Week 16 Reflection for Every Sunday Game: Zac Stacy, Pierre Garcon, Dennis Allen, more

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St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy (30) runs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams defeated the Buccaneers 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday’s slate of games looked incredibly enticing, and Sunday didn’t disappoint football fans. There were plenty of storylines going into yesterday’s games, and there are just as many storylines to take out of those games. Below are some rambling thoughts and reflections from each game.

Buffalo Bills 19, Miami Dolphins 0

The Dolphins can take solace that the New England Patriots absolutely pounded the Baltimore Ravens, but they were shutout in embarrassing fashion by the Bills yesterday. I still think the Dolphins are the best of the teams vying for the final playoff spot in the AFC, but they certainly didn’t do themselves any favors with that lackluster showing. There is little doubt that the Dolphins offensive line is absolutely pathetic, and they were at their worst on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill is the most-sacked QB in the league, and the Dolphins allowed seven more sacks. Tannehill usually does a fantastic job of overcoming pressure in his face, but there was just too much of it yesterday. The run blocking was once again horrible, and the Dolphins OL is just wasting Lamar Miller‘s talents. It all starts up front, and the Dolphins lost so badly up front that they weren’t able to score any points; chalk that up as an incredibly embarrassing performance.

New York Jets 24, Cleveland Browns 13

Geno Smith and Jason Campbell seemed to flip performances yesterday, and that was definitely the difference between these two teams. While Smith was calm and composed, Campbell was erratic with two interceptions and a horrendous average of 4.5 yards per attempt. Josh Gordon was targeted 16 times, but he could only come away with six catches. Of course, Gordon made the most of his six receptions with 97 receiving yards in total.

Cincinnati Bengals 42, Minnesota Vikings 14

This is why you can’t trust Matt Cassel. Against a more than competent defense, Cassel threw three interceptions, averaged just 4.1 yards per attempt, and simply did nothing positive against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Vikings were forced to scrap the running game early in the second half, as the Vikings wisely pulled Adrian Peterson from the game after they realized  that he was just too hurt to do anything. Toby Gerhart aggravated a hamstring injury very early in the game, and the Vikings were pretty much doomed in this game.

Andy Dalton is one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks around, but he definitely knows how to feast against awful secondaries. The Vikings have some of the worst corners in the NFL, and Dalton took full advantage on 27-38 passing for 366 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. How many yards did he average per attempt? Only 9.6. He needed to be great, too, since the Bengals only averaged 2.2 yards per carry on the ground.

Indianapolis Colts 23, Kansas City Chiefs 7 

In my preview of this week’s games, I stated that Andrew Luck would need to have an incredible performance in order for the Colts to knock-off the Chiefs and their dominant defense. Well Luck was solid, but the Colts really won this game by taking advantage of the Chiefs wide receivers, which might be the worst in the NFL. Dwayne Bowe is not a No. 1 WR in this league, and Donnie Avery definitely isn’t a starting-caliber receiver. The Chiefs pass-catchers struggled to get open against a Colts secondary that is clearly better with solid veteran Greg Toler finally health, and Alex Smith suffered the consequences. Smith is a decent quarterback, but he’s not good enough to overcome bad receivers around him. The Chiefs did a great job of containing T.Y. Hilton, but Donald Brown had 110 yards from scrimmage and two TDs on just 12 touches, and that was the difference. And yet, the Colts still gave Trent Richardson 16 carries compared to ten for Brown. Go figure. (By the way, Brown had 7.9 yards per carry, whereas T-Rich plodded for just 2.7 per pop.)

St. Louis Rams 23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13

It’s always interesting to watch the St. Louis Rams play, because they overcome Kellen Clemens‘s limitations at quarterback by playing old-school football. They pound the opposition to submission with excellent rushing from Zac Stacy, who had 33 carries in a gritty performance. Stacy’s yards per carry averages will be poor by virtue of the lack of respect Clemens commands from defenses (more men come into the box to sell out against the run) and the fact that the Rams run it so much, so it’s best to evaluate Stacy on how he runs instead of how efficiently he runs. This was a gritty game, and the Rams don’t lose games like this, especially when they record seven sacks. They have the game’s best defensive line and arguably the game’s best pass rusher, and they know it. Robert Quinn had three more sacks yesterday to add to his DPOY candidacy, and he could very well earn another Player of the Week award from us.

