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Tag:New York Jets
Posted on: November 15, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 4:39 pm
 

Ryan on Tebow: It's not pretty but he's a winner

Ryan's Tebow fandom extends back to Tebow's Heisman Trophy-winning college days. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Patriots made easy work of the Jets on Sunday night, which must make an already short week seem even shorter for New York. The Jets are 5-4 and currently one game out of the wild-card race. New England's remaining seven games redefine "cake schedule," which means that the Jets have virtually no room for mistakes the rest of the way.

On Thursday, they'll face Tim Tebow and the Broncos in Denver. On paper, it's a mismatch; the Jets defense is known for blitzing quarterbacks silly, particularly ones short on experience. And cornerback Darrelle Revis has been up to the weekly task of shutting down the opponent's best receiver, though he may be hard-pressed to identify who that is in the Broncos new (old)-fangled read-option offense.

Recapping Week 10

Head coach Rex Ryan, who got the league's attention Monday after a video surfaced of his halftime suggestion to one Belichick-loving heckler, spoke about his admiration for Tebow's game going back to college.

“I thought he was a great competitor and he is a winner, and that’s what he’s showing right now,” Ryan said, in comments distributed by the Jets’ PR staff (via PFT). “Are there prettier passers than him? Yeah, absolutely. But again, [we] just [have to] try to find a way to beat him.”

In fact, the Broncos have given new meaning to "ground and pound."

“It was amazing, I mean, you talk about a team committed to running the football," Ryan said during an appearance on ESPN Radio New York. "They’re running all kind of different options — they’re running speed options, load options, read options. You know, Tebow had more rushing attempts than he had passing attempts, so it’s a total different challenge that’s for sure.”

Ryan won't have to look far for an answer.

Twelve years ago, Ryan wrote “Coaching Football’s 46 Defense," and it includes 20 pages on how to stop the option, now the centerpiece of the Broncos' offense. Ryan's dad, Buddy, created the 46 Defense. It came to prominence a quarter-century ago when the 1985 Bears' defense, one of the best in NFL history, featured the 46 all the way to a Super Bowl title.

Can Tim Tebow and the Broncos read-option the Jets on Thursday? Is Mark Sanchez better than Tebow? Can the Packers go 16-0? Chat live with our NFL experts now!




Tebow is one of the NFL's worst passers (it's a race to the bottom with Blaine Gabbert), but he's turned what should be a debilitating disadvantage into an asset. Against lesser teams the strategy -- run till the wheels fall off (and that's sorta what happened against the Chiefs) -- works. If Denver can have success in their one-dimensional offense against the Jets then we'll probably have to have the "The Broncos are a playoff team, right?" conversation at some point soon. Not so much because Tebow has magically transformed Denver into an offensive juggernaut, but because the AFC West is still up for grabs.

“With Tim Tebow at quarterback, it’s almost a throwback to the college game,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after Tebow didn’t complete his first pass against the Chiefs until late in the third quarter.

Mayock's NFL Network colleague Deion Sanders added: “You can’t measure Tim Tebow by statistics because he has that ‘it’ factor. The only thing I know is that they’re starting to believe and winning games.”

It sounds corny but it's true. The Broncos are 3-1 with Tebow under center. Maybe it's coincidence or maybe it's a higher power. Either way, Denver was losing with Kyle Orton and now they're not. For the time being, it doesn't really matter why.

By the way, you can buy Ryan's book here (we're guessing John Fox is furiously flipping through it as we write this). And if you're looking for a gag gift this holiday season, might we suggest the ironic comedy stylings of Brian Billick (The only thing missing is a foreward by Kyle Boller).

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Belichick mocks Jets D, Rex despondent over loss

Posted by Will Brinson

Sunday night was supposed to be the crowning of the Jets as the new AFC East power. The Patriots were dead (long live the Patriots!) and the Jets were coming on strong. Except, it turns out, everyone lost their short-term memory and the Pats blew out the Jets 37-16, reminding everyone, as Mike Freeman wrote, that the AFC East isn't all that different just yet.

So will the Jets still win the Super Bowl? Well, they should probably try and win the division first, which is something that Rex Ryan doesn't see happening.

