Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 7:
a. The impact of Chris Clemons. The Seattle front seven is dangerous enough—but with Clemons approaching peak form after offseason knee surgery (much less famous surgery than Robert Griffin III’s) it’s hard to figure out who offensive coordinators should game-plan to stop on that Seattle front. For individual talent, Seattle and Kansas City have the biggest-impact front sevens in the league.
b. Catch of the day: Vincent Jackson’s one-handed grab deep downfield from Mike Glennon, with a defender hanging all over him.
c. Great physical defensive play by Washington’s Reed Doughty, muscling into Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery.
d. Saratoga Snacks, the Bill Parcells four-year-old horse, won a $250,000 race at Belmont Saturday. That’ll buy some carrots.
e. Andy Dalton throwing the ball 52 yards in the air—hey, he’s not supposed to be able to do that—and connecting with A.J. Green for an early bomb in Detroit.
f. The Kyle Long block on one of Matt Forte’s three touchdown runs for Chicago at Washington. A bulldozer of the clearout block.
g. Five third-down conversion catches by Jeremy Kerley for the Jets in the first 18 minutes against New England.
h. Roy Helu Jr. Or, as Keith Olbermann would say, “Hell-ooooh!” Three touchdown runs.
i. Julian Edelman, who is a terrific punt-returner.
j. Tremendous penetration and sack of Thad Lewis by Miami safety Reshad Jones.
k. The touchdown-saving deflection by Dallas third-round rookie safety J.J. Wilcox, knocking away a sure touchdown pass from Nick Foles to DeSean Jackson.
l. We’re starting to see why Mario Williams (10 sacks in seven games) got the big money in Buffalo.
m. Andy Dalton had the kind of game that playoff-winning quarterbacks have: At Detroit he was 24 of 34 for 372 yards and three touchdowns. He looked confident throwing intermediate and deep.
n. This line by Terrell Suggs, after watching his Ravens fall to 3-4: “We know what we gotta fix—offense, defense, special teams. We’re in a state of emergency.”
o. Why Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal is so good: He noted Saturday that wideout/tight end Chris Harper was the team’s first waiver pickup in one year. I mean, who monitors that? Great beat guys do.
p. A Stanley Havili touchdown. There’s a Ryan Grigson player right there.
q. The summation of Washington 45, Chicago 41, from FOX’s Kenny Albert: “Eighty-six points. Five ties. Eight lead changes. Devin Hester tying Deion Sanders’ NFL record for return TDs. A defensive score. A player on each side scoring three rushing touchdowns. Injuries to three key Bears. RGIII circa 2012. A breakout game for tight end Jordan Reed. The game had it all. Last team to score wins. One of the most exciting regular-season games I have ever been lucky enough to call.”
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 7:
a. That wily, experienced veteran, Sheldon Richardson of the Jets, saying NFL officials baby Tom Brady. After less than two months playing real games, that is some quality opinion, Sheldon.
b. How did Robert Griffin III not see Charles Tillman laying in wait on that first-quarter interception? Awful read by the Washington quarterback.
c. Come on, Antonio Allen. Grabbing Rob Gronkowski 10 yards down the field and not letting go, and inviting the officials to flag you for holding, which they did?
d. Martellus Bennett, for the go-ahead touchdown with 3:57 left. Not covered by Washington. Mr. Haslett, coach Shanahan would like to see you.
e. Why, oh why, Nick Foles? Why take a six-yard sack when you can throw the ball away without penalty?
f. Good game overall for Geno Smith, obviously. But late in the first quarter at the Meadowlands, Smith had the Jets at the New England 20-yard line, threatening to go in for a 14-7 Jets lead. Instead, Smith laser-focused on wideout David Nelson, split right, who was blanketed by rookie cornerback Logan Ryan. Smith threw it anyway. And Ryan picked it off and ran 79 yards for a touchdown. Instead of the Jets taking command at 14-7, the Patriots had a gift 14-7 lead.
g. Champ Bailey, looking 35.
h. Trent Richardson’s hands. You can’t fumble down the stretch of huge games, but Richardson did.
i. Games played by teams that have employed Danny Amendola since 2011: 39. Games actually played by Danny Amendola since 2011: 15.
3. I think offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is doing an excellent job with the Seahawks’ offensive attack (27.3 points per game), despite a makeshift offensive line. That’s the overriding plus in what I see in Seattle. The minus: Russell Wilson’s getting hit too much. Waaaay too much. When you see Wilson hit, he looks like Gumby; he always gets back and never seems to limp. But he’s been sacked 20 times, and by one count, was sacked or hit significantly 19 times at Arizona Thursday night. That’s playing with fire. And 8.3 rushes per game … too many. When I see a quarterback run as much as Wilson has (41 times in his last four games)—and I don’t think he wants to run; he’s being forced to by the rush in many cases—I see trouble down the road.
