Tuesday Morning Double-Back

We here at Kevbo Industries are currently (still) working on a proper, professional logo for this column. Please excuse the absence of flash and appreciate instead the awesome substance of the words below.

Go Fins Go!

Being wrong is never as sweet as it is when you pick against your team. We’re getting the job done in all three phases, all four quarters. We’re not closing teams out early, but we’re winning, and so many teams in NFL history have won like this, and won consistently as well. I’m starting to believe in the 2013 Dolphins…but Drew Brees and the Saints are going to be a bigger challenge than the banged up Falcons.

What We Learned On Thursday

There is very little doubt that Philadelphia needed a change at head coach. Andy Reid’s tenure had run its course, his glory years were far enough behind him, and the fan base who wanted more than five NFC Championship game appearances and a Superbowl loss were fed up well before last year’s 4-12 collapse.

That being said, we all have to think there’s a small part of Reid that is smirking inside after his Chiefs had their way with his old club.

Kansas City is winning with smart football and tough defense, a formula that works more often than a high-flying passing game and a suspect defense does. If they weren’t working in the same division as the Broncos, there might actually be a race for the top spot in the works. A race for a wildcard spot? Reid has his team right where they want to be after three weeks.

Chip Kelly is going to learn, and learn fast, what NFL football is all about. This season is going to be a learning experience where his team explodes for 30+ one week, and struggles to do more than kick field goals the next. The Eagles still have to feel pretty good about their chances this year, in a division that includes two 0-3 teams and a certain group from Dallas that is notorious for looking good until it’s time to look great.

What We Learned On Sunday

For starters, we learned to appreciate the underdogs. There were few who expected the Ravens, Panthers, Bengals, Browns, Titans, Dolphins, and Colts to win their matchups. They all did, and regardless of how much each win actually meant in the long term, these games are EXACTLY why you watch football every Sunday, all day. No matter how clear cut a game may look, in each 60 minutes of football there are chances for either team to succeed.

Then, of course, there are the Jaguars. Officially the worst team in the league, Jacksonville has such a long way to go to relevance that I don’t think there’s a fan in the world who can see that light at the end of the tunnel.

After watching Seattle take it to the 49ers, and then confidently and convincingly win a game we all knew they had no right to lose, I’m almost (but not quite) ready to appreciate the hype they’ve been receiving since the end of last year.

San Fransisco getting physically dominated by the “finesse” Indianapolis Colts feels like a bad omen towards all that Seahawk hype being justified, as well. Whatever’s going on in San Fran, Big Baby Harbaugh needs to show his coaching prowess and get his team turned around in a hurry, because Seattle isn’t going to wait behind for them to catch up.

There were about three games’ worth of confusing, befuddling, hard to believe plays in the Packers-Bengals matchup, and in the end the team who took better advantage of those opportunities won the game. Notice I didn’t say “the better team won the game”.

Those coaching hot seats are starting to warm up, even if Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Mike Shanahan (Washington) and Tom Coughlin (Giants) will get a year pass for their past successes. 0-3 is 0-3, and each of these teams have glaring holes in their rosters, holes that are hard to envision being filled by a sudden jump in performance by players already on their respective teams.

This year’s version of the Chicago Bears are going to give the Packers an extremely serious run for the NFC North. Especially if the Packers continue to gift-wrap turnovers…no team in the league feeds off of them like da Bears.

What We Learned On Monday

I’m not sure we learned anything, to be honest. The Broncos are still the class of the AFC, the Raiders are still a team who needs to improve internally and in bringing in more talent. Pryor’s concussion was on a seemingly idiotic designed run when the game was already out of reach…young coach, young team, a loooooong way to go.

It was frightening to see Eric Decker find his stride. Any given week, one of Manning’s weapons are going to shine, making all of them fantasy studs and duds in the same breath. That’s what we call a paradox wrapped in an enigma, folks.

It’s The Numbers, Stupid (Part 1)

The Panthers were three sacks away from breaking the Giants’ own record for most sacks in a half when they either took down (or scared him into falling down) Eli Manning six times in the first two quarters.

