Welcome to “Two QBs For Me and You,” a feature where I focus on and breakdown two notable quarterback performances from the week before. … I then go over what they mean moving forward.
Things change fast in the NFL. The Ravens, Eagles and Broncos, who started a combined 10-0, have now lost their last seven games combined. The Bills and Washington (0-2 starts) have both won four straight. But despite all of these changes, some things remain constant. The Patriots dominating is one of those things. And so is the Rams being .500. They both came to fruition on the weekend, but both a win and a loss came with supreme quarterback play.
29-of-35, 376 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
- On the first drive, Brady improvised from the pocket and directed Rob Gronkowski up the left sideline for his first big gain of the day. Gronkowski had a career-high 162 yards in this game and has caught 12 passes for 271 yards in Brady’s two games.
- With 12:51 remaining in the first quarter, there was a play that typified Brady’s next-level ability of ‘pocket presence’. He constantly proves athleticism does not factor in – it’s simply awareness, vision and quick feet. In a play taking 14 seconds off the clock, he stepped up, stepped back, rolled right, stepped up again, stepped back again; all while keeping his eyes downfield. Eventually, he picked up two yards, as he casually stepped out of bounds, but at no point was there any panic.
- With only a few minutes remaining in the first half, the Patriots were down 7-3 and Brady had already missed on four passes. He was sacked by Vontaze Burfict and the Pats were looking at a 3rd-and-8 with 2:31 until the half. From this point, on Brady went on a tear and would only miss two passes for the rest of the game. After a penalty gifted them a first down, he threw a perfect bullet on a slant to Julian Edelman, checked down a couple of times to James White, hit Chris Hogan on a deep crosser and zipped a pass to White again out of the backfield for a 15-yard touchdown.
- I like to talk about “responses” from quarterbacks, and recognize the best in the game always tend to score when most needed. Whether it’s after going down so that the game doesn’t get away from them, or scoring after a turnover to put the game out of reach, you can often rely on the top players in the game to spark the best “response”. Just as the Patriots gained momentum with a safety, Brady did just that when they got the ball back. He connected with Martellus Bennett twice, followed by two more balls to Gronkowski, the second resulting in a touchdown. Brady passed ten straight completions, and the touchdown toss was a thing of beauty. Outstanding ball placement. That made it 19-14.
- In this game, Brady became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to complete 5,000 passes (behind Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees). Is he the greatest ever? He’s certainly the best in the 15 years I’ve followed football.
- The next time New England saw the ball, Brady once again moved the ball down the field with ease, with a perfect strike to Gronkowski, another short pass to Bennett, and a quick out to White for another touchdown, making it 25-14.
- The Patriots are one of the few teams who ‘ice the cake’. Be relentless and be dominant. Don’t let up. Had the Packers learned this a few weeks ago against Detroit confidence wouldn’t be so low in Green Bay. On Sunday, with a combination of Edelman catches and LeGarrette Blount runs, New England made it 35-17 late.
I think some TB12 haters would probably argue last week’s contest against the Cleveland Browns was just a dress rehearsal before he played a ‘real’ NFL team. Well, he delivered. Those owners who spent a high pick on him and had patience through four games will be hugely rewarded.
Usually we can identify a couple of games where a quarterback might struggle and we can avoid that by dropping them or benching them. With Brady and the Patriots, that isn’t the case. I expect them to win every time they hit the field and they can game plan against any level of defense. Enjoy the ride.
Now on to the Rams, who were 3-2 heading into a road game against a hot Matthew Stafford and the Lions.
27-of-32, 321 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interceptions (plus 3 carries for 7 yards and 1 touchdown)
- When it came to “responses” and answering drives, Keenum had a great outing. After the Lions had scored first, the Rams put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive, which included four Todd Gurley runs and various Keenum passes to Tavon Austin, Lance Kendricks, Brian Quick, and, finally, Kenny Britt for a 20-yard touchdown.
- Los Angeles got the ball back soon enough and the play-calling and variety on the 11-play scoring drive was simply stunning. We saw inside runs, quick outs, rollouts, seam throws, an end-around, and a walk-in touchdown by Keenum to make it 14-7.
- After the Lions had tied up the game, the Rams had a pivotal drive before the half. With three minutes remaining, they were able to move the ball all the way to the Lions’ goal line with a combination of penalties and a great throw by Keenum to the resurgent Kenny Britt. However, on the last play of the half, a fourth down at the 1-yard line, Gurley was stopped. Plays like this are huge for both momentum and belief, and may have been in the mind of the Rams when they needed plays late on.
