Happy Halloween! While you’re out trick-or-treating, I’ll be inside watching Bengals-Dolphins, mourning Giovani Bernard’s sad failure to launch. I thought we’d be talking about him as a fantasy stud by now, but Marvin Lewis remains stubbornly committed to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Lewis, bless his heart, probably still uses the Zune he bought in 2006. Some flowers were never meant to bloom, I guess. To cheer you up, here is a picture of Bill Belichick and his wife:
Anyway, there's a lot to cover this week, and I can’t bear to think about Bernard’s untapped potential any longer, so let’s dive right into the Week 9 preview. Oh, and pray for Bill’s wife while you’re at it.
Injury: Right hip Prognosis: 4-6 weeks Impact: Anyone who saw that Locker injury live is likely to lean toward the most pessimistic end of those four to six weeks. When Locker eventually hit the ground after taking that helmet in the chest from Muhammad Wilkerson, he stayed there, completely still, clearly doing his best to not move any part of his body. He knew it was bad.
“Right hip” is the best way to describe this because we still don’t know exactly what’s wrong. The swelling around the hip was so bad that initial tests were inconclusive. Locker will have another MRI today to determine what exactly is wrong, but no matter what the conclusion, we know he’s going to miss a significant chunk of time.
The timing here couldn’t be more cruel. Locker was 18-of-24 for 149 yards and three touchdowns when he went down. It was probably the best start of his career. As Bill Barnwell wrote on Grantland last week, Locker still has a long way to go as a reliable quarterback, but it does seem like there’s been some signs of improvement. One thing Locker has been this year is good enough to win. The Titans are 3-1, with their one loss coming on a last-second play on the road at Houston. Tennessee’s defense is much better than it was a year ago, and so far, the Titans have asked Locker to be steady enough to keep them in games as they try to pound away with Chris Johnson and their high-priced offensive line (a strategy that’s come with mixed returns so far).
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.
It Was All Good Just a Week Ago
Andrew Sharp: It feels like just yesterday that Chip Kelly was splitting the earth in half and setting the Redskins secondary on fire and exceeding all the hype. Now? Uhh ...
Philly's 1-3 after Sunday, and everything after that outrageous first half in D.C. has felt like one, long reality check. Especially this week, when the Broncos spent most of the afternoon reminding us that even the Eagles' biggest strength isn't half as good as the best offense in the league. Now the backlash starts, and you know the Philly media's only going to get exponentially more miserable with each passing loss.
It's all a little bit unfair. Nobody expected the Eagles to actually be good until that first half in D.C. That's when everyone threw logic out the window. Now Chip's being judged against that curve, and every loss is proof that he's a fraud or something. With that in mind, hopefully everyone can just wait and see what happens here. There's a decent chance it never clicks in Philly, in which case Chip Kelly goes back to college to rain hellfire on the Pac-12 or ACC or Big 12. That would be cool. But there's also a chance this Eagles team was always going to be kind of shitty, and given a season to learn and tweak things — and an offseason to rebuild that defense — things could look a lot better a year from now. In the meantime, the Eagles are still more fun to watch and argue about than any other 1-3 team in the NFL. That was always the best part of the Chip Kelly deal for the rest of us. Between the grumpy Philly media and the crazy offense and Michael Vick and LeSean and DeSean ... The team may not be good this year or next year or ever, but whatever happens, the insanity will keep everyone entertained.
While slow starts around the league have cast aspersions on the possible breakout seasons of several notable quarterbacks, one player whose stock has been rising is Jake Locker. The 2-1 Titans are within an overtime loss of starting 3-0, and Locker helped get them there with a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter on Sunday to beat the Chargers. It would be reasonable to expect a step forward from Locker in 2013, too: He's healthy after struggling with injuries throughout his first season as a starter, and the Titans spent heavily this offseason to improve his protection and the running game around him.
From start to finish, Sunday brought us an orgy of awful. The RedZone Channel could barely keep pace. You had games like Browns-Dolphins and Titans-Steelers that were overflowing with awful quarterbacking. At one point, the Lions and Vikings traded a Matt Stafford fumble for a Christian Ponder interception in about three plays. And there was that one play in Bears-Bengals where Jay Cutler threw it five yards behind his receiver and straight to Vontaze Burfict. This is why we watch.
