Let’s take a look back at the Week 14 action in the NFL. My five winners and five losers from Sunday.
Click here to read my game notes from the early kickoffs.
Click here to read my game notes from the late kickoffs.
Week 14 Winners
1. Tom Brady: The Patriots’ QB tore up this Bears’ defense. He was able to sit in the pocket and exploit Lovie Smith’s coverage schemes routinely. Cover 2, Cover 1, zone pressure, and eight-man fronts. It didn’t matter what the Bears played because Brady worked the middle of the field with Wes Welker (8-115) and Deion Branch (8-151-1TD), hit the 9 (fade) route outside of the numbers and threw the ball with top-level accuracy. That was a clinic by the league’s best QB and it looked too easy at times—even in the snow. 369-yards and 2 TDs.
ICONDeSean Jackson caught four passes for 210-yards and a TD in the Eagles' win.
2. DeSean Jackson: Take a look at these numbers from the Eagles’ WR in last night’s 30-27 win over the Cowboys: 4 receptions for 210-yards and a TD. He is fun to watch in this Eagles scheme because of the type of offense they run under Andy Reid. You get the vertical game with eight-man protection, multiple inside breaking routes (that allow him to run away from a defender’s leverage) and when he gets in open space he is the fastest player on the field. The 91-yard TD? Just a curl route that he broke off to the outside away from the leverage of the CB. Turn up field, make a move and outrun the entire defense to the end zone.
3. The Jaguars: You have to like this football team because of what they did yesterday in the 38-31 win over the Raiders to move to 8-5. Quarterback David Garrard throws 3 TD passes, the offense gets over 200-yards from RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings and when they needed a play—late in a tie ball game—they get a big return on special teams. It wasn’t perfect and that Jags’ defense gave up some plays, but this team is winning because they are physical up front and making plays in the second half. Let’s see if they can close out the Colts this week.
4. Troy Polamalu: If you aren’t sold that Troy Polamalu is the best safety in the game—even after the big play last Sunday vs. Baltimore—go back and watch him in the win over Cincinnati. The Bengals were controlling this game in the second quarter until the Steelers’ safety broke downhill and stepped in front of vertical route down the seam—and took it back for a TD. Adds another pick in the win and continues to be the top playmaking defensive back in the NFL. That wins in December and it will also win in the playoffs.
5. Darren McFadden: We have to mention the Raiders’ RB even in the loss. Racks up over 200-plus yards of total offense and 3 TDs and played like a No.1 back that can take over a game. We know he can split the top of the defense when he gets vertical in the open field, but I am still impressed with his ability to break tackles and use the cutback lanes to find running space. He is an ideal fit in Oakland with the way they are game planning under Tom Cable.
Week 14 Losers
1. The Bears’ defense: We already mentioned what Brady did to this unit at Solider Field, but what happened to this defense front that was so solid vs. the run this season? The Patriots were able to run the ball with production and use those one-back schemes in their Jumbo personnel (1 WR, 3 TE, 1 RB) and Ace personnel (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) to create easy running lanes that allowed both Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead to get to the second level of the defense. Couldn’t get off blocks and we saw a lot of missed tackles. Everything about this Bears’ defense was poor yesterday, but I didn’t expect them to be controlled up front by the Patriots and to give up 124-yards on the ground.
ICONMcCarthy and the Packers' offense had issues in the 7-3 loss to the Lions.
2. The Packers’ offense: Even before Aaron Rodgers left with a concussion and turned the ball over to Matt Flynn, this offense looked flat, had questionable play calling and could not win at the line of scrimmage. Yes, we should give a lot of credit to that Detroit defensive line. But when you consistently can’t run the ball and end up taking a shot to the end zone on a 4th and 1 call with the game on the line, something doesn’t add up. Mike McCarthy should take some heat this week, and with the Patriots up next on Sunday night, Green Bay really needs to spend some time on this tape and make the proper corrections.
3. The Jets “tripping” incident: This is bad football. Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi intentionally sticks his knee out to knock off on Dolphins’ gunner Nolan Gunner covering a punt. I played the gunner spot for the Packers—and it can get really nasty on the sidelines—but I never saw a coach (or a player) intentionally try to take me out. Sure, there are guys on the sidelines that won’t move when you are trying to beat the blockers down the field, but for someone to come out (and a coach of all people) and stick his knee out? I expect the league to hand down some sort of fine or suspension now that is on tape. Plus, we are talking about a possible knee injury to Carroll. Really, I have never seen anything like that after playing special teams for seven years in the NFL.
4. Redskins’ special teams: That is an awful way to lose a ball game. You put so much into these games as a player throughout the week with practice, film, game plans, etc. And to watch a bad snap on an extra point (on top of two missed chip shot field goals) lose the game? Would you be surprised if Redskins’ kicker Graham Gano had a locker on Wednesday? I would—because you can’t miss kicks at this level that end up costing you points and wins. Tough day in D.C.
5. Mark Sanchez: The struggles continue with the Jets’ QB. He got away with multiple passes that should have been picked by the Dolphins’ defense. And watching that game yesterday, I am starting to wonder if he is having a hard time reading some of the more complex defensive schemes in the NFL. That is the only way I see it after some of the decisions he makes throwing the ball in the middle of the field. Let’s be honest here, the Jets need better play out of Sanchez if they are going to make any sort of December push into the playoffs. And going 17-44 for 216-yards with an INT isn’t going to get it done.
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