Dallas Cowboys 24, Washington Redskins 23

There’s a lot of talk of rifts among players and coaches in the Dallas Cowboys organization, and there’s also plenty of talk about Jason Garrett‘s job security. Following last week’s debacle against the Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys nearly blew one against their arch rivals. The Washington Redskins are in more turmoil than the Cowboys, but they only lost 24-23. The big three of Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant were excellent as usual, but the Redskins stayed in it by controlling the clock with Alfred Morris. It’s amazing how much of an impact Pierre Garcon and Morris make, because they both nearly gave the Redskins this one.

Tennessee Titans 20, Jacksonville Jaguars 16

With Cecil Shorts on the IR with a groin injury, I thought Chad Henne would have an awful game against Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty. But Henne was actually OK and helped keep the Jaguars in it. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the Jaguars running game, which was left wanting. Maurice Jones-Drew was able to play as a game-time decision, but he was only able to average 3.5 yards per attempt. No. 2 back Jordan Todman was even worse with just six yards on six carries, and he was a massive fantasy dud on fantasy football’s biggest stage after his huge Week 15 performance. The Titans, on the other hand, had loads of success on the ground with 90-yard rushing days from both Chris Johnson and backup Shonn Greene. Gold stars go to Nate Washington for six receptions, 117 yards and a TD on just eight targets and Derrick Morgan for three QB hits.

Denver Broncos 37, Houston Texans 13

Peyton Manning absolutely destroyed an overmatched Houston Texans defense, and he had four touchdowns without a pick. The Texans secondary is in shambles thanks to horrible safety play, and a good sign of poor coverage from the safeties against the Broncos is when Eric Decker goes off for a big game, because that means he burned people and had mis-matches deep. Decker was targeted a monstrous 17 times and came away with ten receptions, 131 yards, two touchdowns, and likely helped swing the balance in fantasy championships. Meanwhile, Andre Johnson was targeted 13 times, but he only had four catches for 63 yards. On the bright side, Johnson now has 103 receptions on the season and has five straight seasons with 100+ catches. And on the J.J. Watt watch, the best defensive player in the game quietly added two QB hits in the blowout loss.

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  • Chris Schroeder

    As a Raiders fan. Just Wondering why Reggie Mcenzie in your option is the problem?

    Rm’s job was to clean house and clear up the dead cap money, and in 2 years he has done just that. Understand that the 2014 season will be the first year of the rebuilding faze. Not this year or last. This year was for purposes of evaluation only, hence the plethora of 1 year contracts. There is no hot seat for DA or RM. This was the plan all along. the Raiders in 2014 will have an additional 70 mil and all the draft picks. They will be stacked with depth and talent across the board. It they don’t make the playoffs in 2014, or especially 2015 I will be shocked.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I agree with you, and thanks for reminding me about McKenzie’s terrific cap management. My point was that you might as well blame McKenzie more than Allen if you are going to blame anyone at all, because you can’t blame the head coach of a rebuilding team. The Raiders were never supposed to compete this season, so there’s no point in firing anyone; totally agree with you. My point, however, is that the Raiders have personnel issues, which normally point to the GM. But in the Raiders case, of course, this is an exception to that rule. Why? As you said, McKenzie’s job was to fix up the cap and get the Raiders ship righted for the future.

      Great comments and points, Chris, and I should have done a better job of phrasing that point in the post. Quick question for you, since I love crowd-sourcing draft opinions. What would the Raiders “dream” draft look like?

