2011 NFL: What We Know Through Week 3 Leaguewide
The NFL is always full of action, never a dull moment, which is why we are ALREADY heading into Week 4. With the summer seemingly always dragging, the football season is anything but. Even when I was little, the NFL season breezed by. I enjoyed every second of it then, and I do now, with access to even more information than we ever had before 1996 (internet).
This is not a true column, but more like personal quick hits, rapid-fire, as I reflect upon the first three games of this 2011 NFL Season.
— The Packers have not missed a beat offensively. In fact, they may be BETTER than they were last year.
— The Bills are FOR REAL; and there were several games in the second half of the 2010 season that substantiates this.
— The Lions will go as “Miller Lite” Matthew Stafford and his health will take them.
— Ryan Grant looks like a fullback moving in slow motion when he carries the ball, but somehow gets 10 yards on plays that appear to only look like he ran 5.
— Peyton Manning might be the MVP of the NFL in 2011 and may not play a down this season.
— Bob Sanders needs to retire. He’s landed on IR in more seasons than he’s actually completed.
— Osi Umenyiora can take his time convalescing, as his spot is secure and the Giants LITERALLY play all of their DEs at DT 8-10 snaps apiece in most games.
— Jason Pierre-Paul notched his 4th (4.5) sack of the season on Philadelphia’s Mike Kafka while lined up at Defensive Tackle and completely overwhelmed the Eagles’ line. The man is a monster in the making.
— Tom Brady may pass for 6,100 yards this season, and may not get past the AFC Divisional Playoff.
— The Chargers led the NFL in total offense and total defense in 2010 and missed the playoffs, the Patriots are on their way to leading the NFL in total offense in being dead last in total defense. When was the last time a team ever did that and made the playoffs? (TRIVIA QUESTION)
— The Chiefs really miss Charlie Weis.
— The Panthers have two 1,000 yard rushers and have Cam Newton passing the ball more than almost everyone in the NFL, for some reason.
— Matthew Hasselbeck is startling people with his numbers, until you realize that his targets are almost always single-covered, as teams are lining eight-in-the-box to stifle RB Chris Johnson.
— Mike Pereira, the former NFL VP of officiating that the Eagles are perennially the biggest complainants to the league office regarding should-have-been penalties and other infractions (no confirmation, but the Patriots, Colts, Ravens, Chargers, Cowboys and Steelers are rumored to be the other highest complainers, with Lions, Chiefs, Jaguars, Giants and Packers being amongst the least complainants).
— Rams’ RB Carnell Williams is “just a guy” now.
— Ravens’ RB Ray Rice should touch the ball no fewer than 25 times in any game.
— Dolphins’ QB Chad Henne, who Jason Taylor believes is more talented and better than Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez, has WRs Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess and faux-RB/slot WR Reggie Bush and still can’t get out of his own way.
— The Jets’ offensive line woes are troubling (namely, RT Wayne Hunter).
— Giants’ WR Victor Cruz is set to prove why Giants fans and the front office have been so high on him for two years.
— Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger actually gets hit illegally more than Eagles’ QB Michael Vick and never complained (formally) to the league.
— Ravens’ NT Haloti Ngata scores more TDs than some teams’ Tight Ends and has been spotted downfield in coverage on WRs and TEs.
— Eagles’ WR DeSean Jackson may have the worst set of hands of any starting WR in the NFL.
— The Bucs need to get the ball to RB LeGarrette Blount more often, when he gets touches, they win.
— Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson is among the top rushers (surprise) despite Brandon Jacobs-level absence of carries in each of the team’s three second half collapses through Week 3.
— Raiders’ RB Darren McFadden is healthy (pending Week 3’s nicks and bumps) and poised to rush for 2,000 yards. Stay tuned.
— The Cardinals may be the most inept team, compared to expected-inept teams like Denver, Cincinnati and Tennessee, who are all playing better than expected.
— Dallas’ two wins, eked out against a middling team (San Francisco) and an outright bad team (Washington) by a total of three points.
— The Falcons look atrocious, as their win over Philadelphia in Week 2 looks less and less impressive.
— The Bears block for Jay Cutler much the same way they did for most of Walter Payton’s career: POORLY.
— With today’s receiving rules, guys like Sterling Sharpe, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Michael Irvin would each have 125 catches per season.
— Wes Welker’s receiving numbers, while impressive on the surface, are the product of a 5-7 yard cushion and huge yards-after-catch totals. Nevertheless, he is on pace for over 160 catches, and with his central focus in the Patriots’ offense, this could happen — more than shattering Marvin Harrison’s 143-catch record.
