|10.24.11 at 10:11 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the state of various NFL teams following their Week 7 performances.
One of the hottest topics Monday morning was Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who engineered a late comeback against the Dolphins Sunday. Denver rallied from a 15-0 deficit with just five minutes left to tie the score at 15-15, then won the game on a field goal in overtime.
Despite the miraculous comeback, Esiason still does not believe Tebow has what it takes to be a long-term quarterback in the NFL.
“If you pick apart the game and you really look at it, you’d see that all the things we would have a concern about are there,” Esiason said. “The lack of accuracy, the inability to pick up blitzes the way you’re supposed to pick up blitzes as opposed to running out of everything. And the way that he generally plays the game. It was a stimulating finish. No question about it. He deserves all the credit for it. But at the end of the day, in my estimation, the way he played yesterday is not the way you’re going to win a lot of games in this league.
Esiason said that it has been difficult to criticize Tebow because of his popularity, but fans need to realize that criticism of Tebow is not meant as a slight on his character.
“People are misconstruing the criticism of Tim Tebow as personal attacks and things of this nature, which is absolutely asinine,” Esiason said. “It’s basically a real live criticism of the way he plays football. He has a very slow release. He’s extremely inaccurate.
“He’s a great player. He’s an intangible leader. All of those great things. But people don’t want to hear that. They want to look and see what they want to see. But in reality, if you really break it down, while he’s a great kid and all that other stuff, he’s not going to be a long-term solution for the Denver Broncos as their starting quarterback, or at least I don’t believe that.”
|10.23.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
With the Patriots off this weekend, we’ve got our Bye-Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots at the six-week mark. We’ve already broken down every one of the offensive positions so far, as well as the defensive line. Now, we take a look at the linebackers.
Overview: While we acknowledged that the defensive line had to deal with scheme changes (from a four-man front to a three-man front) over the start of the season, the same has been true for the linebackers, who are now operating out of a different system from the traditional Patriots 3-4 that the franchise had predominantly used the last several years.
Despite the scheme changes, as a group the linebackers have performed pretty much as well as can be expected over the course of the first six games. Before his knee injury, Mayo was his usual dominant self, and Ninkovich does a serviceable job setting the edge on the outside and occasionally setting up as an outside rusher (although that’s certainly less this year with more four-man fronts). Meanwhile, Guyton remains more of a presence on passing downs, Cunningham struggles to find a niche (he more than anyone was likely hindered by the switch to the four-man front) and White and Tarpinian are more special teamers than anything else.
The biggest surprise — of late, anyway — has been the play of Spikes. He ended last season as a real mess, coming off the four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on PEDs, and started very slowly because of injury. But getting many of the reps in place of an injured Mayo, the second-year linebacker out of Florida has clearly made advancements in the system. He still has a tendency to swing for the fences (he misses on at least one bad tackle attempt per game), but his play as of late makes you wonder if New England might consider utilizing a defensive scheme that includes some combination of Mayo and Spikes in the middle.
Meanwhile, it certainly appears that Spikes has taken many snaps away from Fletcher at the inside spot. Fletcher remains a positive presence, but as Spikes has started to emerge, Fletcher’s snap percentage has decreased dramatically since the start of the season — according to Pro Football Focus, he played 45 percent of the snaps in the season-opener but has played just one snap the last two weeks. He has struggled with injury over the course of the season, but you also have to wonder if Spikes has moved ahead of Fletcher for good on the depth chart.
Best moment: Spikes (with help from Vince Wilfork) sniffing out a shovel pass on the goal line late against the Cowboys and blowing the play up in the backfield. The key red zone stop helped hold Dallas at bay and set the stage for a dramatic New England comeback win.
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|10.23.11 at 2:32 pm ET|
With the Patriots off this weekend, we’ve got our Bye-Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots at the six-week mark. We’ve already looked at the offensive side of the ball. Now, we start with the defense, and the defensive line.
Overview: With a collection of new faces, the Patriots defensive front struggled out of the gate as they learned how to play together. In addition, holdovers (including Wilfork, Love and Warren) were asked to make the switch as New England moved from a three-man defensive front to a four-man front, leading to more transitional questions. However, as the season has continued, there’s a clear sense that this unit is starting to gel, with two of its finest performances coming over the last two games against the Jets and Cowboys.
