NFL Week 7 Recap

A wild and crazy[1] Week 7 has come to an end!  Which means it’s time for Will and Derek to share their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the fates of their Browns and Seahawks, Peyton Manning’s new record, the Washington Redskins’ new quarterback, the week’s most hungover fan bases, and a consensus choice for Gentleman of the Week.

manning

Derek: Okay, Will.  Let’s kick things off in your native Cleveland.  The Browns had won two in a row.  Even in their losses, they were competitive and in it till the end.  People were punching their ticket to the playoffs.  Then, they dropped an ugly one on the road to previously winless Jacksonville.  What happened?

Will: I wrote a bit about it over at Waiting For Next Year. Long story short, they were thoroughly outplayed by the previously 0-6 Jacksonville Jaguars. Denard Robinson rushed for a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown. Blake Bortles ran for 35 more on some read options.

The Browns’ Pro Bowl center, Alex Mack, went down with a season-ending injury last week. Thus, right guard John Greco slid over to center and former Seahawk Paul McQuistan filled in at guard. The left side of the Browns’ o-line has been anchored by Joe Thomas for years, but the right side has been a puzzle that’s always missing a piece. Mr. McQuistan was very, very bad Sunday, and may have spent as much time chasing after his man as blocking him.

The real culprit was hometown hero Brian Hoyer. He was just flat-out bad, and 20 years of watching the Browns means that I know bad QB play when I see it. The offensive line didn’t do him any favors, but he could’ve scrounged something out there. He underthrew guys, overthrew guys, looked panicked, and generally conducted himself in a fashion unbefitting of a professional quarterback.

Also, the Browns tried some kind of mass substitution on fourth down in an attempt to catch the Jags with 12 men on the field, but that didn’t happen, and Greco snapped the ball even though there wasn’t an actual play called, and it turned into an aborted speed option attempt. They did not convert. The Browns had chances to win, but the last one frittered away when backup safety Jordan Poyer attempted to field a punt on his own two-yard line, only to have it bounce off of his facemask and be recovered by the men from Jacksonville. It was bad.

Derek: So, now that we’re seven weeks into the season, I have to ask: Would you rather have Sammy Watkins, or Justin Gilbert and the BIlls’ 1st rounder?

Will: The Bills’ stubbornly winning is frustrating. There was honest talk of the Browns having the top two picks next year if everything broke just right/wrong. Instead, the Bills a fringe playoff contender and Watkins looks like Antonio Brown.

Gilbert was pretty awful early in the season, but he played well Sunday. He’s a big corner, which seems necessary given the proportions of most NFL receivers. If he can turn into a legit starter, he and Haden would be a formidable duo. That, plus two first-rounders next year is a pretty tasty proposition. Of course, my lips are orange from drinking all the Browns Kool-Aid over the years, so my opinion should not be taken seriously by anyone.

Gun to my head, it’s gotta be Watkins. There were roughly six blue-chip players in the last draft, and he was one of them. The mere thought of he and Josh Gordon driving around smoking a bowl, er, running routes together gives me tingles.

Thanks. Thanks for making me think about this. Football is stupid.

Derek: No problem.  While you think about that, think about this:

shawhshank lawyer

The Seahawks tried to get Jordan Cameron for Percy Harvin.  What would Browns GM Will Gibson give up for Harvin?

Will: I’d give up my lifelong goal of not getting punched in the face, I suppose. One must be wary of the smear reports that come out after a player gets traded, but Mr. Harvin does not seem like polite dinner company. The Browns have been trying to establish a good locker room and team identity for the better part of my lifetime, as that is ostensibly easier than fielding a winning team; I don’t believe Percy would have helped.

I don’t know if I would trade for him at all, really. Giving up a low draft pick like the Jets did seems appealing, but I just can’t imagine Harvin being happy going from the Super Bowl champs to the Browns. Those phrases are literally opposites.

What’s up in Seattle? Seems like Russell is better than ever, but the defense ain’t making the plays it did last year.

