Another week has nearly come to a close here in the NFL, and with it, as per usual, has come another batch of story lines to examine. In Whooley’s Weekly Words, I, Bruno Boys Whooley, tackle just a few of the more interesting items to catch my eye from the weekend.
This week, I’ll be discussing the quarterback as I look at the mediocrity of Tom Brady, the magnificence of Peyton Manning, the quarterback controversies brewing around the league, and the zero TD's thrown by Drew Brees in Week Three.
Tom Not So Terrific?
A 15 point fantasy day—not bad, right? Typically, no, but when you’re talking about Tom Brady, his owners were looking for more, especially since he was coming off a performance of just six fantasy points in Week Two. You see, Tom Terrific never has two so-so games in a row.
Despite coming off a lost 2008 season due to injury, Brady was still considered a top-four quarterback option, at worst, in fantasy drafts this offseason. After all, the last time he was on the field, he set the record for most passing TD's in a single season with 50 back in 2007.
However, the pay off Brady has given his owners has not matched the investment they made in the QB. Through three weeks, Brady has just three passing TD's, and really, if it weren’t for Leodis McKelvin and his fumble in Week One, he’d be sitting with two.
So, what’s the problem? Many believe that part of Brady’s struggles could be due to the absence of one of his favorite targets, Wes Welker, these past two weeks. But, Brady has thrived without Welker before, and wide receiver, Julian Edelman has done a decent Welker impersonation in Welker’s absence.
No, the problem is with Brady himself. Just watch a Patriots’ series or two and you’ll see Brady is missing windows he hit frequently during his record-breaking 2007 season.
Whether a ball is overthrown just slightly or thrown behind his target, Brady is just off a smidge. And, a smidge can often be the difference between a one TD outing and a three TD day.
As his timing and confidence in his knee grows, Brady should improve; however, his owners shouldn’t be surprised if Brady is only mediocre at times till those things happen.
The above headline, indeed, could apply to New York Giants’ quarterback, Eli Manning, who has his team sitting 3-0 after three weeks of play.
However, it’s not Eli we’re talking about here. Rather, it’s the Indianapolis Colts signal caller, and Eli’s brother, Peyton Manning that’s the subject of this piece—who by the way also has his team sitting at 3-0 through three weeks.
Remember this offseason when many fantasy owners out there were freaking out because of all the change happening around Manning and the Colts? Turns out, there was really no need to worry.
While I do not wish to take anything away from Tony Dungy, the Colts have indeed been Manning’s team for some time now, and the start of this 2009 season has demonstrated that quite clearly. Rather then struggle with all the regime changes, the Colts and Manning have come out looking stronger than ever.
In the team’s three contests, Manning has gone for 300+ passing yards in each and every one, while throwing seven TD's to just two INT's. That feat becomes even more impressive when you consider Manning and the Colts had the ball less than 15 minutes in their Week Two contest with the Miami Dolphins.
How many owners out there do you think are kicking themselves for taking Brady ahead of Peyton in this year’s fantasy drafts?
Quarterback Controversies Brewing
Fantasy football owners and NFL coaches have quite a bit in common. First and foremost, they both hate losing, which leads to a second shared trait—a lack of patience. With three weeks of the season now gone by, that means the rise of quarterback controversies.
So, which teams are considering a change at the quarterback position? To find the answer is simple; just take a look at the teams that currently reside at the bottom of the standings with 0-3 records. After all, if you’re winning, everyone is happy.
Of those 0-3 squads, let’s start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that totaled just 86 yards in a loss to the New York Giants this past weekend.
Much of that could be contributed to starter Byron Leftwich as he completed just 7 of his 16 attempts for 22 yards with one INT. However, Josh Johnson, the man who replaced him in this contest, did not do much better as he completed just 4 of 10 passes for 36 yards.
Still, head coach, Raheem Morris, apparently saw enough in Johnson to announce today that he will be the team’s starter moving forward.
We’ll have to see how this plays out, but if Tampa struggles as they did Sunday moving forward, it’s going to become a fantasy wasteland with the value of everyone, including Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, and Kellen Winslow dropping.
Like Leftwich, Brady Quinn of the 0-3 Cleveland Browns experienced a benching, also, after completing six of eight passes for just 36 yards with one INT against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Quinn’s starting position may have been saved, though, by the horrendous showing Derek Anderson put up, in which he threw for just 92 yards and three INT's. The Browns, though, currently sport the worst offense in the league, averaging just 9.7 points per game to go along with 218 yards per game.
Should Quinn not be able to turn things around quickly, don’t be surprised to see Brett Ratliff get a shot at the QB position, especially since Quinn will receive an additional $11 million in incentives if he is under center for 70 percent of the Browns’ snaps this season.
The St. Louis Rams are another squad that may think about changing things up under center. In the first two weeks of the season, the Rams had scored just seven total points with Marc Bulger at the helm.
They scored 17 in Week Three when back-up Kyle Boller took over for an injured Bulger against the Green Bay Packers. Boller wasn’t spectacular by any means, completing just over half of his passes (16 of 31) for 164 yards, two TD's, and one INT, but he did provide life to what has been a morbid offense early in 2009.
It may be time for the Rams to turn over a new leaf at the QB position much like they did with the WR position this offseason.
Quick Hitter—Drew Brees Shut Down
After throwing nine TD's in the first two weeks of the season, Drew Brees appeared to be a man possessed. Heck, he was on pace for an astounding 72 TD's on the year, prompting many to declare Tom Brady’s record of 50 passing TD's good and dead.
Then, came Week Three, and in what was a stellar match-up on paper against the 31st ranked pass defense of the Buffalo Bills, Brees was shut out in the TD department. All of a sudden, he’s now only on pace for 48 TD's.
Will Brees best Brady? Only time will truly tell, but remember, folks, football is a fickle game and the stud from one week can easily be a dud the next.
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