Were we seeing this much sloppy play at this time last year? I’m sure we were. We just didn’t notice because we were all so focused on the overwhelming incompetence of the infamous replacement officials. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, teams aren’t allowed to practice as much as they used to. It’s all about player safety. If you’re not practicing as much, you’re not hitting as much. If you’re not hitting as much, you’re not getting hurt as often. That makes perfect sense, but there is a downside as well. NFL analyst and Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter said it best. “You can’t get better at something by doing it less.” The proof of that is in the fetid pudding that’s been on display over the past two weeks. It’s not all bad. A few NFL teams have come out of the gate like gangbusters. Others most certainly have not.
Let’s begin with the Jaguars. They’re 0 – 2 and averaging just 4.5 points per game. To say their offense is challenged would be like saying Congress is a little dysfunctional. Things have gone so wrong so fast that fans are organizing rallies to encourage the Jaguars to sign Tim Tebow. This is the same guy who couldn’t cut it as a quarterback for the Jets or a clipboard holder for the Patriots. Despite all his late-season heroics for the Broncos in 2012, Tebow was still statistically one of the worst quarterbacks in the league and things went downhill for him after he left. Could a guy like that somehow make the struggling Jags better? Uh, yeah. I mean, what do they have to lose? They can’t even snap the football without messing up. That’s no exaggeration. Did you see Sunday’s game against the Raiders? Stupid question. I’ll just tell you what happened. Jacksonville had the ball and they were driving. Well, they had the ball anyway. The quarterback gets the play, brings the team to the line, begins the snap count and a player goes in motion. As said player is passing between center and quarterback, that’s when the ball is hiked. The Jags were fortunate enough to recover their own fumble. Hey and it’s not like that one play cost them the game. they were clearly going to lose anyway. Notice I did not identify any of the players in question. I figure the team has been through enough already.
The New England Patriots are widely considered one of the best coached teams in the NFL. That wasn’t evident in their come-from-behind win against the Bills in Week 1, and even less evident last Thursday night in an ugly game against the Jets. With Web Welker now in Denver, Aaron Hernandez in jail, and Rob Gronkowski, Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola all hurt, Tom Brady doesn’t have his usual complement of weapons. Instead, he has Aaron Dobson, or should we say Dropson. He finished the game with three catches on TEN targets and at least four or five Brady’s passes bounced right off his hands. The Pats still won because the Jets have issues of their own. They turned the ball over four times and, well, they’re the Jets. Mark Sanchez is likely out for the season and rookie quarterback Geno Smith shows poise and promise but is still pretty rough around the edges.
Sticking with my home state of New York, Giants fans are feeling a little bluer than usual. Runningback David Wilson has been in the doghouse since fumbling twice in Week 1. He barely saw the field in Week 2, carrying the ball just seven times. Whatever is ailing the giants, you can’t put it all on Wilson. They’ve turned the ball over five times in back to back weeks. That’s an NFL first. Eli Manning has thrown three or more interceptions in consecutive games for the first time in his career, and the Giants defense has yet to record an interception or a sack. They have, however, given up a league worst 77 points.
But nowhere are things worse than in our nation’s capitol. Surprisingly, that has nothing to do with the government. I’m talking about the Redskins. Robert Griffin III missed all of training camp and the entire preseason while rehabbing from the knee injury suffered last December. Still, he was ready to go Week 1 and the Skins were ready to show that last season’s success was no fluke. To prove it, they’ve given up 74 points in two games and have been outscored 54 – 0 in the first half alone. Yes, RG3 has struggled. He’s looked rusty at times and seems to lack either the mobility or the confidence to do the things that make him so affective. Two weeks into the season and there’s already talk of a quarterback controversy. Sorry but the quarterback position isn’t the Redskins’ only problem. Where’s the defense? On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers became the first team in NFL history to have a 450 yard passer (Aaron Rodgers) and a 125 yard rusher (James Starks) in the same game. That ain’t Griffin’s fault. I should also point out that Starks is a third string runningback. So you’ve got the Jags scoring just over 4 points per game and the Skins allowing nearly 40 points per game. Too bad they don’t play each other this year. That could be pretty entertaining.