It's easy to look at the game Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman had against the Giants on Monday and think he's terrible. It wasn't pretty. He missed wide-open receivers and was just overall out of sync. OK, he was terrible. But it's still early. Really early.
Freeman can still be a viable option. He must improve his accuracy (20-of-53), sure, but the Vikings coaches didn't do him much of a favor by failing to rely heavily on Adrian Peterson (13 carries).
It's Adrian Freaking Peterson. You're allowed to hand him the football on consecutive carries, you know.
No, Freeman can still make this work. He just needs a little more time. As he learns the offense, he'll get better.
And also get better play-calling.
Now, on to the grades.
|49ers||A||Typical 49ers win these days. They destroy opponents with a steady diet of Frank Gore and solid defense. Very quietly, while the Seahawks have gotten all of the attention, the 49ers have four straight wins, all by at least 12 points. This is still a scary team and still a huge threat to Seattle. That's often forgotten, but it's true.|
|Bears||B-||The Jay Cutler injury is worrisome, to be sure. Another issue is just as troublesome. That defense can be had. It's beat up and looks tired, and we're not even at the halfway point yet. The good news for Chicago is that quarterback Josh McCown played well.|
|Bengals||B||Not sure these words have been written about the Bengals in decades, but Cincinnati is clutch. Yes, clutch. The Bengals beat the Lions on a last-second field goal, and while the injuries from this game are problematic (Devon Still, Wallace Gilberry, Rey Maualuga, Leon Hall), they continue to look like the real deal.|
|Bills||B||Good win. The pass rush didn't generate a sack until the fourth quarter, but it did when needed. Buffalo also got a first-quarter pick-six.|
|Broncos||C-||My belief is that Jim Irsay's comments got inside Peyton Manning's head. He was off. The entire offense was off. This was not a great moment for Manning.|
|Browns||F||The Packers toyed with them. Cat meet mouse. Meanwhile, quarterback Brandon Weeden started the game 5-of-14 with an interception. It went downhill from there. Why the Browns didn't start Jason Campbell is a mystery.|
|Buccaneers||F+||There is effort there, and their games have been close, but the coaching remains putrid. Greg Schiano opted for a field goal with just about five minutes left that left them still down two scores. It made no sense, but that's Schiano.|
|Cardinals||D+||The plus is for the defense that tries and hustles but is hampered by the offense—especially Carson Palmer, who is starting to resemble Arnold Palmer.|
|Chargers||A-||They lose points playing the Jaguars, but everyone does because, well, they are the Jaguars. Philip Rivers completed his first 14 passes, a franchise record. They deserve credit for being better than most people thought they'd be, including me.|
|Chiefs||A+++||The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start 7-0 after posting the worst record the season before, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. What we're seeing Andy Reid do is, well, historic.|
|Colts||A+++||Andrew Luck continues to amaze. He was the one who looked like he has played in the league for over a decade, not Manning. Luck is brilliant, athletic and cutthroat. All good things.|
|Cowboys||B+||I've called Tony Romo a choker. And he is. But his steady play, despite the crushing pick against Denver, has been one of the best things about this season. He's been a rock. Romo threw for 317 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles.|
|Dolphins||F||I'm still a Ryan Tannehill guy, but hell this was brutal. I mean, brutal. His first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He missed open guys. He looked absolutely terrible. It was kind of scary for us Tannehill backers.|
|Eagles||F||Nick Foles is awful. Told you that. He was 11-of-29 for 80 yards against Dallas. The team needs Mike Vick at quarterback. Not for the long haul, just for the moment.|
|Falcons||A-||Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan moved from the box to the field for the first time this year. This type of move is usually just symbolic and means little, but it did seem to ignite the Falcons. This win saved their season.|
|Giants||C||One of the ugliest games of the year. The Giants won, though in watching that monstrosity, America lost.|
|Jaguars||:(||The sad face is back. It's just dismal at this point. Makes me want to cry. Fans have now started with the ol' bags over the head. The Jaguars still haven't scored a touchdown at home. :( :( :(|
|Jets||A||Big win. Lucky ass win. But big win. They made themselves a player in the division race and sent notice to the bullies on the block by taking down New England.|
|Lions||C+||The Lions choked. It was a beautiful choke. It was a close choke. But there's no way they should have lost this game.|
|Packers||A||Aaron Rodgers is slowly working his way back into the MVP race. The Packers moved into first place in the NFC North for the first time this season.|
|Panthers||A||The Panthers might be saving Ron Rivera's job. They forced three turnovers and had four sacks. They generate pressure, and Cam Newton is playing well. Not saying the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl, but they look like an emerging team.|
|Patriots||C||They also choked, and it's rare to say that about a Tom Brady team but it's true. Brady threw a pick-six, and my MVP so far at this point looked uneven. He also blew a 21-10 halftime lead.|
|Rams||F||Sam Bradford threw a pick-six on the first offensive play of the game. Wish him the best, but he was not very good before being injured.|
|Ravens||D||Lost for the third time in the past four games. Joe Flacco wasn't great, but he was solid. Don't pin this on him. The Ravens can't get a consistent running game. They look lost. This from Terrell Suggs, via CSN Baltimore's Clifton Brown, sums it up: The Ravens are in a "state of emergency."|
|Redskins||B||Robert Griffin III rushed 11 times for a season-high 84 yards. He continues to get better while that Washington defense continues to get putrider. I know "putrider" isn't a word, but it should be invented to describe that defense. Washington won't go anywhere until it's fixed.|
|Seahawks||A+++||Yes, I know, it was only Arizona, but the dominating way the Seahawks performed was impressive. One of the things that defined this game was 240-pound Kam Chancellor pancaking 300-pound tackle Eric Winston. This group of DBs is brutal.|
|Steelers||B||They won on a last-second field goal. They do not look great, but my Super Bowl pick is finally finding some cohesion on both sides of the ball.|
|Texans||D-||The bad news: Brian Cushing is likely done for the year. The good news: The team may have found a spark at quarterback in Case Keenum.|
|Titans||F||Trailed 24-0 heading into the fourth quarter. This was a total beatdown. Not much to dissect here.|
|Vikings||F||Brutal to watch.|