NFL morning after: An extra-long day of football


What’s better than the usual routine of watching football for 10 or so hours Sunday afternoon and evening? How about an extra three hours in the morning?

I love the league’s decision to schedule overseas games for a mid-afternoon kickoff in London, or 9:30 a.m. Eastern. Sure, it’s preposterous to sit there on the couch and watch football for 13 hours, but what else are you gonna do on a Sunday? Go to church? Spend time with family? Get outside for some fresh air and exercise? Pfff. Not while there’s football on.

Of course, it was bad football yesterday. The 2015 Miami Dolphins pretty well define “bad football.” And anecdotally, it seems like these London games are disproportionately bad games, perhaps because the teams are jet lagged or perhaps because the NFL sends a disproportionate number of bad teams across the pond.

But bad football is better than no football, and I’ll gladly take football spread across my day. With the NFL talking about expanding its overseas presence, I hope the league continues to put football on our televisions at all hours of the day on Sunday. If the NFL starts playing 13 hours of football every Sunday, I’m prepared to watch it all. It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it.

Here are my thoughts on Sunday’s games:

Bill O’Brien messed up the Texans’ quarterback situation. O’Brien made the right call when he picked Brian Hoyer as the starter during training camp, but he screwed it up when he benched Hoyer for Ryan Mallett in Week One. Yesterday he seemed to realize his mistake and went back to Hoyer, but he waited until the Texans were losing 42-0 to do it, and Hoyer’s solid garbage-time performance was too little, too late. The reality is, neither Hoyer nor Mallett is a very good quarterback, but Hoyer is at least competent enough that the Texans might be able to compete in the terrible AFC South with Hoyer under center. “I have to do a much better job coaching this team,” O’Brien admitted after the game. That should start with giving the job back to Hoyer, and sticking with him.

Overrated: Adam Vinatieri the Patriot. Underrated: Adam Vinatieri the Colt. Yesterday Vinatieri became the first player in NFL history to score 1,000 points with two different franchises. If Vinatieri gets into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day — and he has as good a chance as any kicker of getting to Canton — most of the highlights you’ll see at his induction ceremony will be of his game-winning kicks in playoff games and Super Bowls with the Patriots. But the reality is Vinatieri has actually had a better career in Indianapolis than he had in New England. After Vinatieri’s 54-yard field goal Sunday in Indianapolis, he has twice as many field goals of 50 yards or longer with the Colts as he had with the Patriots: Vinatieri was 8-for-17 (47 percent) on field goals beyond 50 yards as a Patriot. He’s 16-for-26 (62 percent) on field goals beyond 50 yards as a Colt. Vinatieri also made the game-winner for the Colts in overtime yesterday, and he’s still going strong at the age of 42. He got more attention for his handful of clutch kicks with the Patriots, but his body of work has been greater with the Colts.

Jay Cutler is actually a decent quarterback. I know, I know, Cutler is an easy guy to dislike. And he’s overpaid. But Cutler, who marched the Bears into field goal range to help them get their first win of the season on Sunday, is not a terrible quarterback. He’s OK. He’s decent. He’s good enough to win if you have a good team around him, which the Bears don’t have. I’m not here to praise Cutler, but I’m not going to bury him either. He’s not good enough to win games all by himself, but he’s not the reason the Bears are a bad team, either. He has actually played pretty well this year when healthy. He deserves a break.

Charles Woodson continues to amaze. Cutler’s one very bad pass of the day was intercepted by Woodson, whose pick in the fourth quarter almost won the game for the Raiders. Woodson turns 39 on Wednesday and is the oldest player with an interception since Darrell Green, the Washington Hall of Famer who had seven interceptions after turning 39. Woodson is one of the game’s all-time great players.

Jameis Winston is a big disappointment. Every rookie quarterback makes his share of mistakes while learning on the job, but Winston is missing way too many easy throws and throwing into coverage way too often. Winston was terrible again on Sunday, throwing four interceptions in Tampa Bay’s 37-23 loss to Carolina. It’s too early to write Winston off, of course, but through four weeks he is performing below expectations as the first overall pick in the draft.

