I want to start by wishing everyone at Camelclutchblog.com, and all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving weekend. I hope that everyone has a wonderful time with their families and friends, including their four legged ones. Be careful traveling, and if you decide to go shopping on Black Friday, please be safe. There are enough nutcases out there, so don’t get into a fight over a TV. It’s not worth it.
In speaking of Thanksgiving, the NFL 2014-15 season has just 5 more weeks to go. In horse racing terms, the 32 teams have hit the top of the stretch. It’s after Thanksgiving, when the proverbial whips start to appear, and we fans see which teams are real playoff contenders or pretenders. As four weeks have passed, some teams have put themselves in a position for a playoff push, while others took steps backwards. Of course, there were teams that were never in contention, and will wind up finishing up the track. Many reasons why include drama and ineptitude.
Again, I will be using the “Thumbs Up” and ” Thumbs Down” literary device. I hope my readers will enjoy the blog. Without further ado, here is my analysis of the third quarter of the 2014-15 NFL Season.
The Baltimore Ravens:
Watch out for the Baltimore Ravens. The team has been on a roll. They’ve been on a hot winning streak lately. They’re on the outside looking in, as the 7th seed. The team has a pretty favorable schedule, and should they qualify for the playoffs, they won’t be an easy foe. Former North Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith has been lights out. After a shaky start to the NFL season, QB Joe Flacco is starting to adapt to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system. Needless to say, the Baltimore Ravens have a very good defense, led by Terrell Suggs.
The Green Bay Packers:
What can you say about MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers that hasn’t been said? He has been awesome. Before last Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field against the Vikings, Rodgers and the offense put up 50 plus points a game against the last two opponents. LB Clay Matthews has been terrific playing both inside and outside linebacker. I realize the team has some questions on defense, but so far, Dom Capers, Packers Defensive Coordinator has been doing a great job.
This Sunday’s tilt on November 30th against the AFC East leading juggernaut New England Patriots should be an awesome game. I’m very excited to see how Coach Bill Belichick game plans against Aaron Rodgers and that high powered offense. I wonder if Packers WR Jordy Nelson is going to be covered by Darelle Revis. I can’t wait to see what Packers Coach Mike McCarthy comes up with to try to out coach Belichick. Of course, can the Packers defense stop the Patriots offense led by Tom Brady?
The Arizona Cardinals:
I remember the days when this team was a joke. Well, not anymore. Over the years, they started getting talent and started to improve. The Cardinals, under QB Kurt Warner, made it to SB43 and gave my Steelers a run for their money.
Now, under (ironically) former Steelers Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians, who is now the Cardinals Head Coach (my pick for Coach of the Year) , the Cardinals are 9-2, and leading the NFC West. Now that QB Carson Palmer is out for the season due to his ACL injury, it remains to be seen how far QB Drew Stanton can take them.
Nevertheless, this is a good sign for a franchise that was 5-11 when Arians took over in 2012. They were 10-6 last year and missed the playoffs. Barring a collapse, it looks like the team will make the playoffs this year. How far they will go without Palmer is anyone’s guess. I am very happy for Bruce Arians and his success.
The Denver Broncos
I give Denver a mild “Thumbs Down .” QB Peyton Manning had a string of games (New England, Oakland, Rams) where he had thrown multiple interceptions. In the past few games. The Broncos have been starting games a bit slow, and have been having trouble running the ball due to issues on the offensive line and injuries to their top running backs. Having C.J. Anderson helps that issue.
The Broncos have been 2-2 in their last 4 games. They’ve had some injuries to key players, some of whom should be back in the coming weeks, so that’s why I don’t give them a total thumbs down. Don’t worry. They will be fine.
The Pittsburgh Steelers:
Why are the Steelers here? The Steelers have yet to understand that every game is important. I hope they have learned that while on their bye week. How on earth do you lose to the hapless New York Jets? That team had ONE WIN!!! Never underestimate ANY opponent!
The Steelers nearly blew it again against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. However, they managed to win that one. The team has to be prepared for all your opponents, no matter what their record is. No team is going to roll over and lay down just because you are the Pittsburgh Steelers. They get paid also.
The NFC South:
What a mess in the NFC South. Does anyone want to win the division? The Saints blew a chance to have sole possession of first place in their loss to the Ravens. They are tied with the Atlanta Falcons (both at 4-7). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2 games back in last place with a 2-9 record. The Carolina Panthers are in striking distance at 3-7-1.
What has happened to this division? The Saints can’t win on the road or even at home. The Saints used to be unbeatable at home. What’s happened to QB Drew Brees? The Falcons are a dumpster fire. The Panthers have no physicality. The Bucs have a great rookie receiver Mike Evans. The idea that a sub 500 team from this division is going to make the playoffs really rubs me the wrong way, as there will be teams will good records that will miss the playoffs.
