The fifth week of the 2012 NFL season had an odd feel to it because the league feels like it’s been turned upside down. The teams that were supposed to be good (Packers, Saints, Broncos) aren’t clicking on all cylinders and a bunch of teams that were supposed to be basement dwellers (Vikings, Cardinals, Dolphins) are playing much better than anticipated.
Is week five still too early to judge how a teams’ season is going to turn out? Yes and no. The Giants were 7-7 after week 15 last year and won the Super Bowl. However week five can provide a better idea of serious problems that teams might have (cut to the Packers’ offensive line sulking on the sidelines). Let’s dive into some headlines from week five:
It’s Not All Luck. The first year rookie from Stanford was the director of the most impressive game winning drive of this young season. At this point everyone who follows the NFL realizes that Green Bay’s defense is a long shadow of the unit that won a championship two years ago, but no one expected a collapse like we saw on Sunday afternoon. The Packers had an 18 point lead at half time and found a way to blow that lead, regain a five point lead and then let a rookie quarterback drive 80 yards to win the game. Unbelievable.
It’s easy to point fingers at the Packers failures, which is due to perception. Before the season started everyone who covers the NFL looked at Green Bay and penciled them in to a playoff spot, many picked them to win the division, but this collapse should and probably will change our views on Aaron Rodgers and company. Green Bay is entering what is commonly known as a valley. No one knows how deep that valley can go, but after five weeks of the 2012 season it seems like the valley could be deeper than we ever imagined. There are some serious problems in Wisconsin: Greg Jennings’ health is a serious concern and without his favorite target Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been able to get into the flow that we’re used to seeing him in; the offensive line is handing over sacks like a delicatessen hands over cold cuts in the grocery store, opposing defensive lineman just have to get a number before the game. The scariest problem for the Pack is that every other team that is perceived to be top tier (Houston, San Francisco, Baltimore?) have the ability to run the football, play hard defense, and two of those three have a quarterback who can win games by themselves. The Packers only have one of those three and they barely have one at this point.
That being said the focus after this game should be on Andrew Luck. He performed as well as any quarterback did on Sunday. What was ultra impressive about Luck was his ability to know when to scramble and what to do when he found himself in a scrambling situation. There was a play late in the second half when he rolled to his left to escape a broken down pocket, stopped just before the line of scrimmage and completed a 10 yard pass for a first down. I found myself saying “WOW” out loud because it was one of those moments where you see a talent begin to blossom.
The Colts are 2-2 and look at these next five games: @NYJ, CLE, @TEN, MIA, @JAC. That’s five winnable games by my count. If Indianapolis does indeed go on a winning streak over the next month the week 11 matchup against the Patriots could be very intriguing.
The Turnover Machine. Two more fumbles from Michael Vick this week, what else is new? In typical Eagles fashion number 7 found himself with another tight fourth quarter situation and for the fourth time this season Vick succeeded, but there was just too much time left on Big Ben. Vick and LeSean McCoy orchestrated a 17 play, 79 yard drive that culminated in a Brent Celek touchdown and gave the Eagles a 14-13 lead with six and a half minutes remaining. Did I say that was too much time?
Ben converted a vintage Roethilsburger third down, a 20 yard completion to Antonio Brown over the middle on a 3rd-12. After the game Big Ben stated that he knew based on the Eagles zone package that there would be a hole in the zone around the linebackers, sure enough Brown ran into that hole where the ball was waiting for him. While the Steelers were impressive on their final drive, the story will be how Vick fumbled the football on a QB dive on the goal line, early on in the first half. Is that fair? Probably not, but at this point it’s hard to not point a finger at Vick and if you live in Philadelphia that finger is probably going to be the middle one.
Brady And Bellichek Out Manning Peyton. In the 13th Brady-Manning bowl Bill Bellichek rolled out the hyper no huddle. Think about it like this, the no huddle is kind of like ADD, defenses can’t key in on one aspect of the offense because so many things are happening at once, well what Bellichek, Josh McDaniels, and Tom Brady did on Sunday was the ADHD version of the no huddle. A few times Brady hiked the next play so quickly that it actually cut Phil Simms off from analyzing a replay. When the producers in the truck have a hard time getting back to the play on the field just imagine what it’s like for a defensive coordinator to try and stop that.
Combine that ridiculously quick no huddle with the reemergence of Wes Welker and another big day from the running game (151 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown from Steven Ridley) and it’s a hard combination to beat. Though we’ll always wonder what could have happened if Willis McGahee didn’t fumble that football with just over three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Peyton was well on his way to teasing another miracle comeback, but Broncos fans have to be tired of getting teased in the fourth quarter. There will be a lot of blue balled Denver fans walking around without their orange and blue gear on tomorrow.
What We Learned In Week 5
1.) We learned thatRobert Griffin the 3rd had no idea what the score was or what quarter is was after taking a brutal, but legal shot, from Atlanta linebacker Sean Witherspoon. Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins stepped in and immediately found Santana Moss for a 77 yard touchdown. Mike Shanahan’s fourth round pick didn’t look like such a mistake, until two interceptions in the fourth quarter doomed the ‘Skins chances of knocking off the undefeated Falcons. Griffin’s status for next week (against Minnesota) is seriously up in the air right now.