Individually, Wilfork, Love, Carter and Warren have all exceeded expectations, with Carter serving as the most impressive and consistent newcomer on either side of the ball through the first six weeks (for more on his impact, check out our story here). Ellis has appeared to struggle at times — whether that’s the residual effect of a hip injury, age or struggles with the new system, we’re not sure, and it will be interesting to see how he responds over the second half of the season. And Haynesworth and Anderson have been used situationally, but responded well when healthy — when he was on the field against the Cowboys for 27 snaps, there were times where Haynesworth was absolutely dominant. (For evidence, check out what he did when he was triple-teamed on Carter’s second snap of Romo.)
Best Moment: The back-to-back effort against the Jets and the Cowboys represented the best defensive outings of the season for New England, as the Patriots combined to hold New York and Dallas to 37 total points and 7-for-23 on third down without defensive captain, linebacker Jerod Mayo. Not great numbers, but much better than where they were at the start of the season. (We’ll also throw Wilfork’s two picks — one vs. the Chargers and the second against the Raiders — into this group as well.)
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|10.23.11 at 1:05 pm ET|
The 1-5 Minnesota Vikings are having a tough go of it through the first six games this season, and things have only gotten worse over the weekend. Early on Saturday, cornerback Chris Cook was arrested on domestic battery charges and is being held without bail. Cook will not play Sunday against Green Bay and the Vikings said they will not comment on the arrest until they find out more information.
Aside from Cook’s issues, the Vikings have a controversy on their hands related to quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is being benched for Sunday’s game. Rookie Christian Ponder will start in McNabb’s place.
This is the third team in three years that has benched McNabb, and NFL.com’s Michael Lombardi alleges that the quarterback just doesn’t have the work ethic necessary for an NFL quarterback. Lombardi reports McNabb has shown up late for meeting and practices and does not study the playbook thoroughly.
Former quarterback and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner asked McNabb about the rumors regarding his work ethic, and McNabb denied the reports, saying ‘That stuff’s crazy.’ McNabb claims he is doing what the coaches ask him to do in every situation. But on Sunday, doing what his coaches ask of him will be playing backup to a rookie. Read the rest of this entry »
|10.23.11 at 1:26 am ET|
With the Patriots off this weekend, we’ve got our Bye-Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots as they head into the bye weekend. We’ve already put the tight ends, wide receivers, offensive line and running backs in the spotlight. Now, it’s the quarterbacks.
Overview: As has been the case for the Patriots in the past, all the offensive success flows from the quarterback position. And even though he has cooled somewhat after a red-hot start, it’s clear that Tom Brady has few peers: Through six games, he’s leading the league in passing yards (2,163) and yards per game (361) and second in yards per attempt (9.13), touchdown passes (16) and completed passes (160). He is one of the finest game-managers, and no quarterback in the NFL has a better grasp of his system and what his coach ultimately wants him to accomplish on a weekly basis than Brady. (He and Bill Belichick have the longest active quarterback-coach relationship in the league.)
As for drawbacks, there still remains a question as to whether or not the Patriots can be successful if Brady is less than his best over the course of a full 60 minutes. In addition, even though many of the interceptions have come on tipped, fluky plays, he’s thrown twice as many picks this season as he had through six games last year. But thus far, there’s no reason to think Brady won’t at least be in the discussion when it comes to MVP talk this season.
Best Moment: Brady’s performance in the regular-season opener against Miami was one of the finest of his career. He went 32-for-48 for 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yard pass play to Wes Welker that tied the league record for longest play from scrimmage in NFL history. He completed passes of 99, 46, 30, 24 and 23 yards to five different receivers, and ended up with completions to eight different receivers.
Worst Moment: While not all of the four interceptions could be blamed on him — rewatching the game, there were probably two badly thrown balls that were the fault of Brady — the four-pick nightmare against the Bills in September was probably one of the worst games Brady has produced the last two seasons.