"It looks doubtful right now," Ryan said Sunday after the game. "What am I going to say? Maybe I should guarantee the fact that we’re out of it. The last time I did that, we made the playoffs. Yeah, we don’t have a chance."

Before Sunday, we noted that the trash-talking was suspiciously missing from the Jets for Patriots week, and we speculated that it was because Ryan knew he had a chance to really flip the tables in the AFC East. That was correct, because Ryan was clearly devastated by Sunday night's loss.

"We wanted to win this game in the worst way," Ryan said, unprompted, to open his press conference Sunday night.

Bill Belichick said nothing before the game about the importance of this win, but his actions near the end make it pretty clear it was important to him too. As we noted in the podcast, Sunday night was one of the best coaching efforts of Belichick's career and he and Tom Brady just so happened to break the record -- previously held Dan Marino and Don Shula -- for most wins by a quarterback and coach combo.

Week 10 Wrapup

Belichick was seen parading around the Pats sideline, slapping high-fives with backups and, in what's a pretty rare event, smiling after a victory. Oh, and there's this -- apparently he had some colorful words for Rex's crew. Brian Costello of the New York Post reports that Belichick dropped a vulgar little phrase towards the other sideline following the win.

"Thirty-seven points on the best defense in the league, s--- my d---," Belichick reportedly said.

Um, yeah, so that's probably not technically appropriate, and I'm sure we'll hear about this if/when the Jets and Pats meet in the postseason (it's kind of inevitable right?) and it'll probably turn into a big scandal or something. But anyone who's heard Belichick miked up knows this isn't all that surprising.

Besides, for now let's just enjoy the ridiculousness of a 60-year-old man running to midfield and screaming that at his opponent, as well as the silence from Rex.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

NFL Week 10 podcast review

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 10's Sunday action is all wrapped up and that means it's time to fire up the podcast machine.

We wonder why everyone counted out the Patriots, if the Jets can make the playoffs, why the Ravens stink against terrible teams, if the Bears or Lions are the better bet for the wild card, what Mike Smith was thinking in overtime against the Saints, if the Texans are the best team in the AFC, if the Cowboys are in position to overtake the Giants, and much, much more.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 3:55 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 10:18 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 10

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 10 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. Houston We Don't Have a Problem

"Who's the best team in the AFC?" -- that's a question I got asked a couple of times on the radio this past week, and I pointed out each time that we shouldn't be sleeping on the Texans. Following their 37-9 pimp-slapping of the Bucs in Tampa, I doubt I'll be the only one saying that this week.

Yes, they play in one of the NFL's worst divisions and, yes, they have a ridiculously cake schedule this year. No, Matt Schaub is not "elite." Yes, the Ravens have beaten them this year.

I don't expect people to stop using those arguments to knock down the Texans. That's fine -- but people need to realize that Houston is as complete a team as there is in the NFL.

They can run: Arian Foster and Ben Tate are the most dangerous backfield combo in the NFL, Derrick Ward's a nice third option and their offensive line is criminally underrated. (All three guys scored Sunday against the Buccaneers.) They can pass: pan Matt Schaub all you want, but he's thrown just three picks in the six games since losing Andre Johnson, and when Johnson returns after the bye he'll only get better.  They play defense: after ranking 30th in total yards allowed in 2010, the Texans find themselves as the stingiest defensive team in football through 10 weeks of the 2011 season.

The Texans rank third in the NFL with 14 interceptions. That's one more than they had in all of 2010. And their point differential (107) currently tops the league.

Heading into Week 10 the Texans were the only team to rank in the top 10 of Football Outsiders efficiency metrics on offense, defense and special teams. The Steelers could join them in that distinction after this week, but thanks to an absolutely dominant game in Tampa Bay, there's zero chance the Texans will see their stock fall.

Look, it's perfectly OK to expect the Texans to figure out a way not to make the playoffs. It's what they do. But it's not like they're working on some fluky formula here. Their offense won't slow down, particularly with Johnson returning, and their defense, despite losing Mario Williams, really appears to be gelling.

And because the division's so terrible, there's a distinct chance the Texans clinch their first AFC South title before Christmas.


