Could Marshawn Lynch get cut? NFL Week 11 RecapPosted: November 24, 2015
A wild and crazy Week 11 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the performance of Thomas Rawls, the new quarterback in Denver, another JFF controversy, playoff picks, a very bad day in Baltimore, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.
Will: Thomas Rawls ran for over 200 yards. What the hell?! Is Seattle’s line getting its act together, or are the Niners just that booty?
Derek: Yeah, the Niners aren’t good. Rawls was great and the line was better than usual, but I’m not going to get too excited given how poorly San Fran’s defense has played this year, particularly in road games. Seattle now has four 100-yard rushers this year, and two of them were against the 49ers. Granted, three of those were by Rawls. Not a good year to be a lover of the legendary Marshawn Lynch, who may be shut down for at least the remainder of the regular season with a sports hernia.
Rawls is very impressive, though. I was worried about Seattle cutting both Robert Turbin and Christine Michael in favor of Rawls and Fred Jackson, but that looks to have been the right call. Turbin was already cut by the Browns and joined the Cowboys, while Michael was already cut by the Cowboys and joined the Redskins’ practice squad. Rawls is looking like the best of the bunch. In fact, he’s looking so good that he’s forcing me to write the following possibly heretical sentence:
Marshawn Lynch might get cut this offseason.
Marshawn! Could be cut! It’s looking more and more likely. Lynch makes a lot of money, and Seattle could benefit from Rawls’ rookie contract in the same way they benefited from Russell Wilson’s. Sad as it is to say, Lynch hasn’t done much this season to show he deserves the job over Rawls. The Seahawks know better than anyone else if he’s just been unlucky or he’s really breaking down, so I don’t want to jump to the conclusions. Marshawn is going down as a Seahawks legend, but Carroll’s regime isn’t afraid to cut anyone. I won’t be surprised if Marshawn is a Cowboy next year, and that makes me sad.
There was almost no sadness in Cleveland this week, but now Johnny is back in the news for the wrong reasons. He’s been demoted to third-string(!) for apparently boozin’ it up in Texas. How are Browns fans taking the news? Do you think it’s fair that he’s being benched? Should Johnny apologize for partying, even if he didn’t do anything illegal?
Will: Not great, Bob. It’s just so dumb. All of it. I was hopeful that Johnny would start the rest of the games so that the Browns could at least figure out if he was decent — I think a lot of people feel that way — but now it looks like the franchise is ready to move on from him. The only reason he hasn’t been cut already, far as I can tell, is to save money. Mike Pettine reportedly has the support of owner Jimmy Haslam and GM Ray Farmer, which is as encouraging as saying that Donald Trump is mentoring you on how to speak quietly and subtlely.
I certainly understand Pettine’s viewpoint. It seems rather arbitrary to demote Johnny so for not doing anything explicitly wrong or illegal. Perhaps the team gave him a set of guidelines to follow during the week and he spat in their face. Perhaps the team is privy to more damning information than we are at this point. Perhaps Johnny’s earlier troubles with alcohol were worse than is known publicly. Or — and I would guess this is the most likely scenario — maybe Pettine was just looking for an excuse to bench him, and this one was good enough.
Basically, I think there’s more to this story than meets the eye, the most important part being the relationship between Pettine and Manziel. Perhaps Pettine feels like he was lied to. Perhaps Johnny is rebelling. Whatever the case, the Browns look as stupid as ever. Ugh.
Say, who’s more dominant: Brock Osweiler or Brock Lesnar?
Derek: On the off chance Brock Lesnar ever see this, I’m going with him. Plus, I mentally refer to Brock Lesnar as “Brock” and Brock Osweiler as “Brock Osweiler.”
Though while his performance was sorely lacking in German suplexes, Brock Osweiler showed that it is in fact possible for Broncos quarterbacks to not throw interceptions. The Broncos even looked, dare I say, enthusiastic and energetic without Peyton Manning. Do you think Manning will get his job back if/when he’s healthy? Will you feel weird seeing him standing on the sideline against Tom Brady this weekend?
Will: I just don’t see how Peyton can get back out there. Like, it’s been public knowledge for quite a while that he’s lost feeling in his hands. Forget about playing quarterback — it feels borderline irresponsible to put him out there. Brock was pretty darn competent against the quietly-not-that-bad Bears: 20 of 27 passing, 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, no turnovers. With Denver’s defense, what they need more than anything is someone who won’t turn it over. It feels counterintuitive to say Osweiler is a better caretaker than Manning, but Peyton chucked 17 picks in nine games. He’s playing worse than he ever as, except for maybe his rookie year. Let the tall man rumble!
In NFC news, the Packers and Panthers both won handily, with the Cardinals edging out the Bengals. Who do you see as the favorite in that conference?
Derek: I think it’s the Cardinals. They’re the most talented team top to bottom. They problem is they seem to be injury prone. John Brown and Michael Floyd are banged up, Andre Ellington gets injured every five snaps, and Carson Palmer has a history of injuries that can’t be ignored. If they’re healthy going into the playoffs, I think they would be favored against anyone, even if they have to go to Carolina.
