Let’s check back on the Week 7 schedule. Breakdowns, some Xs and Os, etc. Ten NFL topics you should be talking about after watching football on Sunday.
1. Brees vs. the Colts: Look at these final numbers from Drew Brees in the 62-7 win: 31-35-335-5 TDs. The Colts (like the Vikings and Bears) want to play Cover 2. Drop seven into coverage and force the ball to go underneath. Working vs. Brees, he is going to move the ball down the field, take the underneath options and target the intermediate routes in the zone coverage. And when they get near the goal line, throw it up to TE Jimmy Graham—especially on the fade route vs. a safety. Forget technique there, because Graham is too athletic and uses his size to win. New Orleans could have hung 70-plus points on Indy if Brees took the snaps in the fourth quarter.
Tebow brought the Broncos back in the 4th quarter to send the game to OT.
2. Tebow’s 4th quarter comeback: You should be critical of Tebow for the majority of his play in this game. He didn't execute or move the ball with production. But, as I wrote on Sunday, give Tebow the credit for the 4th quarter comeback. He made plays (even if it was unconventional) and put two TDs (plus a 2-point conversion) on the board. The next question I have is simple: what does the game plan look like next week vs. Detroit? The Broncos have to decide how they are going to tailor their call sheet to fit Tebow’s skill set if he is going to be the guy moving forward.
3. Rodgers vs. the Vikings’ secondary: Based on what we have seen through seven weeks with Rodgers, is anyone surprised at the numbers he posted (24-30-335-3 TDs) in the win over Minnesota? The Vikings have a below average secondary and can’t compete with the spread looks the Packers use on offense. When you add in a QB that is seeing the field better anyone in the league, this is what the box score is going to look like. And I still don’t see a secondary in the NFL that can consistently matchup vs. this Green Bay offense. They are rolling.
4. Rough start for Palmer: Kyle Boller played some bad football yesterday (7-14-3 INTs), but Carson Palmer (7-21-3 INTs) didn’t improve this offense when he took over in a 28-0 loss to the Chiefs. The “pick-six” he threw vs. Brandon Flowers? Didn’t stand a chance—because Flowers was breaking downhill on the 3-step hitch route before Palmer even let go of the ball. After three days of practice, I didn’t expect Palmer to light up the box score, but this was some poor QB play we saw from the veteran. Palmer now gets some time during the bye week to study this Raiders’ playbook, work on his footwork, technique, etc. But when Oakland hits the field in two weeks, the production has to be there.
5. Two straight losses in Detroit: Last week, Frank Gore and the Niners put up some numbers on the ground and we saw the same from Michael Turner (27-122) and the Falcons on Sunday. No need to make excuses here, the front seven has to play better and pick up Stafford and the offense when they aren’t moving the ball consistently. Interested to see how Detroit plays next week in Denver now that their 5-0 start isn’t a hot topic anymore. Crucial point of the season for a young football team.
6. Chris Johnson is a no-show—again: 18 yards on 10 carries isn’t going to get it done in a divisional football game in this league. No question the offensive line in Tennessee has to be held accountable, but when you are an elite back (and paid like one), the production has to be there. However, this is what happens when you hold out of camp and miss practice time. The Titans were embarrassed by the Texans at home and when you turn on the tape it is obvious that Arian Foster (234-total yards, 3 TDs) was the best RB on the field.
DeMarco Murray set the Cowboys' franchise record with 253-yards rushing.
7. Demarco Murray in Dallas: The numbers from the rookie RB are ridiculous: 25 carries, 253-yards, 1 TD. Murray set a franchise record with his production in the win over the Rams, but look deeper here. This is a great example of a young player stepping in because of an injury and showing the coaching staff he should be the No.1 in the Cowboys’ backfield. You run for 250-plus and there is no way I am pulling him from the lineup when Felix Jones returns.
8. More Newton to Smith in Carolina: The story heading into this game was Redskins’ QB John Beck getting the start, but again we see the combination of Cam Newton and Steve Smith. The veteran WR (7-143) is playing some of the best football of his career and is still one of the top deep threats in the league. And with Newton, he continues to impress me. Throws for 256-yards and a TD and rushes for 59-yards with another TD coming off the “read option.” The offensive system fits the rookie and he rolled a ‘Skins defense I talked up the past couple of weeks under Jim Haslett.
9. Plaxico in the red zone: Burress was the No.1 target in the red zone (3 TD receptions) during the Jets 27-21 win over the Chargers. I’ve talked about it before, because throwing the back shoulder fade or any inside breaking route (slant, post, seam) to a WR with size is an advantage for the offense vs. Cover 1 (man-free). Throw the slant and the fade when Plax is on the field. That should result in points if the defense wants to play man coverage and test their technique vs. Burress.
10. Time to pay Forte in Chicago: This will be the topic of discussion (again) in Chicago this week. Yes, Lovie Smith’s defense forced four turnovers in London during the Bears 24-18 win over Josh Freeman and the Bucs, but this team will win games based on Forte’s production. I don’t know if Mike Martz will be calling plays in Chicago next season, but the playbook isn’t going to impact Forte’s numbers. The RB can play and almost had another 200-yard day in total offense. Time for Jerry Angelo to sit down and sign him up for the future in a Bears’ uniform.
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MAY 24 Joel Corry
Keep an eye on what happens in Miami between the Dolphins and first round pick Dion Jordan.
MAY 13 Jeff Fedotin
Former discus star launches football career with 49ers.