As football fans, every week there are a handful of things that make us scratch our heads, roll our eyes or shake our heads in disbelief. We colloquially call them “WTF” moments.
Here are a few of my WTF takes from week 14.
-WTF ever happened to that steep rookie quarterback learning curve?
This is the second time in as many weeks that rookie quarterbacks have been mentioned prominently in this column, but rightfully so.
Once again, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson lead their teams to wins on Sunday and, in so doing, got a step closer to the playoffs.
At a point in time where NFL headlines are dominated by murder-suicides, intoxicated manslaughters, “bounty-gate,” concussions and WTF else, we have the pleasure of watching these young men.
In his post-game comments after Indy’s 27-23 win over Tennessee, Luck explained how he does not let prior mistakes get to him, “Coaches preach onto the next play, good or bad, and I try to take that to heart. Maybe I’m too ignorant to know any different right now but I just keep on playing.” That’s not ignorant, Mr. Luck, that’s playing the game the right way.
When RG3 was injured late in the game on Sunday, another rookie QB, Kirk Cousins, took his place and subsequently threw a touchdown pass before scoring the game-tying two-point conversion.
Washington football bosses Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen were roundly ridiculed for their decision to use both their first and third picks in the 2012 draft on quarterbacks. Now, it looks like a stroke of genius.
Selecting two quarterbacks in the same draft allows Shanahan and his staff to bring the two along together in this new offense that unlike anything we have seen before in the NFL. If Washington opted for the conventional route – bring in a veteran journeyman to backup RG3 – said QB would be predisposed to other, more-traditional offensive systems. That could create offensive continuity problems when and if RG3 were to miss significant time. By using two rookies, the Redskins will have two infant NFL QBs who can grow and learn together in this new-look offense.
It was understandable that so many questioned this decision. But now, after watching Cousins take over seamlessly in a tough situation, it looks like a masterful stroke.
In speaking about his injury and subsequent departure from the game, RG3 explained, “I knew I needed to get out at that point, I couldn’t move. At some point you have to do what’s right for the team… after a few plays I realized I couldn’t do too much and I had to get out.” There are an awful lot of NFL veterans who could a learn a lesson or two about maturity and this team-first mentality the 23-year old Griffin displays.
These young QBs say the right things but they’re not blowing smoke; they’re sincere, they’re honest, they’re genuine, they’re candid.
Luck, RG3 and Wilson showcase some of the very best the NFL has to offer, on and off the field. These three are far more representative of the modern NFL player than are the few-and-far-between bad apples who make headlines for the wrong reasons.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the faces of the NFL for the last decade, are going to retire sooner or later but Luck, RG3 and Wilson will be quarterbacking their respective teams for next dozen years. The future of the NFL is in good hands indeed.
- W(here)TF has this Cam Newton been all year?
Cam did work Sunday afternoon against Atlanta compiling 287 passing yards, 116 rushing yards, three touchdowns and, most importantly, a win against the division-rival Falcons.
It is not going to be enough to save the Panthers’ season but it will go a long way to giving the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year, and his listless team, a much-needed confidence boost.
-WTF? A good head coach does make a difference after all.
Who would have guessed? The New Orleans Saints are not the same team without Sean Payton.
Their offense has been inconsistent, their game plans have been uninspired and the team seems directionless. The Saints will not have a winning season and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees has a 56% completion rate and 1:7 TD:INT ratio over the last two games. The Saints were routed 52-27 in the Meadowlands on Sunday, it was their third consecutive loss.
Joe Vitt, Pete Carmichael Jr., Steve Spagnuolo & Co. have done their best in difficult circumstances. But Payton makes that team go; the Saints have not been the same team, especially offensively, without him. Never underestimate the importance of a good head coach.
-Why do the Texans struggle against good teams in prime time games?
WTF? Do the Houston Texans have stage fright or something?
The Texans laid an egg in each of their two marquee prime time games this year. On Sunday Night Football in week six they were embarrassed at home by Green Bay and last night on Monday Night Football – which ESPN hyped as “the game of the season” – Houston was routed by New England 42-14.
The Texans did not get to 11-2 by mistake; they’re a very balanced team with talent all over the field. They have some of the best offensive – Andre Johnson, Arian Foster – and defensive – J.J. Watt, Johnathan Joseph, Brian Cushing – players in the league.
It is hard to blame any one player when a team loses in blow-out fashion. Yet, when looking at the stats, one name does jump off the page – Matt Schaub. The Houston QB posted passer ratings of 56.6 and 68.8 in Houston’s two afore mentioned blow-out losses this season. If Schaub is not ready for primetime, then the Texans are going to have a rough time turning that number-one seed into a Super Bowl appearance. For that matter, if Schaub continues to fold in big games Houston is going to be one-and-done this postseason.
-Running backs coming off serious knee injuries are not supposed to lead the league in rushing.
W(ho)TF would have guessed that Adrian Peterson, less than a year removed from tears to his ACL and MCL, would lead the league in rushing? And, on a side note, how many of us are kicking ourselves for doubting Peterson and not drafting him in our fantasy leagues?
With 1600 yards, AD leads the league in rushing by a considerable (334 yards) amount over Marshawn Lynch. The former-Oklahoma Sooner has quickly regained his place atop the NFL’s running back pecking order and has, almost single-handedly, put his team back in playoff contention.
There are not many hard-and-fast rules in the game of football but running backs having down seasons after major knee injuries is (was?) one of them. I guess Peterson is just a freak of nature.
-The Seahawks did NOT run up the score!
W(hy)TF would anyone ask if the Seahawks ran up the score in their 58-0 trouncing of the Cardinals on Sunday? We should be asking why the Cards mailed it in.
Seattle scored only 20 of their 58 points in the second half and had 23 running plays to only 10 passes. They brought in their backup quarterback and backup running backs early in the second half. The Cardinals are professionals, they practice and they get paid too. They had 11 men on the field at all times and a full complement of coaches. The playing field was level, literally and figuratively.
The problem Sunday afternoon in Seattle was not that the Seahawks ran up the score. It was that the Cardinals have no one at quarterback and the worst offensive line in football. Being as deficient as they are in those two (key) areas is not a recipe for success.
But still, 58-0. W.T.F.
-Eliminating kickoffs? Good grief.
WTF? Why is Roger Goodell telling Time magazine he is considering eliminating the kickoff from NFL football? Is he simply throwing a bone to the bleeding-heart, “football is too dangerous” crowd or is he actually serious?
While I applaud the commissioner’s efforts to make the game safer, this goes too far.
While it is true that more injuries, as a percentage of total plays, occur on kickoffs, that does not mean that that specific play should be eliminated. Games, even seasons, have changed on kickoffs; remember the surprise onsides kick at the start of the second half in Super Bowl XLIV?
More receivers have been injured on crossing routes than on deep outs. Does the next step in the interest of player safety involve making a rule that passes cannot be thrown across the middle? Should any pass thrown to or caught by a receiver between the numbers be subject to a 15-yard penalty, a $50,000 fine and/or a one-game suspension? Is that the direction we’re headed?