Monday, October 19, 2015

Birden Bomb: Week six

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 Kansas City Chiefs may be the most snake bitten team in the National Football League. Aside from the thumping they received at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, they've been competitive in every other game and yet find themselves clinging to a 1-5 mark. Losing Jamaal Charles to a season ending ACL injury is a devastating subplot in a campaign that has been marred with bad luck. Equilibrium should've kicked in by allowing the Chiefs to win at least a couple of these closer games but amazingly they've lost every one of the close encounters and why you reason simply, the putrid play of Alex Smith. When the San Francisco 49ers made the organizational decision to part ways with Alex Smith in favor of Colin Kaepernick(we'll get to him later) the common belief was that even though Alex Smith was a former first overall pick, Jim Harbaugh and company stuck with the modern day quarterback in Colin which the Bay area fans approved of. The 49ers went on to make a Super Bowl appearance soon after and could surmise that if the Chiefs want to be considered elite that a quarterback change may need to be made imminently. 1-5 but could just as easily be 5-1.

-Folks, or the one or two that read this, get ready to hear a lot more about the Carolina Panthers as they are not going away anytime soon. Cam Newton's statistical line won't have him garnering many most valuable player votes but it's his on the field leadership that must be commended. I remember watching Cam a couple years back and his body language was very negative when a play would go array and wasn't beneath distributing a long stare down at a teammate to voice his concerns. To use the elementary term "baby" when describing Cam's behavior pre 2014 would be accurate but now and full credit goes out to Ron "Riverboat Gambler" Rivera for corralling Newton's excitement and transitioning that excitement into team wide positive energy. The comeback today just illustrates the confidence Cam's teammates have playing alongside him and are willing to go the extra mile to make a play. Look at Ted Ginn and Jericho Cotchery. These two individuals were hot commodities out of college and had moderate success in their beginnings, Ginn with the Miami Dolpins and Cotchery with the New York Jets but never propelled themselves to number one status and could very well be considered journeyman up until this point. They're  now playing with a  purpose and admirably filling the void left by Kelvim Benjamin. These comeback kids haven't been a joy to watch but they have that knack with how to win late.

-Credit goes out to new Miami Dolphins head coach Dan Campbell for re-instituting a running game. The Tennessee Titans didn't have a  competent game plan this Sunday as this early season triumph a was clearly nothing more than an aberration. Lamar Miller sprinted for 113 yards on nineteen carries with toppled a defence that surprisingly was very good against the run until the boys from South Beach came to town. There was a reason why Miami wasn't more aggressive in the off-season in pursuit of a running back because they knew all along that Lamar Miller if used correctly which he wasn't under the recently canned Joe Philbin is a very capable NFL back.

-With Ben Roethlisberger out the last few weeks, and there are some reports indicating that his return could be imminent, the quarterbacking helm has been carried by Michael Vick until he sustained a hamstring issue which then opened the door for Landry Jones. My takeaway from this contest in the upset victory against the Arizona Cardinals was that in all of the carousing of QB's, coach Mike Tomlin forgot to acquaint Antonio Brown with both Jones and Vick. You could make the argument and I have no bones doing it when saying that Antonio Brown is the most explosive receiver in the National Football League. The masses will argue and rightfully so that it shouldn't matter who the contributors are if you win and I appreciate that but the bottom line is even though they cracked the difficult code that is the Arizona Cardinals defence, they need a confident and motivated Brown if  they aspire to remain in wildcard contention.

-As a precursor to my next rant, I have never been sold on the abilities of Colin Kaepernick but contrarily some of the criticism he's received before his week six stand out performance has bordered on ridiculous. When you watch Kaepernick play on a consistent basis, you see an individual that based on his skillset could be an elite quarterback but for whatever reason he lacks the football IQ, or the necessary talent around him to field  a winner and like I griped about in the first sentence of this thought, some of the so called "experts" have went to town on the supposed struggles of Colin. I was watching a show called "NFL HQ" broadcast on the NFL Network and forgive me if I misrepresented the wrong analyst but I believe it was former 49 Eric Davis who comprehended that the 49ers should urgently search for an upgrade and so on and so forth so it was rewarding to see that Kap quickly shut up the bandwagon critics that only jump on when the times are bad and stuffed it in their you know and channeled his inner cerebral assassin and tore apart the Baltimore Ravens. This blogger loved the chemistry he developed with Torrey Smith as this past week I acquired Smith via trade in fantasy football and it in all likelihood led me to my second consecutive trade. Thank you Smith and Kaepernick!

-It's natural in sports that we overstate the bad and undersell the good, and I'm as guilty doing that as anyone in this infamous blog. I was critical in analyzing the performance of the Detroit Lions last week and made the proclamation that Jim Caldwell should find himself on the hot seat. The offence versus the enigma the Chicago Bears have been this season wakened up and silenced all those doubters where I sit in the front row. Matt Stafford is essentially a reincarnation of Brett Favre, a prototypical southern gunslinger that for every remarkable play he makes, usually to Golden Tate or Calvin Johnson but will also make you scratch your head in amusement on why he attempted to force a ball in a danger zone. The Motor City was much more at ease this week because Matt Stafford was seemingly on his best behavior throwing to the statistical line of 27/42, 405 yards and four touchdowns. The loss of Ndamukong Suh has been greater than even the most pessimistic person could've forecasted and this will for all purposes eliminate them for postseason contention, but I just think it's important that we understand this offence is what it is and we'll put up points and it's now up to the Lions brass to address the defensive deficiencies at the 2016 NFL draft.

- The Sunday nighter went as expected as we witnessed the New England Patriots defeat the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots who are the reigning champions have arguably looked better than last year and I could draw up a feasible scenario that has the Patriots rolling to a 16-0 mark. Truth be told, we're six weeks in and Belichick's Pats haven't had one competitive game. The hot water cooler topic I want to briefly touch on was that atrocious play call the Colts drew up on that fourth down play. I have a few thoughts on this, first and most importantly, whatever the Colts were trying to accomplish there blew up in their faces so I'm perplexed as to why Chuck Pagano didn't initiate a timeout when the play was verging on disaster. I'd love to know whether the play allowed Griff Whalen  carte blanche based on the Patriots defensive alignment. The fact that he had the ball snapped and immediately succumbed into a crouched position has me wondering if he was working for the other team. After this mitigated disaster, you could see Pagano on the sidelines yelling why the ball was snapped. Well Chuck, this mistake falls on your shoulder as you had the option to exercise a timeout to prevent this.

-I won't have access to distributing my thoughts on the Monday night football game as in Canada there are much more important matters on the docket as the Toronto Blue Jays square off against the Kansas City Royals in game three of the American League Championship series.......o yea, and there's a little thing known as the federal election tonight! #gojays

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