Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2021 Week 16 Part Two
Welcome to Part II of my Monday Morning Quarterback Post for Week 16. This the second half of my Christmas weekend review, which is supposed to be a merry time of celebration. However NFL fans got a kick in the crotch on Tuesday with the passing of NFL royalty.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend
While I was working on this post I saw the horrible news that John Madden had passed away on Tuesday at the age of 85. What a loss. It’s hard to think of another person who made a greater contribution to the rise in popularity of the NFL.
Younger fans only know him as the face of the NFL’s most popular video game and folks a little older can’t forget his presence in the broadcast booth, but Madden was an athlete and a great football coach. He was also a helluva personality.
John Madden was drafted as an offensive lineman in 1958 by the Philadelphia Eagles. His pro career ended soon after when he injured his knee in training camp. He had injured his other knee in college. Yet Madden was all about football, so since he could no longer play he became a coach. He bounced around several colleges before landing the role of defensive coordinator at San Diego State. He caught the eye of Raider’s owner Al Davis, who hired him as a linebacker coach in 1967.
Two years later Davis made Madden the head coach of the Raiders, the youngest head coach ever at the age of 32. Davis was mocked at the time, but Madden made people eat those words. Over the next ten seasons he compiled a regular season record of 103-32-7 and led the Raiders to a Super Bowl title. Damn, he averaged 10 wins a year when they played a 14 game schedule. He never had a losing season. Madden still holds the record for the best winning percentage of any NFL head coach with over a hundred wins.
Madden retired after the 1978 season and went into broadcasting. He quickly became a superstar at CBS, calling all of the big games for years with his partner Pat Summerall. Madden broadcasted like he coached, with excitement and passion. BOOM! he hollered when a big hit was made. He was the best.
His popularity rose as he published several funny and also educational books about his life in football. I recommend reading Hey Wait a Minute I Wrote a Book, One Knee Equals Two Feet and All Madden. You won’t be disappointed.
John Madden was also known for his funny commercials for Miller Lite beer. Check this one out:
In 1994 CBS lost its NFL contract to Fox. Madden became a free agent and every network wanted him. Fox got him by paying Madden more money than any NFL football player made at the time (estimated $7 million dollars a year) and agreeing to hire Pat Summerall. John was such a giant personality and so important to the NFL he was worth it.
He would later go on to work for ABC and NBC. When he retired at the end of the 2008 season he reportedly had 3 years and $30 million left in his contract. John won 16 Emmy awards for broadcasting in his career. The NFL finally put him in the Hall of Fame in 2006, about twenty years too late in my opinion.
I could go on and on, but it’s time to get on to the games. That’s what Madden loved. Rest in peace big guy, you will never be duplicated.
Cowboys 56 No-Names 14
It was a glorious ending to my holiday weekend as my Dallas Cowboys destroyed the No-Names of Washington on Sunday night. The Cowboys played a near perfect game on offense, defense and special teams. The No-Names looked like they have given up on this season, the only fight they showed was on the sidelines as two defensive lineman threw some punches at each other.
Dallas received the opening kickoff, but after failing to make a first down they punted. They wouldn’t punt again until garbage time. Washington threw a deep pass with their first offensive play and it was intercepted by Trevon Diggs. Why would you challenge Diggs right out of the gate? It was Diggs’s league leading 11th interception of the season, the most by any NFL player since Dallas cornerback Everson Walls had 11 in 1981.
At this point the Cowboys began their assault on Washington. They marched right down the field for a TD and after a Washington punt they drove right down the field again for another TD. The No-Names got one more possession in the 1st quarter and Taylor Heinicke was picked off by defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence, who rumbled down the field for a 40 TD return. Dallas led 21-0 after the 1st quarter.
The No-Names had the ball first in the 2nd quarter and scored their first TD. That seemed to piss the Cowboys off. Dak Prescott caught on fire and led three more TD drives before the break. Dallas led 42-7 at halftime. Good night.
With such a huge lead, the Cowboys pulled many starters early in the 3rd quarter. That didn’t mean they were done scoring however. Cory Clement blocked a punt that Dallas recovered for a TD and backup quarterback Cooper Rush led a TD drive of his own in the 4th quarter to put Dallas up 56-7. The No-Names pulled starters as well and their backups got a garbage time TD right before the game ended.
I know Washington stinks out loud, but it was exciting to see what the Cowboys were capable of when the entire team was hitting on all cylinders. Dak Prescott (28/39, 330 yards, 4 TDs) was damn near unstoppable. He had 300 passing yards and 4 TDs at halftime. And man did he spread the ball around, connecting with nine different receivers and throwing his 4 TDs to four different guys. Cooper Rush (2/3, 70 yards, 1 TD) threw his TD pass to a fifth different receiver. Everybody was open!
The passing game was so explosive that the ground game never really got going because they weren’t needed. Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard only got a few carries each before the backups took over, but they both looked good. Especially Zeke as he bulldozed a few No-Names on an 11 yard TD run.
The Dallas defense had the Washington quarterbacks running for their lives all night. They recorded five sacks and two turnovers. Just an awesome performance. This is what good teams are supposed to do, kick the ever loving shit out of bad teams. The Cowboys improved to 11-4 and have clinched the NFC East. They currently have the #2 seed in the NFC, right behind the Packers. They’ll need Green Bay to drop a game to move up and I don’t see that happening. The Cowboys will host the Cardinals next week.
