Highlighted by DeSean Jackson’s heroics in another classic divisional tilt between the Eagles and Giants, we had four major games with playoff implications during Week 15′s early kickoffs.
But while we were all wrapped up in the Chiefs’ manhandling of St. Louis, the Ravens knocking off the defending champs, and the Colts reasserting themselves in the AFC South, Rex Grossman was busying with his usual roller coaster act, and Dwayne Bowe was crashing back down to Earth.
Early game observations, rants, and stray thoughts
The days of Sexy Rexy ended around November of 2006…or so we thought
There was a time when Rex Grossman was a highly effective quarterback in the NFL. It lasted about six weeks at the beginning of his days as Chicago’s gunslinging love child in 2006. Even this short stint of Grossman being relevant inspired a few scary Youtube tributes set to the kind of music listened to by 13 year 0lds with pink hair.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan stated his belief earlier this week that Grossman is more than just a serviceable NFL backup, an assertion that at the time seemed downright comical. He’s 30 years old, and his glory days with the Florida Gators seem like a generation ago. Grossman had plenty of time in Chicago to prove his worth as an NFL starter, and was eventually shackled to the bench in favour of Kyle Orton.
Shanahan said Grossman had impressed in practice, and after Donovan McNabb was demoted, the Redskins coaching staff wanted to see what Grossman’s future was with the franchise. It’s a question Grossman had already seemingly answered with his poor body of work over the rest of his career, and his penchant for fumbling games away in a single snap.
In the first half today against Dallas, Grossman was what we thought he would be. He was average, painfully average, and threw his first interception early in the first quarter. But quarterbacks aren’t judged solely on numbers. They’re groomed to be leaders, and the anchors of even the most unsteady offences. Moxie and charisma are required job tools of the trade, tools that Grossman surprisingly showed in a 16-point fourth quarter comeback.
The conclusion, however, wasn’t surprising, and it was more of a formality than a development of any kind. After Dallas kicked a field goal to go up three points with 50 seconds left, Grossman was given the ball and was asked to build on the leadership he’d already shown. The result was the usual Grossman interception, and another failure.
How Grossman arrived at that failure was surprising, and provided a glimmer of hope in Washington. Fantasy geeks who abandoned their families days before Christmas today have also fallen back in love with Rex. At one point late in the fourth quarter Grossman had more fantasy points than Michael Vick and Arian Foster combined. He finished with 322 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Now Grossman needs to demonstrate for the first time that he’s more than just a talented quarterback, and shed his inability to perform in pressure situations. The smart money is on more failure.
Sometimes, football hurts
It’s the jolly Christmas season, so we were all in the mood for a heart-warming comeback tale on this frosty Sunday. And Austin Collie was in the mood to give it to us.
Collie missed four of the Colts’ last five games after suffering a concussion during this scary hit in a Week 9 loss to Philadelphia.
Collie was well on his way to a redemption story that would rival Rudolph’s Christmas triumph. He had eight receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against Jacksonville. But with every redemption story, we’re left bracing for the sudden plot twist.
For Collie, it came when his bad luck continued, and he left with another concussion after colliding with Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith.
Peyton Manning can work wonders, but he’ll have to do it once again now without two of his top receivers (Collie and Anthony Gonzalez). He’s also supported by an erratic running game. Donald Brown exploded for a career high 129 rushing yards in today’s win, but prior to Sunday his highest output this season was 69 yards, and he had reached the endzone only once. Both Joseph Addai and Mike Hart remain out, with Addai nearing a return from his neck injury after practicing on a limited basis this week.
There are already chinks in the Manning Factor with his recent interceptions, and he needs support down the stretch beyond Reggie Wayne. The Blair White project has been fin, but rookie receivers being forced into a higher role isn’t a recipe for playoff success.
Dwayne Bowe looks like Dwayne Bowe again
It didn’t matter today, because the Chiefs won convincingly over the Rams, but the once sizzling Dwayne Bowe looked liked the average receiver Kansas City has come to know and hate in recent years. Bowe had only two receptions for 53 yards today, which for most receivers is still respectable, but Bowe recently had a stretch of 476 yards over three games (between weeks 10 and 12).
He was the NFL’s receiving darling, and Bowe’s 14 touchdown receptions still led the league heading into this week. Now as the Chiefs’ reliance on the run grows (if that was even possible), Bowe has faded, and has only three receptions over his past three weeks.
Vince Young just wanted good seats
It’s nice that Vince Young is ever so slowly beginning to rehabilitate his image with the Titans. But, like everything Young does, the way he’s doing it is a little odd.
Young began to make amends this week, visiting the Titans locker room for the first time since he injured his thumb in late November, and had a disagreement with head coach Jeff Fisher. Today was the latest chapter in the mysterious and erratic personality of Young, as he stood on the sidelines during Tennessee’s win over Houston.
It was an appearance that Fisher wasn’t even aware of, but he encouraged nonetheless. Young came onto the sidelines during the third quarter in virtual camouflage, wearing a dark hoody while barely being acknowledged by teammates. He then ran off the field a few minutes into the fourth quarter. This qualifies as normal for Young.
“Yeah, I didn’t even know he was there. It’s the first I’ve heard of it. Glad he was with his teammates,’ Fisher told the Tenessean.
It’s always about the baby steps when you’re rebuilding a fractured relationship.