I think the wear and tear and stress and strain may be getting to Eagles coach Andy Reid. He was getting ready to follow up a hugely disappointing season when the tragedy of his son’s death struck during training camp. And ownership made no bones about the fact that a repeat of 2011 in 2012 would not be acceptable.
Reid looked incredibly tired and worn down by Sunday’s comeback loss to Detroit, barking more aggressively at officials than I recall him doing in the past. Now word has emerged that his embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo has been fired and there are even rumors that quarterback Mike Vick may be on the brink of losing his job.
I think the hotseat is getting hotter in Philly – and probably deservedly so, even in spite of the conference championship games and Super Bowl Reid has led the Eagles to since arriving in 1999. I ranked him the sixth most-likely coach to get fired in a preseason list. I’d say he could be as high as number three now – and owner Jeff Lurie may do him a favor.
Reid, frankly, looks tired and worn out. He is a great coach, but it might actually do him some good to take a page from the book of Jeff Fisher by taking a year off to catch his breath and get some sleep.
The National Football League’s efforts to step up the marketing of the game overseas has found a willing partner. Owner Shad Khan has inked a deal for Jacksonville to play games in London each of the next four years.
Looking at this objectively, there are few teams where it makes more sense than for the Jags to play over there. The Jags don’t consistently sell out their home games in Jacksonville. They’re one of the most often mentioned candidates for relocation to Los Angeles or some other market. And there have been whispers of the team’s desires for a new stadium — even though the current building is just under 20 years old. What better way to hint at all these points than by giving up a real home game for the friendly confines of Europe?
The London Jaguars play their first of the four games against San Francisco next season.
Lewis career on rapid downside:
It’s never fun to watch a superstar hang on too long. Has it gotten to that point for Ray Lewis?
Lewis just suffered the third serious season-ending injury of his career (the others were in 2002 and 2005) and there is talk that this one, a torn triceps, could signal the end of an amazing career. I hope he doesn’t go out like that, but guys who play with the ferocity Lewis does sometimes hit the wall quickly at the end of the line.
It’s hard to say, but the Ravens defense has uncharacteristically struggled against the run this season and Lewis, reportedly, has been among the reasons. A couple weeks ago on one of the postgame network highlight reels he was regularly seen getting blown out of the way by blockers as running backs buzzed by for long gains.
Jamaal Charles ran for 140 of the Chiefs 214 yards against the Ravens earlier this month. And the team ranks 24th in touchdowns allowed on the ground with seven and 26th in yards allowed per game at a generous clip of 136.5.
The Ravens are still an imposing bunch, but for the first time in memory, this is an offensive-minded team. The loss of Lewis, despite his advancing age, hurts. Probably worse on Sunday was the loss of cornerback Lardarius Webb
Wildcat offense almost costs Buffalo:
Just over a year ago, I called for the end of the Wildcat offense. It worked great for Miami that first season and, as such, every team in the league felt the need to go the route of the gimmicky offense.
With time to prepare for it, defensive coordinators started, for the most part, shutting it down to the point where I would like to see it, for the most part, go away.
The Buffalo Bills, however, went to the wildcat in a key situation against Arizona on Sunday and it almost cost them when Brad Smith threw a nearly-costly interception. The Bills got lucky when Jay Feely missed a game-winning field goal. Buffalo won in overtime, but why, why, why in the world, when you have momentum and the game is about to go your way, would you take out your regular offense for a gimmick play? At least coach Chan Gailey seems to agree.
I won’t say anything about his history as a head coach, but I will take this opportunity again to say with confidence that it is time to euthanize the Wildcat.
Packers run starts a week late:
I had a theory last week going into the Indianapolis game that Green Bay was too talented to not get going on an extended run of success. I was off by a week, but if the Packers’ game against Houston is to be believed, they might have finally found themselves.
The Packers played a complete game in dismantling the Texans in Houston. The team still has issues with a leaky offensive line and a defense that is better playing with the lead than from behind.
But the Pack next goes to St. Louis before finishing its pre-bye schedule with home games against Jacksonville and Arizona. Green Bay should be favored in all three of those games. If they win, they’ll be 6-4 and right in the mix for a playoff run, particularly with the Vikings blowing a winnable game Sunday against Washington.
No more buying low on Rodgers, Nelson: Speaking of the Packers, fantasy footballers hoping to buy low on Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson probably lost their opportunities. Rodgers threw six touchdowns, matching last year’s performance in the season-ending game against Detroit by Matt Flynn.
Nelson didn’t get in the record books, but he did catch three touchdowns, tripling the total he had entering the game. They looked in synch Sunday night for the first time in several weeks.
Are we buying the Falcons?: With Green Bay destroying the Texans Sunday night, it leaves Atlanta as the league’s lone undefeated team. Their good and they’re explosive, but I’m not 100 percent sure I’m buying them just yet?
They’ve played two alarmingly close games at home against ordinary teams in Carolina and Oakland and just barely squeaked by a better-than-expected Washington team by just a touchdown. They’re putting up plenty of points, but the defense also has been fairly generous, allowing 24, 21, 28 and 20 in four of the team’s six games.
Falcoholic writer James Rael acknowledges the lack of dominance over mediocre teams. In this post, he says rightly that 30 teams in the league (now 31) would love to be where they are, but also includes the need for improvements. He’s right on both counts.
I think Atlanta is definitely the class of the NFC South this season. They’re an explosive, fun team to watch. But I’m not yet convinced this team goes much further than the Falcons have the last two – both of which ended with blowout losses in the playoffs.