so maybe you have (and maybe you haven’t) read my divisional previews
and 2011 season overview. And perhaps you’ve seen how I’m not
planning on making weekly picks this year. But you’re still wondering…
what did Bob see in the games?
fine… you’re absolutely not wondering about what I saw in the
games. But occasionally I have a couple of observations, and once
in a while I have a good joke to toss in. And it just so happens,
that with some of the things I saw from the first week, I had
some free time and a burning desire to criticize Tony Romo and
the Dallas Cowboys for playing stupid, stupid football.
let’s take a look at the opening sixteen games. For a couple I’ll
have several thoughts… for some I might not have much at all.
Bay 42 – New Orleans 34
don’t have a lot to talk about here for a simple reason… both
of these teams are going to be good.
NFC South was blanked this week… four losses. So unless the Saints
have some sort of hangover, where they can’t seem to get back
to .500 or better for a while, this game really might only matter
in determining the top NFC seed when January arrives. It’s not
like the weekend wrapped up and the Saints are looking up at one
or more teams in the standings… it’s not like the Falcons or Bucs
played so well, or the Saints so poorly, that any concern needs
to be voiced.
35 – Pittsburgh 7
Just a dismantling of a football team. Every time I watched a
few minutes of this game, Baltimore was outplaying Pittsburgh
in a new way. Four fumbles… three interceptions… and the Ravens
didn’t turn the ball over once.
went over 100-yards rushing… with Williams adding a steady 63-yards
off of 12 carries (delivered mostly late in the game).
wasn’t amazingly accurate passing (under 60%), but again… no turnovers.
gets Seattle next week. That should help. And yes… one game… don’t
read too much into it. Still… hard not to see that Baltimore didn’t
even break a sweat while outplaying Pittsburgh in every facet
of the game.
thought Baltimore would win easily… I didn’t expect Pittsburgh
to lose so badly. They did not look even remotely like a playoff
team in this game.
27 – Cleveland 17
like to tell you something deep and meaningful, but honestly…
I got nothing.
jumped out to a 10-0 lead, only to trail 14-13 at the half. 14-points
in the fourth quarter won the game for them, with the Browns doing
very little outside of the second quarter.
suppose Cedric Benson piling up 121-yards is a very good sign
for the Bengals. With no quarterback though, I don’t expect him
to see much running room as the season moves on.
34 – Indianapolis 7
was 34-0 by halftime… still 34-0 at the end of three. So, call
it garbage time play or calling off the dogs or anything else
you want, the obvious truth is that the Colts are walking dead.
job by the Texans. They scored quickly, clinching this game early,
and then moved on. (And… again… we see that Mario Williams was
the right pick out of him and Reggie Bush.)
41 – Kansas City 7
Fitzpatrick throws for… wait… 208 yards? In a 41-point outing
by his team? That can’t be right. Can it?
it can. Fitzpatrick completed 68% of his passes and had four touchdown
passes. The thing is… with Fred Jackson rushing for 112-yards
and the offense keeping a nice balance, the Bills jumped out in
front and never were threatened. The score was more or less efficiency
building over time… 20 points in the first half and 21 in the
word from Todd Haley about how the Bills were inconsiderate and
mean in running the score up on him and his Chiefs. I probably
just missed it. That said… I think there’s a really good chance
he will be accusing one or two more teams of thoughtless scoring
before the year is over.
the big thing to take from this game… the Bills are going to win
a few games this year. And… if the Jets and Patriots (two divisional
rivals) and other so-called-better-than-the-Bills don’t pay attention…
the Bills are only one or two mistakes away from some upsets.
(And, it looks like the Dolphins might play harder than I expected
as well.) I don’t expect miracles… don’t expect winning records…
but there are some players in Buffalo.
27 – Tampa Bay 20
now… the Lions are real. With Green Bay and Chicago starting strong,
a win here was a necessary thing for Detroit. They needed it for
confidence… they needed it because, to be this year’s version
of last year’s Tampa (a young, improving team hoping to get near
10 wins and threaten the playoffs), they have to win virtually
every game they should win and then spring a couple of upsets…
and they needed it because a good, healthy effort from Stafford
would be just an incredibly valuable start.
they got all of those things and more. (And the way Kansas City
looked, Detroit could be looking at 2-0 before they face Minnesota
in week three for the first divisional tilt on their schedule.)
