Keith Grieve’s Low Rent NFL Week 15 Sunday Recap

Cardinals 12 Rams 6- In a game that set football decades, the Cardinals found a way to win despite losing another quarterback. Apparently, Drew Stanton’s injury means there’s a chance he could return should the Cards make a deep run into the playoffs, but how much is left in the tank will come into question starting next week when they play the Seahawks. Get your Ryan Lindley jerseys ready!

Steelers 27 Falcons 20- Yet another undewhelming outing for the Falcons who waited until it was too late to put up any kind of resistance. LeVeon Bell was once again a difference maker for the Steelers who face must-win situations the rest of the way in a tight AFC North. The Falcons are 5-9 and still in the running for the NFC South- someone with a winning record is going to be livid about not making the playoffs in favor of whatever lousy team wins this division.

Redskins 13 Giants 24- Odell Beckham, Jr continued his coming out party with three touchdown catches. The Giants were absolutely unable to run the ball, averaging 2.2 yards per carry.  Robert Griffin III came on in relief of Colt McCoy and numbers-wise, wasn’t completely putrid. He did get sacked 7 times and lost a fumble in the end zone that could have been a game-sntaching touchdown, so there’s still no hope at this point.

Dolphins 13 Patriots 41- Remember in Week 1 when the Dolphins destroyed the Pats? And remember all those good feelings about the Dolphins? Yeah, ancient history. Tom Brady with a very Brady Sunday- 21-of-35 for 287 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT- and the Dolphins never stood a chance after halftime.

Raiders 13 Chiefs 31- Hey, look everyone: the Chiefs played like a big boy team! OK, so it was against the Raiders, but hey- this was a team they lost to just a few short weeks ago. Raiders QB Derek Carr puts the ball up 56 times and you can’t imagine a different outcome, can you? But give the Chiefs credit- they showed up in all phases of the game and won a division game they needed to win.

Texans 10 Colts 17- So if I told you the Colts would play the Texans at home and the Texans would lose starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the first quarter, and that would force them to turn to rookie QB Tom Savage and the Colts would only win by 7, you’d say I was crazy wouldn’t you? Yeah well, the Colts are looking very suspect after having to come from behind last week in Cleveland and not being able to win this game by more than a touchdown.

Jaguars 12 Ravens 20- Speaking of suspect playoff teams, the Ravens have to be right up there. Look at who the Ravens have beaten and you ‘ll be less impressed than you were when you found out your high school sweetheart went to college and slept with half the campus. The Jaguars aren’t as bad as their record, but the Ravens should have been able to do better at home. When your offense goes 4-for12 on third down when your defense gets you 8 sacks and an interception, you cannot be taken seriously.

Packers 13 Bills 21- The Packers were the class of the league coming in and the Bills straight up just punched them in the mouth. They were helped out by a bad case of the ‘dropsies’ by Packers receivers, but the Bills came out and did what they had to do- play great defense and pray points come from somewhere- namely a punt return TD and a safety on an Aaron Rodgers fumble in the last moments. You’ve heard of the ’46’ defense? The Bills employ the ’86’ offense- because they have 86’d executing anything remotely resembling an NFL offense.

Buccaneers 17 Panthers 19- Remember all that talk about the miserable NFC South before? Yeah, look at this pile of soiled undergarments as further proof. In fairness, Panthers QB Cam Newton did not play after almost dying in a car accident, but if you’re the Bucs and you give up almost 400 yards to Derek Anderson and company, you really can’t claim you’re playing for pride anymore, because you clearly don’t have any.

Bengals 30 Browns 0- 10-for18 for 80 yards. That was either the meager beginnings of the glory age of Cleveland Browns football; or it was the first in a VEEEEERRRRYYY long list of stat lines of a first round bust. Either way, the Johnny Manziel era is here- for better or for worse. The only non-Bengals personnel that felt good about this one was Brian Hoyer. Bengals RB Jeremy Hill ran over, around, and through the Browns defense in the first half, staking the Bengals to a big lead in a division game. I didn’t believe they were capable of answering the bell, but they did. With a little help from Manziel.

Jets 16 Titans 11- Jets RB Chris Ivory scores a 1-yard touchdown with 3 minutes left to propel the Jets to victory (see what I did there?) I just can’t think of anything worth noting other than a brawl that broke out when one player from a crappy team hit the quarterback of the other crappy team and they all broke out in craptastic fashion and tried to prove who was the crappiest. Crap.

Broncos 22 Chargers 10- Hey San Diego! Peyton Manning needed 4- that’s right, 4- IV bags overnight because he was so sick you still couldn’t beat the Broncos. Kudos go to the Broncos defense as they played big when their leader was simply not 100%.  Featuring a run-heavy offense, the Broncos made Manning throw the ball as little as possible and counted on their defense to keep the Chargers off the board.

49ers 7 Seahawks 17- A Seahawks grinder where QB Russell Wilson didn’t really play that well and 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick likewise didn’t pass all that well. Once again these two teams resort a defensive slugfest and Seattle was just better at crossing the goalline. It’s amazing how many games you win when you do that.

Vikings 14 Lions 16- Are you ready for this? The Minnesota Vikings outplayed the Detroit Lions in just about every way- except for turnovers. But hey, when you have rookie QB these things happen. The Lions offense was inept for the most of the day and their defense did what they needed to do- keep the Vikings from scoring and come up with a timely turnover. They got two. If you’re a Vikings fan, you’re jazzed but losing still sucks.

