BY ZACHARY KRUEGER
Twitter - @CentralBirdland
I said it a few weeks ago that out of all the 3-0 teams, the Ravens were the flukiest of the bunch. You probably doubted me, hated me, and wrote me off (after just my first Rundown article), and now you are starting to nod your head in agreement. Did you really think a 3-0 team that narrowly escaped games with teams who were at the time, a combined 1-8 had already proven their meddle for the 2016 season? Did you really think that the team that had the "best defense" in the league through three weeks was actually making a case as a contender because they defeated Tyrod Taylor, Josh McCown and Blake Bortles?
If you did, and if this recent two-game skid came as a shocker to you, I'm sorry you didn't hear me sooner. Marc Trestman was fired earlier this morning, and he was part of the problem, but it extends well beyond him.
I'll try to break this down for you once again, and also point out some other things going on around the league, and if your fantasy team sucks, I'll let you know why. Your Monday Rundown starts right now.
From 5-11 to Immensely Talented?
The Ravens lost 16-10 to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, dropping their record to 3-2, and exposing the once undefeated roster on multiple levels. CJ Mosley had a play that should have turned the momentum in Baltimore's favor, but ironically enough, ended up being an interception that gave the Redskins a 17-yard gain. I can't even talk about it anymore, but here it is if you'd like to see it.
There might be short-term memory loss going on throughout the greater Baltimore area, and anywhere else relatively close to there (shout out Glen Rock/Hanover, Pennsylvania), but there seems to be an overwhelming agreement that the Ravens have a talented roster that should be playing well above their last two performances.
This is the same Ravens team who allowed the fifth most touchdown passes in 2015. Yes, they did makeover their pass defense a little bit from last year, but new names don't necessarily lead to more production when it's the ones who struggled last year that are struggling again this year.
Highly criticized cornerback Shareece Wright (who was a healthy inactive yesterday) started seven games for the Ravens in 2015, and has started four this season, opposite Jimmy Smith. You don't have to go too far into the depths of Ravens twitter to figure out the type of season Wright is having in 2016. He was torched for three touchdowns in Week 4 by Michael Crabtree.
Even Jimmy Smith, who started all 16 games for the Ravens last year, has been shaky in coverage at times. Don't believe me? Explain the six touchdown passes he allowed last season, as opposed to the six he allowed combined between 2011 to 2014.
Lardarius Webb is also a safety now, but I wouldn't use that to make a case for why the Ravens are suddenly more talented, the roster on both sides of the ball is largely the same. The 5-11 roster of yesteryear is mostly what we have today.
To add to that, the Ravens had the 6th oldest roster in the league to start this season with an average age of 26.43 years old. That may not seem like an old roster, but consider the fact that the majority of starters on the roster are well over that age. I counted 16 starters out of a possible 22 on both sides of the ball combined, include Jerraud Powers who started at cornerback yesterday.
Of course, the one spot where the Ravens are the youngest is the offensive line, and how often does that lead to immediate productivity?
Believe what you want, but I struggle to think that a roster that consists mostly of old players at key positions, who spent last season going 5-11 is somehow a talented roster that is being underutilized. Maybe they just need to get younger.
It's even worse when one of your best pass rushers in the recent years, has seen limited action in two games and has yet to record a sack, much less a tackle. By the way, he's also 32. Looking at you, Doom.
The Ravens also fired Marc Trestman this morning. Firing an offensive coordinator has worked for the Ravens in years past, they did happen to win the Super Bowl in the year they dumped Cam Cameron mid-season and hired Jim Caldwell.
That being said, is Marc Trestman really the problem? What if the offensive line is one of the team's biggest weaknesses (it is), and this "more open playbook" theory isn't smart? Flacco has already been sacked 11 times this year in what people are calling a basic "dink-and-dunk," non-explosive offense. Those offensive schemes are generally run by teams with poor offensive line play in order to keep the quarterback upright, and the Ravens CAN'T EVEN DO THAT RIGHT NOW!
Only nine quarterbacks have been sacked more than Flacco this season, and 11 sacks allowed is the sixth highest total among teams in the league. You can't open a playbook if your quarterback is being sacked with the "boring" playbook. You can't. You can only get more talented, younger and faster at the skill position spots on the field.
Marc Trestman has been lauded throughout his career for being one of the more innovative coordinators throughout his career, he was coaching what was once considered explosive passing offenses, long before the NFL became a pass-happy league. Maybe he was the problem, only time will tell. Or perhaps, Marc Trestman just coached to the Ravens strengths, and it still wasn't enough to win because of the roster talent/experience, or lack thereof.
