Seahawks Fly On, Browns Back to Square One: NFL Week 16 RecapPosted: December 23, 2014
A wild and crazy Week 16 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the Seahawks dismantling the Cardinals, the future of the Browns, the day Andy Dalton triggered the apocalypse, Odell Beckham’s merits, the Ravens’ failures, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.
Derek: Why wait: what grade do you give the 2014 Browns season?
Will: First, ouch. Second, I’ll give ’em a B-. They’ll be 7-9 at the worst, and all Browns fans would have been happy if you told them that was in the cards before the season kicked off. After six straight years of five or fewer wins, sniffing .500 is like reaching one of Everest’s lower summits. The defense was good (against the pass, anyway), and the offense showed hints of promise, at least when Alex Mack was around. Josh Gordon is neither incarcerated nor suspended. These are all good things.
That said, we’re right back where we always are at the end of the season: not knowing who the starting quarterback will be next year. Brian Hoyer is likely gone, Johnny was a disaster in his limited minutes, and now third-stringer Connor Shaw is getting the call in Week 17. Who will take the first snap next year? Robert Griffin? Jay Cutler? Marcus Mariota? Jameis Winston? They’re all in play, except maybe Cutler, who may be an actual virus.
It all feels very familiar, so there’s comfort in that. But man, it would be great if they could find one signal-caller for a continuous 20-game stretch. One day…one day.
Derek: Care to take a moment and pretend the Browns drafted Odell Beckham?
Will: Beckham’s ascent has not gone unnoticed in Cleveland, especially with Justin Gilbert, the No. 8 overall pick, spending much of his season on the bench. The Browns had several other draft paths, and you could argue that each would be better than what they the one they took:
Scenarios two and three look the best right now. That said, I’m not going to beat them up too bad for not taking Beckham. I had no clue he was going to be the most GIFable player of the season. I suppose that’s what happens when Zach Mettenberger is your college quarterback. Did you have any idea he would turn pass catching into such an art form?
Derek: I want to say yes, because I managed to pick him up in all of my fantasy leagues a few days before his first game. He almost single-handedly managed to prolong my inevitable heartache (fantasy football is stupid) for a week or two. Though, as much as I’d like to pat myself on the back, I don’t think anyone saw this coming.
How many times has a team had a receiver that could swing your thinking on a game? Off the top of my head, I can think of early-Vikings Randy Moss, 2005 Steve Smith, and 2008 Larry Fitzgerald. Other wide receivers have been great and physical freaks, of course. Calvin Johnson and Marvin Harrison come to mind. But Beckham, like Moss, Smith and Fitzgerald, makes me think “his team is going to win because of him.”
He just seems unstoppable. It doesn’t matter who his quarterback is, or what cornerback he’s facing. He has 79 receptions, 1,120 yards, 11 touchdowns, and he’s a rookie who missed the first four games of the season. Only Julio Jones and Antonio Brown average more yards per game. Oh, and Eli Manning his is quarterback and he’s his team’s best weapon by far so defenses are planning specifically for him. Yet, he’s still dominant. As a Seahawks fan, it’s tough to be envious of another team at the moment, but I am a bit jealous of Giants fans. Watching him wreak havoc as a member of your favorite team has to be pretty special.
Speaking of havoc, the Colts got decimated by the Cowboys on Sunday. Do they stand a chance in the playoffs?
Will: If so, I need glasses to see it. Their wins this year were against the following teams: Jacksonville (2x), Tennessee (with the rematch this week), Baltimore, Houston (2x), Cincinnati, the Giants, Washington, and Cleveland. Only the Ravens, Bengals, and Texans have winning records out of that crowd, and the rest is hot garbage. Indy got blown out by Dallas, New England, and Pittsburgh.
That means something, right? They beat the bad teams and lose to the good ones. They’ve given up 24 points per game, 20th in the league. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are good, yes, but their foes can focus all of their efforts on the passing game unless they have a serious interest in humiliating Trent Richardson.
They’re still dangerous, and they’ll be among the creamiest of the crop as long as Luck is around. This just ain’t the year for them to make the leap.
Hey, let’s talk about an actual contender. The Seahawks’ defense was brilliant again, putting poor Ryan Lindley’s head in a vice as they held the Cardinals to six points. Seattle scored 35 this week, and has allowed 33 total over the past five games. That’s nuts.
You’ve gotta picture Marshawn, Richard and the gang hoisting the Lombardi Trophy again, right? There’s no way they won’t at least make the Super Bowl again, right? Go ahead, bathe in it a little bit.
Derek: I will bathe in it with the following GIFs:
Poor Antonio Cromartie. He did not have a great evening. He’s not Ryan Lindley, but still.
