This week I want to focus on a few of the struggling teams to see if we can discover what has gone wrong and if it can be turned around. Next week we'll talk about the positive teams but I find the teams having to claw and scrape early to be more interesting.
After all, winning cures everything. Is there anything to talk about?
Besides this isn't about just the teams at the bottom of the league. This is also about teams who are winning, but struggling. Maybe they started strong and then collapsed. Maybe they've won some close games but also got blown out.
Whatever the case, at this point there is still time for some teams to turn it around. First though, they need to determine just what has gone wrong to date.
M! E! S! S! MESS MESS JETS
I'll start out close to home.
The Jets are a mess. Yes, there are teams with far worse records. Yes, there are teams who struggle on both sides of the ball far more.
Still given expectations and the last two seasons, this is a tremendously under-performing team.
I think at it's heart, the Jets' trouble starts with a lack of identity. It's not surprising that they lack one on the offensive side of the ball.
The defense has seemed a bit scattered but overall is still ranked eighth in the league overall and eighth against the pass. The middle of the road pass defense is a little shocking but they aren't pressuring the passer enough—a problem which dates back to last year.
It's really about the offense and that really boils down to Sanchez. Some say that the Jets never should have moved from ground and pound and given more responsibility to Sanchez. I disagree. I think if they are to make the Super Bowl, to have a shot at winning it, they have to have a quarterback who does more than game manage.
Unfortunately, this was an area Sanchez came up small in. Some of it wasn't his fault—bringing in more new faces and dumping guys he was used to in Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. It takes Sanchez half a season to get in synch with new people. How is anyone shocked he and Burress only just got on the same page and he and Mason never did?
Even though I think some of the personnel moves were foolish, this still falls on Sanchez's shoulders. He has shown he can lead the team to victory.
Now he needs to show he can do it before he's put them behind the eight ball.
The worst thing about Sanchez right now is his continued inability to see the field. I said it on twitter Sunday night, but I really wonder how many of his interceptions are a case of him just not seeing a guy coming in from the side.
That won't cut it in the NFL. The Jets go to Denver Thursday and it will be interesting to see Tebow and Sanchez in the same game.
The Bronocs have tailored their offense to Tebow's strength. It might work, it might not. But it begs the question as to whether Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer are playing to Sanchez's strengths.
Or perhaps covering the fact that he has fewer of them than we think.
If the offense cannot get going, the Jets will not make the playoffs—forget the Super Bowl.
FLY EAGLES FLY, INTO THE JAWS OF A HUNGRY CAT
It's not any prettier in Philly. Where to start?
The offensive line is still letting Vick get hit too often. When that doesn't happen, Vick is putting himself into situations where he gets hit too hard. DeSean Jackson is throwing tantrums and getting benched. Jeremy Maclin is hurt. The defense isn't very good. The cornerbacks are less than impressive.
It's a big mess.
At least LeSean McCoy is playing out of his mind.
I don't think the Eagles can fix this. There are seven more games but it's not enough. It's too late to tweak the offensive line (which is really all they need to do) or fix the defense. Juan Castillo is a train wreck as a defensive coordinator this year.
In fact, I'll start there—Castillo has done a tremendously bad job with a defense which shouldn't be this bad. Or more to the point, a defense that shouldn't be this average.
It goes back to the off-season and rolling into the year with too many fresh faces and rookies in the middle of the defense. I marvel at how anyone thought Casey Matthews was going to be able to step right in and start. I don't know how anyone looked at tape of him and saw that.
The way they are using Nnamdi Asomugha is a crime.
Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders and Yahoo's Shutdown Corner wrote an article about this quite a while back. That it is still relevant should disturb Eagles fans.
This off-season will need a lot of work, thought the nucleus is there. The first thing they should do is ditch Castillo.
Let's Go You Colts and Put that Ball Across the Line-Suck for Luck!
Ok so that's a line from a Baltimore Colts song, but maybe Indy will send the Colts back to Baltimore after this season.
We've said it before, so this can be brief(ish).
The Colts have been abysmal at planning for the future and planning for life without Manning. Maybe, as has been intimated, it's Manning's fault. Maybe Bill Polian is a horridly drafting GM (DING!). The fact is that there ws no plan B. No plan C. No plan at all.
That bit of oversight is shocking when you get down to it. guess you have Manning, who rarely misses time, and you figure you don't need anything else.
Guess what? You do.
I don't buy that the Colts are losing on purpose. Players aren't wired that way. At this point they've been beaten into the ground so much it might seem that way, but they aren't doing it intentionally.
They may be in position to draft Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley and if so, they should. It's not just about that position though. The Colts need to start building a whole team, not pieces.
Otherwise it's going to be a long, long time before they are relevant again.
Hail to the Redskins!...Run or Pass or Score..... like just once please
Remember when the Redskins were destined to win the NFC East?
A lot of this came down to injuries in my mind. Losing Santana Moss was a bigger blow than we suspected. However, this is another situation where a lack of preseason preparation is hurting.
Is anybody really shocked that the Hall of Fame combo of Rex Grossman and John Beck imploded? This was your grand plan? I guy who folds under pressure and a guy who—confident though he may be—had never shown a lick of ability which led anyone to believe he could be a starter?
Defensively it isn't great but it could be worse. A lot of this comes to a terrible offense that wasn't seriously prepared at the beginning of the year. They overachieved and crashed to earth.
Dishonorable mention: Buffalo Bills (the cream rises to the top, the lead falls to the bottom), Miami Dolphins (bad idea after bad idea after bad idea), Minnesota Vikings (Favre-hangover), every team in the NFC West not in San Fransisco.
Next week we'll head into a more positive area and talk about the teams doing well, especially those which have overachieved.
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