NFL Week 9 Recap

A wild and crazy Week 9 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the new Greatest and Most Unstoppable Team in the World, the man Will daydreams about, the reason Derek is passing out some chill pills, and a celebration of hatred.

gronk

Derek: In my Week 9 pick of the Cleveland game, I implied that Brian Hoyer’s status as the starter and his future with the team could be decided on his performance in this game. How did he do? Do you think what I said was reasonable or unreasonable?

Will: Your thoughts were completely reasonable. Hoyer continues to win, but each errant pass raises more questions about how confident we should be in our home-grown quarterback. He was not good in the first half of the Bucs game, as these in-game tweets suggest. He finished with 300 yards and two touchdowns, but his performance was not that inspiring. He has a knack for playing 25% worse than his stats look.

He gets points, however, for degree of difficulty. The Browns’ leading receivers are Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel, neither of whom is larger than a middle schooler. Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron missed this game, and is slated to miss at least one more. Pro Bowl center Alex Mack is out for the season, and his replacement, Nick McDonald, has been, well, just watch this:

While we hoped that the Browns would trounce Tampa, no victory can be taken for granted when this kind of stuff is going on. Also, the Browns have been missing another fellow…

Derek: How often do you daydream about Josh Gordon?

Will: Yes, that fellow. I daydream about him often. I daydream about him more than I daydream about a high-paying job. I daydream about him more than I daydream about Furious 7. I daydream about him more than I daydreamed about the first girl who had boobs in middle school. The Browns receivers have been decent despite their unstarry pedigree, and the idea of Josh occupying two defenders on every play is tantalizing.

He will finally return to action on November 23, Week 12, at Atlanta. In the meantime, I live and die with his Twitter account, for he is a man of taste and tact.

What’s the word in Seattle? The Seahawks beat the Raiders, 30-24. Was it a reassuring victory, or did Oakland make your boys work for it?

Derek: Yeah, for me it was reassuring in some ways. Obviously, you want the final score to be impressive in a home game against Oakland, and that wasn’t the case here. But I do think some of the people being super critical of the Seahawks need to pump the brakes just a bit.

I think it’s fair to say that we’re pro-Bill Simmons here at Sports Monocle, but I thought some of the criticisms he threw at the Seahawks on his podcast were way off.

First, there was the Seahawks winning by “only” six and acting like Derek Carr ripped through Seattle’s defense like Godzilla through Tokyo. This is apparently what Derek Carr destroying the Seahawks looks like:

carr line

He didn’t suck, but I don’t know how anyone can act like Derek Carr had an amazing game. Fifteen of his 24 completions were to tight ends or running backs. If you combined the contributions of every Oakland wide receiver who caught a pass (there were four), you would have nine receptions for 74 yards and no touchdowns. Almost all of the damage was done on short passes to tight ends and running backs.

And you know who usually covers tight ends and running backs? The linebackers and strong safety. Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner didn’t play. Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor didn’t play. Undrafted rookie Brock Coyle made his first career start at middle linebacker. DeShawn Shead, a converted cornerback and special teams mainstay, made his first career start at strong safety.

Despite this*, and Seattle starting it’s fourth string cornerback across from Richard Sherman, Carr couldn’t even break 200 yards and threw two interceptions. Credit him for exploiting a weakness and hitting his tight end (Mychal Rivera caught eight of Carr’s 24 completions and both touchdowns) but the argument that Derek Carr is the reason the game was close is a little flimsy.

The reason the game was close is because the Seahawks had to settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals (and missed a fourth). The Seahawks were also leading 24-3 before Oakland gained momentum with a touchdown on a punt block that looked a little too easy. The aforementioned Brock Coyle might as well have not even been there.

punt block

So I think the narrative that the Seahawks are a mess is overblown. They don’t look great, but they still had an advantage in every statistical category on Sunday. With the exception of the few seconds before and during Sebastian Janikowski’s onside kick at the end of the game, it never really seemed like Oakland was going to win.

You know who had a lot more trouble with Oakland? That would be the Patriots, who have taken the title of The Greatest and Most Unstoppable Team in the World from the Cowboys. That game was close the whole time, and was back when the Raiders were playing like they had quit on Dennis Allen.

The Patriots used to be 2-2 and looked done The Bengals used to be 3-0 and the were best team in the league. The Chargers used to be 5-1 and were the best team in the league. The Cowboys used to be 6-1 and were the best team in the league.

A lot can change in a month. The Seahawks are getting healthier. Let’s hold off on declaring the them to be terrible because of a game they won.

Finally, here is a Marshawn Lynch touchdown presented without comment:

lynchtd

You catch that Dallas-Arizona game? Any of the quarterback play stand out to you?

Will: I did not watch any of it, but I do have a friend who started Dez Bryant in fantasy, and imagining his frustration told me all I needed to know. A lot of my Browns fan friends delight in Brandon Weeden’s failure, but I wish that geriatric ginger the best. Bless his heart, he’s just not that good at football. His stats weren’t that awful — 18/33, 183 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT — but I know that it must have been worse than that. I wish “Dez yelling at Weeden in .gif form” was something you could bet on.

Did the Cardinals win change your opinions about them at all?

Derek: No, not really. They should have beaten Dallas with Brandon Weeden at the helm. I think they’re just as much of a force to be reckoned with as I thought after they beat Philadelphia last week.  I don’t think they’re an unbeatable juggernaut, but they’re really good and they’re the favorite to win the NFC West. I can’t say beating Dallas with Weeden under center moved them beyond that.

