What doesn't mention Jamaal Charles more than three times, only mentions Matt Cassel twice but still has all the discussiony goodness that you'd expect? Why, that would be NaNz-Sense II! The legendary second installment in what hopefully becomes a weekly post. So here it is AP if your willing to read about
- How Arrowhead Pride commenters expectations are larger than Whitlock's perception of Todd Haley's ego.. By comparison
- The greatest NFL conspiracy since Spygate, sort of.
- And my weekly rundown of the game at hand
Than you are in the right place my friend. Grab some coffee and commit your entire lunch break to the screen, this weeks edition is a long one.
We're 2-0 and it's fantastic, but are we getting too ahead of ourselves?
Let's be realistic here for a second, (I know it's really hard) a lot of us expected to be going into the bye week 1-2. Most Pre Season predictions had us losing to the Chargers and 49ers because they're "just too talented to keep up with." Yet somehow we're sitting here in week three and have scooped two close victories and we're feeling very confident going into the 49ers game.
The sudden change in what's real and what's not can be largely attributed to the sudden leap (or triple axel) in performance from our defense and special teams. I don't think there was a single person in the world that would have thought that after the Chiefs did basically nothing to improve what was widely held as one of the worst front sevens in football, after two weeks of regular season play the Chiefs would be a legitimate defense.
If anything I would have thought that the free agent acquisitions of; RB Thomas Jones, C Casey Weigmann, RG Ryan Lilja, and WR Chris Chambers, along with top draft picks; Dexter McCluster and Tony Moeaki would see our offense carrying this team.
Yet somehow we're sitting here at 2-0, Matt Cassel hasn't eclipsed 180 yards passing in a game, we are one of the worst teams in the NFL in terms of third down efficiency, and our offense has only scored two touchdowns, both coming in the first game.
Between the over-achieving defense and the spectacular special teams unit there's a lot to be optimistic about. But our woeful offense leaves a lot to proven. To judge just how cocky we are I went and silently stalked "the other" surprise 2-0 team over on Bucsnation.com so I could judge by comparison.
From commenter Pirate25
I will take our D against 3rd string QB every week. If our Offense just doesn’t let the Steelers score on Defense we will win.
Probably honest for the most part. Byron Leftwich doesn't strike fear in anyones heart, except that he basically knows the Bucs defense inside out after spending a year with the club and being declared the starter for a short period of time. The Bucs have been solid against the pass this year. Not particularly impressive considering they went against all world guns Jake Delhomme and Matt Moore in weeks one and two. Their defense gets another break going up against Leftwich. Their run defense is in middle of the pack at 17, but Rashard Mendenhall should be less of a challenge than the Panthers running game who only managed around 100 yards total. Not bad, all things considered.
Cocky Points- 3. When your going up against the 2-0 Steelers you should at least be a little concerned. Still with no Roethlisberger, coming off a season where they lost to powerhouse teams like the Raiders, Chiefs, Browns, and the then disoriented Bears, a little confidence is warranted.
From commenter keysersoze19
then I think we can be a wildcard team, but if he shut their run down and move the ball the way we want to I say we will be good enough to win the division, I mean New Orleans and Tampa returns pretty much their same core of players from last year and we already proved we can beat them, I think ATL is venerable against us and the Falcons will see break out games from McCoy that I guarantee
Fair enough. If your offense can move the ball against one of the best defenses in football that's great. But stopping a run game with a shaky O-Line and nothing to spell them but that legendary combo of Leftwich to Ward doesn't really prove much. As for the wild card spot, when your looking for a wild card your basically waging your talent against the talent of teams that could lose their division. Teams like like the Falcons, Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins (yeah I just listed every NFC East team), Bears, and the Vikings. All of whom I think are more talented and should end up with better records. Let's not talk about winning the division when the Falcons and Saints are in your division.
Cocky Points; 8- at least they need to beat the Steelers before they can start expecting the division.
Time to be fair
From commenter blackraven
And its true, there is no guarantee they’ll win another game.
Just have to hope they will.
I can honestly say I haven't heard this at all on AP. This is how every team should approach every week of the season. Optimistic but realistic.
