The Cleveland Browns fell to the New York Giants by a final score of 41-27. We'll have a lot more notes about the Browns' performance over the next few days, but for now, here are a few of my thoughts from Week 5 in the National Football League.
- Tear Down the Cassel in Kansas City: It was an ugly game for QB Matt Cassel against the Baltimore Ravens today. Despite having a great rushing performance by RB Jamaal Charles (30 carries, 140 yards), the Chiefs lost by a final score of 9-6. Cassel threw two interceptions and fumbled once. You can add another fumble that came at the one-yard line right as Kansas City was poised to score a touchdown.
Romeo Crennel stuck with Cassel, but he suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter of the game. The fans cheered, and offensive lineman Eric Winston was not happy out it at all. This situation sounds very familiar, doesn't it? Cleveland fans are used to it when Tim Couch was knocked out of a game -- against the Baltimore Ravens -- and fans cheered upon Kelly Holcomb's entrance into the game.
Things get even stickier for Kansas City now. Brady Quinn entered the game and was 3-of-3 for 32 yards. He had a touchdown pass nullified after an offensive pass interference call on a receiver who wasn't involved with the catch. All indications to me would be that Quinn is going to start next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Who would have thought that Quinn and Crennel would be together in Kansas City again? The Browns play the Chiefs way down the road in Week 14.
- Shurmur's Handling of the Game and the Press: We have seen other head coaches inspire teams with inferior talent to play better. Cleveland does have some weapons, but the Browns aren't responding well in games. Even though it is not a huge aspect during the game, Pat Shurmur needs to handle himself a bit better in his post-game pressers. Shurmur got agitated with the media again, but he has a long losing streak dating back to last season. He deserves the scrutiny he is facing.
- Luck Dialing Things Up a Notch: After the Colts ripped their team apart in the offseason, I thought Andrew Luck would end up getting killed in his rookie season. Instead, Luck has come through in the clutch, including a late rally against the Green Bay Packers Sunday. He has a great command of that offense and has the mobility that Peyton Manning didn't have. One of the big keys for Luck? He has a veteran receiver in Reggie Wayne who he can depend on. Not only that, but Wayne is on pace for a career year. He was targeted 20 times by Luck in Week 5, including this one-handed stab:
I am thrilled that I drafted him in my money league for fantasy football. I thought this would be a winnable game for the Browns when they meet in two weeks, but it's looking tougher with every game that goes by.
- The Mysterious Vikings: I think the Vikings are the quietest 4-1 team in the NFL. They have taken advantage of a soft schedule, and things aren't getting much tougher: their next five opponents include Washington, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Detroit. After the way they've played in their wins, including a 30-7 win over the Titans, I'm convinced that the Vikings are for real. The defense is keeping teams in check, and they have a well-balanced offensive attack.
- Jaguars And Titans are Pitiful: I hate to call another team pitiful when my own team, the Browns, are 0-5. If we're still considering which teams have it worse than the Browns, I would go with Jacksonville and Tennessee. I have seen quite a bit of Blaine Gabbert when going back on the All-22 film, because I didn't want to make the mistake of unfairly ripping him. I don't need to hold back: he is terrible, and I think Jacksonville should look elsewhere at quarterback next year. This is typical Blaine Gabbert:
The Titans are pretty bad too, especially with Matt Hasselbeck in there. Chris Johnson needs to be replaced too; how many games like this can he keep having? Johnson had 15 carries for 24 yards and lost a fumble against the Vikings. Here is how the Titans tackle, too:
- AFC North Talk: The Ravens came away with a victory, but their rush defense has to be a big concern. The fact that they couldn't score a touchdown against a team that was allowing an average of 34 points per game was alarming too. The Steelers got a last-second victory over the Eagles, but Troy Polamalu left the game after re-straining his calf injury. The Bengals lost to the Dolphins after two Andy Dalton interceptions and no production from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Just as I thought Dalton was taking a step forward, he had this type of game.
I don't think any of these three teams are among the league's top eight teams. If Cleveland gets it together, they can still pick up a division win this year; maybe even this coming week against the Bengals.
- McGahee Blows It: Good strategy by the Patriots at first by going with a fast-paced approach against the Broncos' defense. They couldn't stop it, and despite Peyton Manning not struggling, New England went up 31-7. The Broncos came storming back though, led by some awesome passing by Manning and another questionable fourth-down decision by Bill Belichick against a Manning-led team. I sincerely thought the Broncos were going to rally and win under Manning, but Willis McGahee had two critical errors -- a drop on a fourth-down pass, and a fumble while in scoring range.
The Broncos are 2-3, but with the weak division they play in, there is no doubt in my mind that they are contending for the top spot with the Chargers right up until the end of the season.
- While watching the Sunday Night game between the Chargers and Saints, I caught a tweet that WR Devery Henderson has been in the league for eight years. I know this is really random, but it caught me by surprise just how long he's been with the team. Joshua Cribbs, by comparison, has been with the Browns for eight years.
- After being a fantasy football sensation last week (19 targets, 12 catches, 253 yards, 1 touchdown), I wondered how much action WR Brian Hartline would get against a porous Bengals secondary this week. He was targeted 5 times with 4 catches for 59 yards. The Dolphins lost last week with Hartline's big day, but won this week with his quiet day.
- The San Francisco 49ers are murdering teams since their stunning loss to the Vikings. Who wants to draw them in the postseason? The Giants are probably the team that can frustrate them the most in the postseason. As good as the Falcons have been, I can't be sold on them until they prove themselves in a playoff game.
- The Patriots have a better rushing attack than they've had in years. If they can move the ball like that, you have to imagine that with the proper gameplan and scheming, Cleveland could have a lot more success on the ground too.
- The Redskins are screwed without Robert Griffin III. Griffin has to stop taking hits like this:
We'll see how long he is out. The only good thing about this is for fantasy owners, because Alfred Morris will probably get some more touches down in the red zone. Thankfully I added Morris in both of my fantasy leagues.
- The Seahawks' defense is only allowing an average of 14 points per game. The 49ers' defense is allowing an average of 13.6 points per game. I'm very interested in seeing what happens when those two teams meet two weeks from now.
- Cam Newton is in a big-time sophomore slump. Defenses have made the adjustment on him, and he hasn't responded well. The Carolina coaches need to refine their offensive gameplan to ensure Newton can get back to being the dynamic threat he can be. Right now, he is a shadow of his 2011 self, and there is zero clutch to his game. After being a leader in his class last year, Newton has been outperformed by Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder. He's in the same boat as Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert, which is not good.
- Am I missing something? Did the Packers lose a lot of pieces this past offseason? How do you go from a dominant 15-1 team to a 2-3 team that blows a 21-3 lead?
- I don't know what the Eagles should do with Michael Vick:
Feel free to share any of your random Week 5 thoughts.