all day on that expensive Bills defense. What’s that Mario Williams? Oh this undrafted free agent from Ole Miss is just going to light it up for 137 yards and a touchdown with a stunning 8.7 yards-per-carry average.  Meanwhile Ridley will punch it in twice and pick up 106 yards himself.  The production of these two has me forgetting all about the LawFirm (who by the way is averaging 3.5 yards per carry in Cincy).

Defensively fans need to get used to this team giving up too many yards and third down conversions. It just seems like the way Belichick has this team playing, where it doesn’t allow anything deep and then tightens up in the red zone is how its going to be. Getting lit up for 438 total yards (350 passing) against Ryan Fitzpatrick who couldn’t throw a 20-yard out pattern if he was playing Madden, is concerning but it seems to be more scheme than ineffectiveness.

Where the team has excelled is against the run where the Patriots currently rank eighth in the NFL. Against Buffalo the team allowed the Buffalo backs to pick up only 3.6 yards per carry while giving up only three runs of 10 or more yards and four first downs on the ground. Also a major strength has been the defense’s ability to wait for a team to make a mistake and pounce. Like when Vince Wilfork got a rare clear shot at a ball carrier when the Bills ran a screen pass. Usually Big Vince his still scrapping with an offensive linemen with his right arms while dragging a running back or whoever has the ball down with the left. On that play though he had a wide open shot and absolutely blew Donald Jones Up. Brandon Spikes also needs to get alot of credit in this game as he forced two fumbles while Devin McCourty had a 2010-type game with a pair of interceptions.

Here comes the BOOM! (patriots.com)

In rookie watch, Chandler Jones continues to be a beast. The rook had five tackles including two for a loss and a sack. Dont’a Hightower had a less impactful game (two tackles) than were used to seeing but with how well Spikes played it wasn’t as big a deal.

So the Patriots are now 2-2 and tied for the top spot in the East (with the circus that is the New York Jets and the same Bills team they just ripped to shreds). Hopefully this begins a period of best of times that lasts until early February. The next step for that involves some guy named Peyton and the Denver Broncos.

-Phil

Relieved to see the Patriots look so dominant, even it was for just one half? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Officially Tough Loss

If Twitter has taught me anything it is that everyone really hates the replacement officials. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

So not sure if you had heard but apparently the NFL is using replacement officials. When did this happen?

Alright, all jokes aside, clearly this little experiment is not working. The Baltimore/New England game was called atrociously (on both sides) and the Golden Tate game winning touchdown reception that wasn’t really a reception it would be irresponsible not to mention and or discuss this issue. But really there isn’t much to discuss. The owners (who are somehow not taking much of the brunt of the hate), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell  and the real referees need to get in a room and figure this out. Honestly the rest of the season cannot have games like this past weekend.

I’d go on but really at this point between Twitter, SportsCenter and the personal blogs of millions I’d just be throwing a bucket of water into the Atlantic Ocean. Fix this referee issue. That is all.

Now to the actual reason fans care about the NFL, you know the football. On second thought maybe I should keep discussing the referee debacle since I really don’t feel like writing about yet another crushing New England Patriots defeat.

Before I get into that I would like to say that I wish Torrey Smith and his family the very best in these terrible times. As much as I hated to watch the Patriots lose it was nice to see Smith have such a huge game when he clearly needed it.

Anyway back to the less important stuff. I thought about just writing “The Patriots lost. The End” for this post but that was on Sunday. Now that I’ve been able to stew I can be more objective. (Okay not really but I can pretend).

Another week of disappointment (patriots.com)

Let’s spin it positively. New England is 1-2 but if you look at its defeats its not as devastating a record as it appears. The Patriots lost two games by a combined score of three points against two opponents that have a combined record of 5-1.

