We witnessed the No.1-ranked scoring defense give up 41 points and lose at home, two overtime battles and three teams that failed to score a touchdown in their matchups.
So what did we learn from it all? Here are my notes from the week’s results:
Washington Redskins–Maybe it’s the scheme OC Kyle Shanahan is running, and maybe QB Robert Griffin III isn’t an accurate quarterback, but the fact remains, this offense is in complete disarray, and looks out of sync.
The zone-read is not having anywhere near the success it had last season when the team ran it. It could be due to opposing defenses watching tape and making the necessary adjustments, or maybe RGIII isn’t fully recovered since his knee surgery and doesn’t have the mobility or explosiveness in the open field as he once did. Maybe he never will.
The Redskins secondary is a mess and Monday night’s game showed CB Josh Wilson is not capable of starting on the outside in this league right now. He looked completely lost and was abused many times by veteran WR Anquan Boldin, who got much more separation than a 33-year-old should get. QB Colin Kaepernick targeted him often and ate him for dinner. The Niners did a great job of using shifts and motion to get favorable matchups for Boldin and TE Vernon Davis, and it worked, as the two combined for 164 of Kaepernick’s 235 passing yards.
I’m not sure if the Shanahans will be fired or not after the season, as
humanitarian owner Dan Snyder has really liked them both from day one. But the proof is in the pudding: RGIII and Shanahan cannot coexist, the locker room is beginning to turn, and his system is just not working. The Shanny era has run its course.
Dallas Cowboys– QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant deserve all the credit in the world for putting together an excellent game-winning drive en route to victory—converting multiple third downs along the way. Here’s something you might not know, for all the criticism he gets, Romo has the most game-winning drives of any quarterback since 2009.
This team is still the class of the NFC East, and at this point, the division is theirs to lose. They’re slowly getting some guys back from injury at the right time. And even if the race is close come Week 17, they host the Eagles, and their fate is in their hands.
Something else you may not know: Romo also boasts a QB rating of 118.2 in fourth quarters of games. It may be time to put that “choker” label to rest.
New York Jets– Live by Geno Smith, die by Geno Smith. It’s been a rollercoaster year for the rookie QB, but fans and analysts expected as much heading into the season. Following the Saints game, Smith was leading the league in game-winning drives. He’s now followed up with two abysmal performances, making rookie mistakes and looking completely rattled. In this particular loss vs the Ravens, Smith had trouble going through his progressions, and also caught a case of “happy feet” in the pocket on numerous occasions. He needs to be more decisive and also must stop staring down receivers.
The good news, is team’s defensive front continues to manhandle opposing offensive lines and bottle up the run. But the secondary still struggles to defend the deep ball and S Ed Reed’s presence hasn’t helped matters–as WR Torrey Smith burned him for a 60-yard touchdown, doing his former team one last favor.
While the Jets may field one of the best defenses in the NFL, their offense is among the league’s worst. Not only is Smith currently struggling, but he also has a group of receivers that fail to get separation and make things difficult on him.
Can this team wright the ship and sneak into the playoffs? Sure. Smith has shown plenty of flashes of brilliance this year, and the Dolphins season seems to be trending downward. Their remaining schedule is a cake walk, and 4-1 is absolutely possible down the stretch (with @CAR being the possible loss). However, previous losses to the Steelers and Titans won’t help matters as far as tiebreakers go. And with the cold, frigid weather now making its mark again at New Meadowlands Stadium, things aren’t going to get any easier for Smith.
Saying Sunday’s game vs. the Dolphins is a “must-win” is an understatement. If the Jets want to salvage their season and keep in the playoff hunt, they’ll need to get back to the run game to regain their rhythm on offense and take the pressure off Smith.
And maybe spend a little more time in the film room, and a little less time at Dave & Buster’s.
Kansas City Chiefs– The Chiefs defense may not be as stout as we once thought, as QB Philip Rivers threw for 392 passing yards (3 TD, 0 INT) on just 27 completions. There were blown coverages and missed tackles galore–but no turnovers forced.
The team had a different identity with the absence of its two top pass-rushers. Injuries sustained by LB Justin Houston and LB Tamba Hali could not come at a worse time, and the impending MRI results could be very important as the playoffs are just around the corner.
If the defense can’t perform at the exceptional level it was operating at previously, and QB Alex Smith is forced to make throws outside of his comfort zone (anything more than 7-10 yards), this team will be vulnerable and could struggle against the league’s elite squads.
The Chiefs are a good team. Andy Reid is already resurrecting the franchise and the future is promising. But are they elite? I don’t think so, at least at this point in time.
San Diego Chargers– Every time I want to write this team off and look toward next season, they come up with a big win to shut me up. Rivers put together another solid game-winning drive, and it’s clear Mike McCoy was exactly what he needed. He’s now getting the ball out of his hands quickly and his reads have been simplified. His 70.8 completion percentage and 22:8 TD/INT ratio clearly illustrate that, as the QB is well on his way to a career year.
Looks like “rebuilding” is coming along just fine, as we’ve seen the recent emergence of speedy TE Ladarius Green (22.1 ypc). Green (3 receptions, 80 yds in game) looks to be a suitable replacement for Antonio Gates, who’s lost a few steps and isn’t as dangerous after the catch as he used to be. And WR Keenan Allen, another YAC monster in the open field, will be a dominant No.1 receiver for years to come. He and QB Philip Rivers seem to already be developing a lot of chemistry together, too.