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NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 4

Week 4 is in the books, and some teams are beginning to show that they have no chance of competing for the playoffs. This week's "Hierarchy/Obituary" features our first obit of the season, the Tampa Bay Bucs. Graveyard

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 4

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and head coach Chip Kelly. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and head coach Chip Kelly. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Week 4 is in the books, and some teams are beginning to show that they have no chance of competing for the playoffs. This week's "Hierarchy/Obituary" features our first obit of the season, the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Graveyard

Buccaneers' Obituary

While the Buccaneers haven't been as bad as the Giants so far this year, they don't have the luxury of playing in the atrocious NFC East. The Giants are only 2 games back, while the Bucs are 4 games behind a Saints team that looks like it's back:

The Buccaneers benched QB Josh Freeman, and according to Ed Werder of ESPN, the Bucs are trying to trade him:

Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik has made calls to about one-third of the teams in the NFL to determine whether there is interest in trading for Freeman, and the Buccaneers will have contacted every team by the end of the day, according to sources. Interest has been described as being mild.

If the team has to pay Freeman $500,000 each week, it will wait until closer to the trade deadline at the end of the month before cutting ties with its former starter, according to sources. The Buccaneers feel Freeman is by far the best quarterback available, and they might be able to make a more equitable trade if a team loses its starting quarterback.

Freeman may very well be "by far the best QB available," which means absolutely nothing, seeing as there aren't any good QBs available. The reality is that Freeman simply isn't good, so if the Bucs can get anything... at all... they should jump on it and thank that team for taking his salary off their hands.

But the bigger issue is reports that the Bucs leaked Freeman's unfavorable medical information, and some other nonsense I don't have time to investigate. Let's just all agree that the Bucs aren't run very well. Good? OK, good.

Going forward, the Bucs will roll with rookie QB Mike Glennon. Some analysts think that Glennon looks like he's 8. I prefer to think of him as the player with the 2nd longest neck in the history of the NFL:

Merton Hanks is #1, of course:

And I was reminded that the Patriots' Steve Grogan had a long neck, too:

 

 

To answer Darren's question, he's 3rd, just above Michael Johnson of the Bengals. You can see Grogan's neck (complete with his neck pad, a rarity for a QB) right here. So to put it in chart form. The longest necks in NFL history go like this:

Clarifying the comment next to Grogan's name above: Because he wore protective padding for his ultra-elongated neck, it's a little known fact that the Wu Tang Clan wrote the song "Protect Ya Neck" about Steve Grogan. That's 100% true. Just ask them.

Anyway, back on track. Fare thee well, Tampa. The Eagles ruined the Bucs' playoff hopes last year, which made Ronde Barber sad...

...and now they're the first NFC casuality of the season, never to be spoken about in this series again.

15) Giants (0-4)

The Giants teams that won Super Bowls were led by their dominant defensive lines. The 2013 version of the Giants' D Line has 4 sacks. That is last in the NFL. Justin Tuck is old and tired, Jason Pierre-Paul is beat up and has been invisible, and Osi Umenyiora is gone. That DL is no longer feared.

The DL aside, the linebackers stink, the OL stinks, Eli Manning has thrown 9 INTs, the running backs are completely unreliable, the secondary isn't good, and the kicker stinks.

The only thing the Giants have going for them is Victor Cruz, who has been outstanding.

14) The Washington team (1-3)

Congratulations, fans of the Washington team. Your team isn't "lose to Oakland's backup QB bad." They're just "regular" bad, and better than the Giants. Hooray! 

13) Vikings (1-3)

I'm not really sure how this is possible, but the Vikings are giving up more passing yards (326 per game) than the Eagles (325 per game). Here is what their opponents have been able to do through the air against the Vikings in comparison to the other teams they've played:

Then there's the QB issue with the Vikings. With Christian Ponder hurt, Matt Cassel filled in and beat the the Steelers in London. A little QB math - Matt Cassel > Christian Ponder:

When Matt Cassel is better than your starting QB, your team isn't going to contend.

12) Rams (1-3)

There are 2 QBs in the NFL with a lower YPA (yards per pass attempt) than Sam Bradford. They would be Brandon Weeden, who was benched, and Blaine Gabbert, who should be benched. It's Sam Bradford's 4th year in the NFL. He should be good by now, but isn't.

Also, the Rams have been bad in the trenches. In the last 2 games, they have been outgained on the ground 412-53.

11) Eagles (1-3)

The Eagles are the weirdest team in the NFL.

They have an offense that is racking up yards at a historic rate, but aren't scoring as much as they should.

Meanwhile, their defense is giving up yards and points at a historic rate.