But there is also a negative angle to be taken. The Patriots lost two winnable games by not closing in a trend that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Yet again the Patriots built a lead early and controlled the game for the first three quarters or so before suddenly folding in the fourth quarter. It happened against Baltimore (up nine halfway through the fourth), against Arizona to an extent (out gained the Cardinals 387-245 but lost because of a blocked punt that set up a two-yard touchdown drive). It goes further back to last season in the Super Bowl (team needed just one first down but Wes Welker dropped that pass) and you could even argue that it happened against Baltimore in the AFC Championship game because if Lee Evans makes that catch or that field goal goes in things could have gone entirely differently.

I’m not sure which of these outlooks is more of an accurate assessment but my feelings are that the second option is more indicative of what this team is right now.

After playing extremely well in the first two games and the first few drives of the matchup with Baltimore suddenly the defense couldn’t stop the Ravens at all. In fact on the first three drives of the game the Patriots forced two punts and an interception. From there Baltimore scored on five of their last seven possessions. Now part of the blame can go to the officials as time and time again Baltimore seemed to get bailed out on mysterious holding penalties but its not the only issue. The secondary just didn’t do a good job in coverage. Devin McCourty dropped an interception or two and the defense just didn’t get off the field enough. Watching this defense, especially in tight games, is painful because you just never feel like they’ll get a stop when they need to.

One positive was the stop the unit got on a fourth and one play. As I watched that I remarked that I didn’t think the Patriots had stuffed a run play on fourth and short since John Hannah was still on the team. In fact the run defense was pretty solid although Ray Rice did gallop for 101 yards.

Then there’s the offense which in these tough losses always seems to be just one first down from sealing the game only to fail to convert. Despite getting bailed out themselves on some dubious penalty calls (although the reversed interception in my mind was legit) the Patriots drive to kill the clock featured just six yards of offense actually gained without help from the zebras and had an alarming number of poor play calls. It needs to be mentioned that Josh McDaniels still seems to be readjusting to being the offensive coordinator again. I mean that double reverse to Edeleman was just a dumb play. You don’t need to run trick plays like you’re playing Boise State in the effing Fiesta Bowl.

The offense also failed in the fourth quarter when instead of putting the final nail in the coffin after driving deep into Baltimore territory with a touchdown, it settled for a 20-yard field goal. Seven of the team’s last 11 scoring drives have ended in field goals. That just can’t happen when you have the talent on offense the Patriots have.

Those struggles all come down to one thing; closing. The Patriots have to figure out how to better close out drives on offense and defense and even more importantly how to close out games if they want to rise from this 1-2 rut.

Some quick hits from the game:

Has anyone seen that guy on the left recently? (Matt Stone/bostonherald.com)

-Brandon Llloyd might be able to catch anything and clearly Brady feels that way. He has somehow become Brady’s favorite receiver even though Wes Welker had a vintange performance with eight catches for 142 yards. Time and time again Lloyd made catches that just didn’t seem possible.

-Has Gronkowski become just the most expensive decoy in the NFL? Three targets, two receptions, 21 yards. I don’t know if it’s the play calling or that Gronk just isn’t open but he just doesn’t seem like that important a piece in the offense right now. Could losing Hernandez being an even bigger loss than once thought?

-Stevan Ridley has certainly begun a slow descent back to earth. His carries and yards have all gone down each week with the 13 carries and 37 yards against Baltimore nowhere near the Barry Sanders-esque performance he had in week one. Granted Tennessee’s run defense is horrible. So horrible that even the Lions managed to rush for 100 yards against it.

-Heaping praise on the Patriots front seven, especially rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, seems to have jinxed the unit. The Patriots issues in stopping the pass, especially late in games, has a lot to do with the team not creating pressure. Against Baltimore on Sunday the Patriots had zero sacks and just one tackle for loss. Anybody is going to toss up 380 yards if they have all day to throw the ball.

The Patriots are 1-2 after last weekends loss. The first time since 2003 that they have been below .500. Here’s hoping this weekend everything (referees included) gets back to normal.