2. The Only Stat That Matters ...

If I told you that Tim Tebow would go two of eight passing on Sunday while Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno left the game early with an injury, you'd assume that a) the Chiefs rolled the Broncos and b) Tebow got benched. You would not assume what actually happened, which is that the Broncos beat Kansas City 17-9 to hand the Chiefs their second-straight inexplicable victory.

And what's weirder, that Tebow was 0-fer at halftime, missing on all five of his passing attempts? Or that he only attempted three more passes in the second half? Or that his second completion was a straight-up NFL throw that resulted in a 56-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker?

Or maybe that Broncos coach John Fox was clearly overjoyed to beat a division rival with an offensive gameplan that probably caused the NFL's marketing arm to set fire to the highlight reel within 15 minutes of the final whistle.

"It's just a mindset. It's a low-risk offense. It's not an indictment on Tim Tebow or whoever our quarterback is," Fox said. "It's just whatever is working for us. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We tried to possess the ball and keep our defense fresh."

That sounds kind of ridiculous, and I guess it is. But we're talking about John Fox here -- he's not exactly an offensive innovator, much less someone who cares in the slightest how many passing attempts his quarterback has, particularly if the team wins.

But hey, there's a precedent for this kind of game -- it's the 27th quarterback time since the merger that a team's won a game despite having a quarterback who completed two or less passes on eight or more attempts. The parameters are weird, and the list is weirder, especially because several of the quarterbacks weren't the only guy to take snaps for their team. Most interesting (to me) are a pair of names on the list with Tebow: Kyle Orton ... and John Elway.

Tebow's not the same quarterback as the man in charge of his future, but he's now 3-1 since taking over as the Broncos starting quarterback. He's improving, Denver's figuring out how to design offensive schemes around his specific skillset, and they're turning what looked like a lost season into an interesting little run in a weak AFC West.

3. Texas Is Big Enough for Two Teams

It really is nuts how much the NFL playoff picture can change in a matter of weeks. Or days. Or hours -- the Cowboys entered Sunday morning two games back of the Giants for the NFC East lead with the potentially resurgent Eagles hot on their heels. Less than 12 hours later, after a 44-7 whipping of Buffalo? Dallas is one game back of the Giants, the Eagles look done, and it's like the Cowboys season was never in jeopardy.

"We needed a game like this," Jason Witten said. "This needs to be the foundation of what lies ahead for this team."

"A game like this" equates to what might be the best game of Tony Romo's career. The oft-maligned quarterback was 23 of 26 for 270 yards and three touchdowns, and the only reason his numbers were suppressed is Dallas 28-7 halftime lead. Romo attempted just seven passes in the second half and set the Cowboys franchise record for completion percentage, hitting 88.5 percent of his passes.

Could it be a coincidence that Romo got rid of his flak jacket for the first time since his broken ribs in Week 2? Maybe. But over the course of the next few weeks, it probably won't look like it, because the Cowboys go to Washington, play Miami and travel to Arizona before hosting the Giants on December 11.

Given that the Giants play the Eagles, the Saints and the Packers in that same time frame, don't be surprised if we're approaching that Week 14 matchup throwing out terms like "division-leading Cowboys" and "darkhorse MVP candidate Romo."

Things change, because this is the NFL. But watching the Cowboys bounce back over the past two weeks, and knowing that Romo's now 17-2 in November (his .895 winning percentage in the month is the highest of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era), it's hard not to think they're getting hot at the right time.

4. Bold But Bad

Mike Smith's decision to go for it on a fourth-and-inches on his own 29-yard line in overtime will be analyzed a lot over the next seven days, because it giftwrapped a 26-23 victory for New Orleans Sunday. And, most importantly, it put the Falcons way behind the eight ball for a shot at the NFC South title, as they're now two games back of the Saints.

Atlanta's still in decent position for a wild card berth, and I'm OK with the call Smith made, even if, like my man Pete Prisco, I probably wouldn't have made the call. (This is hindsight creeping in -- I hated it at the time.) The Saints are terrible against the run (a league-worst 5.2 yards per carry allowed), handing the ball to Drew Brees in overtime is the football equivalent of suicide, and Michael Turner is the perfect back for that situation.