Ouch.

I’m sure most people cringed when they heard about Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson losing the tip of his left middle finger during their game against the Saints. That didn’t do it to me, this quote from teammate Patrick Peterson, however, did:

“That’s nuts,” Peterson said. “Especially the way the trainers were explaining the incident when he came out to the sidelines and his gloves were drenched in blood and it was leaking like a faucet.

“I can’t imagine that. I can’t even imagine feeling and seeing that as if I was Rashad.”

Neither can I, Pat. Neither can I.

What Are You Doing, Christian Ponder?

If anyone was watching, you saw the play I’m thinking of: driving down the field, time winding down, you need a touchdown. Ponder takes the snap, drops, runs up into the pocket, and….if you watch replays, you see the right side of the field is 100% wide open for him to take off, maybe get the first but definitely get to the sideline to stop the clock and a grab a chunk of yards in the process. Instead he throws it to (I believe) Kyle Rudolph, in the middle of the field, while he’s surrounded by Browns defenders. He made the catch (unfortunately), and took away any chance the Vikings had of efficiently moving down the Browns’ half of the field to score a game-winning touchdown. Each week it seems Ponder gives the Vikings more and more reason to start scouting next year’s QB draft class.

What Are You Doing, Josh Freeman?

Gearing up for a career as a backup QB is the correct answer. I’m on the record as saying something isn’t right in Tampa, and that it begins with ownership and trickles down into bad relationships between players and coaches…but there’s almost no excuse for how inefficient, inaccurate and inconsistent Freeman has been so far this year. He’s shown in the past (with less to work with) that he can be a damn good player, but it’s fast becoming apparent that those moments (games, years, whatever) are a mirage. He’s past the point where you’re allowed to say “give him another year to progress”. This is that year, and progression is a fast fading memory.

It’s The Numbers, Stupid (Part 2)

The 49ers have given up a combined 84 points throughout three games, averaging 28 per. In 2012, they gave up just over 17 points average per game. At the pace they’re going, they’ll give up close to 200 more points this year than last. What gives? Seriously, someone explain this to me. I’ve got nothing.

What Are You Doing, Ndamukong Suh?

An apparently clean week for Suh, but the NFL is reviewing a play during last week’s loss to the Cardinals were Suh clearly threw an elbow at an Arizona lineman’s head. You can see the replay here. That cancels out last week’s vote of clean, giving him a 33.3 percent clean-to-dirty game ratio after three weeks. With everyone’s attention on every snap he plays, this portion of TMDB is going to continue to shine in the weeks to come.

Weekly Awards

QB Of The Week: Ryan Tannehill. Knowing that Matty Ice was on the other sideline, the young man playing only his 4th season at the QB position was poised, confident and extremely efficient, especially in leading that game-winning drive in the 4th quarter. It’s about time the talking heads who follow the NFL to at least start mentioning Tannehill in the same breath as Alex Smith.

RB Of The Week: DeMarco Murray. This is that balance Jason Garrett has been talking about for two years. The Cowboys have a bad tendency to get away from their running game when it stalls early in a game. Murray didn’t stall until he sat down in front of his locker after a 175 yard performance against a pretty damn good defense.

WR Of The Week: Jordan Cameron. Since we don’t have a TE column, and since without him, the Browns probably don’t beat the Vikings, we’re making an exception this week. Minnesota had absolutely no answer for him, and his 3 TDs were the most for any pass catcher in week 3. Gronkowski the 2nd?

Offensive Line Of The Week: Dallas Cowboys. I don’t know how you don’t give it to them, when they held firm against two of the league’s best pass rushers and cleared the way for the league’s week 3 rushing leader along the way. Solid effort from a group that hopefully is starting to find their stride.

Defensive Performance Of The Week: Cincinnati Bengals. I was so worried about this matchup that I went and found replacement defenses for them in both of my fantasy leagues, and paid the price in each instance. They gave Rodgers fits and essentially won the game with turnovers, including Terrance Newman’s game-winning fumble return for a score.