      • guido

        If you look at every game there is only a small number of games where the Raiders were truly outplayed. Majority of games were lost in the 4th when you need a big playmaker that the Raiders don’t have. All I asked this year was to be competitive and I think for the most part they were

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          I agree with your assessment of the Raiders season. Coming into this year, I thought the Raiders would be the league’s worst team. Whoops. But I wasn’t the only one, and I think Mark Davis and the organization should be happy that Allen was able to turn this into a competitive squad; there really isn’t a good reason to fire him. I mean, if you are grading a Raiders head coach on the organization’s lack of success, then you might as well fire everyone, since you can’t truly point fingers when a team is rebuilding and just aiming to be competitive and find pieces.

          Could you imagine Clowney and Houston at DE? Perfect combo, and I’ve always loved Houston’s ability to make an impact as a pass rusher and run defender- can’t overlook his run D.

        • Chris Schroeder

          Not just the 2014 draft class of the Oakland Raiders but free agency as well will be a true testament to Reggie McKenzie’s ability and direction. People are so quick to point out a few flaws he made in his decisions like Tyler Wilson or Matt Flynn, but they overlook the diamonds in the rough like undrafted free-agent Rod Streeter who almost has 1000 yards receiving this year during the midst of a quarterback controversy, or undrafted free agent Matt McGloin who took the starting role right out of Terrel Pryor’s hands because of his ability to make the big plays, or how about Andre Holmes who bounced around practice squads for different teams and all of a sudden looks like the next Randy Moss with that one-handed catch thrown by a undrafted rookie free-agent quarterback. I think Reggie McKenzie has done a fantastic job considering all aspects and I am very excited to see what he puts together for next year.

          • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

            RE: Wilson, you are always going to miss on players, especially QBs you take later on. And is Wilson really a “miss”? I hope nobody expected much out of him in the first place. Can’t blame McKenzie for that. This offseason is pivotal for him and the Raiders, though, and hopefully they can make some smart signings to help the defensive side of the ball. Also, as I said before, Jennings > McFadden.

  • sd_woodturner

    your coverage of the Oakland San Diego game made no mention that San Diego participated. All Oakland. Where was the balanced reporting?
    Just curious.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      If I mentioned every team, player, etc. in this piece, then I would have been writing that piece all day. Give me a break, man. Besides, what did you want me to say about the Chargers? That they took care of business against their rivals, extracted revenge, and took full advantage of the Dolphins and Ravens flopping?

      And don’t worry, I;m not biased against your Chargers at all, so there’s no biased reporting here. I mean, I’ve been staunchly on the “Philip Rivers is a fully legit MVP candidate side” all year long and have even had him above Peyton at points. Just because I didn’t mention the Chargers doesn’t mean I’m biased, it just means that I wanted to focus on speaking about the Raiders, especially since the Chargers win wasn’t as notable as the Allen talk.

      • sd_woodturner

        fair enough Joe. My point was that after reading all the other stories on team pairings, you pretty much covered both sides, except for the Chargers. A simple sentence as you did above would make a lot of San Diegans happier.
        Your insight is exemplary and I enjoy following your writing.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          Hey, sorry if it sounded like I was snapping at you, but the thought of not covering all the bases etc. eats at me. I feel bad for not writing enough about the Chargers, but it’s just so tough to find something to say about every team and wrap it up into one post that doesn’t ramble too much. I actually tried to stick one sentence in there in the game talking about the Patriots and Ravens (briefly touched on how the Chargers actually took care of their business haha), but I can see why you would be upset that you came to a post thinking you would see insight on the Chargers and ended up with Raiders talk. I’ll try to do a better job next time, but it’s difficult to get to everything.

          I understand your criticisms, and I always take advice seriously and try to implement in the future; it will only make me better.

          Thanks a ton for the kind words about my writing, and it definitely means a lot to me. In fact, getting praise and appreciation from readers is one of the most enjoyable things about writing, because it’s all about interacting with fans, learning more about the game, and trying to share that passion with others.

          I hope you have a happy holiday season (don’t want to assume that you celebrate Christmas, but I wish you a very merry one if you do), and never be afraid to disagree with me or criticize my work in a constructive manner. That’s all you did, and I unfortunately took your initial comment the wrong way (I think the “balanced reporting” phrase got to me, haha).

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