My beef is with the playcall, which was precisely the same play that Atlanta used on fourth and one with six minutes left in the third quarter. Witness what the Saints defense looked like then:



Obviously New Orleans is playing to stop the run, but they're not selling out. They got no penetration, and they're certainly wary of the possibility that Matt Ryan could roll out, or that Turner could cut outside to try and pick up the first down.

The second time around, in overtime, that wasn't the case.



As you'll recall, Gregg Williams called a timeout right before Atlanta broke the huddle not in punt formation for this second try. Do you think he might have pointed several Saints defenders in the direction of where Michael Turner might be running with the ball?

Judging by the relative positions of said Saints defenders in the two pictures above, that seems like a pretty reasonable assumption.

And I understand that Turner's a bowling ball and that the Falcons have Smith's back on this and they appreciate his confidence in them picking up a half-yard or less in such a situation.

But knowing that you showed Williams this exact same play less than an hour ago, you have to be more creative with the playcall, especially when there's a division title on the line.

5. Deja Vu All Over Again

After the Patriots lost to the Giants in Week 9, there was a weird feeling of deja vu. You should have that same feeling right now, because after New England pummeled the Jets 37-16 in New York, every single "the Patriots are dead" column from the past week is totally pointless.

Making the premature eulogizing of the Patriots even more irritating is the similarity between 2010 and 2011.

Last year, the Patriots lost their second game of the season when the Browns shocked them 34-14 in Week 9 in Cleveland. The loss of Randy Moss meant that the Patriots couldn't get vertical and ergo/therefore/henceforth the Pats were dead men walking. Naturally, Tom Brady waltzed into Pittsburgh on November 14, went 30 for 43 for 350 yards and hit Rob Gronkowski for three touchdowns.

On Sunday (Week 10! November 13!) Brady waltzed into the New Meadowlands and carved up Rex Ryan's defense, going 26 of 39 for 329 yards and hitting Gronkowski for two touchdowns.

In case you forgot, Brady closed out last year in pretty good fashion -- he didn't throw an interception for the rest of the year, the Pats didn't lose another game and finished 14-2, and Brady became the first-ever unanimous MVP winner in NFL history.

My point is this: though the Patriots defense might stink, Tom Brady is still on the roster. It's not as if the defense in 2010 was all that good; they finished 25th overall in the NFL last year. But the Pats went 14-2 because Brady played at an unholy level with essentially the same offensive personnel he's got now.

In other words, Expecting the Patriots to lose three-straight games -- they haven't since 2002! -- was about as smart as writing off Belichick and Brady after what went down last season.


6. Run This Man!

I planned on taking screenshots of all the commenters who ripped me for picking Seattle to upset Baltimore and posting them here. But there were too many of them. And they were all too vulgar.

Plus, I'm sure everyone who called me names will be back to apologize later anyway.

But really, should we be surprised at this point when the Ravens fail to win after refusing to utilize Ray Rice, clearly the best offensive weapon on their team?

No, no we should not.

Week - Opponent
Rice Carries
Rice Rushing Yards
Points Scored
Result
1 - Steelers
19 107 35 W
2 - Titans
13 43 13 L
3 - Rams
9 81 37 W
4 - Jets
25 66 34 W
6 - Texans
23 101 29 W
7 - Jaguars
8 28 7 L
8 - Cardinals
18 63 30 W
9 - Steelers
18 43 23 W
10 - Seahawks
5 27 17 L

Rice's usage and subsequent success (or lack thereof) isn't a direct correlation with the win-loss record of the Ravens. He's had nine carries in a game (against the Rams) where the Ravens absolutely rolled.

But two games above really stand out in terms of similarity -- the loss to the Seahawks and Jaguars. Both were on the road, both were against teams that aren't even remotely considered on the Ravens level and both featured Rice inexplicably getting less than 10 rushing attempts.

The Ravens were behind for much of each game, but never were they in full-on blowout territory, and the downside of running the ball is really only losing a couple of seconds of game time and actually getting the defense to respect the natural balance that the Ravens offense should feature.

It's doesn't seem that hard to figure out that the Ravens are 1-3 when their best player on offense rushes the ball less than 15 times in a game. And yet somehow Cam Cameron can't do it.

