Blunders even legendary quarterbacks make…
Week 8 of the NFL season had its share of great performances. It also had its share of ugly ones.
The season has been rough for the Dallas Cowboys. Things have been so bad, in fact, that one of their top men committed one of the week’s biggest blunders despite being on a bye week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were done in by a struggling quarterback who’s now on the bench. The New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars each have struggling quarterbacks. Only their coaches don’t seem to realize it.
Of course, the Green Bay Packers have a legendary quarterback. But another blunder kept Aaron Rodgers on the sideline at the game’s most critical point.
There were many blunders to be had in Week 8. These were the biggest of the bunch.
Jameis Winston has an unfathomably bad day in Cincinnati
Tampa named Winston as its starting quarterback at the end of September. Not even one full month later, he was benched again. Anyone who saw what he did in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals will understand why.
Winston threw four interceptions on Sunday. All four were costly. One came in the red zone (watch here), two of the others came in Cincinnati territory, and the other was a pick-six. This was a game that the Bucs lost by only three points. And as bad as Winston’s day was, his timing was even worse. This was the final game before the trade deadline. That’s a terrible final impression to leave the rest of the league. Week 8 may not have been Winston’s last chance. But he’s certainly running out of them.
Miami secondary absolutely hopeless in Thursday night loss
Deshaun Watson had more touchdown passes (five) that incompletion passes (four) as his Houston Texans romped over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
When we look at the Miami secondary, it’s not hard to see why. Late in the third quarter, the Dolphins had drawn to within one score of the Texans. Two plays later, Houston had its 11-point lead back when the Miami safeties completely forgot about Will Fuller (watch here). In the fourth quarter, the Dolphins rectified that mistake by having two of their safeties trail Fuller. Unfortunately, that left DeAndre Hopkins wide open, and 49 yards later he was in the end zone.
These were huge mental lapses. This wasn’t a matter of just getting burned by good players. That happens. The Dolphins weren’t even trying to make the right plays. They were consistently way out of position and terribly unprepared. When listing the reasons that Thursday’s game went the way it did, the Miami secondary sits atop of the list.
Jason Garrett provides bad bye week optics at World Series
The Cowboys are 3-4 and enjoyed their bye in Week 8. During the break, Garrett took in Game 3 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium. It’s not right to suggest that Garrett can’t have any life outside of football, especially on a bye. With that understood, this was not a great look.
Maybe Garrett was just in Los Angeles to coax Hudson Houck out of retirement. But at Dodger Stadium, he was sitting in the front row right behind the on-deck circle, with Brad Paisley. It’s easy to come away with the feeling that Garrett was just one of the many LA celebrities trying to be seen on camera. That may not be the reality, but optics are important as the head coach. The optics here were not good. Jimmy Johnson, a man who’s held the position that Garrett currently occupies, also wasn’t happy about the decision.
Doug Marrone doesn’t seem to know what a short leash is
Blake Bortles was pulled in Week 7 as the Jacksonville Jaguars fell to the Houston Texans. While he got the Week 8 start against the Philadelphia Eagles, it was clear going in that he’d be on a short leash. Marrone said as much.
But that did nothing to dull Marrone’s confidence in his quarterback. Bortles attempted 41 passes. To finish the game, Jacksonville called 31 straight pass plays. In what world is that a short leash?
The positive end of this is that Bortles didn’t turn the ball over. But Bortles is not the kind of quarterback who should be passing that much. Bortles attempting 41 passes is not on the map to Jacksonville winning many — if any — games. It’s true that the Jaguars didn’t run the ball very well. But excluding Bortles’ eight runs, they only ran nine times. They didn’t exactly try that hard to get a running game going. It’s no wonder this team has lost four straight and now finds itself in a world of trouble.
