The Broncos pummel the Texans, bad London football and a faux franchise QB
Once again, as long as the 0-7 Cleveland Browns bring a strong effort, which they have, they’re exempt from mention here. With all the happiness in Cleveland sports right now, a good effort may be satisfactory for the time being. The Bears are also off the hook in this week’s worst because there’s simply too much terrible to cover. Here we go.
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Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans passing offense gets stuck in neutral
Granted they were facing one of the league’s top defenses on the road in a “revenge game” but there are no points for excuses. Just as he did for 3.5 quarters against Indianapolis last week and throughout much of this season, Osweiler was inaccurate, a bit tentative and just out of sync with his receivers.
And though he stands at 6-foot-8, his length and long delivery again proved problematic: Broncos linemen got their arms up and batted down at least two passes. Osweiler’s final stat line was 22-for-41 for 131 yards for an abysmal 3.2 yards per attempt, plus that 131 includes a chunk of that includes some garbage time passing. This was a very forgettable trip back home for Osweiler and more cause for worry in Houston.
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The Los Angeles Rams’ offense is bad
Hello again, Jeff Fisher. This London game was an abject, punt-filled disaster and unpleasant to watch, even (if not especially) for a fan of one of the teams. We know the Rams have a “plan” and are intent on keeping Case Keenum as the starting quarterback, but was it really necessary to have him throw the ball 53 times?!! That’s nine more than Philip Rivers -- a good quarterback -- in a 33-30 shootout.
Meanwhile, perhaps the best running back in the league, Todd Gurley, rushed only 15 times. Keenum threw four interceptions, not all of them his fault, and the game fittingly ended when Keenum sailed the bail high in the end zone for the opposition after Rams wideout Brian Quick apparently missed an audible call and ran the wrong route. It was still a poorly thrown ball. Later, Fisher lined up the wideouts to heave them under the bus in defense of Keenum (and the Rams play-calling). "I'll make changes at receiver before I make a change at QB," Fisher said. OK.
The New York Giants’ offense is also quite bad
The best Giants play of the day was safety Landon Collins’ 44-yard interception return for a touchdown in which he ran a total of about 100 yards. The Giants running back committee carried 18 times for 38 yards, a dreadful 2.1 average. The only production the Giants got from the tight end position was a Larry Donnell fumble. With Odell Beckham Jr. hampered by a hip injury, Big Blue could only manage to dink and dunk up the field, totaling only 13 first downs. If the league wants Londonites to enjoy these games they ought to start handing out complimentary, pre-filled flasks.
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The Vikings and Eagles exchanged presents
“No, you take the ball!” Remember when the Vikings and Carson Wentz didn’t turn the ball over? The first 10 minutes of this defensive slugfest saw five giveaways for the first time in a game in 30 years, per NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling. PHI INT, MIN INT, PHI fumble, MIN fumble, PHI INT. And that was over the course of only 12 plays. Hope they got it out of their systems.
There’s only so much Sam Bradford can do behind that Vikings patchwork offensive line with two reserve tackles thrust into starting roles after season-ending injuries to starters Matt Kalil and Andre Smith. Recent free-agent signee Jake Long in particular got worked for two strip sacks ,and barring some revelation deep on its depth chart this is going to be a problem all year for the Vikings against teams with talented fronts.
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The Baltimore Ravens rushing attack goes nowhere
Maybe fired, pass-happy offensive coordinator Marc Trestman wasn’t completely off base? Granted Baltimore was played without left tackle Ronnie Stanley and its best lineman, right guard Marshal Yanda, but that’s no excuse for 10 total rushing yards on 10 carries (excluding two Joe Flacco scrambles). Yes, that’s a 1 on your screen, Terrance West fantasy owners. Take note next time Baltimore faces a semi-talented front seven with Yanda on the shelf.
Blake Bortles is probably not a franchise quarterback
The Jaguars had an opportunity to reach .500 against a Raiders team with a struggling defense that traveled cross-country. But Bortles’ quarterback play outside of garbage time has been dreadful and the family of Pro Bowl wideout Allen Robinson may need to file a missing person report for him soon.
Both of Bortles’ interceptions came when he wasn’t facing pressure, and, per Pro Football Focus, he completed just four passes that traveled 10 or more yards from the line of scrimmage in the air. At halftime he had completed just five of 14 attempts for 57 yards and an interception and the Jaguars trailed 20-6. He’s missing open targets and not reading defenses. Not good.
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Three New York Jets QBs have a bad day
And only one played more than a half. Poor Geno Smith, who doesn’t have a lot of admirers in New York, suffered a torn ACL in his first start since December 2014, partly the result of getting his jaw broken by a teammate. After getting forced out he reappeared on the sideline, prompting Joe Namath to question his toughness on Twitter. Meanwhile, thanks in part to Matt Forte and the Ravens’ impotent offense, Ryan Fitzpatrick relieved Smith and got the win before sulking at the postgame press conference about how the Jets owner and GM lost faith in him. Not a good look and a surprising one for Fitzpatrick.
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The Seattle Seahawks offensive line gets exposed once again
It stood to reason that after a bye week, the Seattle offensive line would have some time to jell and iron out problems. Well, it’s difficult to gameplan around lineman getting repeatedly overpowered and blown off the line of scrimmage. Left tackle Bradley Sowell (pictured on his rear against the Jets) spent most of his 39 snaps on skates before leaving with a knee injury. He allowed one sack, a QB hit and three hurries and got flagged for two holding penalties, which isn't a whole lot better than the right side of the line (Germain Ifedi, Garry Gilliam) fared. Apparently Russell Wilson’s ankle injury is still keeping him from accessing his play-extending, play-making super powers, and those powers may not be returning soon.
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The kickers out in Arizona keep things tied
After botching a 24-yard field goal in overtime against a division rival, it would not have been surprising to learn Monday that Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro was looking for a new team. “You get paid to make it,” head coach Bruce Arians said after the game. But Catanzaro, who also missed a would-be 47-yard game winner on Sunday night in Week 1 against the Patriots, has head coach Bruce Arians’ “full support.” That may be true, but it doesn’t mean he’s on notice. Meanwhile, Seahawks kicker Stephen Hauschka’s shanked a 28-yard field goal in the final seconds of overtime. "I love him and he's our guy,” said head coach Pete Carroll. A contrast of styles indeed.
The AFC South remains the worst division in football
The Titans blew a lead to the Colts at home and a golden opportunity to make a run at the division title. Meanwhile the Colts didn’t exactly impress in their win over the Titans, and that team has too many holes. The Jaguars showed some promise on defense but otherwise were absolutely dreadful. And the Texans once again got annihilated on the road against a good team. Good thing they play in the AFC South. You all ready for that Thursday night showdown between the Titans and Jaguars? Doesn’t matter: There’s no World Series game on Thursday night, so you’re stuck.