Cowboys 38 Eagles 27- The Cowboys come away with a game they absolutely had to have after getting their hindquarters handed to them by the Eagles a few weeks ago. The Cowboys went up big and then held on for dear life as QB Tony Romo  tried his best to sabotage the whole thing with a fumble on a strip-sack after he held the ball for about an hour and a half. Spray Tan Murray scored a couple of TD’s and WR Dez Bryant caught 3 of his own to help Dallas outlast the team they entered the day tied for the division lead with.

 

Winter Of Hope: Theo Epstein Strikes Big As Chicago Cubs Land Lester

Jon Lester to sign with Chicago Cubs – ESPN Chicago.

Free Agent P Jon Lester has chosen to be part of the ending another curse- in Chicago

Holeeeee Crap, kids, the Chicago Cubs have made a bit of a splash.

The holders of the last remaining ‘curse’ in Major League Baseball have acquired the southpaw for 6 years and $155 million-effing-dollars.

I said on Monday night’s 87sportsfans Live that Lester didn’t really ‘wow’ me statistically. In all honesty, I may have spoken a bit too soon, because there were aspects of Lester’s game last year that lead one to believe all this attention is just. However making him the second-highest paid pitcher in the game does tend to make me scratch my head. All that really means is that his value to the Cubs is greater than what it would be to other clubs, so we won’t focus on that.

The Cubs were 13th out 15 National League Clubs in ERA last year, so Lester immediately gives them an upgrade here. With the re-signing of Jason Hammel, who they traded away last summer but went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA for the Cubs, the team has at least on paper the makings of a solid 1-2-3 in the starting rotation with Jake Arrieta.

The Cubs can’t stop here, though. A team that was 15th in offensive strikeouts and 12th in batting average needs to simply find better alternatives. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that the Cubs finished 9th in OPS- giving the appearance of some power in the lineup. However, if you can’t get guys on base for the guys who can drive the ball, you’re going to struggle.

2015 has a significant amount of promise for Cubs fans now. They still need to find some bats, but with new manager Joe Maddon coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays there is unavoidable optimism as the snow begins to fall.

Chicago Bears Fans Need To Embrace Imperfect Jay Cutler

Bears have case of buyer’s remorse with Jay Cutler – NFL.com.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Chicago  Bears are regretting signing Jay Cutler to the long term deal it did last offseason.

No one can deny the Bears’ struggles on offense this year and no one can ignore the reappearances of what has come to be known as “Bad Jay” Cutler- the forced throws, the underthrown balls, the strip-sacks. All of these are maddening to fans because you will see all that I just mentioned and then he’ll throw a deep out where only the receiver can catch the ball or make some other play not every quarterback can make.

There is probably no other quarterback as “Jekyll-and-Hyde” as he and the sideline demeanor that never changes just frustrates an over-emotional fan base even more. So if we are truly at the point where we believe Cutler is the problem where do the Bears go?

There’s two specific angles we need to consider: 1. The Bears deplorable history of finding and/or developing quarterbacks; 2. Is Cutler really all THAT bad?

The first point can be covered by that link and is really self-explanatory. The Bears have been absolutely hideous when it comes to acquiring quarterback talent. It was this history that caused Bears fans to rejoice when the acquisition of Cutler was first announced. For every Jim McMahon or Erik Kramer who had good seasons in the Windy City, there is a Cade McNown or Steve Walsh.

I won’t even mention Rick Mirer.

The second point is a bit trickier. First: the ugly. Cutler is tied with rookie Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles for the most interceptions thrown. He has two more than Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton, three more than the New York Giants Eli Manning, and four more than the venerable New Orleans Saints signal caller Drew Brees and Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck.

Turnovers are what Cutler needs to cut down on immediately. Everyone can live with a forced ball or other mistake here or there, but the rate at which Cutler seems to have an overabundance of faith in this arm and/ or placement ability is excessive. At this point, Cutler is who he is. You’re not going to change him, he’s not going to stop doing these things. If you’re the Bears you have to figure out how to minimize this, but more to the point, he has to understand why and buy into that plan.

Rapoport’s report today mentioned Bears’ brass displeasure with how often he refuses to check out of bad run plays. The contrarian in me immediately wants to know why. For all the mistake throws, no one doubts Cutler’s football intelligence so I have hard time believing his incapable of recognizing when a defensive front presents a disadvantage. Furthermore, by this admission, the Bears are indirectly indicating that the problem isn’t Cutler checking out of run plays, it’s that he doesn’t do it enough.

The Bears pass-run ratio is 503-292, or 63% pass. I had previously believed that Cutler was checking out of run plays into passing plays and therefore inflating that figure. These comments by Rapoport today lead to me to believe otherwise. Maybe Cutler isn’t checking out of them because he’s grateful they’re being called at all? Who knows. What I do know is that you’re not going to win in the NFL with that kind of playcall imbalance and a quarterback who tends to force balls into places they have no business going.

With all of this nonsense going on this year, Cutler still is tied for fourth in overall Completion %, completing almost 67% of his throws. Who’s better? Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers,  Tony Romo, and Peyton Manning. Not bad company at all.

The Bears future at quarterback beyond 2016, when the team option on the contract the Bears signed him to last year kicks in, depends on what you feel most comfortable with: the devil you know; or the devil you don’t know. If the Bears coaching staff can limit the amount of burden on Cutler’s shoulders, the Bears can be very successful with him at QB. Between RB Matt Forte, WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, and TE Martellus Bennett there is more than enough talent to win in this league.

What the Bears need is a executable plan to harness all that talent in the right way and to date they haven’t shown the ability to do that.

Now, about that defense…

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