The Buffalo Bills annihilated the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday 45-16. Colin Kaepernick went 13/29 for 187 yards and ran for 66 on eight carries. Is he the answer at quarterback in San Francisco? At 4-2 with some impressive defeats under their belt (including their shutout victory against the Patriots in New England) are the Buffalo Bills finally for real?
Mike Emms (Sports Ramble contributor): San Francisco has a lot of problems besides quarterback. Actually Kaepernick is a great fit for Chip Kelley's up-tempo read option scheme, but Chip Kelly may be the largest of culprits with the 49ers right now - his scheme simply hasn't proven to be effective in the last couple of years and defenses have caught on.
Kaepernick is a supremely athletic person who never really was a good quarterback. We all have memories of him slicing and dicing the Packers a few years ago, but when defenses adjusted to him he became mediocre at best. I expect the 49ers to draft a quarterback next year. Kaepernick is simply auditioning for a back up role with another team at this point.
The Bills are putting together a nice run, but its too early to put much stock in their team. Firstly, their best win was against the Patriots 3rd string quarterback. Secondly, Tyrod Taylor has a lot to prove before any of us should believe he has staying power as a successful franchise quarterback. He is super elusive, a good runner, and his pocket presence is improving, but too many of these athletic quarterbacks get hurt or simply figured out by good defenses. Even though they already beat the Patriots, the Bills are still second fiddle in the AFC East.
Erik Ritland (Sports Ramble contributor and podcast host): Colin Kepernick has a sweet ass fro. Other than that, it's pretty much over for him. Not that the 49ers are surrounding him with anything, though. Between Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Colin Kaepernick it's hard to choose which one is the worst.
Last year I got burned by picking the Bills to finally turn around so I viewed them as suspect coming into 2016. At least make the playoffs and get back to me. I'm hoping that prove that to me this year and it appears as if they have the talent to do so.
The Seattle Seahawks beat the Atlanta Falcons thanks to a blown non-call on pass interference against Seattle’s Richard Sherman. Should pass interference be reviewable?
Mike: Firstly, it should be noted that NFL officials do a fantastic job. It's not exactly easy to watch 22 players who could be spread out over a 100 yard field. Under those conditions, human error is not only probable but inevitable.
It's weird that with as much money as the NFL earns, and with as many advances in modern technology as there have been, the NFL hasn't taken more steps to officiate better. For example: video cameras nearly follow every player with multiple angles. Why do the calls even have to be made on the field? I'm sure the NFL could easily conjure up people to officiate from the booth, so instead of a coach challenging a missed pass interference call an official with the benefit of more than one angle can quickly review the play and tell the head referee that their was pass interference over a headset. If penalties ever do become changeable iit should be a referee initiated challenge, not a coach initiated.. Teams shouldn't have to beg for proper officiating or risk a timeout over getting a call correct.
Erik: It'd be nice if they could get everything right - and it's frustrating when they don't - but the NFL is already slow enough. Sure, there's lots of POW and BAM moments, but in actuality the game is already mostly slow running plays, incomplete passes, short gains, and punts. Another time strain would be almost unbearable.
However, it's hard to be completely against the idea of doing whatever is necessary to get the call right. It should definitely be implemented for the playoffs and the Super Bowl so stuff like this doesn't happen.
The Packers performed poorly in their embarrassing loss to the Dallas Cowboys 30-16. What is wrong with the Packers? Will they recover?
Mike: The Packers are about as mysterious as I have seen in the NFL. Over the last 16 games Aaron Rodgers has played diffidently and put up stats resembling Christian Ponder. When asked about what he would do in response to the loss to Dallas, Rodgers said he'd drink some scotch and watch some film; maybe he suffers from complacency? The Aaron Rodgers that took the NFL by storm played with a huge chip on his shoulder and played as well as a quarterback can physically play. Now he is a wealthy man who goes home to sip scotch and cozy up to Olivia Munn.
I usually don't buy these sort of narratives but the other narrative is just too hard to believe. When Aaron Rodgers had Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson he was a defense slicing machine, but is that receiving tandem that much better than Jordy Nelson, Randal Cobb and Devante Adams? How do we explain away the fact that Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson used to be unstoppable on back shoulder throws now they are never on the same page on those plays?
Sure, Mike McCarthy could try harder to add some new wrinkles, but watching the game doesn't give me the sense that the last 16 defenses the Packers faced took away all of the Packers bread and butter plays. This is why everyone keeps waiting for the light to go on and for the Packer's offense to click: not that much has changed since this combination was dynamic.
Erik: The Packers are something like the Minnesota Twins: it'd be easier to list what isn't wrong. Their offensive line is garbage, their receivers are mediocre, they have no running game, and their defense is young and injury-laden. The Detroit Lions are crouching in the rearview mirror. It's shaping up to be a long season for the Packers, and they better take the offseason to fill the gaps if they ever want to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear.
The Packers poor play notwithstanding, the Dallas Cowboys looked impressive, especially quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. What is their future? Should Romo be put back in once he’s cleared to play?
Mike: The success of the Dallas Cowboys is predicated on great line play. Ezekiel Elliott looks like a good running back but his lanes are paved in ways that few running backs ever enjoy. This makes the play action game for Dallas super deadly. I think its always a bad Idea to fall in love with a quarterback after just a handful of games - this is how you end up spending $72,000,000 on Brock Osweiller) - but conventional wisdom states don't mess with it if it isn't broke. Dallas is playing like a top five team in the NFL, what possible value does Romo add?
Erik: What he said.