7. Red Rocket

Alright, I give up: Andy Dalton, despite losing to Pittsburgh 24-17 on Sunday, deserves to be the leader for Rookie of the Year right now.

This might sound weird considering he's coming of a loss, he threw a game-ending interception (his second in the fourth quarter Sunday) and my blatant homerism deep respect for Cam Newton.

But it was ridiculously impressive that Cincy took the Steelers best shot early in the game and then rallied back to get within a touchdown, despite losing their other studly rookie A.J. Green after he hyperextended his knee.

Oh, it also doesn't help that Newton absolutely laid an egg on Sunday, failing to score a touchdown in a football game for what he said might be the first time in his life. I haven't seen any confirmation of this, but I also have no trouble believing it.

Back to Dalton and the Bengals though: if Green's injury is substantial, I don't think the Bengals make the playoffs (they currently project as the sixth seed) because not only are the Ravens and the Steelers better, but the Ravens might actually try against Cincy.

And if Newton bounces back over the next few weeks, and the Bengals lose their last three games against the Steelers and Ravens, it's going to be tough for voters to hit Dalton up.

But if he improves from the growing pains he suffered against the Steelers, he might end up stealing the award after all. And, you know, a playoff berth.

8. Andy Reid's Hot Pants

Before the season, we penciled in the Week 10 Cardinals-Eagles matchup with the idea that Kevin Kolb would lead a revived Arizona squad into Philly with a chance for redemption against the team that cast him off for Michael Vick. Instead, Kolb couldn't play Sunday, so John Skelton started and ... the Eagles still lost, 21-17.

With that L, let's just go ahead and bury the Eagles 2011 season. Instead of debating whether 9-7 is possible, let's discuss whether or not Andy Reid should be fired if the Eagles miss the playoffs.

I, unequivocally, say he should not be fired. He's got issues with his roster construction, his clock management and his balance on offense, but there's a reason why he's the longest-tenured coach in the NFL.

Additionally, this is a lockout year, and teams were supposed to struggle to adapt under circumstances. "Bringing in a bunch of new faces" is one such circumstance where there's a built-in excuse.

And perhaps the best reason to hold onto Reid: he's Michael Vick's guy, and Michael Vick just got paid $100 million. That's not to say Vick couldn't play for another coach and succeed, but Reid's mentored him on and -- perhaps more importantly -- off the field. He's turned Vick from an ex-con into a franchise quarterback.

Vick's taken a step back this season, but if Philly can beef up its offensive line and address some of the defensive issues, there's no reason why Reid can't just can Juan Castillo in sacrificial lamb fashion and come back next year, regardless of how this season plays out.

9. What the Helu?

Would the Redskins beat the Colts if they played today? Wilson and I talked about that on the podcast (I assume you hit play above and are listening now but just haven't gotten that far yet), and, um, I'm not sure?

Indy's terrible, but Washington is just depressing -- the latest feather in Mike Shanahan's cap is a 20-9 loss to Miami that not only gave Shanny his first-ever five-game losing streak, but also handed the Dolphins their first win at Sun Life Stadium in 364 days.

The saddest part of the Redskins failure on Sunday isn't even that Rex Grossman gives them a better chance to win than John Beck. That's just the truth, even if it's cringe-worthy. Although apparently Shanahan doesn't know that? Or he does? Or ... you tell me:

"We’re going to make decisions that we think gives us the best chance to win," Shanahan said about the decision to go with Grossman. "Then before the game we decided to go in another direction."

I know what he's saying (I think), but it's kind of awesome that this quote, taken out of context, sounds like "Beck gives us the best chance to win, that's why we started him. But on Sunday we changed our minds."

Anyway, the saddest part is that Roy Helu broke Art Monk's single-game receptions record last week and he was inexplicably benched Sunday in favor of Ryan Torain.

"Well, I wanted to give Ryan a chance, see what he can do," Shanahan said of the decision. "[The Dolphins] are a very good defensive team."

Again, I don't know what that means or how it's sound logic for benching Helu.

Whatever, an obviously motivated Torain carried the ball 10 times for 20 yards. Helu still managed to end the day as Washington's leading rusher, though, as he carried the ball six times for 41 yards in the second half.

