NFL Week 11 Observations

The good, bad and ugly in the NFL from Week 11

The Rams and Chiefs gave us a remarkable show. Rams team web site

What a week of football! We saw some great performances, and we saw some boneheaded decisions that could’ve cost teams playoff positioning. Here’s how I saw it play out:

The Good

-Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson led his team to a 24-21 win over the Bengals. But this isn’t your father’s NFL. While Jackson’s 13 of 19 for 150 yards passing was respectable, his 117 yards rushing on 27 carries was unreal! Welcome to the new NFL where your quarterback will pass 50-60 times, or run it damn near 30 times.

-Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley totaled 152 yards on 29 touches and three touchdowns in their 38-35 win over the Bucs. He’s an all-purpose threat that can win a game rushing or receiving. He did drop Eli Manning’s only incompletion though.

-The Rams and Chiefs played one hell of a game Monday night! The chess match between Sean McVey and Andy Reid was special. It looked more like a Big 12 matchup rather than an NFL game. The Rams pulled out the win 54-51 win. In one of the highest scoring games in NFL history!  

The Bad

-The Raiders own approximately 327 first round picks in the 2019 draft. They could’ve secured the No. 1 overall pick had they not won Sunday against the Cardinals. Trading two of your best players is a sign of tanking. So if you’re going to tank Chucky, tank properly.

-The Falcons and Jags are both in a free fall. Both teams were expected to be Super Bowl contenders but are 4-6 and 3-7 respectively. Injuries have hampered the Falcons, while chemistry issues, and injuries, have hurt the Jags. No matter, both teams should be much better than what their records show.

-The Chargers lost to the Broncos 23-22 on a field goal as time expired. Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers missed Keenan Allen on a third and seven and they decided to punt. This loss will hurt them in the tightly contested AFC. 7-3 puts them in 5th spot in AFC playoff standings when 8-2 could’ve left them with a shot a 1st.

The Ugly

-The Panthers were 6-3, second place in the NFC South, and looking like a contender. That sort of changed when they decided to go for a two point conversion and missed. Cam Newton missed an easy throw. Now they’re 6-4 and within a game of missing the playoffs.

-The Bucs’ quarterback situation has been like a bad game of musical chairs. They have bounced back and forth between Ryan Fitztragic and Jameis No-Winston. Hopefully for their fans, they can move on from both and draft one in the offseason.

-I know I hit on this in my Texans article Sunday, but since we’ve learned the true extent of Alex Smith’s injury. He had to have emergency surgery Sunday not long after the game to repair a broken tibia and fibula. Thoughts and prayers to him and a speedy recovery.

When I look back on football games, I look for certain triggers. Turnover battle, points off turnovers, rushing yards, and time of possession. When I look at playoff positioning, I look at teams that hit their stride late in the season that can remain healthy. Saints, Rams, Chiefs, Steelers, and Bears are the ones I see that are separating themselves right now. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this season has in store!   

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

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.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome