Yeah, I'm a bit late, but 16-hour bus rides can do that to your timelines. I hereby dedicate these grades to Derek Stanley. Good night, sweet prince. Your snore inducing kick returns and double first nameliness will be missed. Anger-inducing grades after the fold
While TST argues for and against the much ballyhooed QB, I've let it be known long ago which camp I was in. If he was forcing the play, throwing interceptions or trying to make more out of less (as he did last year), I would be in the latter camp. When he's hitting guys in the numbers and hands as he did Sunday, and they (Avery, McMichael, I'm looking at you) fail to make plays, I can't fault the Bulge. When he gracefully lofts a corner fade to Laurent Robinson so perfectly it reminds you of how seasoned he is, it makes me yearn for better receivers (or a Laurent Robinson clone). Bulger isn't in my top 5 concerns that are holding this team back, and he's playing out the proof.
Steven Jackson ran hungry. The only reason he doesn't get into the A range was that his hunger often motivated him to do more than was in front of him. The run blocking was better than it was in Seattle; if it continues to improve, the media could start jumping on the Action Bandwagon. If it stalls, I expect some TSTers to throw a word at SJax that rhymes with "cloverdated."
Hard to grade, because this is a tale of two receivers: Avery & Robinson. Avery, well, let's not beat a dead horse. And Robinson is earning well more than the dispensable draft positions we gave to Atlanta for him. Unfortunately, a career game by Robinson isn't enough to ignore the failures of Avery and McMichael and how profound their impact was on field position, momentum, offensive consistency, and ultimately the final score.
The run blocking was improved, we allowed just a single sack, and, despite occasional injuries, the line got a consistent push. The newly released Football Outsiders O-line rankings confirm this is a quality line; what's keeping me excited is that they have nowhere to go but up, as long as they stay healthy and Incognito lives up to his name by avoiding dumb penalties (which he did Sunday. Still no love for Richie or Spags...)
Last week, I gave a B/F for run/pass defense; I have to acknowledge a slight improvement in both facets. Still, a D- is nothing to be proud of. Through two games, Leonard Little and Chris Long have combined for as many sacks as the Dallas Cowboys: 0. Still, Mario Williams has just a single sack, so they're not along in their failure to rack up the stats. Long did look better, but until he's rolling through QBs who are still holding onto the ball, or at least combining with other D-linemen to make other QBs look uncomfortable, I'll keep splitting this grade up to make sure we don't ignore this key aspect of the game.
I have a Laurinaitis crush. Carry on.
I would love to give them a higher grade, but no INTs from a unit that is fully capable of getting a pick against any offense keeps them square in the middle of the B range. Still, how impressive have the CBs been this season? I had my doubts about the depth behind Bartell with or without Tye Hill. The most impressive play this season has been from Jonathan Wade and Justin King.
I'll skip the coaching as it's something I'd like to get into with greater depth sooner rather than later.
So many solid grades, so many missed opportunities. It's impossible to shake the feeling that we should be 1-1, tied with the Seahawks, tied with the Cardinals... Here's hoping we can put it together against Green Bay.