In CBCSports.ca's weekly chatter, the guys discuss Houston's humbling loss the Patriots, the risk of starting RG3, the firing of Ravens' OC Cam Cameron, and Bills GM Buddy Nix's major off-season to-do list.
The Houston Texans were crushed 42-14 by the New England Patriots on Monday night. What happened to the team with the best record in the AFC?
They got beat by the best team
in the AFC that's what happened. Yes, the Texans still have the best record in the conference at 11-2 but the Patriots are deadly at Foxborough, although it still boggles my mind that they lost to the Arizona Cardinals at home this year. In their two losses, Houston has been lit up for 84 points, thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. The Texans had an off-night, not too much to worry about, although I don't even consider them a lock to be in the AFC championship anymore. Not with teams like the Pats and Denver Broncos in the mix. I see Brady taking on Peyton Manning with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Tony Care: I saw a team that just wasn't ready to play. They were embarrassed in every way. It's not that I was surprised Tom Brady torched the Texans' secondary - that was predictable considering the passing yards and points the defence has allowed in three of its last four games. But I was stunned at how easy the Pats were able to handle a Houston offence featuring one of the best passing games in the NFL. QB Matt Schaub never looked comfortable and WR Andre Johnson was taken away by an aggressive Pats' secondary. This was a benchmark game for the Patriots, who just climbed to the top of the AFC hill with that clinic against Houston. Another point worth mentioning: The 2012 Patriots (37.0 points per game) are on pace to surpass their 2007 edition (36.8), which set an NFL record of 589 points for one season.
Jesse Campigotto: I wouldn't write off Houston in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Yeah, they got shredded by the Patriots, but how much shame is there in that? New England has scored 97 more points than anyone in the league and is averaging 36 points a game. They're shredding everyone. The Texans still hold a one-game lead on the Pats and Broncos for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and their remaining schedule is not daunting: a pair of games against overvalued Indy sandwiched around a home game against Minnesota, which is 7-6 but only 1-5 on the road.
The Redskins held their breathe after QB Robert Griffin III suffered a scary knee injury that turned out to be a mild sprain of a ligament in his right knee. He is now is listed as day-to-day. Even if he's healthy enough to go against Cleveland, should the Skins consider resting him this week?
Jason Davidson: Yes, you start RG3 if he's good to go. The Redskins are in a dogfight for a playoff spot and they need to go with their best guy under centre. If things get comfortable enough in the second half against the Browns, then you let rookie pivot Kirk Cousins take some snaps. Cleveland has shown they are taking steps in the positive direction as of late with three straight wins, and they will definitely want to play the spoiler role in this one.
I know this won't be a popular answer, but I would rest RG3
this week if there is a serious question with his mobility. Look, rookie QB Kirk Cousins showed he can handle the pressure by throwing a TD pass and game-tying two-point conversion against the Ravens. I think the Redskins will beat Cleveland with Cousins under centre. Griffin's mobility, a big part of his game, could be significantly limited if he plays. Let his knee get the week off and have Griffin ready for the Eagles and Cowboys in the last two weeks.
Jesse Campigotto: No. If RG3 can play, he's got to play. The Skins have a real shot at a wild card. At 7-6, they're only one game back of fading Chicago, and tied with Dallas (not exactly known for coming up big down the stretch) and aforementioned Minnesota (can't win on the road). Yes, Washington is better than this week's opponent, but it's still a road game against a semi-competent Cleveland team that has quietly won three in a row (albeit against probably the league's two worst teams in Oakland and K.C., plus a Charlie Batch-led Steelers squad). The Redskins have to realize that 7-6 teams can't afford to take this kind of game for granted.
After a tough loss in Washington, the Baltimore Ravens fired offensive co-coordinator Cam Cameron. Are the Ravens overreacting?
Surprising move as the Ravens are poised to win the AFC North. But they have been slipping a little as of late
. Nonetheless, you'd think they'd stick with Cameron until at least season's end. On the other side of the coin, there are reasons to support this decision. The obvious one: Joe Flacco is not good enough on a week to week basis. At times he looks like a legit NFL starter, whereas at other times he looks lost. Running back Ray Rice has been greatly underused as well. He's averaging just under 17 carries per game and with the team which should be emphasizing the run, that's not enough. Jim Caldwell is now in charge of the team's offence and it remains to be seen whether the change will bear any fruition, but it's a bold move and I think it's the right one.
Tony Care: I didn't understand why they brought him back to start the season. I've been saying for two years now that Cameron has been too cautious with this offence, and he was burned the last two weeks by taking that approach. The Ravens had a 10-point lead against Pittsburgh, and an eight-point fourth-quarter advantage in Washington wiped out because Cameron was too conservative with his play-calling, in addition to the defence's inability to close the door. This is a new era, folks. Offensive co-coordinators need to be aggressive enough to step on an opponent's throat when the opportunity is there to close out the game. This relying on the defence mentality has got to stop.
Jesse Campigtto: Can't remember an OC getting fired after his unit scored four TDs, and it's not like the Ravens' offence is terrible. They fall in the middle of the pack in yards per play and Football Outsiders' offence rankings. The real issue in Baltimore is that the defence ain't what it used to be. With Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs missing significant time, and Lewis and Ed Reed much closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, the once-feared Ravens D has been reduced to a middling unit this season.
The Buffalo Bills are near the end of another lost season. On the assumption GM Buddy Nix keeps his job, what does he need to do to turn things around for the Bills next season?
Jason Davidson: I know starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick takes a lot of heat in Buffalo but he's been decent. A 21 to 13 TD/INT ratio isn't great, but not horrible either. His completion percentage is above 60%, too. Nix will most likely stay in place because the Bills' big off-season signing, defensive end Mario Williams, has been playing very well since undergoing wrist surgery during the team's bye in Week 8. He's finally earning that $100 million US after a rough start. I don't think that many adjustments need to be made in Western New York. The team has potential but the offence needs improvement. That should be the focus for them on draft day. And yes, I think Chan Gailey is back next season.
They need to find a quarterback; it's that simple. Nothing else works
if Nix can't find a QB to come in and replace Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is clearly not the answer. The best place to find a franchise pivot is through the draft. The problem is this class is not as talented or as deep as the 2012 group. Still, there are three QBs that are leading the way - depending on which draft guru you talk to - Geno Smith of West Virginia, Matt Barkley from USC and Mike Glennon of N.C. State. Now, it's debatable whether any of these guys are top-15 material, but Nix needs to do his homework and find the franchise's next quarterback. Otherwise, this same sorry scene will continue to play out.
Tough to win these days without a good quarterback and/or head coach. The Bills have Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chan Gailey. As a Bills fan, I can't take another year of that duo. Fitzpatrick seems incapable of throwing anything resembling a downfield pass, and Gailey seems to think punting from your opponent's 35-yard line is sound strategy. The problem with Buffalo is, how do you attract anyone who's any good at these jobs? I have a soft spot for the city, but it's no one's idea of a prime location. The only way to lure talented people is by severely overpaying them, a la the signing of Mario Williams (who's been pretty good this year, by the way). But if you were going to give Williams $50 million guaranteed, why not put $75 million on the table in front of Peyton Manning and dare him to turn it down? Why not throw a big coaching contract at a real offensive innovator like Chip Kelly or Mike Leach? Hell, bring in that high school who never punts
. But try something legitimately new. What have you got to lose? You haven't made the playoffs in 13 straight seasons
now. The definition of insanity, someone said, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. By that standard, One Bills Drive is Shutter Island.
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