The Weekend in Review

  If there is one thing that we have learned in the world of NFL and college football it is to expect the unexpected. Regardless of last year’s records or what teams did in the preseason, each season takes on its own life and there will be surprise teams and outcomes. It happens every year, but it seems as if we never really prepare for it. That said, here are my thoughts on some of the weekend’s happenings. Buffalo Bills Since Rex Ryan took over there has been a lot of hype as to how good the Bills may be. If you didn’t watch them totally dominate Indianapolis Sunday, take a look this week versus New England. This is a tough physical football team that comes to play. They have so playmakers on offense and defense that it is tough for opposing coordinators to get a handle on who to try and stop. Granted their quarterback Tyrod Taylor is only a journeyman, but he doesn’t have to be more than that. All he has to do is manage the game and distribute the ball. The defense did an excellent job shutting down the high powered offense of the Indianapolis Colts. They did it without the services of one of their best defensive players, defensive tackle Marcel Darius. Darius is back this week to play against division rival New England. Though it’s only week two, this game could have a big affect on who wins the division. Aaron Rodgers I have always liked the way Aaron Rodgers plays. For years I have had him rated as one of the top four quarterbacks in the NFL. After watching him Sunday, I am putting him all alone at the top. He IS the BEST quarterback in the NFL. The Chicago Bears played well enough to beat Green Bay on Sunday. They held a four minute time of possession advantage and ran the ball for 189 yards. In most games, that will get you a victory. Not this time! Rodgers made some of the best throws I have ever seen him make. Twice he completed longer passes where the coverage was excellent. He had a very small window in which to complete the pass and found that window. Not many can do that. His accuracy and ball placement is the best in the game. The Bears did a good job putting pressure on Rodgers with their pass rush, yet each time he was able to use his athleticism to get out of trouble and make a play downfield. Mariota vs. Winston This game was supposed to be a close matchup of the first two players taken in last April’s NFL Draft. It didn’t turn out that way as Mariota and the Tennessee Titans had this game in the bag before the first quarter ended as they jumped out to a 21-0. Mariota looked as if he should have been the first player drafted. He completed 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. What’s more important is that he didn’t turn the ball over. He executed the game plan perfectly and did not look like a rookie making his first NFL start. Winston, on the other hand, looked more like an undrafted free agent than the first overall selection. On his very first throw he never read the coverage, stared down his receiver and the pass turned into a quick pick-six for Tennessee. Winston looked confused and out of sync all day. For the game he was 16 of 33 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The other interception was similar to the first. It was a ball that never should have been thrown. For the Bucs sake, he better show improvement next week or they are in for a long season. New York Giants There was a time when Eli Manning was one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. That time has passed, as Eli has not played good football since the Giants last won a Super Bowl. Despite that, the Giants recently gave Manning an $84 million contract extension. I questioned it then and after Sunday I still question it. Manning has played football in the NFL for a number of years, but in the closing minutes of Sunday night's game versus Dallas he looked like a rookie who had never played the game. With the Giants up by 3 points and having a first and goal at the Dallas 4 yard line with 1:55 left in the game, Manning instructed running back Rashad Jennings not to score. That's insane! A touchdown gives the Giants a 10 point lead and locks up the game. On first and second down Jennings gained a total of 2.5 yards and when watching replays he easily could have scored. On third down Manning rolls right and throws the ball out of the end zone stopping the clock with over 1:20 left in the game. That would give Dallas plenty of time to score (which they did) after the Giants kicked a field goal to go up by 6 points. If Manning had taken a sack, Dallas would have had only about 35 seconds in which to score. That made two huge mistakes on Manning's part, both of which cost the Giants a crucial road victory. If Manning was a rookie we might understand, but he is an experienced veteran who should know better. Looking back he had no idea what the score was or how much time was on the clock. And he just got an $84 million extension? Wow! Notre Dame Notre Dame was supposed to be one of the top teams in the nation this year. Many (including me) felt they would be in the running for a playoff spot. They easily won their opener against Texas 38 – 3. Saturday, on the road at Virginia, it was a different story as they had to come from behind to beat Virginia 34 – 27 on a last second 39 yard touchdown pass from DeShone Kizer to Will Fuller. In the third quarter, the Irish lost starting quarterback Malik Zaire to a broken ankle and he will be lost for the season. Zaire had shown uncanny playmaking ability and poise in his three starts going back to last year’s bowl game win against LSU. Kizer, a redshirt freshman now takes over and with a tough game coming up this Saturday versus Georgia Tech, we will find out if he is ready to handle the pressure. Zaire isn’t the only starter Notre Dame has lost so far. In training camp they lost starting nose tackle Jarron Jones to a knee injury. In the opener, starting running back Tarean Folston went down with a knee and then it was revealed Monday night that starting tight end Durham Smythe was lost to a knee and shoulder injury. All the injured are lost for the season and it may be too much for Notre Dame to overcome. How many top teams can lose that many starters and still compete for a National title. If anything, we will find out just how good a coach Brian Kelly is. If the Irish can now finish at 9-3, he has done a hell of a job. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

Upcoming Games

Aug 5th, 8:00 PM

Dallas

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Aug 12th, 7:30 PM

Washington

New England

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Aug 12th, 7:30 PM

Pittsburgh

Philadelphia

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