Both coaches struggled in Philadelphia-Washington. Jay Gruden’s team got the win, so he won’t get much criticism, but his decision to punt from the Eagles’ 35-yard line while Washington was losing in the fourth quarter yesterday nearly cost his team the game. That punt went into the end zone for a touchback, meaning Gruden gave up the ball and gained a whopping 15 yards of field position. But even worse was Chip Kelly’s team, which looked like a mess. Yes, Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford threw three touchdowns and no interceptions, but those stats don’t tell the whole story. Washington’s injury-riddled secondary was leaving guys open all day, and Bradford really didn’t do anything special to throw those three touchdown passes. Kelly was given complete personnel control this offseason, and the team he has assembled just isn’t playing well. At 1-3, the Eagles are in last place in a bad NFC East. That’s Kelly’s fault, and if things don’t get turned around in a hurry, I won’t be surprised if Kelly leaves for a college job in a few months.

Six undefeated teams remain. The Panthers, Falcons, Packers, Broncos and Bengals all improved to 4-0 yesterday, but the best team in football was off this week. That’s the 3-0 Patriots, who still look like the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

80 responses to “NFL morning after: An extra-long day of football

  1. “But the reality is Vinatieri has actually had a better career in Indianapolis than he had in New England.”

    Statistically aided by kicking in a dome, plus he hasn’t kicked off in years. His most clutch kicks were memorable for the high pressure circumstances and degree of difficulty: either into the wind on a few inches of snow (45 yards, the Snow Game) or when it was 5F wind chill with a rock hard ball (~42 yards against Tennessee, 2003 playoffs).

  2. What game WASN’T ugly yesterday?

    They are all pretty bad to watch. Yes, I watched. But if I knew ahead of time they would be ugly… I wouldn’t have!

  3. “Jay Cutler is actually a decent quarterback.”

    Okay, I get that we live in a snap judgment world and many times jump to conclusions only to find out much later that we were initially wrong, but let’s not get carried away here.

  4. RE:Vinatiere in NE vs Indy: Your analysis is pretty shallow and seems to be based on bottom line statistics only. The case could be made that Vinatiere played just as well or better in NE as he had to deal with the weather. One of his best kicks was the game winner in a driving snow storm against the Raiders in the 2001 playoffs. Don’t remember him having to make too many of those in Indy.

  5. Calling Winston a disappointment after 4 games is a bit harsh. Aside from the occasional Andrew Luck, all top drafted QB’s struggle in year 1. I’m not saying Winston is going to be Peyton Manning, but look at Manning’s stats in Year 1.

  6. Viniatieri – difference between being an outdoor stadium kicker and a dome kicker.

  7. About the rookie QBs. They’re never fully NFL ready and the coaches/GMs who think they are usually pay for their own hubris. It’s a rare guy who steps in and makes an immediate positive impact. Not two or three per draft; more like two or three per decade. You want your young QB to show you potential his first season, to learn and progress, and if they win games also then bonus.

    About the Eagles. Their offensive problems start on the OL. It’s really bad. Yeah, their skill players aren’t as talented as the guys they had, either, but that’s not the worst of it. It’s mostly the OL. And when the defense needs a stop at the end, they’re gassed and can’t do it. Chip was a decent coach for a couple years and there was NO reason to give him GM-type authority. None. Now Lurie’s stuck with a team that’s going to need a rebuild. The Eagles might not be good for four or five years now thanks to Chip.

  8. Vinatieri is a NE legend. But when you replaced him with the current AFC kicker of the month, he kinda makes you forget the pain of watching Vinatieri playing for the Colts.

  9. 1) Adam Vinatieri’s better stats as a Colt are because there he plays at least all his home games under a retractable roof!
    2) I thought the Jets’ silly preparations for the trip to London would come apart, piece by piece – but clearly they knew they’d be onto a roll and those guys must be feeling pretty flushed now!

  10. Dude. Vinatieri has a better field goal percentage as a Colt because he spends 50% of his time kicking in a dome. Not hard to understand.

  11. Vinatieri has made more kicks of 50+ as a Colt, is it also possible that kicking the ball 50+ yards in the dome in Dec is a little easier than kicking the ball 50+ yards in 20 degree weather with swirling winds in Foxboro?

