Friday, September 21, 2018

NFL Week 2 Post-Partum

By Kevin Beane

Here's what caught my attention coming off of Week 2 in the NFL.

* The Cardinals just laid down perhaps the worst offensive performance I have ever seen in their 34-0 loss to the Rams Sunday. Consider this: 137 yards of total offense. Consider this: 5 first downs. Consider this: one drive into Rams territory. That was on their last drive. They took over with 3:10 left in the game, and while the clock ran out on them, they put together their best drive of the game: 35 yards and 2 first downs. That is to say, before that absolutely meaningless, call-off-the-dogs drive commenced, they had 3 first downs and 102 yards.

Another thing really stuck out to me in the box score: Sam Bradford was a respectable 17-of-27. Problem was, that was for 90 yards, or 3.3 yards per attempt.

One of the reasons Brad Oremland walked away from his column was because of the surfeit of boring, short passes. I hope like hell he didn't see a snap of this game. Last year, Bradford threw for a career-high 8.9 yards per attempt. Translation: Steve Wilks, and/or offensive coordinator (and erstwhile Chargers head coach) Mike McCoy need to open the playbook.

* Can we calm down a bit over Patrick Mahomes? Don't get me wrong: I'm rooting for him. It's a fun story. But take a look at this week's "Let's Overreact" column on ESPN, where bold statements are put forth and NFL writer Dan Graziano judges whether or not each spicy take is an overreaction.

For Mahomes, the position is that he will break Peyton Manning's record of 55 touchdown passes in a season this year. Graziano decides this is "not an overreaction," and this statement of his backing it up leaves my jaw on the floor:

"Simple math, folks. The kid has to average only 3.2 touchdowns a game the rest of the way."

Only 3.2? I take it Graziano does not play fantasy football if he considers 3.2 passing touchdowns for a QB in a game to be kind of pedestrian.

How about we put it another way? Let's round that down to 3.0. And let's reset Mahomes' TD total all the way down to zero. That is, zero touchdowns so far, three touchdowns per game over the Chiefs' final 14 games.

That would be 42 touchdown passes, which would've led the league each of the last four seasons and be good for alone ninth all-time. Graziano either needs to take a few deep breaths or get in touch with me, because I'm willing to bet folding money that Mahomes is not getting Manning's record this year.

* Maybe it's because he's won so many Super Bowls that no one seems willing to second-guess Bill Belichick. But man, did he make a monstrously terrible decision on Sunday.

8:21 left in the game, Patriots trail the Jags 24-13 and have it 3rd-and-5 at their own 14. A short Brady pass to James White is marked as a 5-yard gain and a first down, but Jacksonville successfully challenges the spot and instead, the Patriots are left with 4th-and-inches at their own 18½.

They punt.

No! No! NO! You are not more likely to stop Jacksonville (and you're likely giving them okay-ish field position, punting from your own 18), score, stop them again, and score again (AND! one of those scores has to be a touchdown, and if they aren't both TDs, then the one TD needs a two-point conversion, and that's just to get the game to OT) in 8:01 than you are of getting a few inches on that play. You're not. I don't care what you're old-school gut and years of being in the trenches or whatever BS tells you. You have to go for it there.

I need the football version of Moneyball to take root now. Yesterday. I can't take anymore ridiculously conservative decision-making from coaches.

Drew Magary and Deadspin are dead to rights in calling Gregg Easterbrook a haughty dipshit, but man, did he champion the statistical correctness of going for it (and not settling for field goals when you need touchdowns) hard, and his voice is missed in that regard. Allow me to pick up that torch.

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