1. Cam Newton is officially in a Sophomore Slump. After a stellar Rookie year which lead to some NFL “experts” predicting an MVP type season, Newton has struggled out of the gate and has led the Panthers to a 1-4 start. In last week’s game, Cam did literally nothing the entire game, but due to a Carolina defensive TD to open the second half, the Panthers found themselves on the 5 yard with a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter. With the score 16-10 on 4th and goal, the Panthers rolled Cam out to the right and had a wide open man in the end one for a game winning score. Newton decided to throw a bounce pass at his target, channeling the great John Stockton. Unfortunately, on a football field, the ball doesn’t bounce off the turf and even if it does, the referees will usually call it incomplete (unless they are replacement refs). Cam, it’s time to quit the Superman act if you keep playing like Quailman.
2. The NFC West is much better than we thought. My Superbowl Champion pick from May, the San Francisco 49ers are coming off two dominating performances in which they outscored their opponents by 84. The Arizona Cardinals are sporting a 4-1 record and look to have the defense to keep up the good play in the next few weeks. The Seattle Seahawks at 3-2 have played reallly well as Pete Carroll has led his team to wins in Carolina, against the Packers and even their two loses were close games at both the Giants and Cowboys. Rounding out the division is the 3-2 Rams, who have played much better under Jeff Fisher, as they are coming off a Thursday night victory in which they handed the Cardinals their first defeat of the year. Two years ago, the NFC West was won by Seattle with a 7-9 overall record and NFL fans were calling it one of the worse divisions in history. Obviously, all 4 teams have rebounded well in a very short period of time.
3. Andrew Luck does not look like a Rookie. One of the most surprising teams in the league thus far has been the Luck lead Indianapolis Colts, as they honored their Head Coach Chuck Pagano with a shocking win against the Green Bay Packers. Pagano was diagnosed with a curable form of leukemia early last week and nobody would have blamed the Colts if they came out against the Packers slow. Andrew Luck would not allow that to happen. The overall #1 pick went toe to toe with the defending MVP Aaron Rodgers, and outlasted one of the best QBs in the game for a thrilling 30-27 win. He went 31 for 55, throwing for 362 yards, 212 of them to Reggie Wayne. He is quickly making Colts fans feel better about their divorce form the legendary Peyton Manning. Luck brings the Colts into Met Life this week to face the Jets, in what will be a make of break game for both teams. As a Jet fan, I’m not feeling overly confident.
4. NFL Records are not nearly as big a deal as MLB records. It was cool to see Drew Brees break Johnny Unitas’s record of consecutive games with a TD pass, but on the real, I had no idea the record was held by Unitas or what the number was. There are a few NFL records that do stand out from the others, Emmit Smith’s all-time rushing record, Rice’s insane amount of receiving feats, Favre’s consecutive games played, the 17-0 Miami Dolphins, but overall, football is not a sport built on these statitistics. All sports fans know about Cal Ripkin’s streak, DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, CY Young’s victories, and the numerous HR records that have unfortunately been set by juicers in recent years. Baseball is a game about numbers, football is game based on action and violence. Not to take away from Brees’ accomplishment, it is truly impressive. To me, it’s just really not as exciting as the media and NFL made it out to be. Hell, they even let Sean Peyton in the building to watch!
5. It’s almost time to pull the plug on Michael Vick. The athletic, talented dog killer has become a huge liability for the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick seems to be allergic to the football lately. He has fumbled the ball 8 times, losing 5 of them in the early season. The Eagles are a very lucky 3-2 and could easily be 0-5 due to Vick’s carelessness. With his 5 lost fumbles, Vick has also thrown 6 picks to lead the league with 11 turnovers (thats even more than Sanchez!) With all the weapons Vick has in Philladelphia, he needs to get the ball out of his hands and let his playmakers like Lesean McCoy, Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin make plays for him. I don’t think it’s time yet to make a move, but Andy Reid’s job is on the line and if he doesn’t at least alter his game plan to hide Vick’s flaws a little bit more, Reid will find himself on the unemployment line at the end of the season.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Alex Smith, has made it abundantly clear that he does not believe offense wins games. Not really what you want to hear from the leader of your offense. In a recent interview, Smith said that he does not think big stats equate to wins…well they don’t really hurt either.
“I could absolutely care less on yards per game,” Smith told a group of reporters. “I think that is a totally overblown stat because if you’re losing games in the second half, guess what, you’re like the Carolina Panthers and you’re going no-huddle the entire second half. Yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games. That’s great. You’re not winning, though.”
After hearing this comment about his quarterback, Carolina Panthers Linebacker Jon Beason tweeted, “Alex smith, don’t hate on Cam (because) your stats would’ve gotten u cut if Peyton decided to come 2 San Fran. Truth b told. That’s after a 13-3 yr.”
I found this to be one of the funniest things I have ever heard. The sad part is that it is painfully true. Alex Smith led his 49ers to win the NFC West and make it all the way to the NFC Championship game where they eventually lost to the Superbowl champion New York Giants. San Fran was one of the many teams that went after the coveted free agent Peyton Manning. There is a lot of validity to what Smith is saying about stats being over hyped, but demeaning what Cam Newton did for last year’s Carolina Panthers was an unnecessary low blow.
Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers were the top 5 QB’s in passing yards this past season. All five of them made the playoffs and had successful seasons. Eli even went on to lead his team to win the Superbowl and was given the MVP award for the game. I am a strong believer that defense wins games in the long run, but it is impossible to win it all without a fundamentally sound offense. I honestly think that if Cam Newton and his offense had the defense supporting him that Alex Smith had this past season, then Cam would have been lifting that trophy instead of Eli. I might be a little biased based on the fact that Cam Newton absolutely killed it for my fantasy team this past year, but Alex Smith should just keep his mouth shut and let his defense keep winning games for him.
In this past season, Alex Smith had less passing yards than QB duds like Mark Sanchez and Rex Grossman. Smith was 27th in the league in yards per game, with less than 200, and he threw for a dismal 17 total touchdowns. Maybe Smith should start caring a little more about stats because he will find himself riding the bench soon enough with those numbers. Winning your division is great and a 13-3 record is nothing to laugh at, but whether you finish last in the league or you lose in the Superbowl the end result is the same.