Humble Points- A jillion. Mostly because this is something i would paraphrase into a facebook status.
we might even snag a wild card spot if the Cowboys and Vikings continue on their slide
Humility Points- 100. To be completely honest it was hard for me to find a rant about how the national media are a bunch of idiots who can't see how much talent their team really has, or how amazing the Buccaneers are and how they're going to the playoffs this year. Major props to Craig T and Buc Wild for running a classy blog.
I'm glad to see the Bucs fans can (for the most part) keep it real. A quick trip around AP and you'll find that our realist get attacked pretty often for not drinking the kool aid. Especially when it comes to hot topics like Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles. I catch myself getting too far ahead of myself, but I guess that's what being a fan is all about, you should always want a super bowl, but I guess you have to temper your expectations.
Is the NFL scripted?
Somehow my friends and I always end up discussing this whenever we have a game on. It's a ridiculous question. My cousin was training camp fodder for the Packers two years ago, an uncle of mine played for the Dolphins for a few years back in the 80's, and "the brothers Kemoeatu" Chris and Ma'ake, are both family friends. Basically, if there was something going on we would certainly know it..
Still, you have to look at the NFL and just wonder. There is so much drama, so much falls into place so perfectly, and it creates not only a sport in the NFL but it's almost like watching a drama. Here's two recent examples.
Story 1- The Grey Fox.
Last year Favre comes back from a disappointing season with the big market Jets, and returns to the small market Vikings. This means two things; Brett gets to be the country boy he's used to being, hanging out with renown hillbilly Jared Allen, and secondly Brett needs to battle the "replacement" Aaron Rogers and "The Pack" twice a year. Rogers, the big city California boy, the guy who Brett refused to take under his wing, and the guy who suddenly is one of the more legitimate QB's in the league, is certainly better than old man Brett. All Brett does is sweep the Packers and go all the way to the NFC championship, losing in a "close but no cigar" game.
This year Allen and other prominent Vikings go down to Mississippi to "retrieve" Favre, the old man looks like his best football is already behind him. Perhaps an inspirational late season drive to the Super Bowl is in the script for the Vikings.
Story 2- There and Back Again
The Dolphins are one of the more storied franchises in the NFL, having housed greatness in Dan Marino, Don Shula, Larry Csonka, and the only undefeated team in NFL history in the 1972. Thirty-five years later something has gone seriously wrong. The legendary coach Shula is far removed from the organization, since his regimes departure the Dolphins experience a revolving door at head coach. Dave Wannstedt quits after 9 games, Jim Bates is unsatisfactory, Nick Saban bolts for Alabama in the still of the night. The Jeff Ireland led Dolphins can't seem to catch a break.
Eventually the spot is occupied by promising, former Chargers offensive coordinator; Cam Cameron, who effectively leads his team to what is almost the first winless season in the history of the game. Maybe to add to the drama of Cameron resurfacing in Baltimore the following season, the writers granted the Dolphins a win against the Ravens. Maybe they forgot to give the Dolphins a win til' that point in the season. Either way having the leagues only undefeated and entirely defeated season was not in the script.
Enter, the legendary Bill Parcells. Parcells is the living breathing example of what every coach aspires to be one day. A fabled talent evaluator, a coach that outwits anyone that lines up against him, a coach that gets the most out of his players, and a coach that players respect. He becomes the "football czar" for the Dolphins, taking control of the Dolphins football operations.
Parcells fires Cam Cameron and replaces him with an offensive line coach. People have a chill of doubt come over them. " I thought Jason Garrett was the next great head coach?" they question, still Parcells goes about his business.
He unseats John Beck and replaces him with inner division Free Agent Chad Pennington. "He's too injury prone, he can't lead a football team to wins" people exclaim, observing his 2007 season where he missed nearly the entire season. Parcells ignores them and goes about his business.
Fast forward a few months. Somehow we find ourselves in week 17 and the Dolphins have a 10-5 record and Chad Pennington is playing the team that proclaimed a vote of non-confidence in him by trading a draft pick for a 38 year old gunslinger, who to this point has done nothing but shoot his team in the foot. Pennington has looked solid, and has been managing his offense well enough to shock the world and take what everyone thought was a four win team to ten wins. There is no mistake about it, the Dolphins are not just playing to beat their division rival, they're playing for their division's crown.
