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NFL Week 5 Recap and Week 6 Questions

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  • The Buffalo Bills have officially become my “sexy pick” to make some noise in the AFC this year. After wasting a stellar defensive effort last week in a loss to the Houston Texans, Buffalo clearly pointed the blame at 2nd year Quarterback EJ Manuel and decided to pull the plug. Manuel, who still hasn’t played a full season of games (14 total in 2 seasons), was benched in favor of master negotiator and veteran Kyle Orton. Manuel did not start out very smoothly in his transition to the NFL. If you recall when Manuel first declared for the draft out of Florida State, Head Coach Jimbo Fisher chastised the decision claiming Manuel was not ready for Sunday football. This season, the Bills recognized that even without last year’s rookie sensation Kiko Alonso, that their defense was good enough to be considered one of the best in the AFC (currently tied for 3rd in turnovers (10), 4th best rush defense (355 total yards allowed) and tied for league best with 0 rushing touchdowns allowed). Although Orton did not win the game for the Bills, he certainly did nothing to lose it. For today’s NFL Quarterback standards he certainly did enough to officially put the final nails into Manuel’s QB coffin.
  • This brings me to what has become a growing issue lately in the NFL (on the field at least). Since the NFL adopted the new first year salary cap system in 2011 it makes taking gambles on players like Jake Locker, EJ Manuel or Christian Ponder an easy decision. A great example of this was the Washington Redskins taking Robert Griffin III with the 2nd overall pick in 2012 and then in the 4th round took Kirk Cousins in a move that 5 years ago would have never happened due to the fact that the Redskins would have had to pay Griffin an estimated amount of money somewhere north of 70 million dollars guaranteed. Check out this list of Quarterbacks that were taken in the 1st round since 2010 and look at some of the overwhelming disappointments. Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, EJ Manuel, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. In my opinion the jury is still out for a few of the names but in their short amount of playing time I really only see 2 that are franchise players in my opinion (Newton and Luck). I don’t solely blame just talent, I blame the salary cap system that allows for quick hooks to be made. In 2010, Sam Bradford was the last “big money” Quarterback draft pick (6 years, 78.05 million with 50 million guaranteed). In comparison, the following year under the new salary cap, Cam Newton signed only a 4 year deal worth 22 million and the whole contract guaranteed.
  • Since 2011 it’s no longer a financial hardship or financial gamble for these teams to go after 1st round quarterbacks. This is the part of the new system that I do This now allows teams to quit on these players early. This is the part of the new system that I don’t like. Now I’m not saying if the Jaguars stayed with Blaine Gabbert then he would be the next Peyton Manning but I reference more recent benching’s such as EJ Manuel or the decision for the Vikings to take Teddy Bridgewater after only giving Ponder 2 years. I would not want to be a quarterback in this day and age in the NFL. The pressure to win now with little to no talent is literally a career killer. I am not a fan of the pattern that we are now in with what seems to be “Superbowl or bust” for quarterbacks on teams with no realistic chance at title hopes. Check out Peyton Manning’s rookie year when he went 3-13 and threw almost 30 interceptions. If those were EJ Manuel’s exact numbers from last season, the result this year would be the same (EJ’s eventual benching). 5 or 10 years ago, Manuel would have been a “work in progress”. Years ago you were forced to ride out your “mistake” and work with what you had until the contract was traded or ended. Peyton obviously was not a mistake but those longer, guaranteed deals really altered careers for guys like Alex Smith and Sam Bradford. How about Drew Brees? In his first 2 seasons he went 10-17 with San Diego. That’s the same amount of wins that Christian Ponder had in his first 2 years with the Vikings and just 2 more wins than what Sam Bradford had. These teams need to give these quarterbacks 4 years in a system and if at all possible the same coordinators for those years. The Titans have done a perfect job with Jake Locker. Locker, now in his 4th year has shown signs of brilliance but that doesn’t outweigh the lack of accuracy, critical thinking or ability to stay healthy when needed that you need to have in an NFL Quarterback. The Titans assuredly will let Locker walk at the end of this year and will be looking at a QB with their definite high draft pick in 2015. This was a completely appropriate amount of time to evaluate his future and potential with the team. I know I am asking a lot but it does nothing for development (see Alex Smith who had 6 or 7 coordinators during his time with the 49ers) of these Quarterbacks when their guidance and mentoring is constantly changing. My hope for teams in the future is to decide to invest more time in their talent and to not be so quick to judge and to give them a fair shake.

