We’ve always known Aaron Rodgers can make plays others wouldn’t even identify, and complete passes through windows that don’t seem to be there at all. That doesn’t make his performance Sunday any less impressive, but it does make us move to a question with a less obvious answer first: are the Redskins really this bad? And at what point will they be able to stop anyone?
Following Sunday’s 38-20 loss to Green Bay, the Redskins defense has now given up 71 points over just two games. Last year over the entire season there was a moderate four games in which they allowed 30 or more points, a number the ‘Skins are already halfway to now. Their secondary was generally awful in 2012 too while giving up an average of 281.9 passing yards per game (30th), but that’s still well ahead of the sample size we’ve been given so far this season, albeit a small one. Over two games the Redskins have allowed 621 passing yards, a staggering 10.2 yards per attempt, a completion percentage of 73.1, and 11 receptions for 20 yards or more.
Translated, here’s what that means: until they get it figured out and this defense goes from being horrible to just bad, start everyone against Washington. Sure, they’ve faced two tough offenses, but the degree of difficulty doesn’t get better with the Lions, Cowboys, and Bears teed up over their next four games, and the Raiders tossed in for a break and an opportunity to regain some shred of respect.
For Rodgers and the Packers offense, the numbers were staggering:
- 480 passing yards, a new personal best for Rodgers, and he tied a franchise record set by Matt Flynn. Yep, Matt Flynn, the same Matt Flynn who has lost his starting job two summers in a row now. At halftime Rodgers had already recorded 335 passing yards and three touchdowns.
- 178 receiving yards with a touchdown for James Jones, who easily eclipsed his previous single-game high of 140 yards.
- 132 rushing yards for James Starks at a pace of 6.6 per carry. He was the next man up after Eddie Lacy left with a concussion, and he gave the Packers their first +100 yard rusher in 45 games.
And that was just the beginning of the usual Sunday insanity, a day that featured 10 games decided by a touchdown or less (there’s been 22 such games over the first two weeks, setting a new record for edge sitting), and seven by a field goal.
Fun With Numbers
- All the cool kids are getting safeties: There were four safeties last week (a single-week record), and the Seahawks added another one that came in the second quarter of their eventual 49ers romp at about, oh, 10 ET (it’s also the year of the lightening delay from the almighty powers above). Over the entire 2012 regular season — yes, all 512 games — only 13 safeties were recorded. I’m not much of a math guy, but having five already through 31 total games is a little ahead of that pace.
- Still speedy, but a little less so: According to my count, the Eagles ran 63 plays this week while losing to the Chargers. That’s still not slow, but it’s a step down from the 77 they ran last week. Perhaps — and I’m reaching here — playing against a competent offense that can covert a few first downs lowers your offense’s level of greedy ball hogging.
- Wide receivers are still winning: After Week 1 ended with only three 100-yard rushers (one of which was a quarterback), there was some sweet running back redemption this week, and some normalcy resumed with five +100 yard rushers through Sunday. Still, wide receivers are winning for fantasy purposes in this passing focused NFL, a league where many teams run out of obligation. There’s been 19 receivers with 100 yards or more through the air so far in Week 2, and that’s with A.J. Green still teed up Monday night (there were 19 last week too). In fantasy drafts, running backs are emphasized first in the early rounds, but that’s often only to address positional scarcity. In the modern NFL, the catchers are far more productive than the runners.
- All the return yards: Devin Hester set a franchise record with 249 kickoff return yards during the Bears’ narrow, 31-30 win over Minnesota. Cordarrelle Patterson brought back the opening kickoff 105 yards, which made Hester turn several shades of red. He then had returns for 80, 76, and 42 yards while averaging 49.8 yards per attempt.
- You’re thinking shallow, man: After connecting with them for 11 completions during a game when the Bills Bills’ed with some fourth quarter cardiac punishment in a win over Carolina, E.J. Manuel has targeted his running backs 25 times through two games. You knew C.J. Spiller would be a stud in all formats, but if this safe and short thinking continues, Fred Jackson will maintain some fine PPR flex value too.
- More rare Bills good news?: Mario Williams had 4.5 sacks, a Bills single-game record.
- Needs more clutch: Depending on which angle you view this next number from (Broncos fan vs. Giants fan), it highlights either a defense that’s wicked awesome, or an offense that induces puking. So, have at it: in the latest version of the Manning Bowl (MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL) the Giants converted on only one of their 11 third down attempts.
- Just pass, kid: There was a distinct shift in Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s gameplan that involved much more T.Y. Hilton (a little more on that awesomeness below). In turn, it also included a lot more throwing. A whole lot more, as Andrew Luck had more pass attempts in the first half during a loss to Miami than he did throughout Week 1. Overall he finished with 43 chucks in a game that was close throughout (24-20 final).