This logical result would have stemmed from an illogical decision, but there's nothing justifiably rational about the Redskins right now.

10. Bear With Me Here

First of all, allow me to congratulate my colleague Matt Norlander, who not only got engaged Sunday, but got a win for his precious Bears (an awkward 37-13 slaughtering of Detroit) and a Devin Hester touchdown return.

And second of all, allow me to say I'm sorry for thinking the Bears stink. Because they don't. I can't justify saying that if I'm going to tout the Texans as the top team in the AFC; after all, the Bears play a complete brand of football. They're great on defense, they generate turnovers, they can run the ball on offense and, needless to say, their special teams are pretty good.

Now there's still room for an implosion here. Lord knows they were 2-3, couldn't protect Jay Cutler and looked like a lost team only a few weeks ago. But just like 2010, Mike Martz realized just how true the old equation of "seven-step drops + passing every down = quarterback injuries" really is and Chicago currently projects as the final NFC wild card.

The Bears getting ready to run the not-so-scary AFC West gauntlet, playing San Diego, Oakland, Kansas City and Denver over their next four games. No, that portion of the schedule could not come at a better time, and if you think that running a cover-2 against a read-option offense and having Brian Urlacher shadow Tebow depending on what side of the line he runs off won't be fun, well, you clearly don't enjoy pain.

With Seattle and Minnesota also on the sked -- only Green Bay is really scary -- and Detroit having to play the Packers twice over the rest of the schedule, Chicago could somehow easily weasel their way to 11-5. Again.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's action...
... For the third time in his career, Reggie Bush scored multiple rushing touchdowns.
... The NFL West went undefeated on Sunday for the first time since division realignment. According to my buddy RJ Bell of PreGame.com, a $100 bet on that happening would've paid out $8,400. So, yeah, everyone saw it coming.
... Tebow's the only quarterback in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass and rush for 25 yards in each of his first seven starts.
... Drew Brees passed Brett Favre for the second-longest streak of consecutive games (37) with a touchdown pass.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF O' THE WEEK

This is unfortunate for Ray Lewis:

Hot Seat Tracker

  • Todd Haley -- Welcome back, sir! We missed you. How can one manage to not prepare for the read-option after watching another division opponent look totally unprepared for it and lose?
  • Mike Shanahan -- He's the one who thought Grossman and Beck were a winning combination.
  • Juan Castillo -- It's either him or Andy Reid right?
  • Jim Caldwell -- If Caldwell doesn't get canned, I'm convinced no one does.

Chasing Andrew Luck

Colts (1/4): Everyone else in the NFL has two wins, and the only game Indy might even reasonably come close to winning is their Week 16 matchup against the Jaguars. We can almost call this off.
Redskins (3/1): My darkhorse! I think they'll lose out, but I just don't buy the idea of Indy winning one game, much less three.
Vikings (4/1): They play the Packers Monday and get the Lions and Bears again.
Dolphins (5/1): That whole Stephen Ross in a leopard-skin bikini thing is working out well.
Panthers (6/1): Tough schedule coming down the pipe ... and they play the Colts!
Rams (7/1): NFC West schedule and they're starting to fight a little.

MVP Watch

Aaron Rodgers will most likely extend his season-long virtuoso performance on Monday night and further give us reason to pick him as MVP. But just in case he falters, I've got my eye on a few guys who could get hot and supplant him in the second half, via what we talked about above: Brady, Foster and Romo. Brady, well, duh, he's good. And he sure wasn't a unanimous MVP winner after Week 9 (or Week 10) in 2010. So it could happen. Foster's playing as well as any running back in the NFL right now; if the Texans win out and clinch the top spot in the AFC, people will talk about it. And if Romo can blow up over the next two months and get the Cowboys a division title, well, weirder things have happened.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 5:59 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Where's all the Jets vs. Patriots trash talk?

Posted by Will Brinson

There are very few truths in the NFL, but over the past few years, there's one that's absolute: when the Jets and Patriots play, trash talk will ensue. But that's somehow changed late in the 2011 NFL season, as we've heard nothing from either side about the Week 10 matchup scheduled for this Sunday night.