- The Lions went up 21-14 in the third quarter, and Keenum took the chance again to strike right back. He made an outstanding throw over Kenny Britt’s shoulder and the receiver snagged it with one hand as he fell to the turf. He converted on a third-and-2 with a dump pass to Gurley and it was clear in this game the Rams are efficient with these short passes to both Gurley and Benny Cunningham (even if the running game isn’t having the same success). Keenum finished the drive with a great anticipation throw to his tight end, Kendricks, making it 21-21. Another great answering drive.
- Keenum was on fire and in the fourth quarter he led a final touchdown drive hitting Quick, Kendricks, Britt, Austin, and Britt on a slant on third down he drove into the end zone on a great effort. On that pass, Keenum set a Rams record for consecutive completions with 19.
- Unfortunately, the last two drives exposed him. The Lions tied the game with a long drive, and Los Angeles got the ball with six minutes to go. Keenum’s completion streak ended with a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage. Then on a 3rd-and-5 he stared down Britt on an obvious comeback, which was played perfectly by Darius Slay. The Rams punted and Detroit kicked a field goal to take the lead.
- Down three, with 1:28 and no timeouts remaining, Keenum had one last chance. He didn’t take it. His first down attempt was batted, but still caught by Quick. However, he forced the next throw to Lance Kendricks and it was intercepted. Again, it looked like he’d made up his mind to throw down the seam, despite there being a man on Kendricks, a linebacker underneath, and a safety over the top. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise outstanding performance.
When you go on the road and put up 28 points on offense and complete 19 passes in a row it should generally be considered a success. Case Keenum did that, but his defense let him down (although Matt Stafford looked impossible to stop). Based on that performance, there is no way Jeff Fisher should pull him for Jared Goff. Even though he ultimately fell just short when it mattered, he was hot throughout most of the game, and he gives the team the best chance to win.
I know it’s fun to rag on Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers right now, but over their last nine games, Keenum is bettering him in completion percentage (63.2%-59.9%), yards per pass (7.61-6.22), and passer rating (89.6-84.3). However, this probably says more about Rodgers than Keenum, because he’s getting outplayed by everybody. Realistically, Keenum’s latest game should keep Goff on ice as long as the Rams don’t fall too far below .500, which we know is where they will stay. As for Keenum’s fantasy owners, they will be licking their chops at the teams coming up, as the Giants, Panthers, Jets, Dolphins, and Saints are the next five opponents.
Other Week 6 Quarterback Performances of Note:
Trevor Siemian’s injury really slowed down the momentum the Broncos gained through the first four games. He looked extremely mediocre as they slumped to the Chargers. Perhaps the greatest story in the history of football would be if Philip Rivers surges back from a heartbreaking 1-4 start to win a ring. Hell, he deserves one.
Colin Kaepernick is an awful quarterback. Sure, I thought there would be some form of improvement moving away from Blaine Gabbert, but just because they are different types of QBs doesn’t mean either can throw a football. It would be great to see Chip Kelly finally get a real quarterback to work with in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Blake Bortles is not a good quarterback. Perhaps Ryan Tannehill can actually be successful behind a strong running game, as most can be. Don’t ask a mediocre quarterback to do it all, and they can be better than mediocre. With Ben Roethlisberger getting banged up again, it’s Landry Jones time. This is not a good thing, but it’s another chance to run to the waiver wire and grab a starting quarterback. Hell, at this point in the season I’m sure many of us need one.
Andy Dalton. Joe Flacco. Eli Manning. Matt Ryan. Good, but better when the weapons around them perform. Every year the way we feel about them depends on where we drafted them. If you grabbed Flacco or Ryan later in your drafts, you’re probably feeling pretty good right now.
In Drew Brees you get what you pay for. Every year. In Brock Osweiler you get a dude who looks like he’s throwing the ball at people as hard as possible, and once in a while someone comes up with it. I can’t believe the Texans won that game. But then again, I’ve seen the Colts in person and they are bad. Also, Dak Prescott is gawd; Carson Wentz sucks (I’m overreacting… Or am I?).
Quarterbacks covered so far:
- Week 1 – Trevor Siemian and Carson Wentz
- Week 2 – Philip Rivers and Sam Bradford
- Week 3 – Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer
- Week 4 – Blake Bortles and Andrew Luck
- Week 5 – Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill