The GameDay Decrees are here and before we go any further – square up! Because my momma bought me that chain! Week 12 around the NFL featured the crushing of some major egos, but was highlighted by the clashing of two egos when Raiders’ WR Michael Crabtree and Broncos’ CB Aqib Talib decided they had unfinished business to settle and it couldn’t wait until after the game. It used to be NBA players who got knocked for not being able to fight, but Crabtree and Talib set the whole NFL back a few decades with their five minute tussle on the field. Crabtree came after Talib thinking he would do this:
There’s no more time to hide or rest up, as there are no more Bye weeks during this final month of the regular season. Week 12 made it crystal clear to every player, coach, and team that if you ain’t ready for the final stretch, it’s in your best interest to get out the way now while you still can. We tried to put everyone’s manhood to the test and well…only a few answered the call. Let’s get into it!
DON JULIO. Quintorris Lopez Jones was born on February 8th 1989 but on November 26th 2017, he became a grown up. A real life adult. A made man. A Don. Julio Jones finally, Finally, FINALLY! had his breakout game this season when he erupted for 12 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns Sunday against Tampa Bay. And you didn’t have to be a paid analyst (or a member of TLA) to know that Jones would run wild against the Buccaneers’ defense. Coming into this game, Jones posted 68 receptions, 1106 yards and 8 TDs in just ten games against the Bucs and you would think they would’ve gotten the hint to devise their en-tire defensive gameplan to stop him. Nah, bruh…they had no chance. Julio put hands on ALL them ninjas.
Who knows if it would have made a difference because everything that came Julio’s way, Julio caught. He reeled in 12 of the 15 targets, one on a trick play where fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu threw the best pass this Falcons offense produced all season. Sanu dropped it right in the breadbasket for a 51 yard TD to Jones – just his second on the year. About five minutes later, after making a tight-rope catch along the sideline AND breaking a 15 yard run for a first down, Jones flat out embarrassed Tampa’s DB on an out-route where Jones shook him out his shoes, caught the ball, maintained his balance, and literally flew into the endzone for his third career 250+ yard game. Similar to the love we gave Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown last week (and deservedly so after Sunday night), when you have a player of this caliber who can destroy the double team and still make plays, you must find ways to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. I don’t know what the hell the Falcons were doing the first two months of the season, but after feeding Don Julio all the Thanksgiving leftovers, Atlanta suddenly finds themselves in the sixth and final NFC Wild Card spot despite having the third best record in the NFC South.
NO MORE 7-9 BULLSHIT. We’ve given the Rams a lot of love the last few weeks and rightfully so. But it is imperative we highlight the Rams’ accomplishments yet again this week because for the first time in over a decade, the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams will NOT experience a losing season. That’s right – after defeating the high-powered Saints last week, the Rams earned their eighth win of the season, guaranteeing they’ll at least break even for the first time since the 2006 when they finished 8-8. The Rams appear to have transcended past the days of mediocrity by assembling one of the most complete and most exciting teams in the league. They’re currently ranked second in the league in scoring and boast a plus-123 point differential, with just three of their wins decided by a touchdown or less. What’s most noteworthy about this team, especially this week is their ability to rebound. They were handled the week before in Minnesota, a game in which many believed was the prove-it game for this young team. But they responded against another NFC contender a week later by beating the red hot Saints who had won eight straight coming into last week. The Rams answered the call led by QB Jared Goff who continues to light up the stat sheet – he completed a pass to eight different receivers for 354 yards and 2 TDs. But their defense has been their calling card all season and they proved their legitimacy after holding hall of famer Drew Brees under 250 passing yards. The box score won’t show it, but outside of the 74 yard TD run in the 1st quarter the Rams’ D only surrendered 49 rushing yards throughout the game. The Rams will continue to be tested down the stretch as they face the Eagles, Seahawks, and Titans – three teams who would make the playoffs if it started today – and if they can continue to play Sean McVay’s balanced brand of football, this team is poised to at least reach the heights of their 2003 team which finished the season 12-4, their last WINNING season. This makes you wonder what the hell Jeff Fisher was doing last year with basically the same roster. Appearing in just one Superbowl truly must carry an enormous amount of privilege for a coach…
NO WIN NOVEMBER. This won’t be news to the fan bases in Denver, Miami, Kansas City, Chicago, and Cleveland but if you haven’t noticed, these five teams went the entire month of November without winning a single game. Let’s explore how this group that consists of expected playoff teams, expected bottom feeders, and one with no expectations at all managed to suffer through the last 30 days:
The Denver Broncos suffered blowout losses to both Philly and New England, lost a close one at home vs. Cincy, then lost in the battle of the divas last week in Oakland. Sunday’s game was indicative of 2017 for the Broncos – they never had a chance from the start. And the squabble between Aqib Talib and Raiders’ Michael Crabtree was both laughable and disappointing, as it was obvious neither player was interested in playing in that game. The fact that something so childish could happen AT THE BEGINNING OF A DIVISIONAL GAME said a lot about where the Broncos stand, placing their final hope of salvaging this season on the unproven shoulders of Paxton Lynch. It was Lynch’s ankle that was unable to hold up in this one when he suffered yet another injury setback, sidelining him for the next 2-4 weeks. Denver now finds themselves back at square one, sending ol’ Trevy Trev (Trevor Siemian) back under center for some more underwhelming quarterback play. The proof is in both the pudding and the altitude that the Broncos’ front office – John Elway, I’m looking at you – have flat out failed to produce a true solution at quarterback. As the old adage goes: if you have two (or three) QBs, you don’t have ONE.