- A dirty football stealer: Richard Sherman’s fourth-quarter interception of Colin Kaepernick was his 13th career pick, the most in the NFL since 2011.
- Little sore, bro?: With five coming today during a loss to the Ravens, Brandon Weeden has now been sacked 11 times through just two games. That repeated abuse is already showing in the form of a thumb injury, and eventually Weeden will combust. I wish no ill health on any man, but is there really any talent gap at all between Weeden and Jason Campbell? No, no there isn’t.
- An all new low: When Steven Jackson left the Falcons’ win over St. Louis with a thigh injury, their focus turned to the air immediately, which resulted in Julio Jones’ 182 receiving yards (that tied a career single-game high, and it included an 81-yard touchdown), and it forced Matt Ryan to throw 43 times. It also resulted in just 36 total rushing yards, the lowest single-game total in franchise history.
Hey Terry, that mic might be on
Fox, you employ Terry Bradshaw. The first rule about employing Terry Bradshaw and putting him on TV is to always tell Terry Bradshaw when his mic is on. ALWAYS.
Elsewhere in amazing
C.J. Spiller: He finished with 103 rushing yards and 129 yards overall while averaging 6.4 yards per carry, but there could have been even more, as he was still limited — a word I’ll use loosely — by Fred Jackson’s presence. Jackson was given only four fewer carries than Spiller (12 to Spiller’s 16), even though he did far less with them, and plodded along for only 30 yards. So let’s all repeat a familiar refrain from last year: Jackson needs and has earned his touches, but to have the split between the two hovering anywhere near 50/50 is absurd when one of the running backs we’re discussing is averaging over six yards per carry, and he can bust a run for 41 yards (as he did today).
Jordan Cameron: The summer’s sleeper darling is still wide awake, mostly because right now there’s no one else who’s available to catch balls for Brandon Weeden. After leading the league with four red-zone targets last week, Cameron was targeted seven times today, which ended in 95 yards on five catches. One of those receptions was a career high 53-yarder, and with 203 yards over the first two weeks, Cameron is averaging 14.3 yards per catch. That’s some pretty chunky yardage for a tight end who isn’t playing like a tight end at all. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Browns’ offense changes with the return of Josh Gordon next week, and how much Cameron’s targets are affected.
Calvin Johnson: Johnson had 96 yards and two touchdowns in just the first half during Detroit’s loss to Arizona (he finished with 116), with most of that yardage coming on a 72-yard touchdown reception, his first of two. Between Johnson this week and Bush last week, it’s the first time the Lions have had back-to-back weeks with a +70 yard catch since 1986. I’ve now fulfilled my contractual obligation to provide a completely coincidental and meaningless stat.
These numbers have much more deep meaning: in two games with Patrick Peterson as his primary blanket, Johnson has posted 237 yards on 16 catches with two touchdowns.
Michael Vick: The Chargers-Eagles game was glistening with fantasy gold, and it started with Vick. If this was obvious already, a fast quarterback who brings the threat of a run is an ideal fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. Between his rushing and throwing Vick was responsible for 451 yards and three touchdowns, which adds up to 37 fantasy points using standard scoring. But something else was even more important for Vick: no turnovers. At this time last year he had already recorded nine turnovers, and had the Eagles hired someone not name Chip Kelly, that likely would have cost Vick his job.
DeSean Jackson: A fast guy in a fast offense with a fast quarterback appears to be a good fit. Jackson had receptions for 20, 25, and 61 yards while finishing with 193 yards overall on nine catches (a pretty ridiculous 21.4 yards per catch). He now has 297 yards over just two weeks, and for a slice of that delicious history pie he logged his fifth career +150 yard game, which is a franchise record.
LeSean McCoy: McCoy did things a little differently this week, and he was a little more balanced. After 184 rushing yards a week ago and only five yards through the air, he had 16 fantasy points on 114 receiving yards and 53 rushing yards Sunday. Most of that receiving yardage came on a 70-yard catch, a career long.
T.Y. Hilton: After an opening week when the Colts’ fullback was on the field more than arguably their best receiver, that problem was promptly corrected for fantasy owners, as promised. Hilton finished with 124 yards on six catches, and 54 of those yards came in just the first quarter. Most importantly, he led the Colts with nine targets.
Philip Rivers: In the preseason when it became clear that he’d be playing behind a line that could surrender sacks to the fastest tortoise, I was pretty down on Philip Rivers, a feeling that grew as his receiving options dwindled. But Sunday he partied like it was 2009, completing 77 percent of his passes against an Eagles secondary that, while marginally improved over last year, still resembles a kitchen draining device. Rivers threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns (his first +400 yard game since 2010), and he led an offense that laid down 539 yards in total while completing 36 passes, the second most ever in a game against an Eagles defense.
