Necessary Roughness, Week 1: Of ACLs and Achilles Tendons
The biggest stories around the league thus far may not have much to do with wins and losses, and may have everything to do with ACLs and Achilles tendons. If you are a Ravens fan, it’s a somber Monday morning for sure. Not only did your team lose a heartbreaker of a game in Denver, but the heart of your defense is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Losing Terrell Suggs is a massive blow to a team that has historically relied heavily on its defensive prowess. Suggs puts up big numbers, but I really think it’s his experience and leadership on the field which may be the biggest void left by his absence. The AFC North is still wide open for the taking, but this makes the journey a hell of lot tougher for Baltimore.
Moving to the AFC East, it looks like the Jets may be without Antonio Cromartie for the year. As of this writing, there has been no official report on the extent of his injury, but it doesn’t look good. Assuming it’s an ACL tear, the Jets’ defensive secondary instantly becomes pretty porous. This is huge. They put up 31 points against the Browns, but I can’t imagine this Jets team will be an offensive juggernaut as the season drags on. Losing Cromartie, if they have in fact lost him, is a tough hit.
There were also a couple other notable injuries: Dez Bryant is going to miss the next month or so with a fracture in his foot that will require surgery, and the Panthers’ Luke Kuechly suffered a concussion. Obviously he will have to go through the concussion protocol, which from what I understand involves going through Super Mario Bros 2 without using any warp zones. Hopefully Luke makes the decision to use Luigi. He has the best balance of speed, strength, and jumping ability in my opinion.
Injuries aside, there were a few other interesting tidbits from Sunday. In the much anticipated rookie showdown between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, Mariota was the runaway victor. He had more TDs (four), than he had incompletions (three). Sure, he only threw the ball 16 times but Marcus really looked poised and comfortable as an NFL quarterback. On the other side, Jameis Winston struggled. He became the first quarterback since Brett Favre in 1991 to throw a pick-six on the very first NFL pass of his career. It worked okay for Favre, so Winston should keep his head up. Wrangler will be giving his agent a call any minute now to discuss endorsement deals and goofy ass commercial scripts.
And finally, I have to make mention of the night game between Dallas and New York. Wow, that was a doozy. I’m not a fan of either team, but that was a great game to watch. That final drive by Romo and company was really impressive. It was a methodical drive executed with surgeon-like precision, and it was all done without Dez Bryant on the field. But if you are a Giants fan you have to be immensely frustrated by the lack of discipline on both sides of the ball. Poor clock management on offense is what ultimately gave the Cowboys the opportunity to make that game-winning drive, perhaps the biggest gaffe being when Eli Manning elected to throw the ball away instead of keeping the clock moving by taking a sack on 3rd and goal. And the defense, whew. Steve Spagnuolo’s play-calling was suspect on that final drive to say the least. Your only objective in that situation is to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone. But New York’s defense completely collapsed, giving up big play after big ￼play and finally capping it off by surrendering a 7-yd TD pass to Jason Witten.
Well that’s it folks, I’m off to Europe today for the next three weeks. I’ll still be keeping track of all things NFL and submitting these weekly recaps, and I fully expect the Panthers to remain undefeated in my absence. That feat may require their receivers to learn how to catch footballs, but I have full confidence that the entire receiving corps is currently doing basic hand-eye coordination exercises and will be ready to play next weekend.