31 – St. Louis 13
I don’t think we learned much here. The Eagles are being built
up as a playoff team, where the Rams only can make the postseason
as a result of a weak division. One team good… one time ok… and
even then, 31-13 in week one for me becomes a bit deceptive. Why?
Jackson got hurt and went out early. He’ll likely be out next
week. So… 31-13 loss… Jackson out next week… easy to see the Rams
spinning out of the gate with some losses.
on though… the Cadillac showed up. Ran for 91-yards. And the Rams
get the Giants next. I don’t expect that contest to be as lopsided
as this one.
check out the quarterback stats for Philadelphia… a certain starter
completed less than half his throws. People don’t mention much
of that stuff when you win by 18.
result is kind of what you should expect… but the details tell
a different story when it comes to gauging future efforts.
30 – Atlanta 12
look at the box score tells you that the Falcons had deep problems.
a nice, steady offense by the basic numbers.
if you want a simple answer… the Bears played defense folks.
Cutler is still not to be trusted. Remember… Bears were at home…
interception, fumble recovery, a touchdown of his own.
offensive play was 50-plus from Cutler to Hester. Other than that,
yawn from the Bears of offense. (I’m wondering about the Bears
offensive line. I’m trying to figure out if Sunday was a mirage
from Cutler… those flukes we see at home where he plays a decent-enough
game, only to be flat on his back with a defender in his face
and turnover numbers adding up while on the road in the next.
I didn’t see enough of the game to be able to tell.)
win for the Bears… very bad loss for the Falcons… but before we
say brilliant things about Chicago, let’s wait until they get
through the next two games. (That’s New Orleans on the road and
then Green Bay at home.)
16 – Tennessee 14
do you want me to say here? Two so-so teams played a so-so game.
One of them won, and one of them lost.
will give you one note. Mr. Didn’t-report, Chris Johnson… 24-yards,
9 carries. (If you don’t know what to say to that… on the winning
team, Maurice Jones-Drew put up just shy of 100 with a touchdown.)
Sure… sure… not his fault. Right? That’s the defense. Ok… we’ll
pretend to keep believing that.
28 – Carolina 21
interesting thought here… Carolina never trailed (really) until
it mattered. 7-7 at the end of one… 14-7 Panthers at halftime…
21-14 Panthers at the end of three. And they ended up losing to
a weak Cardinals team that I don’t expect much from.
how is that character building?
exciting stats. I heard those. Very nice. Very nice. Arizona gets
the win… Carolina gets a pacifier. Just beautiful.
Diego 24 – Minnesota 17
of Rivers will point to about 69% for his completions, clearing
300-yards on the day, and two touchdowns. And at the end of the
year, when he’s playing in the meaningless gathering of NFL names
that serves as an all-star event, some will say he belongs there.
interceptions for Rivers and the Chargers down 17-7 at halftime.
Cam Newton and Kevin Kolb looked better than Rivers. The Chargers
got an important win… and that’s about it. New England is next…
we’ll see how that works out.
Francisco 33 – Seattle 17
wanting to tell me about how the Seahawks were a playoff team
last year, and Matt Hasselbeck won’t be missed because the quarterbacks
are ok... and so on… please pay attention for news about the web
site’s e-mail address getting back on track. I’d love to hear
from you because I could use a really good laugh. (I’d mention
the In My Backpack Facebook area so you could leave a message
there, but honestly… no one could possibly believe anything except
Seattle’s season is going to be horrendous. They’ll stay in the
playoff race only because of a hideous division. I will be getting
no e-mail… no messages… defending this troubled assembly of players.)
