The Ball of the Foot

Just because the Bills didn’t play doesn’t mean that the NFL grinds to a halt, no no no! So, a few thoughts on stuff that transpired yesterday:

::  The Saints beat the Colts 62-7. I had a spirited debate with a friend on Facebook about this, with my position being that hanging 62 points on someone is just a jerk move (unless, of course, they are hanging 59 on you). I’m generally of the belief that when you go up by, say, 40 points, you start pulling starters and having your offense consist of runs up the middle, running the clock down all the way between each play. And you instruct your defensive players that in the event they recover a turnover, they fall down or go out of bounds with it. The final points scored last night were scored by a Saints DB who ran back an interception for a touchdown. There’s no reason for that. Not even your desire to get a highlight on ESPN, because even if there is a highlight, the commentary will be, “And check out this pathetic play to cap off a ridiculous night of crappy football.”
::  The Chiefs beat the Raiders 28-0. That sounds impressive, but the game featured some staggeringly awful quarterbacking, across the board. Oakland played two quarterbacks — Carson Palmet and Kyle Boller — who threw three interceptions each, and Kansas City’s Matt Cassel threw in two picks of his own. And not a single one of those quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass. So all the QBs on the field in the Chiefs-Raiders game produced the following line: 30 completions in 65 attempts for 338 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. This calculates to a combined passer rating of 22.6. (The NFL’s complex passer rating formula produces a rating of 39.6 for a QB whose every pass is incomplete. To post a rating less than that requires some really bad play indeed.)
::  The Chiefs have now won three games, after looking like the league’s worst team in the first few weeks. Three wins very likely takes them out of the running for the first overall pick in the 2012 draft (who will probably be Andrew Luck). So, as of right now, here are the leading contenders for the Draw of the Luck:
Dolphins (0-7)
Colts (0-7)
Rams (0-6)
Vikings (1-6)
Cardinals (1-5)
Jaguars (1-5)
I, of course, am rooting for the Dolphins to win at least three games this year, so they can move out of the Top Pick position and thus lose the Draw of the Luck. I want no part of Andrew Luck being in the same division as the Bills. Interestingly, though, maybe the Colts and Rams finish ahead of the Dolphins but pick for defense, letting Luck drop to the Dolphins at number three! Oh noes!!
::  This preseason the Bills cut their 2009 first round draft pick, Aaron Maybin, whom they took with the 11th overall pick that year. Maybin sucked. He sucked, sucked, sucked, sucked, sucked for the Bills. He was incapable of doing anything on the field. He was too small to be effective against the run…and he showed up to this year’s training camp even smaller. So the Bills ditched him, much to the pleasure of all Bills fans.
But now he’s signed with the Jets, and in four games so far, he has three sacks and three forced fumbles, which has predictably led to a lot of hand-wringing and kvetching as to how it could possibly be that Maybin is producing now. Did he not work hard in Buffalo? Did he try to tank his career here on purpose? Is he playing for a brilliant coaching staff now that can figure out how to use him and teach him stuff? This was a topic of discussion all day on WGR’s football talk shows, with the common thread being, “Geez, did the Bills give up on him too early?”
Personally, I don’t think so. The Jets only use Maybin on obvious passing downs, and then, only as a pass rusher. That’s it. He’s never asked to play the run, nor is he given any responsibilities to help cover tight ends. So why is he suddenly getting sacks? Well, I saw his one sack of the Chargers’ Philip Rivers yesterday, and it was a textbook coverage sack. And yet, not one second of Maybin discussion I heard on the radio today mentioned this. (His sack of Joe Flacco a couple weeks ago was also a coverage sack, while his sack of Andy Dalton before that was simply a lineman not blocking him at all.) Everyone is saying, “Wow, is Maybin finally showing his talent?” Yes and no. His talent is as a speed rusher. That’s it. He runs as fast as he can in the general direction of the quarterback. He doesn’t make any stunning moves or use his strength; all he has is speed. So why is it working?
Well, I submit that it’s “working” because (a) Maybin is only on the field a few times a game, so he is never winded, and (b) the Jets have an amazing secondary that can actually cover opposing receivers long enough for Maybin to get to the quarterback. That’s it. Maybin has landed in a situation that pretty much offers the only scenario under which he could possibly have any success. How long will it last? We’ll see. If the Jets’ secondary gets banged up and receivers are able to get open more against them, then Maybin’s effectiveness will certainly drop. Ditto if the Jets ever actually play him for a significant number of snaps per game. I haven’t seen nearly enough of Maybin’s “talent” to conclude that the Bills may have lost a good player.
::  Still on the subject of the Jets-Chargers game, I think that entrusting the Chargers to Norv Turner may turn out to be the greatest single waste of a talented roster in NFL history. The Chargers just don’t look that good to me, and their two-minute drill was a joke.
::  Back to the Colts: I seem to be alone in thinking this, but this team is so bad that I don’t even think that a healthy Peyton Manning would be making that much of a difference. Manning has had a great career, but he’s not Godlike, and I don’t think that a return by Manning to the team next year with the same personnel and coaching staff results in anything more than a 6-10 season. The Colts’ defense is awful, their running game has been suspect for years, their offensive line isn’t playing well, and none of that has to do with QB play. And there’s the fact, unmentioned by Manning’s fans, that he’s getting old. Assuming he’s out this entire season, when he returns in 2012, he’ll be 36 and entering his 14th NFL season. Add in 19 career playoff games, Manning has played the equivalent of 14 seasons already. Physical decline is going to happen sooner or later, and his neck injury may be a symptom of that. Peyton Manning’s return, in my view, will do nothing to change the fact that the Colts need to start thinking about the dreaded rebuilding process, or the fact that Peyton Manning’s career is inexorably on the down side.
That’s about it. Next week, the Bills go to Toronto to take on the Redskins!
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