Plus, you can copy and paste my “Team X used to be ________” rant down here. Arizona’s next three games are against the consistently inconsistent Rams, the Lions with a presumably healthy Calvin Johnson, and a trip to Seattle. I’m not saying I think it will happen, but Arizona could self-destruct just like any of the teams I listed before. We shall see.

Let’s switch gears to Pittsburgh. As a Miami University alumnus and a Steelers hater, could you share your thoughts on Ben Roethlisberger’s monster two week stretch?

Will: He’s played wonderfully. Top notch football. Great stuff. But my fellow alumnus is one of my least-favorite athletes — nay, people! — in history.

I have yet to hear a good word about Mr. Roethlisberger as a person. At Miami, he was and is known for carrying himself like an evil star quarterback in a high school movie. There are tales of his entourage forming a phalanx around him at bars and hand-picking the co-eds deserving of his company, then re-sealing the entry way to prevent interruption. This is exponentially worse when juxtaposed against his sexual assault allegation.

I have spent a fair amount of time in Pittsburgh, where my brother lives, and while Steeler fans love him as a player, few come to his defense as a member of the human race.

The most damning thing I heard about Ben was in Korea, my former and your current adoptive home. I was at a bar in Incheon run by an American and a Steeler fan, so we bantered about their quarterback. It turned out that the proprietor once wrote for a Pittsburgh newspaper, and had the chance to interview Roethlisberger at a charity event once upon a time. The interview was designed to be puppy fur-soft: What’s the best part about helping the community? How do you find the time to give back? You’re not actually Satan, are you?

Ben’s response? Looking at his watch and asking if could we hurry this up, because I’ve got a tee time in an hour.

God, I hate that guy.

Speaking of guys we hate, how much did you enjoy Colin Kaepernick fumbling at the goal line on the Niners’ last play of the game? That must have been the best.

Derek: So much. I can’t even tell you.

I can’t exactly pinpoint the reason why I hate Colin Kaepernick so much. Is it because he’s the quarterback for a division rival? Is it because I often read about how he could be the best quarterback ever someday despite the fact that he stares down receivers and makes crippling errors with the game on the line? Is it because if you saw him at a party, you’d tell all of your female friends not to take a drink from him under any circumstances? I can’t decide.

I have a relevant story. Shortly after my girlfriend and I started dating, she started watching football games with me. She had never seen a football game before (she’s Korean) so I had a lot to teach her. Leading up to the Seattle – San Francisco game in Week 2 of last season, I started telling her about the importance of the game and mentioned my disgust for Kaepernick. She asked me why I couldn’t stand him. I thought for a moment, before showing her this:

kap espy

She understood completely.

Actually, let’s add that to the list: You can explain your hatred of him with a photo at an award show.

So, we have Kaepernick not coming through at the end of a Super Bowl. We have Kaepernick throwing the game-ending interception in the NFC Championship. We have Kaepernick losing a fumble on the goal line and costing his team a game. What else is there?

Lots. What if the 49ers lost because he spiked the ball on fourth down? What if the 49ers lost because he fumbled while taking a knee? What if the 49ers lost because he was about to score the winning touchdown but got stripped because he was prematurely making out with his biceps?

I have a serious problem.

Will: You do. Let’s move on to our Gentlemen of the Week.

Derek: Good idea. My parents always taught me that a Gentleman is polite. A Gentleman isn’t selfish. A Gentleman holds doors open and says “after you.”

With that said, the clear choice for Gentleman of the Week is Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon did the dirty work between the 20’s for the Vikings’ offense, finishing with 54 yards on 14 carries. But when it came time for red zone carries, McKinnon didn’t demand the ball. He simply said, “after you” and let Matt Asiata score the touchdowns. He would score three, despite gaining just 26 yards on 10 carries.

Good for you, Jerick McKinnon. You’re charitable, agreeable, and a true Gentleman.

What say you?

Will: I have thus far avoided choosing a Brown for this award, but on this week I cannot. My Gentleman of the Week is Billy Winn. If you are not familiar with Billy, it is because he’s a non-star defensive lineman for the Browns. He attended Boise State University, and he is in his third NFL season. And on Sunday, as Tampa Bay was primed to end their opening drive with a field goal, Billy Winn did this:

Even more spectacular than his block was how spectacularly the Rams’ Darren Bates failed when trying to do something similar:

Hats off to you, Billy. Leaping over offensive linemen is among the most gentlemanly things one can do on a football field. Inspiring others to do the same is even more gentlemanly. Well done.

Who is your choice for Most Hungover Fan Base?

Derek: It’s got to be the Cowboys. They had to watch Brandon Weeden play quarterback for an entire game. I’d like to meet the fan who can stay sober during that.

Will: Sound logic, and that may be the only correct choice this week. But I choose the supporters of the San Diego Chargers for my Most Hungover Fan Base of the week. They entered their tilt against the Dolphins at 5-3. They were coming off of two losses to division opponents, which had quieted the Philip Rivers MVP hype. Still, they had a chance to get a solid road win.

Instead, they lost 37-0. A shutout loss is bad. A blowout shutout loss is worse. Allowing exactly 37 points is worse still, as any Kevin Smith fan knows:

Derek: Excellent choice. That Chargers offensive line would put a Mormon in the drunk tank. For the Chargers, blocking is about as easy as thinking of an intelligent sentence to close out an NFL recap.

. . . .

Good day!


 

*Simmons went on to say that injuries were no excuse, but also said the Patriots’ success relied considerably on the health of Rob Gronkowski.
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