-Phil

Should the Patriots feel okay about the 1-2 start? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Prognostication Is My Business: Week 3 in the 2012 NFL

Does anyone like Thursday night games? I know the players don’t as several will miss the games with injuries that typically take a full week to almost heal and I’m pretty sure the fans don’t even like it. They can only be seen on the NFL Network and your team will only be on there once a year, which is hardly a reason to switch to dish and they completely ruin Sundays if your team is playing. To be perfectly honest I don’t even like Monday Night Football. I like my Sundays. I digress. The Patriots nearly came from behind, but still lost, in a game they were favored by nearly two touchdowns while the Giants completed the comeback and won by a touchdown. Buffalo had no need for a comeback as they blew out the Chiefs and the Jets had no chance as they were stifled by the Steelers. Let’s see how they will fare this week.

@ Carolina Panthers -2.5 New York Giants

This is an awful spot for the G-Men. Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw and Domenik Hixon are all out. They are on the road against a dynamic player in Cam Newton who can eat up defenses. The reasons why the Panthers are favored is obvious and as a prognosticator I think it’s the safe bet, but induldge me for a moment and I’ll tell you why as a fan I believe they will win. We still have Eli Manning and Victor Cruz. I don’t think Bradshaw is a feature back, so that isn’t a huge loss. They haven’t had the same offensive line seemingly since 2008. Newton is prone to make mistakes in the form of interceptions so the name of the game is contain and force him to pick apart the secondary. Big Blue is a more seasoned team and can take advantage of the up and coming Panthers. Plus the Giants always do the opposite of what you think they will.

New York Jets -2.5 @ Miami Dolphins

Anything can happen in road games and more importantly in divisional games. The Jets look like a mediocre team this year, which is more than you can say for the fish. Sure both teams are 1-1, but the Dolphins had the luxury of playing a west coast team on their home turf, where they all have trouble adjusting to the new time zone. The Jets will have no such problem and will move the ball on that weak d like an offensive lineman on a buffet. Ryan Tannehill will have more growing pains. Off the field he was winning the battle with his smoking hot wife Lauren, but the Jets are pulling closer as Mark Sanchez is dating Eva Longoria. Or are they winning?

Buffalo Bills -3 @ Cleveland Browns

I’m back in on the Bills. Well in certain situations like playing quite possibly the worst team in the league. CJ Spiller is my proudest prediction thus far. Have I mentioned that yet? I think I may have. I believe that Fitzy will have a big game passing for 300 plus yards while there is another dominating performance for everybody’s favorite losers.

@ Baltimore Ravens -3 New England Patriots

My how the mighty have fallen. The Pats looked like they would roll through this season straight into their second straight Superbowl. We knew they would lose a couple, because everyone does, but the Arizona Cardinals? Now the world has lost faith in this squad as they are road dogs. The Ravens lost last week too remember? I think that Belichick has had this game circled on his calendar for months and will be prepared to baffle Flaco, shut down Ray Rice and allow Tom Brady to do what he does best. Pats win on the road.

-Erik

Did I get it right? Let me know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Try, Try Again – Week Three Picks

Make fun of Tom Brady for the Uggs commercials but you can’t question the toughness of anyone who will get in Ray Lewis’ grill.

It’s been a pretty rough first couple weeks in terms of picking for us here at SeeYouInOctober. Last week I finished with a 1-2-1 mark thnaks to the Giants hitting the seven points on the head. Overall this season I am now 2-4-1. That’s not exactly stellar but last weekend I went 9-0 (and 6-2 against the spread) in picking college games of my full-time gig so I have a feeling things are going to start turning around.

New York Jets (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins

I’m taking another New York team on the road in this one. Miami is just so bad. I know the Dolphins took down Oakland last week but the Jets won’t be recovering from a late Monday night game and have had a full week to prepare. Revis is still questionable to play which could hurt but if the Jets secondary can’t stop Tannehill without Revis I’m not sure that they can with Revis.

Snaps for Tebow: Seven. I think the Wildcat gets a few more laps around the track this weekend. I also predicted Tebow’s first pass attempt of the season.