Jets are their own worst enemy vs. Bears
The New York Jets didn’t turn the ball over once against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. But this team still did a lot to wreck its chances of pulling the upset. Tarik Cohen hauled in a screen pass and went 70 yards for the score (watch here). No New York player was even close to him until the very end of the play. The Jets also committed eight penalties. Seven of those were pre-snap fouls. It was just a disastrous showing.
Make no mistake; we weren’t expecting that New York would win in Chicago. While the Bears did a lot to win the game, the Jets did a lot to lose it, as well. There’s talent on this team. But Sunday showed that there’s still significant work to be done before New York is ready to play with the big boys.
Steelers need rule book brush-up
The Pittsburgh Steelers did defeat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. But in the process, they committed one of the worst special teams gaffes in recent memory. Ryan Switzer called for a fair catch on a free kick and let the ball drop (watch here). None of the Steelers made any effort to pick it up. A free kick is not a punt. As such, the ball was live. This led to a Cleveland touchdown and is troubling from multiple perspectives.
One, it shows that several of the Steelers that were on the field didn’t know the rule. Switzer called for the fair catch but any of his teammates were even remotely close to recovering the loose ball. That’s an obvious problem. Two, Switzer made the wrong play, anyway. Even if the ball was not live, letting the ball drop would have cost Pittsburgh 10 yards of field position. Not exactly a smart play on its own. This gaffe didn’t cost the Steelers a victory. But it’s certainly alarming.
Giants keep asking for too much from Eli Manning
Manning threw two interceptions as the Giants fell to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. One of them came in the red zone. In a game that ended with a 20-13 final, that certainly looms large. But to make this all about the quarterback would be wrong. Manning is at the end of his career. We’ve seen it all year. New York’s decision makers just don’t seem to want to admit that.
Manning attempted 47 passes against Washington. Meanwhile, Saquon Barkley got only 13 carries. While the Redskins did keep Barkley in check (on the ground, at least), 13 is nowhere near enough given how good he’s been. Even on the decline, Manning can certainly play much better. But the Giants coaches are not doing any favors for their quarterback or their team with the way these plays are being called.
Doug Martin fumbles away his team’s chances
With Marshawn Lynch out, Martin is going to get more carries for the Oakland Raiders. If you saw what happened on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, that might not be welcome news.
Indianapolis had just taken a 35-28 lead on Oakland with a little more than five minutes to play. But the Raiders had been clicking well on offense all day. There was reason to be feel good about their chances. One play into that drive, though, Martin fumbled. It was Oakland’s only turnover of the day. Five plays later, the Colts were in the end zone again, putting the game away. Certainly, Indianapolis was aided by a rookie mistake from a veteran running back.
49ers end putrid game in highly embarrassing way
Down by three and on the brink of field goal range, the San Francisco 49ers had time for one more play in Sunday’s game with the Arizona Cardinals. One relatively quick pass to set up a reasonable field goal. It never came to being. Center Erik Magnuson was manning the position for the first time since high school. It showed.
On what ended up being the game’s final play, Magnuson snapped the ball 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage — 10 yards beyond where quarterback C.J. Beathard was standing. Beathard did retrieve the ball, but couldn’t make anything out of it. The game was over. As expected, this game was ugly for four quarters. The end certainly didn’t deviate from that.
Ty Montgomery’s gaffe provides anticlimactic end to classic game
Montgomery’s fumble at the end of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams wasn’t just a physical error. It was a mental one. He never should have taken the ball out of the end zone. Even if he hadn’t fumbled, Montgomery was going to cost his team valuable time. The play took nine seconds. Those nine seconds effectively nullified the two-minute warning. If your quarterback is Brock Osweiler, the small likelihood of a big return might be worth the risk. But with Aaron Rodgers, just take a knee and take the ball at the 25.
And of course, Montgomery did fumble the ball. The Rams ran the clock out and Rodgers never saw the field again. It’s a mistake that just can’t happen. Worse now, the gaffe seems to have led to some locker room dysfunction for the Green Bay Packers.