Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts on Weeks 1-3 of the 2010 NFL Season

What is up with the quarterbacks? I don't think I've ever really noticed this before, but there are a LOT of crappy quarterbacks in the NFL. I don't know if it's because of the ever-increasing focus on passing games, greater disparity between great QB's and average ones, or the type of development (or lack thereof) happening in college and in the offseason, but it seems like the numbers of good quarterbacks has shrunk drastically. I mean, there are thee guys I feel I can go a whole season with: Peyton, Brees, Brady. There's another couple I think could win the Superbowl with, namely Rothlisberger (when he returns he should be right back up there), Rodgers, Rivers, Eli (his teams struggles are not really related to him, though he could show more leadership), and Schaub.

After that, there are a couple of guys that can make some noise, Ryan, Favre, Vick, Flacco, Cutler, and McNabb. These guys, I trust with the ball down by 4 with 5 minutes left. Well, maybe not Favre, but the dude is a warrior and he receivers through the first two weeks have been atrocious. Sure, some of the picks have been bad, but when your receivers can't fight for balls, you will throw bad picks. Beyond that group the QB's get worse and worse. Sure Romo, puts up gaudy fantasy stats but he doesn't win, and this jury is pretty convinced about his future winning potential. Ditto to Orton (I was admittedly high on Orton at the beginning of the season, but now, I can't wait for Tebow to be ready, though deep down, I know they should keep Tim on the pine until next season). There are a few young guys that can grow, like Stafford, Bradford, Kolb, Young, but they are all REALLY raw. Take a guy like Stafford, for instance. People love him. Lots of people point to that 5 TD game against Cleveland where he drove the team to a winning score in the waning seconds, while playing hurt. Great, that's a great story. Outside of that? He really hasn't shown much. I'm sorry if I'm being overly critical, especially considering the team situation before he got there, but I am very hesitant to think Stafford is going to make it after one good game. I mean, Young had a pretty good season and still looks like he can't read a defense. I mean, the guy has been in the league for years, and he can't read when defenses disguise coverages? Either that or he loves throwing into double coverage. I can't figure it out. Kolb is another guy who has shown only greatness against sub-par defenses.

Wait, it gets even better. You've got a whole slew of game managers. I love when people say that QB's can manage a game well. What is that supposed to mean? From what I've seen, it means the total inability to make a play other than one to a wide-open receiver. Or in other words, the guy would be great on a college team where the receivers can out-run the corners and you play pitch and catch. Dump passes, screens, passes to the halfback in the flat can only get you so far. And in the modern NFL, that is sub-.500 ball. Guys like Henne, Alex Smith, Garrard, Palmer, Hasselbeck, these guys have either never really grasped an offense, or are past their prime. Their only saving grace is a whole slew of clubs that have absolutely no clue at the game's most important position. I'm thinking of you, Ken Wisenhunt. Everyone loved you when you took a darling Cardinals team to the Super Bowl, but honestly, you couldn't tell in 3 years that Leinart wasn't the answer? You had to wait until the week before the season, where your only remaining option was Derek Anderson, or heaven forbid Max Hall? I mean, have you seen Derek Anderson play? He was so bad the Browns opted not to have him. Not that they're doing any better. I think they will be a weekly -2 on possession after Delhomme throws his requisite interceptions. I shake my head at this. Buffalo, Oakland, Carolina, all seem like they are completely in the dark.

So what do we have? By my count, we have 3 Super Bowl worthy QB's, another 4-5 who can contend, and 4-5 on top of that who have teams good enough to make a run. Which means a good two-thirds of the league either has an untested commodity, or a proven disaster at quarterback. Yahoo! Sports had a recent article blaming the demise of NFL Europe and B-leagues where quarterbacks (like Warner) can develop. I think that's true. But at some points, you have to look at how the league develops its own quarterbacks. I don't know that I have a solution. So I'll let you make the call.

Team Rankings:
1. Green Bay Packers. Great defense, good enough offense, waiting on the running game.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers. Great defense, good enough offense, waiting on Big Ben.
3. Indianapolis Colts. Manning still getting it done.
4. Atlanta Falcons. I don't care about luck, they knocked off the champs.
5. Philadelphia Eagles. Vick is showing a return to form.
6. New York Jets. A good two games following a bad loss. We'll see if it can continue.
7. Baltimore Ravens. Need to get that offense on track. Ray Rice needs to do more.
8. New Orleans Saints. The offense shows it can shuffle playmakers in and out. The defense might not have any.
9. Houston Texans. Still a dangerous team, but that was a bad loss to Dallas.
10. New England Patriots. Still consistently good, I see them moving up in the next few weeks.
11. Chicago Bears. Surprise team so far, Martz has been good to Forte (in my fantasy teams, I rated Forte high because of what Faulk did under Martz). We'll see after they play the Pack.
12. Kansas City Chiefs. They beat patsy teams, but I have to reward 3 straight.
13. Tennessee Titans. The defense is good again, but can Young show consistent effort and leadership?
14. Cincinatti Bengals. Is '09 Palmer anything like '05 Palmer, except in name?
15. Miami Dolphins. What happens when the run game isn't working?
16. Arizona Cardinals. Barely beat Oakland, yet they play in the NFC's worst division, which could yield a playoff spot.
17. Seattle Seahawks. Ditto.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So they beat some crappy teams. No playoff ambitions here.
19. Denver Broncos. Orton can throw for yards, but he needs to throw for scores. They were ugly every time they got in sight of the endzone.
20. San Diego Chargers. Miss Vincent Jackson now?
21. Minnesota Vikings. Need Vincent Jackson now?
22. Washington Redskins. McNabb is an upgrade and their division is weaker than in year's past, but that loss to Saint Louis was ugly.
23. Dallas Cowboys. Romo will never win a Super Bowl.
24. New York Giants. Coughlin needs to get his team back.
25. Oakland Raiders
26. Saint Louis Rams. Bradford showing some promise.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars. Garrard is not.
28. Detroit Lions. They should have won the Chicago game.
29. San Francisco 49ers. Crabtree curse in full effect. Alex Smith needs to improve in a hurry, and playcalling is only part of it.
30. Cleveland Browns. At least they know who their starter is.
31. Buffalo Bills. And they just found out who their starter is.
32. Carolina Panthers. They still have no clue.

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