Only One Undefeated Team Remains, Tom Brady Came Up Short of my Record Prediction, Who is Cameron Meredith, Other Musings
- The Minnesota Vikings have propelled to 5-0 following their victory against the Brock Osweiler-led Texans. Who would have thought that a training camp injury to Teddy Bridgewater, and a season-ending MCL injury to Adrian Peterson would have led to the emergence of Sam Bradford, Jerrick McKinnon and a stout defense? The Vikings are serious Super Bowl contenders folks. And, like it or not Philadelphia, Sam Bradford got traded to the better team, that may just be the one to knock you out of the playoffs this postseason. At least you got that draft pick.
- I predicted that Tom Brady would throw for 556 yards or more and eight touchdowns on Sunday in his return game against the Browns. I came up short, but I think that's okay. Brady still returned every bit as prepared as I expected. The 17-year veteran was 28-for-48 passing, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also threw for 406 yards, making it the eighth time in his career that he has thrown for 400 yards or more in a game. This after taking four weeks off.
- The Chicago Bears hosted a coming out party for second-year, undrafted wide receiver Cameron Meredith. The 6-foot-3, 201 pound physical freak exploded for nine receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts. It came in a losing effort, and Meredith did fumble away a key possession late in the game, but it was a great performance by him nonetheless. He is sure to be a hot waiver wire pickup this season, and could see an expanded role after this weekend, and with Kevin White being on the IR for the remainder of the season.
- LeSean McCoy has been an absolute beast for the Bills this season, and continued his dominance yesterday against the Rams. McCoy amassed 150 yards on the ground, and helped lead the Bills to a 30-19 victory, and they are now 3-2 on the season.
- Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert reminded us why we never want to watch a game that is played between Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert.
- The Carolina Panthers cut their starting cornerback this past week, and have all but held an open tryout for their next cornerbacks. They play Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, and anything less than 400 yards out of Winston might as well be considered an underachievement.
Your Fantasy Team is Horrendous and the Only One Who Doesn't See it is You
If you're like most sports fanatics, and football fanatics, you likely have at least one, if not several fantasy football teams. I have one, and that is more than enough for me, and I'll play my share of daily fantasy leagues each weekend for some added entertainment.
One thing I have realized this season, as I try to exercise more trades than I have in years past, it's that all teams in a league, even ones with abhorrent rosters tend to be absolutely in love with all of their players. I'll give you my own personal example.
In my league, we award quarterbacks points per completion, a half point to be exact. As you'd imagine, that makes quarterbacks incredibly valuable in our league, and Matthew Stafford had the sixth most points of any quarterback heading into his Week 5 tilt with the Eagles.
Since I have Brady returning, I decided to capitalize on my fantasy stud through the first four weeks and propose a trade to a struggling team who has quarterback woes, just to get a player that I may have a need for down the road. I went as far as offering Stafford for Chris Hogan to an 0-4 team, and that trade was denied by a guy who had Joe Flacco and Carson Wentz.
I had multiple teams turn down Stafford, all who had records of either 0-4 or 1-3. They're virtually out of the playoff hunt already, and they still didn't want to take a shot on something new to try and turn their fortunes. Then I got to thinking, this isn't a problem that only I am having, but rather something that is seen across a multitude of fantasy leagues, which led me to wanting to share this with you all.
Folks, stop falling in love with your fantasy roster. More importantly, stop falling in love with your LOSING fantasy roster.
That doesn't mean you have to accept asinine trades, or sell the farm in hopes of something new, but take a good opportunity when you see it. Even at 3-1 (soon to be 4-1), I have contemplated dropping Dez Bryant from my team. Not because I don't think he's any good, but because I have won without him and there are other options out there who are definitely better short-term, and possibly even long-term for this season.
If your team is good, love your roster, but be open to change. If your team sucks, field almost any trade offer possible. Buy high on a player with a breakout game, even if that means dealing one of your high draft picks. You haven't won with that high draft pick, worst case scenario, you keep losing without them. Best case? You just took a gamble and won a few games.
Furthermore, realize that you have no leverage to speak on what a good/bad trade is if your draft was as awful as it was. If you drafted Josh Gordon in round six of 15 in a 12-team league, thinking you were pulling off the biggest sleeper move of the draft, YOU WEREN'T!! Even if he was on the Browns today, right now, you didn't pull off a sneaky move. (FYI: The same guy who turned down Stafford for Hogan drafted Josh Gordon in round six of 15 in my league.)
I say all this not to rant on teams in my league, but because I realize that my situation and my league aren't unique. Knuckleheads everywhere are turning down fair, good trades for a player who may help them, because they are still drooling over their winless/one-win roster that isn't getting them anywhere.
In most leagues, it isn't too late to turn things around just yet, but you need to stop adoring that horribly drafted team of yours and look to others for help.
This Vikings Fan Bit the Head off a Live Fish
In what could only be described as one of the more subhuman moves of the weekend, this adult Vikings fan bit the head off a live fish because he wanted to show everybody how much he loves his football team, and how he is to be every bit as feared as them. He probably also dresses as a clown during the week. Grow up.
...you can view the full video and article HERE.