Not only do the Dolphins pull out the win. The Cowboys show weakness in their offense throughout the season, their prized offensive coordinator is failing them, their O line is not playing up to their talent level and the Dolphins are playing well beyond theirs. It seems for this season. The Jets kept the wrong QB, the Cowboys kept the wrong "future coach," and Parcells has successfully resurrected this franchise in less than a year returning it to where it belongs, the wonderful realm of "Respectability."
If the Vikings and Cowboys make playoff runs after shaky starts, or the good guy bottom dwellers Buccaneers or Chiefs, or how about the inspired by loss Broncos or Saints in the playoffs? All I know that as a rabid fan there is a lot more to the game than "X's" and "O's"
My 49ers v. Chiefs Preview.
I know you've been waiting for it! To close up this post, that seems like it's gone on MUCH too long. Here it is, my thoughts on our advantages and disadvantages heading into our week three matchup with the 49ers
Thanks to the large community that is Arrowhead Pride, I'm able to get the feel of being in the Kansas City area without actually being there. What it feels like is that we may actually (the key word being actually) have sold out this game and will have a packed house on Sunday. This is great news for the Chiefs. If the Chiefs can get Arrowhead rocking like it was on Monday Night football it will be a huge advantage for the Chiefs. While this is fairly obvious, going into 49ers week it will be more of an advantage than it was against the Chargers.
Crowd noise is effective in destroying opposing offenses with miscommunication, false starts, and delay of game penalties. It spoke volumes (see what I did there?) as to how loud Arrowhead was when it was able to disrupt a veteran offense like the Chargers. Philip Rivers and Nick Hardwick are easily in the top three Center/Quarterback combinations in the NFL. They are both intelligent, among the best at what they do, and have been working together ever since they entered the league together in 2004.
In contrast Alex Smith and David Baas are a different story. Alex Smith has been a shaky starter for the 49ers, kind of like the Quarterback equivalent to a Derrick Johnson. While he shows flashes every now and again he always manages to shoot himself in the foot and put himself on the bench. Baas on the other hand is not playing his natural position at C. Baas actually had his first year as a starter last year as a RG, where he was fairly effective. There isn;t a single player on the 49ers offensive line outside of Joe Staley that is playing the same position as they were last year.
In short this is a young, developing group. If we can give the 49ers hell like we gave the Chargers, we could help our D out a lot.
Let me be very blunt. The 49ers do not possess a solid coverage or return unit on special teams. We haven't really gotten to see how effective Ted Ginn will be for the Niners as their primary return man because he's been day to day with an injury. If Ginn plays our coverage should be able to shut him down, like we did with Joshua Cribbs. However it would mean they at least have a solid return man. If Ginn is inactive for this game it will be huge for us.
Between our solid coverage and the abnormal spin Dustin Colquitt puts on the ball, we will have a heightened chance of creating special teams turnovers when punting to the Niners rookie return men.
Another huge advantage to the disparity in our special teams is field position. If Arenas and McCluster can continue to be solid in the return game our troubled offense will be working with short fields. While we may not always get the touchdown, on what forecasts to be a clear sunny day, all the offense will have to do is pick up a few first downs to get Ryan Succop in position.
On the flip side you can expect to see a lot of long fields for the 49ers offense because of our talent in coverage. This could be a huge advantage in trying to force this game into Alex Smith's hands and taking it out of Frank Gore's.
We should see a lot of punting in this game. Neither the Chiefs nor 49ers possess a proven offense outside of their running game, and both have solid defenses.
Our Secondary v. Their Weapons
While we all saw last year that Michael Crabtree is legit and Vernon Davis is quickly becoming one of the better Tight Ends in football, someone every one is looking past is Josh Morgan. Josh Morgan is on the short list of underrated players in the NFL. The guy is just physically gifted, he executed his routes soundly and is one of those guys that just knows how to get open.
Brandon Flowers on Crabtree or Morgan is a matchup I'm willing to take, and healthy Ted Ginn or not, I feel like Javier Arenas has done enough to warrant confidence no matter what slot they throw at him. I'm just not sure Brandon Carr can handle the other guy. I'm hoping they put Carr on Crabtree, who apparently hasn't fully grasped the playbook just yet and still makes "rookie mistakes," because the Niners are asking a lot more of him. Still Carr matched up with Crabtree is scary, Carr matched up with Morgan scares me a bit more. I don't doubt Carr's ability to cover these guys, I'd just expect to see a huge play go right over Carr's shoulder at some point in the game.