Ladies and gentleman, we live in the golden age of Bad Quarterbacking. Teams are throwing the ball more than ever and star running backs are an endangered species, but there are also fewer good quarterbacks than ever before. All of it means that there are more opportunities than ever for bad quarterbacks to spread their wings and fly straight into a plate-glass window.
Ladies and gentlemen, this year’s BQBL Bowl is over. It wasn't the BQBL points scored in the Jets-Cardinals game that made it special. There's no way to appropriately quantify this brand of failure, no stat that captures how terrified each quarterback was, and no metric for embarrassment to measure what happened in New Jersey on Sunday. There is just the film. Let’s go to the tape.
Jets (Sanchize and Greg McElroy) 84 points, and Cardinals (Ryan Lindley) 65 points
In anticipation of this column, I rewatched this entire game. I had my eye on it and everything Sunday, but when a game like this is played in front of cameras and microphones, and it's your job to bask in the ineptitude of quarterbacking failure, you would be a fool not to savor these performances. Also, as I mentioned, there's no number that can capture the experience of watching these men attempt to move the football forward. The most dynamic part of this adventure from kickoff to final kneel-down was tracking the tortured reactions of both the play-by-play team of Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick and the Jets fans in the stadium. I now present to you a running diary, of sorts, of the 2012 BQBL Bowl. No lie — I might go back and watch it again.
For most of his time in San Diego, Philip Rivers hasn’t exactly been flush with weapons. This year — with Vincent Jackson’s bolt to Tampa Bay, one more year removed from losing Darren Sproles, and Ryan Mathews’s perpetual spot on the injury report — it seemed Rivers might have as tough a time as ever. And that was before the Chargers lost Vincent Brown. The second-year wide receiver broke his ankle on a touchdown catch against the Cowboys on Sunday, brutal news for a player whom one Chargers veteran described as “our best receiver.”
Originally thought to be lost for the season, reports are now saying that Brown could be back in as little as eight weeks, and the Chargers plan to keep him on the roster. Still, this leaves Rivers with one less target on the outside, and although the word out of Chargers training camp is that Antonio Gates looks as good as he has in years, there’s no doubt that this was a break San Diego could ill afford.
I don’t have any sort of confirmation, but rumor has it this is the video Leslie Frazier showed in the defensive meeting room before today’s practice. See, Adrian Peterson — eight months removed from tearing his ACL — is back, but the Vikings coach isn’t thrilled about the idea of anybody getting near him.
"The rules are simple," safety Jamarca Sanford said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Do not touch 28. If you touch him, you're cut."
Don’t buy into the hype. Week 15 wasn’t shocking. It wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t weird. It was normal. It is completely modus operandi in the NFL for good teams to lose (Green Bay Packers), bad teams to win (Indianapolis Colts), and the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL (Joe Webb) to not even get a chance to engineer a miraculous comeback. Do you know what was strange Sunday? The fact that Caleb Hanie started at quarterback in the National Football League. It wasn’t just bad quarterbacking from Hanie, it was performance art, it was interpretive dancing, it was desperation, it was emotion, it was terrible. Hanie’s start against the Seattle Seahawks was like an SNL sketch with the same punch line over and over. The punch line was “interception.”
Every movement has a defining moment. The American Revolution had the Boston Tea Party. The hippies had Woodstock. Occupy Wall Street has well, regardless, the BQBL’s defining moment occurred on October 23, 2011, in Week 7 of the NFL schedule. For generations to come, on the morning of October 23, families clad in Carson Palmer, Curtis Painter, and A.J. Feeley jerseys will grab a football, head to the backyard, and throw errant passes to each other in recognition of this glorious day.
Keeping with BQBL Day tradition, the elder generations will describe the events of Week 7 in 2011 to the young'uns while aimlessly scrambling around the yard and throwing passes 30 feet over their heads. They will tell of the mythical Matt Hasselbeck and his 104 passing yards against the Texans. They will repeat the story of Palmer, who helped solidify a scoreless afternoon for his Raiders and — keeping with BQBL Day tradition — they will don a long blond wig and detail exactly how Painter, on national television, willed his team to lose by 55 points. Then, BQBL Day will culminate with the whole family around the dinner table, poised to dive into their traditional BQBL Day feast of nachos, buffalo wings, and HGH flakes, and they will first all take turns telling the tale of the Miami Miracle. The day that it was revealed to the world that Timothy Richard Tebow was not only the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football, but the greatest man to ever walk the earth. I can’t wait until next year. I think I am going to adopt a son right now.