Darren McFadden: Run DMC lived on in our hearts and minds, but we all thought it was over. Not so, said McFadden with his 129 rushing yards today and 14 fantasy points against a Jacksonville defense that couldn’t stop a gnome (though in fairness, those things are weird). But hey, it all counts, I guess.
Jimmy Graham: Usually with Graham we’re all like “ho-hum, another absurd game from the league’s best tight end”. But what do we say when it’s the best game from the best tight end? We smile, nod, and salute. Graham had his torch out on the Bucs, finishing with a career high 179 yards on 10 catches.
And we pause for a musical interlude
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was kind enough to forever capture another glorious moment in Vanilla Ice’s reign of relevance. I’m not sure why he performed at halftime of the Texans-Titans game, but reason matters little right now.
Where did you come from?
Charles Clay: Clay had another massive week, and you need to own him now. The tight end is quickly becoming one of Ryan Tannehill’s bestest friends, with 109 yards on five catches, including a 67-yarder in the first quarter. He’s owned in only two percent of Yahoo leagues. Seriously.
Andre Ellington: Doing his best Joique Bell impression to become this week’s waiver darling, the Cardinals running back had 62 total yards today, 42 of which came through the air on just two receptions. One of those grabs was a 36-yard touchdown.
Eddie Royal: Herein lies the most glaring statistical anomaly of the week, and likely of the year too already. Royal caught three of the four touchdown passes thrown by Rivers, and he did that a week after scoring twice. So that’s five touchdowns already on just 10 receptions, which would be impressive on its own without this: prior to this year, Royal had 10 career touchdowns. Now he’s halfway there in two games.
Today in people are horrible
Ray Rice suffered a hip injury during Baltimore’s win over Cleveland. It was a non-contact injury, and it looked horrible at first, and could have been the kind of thing that ruins fake football seasons everywhere. Thankfully, the Ravens are optimistic Rice will play next week, and they’re saying he has a hip flexor strain.
But that’s all it took for Rice to experience the wrath of the vocal minority in the fantasy football population who can’t grasp logic and common sense.
There’s money tied to fantasy football, and to each weekly win and loss. But if you’re a normal person who shows basic human decency, the gambling aspect shouldn’t make you lose sight of the fact that every football player is a person with real bones, muscles, and most importantly, a real career.
Fantasy football is a fun hobby that you can feel free to be passionate about and engaged in. But it’s still a game.
Quotes of the week
Often in the year 2013, folks who say things with recorders, cameras, and notepads in their face are very careful with their words, and what comes out is a tamer version of their actual thoughts. Bernard pollard is not one of those people, and he has yet to purchase a mental filter.
Related: Bernard Pollard is not a man I would like to meet in a dimly lit location…
Because we can only assume AMC has connections with heavenly powers and they wanted our eyeballs badly enough to cause a lightening delay so we’d flip to Breaking Bad, the Sunday nighter was put on hold for about an hour.
Remarkably, it was the second such delay of the day (there was another one in the Saints/Bucs game), and the third of the year. Marshawn Lynch (who enjoys a leisurely Sunday night stroll) surveyed the situation and provided an accurate assessment, the kind only the most seasoned weatherman could produce…
Marshawn Lynch on live tv: “It’s all stormy and shit /nbc cuts audio” — Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) September 16, 2013
Follow the magic loogie
In a game that featured six total turnovers, this was easily the best attempt to become a Cirque Du Soleil act…
So much Cutler. https://t.co/baRl1zXftr
— SportsPickle (@sportspickle) September 15, 2013
Because ending on a happy note isn’t something we do around here, I’ll close the curtains with some potential fantasy tears and shattered dreams. I’ve already mention Rice’s scare that isn’t so scary, and Steven Jackson’s mysterious thigh injury. Now, the rest…
- Eddie Lacy left the Packers’ win over Washington with a concussion. If you haven’t already handcuffed him, all Lacy owners should have a waiver claim in on Starks now.
- Malcom Floyd suffered what appeared to be a serius neck injury after a devastating hit. But Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said he’ll be fine. Whether or not he’s football fine is another matter.
- Martellus Bennett said he messed up his shoulder, but that could be just Black Unicorn speak. Bennett — who went boom for 72 yards and two touchdowns — was down for a while after landing hard following a leaping catch attempt, but he didn’t even leave the game.
- After being Bernard Pollard’ed when the safety launched at his head, Andre Johnson left the Texans’ loss to Tennessee with a likely concussion. He’ll have to navigate through the concussion protocol this week.
- At first it looked like uber everyman Reggie Bush suffered a serious knee injury after his knee made direct contact with a helmet at the end of a long, open-field run. But he returned shortly after, though he was still clearly bothered by it throughout the rest of Detroit’s loss to Arizona.
- Maurice Jones-Drew’s ankle is a “little loose” according to Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. The running back sprained the same ankle that caused him so much trouble in the offseason, and he’ll likely miss time.