Derek:  In my view, the problems are fourfold.

First, the loss of defensive linemen Chris Clemons (Jax), Red Bryant (Jax), and Clinton McDonald (TB) seems to be hurting a lot more than I (and the coaching staff, apparently) anticipated.  The pass rush is just not as scary.  Austin Davis didn’t even need pads on Sunday.

Second, the defense is missing opportunities left and right.  They have bad luck recovering fumbles and they keep dropping interceptions.  Tony Romo gift wrapped a pick to Byron Maxwell that likely would have been returned for a touchdown to put Seattle up 17-0 in the first quarter against Dallas.

maxwelldrop

He didn’t, and Dallas cut the lead to 10-7 on the next play.

It’s not just Maxwell, obviously.  It seems like the whole defense wants the honor of dropping an interception.

Third, the injuries.  The Seahawks made a deal for cornerback Marcus Burley at the end of the preseason with the idea that he would be fifth on the depth chart.  Now Maxwell is hurt, Jeremy Lane hasn’t played all season, and 2013 fifth round pick Tharold Simon made his long awaited career debut on Sunday, only to see it end before halftime.  Bobby Wagner and Max Unger have missed time.  The third string tight end started on Sunday.  Fullback Derrick Coleman broke his foot in warmups, so backup running back Robert Turbin had to start at fullback.  Then the jerk Browns signed who I think would have been Coleman’s replacement.  It seems like the only person who isn’t hurt is Russell Wilson, which is incredible because…

Fourth, the offensive line is atrocious.  Russell has to run for his life on every play because he’s protected by five turnstiles.  I’m also convinced that someone kidnapped Russell Okung’s family and won’t release them unless he breaks the NFL record for false starts in a season.  I keep reading about how (offensive line coach) Tom Cable is such a genius, yet the offensive line is consistently the weakest unit on the team.  I have to think he could improve the pass blocking and constant penalties, but it’s the same every game.

It would be so much worse without Wilson.  He’s been so much better than the rest of the team.  It was like the Divisional Playoff Game his rookie year, when he just decimated everybody but the defense let him down.  We’re a couple of losses away from him superkicking Pete Carroll, turning heel and trying to make it solo.  A loss to Carolina this week could very well end in panic.

So I don’t feel great right now.  How about you?  Has morale taken a hit after the loss?

Will: Sort of, but it’s really just back to the status quo. Low morale and self-loathing and pessimism are the baselines for Browns fans. There was a huge bump after they beat the Steelers last week — Cleveland’s first blowout win over Pittsburgh since John Rockefeller won the pants off of Andrew Carnegie in some back room poker game — but now the sandbags are back in the hot air balloon.

Should morale have taken a hit?  What’s your opinion of the Browns and the AFC North?

Derek: Nah. Sure, losing sucks, and losing to a winless team ain’t no fun.  But it was a road game, and Gus Bradley has them giving a crap.  The stadium was surprisingly lively.  Jacksonville has a pretty good defensive line and they took away the run, forcing Hoyer to try to win the game.  I think it was just a bad matchup.  The wild card is Alex Mack.  How much of the problem was Jacksonville’s d-line, and how much of the problem was his absence?  Time will tell, I reckon.

Picking the best team in the AFC North is like picking my favorite Nic Cage movie — I could be talked into anything.  I immediately think Face/Off (Ravens).  But you can’t sleep on The Rock (Bengals).  Con-Air  (Browns) is the sentimental favorite, but you can’t ignore the box office success of National Treasure (Steelers).

nic-cage

That wasn’t forced at all!

The Steelers have looked awful at times this year, including the beginning of Monday Night Football.  The Ravens have looked good, but I’m not convinced.  The next two weeks (at Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh) will be very telling.  The Bengals (more on them later) were on top of the world, then suffered through three straight embarrassing games.

Right now, I think it’s anybody’s division.  Baltimore could steal it in the next two weeks, though.

