Kevin Greene walked through the tunnel, hands in pockets, eyes fixed on his feet. As some players jogged and some players sulked, the coach of the Packers’ outside linebackers — a group tormented by Colin Kaepernick all night — kicked at the ground in front of him. He was halfway to the locker room when he finally looked up, took a breath, and exhaled.
The thought when Kaepernick became San Francisco’s starting quarterback was that where Alex Smith’s Niners were a safe team reliant on defense and error-free football, Kaepernick’s version was capable of delivering such a 45-31 bludgeoning. As the Packers left the field Saturday night, they looked like a team that had seen the business end of Jim Harbaugh’s vindication.
Because I’m a Bears fan, and because my friends and I made a blood pact to never again discuss what transpired in the NFL on Sunday afternoon, I decided that this week’s Trenchie Awards would go a bit differently. There’s really no sense in discussing what happened in the past. We can only move forward, and in front of us is a set of lineman matchups that has me (and anyone else with pictures of J.J. Watt in his or her locker) looking forward to this year’s wild-card weekend even more than I normally would.
J.J. Watt vs. Geno Atkins
OK, so they’re not actually playing against each other, but in a game that’s otherwise uninspiring, we get a chance to watch the two best defensive players in football do their thing.
As Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus wrote this week, if it weren’t for the historic year Watt has put together, Atkins’s 2012 would be the season worthy of all this adulation. According to PFF’s numbers, Atkins graded out almost two times better than any other defensive tackle the site has ever charted. Cameron Wake and Von Miller were the only two players, at any position, to record more total pressures. Unlike Watt, whose position varies based on Houston’s front and situation, there’s no mistaking what Atkins is. He’s a 3-technique, 4-3 tackle who happens to be one of the four most disruptive pass rushers in the league.
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
When I Paint My Masterpiece
This is a video of Adrian Peterson highlights, with play-by-play by Gus Johnson, because of course Gus Johnson was calling this game.
In celebration of the NFL's release of the all-22 and end-zone film for the 2012 season, each week we'll be bringing you the best in offensive- and defensive-line play. For the winners of last week's inaugural Trenchie's, click here.
The Deacon Jones Award for Excellence in Pass Rushing
Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
The numbers would be enough (3.5 sacks, a handful of hurries, unspecified amount of mayhem caused), but the most impressive part of Clay Matthews’s night last Thursday is that it still mattered five and six days later. Matthews’s dominant night against the Bears got a left tackle chewed out, a left guard relieved of his duties, and a quarterback strung up for chewing out a left tackle. The widespread damage is fitting considering the type of game Matthews put together. Left tackle J’Marcus Webb got most of the heat, but the Packers and defensive coordinator Dom Capers moved Matthews around the formation all night. Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi joined Webb and left guard Chris Spencer in the trail of victims.
There are two things we learned from last year’s inaugural BQBL season: (1) No matter how respected a guy is around the league, how many Super Bowl rings he has, or how many times he’s hosted SNL, he WILL, at some point, spend a week on the BQBL Summer Jam Screen; (2) Blaine Gabbert sucks. For real, he sucks. But even Yo Gabba Gabbert didn’t bring the level of suckocity that Jay Cutler did this week. He was so bad that his performance is somehow still in the news cycle and he played on Thursday night.
Three and Out
Bears (Jay Cutler), 78 points: Jay Cutler does not believe in positive reinforcement. Rumors are flying around the Windy City that Cutler isn’t well liked in the locker room. However, he was absolutely loved by every BQBL owner who started him this week.