The Eagles' next 5 opponents have a combined record of 3-17:

10) Cardinals (2-2)

Carson Palmer has not been good (4 TD, 6 INT), which is not a big surprise. However, the Cardinals defense, and more specifically their run defense, has been great. The Cardinals are allowing 75 rushing yards per game, which is 2nd best in the NFL, and they're only giving up 3.0 yards per carry, also 2nd best in the NFL.

9) Cowboys (2-2)

The Cowboys benched Morris Claiborne this week, and Orlando Scandrick will start in his place. In the 2012 draft, despite having major holes up and down their roster and virtually no depth, the Cowboys traded their top 2 picks (14th and 45th overall) to move up to 6th overall to draft Claiborne.

According to Jerry Jones, Claiborne was the highest rated corner on their board since Deion Sanders.

Jerry Jones, please live to be 150.

8) Panthers (1-2)

I remember watching the Eagles running their no-huddle offense through the Panthers like a hot knife through butter in the preseason, and Panthers players admitting after the game that they were winded. I had pretty much written the Panthers off at that time, forgetting that the preseason means absolutely nothing. Apologies, Panthers. Sean McDermott and the Panthers' defense are giving up 12 points per game. The only teams giving up fewer points are the Chiefs (10.2) and Seahawks (11.8). 

The Panthers move up a spot after having a BYE last week.

7) Falcons (1-3)

Last year, the Falcons started 8-0. This year, 1-3. The only thing stopping me from bailing on them is that the 3 teams they lost to have a combined record of 11-1 (.917). Perhaps the Falcons will regain their home field advantage when their 38 hardcore fans come back after the Braves choke in the MLB playoffs.

6) Lions (3-1)

Reggie Bush is really good, and the Lions haven't had a legitimate threat at RB in years. Here's a good breakdown by Brian Billick explaining how Bush can hurt opposing defenses who are scared of Calvin Johnson beating them over the top. The Lions have sort of a DeSean Jackson - LeSean McCoy thing going on here:

Here's the play Billick is referring to.

The Lions are undisciplined, but talented. They're atop the NFC North, for now, on the strength of their win over the Bears.

5) Bears (3-1)

The Bears lost this week, but I want to point out something their defense does extraordinarily well. After the offense turns the ball over, the defense does a great job of getting it right back. Some examples this season:

  • Week 1 (Bengals) - Jay Cutler throws a interception. With the Bengals in FG range three plays later, Tim Jennings forces and recovers a fumble.
  • Week 2 (Vikings) - With the Bears at the Vikes' 1 yard line, Jay Cutler is picked in the end zone for a touchback. Four plays later, Tim Jennings picks off Christian Ponder and returns it for a TD.
  • Week 4 (Lions) - Jay Cutler is picked by Louis Delmas. Five plays later, with the Lions in the Bears' red zone, Major Wright picks off Matthew Stafford.

Jay Cutler has 6 INTs this season, which is 4th in the NFL. The Bears defense has bailed him out on half of them. That is not going to continue. Cutler has to do a far better job protecting the football. 

4) 49ers (2-2)

The 49ers are hard to figure out. They looked very impressive Week 1 against a very good Packers team, and they steamrolled the Rams Week 4. However, in Weeks 2 and 3, they were bullied by the Seahawks and Colts. I think we saw some of that last year as well. The Giants took it to the Niners last year, and SanFran was blown out in Seattle last year as well. The difference is that we saw teams play well against the Niners less frequently last year.

3) Packers (1-2)

In their 2 losses, the Packers have put up 28 and 30 points on the road against two very talented defenses, the 49ers and Bengals, respectively. Coming off their BYE, the Packers will face the following defenses:

As it is, Aaron Rodgers is already averaging 352 passing yards per game. That might even go up. In you're a fantasy football owner, lob in a trade offer for Aaron Rodgers or any of their three wide receivers. See if someone is stupid enough to bite.

2) Saints (4-0)

No team that has employed Rob Ryan as their defensive coordinator (9 seasons) has ever had a winning record. That is going to change this year. All the Saints need is a competent defense to compete, but their defense has been more than just competent. It's allowing 304.5 yards per game (6th in the NFL) and 13.8 points (5th in the NFL). This is one year after the Saints set a record for allowing the most yards in NFL history.

1) Seahawks (4-0)

The Seahawks are fun to watch... for now.

They dance with the cheerleaders:

Their young fans have dads who look like Marty Schottenheimer, who aren't afraid to interact with lunatics.

They hug opposing players after they force turnovers:

They golf clap when the other team scores:

They do this:

And they taunt the Redskins:

But if they start winning Super Bowls, they are going to get really annoying.

Jimmy Kempski Philly.com
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