Sunday Round-up: Maybe Next Year, Houston
At the rate they are going, the Texans defense might actually just be a myth perpetuated by the presence of DE Mario Williams and DT Amobi Okoye amongst an endless stream of the talentless hacks that populate the majority of the team’s defense. Why else would a team that ranks last or second to last in defense virtually every year since 2005 fail to show any semblance of improvement under three different coordinators and through the development of excellent individual talents?
The efficent day that Mark Sanchez had throwing the football might have been the final straw in the Gary Kubiak regime, even while his offense failed to figure out what the heck they should do to move the ball minus second WR Kevin Walter, at some point the head coach is responsible for what goes on over on the other side of the ball as well. What’s going on there is blown coverages, missed gap assignments, and horrible, awful defensive mismatches.
The Texans will probably not see a weaker offense all year than they just saw in the Jets at home, so it’s possible that this defense could set a few records for points against by the end of the year. The building blocks of a strong defense remain on the roster, but until the terrible players are removed, 8-8 will remain an over achievement for whoever Houston’s next head coach is.
Speaking of poor coaching, the Washington Redskins could not solve the puzzle of the injury riddled New York Giants on either side of the ball, despite a convincing victory in the trenches, lead by Snyderbucks’ latest prize, DT Albert Haynesworth. The Giants could not gain a yard no matter how much it mattered, so they went to the next best thing: picking on DeAngelo Hall/Fred Smoot, Washington’s chapter of the human third down conversion.
To combat this bend-and-hope-the-offense-breaks defense, the Redskins offense spread out the Giants depleted secondary in the first half, turning the three or four first half possessions into a single score, while being marred by turnovers. Then coach Jim Zorn took the offense back into it’s shell in the second half, as the Redskins plunged Clinton Portis into the line while they scored only 10 points in the half: and three of those were set up by a Hall interception.
Needless to say, the combination could not overcome the Giants’ passing game efficiency. The Giants, who were physically beaten at home in the game, held onto a 6 point victory.
Joe Flacco had his first career 300 yard passing game in the NFL, leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 38-24 victory over the surprisingly competitive Kansas City Chiefs. Flacco also threw 3 TDs and 1 INT.
Ray Rice chipped in 100 yards on the ground for the Ravens, but the Chiefs used two special teams touchdowns to remain competitive deep into the fourth quarter. It was Flacco who drove the team down and threw the game clinching TD pass to avoid a potentially embarrassing defeat.
On one third and goal play, Flacco rolled right, found no one open, then came back left between pass rushers and ad-libbed a touchdown to Willis McGahee, who was blocking on the play. The throw was perfect. It was a defining game in the young quarterback’s career, as the Ravens almost certainly need his passing acumen to overcome the Steelers in the AFC North this season.
Chicago Bears fans everywhere were questioning the Jay Cutler trade after the Sunday Night game. Cutler was intercepted 4 times, and threw no less than three other possible INTs that were dropped by Packers defensive backs. That doesn’t even count the times he threw into quadruple coverage and got lucky.
But the bottom line is for all of Cutler’s gunslinger-ness, he threw a single TD and produced all of 13 offensive points. Cutler has undergone a serious system transplantation in the last 8 months and a learning curve is inevitable. The problem is that Cutler is at a point in his career where those gaps in knowledge regarding the Chicago playbook will become forced plays or worse: throws made into areas where Cutler feels a receiver should be going.
The outcome: a gem from the defense nullified by play at the quarterback position. That’s exactly the scenario that Cutler was acquired to prevent.