2.) We learned thatPercy Harvin is the most dangerous skill position player in the NFL right now. At the beginning of the third quarter CBS put up a graphic that showed this: Total yards, Percy Harvin 95 yards, Tennessee Titans 88. Harvin finished the day with a total of 116 yards and two touchdowns (1 rush, 1 receiving). With Adrian Peterson back to almost 100%, Christian Ponder improving every week (yeah yeah, he had two interceptions this week, but how about those 31 yards on the ground?), playmakers on defense, and most importantly smart game plans every week by head coach Leslie Frazer and the rest of his staff the Vikings don’t appear to be a fluke.
3.) We learned that I had to do a double take when I saw this stat flash on one of the bottom lines during the third quarter of the late games: Cam Newton 3-16, 40 yards. What the hell happened? When he has a bad game can the networks but Scam Newton on the bottom line? Will a most diminished player of the year award be handed to him at the end of the season?
4.) We learned that Marvin Lewis put to many miles on Benjarvus Green-Ellis in the first month of the season. BJGE finished the day with 14 yards on nine carries and doesn’t remotely look like the same running back that finished with 92 yards and a touchdown in Baltimore back in week one. Bernard Scott led the Bengals with 40 yards on eight carries, but Andy Dalton’s two interceptions were the story as the Dolphins pulled off the upset in Cincinnati.
Bonus! We also learned that Ryan Tannehill is actually beginning to look like an NFL quarterback. He made a very nice throw to FB Charles Clay on a third and ten conversion and managed his team to their second straight victory
5.) We learned that Romeo Crennel has no faith in Matt Cassel and why should he? After all Cassel leads the league in turnovers with 14. Even Michael Vick is cringing at that number.
With 12:20 left in the second quarter the Chiefs run to pass ratiowas 16/3.The ratio at the end of the game was 50/18 (with 15 of those 18 coming from Cassel). Amazingly the Chiefs hung with the Ravens all the way until the final whistle because Jamaal Charles is simply a beast (140 yards on 30 carries for his usual 4.6 YPC).
6.) We learned that Harrison Smith will be staring at more than just a Fed Ex from the league office come Monday. Smith and Titans WR Nate Washington got into an argument which was separated by an official. As the official was holding Smith back the Vikings safety shoved the official and tried to get around him to get back into Washington’s face. The Vikings rookie was immediately ejected.
Eric Winston Quote Of The Week
“But when somebody gets hurt, there are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play. I’ve already kinda come to the understanding that I won’t live as long because I play this game and that’s OK, that’s a choice I’ve made and a choice all of us have made. But when you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel — it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.”
The Chiefs right tackle wasn’t afraid to speak his mind after he heard some frustrated Chiefs fans express their feelings about Cassel leaving the game with a concussion.
Who I Like On Monday Night:
Texans 28 Jets 7
You know what time it is
Let’s Go No Huddle!
- 1. Congratulations Drew Brees, but I have a feeling that we’ll see the consecutive TD per game record broken again in the near future.
- 2. Maybe I didn’t put a curse on the Bears when I picked them to go to the Super Bowl.
- 3. Their defense outscored eight teams in week 5.
- 4. Cutler was oddly efficient in the second half.
- 5. I’m actually going to finish this column before midnight.
- 6. I can thank all of the blowouts in the late games for that.
- 7. Is it time to reassess how good Baltimore is?
- 8. Or are the Chiefs really that good at Arrowhead.
- 9. I thought Matt Ryan was going to throw the ball 60 times on Sunday.
- 10. He had 20 throws at the 11:11 mark of the second quarter.
- 11. He finished the game with 52 pass attempts.
- 12. I guess The Burner is getting fueled up and parked in the garage until January.
- 13. The quarterback with the most attempts on Sunday?
- 14. Andrew Luck with 55.
- 15. Reggie Wayne had the best game of his career: 13/212/1.
- 16. He also had the best catch of his career.
- 17. That’s a career day if I’ve ever seen one.
- 18. I played against him in fantasy this week.
- 19. Mason Crosby had the worst FG attempt in Indianapolis since this.
- 20. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson looked great in the first quarter…
- 21. …then Victor Cruz triple dipped in the salsa bowl.
- 22. “You triple dipped the chip.”
- 23. Dan Deirdorf made sure to tell everyone in Metlife Stadium that a quarterback can’t throw a forward pass after the initial pass has been tipped back to the QB.
- 24. I found it hilarious that the umpire in the endzone ruled it a touchdown.
- 25. Ahmad Bradshaw somehow ended up with 200 yards on the ground.
- 26. It’ll go down as the most underappreciated 200 yard rushing game in the history of the league.
- 27. I’m tired of seeing Russell Wilson running for his life.
- 28. The Seahawks didn’t pay Matt Flynn $8 million a season to hold a clipboard.
- 29. Even if the clipboard is made of gold.
- 30. What a game between the A’s and Tigers.
- 31. I actually stopped caring about football for 20 minutes on a Sunday.
- 32. I’ll say it again: Patrick Peterson is the Percy Harvin of defense.
- 33. He’s the only defensive player that I actually enjoy playing as in Madden.
- 34. His interception this past Thursday showed that he could play receiver if the Cardinals needed him to.
- 35. Love that touchdown throw from Bradford to Givens.
- 36. Even though Andre Wilson’s hamstring went out during the play.
- 37. Remember when the Bills were supposed to have a highly improved defense?
- 38. Neither does Alex Smith.
As always I hope you enjoyed the read, if you have any questions or comments I’m on twitter @scottdargis or you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to get a mailbag column started so do not be afraid to shoot me an email about anything sports, pop culture, or life related.
GET WELL SOON COACH PAGANO!!!!!