28 – New York (Giants) 14
guess… and for me, it’s a stretch to believe this, but I am willing
to say it… if you want to take this game and believe that the
Redskins could approach 8 or 9 wins on the year and be some kind
of factor in November and beyond, you could.
was ok… Hightower looked fine… overall a good day.
are just lovely and wonderful in Washington. Heck, even some nice
moments on defense.
the real story here was a Giants team that couldn’t move in the
second half. And that’s going to be a problem if a team facing
serious injury concerns and other questions on defense can’t generate
York (Jets) 27 – Dallas 24
dear lord… where to start?
fourth quarter… because that’s where we get the moments causing
me to pound my head against the wall. (And Tony Romo… it’s not
just you. It’s a lot you. Maybe even mostly you. But… actually,
let’s start this segment off with a bit of a disclaimer and notes
to consider as we examine things. (1) Does anyone on the Dallas
staff… coaches, players, etc… talk to anyone else on the Dallas
staff? (2) Can you believe that, after begrudgingly giving it
with a slight nod previously, I have to truly give The Franchez
was watching Dez Bryant getting treated on the sidelines… wasn’t
I? Coach or staff or someone Dallas allowed on the sideline was
working with him, stretching him out… right? And then, on two
huge late plays, Romo goes to him and Bryant looks just awful.
Wasn’t even a factor in either play, though they developed right
around him. Since he was being covered by Revis, I can’t argue
him being on the field. Romo has to know he’s hurting though.
Has to. And it was like no one told him.
The Franchez… well… eventually you have to give credit. He didn’t
win this game. But the guy has a very short memory. In the fourth
quarter, whether I want to blame Houston for lousy coverage or
the special teams for giving the Jets short fields or anything
else, the fact is… and it is a fact… the Jets are winning these
games, and The Franchez is the quarterback.
back to this game and the final minutes. We move right past the
first three quarters. A lot happened… but if you watch the Jets
or the Cowboys, you’ve seen so much of it before. No… really…
Jets haven’t been playing great football, or even good football,
but the opposition never put them away. The Franchez has hit Plaxico
Burress for 26-yards and the score, and we have most of the fourth
quarter still on the clock.
Cowboys… well… Witten will finish with 110-yards receiving and
a set of great hands. Miles Austin puts a touchdown on the board,
and for this reason or that… tonight it’s the mutual, two-man
grab… it will be replayed over and over. And Tony Romo seems intent
to prove that he doesn’t throw to Witten as his favorite, best
option, most trusted receiver, and also that the Cowboys are a
team and teams don’t favor one big-play guy… even if he has to
force it where it doesn’t belong.
I’ve said… we’ve seen these stories before.
this night, we’ve reached 24-17, Dallas leading, and New York
Cowboys begin on the 20-yard line, and in three plays… oh, look
at that, 2 passes to Mr. Witten… they have chewed up 77-yards
and sit first and goal.
people are going to tell you Romo shouldn’t have run on third
down. In several ways, I can’t argue that point. He dove into
tight coverage, wasn’t ever going to make the goal line, and the
fumble cost his team a shot as a field goal. Fair enough. He tried
to do too much… he often tries to win games when he’d be far more
successful making sure he doesn’t lose them… I understand. I have
a different question though…
the hell were they in shotgun formation on third down?
sure… they tried a pass on second down when the run didn’t work
on first down. And you have to toss at least one pass in there
to keep everyone honest and open things up a bit. Tight quarters
inside the five. But Romo was never handing that ball off on third
down from that formation. Three points likely would have cemented
a victory. Once he decided not to throw however, he was going
to run. And I don’t know why they telegraphed the pass or scramble
approach before the snap even occurred.
result of the dive and fumble though… that put The Franchez first
and ten pretty much on the goal line… 95-plus to tie the game
and a touchdown is a must. So honestly, question Romo if you want,
I’m not arguing the attempt or criticizing the fumble the way
others are. I get the criticism there… but I didn’t understand
the play from before the snap. The fumble pinned the Jets though,
and on its own shouldn’t have been a killer. In fact…
plays later, The Franchez fumbles and Dallas has the ball back.