    If you want to look at his stats on paper, thats fine, cuz it makes it easier to pretend he was better with Indy (it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see that some writers will take any angle to knock the Pats). But in New England, weather plays a roll. There is no such thing as kicking into the wind in Indy. There is no such thing as rain, snow, freezing temps, etc. Bottom line is Vinatieri is awesome, doesn’t matter what team he plays for

  12. As for Vinatieri…

    *cough dome *cough.

    Not to take anything away from him and his entire career, because he’s definitely HoF worthy, and his longevity is ridiculously awesome. And even if he’s with the Dolts, I still respect him for what he did with the Pats and his capability even today.

    But of course he’s going to have better numbers with a team that plays in a dome and in the south rather that not in a dome and in the northeast.

  13. How can you fault Gruden for punting there? Had they missed the field goal it would have been a 22 yard difference in field position (20 YL vs 42 YL). Yes, both teams were bad, but Gruden didn’t have that bad a day on the sidelines, he called a heck of a final drive.

  14. Not to take anything away from the man, but Vinatieri is kicking more long field goals now that he’s inside… HOF worthy, but at least as much, if not more so, because of his time with the Patriots

  15. ” After Vinatieri’s 54-yard field goal Sunday against Indianapolis, he has twice as many field goals of 50 yards or longer with the Colts as he had with the Patriots: Vinatieri was 8-for-17 (47 percent) on field goals beyond 50 yards as a Patriot.”

    1. Not against…for!

    2. Dome stadium vs. elements – Why leave that out…
    Same as Dome Manning vs. Rodgers/Brady in elements at GB or NE…

  16. bucrightoff says:
    Oct 5, 2015 7:11 AM
    Marcus Mariota has looked more NFL ready than the allegedly more NFL ready Jameis Winston.

    Yes, a 50 QBR reflects awesome NFL readiness.

    Two different QBs, two different teams – and both rookies. Peyton Manning was the worst QB in the league (or close) when he was drafted. No one questioned his “NFL Readiness”. With all due respect no one is “NFL Ready” at that position when they come in. There are growing pains. He is having some. High confidence that he will be just fine.

    Unless he continues playing for the Bucs…

  17. I think it’s because Jay Cutler is a decent quarterback that he gets hammered so badly.

    He’s inconsistent and has an “I don’t care” vibe about him. Those two features are an anchor around the neck of a guy who clearly has the QB skills to be a much better player & team leader than he is.

  18. There was a laughable crusade against Mariota in the media before the draft.

    Everyone and their mother was hyping up Winston based off of nothing but one factor, and it was nothing related to his game on the field or the tape.

  19. AV is a great kicker and should go into the HoF.

    A lot easier making decisions to go for the longer (50+ yds) field goal when your playing indoors, unlike playing in the elements in New England.

    Congrats to him!

  20. Somebody please explain to me why the Raiders let the clock run all the way down to :07…when THE BEARS called timeout, losing on that last second Bears field goal with all three of their timeouts still available? They could have at least received the ensuing kickoff with around :20 left had they stopped the clock.

    Unless somebody can explain the logic of that, this might be the single worst clock management I’ve ever seen in my entire semi-unprofessional career watching football.

  21. Redskins also had 10 penalties for 110 yards (one 15 yarder PF was pretty bogus) but you cannot beat good teams like that; good thing they are in the NFC East

  22. No kidding Vinatieri has an easier time kicking 50+ yard field goals in Indy. That’s the difference between playing in a dome and playing in the conditions at Foxboro. The fact that he was able to make so many long field goals at critical moments in must-win games in blizzard conditions is what makes him such a legend in New England. After all, even Vanderjagt could put up good numbers in Indy (except when it counted).

  23. I think the NFL could solve a lot of potential problems by having a game in London in the morning slot nearly every week. If they expanded the schedule to 17 games for the season, they could have each team play there once a year as a neutral sited game so no team would have to give up a home game. Also, while it wouldn’t give London a specific team in its city, they would still host the most games and get to see every team every year, which seems reasonable to me. And as a fan, I really enjoyed waking up and having the option of watching a game right away. Come on NFL, make this happen!

