JERMAINE EVERY'S OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from the NFL's Week 13

Russell Wilson had a big week. Getty Images

Week 13 in the NFL is in the books. The playoff picture still isn’t crystal clear. In fact, it may be murkier than before. Here’s how I saw things:

The Good

-Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes in their 43-16 beatdown of the 49ers. Sure, others have thrown for more touchdowns in a game, but the fact that he was 11 of 17 and threw four touchdowns was the impressive part. Wilson was knocked for his size and proved the doubters wrong. He’s also proving he can do it without a once stout defense and run game.

-Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald may have solidified his stronghold on the Defensive Player of the Year Award with a two sack performance in their 30-16 win over the Lions. Donald has a league-leading 16.5 sacks on the year. With a 1.375 per game average, he’s on pace for 22 this season, one shy of the record.

-Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay led them to a 24-10 win over the Broncos. The hometown hero (born, raised, and played college ball in the Colorado) had 19 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Lindsay was an undrafted free agent who is fourth in the league in rushing. Talk about living the dream.

The Bad

-Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson left the game under concussion protocol after being kicked in the head by a teammate. Although he was cleared an came back, running him as much as they have in his two starts this season leave him exposed to unnecessary contact. The Ravens may want to rethink how they use him.

-The Bengals are now 5-7 and have lost stud wideout A.J. Green for three to four months. Head coach Marvin Lewis’ tenure may finally be over and I believe it’s time. However, team owner Mike Brown is notoriously cheap and may not want to pay Lewis to go away.

-The Panthers fired two defensive coaches following their 24-17 loss to the Bucs. Head coach Ron Rivera will take over calling the plays on that side of the ball. Strange to say the least considering quarterback Cam Newton threw four picks and the defense still held the Bucs to 315 yards.  

The Ugly

-The Jags beat the Colts 6-0 in an awful game. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw the ball 52 times and they still couldn’t score! The Jags had more penalties accepted on them (eight) than points!

-Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy less than three hours after his presser following an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals. The team is now 4-7-1, fully invested in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and now in need of a new coach. McCarthy accomplished a lot in his tenure, but this is a “what have you done for me lately” league.

-The Chiefs have parted ways with running back Kareem Hunt following the release of a video showing him assaulting a woman in a hotel. Hunt is an incredible talent who committed a heinous act and will be another example of an athlete squandering the opportunity of a lifetime because he chose to be stupid.

Both conferences are top-heavy, with a cluster of teams fighting for the final few spots. Four division races are just about done, while the other four are up in the air. Last few weeks will be exciting to watch because so much will be at stake. Congrats NFL on making the end of the season matter by scheduling division games in week 17.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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