The Pick: Jets 24 Dolphins 12

New York Giants (+2.5) at Carolina Panthers

Boy do I love me some Cam Newton. The dude is just a beast. Reminds me a bunch of Daunte Culpepper with his ability to throw and

Love Killa’ Cam but I’m taking the Giants this week.

run over dudes. He’s better than Vick because he doesn’t crumple like wet paper towels when he gets hit. In fact he often brings the pain more than takes it. I am wary about him because he reminds me of a young LeBron and I’m terrified he will do something a la the decision that will make me turn on him.

Anyway I really like the Giants in this game. I think that win over Tampa Bay really got the momentum going and even with Hakeem Nicks and most of the rest of the roster out, Eli has clearly made it to the elite level. I also think the Panthers, while a team that will be a ton of fun to watch this season, is still locked for a 7-9 year or thereabouts.

The Pick: Giants 28, Panthers 21

Buffalo (-3) at Cleveland

C.J. Spiller is getting ready for a “Get on my back and I will carry you to 2-1” game. The Browns actually played well in week two and Brandon Weedon actually looked like a real NFL quarterback. This week the pass rush, led by Mario Williams might be too much for the 28-year-old rookie and if Spiller is for real (and I am all in on that being true) the Bills will put up their second blowout in as many weeks. Otherwise the Browns will be 2-1 and tied for first in the AFC North and really who thinks that’s going to happen?

The Pick: Bills 31 Browns 14

New England (+3) at Baltimore

From 13.5 favorite to three-point dogs. That’s what a 20-18 loss to to the effing Cardinals will do to you. Still the Patriots probably would not have been favored in this game anyway. Both teams are coming off of tough losses and desperately want  a win to stay above .500. Plus the bad blood between these teams tied in with the Patriots narrow win in the AFC title game make this a HUGE week three matchup. Still this game seems perfect for Baltimore who even without T-Suggs has a strong defense and will be out for blood against New England. Needless to say I am not looking forward to the painful Sunday night I will be enduring.

The Pick: Ravens 27 Patriots 20

-Phil

Think I got it wrong? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Like A Boss Week Two

In a complete reversal from week one, the week two Like A Boss award nominees come from the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. It’s pretty simple. You win and you get nominations. You lose and you get mercilessly left out. So let’s get to those nominees.

1 – Eli Manning

He certainly didn’t look Boss-like in the first half when he was completing more passes to the Buccaneers than his Giants teammates but the new king of comebacks turned it on in the second half. Peyton’s little brother was actually able to bounce back from those turnovers to finish with 510 yards passing and three passing touchdowns while leading the team to 25 points, that’s right 25 points, in the fourth quarter. To put that in perspective 15 teams (including Peyton’s Broncos) didn’t score 25 points in the four quarters they were involved in.

2 – Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz

These two get co-nominations since they both were unbelievable against Tampa Bay. Eli wouldn’t have had  the game he  had without Nicks and Cruz catching any and all objects thrown in their direction. Rumor has it that Cruz caught a cornerbacks mouth guard that flew out on a running play early in the second quarter. Nicks caught 10 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week and Cruz caught 11 passes for 179 yards and a score. It’s really a toss up who was more important which is why these two will share the nomination just like they share Eli’s passes.

3 – C.J. Spiller

If you haven’t read the Bills recap for this week then you missed out on my gushing about Clifford Spiller and his single-handedly carrying my fantasy team, oh and the actual team he plays for, this past weekend. With Fred Jackson down, Spiller was given the reigns to the offense and racked up 123 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries. Plus he caught a few passes for 47 yards.  Now if we can just figure out a sick nickname for him he will officially ascend into a stratosphere a Bills player hasn’t been in in a long time.

And the award goes to:

Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz!

Did I mention that Nicks was playing with an injury that will keep him out this week? Did I mention that both had games that would make Jerry Rice jealous? Did I mention that Nicks was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week? Well who am I to question what the NFC has already awarded.

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Crash Landings and Tebow Chants

Back to earth for Jets (steelers.com)

TEBOW! TEBOW! TEBOW! TEBOW!And since the Jets love to spell;  T – E – B – O – W  TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW!

