So let’s get to it.
Thursday Night Lights
Watching the New England Patriots and New York Jets fumble, bumble, drop and slide across the field last night once again brought up the problems with teams playing on such a short week.
Sure, all the issues were exacerbated by the fact that 1) the Patriots have had their offense decimated by injury and 2) the Jets are just not very good offensively.
However with the exception of opening week games like last week’s Denver-Baltimore match, Thursday games tend to be either very sloppy or really lopsided.
There is an argument that perhaps the quality of the football we watch would be better without the Thursday games. It’s not an insane one either.
All of which is to circle back to how ugly the game was Thursday night.
There were precious few great football plays. The Jets receivers dropped most of what came their way, and with the exception of one touchdown of blown coverage to start the game, the Patriot receivers were largely horrible as well.
Julian Edelman was solid. Other than that—woof.
In fact, that touchdown by Aaron Dobson on the seventh play of the game might not have been blown coverage because in order to blow coverage you have to have coverage in the first place.
The biggest takeaway that you can see from last night’s rainfest?
The AFC East is there for the taking, Miami. The AFC in general is there for the taking as well. The Patriots will survive long enough to get Rob Gronkowski and Danny “OH MY ARM, IT’S BROKEN” Amendola back and limp (quite literally) into the playoffs.
A few other notes on the Thursday:
Marty Mornhinweg is who we thought he was.
A guy who doesn’t love to run the ball. Sure, Chris Ivory fumbled, but he was putting together a 4.3 yards-per-carry average and running well. Bilal Powell was having success as well.
Ivory had one carry on the first drive of the fourth quarter and never saw the field again. Powell was relegated to just a handful of carries. I would hazard a guess that Ivory was off the field because the Jets weren’t using him on passing downs and they were usually looking to pass.
Powell might have had more carries if Geno Smith’s last quarter hadn’t reminded us of someone else.
Geno Smith Did a Great Sanchez Impersonation in the 4th Quarter
I put this on Smith as well as Mornhinweg. The Jets asked Smith to do too much in the last quarter. They wanted him to air it out, in the rain, in Foxboro.
Sure, that was going to work out well.
Now, Smith shouldn’t have thrown some of the balls he did. Especially considering how awful his receivers were, in some cases literally giving the ball away (looking at you Stephen Hill).
However, the Jets eased the throttle back on the run a little too much and were trying to stretch the field too often. Smith needs to be on a “short pass plan” to help speed up his progressions. He held onto the ball far too long as he waited for guys to get open, some of which never did.
While his desire to finish his play and keep his eyes downfield is to be applauded, he needs know when to fold his cards.
He’ll learn—but the Jets could have helped him more by giving him some shorter passes to make—quick slants and outs, a few more screens.
Smith will get better—there was a lot to like about his performance—but he needs to get some more help or he could end up like Mark Sanchez. Sanchez had a rotating group of receivers and offensive coordinators and while a lot of his issues are his own fault, the team didn’t do enough to help him overcome them.
One Last Thing
Dear Miami & Buffalo,
The AFC East is there for the taking.
Picks, Picks, Picks
My picks article hasn’t been assigned again this week so I’ll give you my picks here.
Houston over Tennessee: Yeah, yeah the Titans won but Houston is a much better team than Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati over Pittsburgh: That offensive line is going to have a difficult time protecting Roethlisberger against this front seven.
Philadelphia over San Diego: The Chargers surprised us last week until they remembered they’re the Chargers. Eagles’ offense is just too good.
Baltimore over Cleveland: That offensive line for the Browns was underwhelming last week—a bad thing to be against the Ravens.
New Orleans over Tampa Bay: Off the field nonsense aside, Josh Freeman couldn’t get the job done. Hard to imagine he can keep pace with Brees & company.
Altanta over St. Louis: I’m a bit nervous about this one, because that Rams front seven can be trouble for a decent-but-not-great offensive line for the Falcons. But in the end, the Atlanta offense is just too much.
Chicago over Minnesota: I like the Vikings, but last week the Lions shut down Adrian Peterson (that first run aside) and Ponder makes too many mistakes to overcome that. The Bears will repeat that.
Indianapolis over Miami: I didn’t love what I saw offensively for Miami, save for Hartline. The Colts’ front seven isn’t great but the offensive line for Miami isn’t either. It’s going to be hard for Tannehill to keep up with Luck.
Green Bay over Washington: Maybe Griffin looks more like RG3 this week but even then, I still dislike his receiver options. The Packers have to be angry about last week in San Francisco and should run ahead early. Then it’s up to Dom Capers.
Hmmm…maybe I should flip that pick.
Oakland over Jacksonville: The Raiders are a little less worse than the Jaguars.
Seattle over San Francisco: This is a toss-up but the Seahawks are home and that’s always a big advantage for them.
Carolina over Buffalo: The front seven of the Panthers will shut down C.J. Spiller for the most part and I expect this to be the week the Carolina offense gets moving.
Dallas over Kansas City: Not an easy win by any stretch, but Monte Kiffin’s Cover-2 will give Alex Smith headaches.
Detroit over Arizona: The Cardinals’ offensive line will have a tough day trying to keep Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley off Carson Palmer. It will not go well.
Denver over New York Giants: In the Manning Bowl, as much as the Broncos have some question marks on defense and the offensive line, the Giants have bigger ones. Count on Peyton to beat Eli this time around.
And that’s it for today. We’ll see you next week and expand a little more into news and notes as well.