Monday, September 10, 2012

Shaking the Dust off the WD4T

Let's get right into this.  Every week, I'll produce two pieces, a review and a preview of each week.  You've already seen the preview for Week 1, so here's a review.  Really simple.

First, a little opener.  For all of the hoopla about the record-breaking five rookie starting quarterbacks at the outset of this season, they combined to average 224 yards on 18-of-35 passing with 0.8 touchdowns and 2.2 interceptions (and 200, 18-37, 0.5, and 2.8 if you exclude RGIII).  And for all of the hoopla about the dominant passing numbers from last year (via Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Eli, and Stafford), they combined to average 289 yards on 26-of-41 passing with 1.8 touchdowns and 1.2 interceptions.  Yes, it's just one game, but maybe we'll see a little bit of a defensive resurgence this season.


TRIUMPH:  Last season's Eagles defense was, to put it lightly, porous against the run.  They allowed 695 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns through just the first five weeks.  But they stepped their game up in this contest, If you remove a 35-yard reverse play from the equation, the Browns managed just 64 yards on 21 carries in a game that was close throughout.

TRAGEDY:  If Michael Vick's play wasn't a tragedy, I don't know what is.  If the Browns' player catches the terribly-thrown ball to the corner of the endzone that preceded the game-winning touchdown, we're looking at a 28/56 for 313, 1 TD, 5 INT game for Vick, which is positively Weedenian once you account for the fact that he accumulated all those yards over almost 60 attempts.

TREND:  Yes, Vick was brutal, but this shouldn't really have surprised anyone.  The Browns actually allowed the second-fewest passing yards in the league last year.  And no, Negative Nancy, it doesn't matter that the Browns were consistently losing and thus didn't HAVE to be thrown on.  They were also fifth-best at opponents' yards-per-attempt allowed.  What's really funny (read: not funny) is that the Browns were 30th in the league (21st per attempt) in rushing defense, and yet the Eagles gave pound-for-pound the best running back in the league 7 carries in the first half.

TRAIL MIX: To hammer home this whole why-the-hell-are-you-continuing-to-put-it-up-with-Vick-when-he's-on-pace-to-set-an-interceptions-record thing, Michael Vick had never thrown the ball 50 times in a game.  Ever.  Why, Andy Reid, do you pick a game in which 1) you're facing a defense that is much worse against the run than the pass, 2) you were never losing by more than 6 points, and 3) Vick clearly lacks composure and decision-making ability, to pull out that game plan?


TRIUMPH: You're thinking Julio Jones, right?  Well you're wrong.  Remember, this is about surprisingly good performances, not just good performances.  And Dexter McCluster came out of nowhere to lead the Chiefs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in this game (10, 6, and 82, respectively).  So much for Jon Baldwin making an impact -- he wasn't even targeted.

TRAGEDY: You're thinking Michael Turner, right?  Well you're wrong again.  The Chiefs lost their first two games last season by a combined score of 89-10, and are heading in that direction this season as well.  Granted, their offense didn't really look that bad this time around, and Jamaal Charles still has an ACL, so there's that.

TREND: OK, now you get your Julio Jones fix.  It's no fluke that he had such an explosive start to 2012 (6 catches, 108 yards, 2 TD) -- in the last four games of 2011, Jones averaged 5 catches for 98 yards and 1.5 touchdowns, and by all accounts the Dirty Birds are looking to air it out more this season.

TRAIL MIX: Speaking of airing it out, how 'bout that Michael Turner?  Before you fantasy owners get all riled up, I should note that he had three games in 2011 in which he had fewer than 15 carries for fewer than 50 yards and zero touchdowns -- and he still was top-five in the league in rushing.  That being said, there's a reason why I don't own him on any of my six fantasy teams.


TRIUMPH: Two of the best running backs in the league, Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson, were both almost entirely disregarded by pundits and fantasy owners going into this week's action (started in just 64 and 52 percent of ESPN leagues, respectively, and that's no doubt inflated by teams who weren't actually paying attention).  They combined for 36 carries, 161 yards, and 2 touchdowns, while their supposed replacements (Rashad Jennings and Toby Gerhart) combined for 14 carries, 49 yards, and 0 touchdowns.

TRAGEDY: With quarterback Blaine Gabbert looking like he may actually deserve an NFL paycheck in the preseason, people were starting to get a little bit excited about rookie WR Justin Blackmon's prospects.  So much for that.  He caught 3 of the 6 passes thrown his way for just 24 yards, which looks even worse when you note that Gabbert actually threw for 260 yards and 2 TD in this contest.

TREND: Percy Harvin remains as integral to his offense a receiver as any in the league (man, that took forever to find a wording, and it still sucks), with 8 targets (6 receptions) and 5 carries, making him the target of the offensive scheme in just under 1/4 of the Vikes' plays.  By comparison, Calvin Johnson accounted for just under 1/10 of his offensive scheme this week.

TRAIL MIX: Kicker Time!  How about Blair Walsh, fantasy superstar?  Replacing stalwart Ryan Longwell in Minnesota, Walsh booted four field goals in the last 18 minutes of the game, including a 55-yarder as time expired in the 4th quarter and a game-winning 38-yarder in overtime.

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