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Week 4 AFC team tidbits
Week 4 AFC team tidbits
Week 4 AFC team tidbits
By TED SEVRANSKY
Teddy’s AFC Tidbits
Welcome to Teddy’s weekly look at the NFL. Teddy spends every Sunday typing furiously at his laptop as he watches the games, giving you the key info that the box scores and game recaps simply don’t have. This week: AFC tidbits from around the league.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is certainly no Carson Palmer; really struggling with the downfield passing game. 57 yards and two interceptions in the first half doesn’t cut it, even for a backup. A big part of the problem is the offensive line. There’s no running game to support the quarterback here, and Fitzpatrick does not have time to find receivers downfield. Chris Perry leads NFL running backs in fumbles through four games, another very bad sign. Even with multiple injuries in the secondary, Cinci did do a solid job of shutting down the Browns passing game, the lone bright spot for the afternoon. This team is playing passionless football, and that’s a very bad sign this early in the season.
This is a team to bet against in the first quarter/first half. The sluggish starts have been a consistent thing for Buffalo; three straight weeks in which they’ve looked half asleep early. This offensive line is not getting the job done here – Trent Edwards took way too many hits and Marshawn Lynch did not have room to run. We forget how young this team actually is – there are only six players on the roster on the wrong side of 30. Hence, the lapses in concentration and intensity are perfectly understandable. And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, no team in the NFL has stepped up better than the Bills so far this young season, turning fourth quarter deficits into victories in each of their last three ballgames.
Brandon Marshall might be the single best receiver in the NFL right now. The guy has linebacker size, but the softest hands around and the ability to outleap defenders. His touchdown catch to give the Broncos the lead here was truly a thing of beauty. With Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler, this passing game is borderline unstoppable, all with players that have three years of experience or less; an outstanding core group to build around. Too bad Jay Cutler had an awful afternoon, his first bad game of the season. This run defense is getting pushed around badly. The problems Denver has had with their front seven in recent years has not been solved. Dre Bly is clearly the weak link in this secondary. This is not an upper echelon defense by any stretch of the imagination.
LaDanian Tomlinson is a complete non-factor right now. It’s perfectly clear to anyone who is impartially watching that Darren Sproles is the more explosive running back. Every time Ted Cottrell calls a blitz, something good seems to happen. Every time the defense drops back into coverage, something bad seems to happen – the pass rush simply isn’t there without the blitz. I just can’t fathom why they aren’t blitzing on almost every play. Does anyone else think that Nate Kaeding is the spitting image of a young Bob Newhart, especially following a missed field goal?
Herm Edwards refused to take a chance on fourth and short from inside the two yard line, settling for 23 and 21 yard field goals in the first quarter. It’s not rocket science to recognize that Edwards is too conservative, but this was downright ridiculous; a coach more interested in hanging around than in putting pressure on their opponent right from the get-go. These rookie cornerbacks are going to have their share of growing pains. Punter Dustin Colquitt really might be the most important pointspread player on this team, consistently pinning the Broncos deep in their own territory. With all the money and high draft choices they’ve spent on their defensive line over the past few seasons, I have only one question – where’s the pass rush! Key injury to first round draft choice, offensive lineman Brandon Albert, who was carted off the field. At least Larry Johnson showed up today, carrying the team on his back to earn their first win since last October despite the offensive line woes.
These safeties are really struggling in pass coverage – the secondary depth here is not very good. And the once vaunted run defense looked a bit suspect here – I’ve got serious questions about this defense. The Jags offense had the ball for 26 minutes in the second half against Indy last week, but that was only because the Colts were scoring so quickly. Here, the Texans were able to control the clock for a good portion of the game against Jacksonville. This coaching staff is making excellent adjustments at halftime. For the third week in a row, the Jags came out in the second half and marched down the field, taking control of a close game. David Garrard is really taking apart the Texans secondary with short, precise throws. Four drives in the second half and overtime; four scores.
There uniforms are ugly enough to warrant some discussion here. Aren’t the Jets a green and white team, not a yellow-and-blue team? Quit messing me up! This was the second straight week that we’ve seen some ballhawking potential out of this defense. On Monday Night, the Jets had a pick six, and they had another one here with Darrelle Revis. Shaun Ellis forced a Kurt Warner fumble for a loss of 23 yards, negating a red zone opportunity, then Dwight Lowery created a turnover two plays later with a devastating hit on Anquan Boldin, recovered by the newly signed Hank Poteat. This young secondary is making some plays! Forcing five first half turnovers goes a long way towards notching a victory in a ‘must win’ game.
The Raiders were able to run the football effectively, even when facing eight or nine men in the box. And with the opposing defense selling out to stop the run, for the second straight week we saw a big play catch and run touchdown throw from JaMarcus Russell. But the passing game couldn’t carry the offense after halftime – held to a single first down for the first 25 minutes of the second half. And once Russell was faced with some blitzes, the offensive production declined markedly.
The whole offense is predicated on Matt Schaub’s ability to hit receivers in stride, and he’s just not doing that right now. Andre Johnson isn’t running crisp routes, and their shots down the field to Johnson aren’t connecting. Even the bread and butter of the offense, the underneath routes, are not connecting. One touchdown in six red zone possessions heading into this game, and it was a problem again here. Rookie running back Steve Slaton is very slippery, the perfect fit for this offense. But when the offense finally found some rhythm, the defense fell apart, allowing four scores on four drives after halftime. This secondary really is bottom tier – they need Dunta Robinson to get healthy ASAP.