By: C.J. Doon
Before the Giants and Redskins faced off on Monday night, two-time Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck was asked to give his thoughts about RG3, the Redskins’ stellar rookie quarterback. The 8-year defensive end couldn’t help but show a little fear.
“If he stays healthy,” Tuck said, “he’s going to be a havoc on defenses for a long time.”
The first-year quarterback was healthy on Monday night, and boy, did he create havoc for the Giants’ defense.
RG3 and the Washington Redskins defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants 17-16 at FedEx Field on Monday Night Football, cutting the Giants’ lead to one game in the NFC East. Now the Redskins and Cowboys, both sitting at 6-6, are within striking distance of the 7-5 Giants for the division crown.
If you’re a Giants fan like me, you may be wondering ‘how the hell did this happen?’ Just three weeks ago the Redskins were 3-6, and head coach Mike Shanahan was ready to pack it in for the rest of the 2012 season.
“You lose a game like that [to the Panthers], and now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. I’ll get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”
Such uninspiring words from their head coach could have easily broken the heart of the Redskins’ young players. Instead, they took those words as a challenge, and won three straight games over division rivals to pull within one game of the NFC East championship.
Did I mention something about this guy named RG3? In his Monday Night debut, the rookie threw for 163 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another 72 yards on just five carries. While those numbers might not blow you away, his play on the field will. Griffin danced around tacklers, avoided sacks, and extended the play all night, creating opportunities for his receivers to separate from coverage. His ability to move around in the pocket nullified the Giants’ fearsome pass rush, frustrating pro-bowlers Jason Pierre Paul, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora to no end.
“We could’ve played better, but as far as shutting them down. . . . I don’t know if it’s possible with a dynamic quarterback like him, who can kill you running and throwing,” Tuck said.
“Pretty much, you’ve got to get lucky.”
So fear not Giants fans! All you need to defeat RG3 and the Redskins, advance to the playoffs, and capture your third Super Bowl in 6 years is just a little bit of luck!
Now, let’s turn our attention once again to those lovable losers in New York. The Jets actually won a game(!) on Sunday against the Cardinals – only their second victory in the last six contests. However, the win wasn’t the noteworthy event of the day. It’s how the Jets won. Mark Sanchez was benched late in the third quarter after completing only 10 of 21 passes for 97 yards, including three ugly interceptions. Chants of “Mc-El-Roy” broke out amongst the crowd, and soon enough, the second-year pro from Alabama came into the game to replace Sanchez.
Tim Tebow, listed at #2 on the depth chart, was unavailable due to a rib injury. Instead it was McElroy who marched the Jets down the field and into the end zone early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard touchdown to tight end Jeff Cumberland.
McElroy’s first NFL drive led to his first NFL touchdown pass. The question is, will numbers one and two? He finished the day 5 of 7 passing for 29 yards and a touchdown, including a big third down completion to Jeremy Kerley that put the game out of reach.
So, what becomes of Sanchez for the rest of the season? The Jets are unlikely to make the playoffs at 5-7, and are mathematically eliminated from the AFC East Division crown after the Patriots’ win over the Dolphins. Perhaps we will see the return of Tim Tebow, or even more playing time for Greg McElroy.
“From the get-go, from the first play, it just wasn’t my day,” Sanchez said.
That pretty much sums up his career.
Now, let’s jump into this week’s Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em!
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders – McFadden has been sidelined with a high ankle sprain this season, and has missed the last four contests as a result. However, according to CBSSports, McFadden is likely to return Thursday night against the Broncos. Before missing the last four games, McFadden put together some very solid performances, including a 17-point outburst against the Steelers in Week 3, where he ran for 113 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders have been a pass-heavy offense lately, but that was the result of Carson Palmer going into screw-it-I’m-passing-every-down-because-we-have-no-running-game mode. With McFadden back, the Raiders will likely to return to a more ground-and-pound style of offense, which could mean big numbers for their star running back.
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets – Greene has been wildly inconsistent this season, scoring as many as 34 points against the Colts, and as few as 2 points against the Steelers. The good news is the Jets will most likely start Tebow or McElroy at quarterback this week when they take on the Jaguars, which could lead to an increasing number of running plays. If the Jets go with Tebow, we will see the return of the zone option read that made Willis McGahee a fantasy stud last season with the Broncos. If they decide to give the job to McElroy, that would most likely lead to more running plays and screen passes as they ease the second-year pro into the offense. Either way, the Jags are ranked 31st in the NFL against the run. Greene’s bound to put up some big numbers.
Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints – The Giants gave up huge numbers through the air to the Washington Redskins on Monday night, allowing Pierre Garcon to haul in eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Saints travel to New York to take on the Giants this weekend, and that could mean big numbers for the Saints passing game. If you’re unsure, here’s three reasons why:
- Drew Brees is coming off a game where he threw FIVE interceptions. That’s 35% of all the interceptions he threw last season. If you think he’s going to have another bad game, think again.
- The Giants secondary allows 245 yards/game. That’s puts them in the bottom third of the entire NFL. With key injuries to cornerback Terrell Thomas and safety Kenny Phillips, this unit is just not capable of stopping a great passing duo like Brees and Colston.
- I’m a Giants fans, so here me out when I say this: The Giants NEVER play well against the Saints. Last season? Drew Brees threw for over 350 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, and the Saints won 49-24. In 2009? Drew Brees threw for over 350 yards and four touchdowns, and the Saints won 48-27. Yeah, you get the idea.
Malcolm Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers – Let’s face it: the Chargers’ season is over. Philip Rivers has been a turnover machine at quarterback, Norv Turner is a dead man walking, and fans are looking forward to waving goodbye to GM A.J. Smith more than watching the upcoming games. The Chargers have quit on their head coach, and will be doing even more quitting when they take on the hard-nosed defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. Floyd has had a solid season as the Chargers number one wideout, but is being overshadowed by the great story of teammate and wide receiver Denario Alexander. The Steelers rank #1 in the NFL in passing defense, so please avoid Floyd.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins – Remember when everybody, including myself, was talking about how great Bush looked during the first two weeks of the season? Remember when we all said he would be a Top 5 fantasy player this season? Well, forget all of that. Since his 31-point performance in Week 2 against the Raiders, Bush has surpassed the double digit mark exactly three times. He has not received more than 15 carries in a single game since Week 5. Things get even worse for the ex-Kardashian, because the Dolphins travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh’s defense has allowed only three rushing touchdowns all season, and hold opposing running backs to less than 3.6 yards/carry. If you want to win your first round playoff matchup, leave Bush out of your starting lineup.
Bryce Brown, RB, Philadelphia Eagles – Yeah, yeah, I know I said to start him last week. And yeah, yeah, he produced two touchdowns and 27 fantasy points. But that was against the Cowboys, and this week the Eagles will face a whole new animal when they take on the Buccaneers. The Bucs are ranked #1 in the NFL is rush defense, limiting opposing running backs to 3.4 yards/carry and 82.3 yards/game. Brown might be able to score if the Eagles get near the goal line, but don’t expect to see another 150+ yard rushing day.
That’s all I’ve got! Good luck to everybody fortunate enough to reach the playoffs!
For those of you who missed out…well, there’s always next year, right?