The Miami Dolphins are more anxious than Bart Scott to get this season over. They CAN’T WAIT for this Jay Cutler-Matt Moore-roster dump of a year to end so they can get back to losing the normal way. After being shut out on national TV, the Dolphins responded by losing four straight games by giving up an average of 34 points per. There have been several failed experiments this year that continue to bury the Dolphins, first and foremost paying Jay Cutler $10 million to do anything – that mistake speaks for itself. The second and most damning failed experiment is giving defensive coordinator Matt Burke complete creative control over the defense, which ranks 30th in points allowed. This is Burke’s first tenure as a DC so of course, a learning curve is expected. But this Dolphins defense was historically bad last season, and they continue to have the same coverage breakdowns possession after possession, preventing them from even remaining competitive in games. Miami has attracted the stigma of being a “soft” team and until they can establish what their identity is going to be, the struggles for this 2016 playoff team will continue. Luckily for them, they face Denver this Sunday and we already know what their GM thinks of their testicular fortitude…or lack thereof.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ plans for a successful 2017 have vanished faster than little Will Byers. There was no time for character development or nothing, they just snatched his young ass up before the opening credits could finish rolling. The once 5-0 AFC juggernauts who beat the Patriots and are the only team to beat the Eagles this year are now watching their lead on the AFC West slip through their grasps. They’ve lost five of their last six games and have averaged just 12 points a game through the month of November. And it’s only natural to place all the blame on QB Alex Smith, who for the second time in his career has a younger, more exciting, racially ambiguous quarterback waiting in the wings to take his spot. And if you’re adamant that benching Smith for Mahomes would instill a much needed jolt into this all-of-a-sudden lackluster offense, by all means I can help you light your pitchforks. But we will not speak on the Chiefs’ recent struggles without mentioning their defense. That unit has been flat out awful, ranking 28th against the pass and 29th against the run. The injury of Eric Berry early in the season was bound to have its impact, but there’s just too much talent on that side of the ball and they haven’t played a strong enough offense this month (Cowboys, Giants, Bills) to justify their performance. And speaking of disappearances, where TF is Kareem Hunt? He has just one game with 80+ rushing yards in the last six weeks and has not scored a touchdown since September 24th. And what about Tyreek Hill?!?! His last 100 yard receiving game was October 19th. The reason for this sudden lack of production falls on head coach Andy Reid, who has not been able to throw a counter-punch after Pittsburgh presented the blueprint to slow KC’s gimmicky offense. Reid also has a propensity to abandon the running game, which dating back to his days in Philadelphia has always been the key to success for his offenses. Maybe Mahomes brings a consistent downfield element to the Chiefs’ passing game that Smith can’t, but I guarantee you the end result won’t be much different if KC doesn’t get the ball back into their playmakers’ hands. I don’t care who your quarterback is – you cannot run a one dimensional offense this time of year and expect to win games. And I don’t think that’s an issue we can blame Alex Smith for.
The Chicago Bears are in the middle of a four-game slide, having not won a game since October 22nd against Carolina. Three of those defeats were by an average of six points and although there are no moral victories in football, the underdog Bears had to be content with the fact they were at least competitive against some of the NFL’s quality teams. But all that happy to be here shit went clear out the window this past Sunday when the Bears were dismantled on the road in Philadelphia. QB Mitch Trubisky looked like a deer caught in headlights almost every time he dropped back in the pocket. He wasn’t the only one who struggled – their offensive line got abused all afternoon which caused the usually-productive Jordan Howard to only muster six total yards rushing for the entire game. They didn’t get a single 1st down the first half of the game and this consistent lack of production leads all who still watch Bears’ games to point the finger at coach John Foxx. This is the beginning of the end of his tenure in Chicago.