  24. Actually, O’Brien’s biggest mistake is sitting on his hands the last 2 drafts (one in reach he had the 1st overall pick) and failing to draft a QB. Carr, Bridgewater sure would look nice right about now, compared to these New England rejects we are trotting out there.


  25. Clutch kicks in the playoffs and Super Bowl are far more important and noteworthy than 50+ yard FGs in the regular season.

  26. Cutler is not that overpaid. He got a contract about equal to what the other starting QB’s make. He is the third highest paid QB in his division. He makes just a little more then Kapernick and Alex Smith.
    If you want to talk overpaid take a look at what the lions are paying Stafford. Almost 18 mill a year for a guy who has won 35 out of 82 games. While playing his entire career with one of the best receivers in the game.

  27. “Overrated: Adam Vinatieri the Patriot. Underrated: Adam Vinatieri the Colt.”

    A key factor is he kicked outdoors and in bad weather in NE versus in cozy dome in Indy.

  28. How about the great season Josh Norman is putting together? Two more picks (including a pick-6), and deflecting away a certain TD pass? Five turnovers in 4 games. Not bad for a 6th round pick from an FCS school.

  29. NFL needs to be careful not to over-saturate the market. That game yesterday in London was unwatchable. If i’m going to watch a a game that does not include my team, I need better match-ups

  30. Speaking of winning the Super Bowl – wouldn’t it be something else if the PANTHES won it and not the PATRIOTS .

    The fickle finger of fate is alive and well in the NFL This is so very obvious after only four weeks into the season.

    All I am saying guys is please cease and desist with your silly prognostications.

    Remember the “Fickle Finger” and the PANTHERS.

  31. I disagree with the premise that bad football is better than no football. I started watching football at 9:30am and by the second half of the early games, I was bored. That’s what happens when you spend the first 4 hours of your day watching terrible football. Also, I agree with some of the other commenters here, too much saturation of the market will sooner or later drive people away much like 9000 FanDuel/Draftkings commercials will drive people away from DFS.

  32. Except that the game in London wasn’t meant to satisfy the American audience. The NFL can send the worst teams in the league over there and its still huge because it only happens once or twice a year. They got the viewership they desired.

  33. “45 yards, the Snow Game) or when it was 5F wind chill with a rock hard ball (~42 yards against Tennessee, 2003 playoffs).”

    I was at that game and there was someone in my section with a thermometer that consistently read -12 the whole game. My beers were freezing by the time i could drink half of one.

    When Adam hit that kick it sounded like he was kicking a piece of wood.

  34. Don’t really watch the Cowboys much- so switched over to The Leftovers. The people we spent watching all last season pull up as the “new neighbors.” Great beginning. Bird in the box- a dream?

  35. reddzen says:
    Oct 5, 2015 8:13 AM
    Yes, a 50 QBR reflects awesome NFL readiness.

    Two different QBs, two different teams – and both rookies. Peyton Manning was the worst QB in the league (or close) when he was drafted. No one questioned his “NFL Readiness”. With all due respect no one is “NFL Ready” at that position when they come in. There are growing pains. He is having some. High confidence that he will be just fine.

    Unless he continues playing for the Bucs…

    It actually has nothing to do with stats. Look at how clumsy Winston looks in the pocket. His footwork is quite bad, his decision making poor, long wind up throw, and he’s actually ran 16 times this year to Mariota’s 5. Mariota has looked pretty good in the pocket with footwork, decision making and quick release.

    At this point Winston looks like more a project than Mariota.

  36. I like the Packers chances if they get/remain healthy. A balanced offense, an emerging defense with more speed than they’ve had in recent years, a solid offensive line when Bulaga returns and the best quarterback in football. Encouraging start to the season.

  37. Winston looks confused, overwhelmed, and in over his head. Frankly, I’m not surprised. He was vastly overrated in college, where he played for a horrible school, and he appears to be a mediocre pro talent at best. I predict he’ll end up like Johnny Manziel. I’m glad to see Mariota doing well–I always liked him better as a player than Winston anyway. Tennessee has their franchise QB, while Tampa Bay looks to (once again) be floundering at that position.