I can’t bring myself to trust the Panthers. They’ll probably be the top seed in the NFC, but they look more like a candidate to be upset. Looking at their roster, I just can’t figure out why they haven’t lost yet. Regression could be around the corner, but I’ve been saying that for a while.
I have no idea how to project the Packers. They’ve looked good at times and truly horrible at times. Their chances of success are tied to Aaron Rodgers’ health, which has been a question mark at the end of the last two seasons. I’m giving them an incomplete grade, and I don’t think they’d be favored over the Cardinals on a neutral field.
Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Now that we’re getting a better idea of who will and won’t be in the playoffs, which team do you think has been the most disappointing this season?
Will: I’m going to leave the Browns out of this, though they’ve been plenty disappointing in their own right. The Ravens were bad even before they were ravaged by injuries, but it’s poor form to rip a team that just lost its quarterback for the season.
I think it’s the Chargers. They were 9-7 last year, and haven’t been worse than 7-9 since 2003. They’ve been pretty wrecked by injuries as well, so I suppose I’m breaking my own rule — and it’s rude to shit on a team that’s been embroiled in relocation rumors all year — but they are real bad. Like, almost-lost-to-the-Browns bad. They drafted Melvin Gordon and have had a full year of Danny Woodhead, but the running game has been flaccid. They have one of the worst defenses in the league.They’re victims of playing in a strong division as much as anything, especially with the Raiders being semi-decent this year, but they’ve also lost six straight.
Looking at the rest of the standings: Beyond the Patriots, Bengals, and Chiefs, most of the AFC is at or around .500. How do you reckon the Wild Card will shake out?
Derek: You know, as much as we make fun of the AFC South, there might be two AFC South teams in the playoffs. The Colts are still in first place after beating the Falcons, but the Texans are going on a nice little run to end the season. In fact, the Texans are currently the seventh seed in the AFC. It makes sense that they’ll make the playoffs when they looked like one of the worst teams in the league earlier this year.
I’d say the Steelers are the pretty clear favorites for the first Wild Card spot, assuming their horrible string of injuries comes to an end. Whoever wins the AFC South won’t enjoy playing them in the first round. The sixth seed is an absolute crapshoot. The Chiefs have it right now, but the Texans, Bills, Jets, and Raiders are the most likely remaining teams to unseat them. If I had to guess, I’d say the Chiefs because they have an easy remaining schedule. I don’t think they have a shot to make any noise once they get there, but they’ve got a good shot to make it.
The Ravens lost both their starting quarterback and starting running back for the season on Sunday. How much sympathy do you feel for the former Browns?
Will: My first instinct was less than zero; eat it, Ratbirds, but I do actually have a bit of sympathy for them. Steve Smith is a delight, sort of like Kobe Bryant before the part of him that’s good at basketball died, and Joe Flacco has taken to life as a meme well enough. That said, I wish ill upon them, especially this coming Monday.
We now know that Johnny Manziel won’t be playing on Monday. It looks like Josh McCown vs. Matt Schaub. Why would any non-Browns, non-Ravens fan watch that game? Let’s assume that gambling is one legitimate reason. Are there any others?
Derek: Ummm. Maybe if you hate both teams and their suffering pleases you? Or if it’s on at the bar where you’re getting wings? Or if you want to see how Jon Gruden still manages to love every single player on the field? That’s about all I’ve got. The ratings will tell us exactly how many gamblers and fantasy football players have nothing better to do on a Monday night. I can’t wait.
Let’s hand out this week’s hardware.
Gentlemen of the Week
Derek: Thomas Rawls, come on down! An undrafted rookie who beat out two established draft picks in training camp and ran for the second most yards in a game in Seahawks history? That’s the stuff Gentlemen are made of.
Will: Big week for Tom. I understand that all of the other GotW winners welcomed him into the villa with open arms and open bottles of brandy. Well done by him. I’m going with Austin Davis, the Browns backup quarterback who was promoted from No. 3 to No. 2 on the depth chart for doing absolutely nothing. It takes a little luck to find success in the National Football League, and Austin has done well to seize his opportunity. I look forward to analyzing his clipboard form.
Most Hungover Fan Bases
Derek: Let’s welcome Jets fans to the realm of drunkenness. It wasn’t too long ago that they gave the Patriots all they could handle and looked like a scary Wild Card team. Now they’ve lost four of five and just don’t look good at all. The playoffs look less likely every week.
Will: The Browns feel too on the nose here, so let me see…I’m going back to the San Diego well and picking the Chargers. I feel guilty about ripping on them earlier. They lost by 30 freaking points — at home — to the Chiefs. Fans have to listen to rumors about what part of L.A. the team is going to move to. The team sucks, the circumstances suck, and that’s just no fun. At least the weather’s nice. Enjoy a drink on the beach, San Diego. You’ve sort of earned it.