You might remember such trash talk from incidents involving Wes Welker's press conference about Rex Ryan's feet, Antonio Cromartie calling Tom Brady an a-hole and telling him to target the defensive back specifically, Nick Mangold going after Welker on Twitter, Bart Scott's said that the Pats want to be the Jets, Rex said he wasn't here to kiss Belichick's rings, Rex called the rivalry with Bill Belichick "personal," Scott threatened to end Welker's career, the local newspapers jumped on board -- really, the list goes on forever, if you look at what's been said over the past three years (and that doesn't even count the NFL intervening).

But this year? Nada. The Patriots, losers of two-straight games, aren't big talkers anyway, but the Jets are abnormally silent. In fact, they're even praising the Patriots now.

"We don’t care what difficulties they’re in," Ryan said this week. "Each team goes through dips in the road."

Look, I don't know what alien took over Rex's body, but pageviews be damned, maybe he should hang around for a while, because it's kind of refreshing to have some quiet leading up to a Jets-Pats matchup.



The reality is this, though: Ryan knows that the Jets are the hotter team right now and he knows that his team just performed a defensive dissection against the Bills, and that playing such a game on defense against the Patriots will probably give him the division lead come Monday.

Additionally, the Patriots are straight-up struggling right now, and the Jets have a shot of putting the Pats on their first three-game losing streak since October ... of 2002. (!)

In other words, Ryan knows that poking the bear after you've killed it is much safer than right when you walk into its cave.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:40 pm
 

Podcast: Week 10 NFL preview, Oakland/San Diego

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 10's gotten started, thanks to Oakland's big win in San Diego, and we break down that game -- the return of Carson Palmer! -- before diving into Week 10's preview podcast.

Are the Bengals capable of upsetting the Steelers at home? Does anyone care about the Eagles-Cardinals game except for Kevin Kolb? Have the Bears improved enough on offense since losing to the Lions last time to move into a tie for second in the NFC North this week? Can we really bank on the Patriots losing three-straight games? Is Chad Ochocinco really the key to beating the Jets this week? Are the Giants overmatched heading out west against San Francisco?

All those questions answered, plus much, much more, below.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.

Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 10's finer analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Jets vs. Patriots

The recipe for stopping New England’s offense has been discovered: press-man coverage. The Cowboys pressed the Patriots receivers off-and-on back in Week 6. The Steelers did it all game in Week 8. So did the Giants in Week 9. New England scored 16, 17 and 20 in those three games.

Think the Jets might be ale to execute press-man coverage? (Ask the Bills receivers whose white uniforms had practically turned light green by the end of last week’s game.) When these teams met back in Week 5, Darrelle Revis shadowed Wes Welker, though not the entire game. Welker caught a few balls during the breathers away from Revis, including a 73-yarder that gave him a misleading five-catch, 124-yard stat line.

After that game teams may have realized that with Welker bottled up, the Patriots are just another methodical east-west passing team. New England’s offense has no downfield weapon to preoccupy defenses about getting burned over the top. Deion Branch is quick but not fast. Aaron Hernandez, if he regains his pre-Week 3 knee injury form, is fleet for a tight end but not someone who can blaze 40 yards outside the numbers. Ditto for Rob Gronkowski.

There is that Chad Ochocinco guy. He and Brady have not been on the same page all season (Brady actually missed an open Ocho for a would-be touchdown last week; Ocho couldn’t get mad because he owed Brady for other mistakes). The disappointing but charismatic ex-Bengal may actually be the deciding piece in this game. Someone has to step up and be a downfield threat. The last person aslow underneath offense wants to face is Rex Ryan; he knows how to use his safeties as blitzers.



Cowboys vs. Bills
The Cowboys can forget about the fragile Felix Jones becoming their next franchise running back. When Jones returns from his ankle injury (hopefully sometime before his next scheduled injury in December), he’ll be backing up DeMarco Murray. The third-round rookie from Oklahoma State is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and looks like the real deal. It was difficult to assess him after his 253-yard outbreak against St. Louis because, as Murray himself will admit, a truck could have driven through the holes Dallas’ offensive line opened up that game.