I have to mention the fumble because it’s part of Romo’s story
in this game. I have to include it in the set up. Now though,
just after the Jets turn it over in return, this is where I see
the world really begin spinning out of control.
watch the first half of the game? Dallas was brutal. False start
on an extra point. After a sack of Romo, Dallas got nailed for
12-men on the field while the coaching staff yells at the officials
about a time out. Coming back from that penalty, Dallas smoothly
and professionally screws up and adds on a delay of game. Oh…
it’s a wonderful thing.
first half memory placed in your thoughts, we have Romo taking
the field after the fumble, 47-yards from the end zone, and the
clock capable of ticking. I don’t recall the exact time… but we’ve
got less than half the quarter remaining.
play is a run. Only a run generously called a 3-yard gain, but
a decent call. Clock running… right?
play is an incomplete pass. Ok… looking for Austin. A pass and
a completion could have iced the game. One shot at it is ok. Now…
watch this string of events…
of game… move back five yards.
start… move back five yards.
got third down and seventeen to go and Romo drops back to throw
to… Dez Bryant.
remember Dez Bryant? He’s the guy that was hurting on the sideline
a few minutes ago. I watched them focus on him. And after the
play doesn’t work, the announcers are talking about how bad he
looks on this play.
be forgiving for a minute. Let’s forget that the incomplete pass
stopped the clock when Dallas could have just run it on third
down and evaporated slightly less than a minute from the time
remaining. Let’s forget that Dallas made mistakes that pushed
them back so even trying for the first down at all was kind of
silly and risky. And let’s forget we at home already know Bryant
is hurting. Let’s just pretend we understand what Dallas did.
Because at this very moment, two thoughts are running through
wow, Revis is covering Bryant. He may be injured and looks awful.
He’s still pulling their top coverage guy. Dallas should be taking
advantage of that, sending Bryant wide, and just playing 10 on
second, wait… what? What is that formation? Who’s snapping this
punt? That’s a funny offset line and it doesn’t looks like there’s
great positioning for a guy to pick up a block and…
you saw the rest of my second thought. McKnight came through the
middle of the line. Untouched. Absolutely standing right on the
line in plain sight when the ball was snapped and no one picked
him up. It was awful.
it was 24-24.
got to watch Romo and Phillips play catch, and Jones run, and
Jets did nothing. They punt.
see… funny thing… you know how I like to make fun of the Jets
and their return game and so on… yes? Well, the Dallas punt resulted
in a touchback, so New York started around the 20 and didn’t move
much, so the Cowboys now have the ball decent field position on
the 41. They’ve got a minute left and only need to go maybe 30-yards
to be in ok field goal range.
who do you think Romo throws to?
Nope. (That would make sense, because Witten would catch it. And
besides, Romo has no favorites.)
Of course not. (That would make sense, because Austin would gain
20-30 of the yards on one play, or possibly even break free and
like to tell you he threw to Dez Bryant. You know, the injured
Dez Bryant. The Dez Bryant that no quarterback would have been
even considering if he had spoken to anyone about his options
or had taken the field with even the smallest of plans made. But
I’ve watched the replays a couple of times now. And the fact is,
between Revis and the Jets defender behind Bryant, I don’t see
any way at all that Romo could have even seen Dez Bryant was on
the field or in the vicinity of where he threw the ball.
was wide open, and Romo hit him right between the numbers. And
I don’t get it.
be serious. Didn’t anyone tell Romo that Bryant was hurting? Anyone?
Romo see that Revis was out of coverage on the play since he was
essentially covering a guy that couldn’t move?
the hell did he even consider throwing it to Bryant?
this wasn’t the first Dallas possession since the horrible third
and seventeen. What the heck was Dallas talking about on the sideline?
Their lunch order for Monday film review?
don’t get it.
Franchez did his part. He did nothing. After Romo completed his
pass to Revis, The Franchez handed the ball off once, threw two
incompletions, didn’t turn the ball over… and the Jets pulled
ahead with a field goal.
wonder what Dallas had to eat during film review.
England 38 – Miami 24
understand 100 of the yards was a single pass.
get that realistically Chad Johnson didn’t play.
did watch Chad Henne look like a legitimate NFL quarterback.
would still be very scared if I had to play the Patriots. Because
they look deep and efficient on offense. Didn’t need to use rookie
running backs and still have plenty of time to bring Johnson along
slowly. And they were in the Miami backfield with their defense…
which should get stronger as the year moves on.
England won by two touchdowns in a game that wasn’t even close.
It felt like they scored 70.
23 – Denver 20
blah… blah… record distance on a field goal… whole lot said about