And finally, the Cleveland Browns. Their play speaks for itself.
THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT OF ELI AND BLAKE.
The biggest story from this week came out of New [Jersey] when the woeful Giants informed their two-time Superbowl winning franchise quarterback Eli Manning that they want to get a look at their other options at QB during the last few games of the season. Now, at first glance if any 2-9 team made this decision you would assume poor quarterback play is the reason for their struggles. But if you’ve had the displeasure of watching this Giants team this season, it is obvious (to everyone EXCEPT this Giants’ front office) their problems do not start nor end with Eli. They have an inept human being as their head coach. They completely declined to establish a rushing attack. They built their offense to solely be carried by their passing game, which lost all three of its top receivers in the first month of the season. Their offensive line is abysmal and wouldn’t have given anyone’s quarterback enough time to throw, even if he did have weapons to throw to. But what makes the Giants’ decision even more unbelievable is not so much the “what” – it’s the “who.” Benching Eli and ending his NFL’s longest consecutive start streak for a quarterback is flat out disrespectful and dismissive to what Manning has done for this team in his career. But even more unbelievable is they are starting Geno Smith in Eli’s place. Geno. Smith. Yes, the same Geno Smith that once did this:
And no, your eyes are not deceiving you – Smith did indeed do this AGAINST THE GIANTS!!! If they said Davis Webb was starting, maybe I could understand the logic; they want to see if he has potential to be their future QB, as Eli is in fact 36 years old. But we all know what Geno can and can’t do in this league and if the Giants truly think putting him out there for a road game damn near 3,000 miles across the country is going to be an improvement over Eli, the people wearing suits in the Giants’ front office should plan a permanent vacation as soon as the game clock strikes triple zeros in Week 17. I know this is a troubling time for Eli Manning, but after we discuss this next embattled quarterback, there just may be a bright light at the end of this tunnel if Eli is willing to follow in the footsteps of his brother Peyton.
I am tired. Absolutely tired of watching Blake Bortles continue to get chances at playing quarterback in this league. His Jaguars have been one of the most refreshing success stories around the league this year. Years and years of drafting defensive talent has finally panned out as they have the league’s best unit. They are flat out terrifying to play against. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette has panned out as the team’s 1st round draft pick. This team has the ingredients to made a deep playoff run, except their quarterback continues to get in the way week in and week out. The Jags had the privilege of playing the lowly Arizona Cardinals last Sunday and found themselves in a dogfight that went down to the final minute. We’re gonna fast forward to those final minutes where the game was tied at 24 with just under four minutes left. The Jags’ stellar defense had just came up with yet another interception, giving their offense great field position and the chance to take the lead. And about one minute of game-time later Bortles rolled out of the pocket on 3rd down and threw the ball directly to Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu, who intercepted the pass and swung momentum back in the Cardinals’ favor. It’s almost like Bortles is ungrateful for finally having a talented roster around him because he literally throws every opportunity away. Just two weeks prior, Bortles threw two interceptions in the final minute of regulation against Los Angeles. After questionable playcalling on their final drive, the Jags punted the ball back to Arizona and a 57 yard field goal as time expired dropped Jacksonville to 7-4 on the season, allowing Blaine Gabbert – the Jags’ former QB travesty – to exact revenge on the franchise that correctly cut him loose when he wasn’t getting the job done. At this point in his career we have overwhelming evidence that Bortles is holding this team back. Assuming they do make the playoffs I do not see how anyone can be confident that he can make the correct and necessary decisions to help this team win important games. Whenever given the chance, trust and believe Blake is gon’ Bortles this thing to the best of his ability. As soon as this season ends (and we know it will end on Bortles’ arm) Jacksonville GM should send that good ol’ “hey stranger” text to his former QB Eli Manning to see if he wants to spend the final few years of his career on a team that is built to win NOW, in a AFC South division that is almost always up for grabs. If Peyton could leave Indy to finish his career playing for a contender, Eli can definitely part ways with the Giants to join a team that is taylor-made for a veteran QB to take them to the next level.
That’s all we got for this week, folks. Week 13 should bring us some drama as the Chiefs better beat the damn Jets, the Jimmy G era begins in ‘Frisco, the Geno Smith era beg–(nevermind), the Panthers and Saints battle for the NFC South lead, and the Jaguars, Ravens, Chargers, and Bills all try to nudge their way into the final two AFC Wild Card spots. Let me know what y’all think.