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!
-If you haven't been able to surmise by now that when it comes to predictions I hold no reputability and to validate that point, look no further than the New Orleans Saints. I had picked the Saints as my pre-season favourite for the NFC south and they have limped out of the gate at a 0-2 mark. I for one was under the belief that the Jimmy Graham acquisition would have a tremendous impact on this organization but maybe not quite to the degree that is actually has. Look at this week's game for instance where the New Orleans got off to a dismal start but courageously fought back to make it an exciting game at the end. The final drive which saw the Saints go marching down until a final leap by Quarterback Drew Brees was all for not but you have to wonder if the presence of Jimmy Graham would've led to a different result. Graham is an athletical freak, something that they anticipate Oregon State product Brandin Cooks becoming but his game is still under refinement. To reference the old adage, short term pain for long term gain is a prevalent one in the Bayou but how much pain Saints fan will have to endure is still under debate.
-Will the real Cleveland Browns please step up? After embarrassing themselves against a team that I consider below average in the New York Jets, they battled back in week two with Johnny Football behind center and opposed a red hot Tennessee Titans coming off a week where Marcus Mariota showed a resemblance to Joe Montana. In the first half, not only did the Browns put the game out of reach early by jumping to a 21-0 lead, they stifled an offence that was very committed to the running game early, and whether that was a recommendable strategy I will discuss below, and essentially forced Mariota and the Titans out of their comfort zone. This result was disastrous to my fantasy football team as I begrudgingly started the Titans trifecta consisting of Mariota-Kendall Wright, and the Titans defence which will PROBABLY lead to a loss but getting back to the Browns, Manziel may steal all the headlines but it's that dang defence that deserves full recognition. Karlos Dansby showed why he is widely considered to be one of the best defenders in the nation as with nine tackles and a possible candidate for player of the week honors, it's safe to assume this Auburn grad had a much more enriching week than his alma matter.
-Watching that Houston/Carolina game today has led me to a few observations. First, if Texans fan weren't already upset enough with Head Coach Bill O'Brien, than just imagine the mood on post game talk shows will be like. O'Brien was a hot shot coaching candidate coming out of Penn State, but to be completely honest he should be reprimanded for how the quarterbacking carousel has bee handled. They brought in Brian Hoyer from the Cleveland Browns to lead the troops, and after ONE shaky first half in week one, a benching was granted and in came Ryan Mallett?? Hoyer was fantastic with Cleveland a year ago up until his injury paved the way for the aforementioned Manziel was expected to right the sinking ship that has been Houston QB's as of late. It's one thing to take bold measures as these coaches do reside in an "what have you done for me lately" league but nonetheless, a premature overreaction on O'Briens part will and probably already has amounted to the inevitable locker room rifts. Secondarily in this very same game, and I brought up a similar complaint last week as this may be a weekly rant, I'm not understanding the lack of an aerial attack on behalf of the Panthers. Sure, they're 2-0 after all is what you're probably thinking so why would I have an issue? Well.....here's why, the Carolina Panthers lost Kelvim Benjamin to a season ending injury, but this team has a plethora of competent receivers that are being under utilized. Devin Funchess, similarly to Jimmy Graham is an athletical animal and the Panthers offensive attack has to find a better way of keeping more engaged in this offence. Even when analyzing Ted Ginn's contributions, the guy is a one dimensional receiver as you can throw it out wide and let him chase, might as well label him as Ted "Puppy dog" Ginn but he's not being used effectively. The Panthers are a classic case of a team that I wasn't sold on in the pre-season but I'm beginning to warm up to, my only complaint has been the offensive game planning.
-As I promised, the lack of substance in the Tennessee Titans running game is concerning for this quasi fan, although people who know me closely, me representing a team that I view as a "quasi "fan is a misnomer, as I don't have a true team that I ride or die by, I'm the prototypical bandwagon jumper. Getting back to the topic at hand, I understand Dexter McCluster, to reference my inner Southern American word of phrase, had a game this afternoon. The issue I have, and this may be a partial bias when frowning over my fantasy football struggles is where was Bishop Sankey today? Only fourty two yards on the ground is unacceptable for Bishop and the Tennessee Titans have to find a way to get more creative with him in the passing game.
-Tom Brady is back in a gargantuan way. He lit up a Buffalo Bills defence that just the week before stymied the great Andrew Luck and Indianapolis. The defending champions are imposing their will over the rest of National Football league. Cheaters or not, they're ruthless and the question that must be asked is their any defensive back on the planet that can match up with Rob Gronkowski. The answer is a resounding no and they can deflate all the footballs they want, another Super bowl ring for Brady and Pats may be forthcoming.
- I used to hold the CEO and presidency titles when it came to the anti Carson Palmer fan club. He was a big baby in Cincinnati and threatened retirement if he wasn't moved, turned back Oakland's development by two years by ruining the Raiders and then he was brought in by a supposedly lifeless Arizona football club. What he's done under coach Bruce Arians in Arizona is unfathomable to me as he's a new quarterback. He's clearly matured as he's no longer the turnover machine he was once was and this now veteran is putting his stamp down on this franchise as his real value was shown last year during the Cardinal's late season swoon when he was down with an injury. The chemistry between himself and Larry Fitzgerald is phenomenal.
-I'm not sure the reasoning behind the change of philosophy of the Seattle Seahawks offensive tendencies. Was it Marshawn Lynch's mom bemoaning offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell that has led to Lynch's diminished role in week two? Is it Russell Wilson having a higher confidence level in his receivers/tight ends that has led to this? Whatever the truth is, it's equated to an 0-2 start. Just my humble observation but when I watch Lynch play I don't see a player that shows enough grit on the field, I think the nickname "beast-mode" is wearing thin on the Northwest and the longer this drags on, the more likely an off-season trade will be consummated. A deal with Lynch was nearly struck this past off-season, and I can all but guarantee a trade will be in the cards if the Seahawks fail to qualify for the post-season.
-The Indianapolis Colts have been marred in a bunch of bad 'luck' eh? After another transparent weekly performance, this time against those New York Jets, that ever present reported rift between management and coach Pagano won't let up, if anything it will fester even more. Watching the Colts in 2015, and I didn't necessarily have the same opinion in 2014 and that's they elected to throw all of their eggs in the Andrew Luck basket, which some will venture to say that's not a faulty line of thinking, but when you lack the offensive line depth, don't have the necessatative receiving core sans T.Y Hilton, and anytime you have a running game carried by the out of his prime Frank Gore(did he ever really have a prime?) you're in a world of hurt. All this talk about coach Pagano being on the proverbial hot seat may be misplaced, it's time General Manager Ryan Grigson looks himself in the mirror.