That didn’t take long did it? Perhaps the fervor hasn’t reached a point where billboards are going up in NYC urging Rex Ryan to start Mr. Tebow but after a ghastly performance from Mark Sanchez, and really the entire Jets team you can already feel the Tebow fans arising from their slumber ready to bring a hale of boos and Tebow chants down on MetLife Stadium.

Why you ask? Didn’t Mark Sanchez play phenomenally in week one? Wasn’t that proof that this was the year he would finally make that next step? Well sure if he hadn’t dropped out a 10-for-27, 138-yard effort against the Steelers in a 27-10 loss last weekend. Before anyone comes running to Sanchez’s defense with the excuse of it was in Pittsburgh or the Steelers are a great team. Yes it was in Pittsburgh but James Harrison wasn’t playing and even against a good team shouldn’t you be able to complete at least, I don’t know, 40 PERCENT OF YOUR PASSES?!

Well not the Sanchize. It’s back to the bottom of the barrel yet again. Obviously he’s not in the Rodgers/Brady conversation but he should at least be getting into Flacco/Ryan territory by now and neither Flacs or Matty Ice put up those kind of numbers against anyone.

Meanwhile Sanchez’s arch-nemesis (the one that isn’t called consistent quarterback play) Tim Tebow played in something like three

Most important 22 yards rushing all day. (newyorkjets.com)

snaps and finished with one rush for 22 yards. I don’t think Tebow is the answer. I don’t think the Jets are any betetr if Tebow starts but if Sanchez continues to have absolute duds like he did last week the calls for the Jesus of football are going to start to get louder and louder.

Sanchez deteriorating robbed Jets fans of getting to see the ascension of Stephen Hill, who could be the team’s next Keyshawn Johnson. The Georgia Tech alum (that’s right the same Georiga Tech as one Calvin Johnson) was targeted only twice and had zero catches while Santonio Holmes had 11 target (three catches, 28 yards, TD) and the immortal Jeremy Kerly had four targets and a pair of catches.  It’s like the Jets are allergic to offensive stars. When was the last time they really had one. It’s got to be Curtis Martin or Keyshawn right? Since C-Mart retired this squad has just been a conundrum inside of an enigma marinated in question marks offensively speaking. Hill could be the stand out guy they need but if Sanchez (or Tebow) is throwing to him he might not get the chance to show that.

The Shonn Greene as a feature back era is slowly losing ground as well. Greene has the perfect name to be  star for the Jets but put up only 23 yards on 11 carries in the loss to Pittsburgh. Greene had a 1,000-yard season last year but just barely (1,054 yards) and really how impressive is just getting to the 1,000-yard mark anymore? Greene will again have solid  numbers this season if only because he gets all the carries.

Missing Darrelle Revis certainly hurt the Jets on offense against Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, one of which would have been covered by Revis Island, both got open far too often in the game, especially deep. Brown finished with seven catches for 79 yards and Wallace had five receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Garrett McIntyre had a (surprisingly) nice game against Pittsburgh with two sacks, the first of his career, of Big Ben. McIntyre was just one of a number of guys in the front seven that played well as the Jets swarmed especially against the run limiting the Steelers to just 66 yards on 28 carries. That’s just 2.4-yards-per-carry. It’s like they were going against Shonn Greene.

Revis is still in doubt for Sunday’s game against Miami but come on the Dolphins are awful and if the rest of the secondary can’t stop Ryan Tannehill it might not matter when or if Revis Island comes back.

Sanchez will get the start this week and Rex Ryan has been understandably mute on how much usage Tim Tebow will get and has downright denied that he will start. Sanchez will get some breathing room this week though thanks to a bad Dolphins squad but after that the schedule toughens up over the next four weeks (vs. SF, vs. HOU, vs. IND, @NE) and those Tebow chants could get louder with it.