Goat Of The Week: Tom Coughlin. When your team is terrible in all three phases, but look like they shouldn’t be on paper, where else do you cast the blame? I don’t actually believe any of it is truly Coughlin’s fault (underachieving to the maximum and glaring holes on the roster are the culprits here), but the sh*t usually rolls to the guy who runs the team before it hits anyone else. Between his team’s performance Sunday and the unexpected loss of his brother earlier in the week, the man has my heartfelt sympathy.

Coaching Performance Of The Week: Andy Reid. His inside knowledge of Vick’s tendencies, wise offensive gameplanning and emotional disengagement from facing his former team all played pivotal in the Chiefs controlling the Eagles for about 55 of 60 minutes.

Kev’s Fantasy/Pick ‘Em Standings

Another bad week all around. Lost in both fantasy leagues, and one of them was after scoring a grand total of 38 points. Things have to change in this department. I should have known that first week sweep was a mirage.

Not much better on my picks, although I still am proud of myself for going with Baltimore over Houston. 9-7 on the week (remind me to pick against the Giants, Vikings and Redskins for the rest of the year…a joke for my family, not serious) and taught a lesson that the underdog deserves more appreciation than what I gave ’em this week.

A side note: my mother got the most wins right this week. Her football knowledge is, to put it as nicely as I possibly can, limited. Just goes to show you that Pick ‘Em, just like Fantasy Football, is 50% knowledge and 50% dumb luck.

What’s Next?

If the 49ers want to avoid a deep hole, they’re going to have to get past a team in St. Louis that they couldn’t top in 2012. Should make for a good Thursday Night matchup (which is rare since they’ve been doing Thursday nighters every week).

We’re guaranteed that at least one 0-3 team will come out with a victory when the Vikings host the Steelers on Sunday. I’m putting my money on Adrian Peterson.

The Redskins need to come out of Oakland with their first win, or Shanahan can make the same speech he did last year a lot earlier, and expect it to hold true.

Seahawks at Texans, Bears at Lions and Patriots at Falcons are three fascinating games. All the road teams are coming off of solid, convincing wins, and only one of the home teams (Detroit) won this week. Home field advantage might mean precisely squat in these games, which matchup-wise should also be the games to watch next week.

If the Dolphins beat the Saints, at least one grown man will be crying in the world.

Final Thoughts

This was something a friend of mine touched on, and something I’ve noticed as well throughout the first three weeks; the NFL instated a new rule that states a running back cannot put his head down and lead with it while making contact with a defender. I’ve seen this rule broken approximately 24 times since week one, and I haven’t seen a flag called for it yet. Did I miss the memo where the NFL decided to do away with this rule, or were they just trying to divert teams into passing more like they’ve been doing via rule changes for the past decade plus?

Jim Harbaugh is an obnoxious, infantile and hypocritical human being. His rants about HGH and possible steroid abuse by other teams during the offseason were turned absolutely laughable after he allowed Aldon Smith to play a couple days after nearly killing himself (or, God forbid, somebody else) while driving while intoxicated about twice over the legal limit. Yes, I’m aware HGH and booze aren’t the same thing, but substance abuse is substance abuse and Harbaugh proved that he cares more about winning that he does about the integrity of his team.

Well, he proved that at the end of the Superbowl last year, too, but it’s nice to see him continue to be a juvenile in man’s clothes. When he stopped to shake Andrew Luck’s hand after his old Stanford pupil led the team that dismantled Harbaugh’s this week, you almost want to believe Luck said something to the tune of “That’s how you play QB for the Colts, Harbaby.”

His brother is twice the man he is, and twice the coach as well.

The NFC East may have an 0-3 team win the division. I need to do some research to see if this has ever happened before. My best guess is no, but you never know until you know, right?

Until next time, a joke I recently heard:

How many Vikings does it take to win the Superbowl?
Answer: Nobody knows.
(Insert Bills for Vikings if you’d like).

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