Coaches on the Hot Seat:
It’s also that time of year when discussions of which coach might or might not be getting fired start warming up. I have a few that I suspect will be gone. I also sense that there will be some General Managers that will be on the outs. Mind you, I am just speculating.
It looks like Rex Ryan, the head coach of the New York Jets, is going to be out of a job by year’s end. I honestly think Coach Ryan’s season has been undermined by the ineptitude of GM John Idzik. Idzik is a cap guy. All he cares about is keeping spending down. I mean, I know that Ryan is a defensive guy. However, he did lead the team to two straight AFC Championship game appearances with Mark Sanchez as quarterback, so Ryan has success as a head coach.
I realize that lately the team’s been mediocre, this season has been a disaster. Hard to put it all on Ryan when he doesn’t have much of a team. The team signed Eric Decker, when Emmanuel Sanders was available. The team left the secondary cubbard bare, and the QB position is nonexistent. Geno Smith has just been named the starter. What a joke. Rex Ryan is a “dead man waking,” so to speak.
The Jets organization wouldn’t let him discuss his visit with his ailing father, the legendary Buddy Ryan. ( http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/11/26/jets-wouldnt-let-rex-talk-about-buddys-health-situation/ ) How petty is that? If/when Ryan goes, I think Idzik needs to go also. The entire Jets organization needs cleaning up from top to bottom. Will owner Woody Johnson do it? I don’t think so. I would dump Idzik over Ryan.
The New York Giants have been a dumpster fire as well. I am thinking that this will be coach Tom Coughlin’s last year with the team. I don’t see the team putting in a lot of effort. The new Offensive Coordinator is not very impressive. The defense can’t get a pass rush. In this past Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, QB Tony Romo had all day to throw.
I also feel that GM Jerry Reese needs to go also. The reasons are bad draft picks, outside of Odell Beckham, Jr. and bad trades. Both Coughlin and Reese have done great things for the Giants, but I think it’s time for them to go. As patient as the Mara family is, I am not sure if they will get rid of Reese.
Mark Trestman, head coach of the Chicago Bears, needs to go. Wow. I am still wondering why the Bears dumped former coach Lovie Smith. Smith got the team to a Super Bowl, and in what would be his last season, a 10-6 record, and he’s gone? What has this Trestman guy done? He’s been a disaster.
The once vaunted Chicago Bears defense is playing like the Bad News Bears. They can’t cover anyone. They gave up over 50 points to the blood rival Green Bay Packers, and to the New England Patriots the prior week. The offense has playmakers, but QB Jay Cutler is so erratic, and I am being kind. I don’t see that team being inspired by him at all, or even wanting to play for him. Trestman need to go.
Miscellaneous (DC issues, player safety inconsistency, clock management):
I realize that this is getting long, so I will wrap this up with a few items that deserve a huge “Thumbs Down.’ I will start with the issue of player safety involving Detroit Lions Center Dominic Raiola and New England Patriots rookie LB Zach Moore. After last Sunday’s game, Raiola admitted that he dove at Moore’s knees in retaliation for the Patriots going in for a score instead of taking three knees. ( http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/11/23/lions-dominic-raiola-admits-going-at-a-patriots-knees/ ) Raiola was not punished by the NFL. The NFL may not have seen a need to fine him, but I do wonder why the same NFL is so quick to fine players 10 grand for uniform violations, 100 grand for not having the right headphones, but won’t fine a guy who ADMITS he tried to take another player’s knees out. This is coming from a league that emphasizes player safety? Right.
Mr. Raiola, your Lions had 60 minutes to stop the Patriots from scoring. The Lions were the #1 defense right? You boasted in the article that you were “playing football” when you purposely dove at Moore’s knees. Well, what were the Patriots playing, solitaire? You and your team got beat. No need for the cheap shot. Your defense had chances to stop the Patriots and didn’t do it. Just be glad that the NFL looked the other way.
Looks like the Nation’s Capitol is going to have gridlock on its NFL team. What a mess. I mean, Coach Jay Gruden announces to the world that RGIII is basically a project. I was stunned. Look, I was tired of hearing RGIII throwing his teammates under the bus, but Gruden really pulled the trump card.
I have to say something about that clock management mess in Atlanta. Coach Mike Smith, another coach who I think is gone, had one of the most idiotic explanations after the game. I mean, he was afraid that Cleveland would use a time out, so that’s why he called timeout? I just shook my head.
That is exactly what you want the other team to do. You want them to start burning their timeouts. I could not believe that Mike Smith handed that game to the Browns like that. Owner Arthur Blank should have come down to the field and fired Smith on the spot.
I hope my readers enjoyed the blog. I’m looking forward to the post – Thanksgiving push to the playoffs. I think the last few games will be very interesting. Each game gets a little bit bigger. Enjoy the holidays and the games. Feedback is welcome. See you next time.