The New York Jets' game of quarterback musical chairs continued on Monday night as the team can’t decide who to start on a week-to-week basis, let alone half-by-half. Second-year man Bryce Petty’s brutal interception to Colts safety Mike Adams in the 41-10 blowout indicates that the QB of the future is probably not on the roster.
Of course it didn’t help Ryan Fitzpatrick or Petty that the defense sleepwalked through the first quarter (and half), dropping the Jets into a 14-0 deficit after two Colts drives. Let’s get to the rest of the misery.
San Francisco’s passing offense in Chicago
Just one week after completing 29 of 46 pass attempts for 296 yards against Miami, Colin Kaepernick turned five pass attempts into one completion for four yards during a snowy Sunday in Chicago. It actually went worse than it sounds because Kaepernick took as many sacks (five) as passes he attempted before getting lifted for Blaine Gabbert in the fourth quarter. Gabbert didn’t fare much better, going 4-for-10 for 35 yards and taking a sack resulting in a safety on the 49ers’ final offensive play of the game.
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The Saints pass defense gets picked apart by the Lions
Lions QB and MVP candidate (that’s right) Matthew Stafford deserves credit for the 28-13 upset win, but much of the blame falls on the Saints defense that couldn’t get off the darned field. Lions receivers and running backs consistently beat Saints pass defenders, converting 24 first downs as they controlled the clock for a whopping 36:52.
Drew Brees had only 34 passing yards in the first half until he racked up another 60 with a few hurry-up completions with under one minute remaining. "No quarterback has ever completed a pass while laying flat on his back” as Buddy Ryan once put it. Likewise, a QB can’t do much damage if he doesn’t have the ball. (But also credit the Lions defense that secured three interceptions.)
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Blake Bortles, champion of the Pick-6
If throwing backbreaking pick-6’s were a skill, embattled third-year Jaguars QB Blake Bortles would be king. In not even three full seasons in the league he has already thrown 11, a number that exceeds his career wins (10), as noted by Big Cat Country. The latest beneficiary was Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby, who put Denver up 17-3 in a 20-10 victory. Bortles simply didn’t see him or tried to force it when he would have been better taking a sack and living to fight on another drive.
The Jaguars actually have a good-and-improving defense (as it should with all the draft pick and free-agent investments) but this pick six and interception epidemic and, oh yeah, sailing the ball by open receivers, is a problem, too.
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Bengals RB Jeremy Hill runs, gets stuffed, repeats
Andy Dalton enjoyed a nice outing against a flatlining Eagles secondary but running back Jeremy Hill, now the feature back after Gio Bernard’s season-ending injury, couldn’t buy yardage against Philadelphia’s tough front seven behind Cincy’s aged, middling offensive line. In total, Hill ran 23 times for 33 yards (1.4 average) -- a line that wouldn’t make the Green Bay Packers blink but is genuinely terrible.
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The Los Angeles Rams, collectively
Jared Goff endured a cruel learning experience at New England against a defense that successfully confused him with disguised coverages and blitzes. Goff didn’t get much help from his pass catchers, who combined for five drops and caused one interception when tight end Lance Kendricks dropped a ball thrown right into his breadbasket that Malcolm Butler fielded for an easy interception.
The Rams managed just 7 first downs in the 26-10 loss. Meanwhile head coach Jeff Fisher, who apparently has proved that longevity is a skill by virtue of his latest contract extension, couldn’t find his challenge flag as he closes in on the record for most losses as a head coach (one more for the tie).
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The New York Giants offense is teetering on disaster
Odell Beckham is one of the top offensive weapons in the entire league but just about everything else on that side of the ball is struggling or broken as the Giants managed only 251 yards of offense against the Steelers. Left tackle Ereck Flowers’ sloppy technique is consistently victimizing Eli Manning and stalling drives; Flowers already has seven holding penalties (one resulting in a safety) this season (plus four more flags).
The Giants’ best lineman, left guard Justin Pugh, remains on the shelf with a knee injury. The rushing attack has been less anemic in recent weeks but remains largely ineffective. Meanwhile veteran WR Victor Cruz is grumbling about a lack of targets and plans to take it up with head coach Ben McAdoo. Next up on the schedule? The 11-1 Dallas Cowboys.
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The Texans offense gets stuck in the snow
Actually, Houston’s failures on offense had nothing to do with the weather at Lambeau Field: the Texans offense stinks in all conditions. Remember when Lamar Miller wanted to leave Miami to become a bellcow back for another team? Well, be careful what you wish for because the QB of that team might be Brock Osweiler and that means running against stacked boxes.
Miller gained just 22 yards on 14 carries as Osweiler’s struggles to hit open receivers and go through his progressions continued in a 21-13 loss at Green Bay. The Texans have now dropped three in a row as the entire AFC South is knotted at 6-6… except for the 2-10 Jaguars.
The Eagles pass defense gets burned
As mentioned above, the Eagles had no problem stuffing the Bengals rushing attack but couldn’t contain even an A.J. Green-less receiving corps that ripped off some big gains and allowed Andy Dalton to go 23-for-31 passing for 322 yards and two scores. How’d that happen?
Part of the problem was lack of effort, according to head coach Doug Pederson, who was asked, based on the film, if everyone on the team played hard: "Not everybody. Not everybody," Pederson acknowledged. "And that's the accountability that I talk about. I hold coaches accountable for that, I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me, and I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go. But at the same time, it comes down to, it's a mentality by each individual player."
Don’t blame Byron Maxwell in Miami
A popular scapegoat who flopped in Philly on a humongous contract, cornerback Byron Maxwell has bounced back very nicely this season under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. The major burn victim in Joe Flacco’s season breakout was cornerback Tony Lippett, who allowed Flacco to complete every ball thrown his way, amounting to 8 receptions for 130 yards and a score and a perfect rating in the 38-6 drubbing, per ProFootballFocus figures.
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Ron Rivera’s dress code
After the Seahawks got throttled in Tampa Bay, the struggling Panthers were going to get creamed even without the Panthers' bizarre one-play benching turned-turnover, making an example out of franchise QB Cam Newton's failure to wear a tie. Anyhow, Ron, come on, is the dress code really the hill you want to die on? Leave dress code and uniform violations discipline to the justice-hungry commissioner.