NFL Week 4 (3 Up and 3 Down)
Every Tuesday we will examine top 3 performances from the past week that have shown a significant positive movement, and the bottom 3 that have unimpressed. This weeks 3 up and 3 down.
1) Patriots coaching staff – The New England Patriots are known for having huge success throwing the ball, especially from the empty back set. The Dolphins made a strong effort to drop back into max zone during this set, and it clearly stifled the Patriots scheme. This usually would derail a team, but the Patriots coaching staff still had the whole team prepared for this game. Two first half interceptions by rookie LB Rob Ninkovich were the direct result of the coaching staff preparing him for certain formations, and putting him in perfect position to make a play. The 1st interception had him shadowing star WR Brandon Marshall down the field and jumping a route. Special Teams players were also placed in the perfect position to make plays, with Patrick Chung lining up in different positions to block a punt and FG resulting in TDs for the Pats.
2) Josh Scobee – In an age where calling out the FG team to kick a FG is more of a “hold your breath” moment, rather than a “hold up the W” moment; Scobee kicked a game winning 59-yard FG as time expired. Kickers in the league this season have missed kicks to force OT, Overtime kicks to put the game away, and gimmie chip shots from extra point range. Scobee was able to kick this long FG to seal the win against bully of the AFC South, Indianapolis Colts. This kick was also the longest in franchise history, and helps the team to gain confidence that when they call on the FG team at the end of the game, they can breath easy.
3) Kyle Orton – Denver QB Kyle Orton has made a career of being under-appreciated. Everywhere he has gone, he has competed hard and played extremely well. In Chicago, he outplayed Rex Grossman and anyone else that challenged him at the position. He comes to Denver and puts up good stats only to see them draft their “QB of the future” in Tim Tebow and trade for a possible now player in Brady Quinn. In week 4 Orton passed for 341 yards and 3 TDs, against a top-5 ranked pass defense of the Tennessee Titans. This performance has helped place Orton at the top of the league in passing yards, with 1419 yards, 50 more than 2nd place Peyton Manning. He has also completed this feat while spreading the ball around with a different wide receiver leading the team each week.
1) NFC West starting QB’s NOT named Sam Bradford – I could have easily placed Sam Bradford in the “3 UP” category, but felt it much more important to focus on the down play of the other starting QBs in this division. Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle Seahawks, Alex Smith of the San Fransisco 49ers, and Derek Anderson of the Arizona Cardinals are all becoming the weak link of their teams. Each have different story lines leading into the season, that boasted sink or float arguments. Hasselbeck is a former pro-bowl QB who is coming off injury and is in his best physical shape in years. A veteran QB who was going to be looked at upon to to lead this young team, and instead is hurting them with mental mistakes. Smith came into the season as a former overall #1 draft pick, who in the first time of his career had the same Offensive Coordinator as the previous year and weapons around him to generate offense. The OC has since been fired and Alex Smith is still unable to get the ball into his play-makers hand, with a chance to well…make plays. Anderson came into the season taking over for a future Hall of Famer with 1 of the top WRs in the game ready to catch passes from him, especially deep ones. The inaccuracy of Anderson as well as his horrible decision making has failed to get this offense flying through the air.
2) Browns secondary – A week after getting torched for 142 yards and 3 TDs by Ravens WR Anquan Boldin, they give up 10 catches, 222 yards and 1 TD to Terrell Owens. This is a team that went out and used it’s 1st two picks of the 2010 NFL draft on CB Joe Haden and Safety T.J. Ward, starters in the secondary. These huge games by these WRs can’t help the confidence of this young group. With upcoming games against HotLanta, Big Ben lead Steelers, and N.O. Saints, expect to see this secondary exploited even more, and drop a even lower on this list.
3) Kevin Kolbs confidence – As if taking over for the Eagles record holder this off-season, Donovan McNabb, wasn’t enough. Kolb then lost his starting job after week 1 to Mike Vick. An injury in the 1st quarter to Vick opened the door for Kolb to come back in and lead the Philadelphia Eagles to victory against the last ranked defense of the now McNabb led Washington Redskins. The story line was all set and ready to print out for the next day, except Kolb came in and stunk it up again. This offense that was explosive under McNabb last year, and under Vick this year, garnered no big plays with Kolb leading the attack on Sunday. Kolb constantly checked down to the short receiver and missed many open receivers downfield. The confidence that Kolb showed during his huge passing games last year, seems to have vanished, possibly due to the turmoil he has gone through the past few weeks. Philly fans and media won’t help him gain that back this week, but an upcoming match-up against a defeated San Fransisco 49ers team can hopefully help get Kolb out from cowering in of the corner.