Monday, September 28, 2015

Birden Bomb: Week three

Welcome to this weekly National Football League column named the "Birden Bomb" in reference to my infatuation with the play in the video game Madden '96 which was known as the, as you can probably guess, the "Birden Bomb". I will provide a few thoughts on the week that was. Enjoy!

-The handling of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was heavily scrutinized by football media pendants and a lot of that turmoil fell on then offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The Griffin-Shanahan relationship has been well documented as perceived tension existed between RG3 and Kyle's father, then Head Coach Mike Shanahan. Griffin didn't feel like his skillset which in 2015 refers to trying to hold a clipboard was utilized efficiently and as what usually transpires in your prototypical player-coach conflict, the owner sided with the prima donna star athlete and inevitably the Shanahan's were run out of D.C. After  a short stop in Cleveland, Kyle has now landed in Atlanta and has completely reformed a once readable attack. "Matty Ice" better known by people in the deep south of Georgia as Matt Ryan has become a versatile quarterback who has become more committed to a rejuvenated running game. In the first two weeks, it was rookie Tevin Coleman's stage to dance on and he flourished in front of the large audience. In the third week in which the Falcons advanced to a 3-0 mark, Devonta Freeman took over for an injured Coleman and lit up a perplexed Dallas Cowboys defensive line. The joke always was that the Falcons in recent years helplessly threw out running backs on the field who couldn't cut it in a NCAA division two contest such as Jacquizz Rodgers and a criminally overrated Stephen Jackson. Along with perennial superstar Julio Jones, the two headed running attack has now transformed the Falcons offense into a complete identity and the laurels of this transformation rest on Kyle Shanahan who's 2015 may re-engage those potential future NFL head coaching opportunities

-This is a memo meant to for all fantasy owners who decided that picking C.J Anderson in the first round was a wise maneuver. "Dear Mr.Mrs......, it's been determined that after  a wide range of analysis that picking C.J Anderson in the first round was an unforgivable faux pas and for the sake of society, never play fantasy sports again."  What has C.J Anderson done in his career to justify this Terrell Davis-esque praise?  The fact that he can convert on one yard garbage touchdowns? Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball had a case of fumbilitis which opened the door to more increased playing time for this California alumni and some(most) will vehemently disagree but I've come to the conclusion that Anderson will be supplanted by god knows who by the end of this football season and he projects to be the worst active starting running back in the league right now. I haven't seen a 3-0 team more vulnerable then the state Denver is currently in and coach Gary Kubiak would be well advised to re-assess the running back depth charts.

-Both John Michael Montgomery and myself, as you'll be able to clearly ascertain in my pre-season NFL prognostications are "sold" on the Minnesota Vikings. I figured this was a playoff team that was going to be anchored by a suffocating defence and even I didn't think the impact that Adrian Peterson would have in his return to this franchise would be so significant. The narrative in week one in the loss to the San Francisco 49'ers was that Peterson was washed up and wasn't going to help mentor young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Did Peterson not put in the needed effort because he desperately craved a change of scenery? All that banter was quickly put to rest as the narrative completely changed beginning in week two. The new and reformed Peterson is no longer interested in spanking children, spanking opposing defences is now more up his alley. Already at two hundred and ninety one yards, he's well on his way to another thousand yard season and what this has reaffirmed for me is that a Peterson led offence with an already polished defence has playoffs written all over this organization.

-Are the Baltimore Ravens a snake bitten or just a bad football team? As each loss piles on, the harder and harder it has become to consider this team unlucky. Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl champion so his resume speaks for itself but at some point he's got to find that inner fortitude and find a way to win a close football game again. They were competitive with Denver in a week one defensive slugfest, in week two's aerial attack versus Oakland, he fell victim to getting outplayed by Derek Carr and in week three couldn't find a secondary receiving option behind Steve Smith. These Ravens very much lack an identity as for years the Ray Lewis led defence struck fear into quarterbacks but in 2015, this defence strikes fear into nobody as Andy Dalton had a field day with him and A.J Green connecting on virtually everything with Baltimore having no answer. This Steve Smith v A.J Green show was compelling but Green clarified who the boss was by tallying two hundred and twenty seven yards and two touchdowns. Getting back to my point about identity, the player that stands out in a negative way referring back to the Ravens defence is Elvis Dumervil. This a football game that I saw in entirety and it was Dumervil's play that deteriorated completely. The outside linebacker created no pressure towards Dalton and it has led me to the epiphany that maybe, just maybe retirement is something this ten year pro should consider. Just atrocious defense for the second week in a row correlates to a long year in Maryland.