-Phil

Should the JEts consider using Tebow more often? Is Sanchez as good as week one or as bad as week two? Somewhere in between? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Spilling Points All Over The Chiefs

Introducing the Buffalo Bills 2012 offense. (buffalobills.com)

What just happened? Last week the Buffalo Bills were busy getting trounced by an offense led by Mark Sanchez and then this past weekend the Bills looked like Oklahoma State to Kansas City’s Savannah State as they rolled up a 35-17 win that wasn’t even that close against the Chiefs. Win a blowout, lose in a blowout. At this rate the Bills will be 8-8 at the end of the season with a top tier offense and a defense near the bottom of the league. I guess that’s improvement.

Honestly it seems like the Bills were not as bad as they were last weekend but they are not as good as they were against the Chiefs. (Spoiler Alert: Kansas City is pretty awful). Still after it seemed like the Bills were ready for a nice 6-10 campaign they got right back into the mix and are currently tied for first, through a whole two weeks!

Now let’s get to the real reason to talk about the Bills. My man C.J. Spiller.Some interesting facts about Spiller. He graduated from Clemson. He was born in August. He currently leads the league in rushing yards (292).  He can rip a phone book in half with just his index finger. One of those facts may or may not be true.  As correctly predicted by the crack investigative journalists here at SeeYouInOctober the Spill-man (working on a nickname. Suggestions are welcome) is absolutely crushing it this season. Spiller ran for 123 yards on just 15 carries and got into the end zone twice in the win over the Chiefs. He is the reason the Bills are currently the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL and for why my fantasy team, Killa Cam’s Mind Tricks, obliterated it’s competition last weekend. Plus Spiller can catch the ball (three receptions, 47 yards) making him possibly the second best non-quarterback offensive player  in the AFC East behind Rob Gronkowski. I know it’s been just one week of this but Bills fans could really get used to Clifford Spiller.

The strong running game allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to turn back into the solid game manager he is meant to be. Fitzy completed 10-of-

Well put sir. (buffalobills.com)

19 passes for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns to bounce back from a horrendous performance in week one against the Jets. Still that is not great news for Bills fans considering this man is making franchise quarterback money while putting up numbers that would look good in a Pop Warner game.

On defense the Bills got two sacks from a guy with the last name Williams! Unfortunately it was nose tackle Kyle Williams and not defensive end Mario Williams. You know, the guy the Bills signed for six years with $50 million guaranteed. So far this season Williams has three tackles and a pass defended. It’s way to early to call bust but I know Bills fans want to see the next Bruce Smith right now not in week six. Mario should also consider upping the production if he really wants his cereal to take off. Other than that the defense was solid and although it gave up 422 yards that  was mainly in garbage time in the second half when I’m pretty sure Buffalo State alums were being asked to play cornerback.

So week two is in the books and really there still isn’t a book written on the Bills. The prevailing feeling is that they are somewhere in between their first two efforts. How close they are to the second week team, especially Spiller, is how close they could be to really contending for a playoff spot.

-Phil

Which Bills are the real Bills? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

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The Kneel Down Heard Round the League

Tommy Coughlin was fired up. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New York Giants 41 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34

Giants fans I was right there with you. “Are you kidding me?” was the first half. “Here we go again,” was the second half. Can’t they ever make things easy on us? My father, who went to see both of the Superbowls under Bill Parcels, told me long ago that it doesn’t matter how you win, a W is a W. Big Blue has never played well with a lead, they can look absolutely horrible against bad teams, and mediocre against great teams, but they’ve been to five Superbowls and won four. This Sunday we watched them play to the level of their opponent as usual and emerge with another fourth quarter victory.

Eli Manning had a rough quarter. In fact both Manning brothers threw three picks in a quarter this past weekend. Unlike big brother, Eli was able to complete the comeback as he was near perfect in the fourth quarter. It was a huge day through the air as Manning racked up 510 yards with nearly 200 going to Hakeem Nicks. Victor Cruz had a bounce back game with 11 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Martellus Bennett even got in on the action providing a score to go along with 72 yards. These are the kind of performances you can only find when the team is trailing the way Big Blue was after the three early turnovers.