I’m hesitant to say they’ll definitely win the NFC Championship or Super Bowl again, but they sure have looked good over the last few weeks. Now that it seems even more likely that the Seahawks will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, it’s tough to picture anyone beating them. Anything can happen and all of that, but the Seahawks look great. I’m going to stop now before I get too overbearing.
Will: Has this winning streak put a rest to the rumors of Lynch’s departure? What about Russell Wilson’s payday? Will John Schneider be able to keep these guys together?
Derek: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think the decision on whether to keep him was ever a question of talent. It was more a question of money and dealing with some of his antics. As Bill Barnwell pointed out on Monday’s Grantland NFL Podcast, it’s a tiny bit suspicious that Lynch missed exactly one quarter with an “upset stomach.” The Seahawks managed to conceal Percy Harvin’s fights with Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin until after Harvin was traded, so it’s not unreasonable to wonder if Lynch did something and got benched for a quarter.
In regards to money, the Seahawks signed K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril to extensions this week. I have long thought that one of those two would be unfortunate cap casualties so Russell and Bobby Wagner could be re-signed. Now that they’re both back for four more years, I wonder if Lynch, Byron Maxwell, or Russell Okung will be the one(s) to go. I’d love to keep them all, but it’s unlikely.
That said, Schneider and Carroll have always talked about how they have a plan for signing everyone. They’ve shown that they don’t stick to it 100% (otherwise the Percy Harvin saga wouldn’t have happened and they wouldn’t have courted Jared Allen in free agency) but the plan has worked out, with Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas, Wright, and Avril getting extensions when it was “their time.” So the question is, was the plan always to cut Lynch after this season? And if so, what would he have to do to make them change the plan? I don’t know, but I think there’s still a decent chance he’s gone next year.
Let’s share the happiness. The Ravens lost to Case Keenum. Did you get any joy out of that?
Will: Absolutely. The silver lining of my week was seeing Joe Flacco’s stats go across the crawl. One, two…three interceptions?! Keenum was hardly great — Arian Foster threw one more touchdown than him — but Keenum had also won zero football games before Sunday. The guy was hunting deer a week ago. And he beat the Ravens. Thank you, Case, for making my weekend a little sunnier.
Speaking of the AFC North: I didn’t watch Monday Night Football, but people are tweeting that Andy Dalton beat Peyton Manning in primetime. Did the apocalypse happen and I’m the last person on Earth? I really hope you answer this.
Derek: I … I don’t know what I saw. Nothing makes sense anymore. Peyton Manning looked a lot like Andy Dalton. Granted, the weather was bad, but some of those throws he made were way more wobbly and inaccurate than I’ve come to expect from Manning. And I’m not just saying that because his four interceptions cost me the championship in one of my aforementioned fantasy leagues.
Obviously, we can’t pronounce him done just yet. People were doing that Tom Brady and Russell Wilson earlier in the season, and that sort of talk has swiftly returned to crackpot territory. I won’t be making the same mistake with Manning, but he was bad, and it’s tough to ignore. If he’s playing this poorly in the regular season, his playoff prospects are pretty worrisome. I hope it’s not the end of the line for him, unless the Broncos and Seahawks meet in the Super Bowl again.
Time to move on to our Gentlemen of the Week. Who’ve you got?
Will: Case Keenum, I salute you. You are a true American. Not a fortnight ago you were in a tree with a bow and arrow, setting your sights on white-tail deer, and now you have defeated the Baltimore Ravens. You weren’t amazing, but you put in a good workmanlike effort and got the job done. Cheers to you, sir. May your offseason be filled with pelts. Who’s your guy?
Derek: I’m going with Ryan Lindley, because I feel sorry for him. I can’t remember the last time I felt pity for a quarterback the Seahawks were playing. He was so horribly overwhelmed. His passes were so inaccurate, he was even throwing behind trailing defenders! Chin up, Ryan. You did your best, and that’s that’s something.
Let’s move on to our Most Hungover Fan Bases. The Philadelphia Eagles, who were once in first place in the NFC East, have dropped three in a row and have been eliminated from playoff contention. Losing to the Seahawks and Cowboys is one thing. But the Redskins? With the season on the line? The City of Brotherly Love spent the last few days drowning itself in Yuengling. To whom do you give the honors?
Will: Well, New Orleans, it’s been a ride. Drew Brees and the gang put on a show worthy of your city for years, but all good things must end, just as Mardi Gras does. Take a long walk around the French Quarter, get a huge ass beer to go, have a couple hurricanes, and fade gently into the offseason. Things could change a whole lot before next year. Best to black all the way out and wake up to a pleasant surprise.
Happy holidays! Thanks for reading.