Daily Archives: December 7, 2010

Football Relativity Week 13

Each week, we compare all 32 NFL teams using our Football Relativity tool. We’ll indicate as we go which teams are moving up and down from the Week 12 comparison.

10 – Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers – The Falcons went into Tampa and came back from a late 10-point deficit to beat the Buccaneers 28-24. That’s an impressive win that ekes the Dirty Birds ever closer to the NFC No. 1 seed. The Ravens and Steelers played their typical slobberknocker, with the Steelers coming out on top this time. Fans can only hope for a third meeting in the playoffs in January. Both teams are incredibly physical and severe threats to any other team in the league. The Patriots blasted the Jets 45-3 on Monday night, establishing a lead in the AFC East. We don’t believe the Pats really are six touchdowns better than the Jets, but recording such an impressive win is a statement of where the Pats are in the pecking  order right now.

9 – Green Bay Packers, New York Jets (DOWN A LEVEL), Philadelphia Eagles – The Packers played the 49ers close for a while but finally pulled away for a convincing 34-16 win. Green Bay trails the Bears by a game, but the Pack is definitely back to top form after a midseason lull. The Eagles took care of the Texans on Thursday night, showing once again that their offense can produce plenty of points. But the Eagles’ D has been fairly permissive in the last two weeks, which could become a concern over the fourth quarter of the season. The Jets’ streak of close wins fell apart as they got blasted by the Patriots 45-3. The Jets are better than they showed, but you have to wonder if the Pats once and for all exposed some of the problems that the Jets have been masking with comeback wins lately.

8 – Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants – We covered the Bears in Rise/Sink/Float. Their home game against the Patriots this week will be a litmus test. The Saints needed a Drew Brees hard count to finally get past the Bengals, but winning on the road is always a good thing in the NFL, no matter the final score or the opponent. The Giants blasted the Redskins 31-7, looking like the dominant team we saw early in the season. That’s a positive sign that Big Blue is figuring out their offensive line situation despite myriad injuries.

7 – Jacksonville Jaguars (UP A LEVEL), Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers (DOWN A LEVEL), Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Jaguars went to Tennessee and ran all over the Titans in a 17-6 win. We’ve seen a lot of the Jaguars the last couple of weeks, and we’re convinced that they can run the ball at an elite level. David Garrard makes his share of plays, and if he can avoid mistakes, the Jags can control the clock enough to cover for a vulnerable defense. The Chiefs beat the Broncos 10-6, and while it wasn’t pretty, the win gave K.C. a two-game lead in the AFC West. We continue to believe the division is theirs for the taking. The Chargers were contending with the Chiefs, but after a hot streak they laid an egg at home in a 28-13 loss to Oakland. They couldn’t stop the Raiders’ run game, and that does not bode well for this week’s crucial home game against the Chiefs. The Buccaneers played the Falcons close, but key mistakes late cost them the win. With the loss, the Bucs are a long shot to make the playoffs, but they are undoubtedly progressing and could still notch a winning season.

6 – Indianapolis Colts (DOWN A LEVEL), Oakland Raiders (UP A LEVEL), St. Louis Rams – The Colts are falling apart, and this week’s 38-35 overtime loss at home against the Cowboys is another sign. The more we think about it, the more we think the Colts were a 9-7 team last year that Peyton Manning somehow got to the Super Bowl. This year, the Colts have had even more injuries, and those issues combined with the ongoing problems with the offensive line and the running game, have been too much for Manning to overcome. Now, it appears he’s pressing and trying to make plays that aren’t there, and the result is his recent spate of interceptions. If Manning can ratchet down his aggressiveness, he may be able to right the ship and get some wins, but there’s no way the Colts can contend for the AFC title. After getting destroyed two weeks in a row, the Raiders bounced back with a convincing road win at San Diego. Oakland isn’t consistent, but the Raiders’ best is good enough to beat just about anyone. The Rams took care of business with a road win at Arizona that leaves them in charge in the NFC West. This week’s trip to New Orleans is intimidating, but we still believe Sam Bradford & company can get to 8-8 and clinch the division.

5 – Cleveland Browns (UP A LEVEL), Dallas Cowboys (UP A LEVEL), Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins (DOWN A LEVEL) – We discussed the Browns in Rise/Sink/Float. The Cowboys moved to 3-1 under interim head coach Jason Garrett with a 38-35 win in Indianapolis. Dallas isn’t without problems, especially defensively, but they are certainly showing more moxie under Garrett. The Texans put up some points and took a late lead in Philadelphia, but their abysmal defense doomed them again. The Dolphins blew another home game against Cleveland, all but burying their playoff hopes and perhaps hastening the doom of head coach Tony Sparano and QB Chad Henne.

4 – Minnesota Vikings (UP A LEVEL), San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans (DOWN A LEVEL), Washington Redskins (DOWN A LEVEL) – We covered the Titans’ decline in Rise/Sink/Float. The Seahawks fell behind early against the lowly Panthers but rebounded with 31 unanswered points for another home win. Seattle will likely keep pace with the Rams until their Week 17 clash. The 49ers fell to the Packers, and at 4-8 they would likely need to win out to have any division-title hopes. Like the Titans, the Redskins were absolutely blasted in the run game, and after being competitive in the first half of the season, the Skins are lollygagging.