It was the tale of two halves for Eli Manning on Sunday. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

So what changed? Manning didn’t suddenly get more accurate. Ahmad Bradshaw went out with a neck injury bringing in Andre Brown. Now I’ve never been a big fan of Bradshaw as he is often hurt and middle of the pack in terms of production. The running game hasn’t been there much at all since last season, but when Brown came in the game he got it going for 71 yards averaging nearly 5.5 per carry. When watching the games on television with the national announcers they are quick to point out the lack of continuity, health and push on the offensive line, but listening to the game on radio with Bob Papa, Carl Banks and Howard Cross, who are around the team constantly, they point out several plays designed to one side that Bradshaw will cut back and not follow his blockers. Hopefully the other backs like Brown and the rookie David Wilson, who is currently relegated mostly to kick returning after his week one fumble, will help this line gain confidence and help open the passing game.

Defensively the secondary looked out matched against Vincent Jackson especially in the first half. They made adjustments throughout the game and even got two picks off of Josh Freeman. Jason Pierre Paul and Chase Blackburn each picked up their first sack of the season. Normally giving up 34 points is an extremely poor defensive performance, but here there was one touchdown scored by the opposing defense and they were faced with short fields. In the second half the Giants won 27-10. And the one touchdown was scored on a very well covered route, but the ball bounced off the helmet of Justin Tryon, who really played a very nice game.

The real story coming out of this game had nothing to do with all of what I’ve talked about thus far. It was the final play of regulation as Big Blue lined up in victory formation to take one final kneel down, as they had done to close out the first half, and what looked like a formality turned into a controversy. The Bucs went for it as they bowled over the offensive line looking to create a fumble for the last ditch effort of a scoop and score to tie the game. It didn’t work and Tom Coughlin was mildly perturbed with rookie head coach Greg Schiano’s tactics.

I believe there is no right or wrong here. The line could have prepared themselves to make one more block, but the Bucs were making a desperate move. It had nothing to do with playing until the final whistle because in the same game they allowed the Giants to kneel to end the first half. I don’t like the fact that they did it as I believe they should have taken the defeat like men, but there was certainly nothing wrong with it.

-Erik

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Seeing (Cardinal) Red

Could not better illustrate a picture being worth a thousand words. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Is it ever possible for the Patriots to lose a game that doesn’t leave me feeling the need to kick through my TV screen and toss it into oncoming traffic while my body deals with an elevated blood pressure than rivals the Hulk?

Sunday tells me  not. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the Patriots to lose. At all. Ever. But when they do does it always have to be so soul crushing? I realize this was only week two of the regular season but in this game I went from optimism (first few minutes), to concern (second and early third), to begrudging acceptance of a loss (Down 20-9 in fourth quarter), to maybe there’s a chance (Gronk’s TD with a little over two minutes left), to HOLY S*** THEY FUMBLED IT! (pretty self explanatory), to HELL YEAH WOODHEAD, followed quickly by several expletives about replacement officials (When Gronk was called for holding on what would have been the game winning touchdown), to calming down and realizing a field goal wins in (next couple plays) until we finally arrived at soul-crushed when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yarder effectively ending the game.

At the end of it all the Patriots lost their first home opener at Gillette and fell to 1-1.

But that wasn’t the only horrendously terrible thing to happen in the game. Early in the first quarter the second member of the Patriots’ unbelievable tight end tandem, Aaron Hernandez, suffered an ankle injury and was taken out of the game. Now he is going to miss ‘a few weeks’. And there is no way we will know how long that is until he is on the field in whatever week he returns. Seriously, the Patriots should be giving the White House and CIA lessons on how to protect confidential information with how open they are about personnel and injury updates.

So all in all Sunday was a pretty terrible day for Bill Belichick and Company that left Patriots fans with more concerns than the previous week.

It’s not as awesome when wide left happens to your team (patriots.com)

Primary among those is on offense. With the return of Josh McDaniels to offensive coordinator (the same guy that coordinated the record crushing 2007 squad) to an already Heisenberg-blue-crystal level potency and the addition of Brandon Llloyd going into this season it seemed like the Patriots were set to have one of the best passing offenses ever or at least in the NFL this season.