Vernon Davis might not scare me as much. Still, Davis is an entirely different beast than Antonio Gates. Gates uses basketball moves to make you think he's going one way then he ends up going another, he won't kill you with speed. Vernon Davis on the other hand may be the biggest WR in the NFL. A simple bump at the line helped us keep Gates at bay for the most part, but I'm not confident that will work with Davis, who has the speed to recover from a bump at the line. Also you'll see the 49ers split him out wide a lot, Eric Berry and Derrick Johnson are going to have to use every ounce of their athletic ability to keep gates on lock.
While it is true that Alex Smith is still quarterbacking this team all it means is he'll be targeting Vernon Davis often, what's scary is that TE's seemed to be what destroyed our defense last year, can we continue to change our defensive culture in week 3? Also this matchup lies largely on what Alex Smith shows up. Is it the first half Alex Smith we saw against the Saints or the second half version? Finally, Tamba Hali and Tyson Jackson (hopefully) need to have a solid game. If Hali can give Joe Staley problems, which is not an easy task, this line is young and inexperienced enough to collapse without it's leader, and I trust our chances against Alex Smith under pressure.
It's no secret that these guys are unstoppable. For the defensive guys, you can take some comfort knowing that we have a pretty solid interior line, but in a matchup between Mike Cox or Tim Castille and Patrick Willis I think Willis wins nine times out of ten (the one being something like Willis tripping on his shoe laces). It's going to be really hard to run between the tackles and it's going to very hard to outsmart a defense "quarterbacked" by the best ILB in the league.
Willis plays behind Justin Smith and Aubrayo Franklin. Smith is arguably the best 3-4 RE in the game, he does it all, he's solid in both run defense and getting to the QB in pass protection. Brian Waters, Branden Albert, Tony Moeaki, and Leonard Pope are going to have lot's of fun trying to stop Smith, who by the way, man handled the best LT in the game last night on MNF.
Franklin is no pushover at NT. He was, "okay" last night against a very good Saints offensive line. He was in a contract year last year when he "got it" and started performing like an NFL talent at NT. Whether he'll repeat that at his age is questionable, and he could be overlooking the Chiefs. But if he shows up it'll be another long day for Casey Weigmann. Our guards MUST get to the next level if we are going to get our running game going, which means were going to need our line to play out of their minds on sunday.
As for Gore. Simply put, the man is a beast. He runs the ball effectively, he catches it out of the backfield, and he creates his own running lanes when nobody does it for him. He's one of those running backs that need just about everything around him to shut down before he does. The Saints' D line got pushed back pretty frequently by an unproven Niners line and they payed. Gore rarely had a run go for less than four yards. We're going to need to shut down Gore to win this, not an easy task. If Tyson Jackson can come back and resemble what we saw against the Chargers and Jeromy Clary, who is one of the better RT's in the league, then he should be able to make quick work of Anthony Davis, a natural RG playing RT. If that happens Glenn Dorsey is money against the run. Even if we can stop the run our linebackers have to worry about Gore in the passing game.
If Gore gets going it will be bad for our defense. You can pretty much already count on the defense having to be out n the field a lot more than they should, but if Gore gets going they'll be winded by the fourth quarter and we'll be handing the game to the Niners in the fourth, a bad game gets worse, a close game turns into a loss at that point.
In short, if we stop Gore we make it very difficult for the 49ers to win this one.
Some quick notes regarding the game
- Patrick Willis seemed to struggle with trying to handle Reggie Bush when Bush was lined up in the slot. He fell for some double moves and just got beat a lot of times. I wish we had a similar player (Dexter McCluster anyone?)
- Jamaal Charles is going to be critical in this one. The 49ers seem to struggle against quick intelligent backs. Runs to the outside and screens may be highly effective.
- Tony Moeaki could have a pretty big game if the running game gets going. Through two games Moeaki has shown he's a pretty decent play action route runner. The Niners safety play is in question and I can trust Moeaki against the Niners linebackers.
Final Word: This game could go either way, ultimately I think the 49ers are just desperate and mad enough to win this one. Final score 17- 12 Niners.