  38. I guess the Raiders still need work.

    There are certainly teams out there that can, and likely will, beat the Pats this season but nothing I saw yesterday made me afraid, but it’s a long season. Bad coaching and bad reffing seemed to be the order of the day. Colts didn’t deserve to win but the jags deserved to win less. Nice to see the 40 year old non-jerk Hasselbeck do well. In the KC game the replay team blew it, elbow was down.

  39. How can you fault Gruden for punting there? Had they missed the field goal

    Go for a first down is what I had in mind. Not enough coaches doing that on the other side of the 50. That’s why Belichick gets criticized. It make more sense than 15 net yards from a punt.

  40. I think Jamies shoujld be handled the same way Aaron Rodgers was handled let him sit so he can get a better grasp of things, with out a good OLINE the Bucs set Jamies up for failure this year but one can not expect it to be fixed so soon still has a high ceiling to reach… Going to take time but he will be alright…Indeed…

  41. Actually Cutler IS good enough to win the game by himself since you neglected to mention that his starting WR’s were out and 60% of his offensive line was injured. Let’s not forget that he pulled it off with a bad hamstring.

  42. The Broncos have beaten teams with a combined record of 4-11. 🙂

    The World Champion Patriots, winners of more Super Bowls in the last 25 years than any other NFL team and the team all intelligent football fans consider the NFLs Greatest Dynasty will give the Broncos a harsh reality check very soon. 🙂

  43. How about that Andy Dalton? Bengals are running away with the AFCN when many “experts” predicted they’d finish 3rd and miss the playoffs. Better ignore the Bengals since the experts were wrong. Who-Dey.

  44. Winston needed to sit a year as a backup and learn how the NFL works. Nothing wrong with that he is so young. He’s just picking up bad habits and risking injury.
    QB development in the league is pretty bad right now.

  45. Make no mistake… Adam V is a great kicker… *as far as kickers go…

    Until further notice… The greatest kick I ever witnessed (raider fans ear muffs please) the snow bowl/tuck rule game in January 2002 in Foxboro. The 45 yarder to beat the Raiders… in the most ridiculous snow storm… That kick alone will get him into Canton and it was not in any way “underrated”!!!

    Greatest kick I ever saw!!!

  46. With a quote like – Overrated: Adam Vinatieri the Patriot. Underrated: Adam Vinatieri the Colt.

    Maybe it should read – Overrated: Reporter quality. Underrated: Respect for Patriots.

    This coming from a Redskins fan.

  47. I do feel the Tampa Bay Football team QB Winston might be coming close to a mental melt down. We saw them with the Florida State Football team and he probably hasn’t changed that quickly.

  48. Cutler is the best QB on the Bears roster and should start the rest of the season if healthy, but he’s not the long term answer at QB for them. As soon as they can get out from under his contract without completely torpedoing their salary cap, they will cut ties. He’s an average at best QB with a strong arm who makes boneheaded throws if you rely too heavily on him to make plays. He’s had weapons and a solid running game in almost every situation he’s been in but he’s never been able to put it all together to be a complete QB. At this point in his career and where the Bears are, he should be a game manager protecting the football, making the needed throws, and running the offense primarily through Forte.

    And Kudos to Woodson for continuing to defy his age and play well. Almost a certain first ballot HOFer at this point and I’m glad he was able to get a ring with Green Bay.

  49. I would say Jameis is exceeding the expectations of the fans, the Publix, and everyone else not working for the Tampa Bay front office or ESPN. We expected a Jamarcus-style trainwreck and so far, we have not been disappointed.

  50. Manziel got one game, not four, and he was dragged through the mud (putting it lightly) for 10 months. One game.

  51. I hate the early London game so much I didn’t watch a minute of any other game Sunday. Probably won’t tonight either. Not that it matters to the NFL juggernaut but it is the only way I can protest, so I’ll do it.

  52. Cutler is a decent QB. That’s where it stops tho. He has a horrible attitude/body language so he comes across as a total jerk that doesn’t care one way or another what happens.
    He also tends to be very short with the media, again, not caring what they say or how he says something to him.

