Week 9 Recap: Midterm Grades For Chuck (because anything could be done in his honor)
There are moments in life when you see how truly deep and compassionate the human soul is. However, there are very few moments in life where you see this come through in a sports setting. On Sunday afternoon, Chuck Pagano delivered a speech that could be straight from a movie (or go straight into one). It was a hair-raising, heartfelt, and extremely moving. And I don’t even care about the Colts. It transcended that. It was one of those moments where we’re no longer supporters of a team, but supporters of humanity. So, spurred on by Mr. Pagano’s speech, let us proceed into midterm grades with vision.
Andrew Luck (QB, Indianapolis Colts): B
It was all RG III at first, but that has changed much in the past few weeks. Andrew Luck is being asked to do so much for this team due to a weak running game. In his last two games, he’s averaged 365 passing yards per game, setting a rookie record with 433 this week against Miami. He has a favorable matchup with Jacksonville on Thursday; can he continue the hot streak?
Doug Martin (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers): A-
Martin was not a household name until 35 hours ago when he went bananas on the Raiders. Averaging 10 yards a carry, Martin threw up 251 yards rushing and 21 yards receiving, with 4 TDs. He now sits 3rd in rushing yards behind Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. Not bad company to keep, for a rookie.
Robert Griffin III (QB, Washington Redskins): B+
The honeymoon appears to be over in our nation’s capitol as the Redskins lost their 3rd straight game. Coming off a great game against the Giants, the Steelers and Panthers seemed to figure him out. He threw for a combined 402 yards and 1 TD in the last two weeks. It’s too early to tell if he’s cracking, but their team sure is.
Morris Claiborne (CB, Dallas Cowboys): A-
True cover corners are extremely hard to find. The Cowboys made a great selection in the first round of last year’s draft with Morris. He’s led the team in passes defended and is 7th on the team in tackles. To be able to come into the NFL and be asked to cover the No. 1 receiver at times in single coverage is really implausible, but he’s held his ground. If only the rest of the Cowboys were doing the same…
Brandon Marshall (WR, Chicago Bears): A-
We’ve seen it time and time again with the ego players of this league: they’re quiet when things are going well. Marshall hasn’t had a QB like Culter since, well, Culter. After bouncing around and jawing about his lack of receptions, Marshall is all smiles now, sitting 4th in that category and 2nd in receiving yards. I just picture Marshall dancing around his living room Sunday nights to the tune of “reunited, and it feels so gooood”.
Reggie Wayne (WR, Indianapolis Colts): A
There is so much to say about the way Reggie has handled this past year. During Peyton’s exodus from Indy, I thought Wayne was sure to follow. Stunningly, he signed with the Colts before Peyton had finalized his decision. He has worked with Andrew Luck, and the two are starting to build something special. The classy receiver is 1st in receiving yards, and 2nd in receptions.
Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions): C
It’s easy to expect a lot from Megatron, but all signs pointed to him having another monster year. While he hasn’t been an absolute no-show, he hasn’t lived up to his full potential. We were used to the once-a-game Calvin 70-yard touchdown catch, and that hasn’t been there this year. In fact Calvin only has one touchdown catch all year. The Lions are working to right the ship; Calvin needs to do the same.
Joe Flacco (QB, Baltimore Ravens): B-
I know Baltimore sit at 6-2, but Flacco has yet to take a dominant leadership role for a franchise begging him to do so. His numbers aren’t terrible, but he is completing under 60% of his passes and sits 17th in the league in yards and touchdowns. Flacco seems to be the main reason why people aren’t taking Baltimore seriously as a super bowl candidate.
Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints): A-
The class in which Brees has handled this season, riddled with lawsuits and coaching controversy is astonishing. He has held his head high, and led the offense to recapture their amazing numbers from last year. Brees is 1st in passing yards, and 2nd in TD passes. While the back half of their schedule isn’t a cakewalk, the Saints have won 3 of their last 4, thanks to this guy. Imagine if they didn’t have the leagues worst defense?
New England Patriots (5-3): B
Maybe a B is a bit harsh, but for a team that has been winning for years like they have, it seems deserved. Coming off the bye week, this 5-3 Pats team needs to prove to the league and themselves that they can hold off the 4th quarter comebacks and finish games. This is an undefeated football team if they can make that change. The acquisition of Aqib Talib should help bolster a failing secondary, and might bring the stability that they need. If they’re hoping he’ll revamp their secondary, they’re reaching for something that isn’t there.
Denver Broncos (5-3): A-
This might be the most dangerous team in the NFL right now. Peyton & Co. are really starting to click, winning three in a row. His connections with his receivers are falling into place, the run game has been a great option (one he’s never had before), and the defense is coming up with stops and turnovers when needed. Before the season, I wrote an article on the potential for the Broncos and I stand by that article, it’s limitless.
New York Giants (6-3): B+
The Giants have shown that it wasn’t luck that took them to a Super Bowl championship last year. At times they’ve been seemingly on top of the league, but Sunday’s loss to a hot Steelers team has left me with questions. We know they can play with the best of ‘em, the 26-3 win over the 49ers has proven that, but they can also look beatable and pedestrian (mostly on defense). As it has in recent years, it will come down to how hot they are come January.
New York Jets (3-5): C-
This franchise really boggles my mind. They have a high profile, high volume coach in Rex Ryan, who is distracting enough. Then, they go and get last year’s sensation Tim Tebow to come play backup to a struggling starter (who had just been paid a lot, for some reason), as if that will help calm things for Gang Green. It’s done the exact opposite. The defense that carried this team looked great early, but has suffered some heartbreaking injuries (like Darrelle Revis) and hasn’t recovered. Heres a question worth some Spogo points: What record do we need to see for Tebow to be put in at QB? 5-9? 4-8?
Philadelphia Eagles (3-5): D+
If there wasn’t enough pressure, last nights loss put the Eagles in a world of it. After putting up 13 points against the leagues worst defense, it’d be hard not to believe there would be changes. Personally the changes that were made (Defensive Coordinator, namely) seemed off base. In their last three games they’ve given up over 25 points in each contest. The most distressing trend is that the offense has scored over 20 points only twice this season. While taking out Vick might not solve this issue (and I doubt it will), someone’s head will roll.