Question for Week 6:

Does Rex Ryan become the first mid-season termination in the NFL? The 1-4 Jets head home this week and face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. I have “0” faith in the Jets winning this game and I am assuming they fall to 1-5. I expect Michael Vick to be the starter and have a better effort than the 8/19 passing game when he replaced Geno Smith at halftime this past week. In the NFL, it’s one thing to lose and another to look like you don’t belong. Geno has not shined as expected and Vick gave no Jets fan any reason to believe in a turnaround season with his 2 quarter performance. I assumed a few blogs ago that if Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin benched Ryan Tannehill then he would be the first mid-season termination. Philbin didn’t and his job is seemingly safe until the end of the year but I truly believe that if Rex is blown out on Sunday then he will be let go for the remainder of the season.

My Guess: Jets are destroyed and Rex Ryan is termed middle of the week.

Bold Prediction for Week 6: The Carolina Panthers take down the Cincinnati Bengals. I am on record with picking the Bengals as the best first quarter NFL team this year but in the same breath I am realistic to the point that they will stumble at times. Despite them giving a better performance than the loss to the Patriots, I like Cam Newton and the Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate, Kelvin Benjamin for the win.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 6: The Eagles defeat the Giants on Sunday Night Football. Although the Giants are proving most of their doubters wrong, Philadelphia has shown me this year they can win some ugly football games. I like Philly to win, albeit close, and move to 5-1.

Recap from Predictions last week:

Bold Prediction from Week 5: The Arizona Cardinals beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos. – WRONG – The Cardinals put up a good fight for most of this game but really fell apart once they lost starting QB Drew Stanton to injury. Rookie Logan Thomas had literally one big pass completion for a touchdown but that was it. Denver piled on at the end and moved to 3-1 on the year.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 5: The Cincinnati Bengals remain undefeated by beating the New England Patriots. – WRONG – New England stepped up in this game in a huge way answering all the criticisms they heard all week. The Patriots started hot and although cooled during the midway point, they looked like the Patriots of old and pulled off their best win of the season. Cincinnati, once again, faltered when it mattered the most (primetime and on the road). This is a big loss for the Bengals as there is no shame in losing but not being competitive is completely different.

Stats that will help you win money from your friends:

  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given up the most defensive 1st downs in the NFL this season with 125. Can you name the team with the least? That would be the Miami Dolphins with 73.
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  • Arizona Cardinals Rookie back-up Quarterback, Logan Thomas completed 1 out of 8 passes in a relief effort in the loss to the Broncos’ Sunday. His one completion? That was an 81 yard catch and run to Andre Ellington which ties Thomas with the 2nd longest pass on the season. Not hard to guess that Peyton Manning holds the top spot with an 86 yard pass, but who is tied with Thomas? That would be back-up turned starter, Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins.
  • New York Giants superstar Wide Receiver Victor Cruz has 1 receiving touchdown on the season. Think he is having a down year in the touchdown column? Check out these guys who have a big ol’ goose egg in when it comes to touchdowns for this season: Emmanuel Sanders (9th in receiving yards), Andre Johnson (15th in receiving yards), Keenan Allen (21st in receiving yards) and Anquan Boldin (22nd in receiving yards). All have started every game this season and have yet to have a receiving touchdown.

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Tony Bitkowski
Contact Tony on Twitter @TonyBitkowski.


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