4. I think the thing I’d do if I were Bevell is put more of a load on Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin.
5. I think if you love the Cardinals, and you’re dying to know why they’re letting Carson Palmer get battered, and why the line is a constant source of angst, this is the reason: In the last 10 drafts, Arizona has picked 13 offensive linemen—and none of them start on the line today. Obviously, first-round guard Jonathan Cooper would be starting had he not broken his leg in a preseason game. But still, this long-term record is a big reason why the Cardinals can’t get anything consistent going on offense post-Kurt Warner:
2004: center Alex Stepanovich (fourth round), center Nick Leckey (sixth round).
2005: guard Elton Brown (fourth round).
2006: guard Deuce Lutui (second round).
2007: tackle Levi Brown (first round).
2008: tackle Brandon Keith (seventh round).
2009: tackle Herman Johnson (fifth round), guard Trevor Canfield (seventh round).
2010, 2011: no linemen picked.
2012: tackle Bobby Massie (fourth round), tackle Selio Kelemete (fifth round), tackle Nate Potter (seventh round).
2013: guard Jonathan Cooper (first round), guard Earl Watford (fourth round).
6. I think this was the saddest stat line of the week: Jackson State 1, Grambling 0 (forfeit). A story of disappointment, anger and players feeling betrayed, mixed with a horrible economy, told well by Sports Illustrated’s George Dohrman. Imagine how many great NFL players came out of that program, and now it’s a shell of what Grambling once was.
7. I think this is a rules interpretation your father’s general manager never had to worry about: Dreadlock holding. In the Cowboys-Eagles game, many of you wondered about the dreadlock-hold during punt coverage. It is holding if you grab a guy’s hair and restrict him. You are allowed to tackle a runner by the hair, but can’t hold by the hair.
8. I think we’re going to see a different Thursday night package of TV games by 2015. (Maybe as soon as next year, but likely in ’15.) One highly placed league source told me over the weekend there’s no chance of doubleheaders being played on Thursday nights, though Dallas owner Jerry Jones told Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal there had been discussions of it. I’m told it’s likely the league will split the Thursday night package, leaving a small number of games (five?) on NFL Network and making a lucrative package of the others (eight to 10) on one network or more that would pay dearly for prime-time programming on a big TV night.
9. I think it could be an ugly Monday night next week for the Rams. Coming off a 30-15 loss in Carolina, St. Louis now must play backup Kellen Clemens against the Seahawks. And they have to share the city with the Cardinals, assuming there is a Game 5 of the World Series. Imagine that—the Cards starting .9 miles away from the Edward Jones Dome at 7:07 p.m. Central Time, the Rams starting at 7:40 CT against the mighty Seahawks in a game they’ll have no business winning if you consider the quarterback matchup.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I think everyone’s nuts for not liking Tim McCarver. I love listening to him.
b. Another good job, Andrea Kremer, on the mechanics of how the league fines players, on NFL Network Sunday.
c. “Rejubilation!’’ said Shane Victorino. Yes, there was a lot of that in Red Sox land when he broke up a very tense game with a grand slam to win the AL pennant Saturday night.
d. I admit I didn’t love the Victorino signing last winter (three years, $39 million for what appeared to be a declining player). But anyone who grand-slams a clinching championship series win is worth the dough, especially with what a great clubhouse guy, fielder and occasionally clutch hitter he’s been.
e. Tigers I admire greatly: Miguel Cabrera, for playing through obvious pain all October; Alex Avila, who got punished more than any catcher I’ve seen in one series, and who kept playing at a high level; and Torii Hunter. Best thing I can say about Hunter is I regret never having seen him every day for a full season, to appreciate his spirit, effort and terrific game.
f. Are there any hittable pitchers on the Cardinals? Not from what I’ve seen.
g. Red Sox in seven, but that is not a confidence pick. It’s an emotional one.
h. Coffeenerdness: I’ve got nothing this week. Sorry, I’ll have a note for you next week.
i. Beernerdness: Stop what you’re doing if you live in Colorado (or in some pub with a great beer selection) and go try Avery Brewing’s Maharaja Double IPA. You probably shouldn’t have more than a couple (it’s 10 percent alcohol), but it’s a smooth, delicious, malty brew. Had it Saturday night, and I’ll be back for more.
Who I Like Tonight
Giants 27, Vikings 20. Josh Freeman takes over at quarterback for Minnesota, but I don’t see the move, after two weeks of Freeman cramming on the Vikings playbook, suddenly turning around Minnesota’s moribund offense. And if Jon Beason plays the way he did last Thursday in his Giants debut, things won’t be as easy on Adrian Peterson as we expect.
If Eli Manning can’t get his season on track against the Vikings’ secondary, there might not be much hope for the rest of 2013.
The Adieu Haiku
No more perfect heir
to Manning than Andrew Luck.
New sheriff in town.