3 – Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos – The Bills, who have largely been competitive this year, were not in Minnesota. It’ll be interesting to see if they’ve run out of gas or if they can rally with another game effort against Cleveland this week. Denver not only lost another game; they lost their head coach by firing Josh McDaniels. It’s an expensive move, but it’s the right one.

2 – Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions – The Bengals had a late lead against the Saints but fell victim to one of the oldest tricks in the book, committing an offsides penalty that set up New Orleans’ game-winning touchdown. As in most years, the Bengals simply find ways to lose. The Lions once again gave a strong effort but fell short 24-20 against the Bears. Detroit needs to win a close game or two down the stretch so that the team and their fans see signs of progress.

1 – Arizona Cardinals (DOWN A LEVEL), Carolina Panthers – The Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead against the Seahawks, but once Seattle got going, the Black Cats didn’t have a chance. The Cardinals laid another egg against the Rams, and now that rookie John Skelton is playing quarterback, there’s little hope for improvement over the rest of the year. They’re as bad as any team in the league.

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Mile High mistake: What went wrong for the Broncos and Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels at the 2009 Denver Broncos Fan Fair

Image via Wikipedia

Football Relativity is almost two years old, and if you had to identify the single person in the NFL who we have criticized more strongly than any other, it’s been Josh McDaniels. Before he helmed his first NFL game, we criticized the know-it-all approach McDaniels took in the Jay Cutler trade, and McDaniels’ actions led us to forecast failure because he was following the faulty footsteps of other Bill Belichick disciples.

Monday, McDaniels’ mistakes cost him his job. And we’re not surprised.

As we were putting together links to our past comments about McDaniels, we found this from the 2009 season preview. We’re not right about everything, but we feel like this described what eventually happened to McDaniels to a T. Josh McDaniels is a good offensive mind, but so far he’s shown he doesn’t have the skills to be a head coach. He doesn’t deal with his players well, and he doesn’t seem to have the willingness and/or the ability to adjust his precious “system” to the realities of his roster. … McDaniels’ people skills, not his football skills, will be tested severely, and we’ll have to see how he responds to a test it appears he didn’t expect when he took the job.

The details —  Spygate 2 or the Mike Nolan departure or the Peyton Hillis and Alphonso Smith trade fiascos, to name just a few — aren’t in that post, but the reasons behind all of it is. Josh McDaniels thought he was smarter than everyone. When it came to Xs and Os, he’s right. He’s among the league’s best at schemes. But like other Belichick disciples and other guys (Mike Martz comes to mind), McDaniels was so sold on his way of doing things that he completely abused his coworkers and employees to get his way. And if you do that, you’d better win. Instead, McDaniels lost 17 of 22 games after starting his career 6-0.

This isn’t the end for McDaniels. He’ll be a coup for an NFL team as an offensive coordinator next year, and if he learns from his mistakes (as Eric Mangini seems to be doing), he could be successful in his second head coaching stop. At age 34, he has plenty of time to get a second chance and make the most of it. But he must learn to relate to people – and to reality – far better than he did in his year and three quarters in Denver.

The Broncos, meanwhile, are left with a mess of a roster, thanks to poor drafting and even worse trading. Some of McDaniels’ additions – Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Lloyd, Kyle Orton – have turned into winning players, but the defense is just as bad as it was under Mike Shanahan, and the offense will fall off without McDaniels’ play-calling skills. And the fact that the Broncos have to pay off big contracts for both Shanahan (through 2011) and McDaniels (through 2012) has to be galling to owner Pat Bowlen, who has to cut the checks.

But this move had to be made, given the miles of mistakes McDaniels made.

Other McDaniels takes over the last two years:

*Laurence Maroney trade
*2010 season preview and the Broncos’ clear-cut roster (go to 4 level)
*The Tim Tebow pick (go to 6 level)
*The Brandon Marshall trade
*What if the Broncos had lost in 2009 Week 1?
*2009 season preview and why we thought McDaniels would fail (go to 2 level)
*McDaniels as a prima donna
*2009 draft-day arrogance
*The McDaniels/Cutler fiasco
*McDaniels’ hiring

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Crazy Kicker of Week 13

Shaun Suisham has been around. The new Steeler, whose performance Sunday night against the Ravens was his third game with the team, kicked for Dallas and Washington last year, and also has a San Francisco stop on his resume. But who would have guessed that the placekicker would have filled in as a punter because of an injury not once but twice in his career. That’s, well, crazy.

Sunday, Suisham had to take over for Daniel Sepulveda as the Steelers’ punter after Sepulveda tore the ACL in his non-kicking knee. Suisham did an acceptable job – three punts for a 34.3-yard average, with a 39-yard long and one punt landed inside the 20. He now has six career punts, and Sunday’s game left him with eight more yards per punt than he averaged as a Redskin punter last year.

For his versatility, Suisham beats out Miami’s Dan Carpenter – who had a 60-yard field goal – as the Week 13 Crazy Kicker of the Week.

2010 Crazy Kickers of the Week
CFL: WR Dave Stala, Tiger-Cats
Preseason Week 1: P Brett Kern, Titans
Preseason Week 2: PK Robbie Gould, Bears
Week 2: PK/Kickoff Rob Bironas, Titans
Week 5: Punter/holder Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs
Week 7: Punter Reggie Hodges, Browns
Week 8: Punter Steve Weatherford, Jets
Week 9: DT/PK Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Week 10: PK Phil Dawson, Browns
Week 11: Punter Mike Scifres, Chargers
Week 13: PK/Punter Shaun Suisham, Steelers

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