— The Colts have actually been able to run the ball moderately well.
— Call Bolts’ TE Antonio Gates the Bill Walton of the NFL.
— How good would Marshawn Lynch be on a good team, for once?
— Tim Tebow = the product of someone selling someone dreams like a pimp to a 17 year old girl that she could become the next Janet Jacme.
— The Saints really miss Reggie Bush /sarcasm.
— Packers’ CB Tramon Williams is the most underrated CB in the NFL.
— Vikings’ DE Jared Allen nearly singlehandedly won the game for Minnesota in Week 3.
— Lions’ LT Jeff Backus is the worst tackle in the NFL and it’s not close.
— Ditto for C Dominic Raiola.
— The Bears should have kept C Olin Kreutz.
— The Eagles, who acquired big names with past credentials still have the same turnstile of an offensive line, league-worst linebackers and inept safety play, just as it were in 2010. Dream Team?
— LeSean McCoy is the 3rd best RB in the NFL.
— Darren McFadden is the 2nd best.
— You already know who the best is, no name needed.
— Lions’ WR Calvin Johnson does things every week that I’ve never seen anyone do in any era of NFL.
— Lions’ WR Calvin Johnson is the best WR in the NFL.
— Giants’ RB Ahmad Bradshaw is the most underutilized/underrated RB in the NFL, if that is possible in New York.
— Patriots’ CB Devin McCourty is already a Top 5 CB.
— Bucs’ ironman CB Ronde Barber continues to just make great plays.
— Bucs’ CB Aqib Talib is the second most underrated CB in the NFL.
— Eagles’ CB Nnamdi Asomugha, who I said would be exposed against NFC East WRs, was previously untested for the most part in Oakland, and is one of the more overrated CBs in the NFL.
— Dolphins’ DB Vontae Davis is one of the most underrated players in any secondary.
— Texans will regret jettisoning RB Steve Slaton. Arian Foster is a bum/one-year wonder.
— Cardinals will regret taking Patrick Peterson over Prince Amukamara, and Amukamara seeks to prove (doubtful: foot) in Week 4.
— Raiders’ QB Jason Campbell is one of the more efficient Game Managers in the NFL (93.8 rating through three games).
— Saints’ QB Drew Brees, who threw just as many INT as Eli Manning in 2010, somehow escapes the same vitriol that Manning receives.
— The Steelers always win when they are run-focused and almost always lose when they are pass-happy. They were pass-happy in Week 1 (loss) and were in Week 3 against a severely hampered Colts team and it nearly cost them.
— Warren Sapp is 100% correct about the Steelers’ defense.
— The Browns are taking the reins from the Jaguars as the MODE of the NFL (read: the definition of the most average team in the NFL).
— Giants’ SS Kenny Phillips, on his way to his first Pro Bowl in 2009 before a knee injury, is the most underrated player at his position in the NFL.
— Colts’ GM Bill Polian may be the most overrated executive in the NFL in the past 20 years.
— Bears’ RB Matt Forte, while misused in Chicago, is not as good as he thinks he is.
— The Packers have the absolute best WR corps in the NFL, and it’s not close.
— Cardinals’ WR Larry Fitzgerald runs the best routes of any WR in the NFL.
— The Patriots truly miss Dick Seymour, and will be reminded once again in Week 4.
— The Patriots’ offensive line, which gets away with holding more than any team that I watch 6+ times per season is still the best in the NFL despite the holding infractions not being called.
— The Jets’ running game looks stalled.
— CB Darrelle Revis, the NFL’s best CB (and it’s not close) rarely talks, nor does former NFL-best CB Champ Bailey. The three biggest loudmouth CBs in the past 25 years in the NFL all came from the same university.
NAME THEM ALONG WITH THE UNIVERSITY.
— Steelers’ WR Mike Wallace might catch 20 touchdowns in 2011.
— So might Lions’ WR Calvin Johnson.
— Cowboys’ TE Jason Witten is slowing down rapidly before our eyes.
— Falcons’ TE Tony Gonzalez is the best TE in the NFC.
— Lions’ TE Brandon Pettigrew is breathing down Witten’s neck for 2nd best (and will match up against Witten in Week 4).
— If your name is Roy Williams and played in the NFL in the past decade, you were one of the most overrated players at your position.
— Browns’ LB D’Qwell Jackson is an absolute monster, a poor man’s Patrick Willis.