-Jimmy Clausen is not a NFL quarterback.  Jimmy Clausen is not a CFL quarterback. Jimmy Clausen, similarly to RG3, isn't worthy of holding  a clipboard. I've seen better quarterbacking, to use  a reference only us Canadians would understand, if I'm a fan of the Chicago Bears I'd be more comfortable with the great(not so) Akili Smith at the helm. Where do the Bears go from here? For starters, they're contractually obligated to Jay Cutler who missed the trashing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks due to injury as it will be essentially impossible to move Cutler when you combine putrid play with a consistent injury past. Here's my convoluted theory for how the Bears can right the wrong that is their quarterback situation. There are many quality backup options that would be upgrades for the Bears across the league, Two names I would love to see the Bears focus on are E.J Manuel and Colt McCoy. Manuel, who I'm not implying that he is even remotely available but in a fantasy world and basing this on the presumption that he actually was available for trade I feel as if this would be a tremendous fit because Manuel never had the collection of receivers that the Bears possess led by Alshon Jeffrey. Manuel, who let's be honest never endeared himself to previous head coach in Buffalo Marone and when a new regime controlled by Rex Ryan came in, they opted to go in a different direction deeming the former first rounder as a thing of the past. I think if Manuel were given a second kick at the can his athleticism would shine and be  a hit for a city that has reverted back to winning ways by lieu of the Chicago Blackhawks. The second chance phenomenon has helped former quarterbacks thrown to the wolves such as Trent Green and Rich Gannon by propelling them to careers of substance. Manuel is the new school quarterback, combining a rocket arm with running back speed and this type of archetype would be a fresh look for 'da Bears. McCoy, who moreso fits into the mold of the kind of quarterback  Coach John Fox has succeeded with is most certainly available as Redskins management has repeatedly stated that they have no intention trading Griffin, who I'm just realizing is a popular tag in this segment. McCoy's a drop back passer who has susceptible speed and in his limited showings with Washington a year ago made it clear that if under the right surroundings could have a serviceable career in this league. #anyonebutCutler.

- The third episode in this sixteen episode Indianapolis Colts soap opera is now complete. A must win game for the Colts against the Tennessee Titans was tenuous at times but showed enough resilience to pick up the much needed win, some may even conjure a must win.  I've commented on this before but I don't understand the management-coaching dynamic in Indy. As a backstory, the Indianapolis Colts were pinpointed as one of the few true contenders coming into the season out of the AFC but a shaky start compounded by them not electing to offer up Chuck Pagano a contract extension has led to tumultuous beginnings, and we've only just completed in week three. I'm no PR expert but when your coach goes rogue and says he's not sure if he'll be a member of the Colts come 2016, this is an absolutely unnecessary subplot for the players to deal with when they're already webbed in an 0-2 start. The circus off the field could've been damaging to this franchise but credit to Andrew Luck as he displayed  his true leadership skills and found a way to upend the Titans late and save the season.

-Is anyone else prepared like myself to after week three hand the New England Patriots the AFC championship? Okay...maybe  a slight overreaction from this know-it-all blogger but you can't dispute the MVP type of numbers from a quarterback who was supposedly suspended for the first four weeks. The lack of ability to enforce discipline on commissioner Roger Goodell's part did no favors to the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers. Two years ago, the mantra for the Patriots was that Tom Brady would find a way to win games but wouldn't put up eye popping statistics but throughout the last two years that reputation has completely erased as now Tom Brady is throwing for three hundred yards like nobody's business. This year, and once again I'm referring back to my overreaction which opened this paragraph is after they toast another Super Bowl title, I'm guessing that Tom Brady will find the time to partake in the infamous Gronk party cruise.

-The Lambeau Leap is becoming a prominent fixture at Green Bay Packers games of late. Is Aaron Rodgers the most athletic Quarterback in the business? Absolutely not, but what Aaron Rodgers has is a variable that maybe only Tom Brady also lays claim to, and that's the ability to use decoys to create wide open spaces for his lesser weapons. Randall Cobb for example everybody on earth is aware that health wise, Cobb isn't 100% but Rodgers and the offensive coordinator for the Pack map it out so Cobb will run his continual decoy routes to allow the likes of Devante Adams and Quarless to flourish. It's not so much how effective the stud receiver is, and other teams can learn from this, the sheer presence is more than enough and when I see teams like, not to overly bag on teams like the Ravens, but when you stuff the ball down one receivers throat like they do with Steve Smith the defence will begin to salivate over the predictability.   This unpredictability is exactly why Mike McCarthy and co are cruising to a 3-0 start and the Kansas City Chiefs are a formidable foe!


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