    Its not his fault he signed a contract that he wasn’t deserving of, its the Bears management fault. Who wouldn’t take that cash???

    So yes, decent QB, huge POS otherwise.

  53. Mariota hype on this thread questionable the stats omitting run which I think favor Winston

    Name Comp Inc Yds TD Int Pick Six Sack Tot Lost

    Mariota  61 36 833 8 2 1 12 3 2
    Winston  73 60 965 6 7 2 9 3 1

  54. Vinatera is good kicker who should probably be in the HoF.

    Having said that, he has had better statistics with the Colts because it’s easier to kick indoors.

    Just like it’s easier to quarterback indoors.

  55. Pats remaining schedule is full of cream puffs. Romo-less ‘boys, fins twice, jets twice, Bills @ home, down on their luck Colts, the rest of the hapless NFC East. Their only remotely challenging game left is Denver, and calling the Pats an underdog for that game is dubious at best. Actually, Denver might be doing them a favor in beating them; otherwise they might be a little too overconfident when the post-season rolls around and they have to start playing teams used to winning instead of sucking.

    Also, an advance request to the sports media… *please* don’t make the Broncos vs Patriots game all about “Brady vs Peyton” again for like the bazillionth time. I don’t even want to hear it. Brady still has some throwing skills and PFM is barely getting by, so there’s nothing left to compare. It’s long past time to move past any rivalry hyping between him and PFM. (move on to hyping Rodgers vs Brady while Brady still has a year or three left).

  56. The NFL needs to contract and get rid of teams. There’s not enough quality in the league. They’ve become unwatchable unless you are looking at NFL Redzone. So many players make dumb moves and there are more flags than ever before. It isn’t helped that WRs and linemen ask for flags on nearly every play. Considering there’s only actually 8 minutes of ball movement a game, there’s no way it should be taking 3 1/2 hours. There’s less action than any other sport.

    The fact that Cutler is NFL average (and banking 18 mil a year) should indeed worry you. He’s in the same ballpark as Romo and Eli. AND UNFORTUNATELY, he’s still far better than Tannehill, Cousins, Foles, Fitzy, Bradford, Kaepernick, both McCowns, Hoyer/Manziel, Bortles, Bridgewater, and all the rookies.

  57. That take on AV is one of the worst I have ever read on this site. Lets just take away the obvious….that he now plays in a cozy dome instead of the elements in Massachusetts. But the Snow game kick is his legacy. He hit a game winner at the end of a superbowl, and won 3 titles with the Patriots.

    The guy doesnt even handle kick offs anymore. I cant even figure out what basis there is for this opinion.

  58. Cutler has never been the problem for the Bears – quite the opposite, in fact.

    He was clutch yesterday, all day, especially on key 3rd and 4th downs. And with a bum hammy no less, which forced him to stay in a pocket provided by a ragtag o-line (missing two starters). Plus no #1 WR.

    The problem is, the media continues to perpetuate the negative narrative about Cutler (“doesn’t care”, overpaid, poor leader, etc.) – and it gets mindlessly repeated by the mindless fans – yet none of that is actually true.

    Perfect example of that: every highlight show I saw yesterday was sure to show the pick Cutler threw, and yet few of them aired his TD passes, or showed him artfully spreading the ball all day to multiple passers, or the key game-winning 2 minute drill, etc.

    The only fair (and negative) thing to say about him is that he does occasionally make untimely mistakes/turnovers. Otherwise, he’s a wizard, and the Bears are lost without him.

    But he is far from being a liability – the REAL Achilles heel of the Bears for the past few seasons has been the defense (and lousy coaching/drafting), and people often fail to see how that heel has in turn hurt Cutler. But that’s all turning around now, I believe.

    I just hope Cutler is still around to the reap the benefits he has earned through all the adversity. He certainly deserves it.

    I can tell you this – Bears fans are stupid to think the grass is greener elsewhere.

  59. Stop the penalties please, and let’s play football. WAY TOOO MANY PENALTIES. The refs are ruining the game. Back to college FB on Saturdays.

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