— 49ers’ MLB Patrick Willis is the best Mike in the NFL and it’s not close.
— Bears’ MLB Brian Urlacher is one of the most overrated players this past decade.
— Lance Briggs should be more heralded than Urlacher.
— Jason Pierre-Paul will notch 23 sacks in 2011.
— The Cowboys have one of the worst rushing offenses in their history thus far.
— The Bolts (2-1) are avoiding the annual slow start, despite Philip Rivers’ worst start to a season thus far.
— Bolts’ TE Randy McMichael has been pivotal to San Diego’s offense in Gates’ absence.
— Seahawks’ LB Aaron Curry was benched in Week 3 and may be traded by the Week 6 trade deadline. Team is playing surprisingly well on defense.
— Eagles should sign MLB Lofa Tatupu.
— Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in the NFL, top to bottom, cumulative skills and abilities.
— Steelers’ SS Troy Polamalu is the most overrated defensive back in the NFL.
— Giants’ FS Antrel Rolle’s mouth usually matches his play.
— Cardinals’ SS Adrian Wilson has been playing with virtually one arm.
— Jeremy Maclin is the Eagles’ best WR and should be paid as such.
— Redskins’ MLB London Fletcher hits harder than anyone this side of Ray Lewis. And of course, they are the same age. The adage goes, the old guy may not be able to run with you, but if he gets his hands on you, LOOK OUT.
Fletcher has not lost a step.
— Steelers’ FS Ryan Clark is the biggest head hunter in the NFL.
— Giants’ DE Justin Tuck is the best defensive end in the NFL and it’s not close. And he is one of the top three all-around best defensive players in the NFL in terms of impact.
— Bears’ DE Julius Peppers disappeared for an entire half vs. Green Bay in Week 3 against a backup LT.
— No one knows why the Texans are using Mario Williams as an OLB.
— Gary Kubiak has to be the biggest hack this side of Eagles’ (alleged) Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo.
— Raiders’ Marcel Reece is the most underrated FB in the NFL, while Ravens’ Vonta Leach is a bit overrated.
— Jets’ WR Plaxico Burress cannot get separation outside of goal line situations, and would be better served to convert to TE.
— The Chiefs are on pace to score 144 points ALL SEASON. Three teams have nearly scored that many through THREE GAMES.
— Texans’ QB Matt Schaub might the biggest choke artist out of all the NFL starting QBs.
— Lions’ DTs Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh might form the most fearsome interior lineman tandem the league has seen since the days of Dana Stubblefield (or “Stubbafield”, as John Madden pronounced it) and Bryant Young.
— Pete Carroll is trying too hard to be Belichick-West.
— Vikings’ LB Chad Greenway is a tackling machine.
— So is Colts’ MLB Pat Angerer (although they are on defense more than anyone).
— The Bears need to use that return formation more frequently.
— Giants’ DT Linval Joseph literally throws linemen out of the way to disrupt teams’ running game (look at the film).
— Cowboys’ LB DeMarcus Ware is the most versatile defensive player in the NFL.
— Eagles’ QB Michael Vick needs to learn how to read defenses (8th NFL season) and get rid of the ball quicker.
— Patriots’ QB Tom Brady solicits more flags than any QB in the NFL.
— Patriots’ RT Sebastian Vollmer is the most underrated tackle in the NFL.
— Bills’ RB Fred Jackson is vastly underrated, despite fantasy league pickups.
— Giants’ WR Hakeem Nicks is a body double for former Cowboys’ WR Michael Irvin, even down to the baker’s mitts for hands/gloves.
— Giants’ SLB Michael Boley is the most underrated strong side ‘backer in the NFL.
— Chiefs’ LB Tamba Hali is vastly underrated by NFL fans.
— Eagles’ WR Steve Smith’s specialty (tipped-ball INTs) ironically cost his team in Week 3.
— Panthers’ WR Steve Smith just keeps on ticking, at age 32.
— Jets’ RB LaDainian Tomlinson appears to be on that last tread on his tires.
— Jets’ RB Shonn Greene looks like he’s already reached his NFL ceiling.
— Raiders’ CB Stanford Routt is the most underrated CB that no one knows.
— Despite fielding six receiving options standing 6’3″ or taller, the Texans’ red zone ineptitude is jarring.
— Giants’ offensive coordinator Kevin “Killdrive” Gilbride shed the Killdrive label for the first time since the 2008 season in Week 3.
ANY OTHER OBSERVATIONS, FEEL FREE TO ADD…