Originally posted on Cippin on Sports  |  Last updated 9/11/12

Welcome to the Muse.  Each Tuesday morning this NFL season, I’ll wake you up with some thoughts about the past weekend’s games and about the league in general.  There’s no aim at comprehensiveness here—there are plenty of sources for that.  I’m just looking to weave together a free flow of ideas, the kind you have on your couch on Sunday (and Monday, and Thursday)—the kind that I had on my couch on Sunday and Monday and Thursday.

And since I’m in New York, I wasn’t allowed to have thoughts this week that weren’t about the J.E.T.S.  So we’ll start there.

The Jets did the right thing on Sunday by starting their first series with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow together on the field.  It eliminated all the tension, preventing a storm cloud of anticipation from hanging over an agitated Sanchez as he tried to run the offense, and at the same time offered the crowd the opportunity to get even more fired up about the opening drive of the season.  And not only was Tebow on the field; he was lined up as a slot receiver.  We were seeing what we’d all been waiting for, but we were seeing a completely unexpected manifestation of it.

Then, three plays later, Tebow took the snap and Sanchez lined up wide to the left.  It was fun—as if the Jets were taking the circus motif with which they have been painted and making it their own.  Only they were doing so as an organized unit operating with a method—a playful and exciting method.

It didn’t turn into the Greatest Show on Earth, but the Jets offense was surprisingly effective.  Tebow’s contribution, both with and without Sanchez on the field, was minimal (he didn’t throw a single pass, and ran five times for only eleven yards), but Sanchez and the rest of the attack were very good.  We don’t want to fall prey to Week One Overreaction Syndrome (WOOS), but it was a good time, and Jets fans actually have reason to feel something besides angst over their offense.

 

Box of the Week

Every week, we’ll take a look at a box score that offers some notable trends or oddities.  This week, it’s:

Washington Redskins 40, New Orleans Saints 32.

This game was full of good news for the reconfigured Redskins offense.  Robert Griffin III was what we thought he was (at least for a week): using his legs, but only when necessary, Griffin threw for 320 yards (two touchdowns, no interceptions) and ran for another 42.  Running back Alfred Morris, once he finally learned that he would be starting, went for 96 yards and two scores.  And the newly acquired Pierre Garçon showed his big-play skills, catching all four of the balls thrown to him and totaling 109 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown catch-and-run.

Across the way, Drew Brees threw for 339 yards and three TD’s, but it was on 24-52 passing, and he also threw two picks.  The air attack was what kept the Saints in the game, though, as Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram combined for 32 yards on only ten carries.  It all added up to a mere twenty-one minutes of ball possession for the Saints in the loss.

 

Other Ideas:

  • Two under-respected quarterbacks had great games this week.  In the season opener last Wednesday night, Tony Romo went 22 of 29 for 307 yards, three TD’s and one pick.  And, as he has done many times in the past, he showed himself to be the lifeblood of his offense, making play after play with his mobility and poise.  Meanwhile, Alex Smith—sorry, he doesn’t get a highlight reel of his own—blew off whatever “game manager” stigma still clung to him as he threw for 211 yards, connected for two TD’s, and showed intelligent control of the offense as he moved it up and down the field.
  • Randy Moss caught all four passes that Smith threw to him on Sunday, scoring on one.  Amazingly, the Green Bay defenders seemed preoccupied with Moss’s speed, turning their hips upfield whenever it seemed that he might take off (which he never did).  This for a 35-year-old who didn’t play last year.  Hopefully, we’ll get to find out at some point this season whether their fear was warranted.
  • Also in that game, the 49ers’ David Akers tied the league record for the longest field goal with a 63-yard bank shot at the end of the first half.  If it feels like this just happened, that’s because it did: a year ago tomorrow, Sebastian Janikowski also tied Tom Dempsey’s record with a 63-yard field goal of his own.  In fact, since Dempsy set the record 42 years ago, three kickers have tied it—Akers, Janikowski, and, in 1999, Jason Elam.  What makes Akers’s accomplishment different from the others’ is that Akers is the only one of the three to make the 63-yarder somewhere other than the friendly thin air of Denver.
  • Kevin Ogletree: Fantasy Check-Plus!
  • Peyton Manning certainly looked like Peyton Manning on Sunday night, running that scary hurry-up with speed and precision. WOOS doesn’t apply here: when a great player returns to form—to what he’s done consistently in the past—we can draw conclusions.  Save for re-injury, Manning is going to tear through the league this year.
  • So Many Interceptions!
  • After an off-season filled with quarterback drama down in Arizona, Kevin Kolb took over for an injured John Skelton on Sunday and engineered a 68-yard game-winning touchdown drive against Seattle.  Skelton’s injury seems not to be too serious, but the fact that Kolb outplayed him should provide some further intrigue in the desert.
  • Part of it may have been the absence of injured RB Jonathan Stewart, but the Panthers run game was completely AWOL on Sunday.  Last season’s third-ranked rushing offense ran the ball thirteen times for ten yards in a loss to the Bucs.
  • NBC’s Pro Football Talk posted the league-wide salary cap numbers last week, and it’s pretty much what one would expect.  The bottom seven in remaining cap space were all playoff teams last year.  The top seven weren’t.  But the outliers?  Two of the smartest organizations in football: New England and Green Bay, both number one playoff seeds last year, rank tenth and twelfth, respectively.

Greg Blume writes stuff here, and rambles a lot here.


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