'Quick-6:' Six things learned in NFL Week 6
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 23:10
In the latest edition of “Quick-6,” we check up on the ghostly Giants defensive line, the refreshed Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon, and the sensation that is Patriots’ lockdown cornerback Aqib Talib. And remember, it ain’t over until the announcer screams “Where’s the Beef?!”
The Bears’ O-line is a very much improved unit.
For years, a sure thing in the NFL has been two quarterbacks repeatedly tumbling to the ground due to overmatched offensive lines: Chicago’s Jay Cutler, and whichever hapless victim has had to go up against the Giants front seven. In 2013 this theory no longer holds, and nothing can act as a more comprehensive example of that than Thursday night’s tilt between the Giants and the Bears. Cutler, who was sacked 38 times last season, had grown accustomed to being slammed to the earth faster than he could mutter the words “Kristin Cavallari.” At last, Chicago decided to address the glaring issue in the offseason—they drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round, tackle Jordan Mills in the fifth, and signed former Saints tackle Jermon Bushrod in free agency—and the results are staggering. New York could barely touch Cutler and the offensive line has yielded just nine sacks in six weeks, which ranks among the league leaders. While that can be a bit of a misleading stat (Matt Ryan, for instance, has also only been sacked nine times despite a shoddy offensive line), Cutler has used the extra seconds to put together one of the best statistical starts in his 8-year career. He’s completing 66 percent of his throws and has a QBR (quarterback rating) just south of 75, both of which would be his highest-ever marks in those categories. Cutler also has thrown 12 touchdown passes already, and if he were to continue his 2-score-per-game pace he would finish with 32 TD’s, also known as his combined total from 2011 (13 TD) and 2012 (19 TD). With Long and Mills anchoring the right side of the line, Bushrod and center Roberto Garza stepping up, and tight end Martellus Bennett aiding when needed, Cutler is enjoying what is shaping up to be a very successful campaign.
Meanwhile, a Silver Alert has been put out for the Giants D-line.
Yes, Cutler was able to set up a tent in the pocket, comb his hair, and buy Brandon Marshall dinner on each snap before New York got to him on Thursday Night Football due to a much more polished protection unit. But, the other end of the spectrum cannot be ignored, which is: the Giants defensive line has aged worse than Macaulay Culkin and Miley Cyrus over the years. New York has a pint-sized five sacks this season, and that’s not a misprint. That grand total ranks last out of 32 NFL clubs. In fact, seven players, not teams, have recorded more sacks than the Giants. Previously feared pass rushers like Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and even Mathius Kiwanuka appear incapable of beating their man en route to recording a sack, deflecting a pass, or simply forcing the QB into a rushed throw. JPP, who many coined the next stellar defensive end of the league, has a single sack. Rather than attacking opposing quarterbacks, Tuck has been devouring five-dollar foot-longs. Sadly, both of those guys graduated from the Darren McFadden School of Injuries and are rarely at 100 percent anymore, but that’s no excuse for hassling the QB at a lesser rate than your average backyard football game. In 2007 the Giants led the NFL with 53 sacks and kept up their destructive ways in the playoffs, culminating in a Super Bowl ring. In 2011, a season that ended with another Lombardi Trophy, their 48 sacks (JPP had 16.5, Osi Umenyiora had nine) were second best. A 22nd-place showing last year served as the premonition for what we are currently witnessing, and it’s safe to say the D-line’s incompetence has officially struck rock bottom. Whereas in the past New York was able to hide a questionable secondary due to an elite pass rush, cornerbacks and safeties are now getting challenged on a weekly basis—to put it nicely, advantage wide receivers. Therefore, an unofficial Silver Alert has been called for a once proud group, and it’s only a matter of time before Jadeveon Clowney jerseys become a thing in MetLife Stadium.
Too many injuries occurred to too many stars on Sunday.
If this whole journalism thing fails to pan out, I feel like I already meet the qualifications for an athletic trainer, and I have my multiple fantasy rosters to thank for that. You see, while we love the NFL, there are obviously those black eyes that we wish we could eradicate completely from the game: tragic deaths, murderers, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and of course injuries. Sadly, one of Week 6’s major themes was the injury bug, and unlike CBS’s “Survivor,” no team is able to wear the immunity necklace and escape with minor cuts and bruises. The Cowboys, for example, won and lost on Sunday. Dallas beat the Redskins 31-16 due to an RGIII imposter under center for Washington, but they lost DeMarcus Ware and Demarco Murray—Ware potentially for a month, Murray at least for next week’s first place battle against the Eagles. The Packers also received a bad prognosis after escaping against the Ravens, as wideout Randall Cobb broke his fibula and probably won’t return to action until snow begins to fall in Green Bay. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub left early in a blowout loss to the Rams with a gimpy ankle, but then again Houston fans cheered upon seeing the pick-6 king writhing on the field. In the Patriots-Saints thriller (keep reading for more on the classic), Jimmy Graham, Aqib Talib, and Danny Amendola all bowed out prematurely—and that’s with key players like the Saints’ Lance Moore and Joseph Morgan and the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski and Vince Wilfork in street clothes during kickoff. Serious injuries are inevitable, and naturally it’s usually the squads that manage to overcome them the quickest that are still alive in February. My fantasy team, however, is one more broken bone away from throwing in the towel.