By the numbers, according to Pro Football Focus: Tom Brady is the only member of the New England offense to play every snap from scrimmage this season. PFF also has him graded as the top overall quarterback in the league after the first six weeks of the season with a +44.4.
Money Quote: ‘I’ve said it before — there’s no quarterback I’d rather have.’ –Belichick on Brady. The two recently tied Dan Marino and Don Shula for the most wins by a quarterback/coach combination with 116.
|10.22.11 at 12:28 pm ET|
Welcome to the Week 7 starts and sits. We’ve isolated some options that we like and some that we don’t like for the upcoming week’s games. If you need deeper analysis, please feel free to join us at Rotobahn.com, and check out our comprehensive lineup rankings. If you want information on late-breaking injury information on game day, follow us on twitter. Just follow the link on our home page.
Joe Flacco @ Jaguars
In the Monday night matchup, we like Flacco to go to the air and take advantage of Jacksonville on the back end. His receivers are getting better even though Lee Evans has been stuck in park. He’s a QB1 this week.
Matt Hasselbeck vs Texans
He’s been playing at a high level and this is a week they will need to play aggressively. We like Hasselbeck to be a startable asset this week. Use him if you need him.
Tim Tebow @ Dolphins
Yeah, there’s some risk, but we love the upside and he’ll give you enough foot points as a base to make him well worth the risk. In a down week due to all the bye losses, we think he’s actually a pretty good play. He’s our 10th ranked quarterback in this sort of homecoming start.
Curtis Painter @ Saints
He could do well in garbage time, but we worry about how he’ll do versus the Saints’ pressure. We think he struggles more than normal.
John Beck @ Panthers
The matchup is pretty solid, but no way do we trust him. We are very interested to see how he plays, but we’d keep him out of fantasy lineups if possible.
Kyle Boller vs Chiefs
It looks like he’ll be the guy for one week and we strongly encourage you to not play him in anything outside of a two-QB league.
|10.21.11 at 1:53 pm ET|
With the Patriots off this weekend, we’ve got our Bye Week Breakdown, a position-by-position look at the Patriots. We’ve already put the tight ends, wide receivers and offensive line in the spotlight. Now, it’s the running backs.
Overview: The Patriots running game has had a very successful start to the 2011 season, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 124 yards per game — excellent numbers when you consider that the Pats have faced three of the top 11 run defenses in the league (Dallas, Miami and San Diego) in terms of yards allowed through the first six weeks. They have been able to provide balance, occasional support in the passing game and help in blitz pickup. With Shane Vereen seeing his first action of the season last week against Dallas and Kevin Faulk now eligible to come off the PUP list, it will be interesting to see how the running game operates the rest of the season, but thus far it has certainly lived up to — and at times exceeded — expectations.
Depth chart: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (91 carries, 391 yards, five touchdowns, 4.3 yards per carry), Danny Woodhead (30 carries, 122 yards, zero touchdows, 4.1 yards per carry), Stevan Ridley (28 carries, 180 yards, one touchdowns, 6.4 yards per carry), Shane Vereen (zero carries).
Best moment: In the second half of the Patriots’ win over the Jets, Green-Ellis had 85 yards and allowed New England to engineer 11-play and 13-play drives to keep the clock moving and close out the game. On the 13-yard drive, Green-Ellis got the ball on nine of the plays and came away with 59 of the 69 yards (including runs of 15, 14, 8 and 7 yards) that led to a 28-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to make it a two-score game with just over a minute left.
Worst moment: It was more for lack of attempts, but the Patriots’ running game seemed a little out of sync in the first half of the loss to the Bills. New England only attempted 11 rushes in the first two quarters and came away with 35 yards for 3.2 yards per carry, the lowest yards per carry average the running backs have had for one half all season long.
By the numbers: Through six games, Green-Ellis leads the team in total touches with 95 (91 carries, four receptions). Wide receiver Wes Welker is in second place overall with 52 (one carry, 51 receptions).
Money quote: ‘Benny, he’s a great guy to block for. He’s going to read the play, he’s going to find the right hole. He’s not going to fumble. He’s going to do the right thing. He’s going to give you everything he’s got. He’s a great guy to block for.’ – Offensive lineman Logan Mankins on Green-Ellis