But last week Murray registered 139 yards against a quietly impressive Seattle run defense that’s allowing just 3.4 yards per carry (tied for second best in the NFL). He has a unique ability to generate downhill momentum immediately upon hitting his accelerator.

Because of this, Murray can explode to holes before linebackers can identify them or, more often, he can increase his tempo upon reaching those linebackers, which makes him extremely hard to tackle.

For the Bills (and all defenses), the key to stopping Murray will be penetration. Murray has the ability to go left and right, but he has to stop and restart in order to do so. You can’t let him go north and south.

It hurts that Buffalo’s best defensive lineman, Kyle Williams, just went on injured reserve. He was a penetration extraordinaire who would have changed the complexion of this matchup. Marcell Dareus has been impressive since relocating to nose tackle, but the Bills are now thin on the edges and may start waffling again between 3-4 and 4-3 concepts if forced to make another personnel adjustment.

Seahawks vs. Ravens
It’s a classic trap game for the Ravens. Coming off a big primetime win against their archrival, they must fly across the country for an unceremonious bout with a 2-6 team from another conference. And it’s not an awful 2-6 team, either. OK, maybe the offense is awful. Or at least as uninspiring as an Andy Reid press conference. But the defense isn’t bad.

Last week’s stumble at Dallas aside, Seattle’s defense can stop the run. The defensive line has a strong rotation of high-energy players who have the strength to win in a phone booth (end Red Bryant has been the most impressive in this sense). Middle linebacker David Hawthorne reads and pursues well enough, and outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Leroy Hill can both play with physicality on the edge.

On the back end, young safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are still learning to play with consistency (both mentally and physically). Both, however, offer some playmaking prowess versus in the box or downhill. Cornerback Brandon Browner is a bit stiff but has rare 6’3”, 221-pound-size that he’s just starting to learn to apply at the line of scrimmage. Richard Sherman has, for the most part, been able to back up his bizarre cockiness ever since injuries propelled him into the starting lineup.

Lastly, Seattle has a clear-cut Pro Bowler (their only Pro Bowler, in fact) in end Chris Clemons. He’s fast off the edge (like any quality pass-rusher) and also has a strong suppleness that makes him viable in all facets against the run.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 10 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 8:46 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 8:47 pm
 

Tebow voted 'most overrated' by NFL players

Romo can't compete with Tebow when it comes to being overrated. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Finally, some good news for Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who three or four times a season gives his detractors ammunition in their never-ending crusade to convince the rest of us that he's an overhyped choker. The Sporting News interviewed 11 NFL players from 31 teams and asked a simple question: Who's the most overrated player in the NFL?

It wasn't Romo.

Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow won the honors, although just barely. He received 22 votes, just one more than -- wait for it -- Romo. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was third. Of the 17 players to receive at least two votes, seven were quarterbacks.

1. Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow—22
2. Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo—21
3. New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez—9
4. Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh—6
5. Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson—5
6. New England Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco—5
7. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady—3
8. Arizona Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb—3
9. San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers—3
10. Arizona Cardinals DL Darnell Dockett—2

The rest: Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew—2, Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall—2, New York Giants QB Eli Manning—2, Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall—2, New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis—2, New York Jets LB Bart Scott—2, Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher—2. 

(Note: Jason Hill voted for Revis … twice, right?)

The Sporting News asked a few players for some context on the leading vote-getters. Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton echoed many of the sentiments we hear from Romo's critics.

“I just think he’s in a position where he has the spotlight," he said. "I don’t think he’s really done anything to be in the spotlight. But being a Dallas Cowboys quarterback, you’re going to have that. I don’t think he does enough to be considered one of the elite (quarterbacks) in the NFL.”

Knight's teammate, Jeremy Mincey, had similar thoughts about Sanchez.

"Everybody talks about Sanchez, but I just don’t see what everybody is talking about. Maybe it’s the (New York) market that he’s in."

We would include the quotes from two anonymous players on Tebow but why? You can do the Mad Libs yourself: "He's not an NFL quarterback, he's a fullback. Not only his he inaccurate, he has a week arm. The media saturation is unbearable. We hate Tebowing with a passion." So on and so forth... 

Upside: Tebow is first at something.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com