So far the results have been less than spectacular. The Patriots are ranked eighth in the NFL so far this season in passing yards and on Sunday yet again looked out of sync. Tom Brady just doesn’t look as sharp as we’re used to seeing. He’s missing passes he usually hits and although he threw for 316 yards, in the first half he didn’t look like he would get to 200. Brady also seems to be trying too hard to spread the ball around, especially to Llloyd who he consistently threw to even when No. 85 wasn’t exactly open.

Wes Welker finally got into the game after not starting once Hernandez went down which is also a concern. I am not one to believe it has anything to do with his contract situation but is it possible that Wes has lost a step? That the squad liked what they saw from Julian Edelman more in the preseason? I am not sure but I am honestly expecting a 12-catch 140-yard effort from Wes in one of the next few weeks causing us all to do a complete 180. Until that happens though I’d be lying if his lack of playing time wasn’t concerning.

Then there is the Patriots suddenly ardent reliance on the run. The game against Arizona was one of the more conservatively called games by the offense I’ve seen in a long time. Stevan Ridley erupted in week one and suddenly Belichick’s handing him the keys to the offense? Quite often it seemed like the Patriots would get a good drive going and then just stall on third down because they would run a draw out of the shotgun on third and eight. That kind of play calling was a major contributor to why the Patriots lost despite out gaining Arizona (387-245) and picking up more first down (25-16) as the team went just 1-for-3 in the red zone.

I just don’t understand it. As the team’s one touchdown drive showed this team can be positively unstoppable on offense when it wants to be. Even though he hasn’t looked as stellar until proven otherwise Tom Brady is one of, if not the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But the Patriots don’t even have to worry about that because he is unquestionably the best player on the Patriots.  Why then is he not allowed to chuck the ball around the field like he did on that last drive while using the run as a compliment? Now some people might be confused because Brady threw the ball 46 times in the game while the Patriots ran it 28 times. However 20 of those pass attempts came in the fourth quarter which just happened to be the only quarter the Patriots offense scored a touchdown.

Chandler Jones is the Truth…wait someone already has that nickname. (patriots.com)

It makes no sense. The 90s Bulls weren’t pounding the ball in the low post to Luc Longley and waiting until the fourth quarter to let MJ  start shooting jump shots and dunking on fools. To me a simple way to win is to give the ball to your best player.

The head-scratching offense took away what should have been another week of praising the retooled defense. Hernandez’s injury, Welker’s playing time and Brady’s slow start have all been much more prominent than a Patriots defense that is currently ranked second in the NFL in total defense. Granted the Patriots have played the Titans and Cardinals (who despite being 2-0 I still think aren’t very good) but that is still a marked improvement from last season. Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower have been as good as advertised and Jerod Mayo continues to just pile up tackles while the return of Brandon Spikes has been a welcome sight.  The secondary is still a bit suspect but Patrick Chung and surprisingly Tavon Wilson have played well at safety and it needs to be reiterated that the Patriots gave up 20 points to the Cardinals with one touchdown drive coming from two yards out and it still took the Cardinals three plays to get in.

Normally I don’t mention special teams but that was really what lost the game but also what kept the Patriots within striking distance. Gostkowski’s missed field goal hurts but he nailed 4-of-4 before that including a 53-yarder. Should he have been able to knock in that last one? Yes but without him the Patriots aren’t close in that game. The blocked punt though was inexcusable. It led to a the touchdown that was the difference in the game. That blocked punt doesn’t happen and the Patriots win this game, in ugly fashion, but still win it.

So while this loss hurt and certainly didn’t make New England fans feel great some perspective helps. This loss was an ugly one where the Patriots played pretty terribly, at least offensively, and a big part of that might have been the loss of Hernandez messing up the original game plan. Even with all the errors and bad play the Patriots still probably should have won this game. Losing sucks but remember that you lose four times in a season you still end up having a great year. This to me just seems like one of those four.

-Phil

What’s your level of concern for the Patriots? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

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