Will: What about the NFC West?  What’s the word?

Derek: I don’t know.  I want to say Arizona is a fluke, but they’ve beaten some good teams.  St. Louis is probably destined for last place.  They beat Seattle, but the trick plays on special teams were a huge factor.  That’s not a sustainable way to win.  Seattle can hopefully turn it around.  The schedule has been brutal, both in level of competition and amount of traveling.  San Francisco is tough to peg.  They’re the only team to beat the unstoppable Dallas Cowboys, but they’ve looked truly horrendous at times this year.  I don’t know how they beat Philadelphia.  I’ll be much more scared of them when they get healthy/return from embarrassing suspensions on defense.  I might be just a tiny bit biased, but I still think the Seahawks are on top in the end.

Speaking of the unstoppable Dallas Cowboys, they won’t keep this up…right?

Will: Nah, no way. The December swoon is coming. DeMarco Murray’s right foot is going to snap off in a pile one of these days.

Derek: And, keeping it in the NFC East…GOOD GOD, THAT’S COLT MCCOY’S MUSIC!!!  Your thoughts on the Redskins’ QB situation?

Will: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha that sucks bro.

Derek: Indeed.  And, finally, let’s be the first website in the world to discuss Peyton Manning.

Will: Good for him, I suppose. I can’t really hate Peyton. He’s just blah to me. I might be more excited if numbers really mattered in football, but I’m never going to tell my kids or anyone else’s kids about that night when Peyton threw his (looking up the number) 509th.

Also, I hate John Elway and Papa John.

Derek: I just thought it was nice to have Brett Favre back on TV and mixed in a story with Manning.  If only Richie Incognito played for the Broncos and Gregg Williams was the 49ers defensive coordinator.

Now, let’s move on to the weekly awards!  Who is your Most Hungover Fan Base?

Will: Wonderful question. Important question. My first thought was to go with a team that lost a heartbreaker. My second thought was to go with a team that played a late game, as later kickoff time = more drinking time.

I’ll go with a bit of both in picking the New York Giants. They were in the game for a while, which makes for great drinking weather, in the same way that an action movie is great for eating popcorn (side note: Go see The Equalizer, now. Denzel works in a hardware store and kills the whole Russian mob). Eli played really well and rookie Odell Beckham scored two touchdowns.

But breakout star Larry Donnell fumbled twice, the Giants couldn’t stop Romo, Murray, or Dez, AND the Cowboys covered. Combined with a 4:25 PM start time on the East coast, that sounds like a recipe for a hangover.

Derek: Excellent choice!  However, I’m going to go with the Bengals.  They’ve been horrendous for years, and people were crowning them after their 3-0 start.  They felt some success, and they must have liked it.  Then it was ripped away, and ripped away hard.

They got blown out on national TV.  They suffered a tie at home to the Panthers.  They got shut out by the Colts — a game in which they gave up 506 total yards while gaining only 135 of their own.

Whether it’s coffee, juice, or even water…a Bengals fan has some whiskey in his or her drink right now.

Now, let’s move on to the Gentleman of the Week!  Who you got?

Will: Peyton should probably be the answer, but nah. I’ll go with Ryan Fitzpatrick. More than anything else, a gentleman expands our notions of what is possible. Think of men like Einstein, Tesla, Simmons.

Throwing an interception to a defensive lineman who is 65% beard is on that level of greatness. Doing so as part of a spell that saw the Steelers score three touchdowns in 73 seconds is a step beyond that. Doing so while sporting your own terrific beard? Hats off to you, Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Derek:  Took the words right out of my mouth.  Look at this guy:

fitzp

We should probably just retire Fitzpatrick from this section right now.  A gentleman of his stature would win every week.

Congratulations, Ryan Fitzpatrick!  You’re our first ever Gentleman of the Week.  Good day to you.

[1]No self-respecting sports entity can just say “Week 7.” Even if all of the teams just went three and out on 99% of possessions, it would still be a shocking Week 7.
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