Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Divisional Round Thoughts, Sunday Games

Packers 26, Cowboys 21

- The Cowboys outgained the Packers on a per-play basis (5.2 ypc/8.9ypa vs 4.0ypc/8.7ypa). Of course, those numbers don't take sacks into account, and the 4 sacks of Tony Romo (for 21 yards) actually drop Dallas behind Green Bay in terms of yards per play (6.2 vs 6.4). Aaron Rodgers was only sacked once (for 10 yards), despite his compromised mobility.

- Rod Marinelli spent an entire season making fine tasting chicken salad out of chicken...well, you know, but he couldn't scheme together a successful pass rush in this game, and that was Dallas' undoing. Rodgers may not have made plays with his legs, but he was consistently able to buy time and thread some incredibly small windows with his arm.

- If you had any doubt that Aaron Rodgers was the best quarterback in the game before this game started, you don't anymore. Right? Forget the stats and forget the leg, there were multiple throws that most other quarterbacks in the league couldn't make and the rest of them wouldn't try.

- As for the Dez Bryant "catch"

This play was the Calvin Johnson rule personified. Bryant was going to the ground as soon as he landed. That he took 3 steps on the way down isn't really relevant. Can we acknowledge that this is how pass catches are going to be called and put some responsibility on the receiver to understand the game situation? It was 4th down, Dez. Really, this isn't all that different from dropping a pass because the wideout took his eyes off of the ball to look where to run after the catch. Dez thought about going for the goalline before he had the catch secured, and the end result was an incomplete pass.

Colts 24, Broncos 13

- 11-13 overall. 9 playoff appearances where his team lost its first game. Those are the career statistics of one Peyton Manning.

- Indianapolis made no bones about what they were going to do defensively: they were going to get physical with Denver's receivers, disrupt their timing, and clog the middle of the field. They invited Peyton to beat them over the top...and Manning could not do it, save for one throw on Denver's first drive to Julius Thomas.

- As much as Peyton Manning didn't play well, neither did anyone else on this team, most notably the defense. Zero sacks and just 4 QB hits against that Colts offensive line? Aquib Talib looked lost tryng to stay with speedster TY Hilton. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller were invisible. The problems were team-wide, not just Manning's arm.

- Is Peyton Manning done?

Why do I think that? It just doesn't look like Peyton can physically hold up over a full season anymore. And while Manning does seem like a football grinder, I don't think he'll love the game nearly as much if he's a bit player on his own team. He seems like he wants too much control for that. I don't see him hanging on chasing another couple of records or another ring if he can't play on his terms to the level he's accustomed to.

- The John Fox firing did surprise me, mostly because it doesn't seem like a good way to keep Peyton Manning. If your star quarterback has 1-2 years left tops (probably only 1, if that), firing Fox only makes sense if they promote Adam Gase or Jack Del Rio and keep the coaching staff as intact as possible. Why on earth would Peyton want to deal with wholesale changes to the coaching staff.

I will say that despite his record in Denver, I don't think Fox got shortchanged here. Denver has been a top-tier team in terms of talent for 3 seasons now, and time after time this team has not been ready to play in big games. The most glaring example being the biggest game of the past 3 years: last year's Super Bowl. That has to be a giant black mark against Fox.

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