NFL SUNDAY RECAP COLUMN, WRITTEN BY THOMAS BRUNT:
First, a word about something other than the NFL.
This Sunday, unlike many other Sundays, wasn’t just about football. No, it was something much more important than that, or anything I will ever write about in what will hopefully be a future sports writing career.
Actually, this past Sunday wasn’t just important, but disturbing. For those effected by the shooting which occurred in Newtown, Conn., the other day, the tragic event has created a sound-waving effect. It’s not just the result of breaking news headlines from CNN, FOX News, Yahoo!, the Huffington Post, or other news outlets, but the product of this shooting’s unusually strong impact.
The pain of Friday’s massacre – and what it represented – fell not just on the minds and hearts of the people close to those who died. It surely descended upon the reporters who were assigned to cover this tragedy. It couldn’t have been easy, with an already hard job and demanding hours, for a regular news reporter to have ventured to Newtown (or reported on the shooting from a distance) without being pierced in the heart and jarred by the enormity of what happened in that Connecticut town.
The horror of this shooting leads us to contemplate the following: The man who killed 20 others at an elementary school lost sight of his conscience; it makes you wonder if he was even able to access his innermost feelings.
People like that young man need serious help. All thoughts and condolences go out to those who were close to the 27 people who were shot down, and yes, I’ll even pray for the man who shot them.
And now, let’s move on. Thank you for indulging me.
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Enough of tragedy. Let’s get on to some NFL talk, to move the mind to a different and much more pleasant subject. First, let’s start with an assessment of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and his style of play.
Griffin is having nothing short of a phenomenal rookie season, putting up what has been without a single shade of a doubt the absolute best numbers for a Redskin quarterback in a very long time.
There’s a problem with Griffin’s playing style, that which has prevented many football observers from seeing RG3’s limitations alongside his strengths. It’s natural to marvel at what Griffin can do, but how he does it is the overlooked part of the equation. One needs to realize what he’s doing to himself every time he runs, which is frequent.
I’m no doctor or medical examiner of any sort, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that over the years (in time it will happen), the head shots Griffin absorbs will be felt. The issue in this, besides the fact that he may suffer long-term brain damage, is simply that Griffin will not be able to last very long in the NFL the way he plays now. This is true because of injuries, not because “this is a pass-first league.”
That does bring up another point, however: RG3 does have a cannon of an arm (if used right), but the concern here is that analysts may question or critique his accuracy. Though players don’t tend to pay attention to the media, this line of analysis may still have an actual affect on how Griffin plays, not because of what is said, but because of his actual “Though players don’t tend to pay attention to the media, this line of analysis may still have an actual affect on how Griffin plays, not because of what is said, but because of his actual ability to read defenses and then deliver the ball to the designated receiver on target.
For those that may be misguided by this, I’m not criticizing Robert Griffin’s ability to play the quarterback position; rather I’m doing an in-depth examination on how the current style of play could affect him. Griffin is undoubtedly an absolute stud as an athlete. His presence, in just his rookie season, has definitely been felt. That says a lot by itself. One player can make a difference, a big difference… just like RG3.
Texans respond in big win, clinching AFC South
The Houston Texans responded in a big way after losing a blowout game to the New England Patriots. As I said after last Monday’s game, that wasn’t a case of the Patriots really being just that much better; it was a mismatch against a smart football team, though the Patriots didn’t beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football.
For the Texans, a win over Indianapolis was huge, given that it was a conference and divisional game, with the Colts having crept closer to the Texans’ first-place position. The game was also a big one because the Denver Broncos moved to 11-3 with a win over the Baltimore Ravens. Since Houston entered the day one game ahead of Denver but also in possession of a tiebreaker (a head-to-head win) over the Broncos, this win over the Colts puts Houston within one win – just one – of the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Houston showed before Sunday’s division win over Indianapolis that it was resilient. This is when the Texans responded positively winning seven in a row after a 42-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers. We already knew they could come back from a tough loss; that’s big.
Kirk Cousins is no RG3, but he had an impressive start in Sunday’s 38-21 victory against Cleveland
Cousins, who was named the starter for Washington in place of the injured Griffin, had nothing short of a very solid start. The former Michigan State Spartan went 26-37, with 329 yards passing, throwing only one interception in the win against the Browns.
The NFC East continues to prove its dominance as NFL’s top division:
With a 3 way-tie for first place in the NFC East among the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins, the NFC East has once again proven to be the NFL’s top division. The NFC East usually seems to be one of the more competitive divisions in pro football. This season, make no mistake about it: The NFC East has once again been a competitive division; it could be that the NFC East champion will make it into the playoffs while the runners-up go home. Last season, the division came down to a battle between the Giants and Cowboys. The G-Men won, thus going on to the playoffs with the NFC East title, and oh yeah, they ended up capturing the most prized possession in pro football, winning the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots, like they did in the 2007 season.
The decision by the Patriots to go for it on fourth down against the 49ers on Sunday Night Football:
I understand the decision to have gone for it on fourth down, as the Patriots have a reliable quarterback in Tom Brady, who had helped New England climb the ladder to parity after trailing the 49ers, 31-3, in the third quarter on Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass.
The point here is that there was some reason to believe they could have converted the fourth down; the logic was clearly there: New England, trailing 38-31 at the time with under 2:30 left in regulation, didn’t know if it was going to get the ball back with enough time to score.
This was one of those tougher decisions coaches have to make in crucial situations. If I was Belichick, to say this wouldn’t be a tough decision for me would be foolish; I’m not sure I would have been able to: A) Take the risk and punt the ball back to the 49ers, or B) Go for it. Choice B was the choice last night; however it didn’t work out to the Patriots’ (and Belichick’s) advantage.
Monday Night Football Preview:
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans
This isn’t exactly the Monday Night Football game we wanted, but it’s still football, right?
The Jets, at 6-7, still have a shot at the postseason, but don’t take my word for it. While their odds of making the playoffs may be better than your chances of winning the lottery, it’s still not a safe bet because of what history suggests for this team. Nevertheless, it’s a chance; a chance for Rex Ryan to prove himself, a chance for a quarterback who – to put it simply – isn’t exactly having a Pro-Bowl kind of season. Looking at it from the Titans’ perspective, they can’t make the playoffs by winning out; compared to Tennessee, the Jets have a favorable position. Either way, neither team has been having an outstanding season, nor even a solid one. Tennessee is playing at home with far less pressure. That will make the difference tonight.
Game Prediction: – – – Titans win an ugly one: 14-10.
* POST MONDAY NIGHT EXTRAS*:
Just throwing it out: Alex Smith; a Jet?:
— Having not heard any-reports at all what so ever as to where 49ers backup quarterback Alex Smith will start next-season; I’m just going to go out on a limb here, and go with the Jets. – – – Yes, I am aware of the recent move made by the Jets, but .. if I had to bet on it; personally, I would bet money on Smith winning the quarterback position over McElory (this is if Smith does end up here). To say I know Alex Smith personally would be a lie; but to say he’d rather be on the sidelines is just plain absurd and dumb.
Thomas Brunt is the sports-editor for Birdville High School’s “Hawk newspaper” as well as aspiring newspaper sports-columnist. You can follow his personal Twitter feed: @ThomasSportsguy, or email him here: firstname.lastname@example.org
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