I’ve got nothing to say about the No-Names outside of the fact that they were terrible and embarrassed themselves in prime time. They looked like they’d have rather been home for Christmas. Washington fell to 6-9 and they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. They host the Eagles next week.
Upset Of The Week
Texans 41 Chargers 29
The Houston Texans are a bad football team. They came into Week 16 with a 3-11 record and two of those wins came against Jacksonville, which shouldn’t count. Part of the reason they are so bad is they can’t run the ball. The Texans average 77.4 rushing yards per game. Yuck. Yet this week they piled up 189 yards on the ground and got another good performance from rookie quarterback Davis Mills to stun the Chargers 41-29 in the upset of the week. Houston was a whopping 12.5 point home underdog.
What the hell Los Angeles? The Chargers are supposed to be fighting for their playoff lives. At this point of the season every game is a playoff game. How could you get outplayed by one of the worst teams in the league? The Chargers got run over by a team that can’t run and lost the turnover battle 3-0.
This game was close entering the 4th quarter as the Texans held a slim 17-15 lead. Then Houston erupted. The Texans had the first possession of the quarter and scored a TD with a Rex Burkhead TD run. The Chargers took possession and promptly fumbled the ball back to Houston. The Texans kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 27-15.
The Chargers then retaliated with a TD of their own to cut the deficit to 27-22. At this point the Texans slammed the door shut on Los Angeles. Davis Mills led a TD drive and then Justin Herbert threw a pick-six. Boom the Texans were up 41-22 with two minutes left. Los Angeles scored a meaningless last second TD to make the final score look a little better.
By far the best game the Texans have played this season. Nobody has talked much about rookie quarterback Davis Mills (21/27, 254 yards, 2 TDs), but outside of a couple of clunkers against the Colts and Bills he has looked pretty good with limited talent around him. He certainly has played better than most of the higher profile quarterbacks taken in this year’s draft.
He got a lot of help this week from Rex Burkhead (22 rushes, 149 yards, 2 TDs), who smashed the Chargers defense. The Texans defense is bad, but they forced three important turnovers that the offense converted into 13 points. The Texans improved to 4-11. They will travel to San Francisco next week.
The Chargers playoff hopes took a massive blow. They dropped from the 6th seed to outside the playoff standings. They need to win out now and get some help. Justin Herbert (27/35, 336 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) made two critical turnovers that helped Houston ice the win. He’ll have to take better care of the ball going forward.
The Chargers defense was a joke. Aside from Jacksonville, no team had let the Texans score more than 22 points in a game this year. Hell the Texans were shut out twice and failed to reach even 10 points in three other games. Los Angeles fell to 8-7 and will host the Broncos next week.
Around The League
Bears 25 Seahawks 24
The weather in Seattle gave football fans a treat: a game played in the snow. Who doesn’t love a football game played in the snow? Well maybe the Seahawks don’t. They collapsed in the second half and let the Bears steal a wintry win.
Seattle played well for three quarters, leading the Bears 24-14 entering the 4th quarter. Yet things soured for the Seahawks from there. The Bears opened up the final period with a field goal to cut their deficit to 24-17.
Seattle got the ball and had an opportunity to push their lead back up to two scores. A couple of big runs moved them inside the Bears 10-yard line, but Russell Wilson got sacked on 3rd down. Seattle had to try a field goal from only 39 yards and they missed. It came back to haunt them.
Later in the quarter Nick Foles engineered a long drive that culminated with a TD. With only a minute left in regulation the Bears trailed by 1 point, 24-23. Now the Bears faced a serious decision: kick the extra point and go to overtime or go for two and win the game here. The Bears made the ballsy decision to go for the win. Why not? When you’re 4-10 you might as well show some guts. Foles found Damiere Byrd in the endzone and the conversion was good.
The Seahawks had a little bit of time to pull a Christmas miracle from their dupa, but it didn’t happen. The Bears escaped town with a 25-24 victory.
Coming back from a 10 point 4th quarter deficit was a nice present for Bears fans who have suffered this season. With Justin Fields injured, Nick Foles (24/35, 250 yards, 1 TD) led the offense. He was garbage in the first half, but recovered to lead two long TD drives in the second. He didn’t get a lot of help on the ground as David Montgomery (21 rushes, 45 yards, 1 TD) led a committee that only gained 88 yards on 30 carries.
The Bears improved to 5-10. I doubt this win will save Matt Nagy’s job, but it will be a nice memory of his time in Chicago. At least his team hasn’t quit on him. The Bears will host the Giants next week.
It’s been a season to forget in Seattle and Week 16 was no different. The Seahawks had control of this game and let it slip through their fingers. Russell Wilson (16/27, 181 yards, 2 TDs) threw a couple of TD passes, yet he still doesn’t look great after injuring his thumb. He got plenty of support from running back Rashaad Penny (17 rushes, 135 yards, 1 TD).
The Bears held possession for over 38 minutes and the Seattle defense looked spent by the end. The Seahawks fell to 5-10 and were officially eliminated from the playoffs. Where does Seattle go from here? Pete Carroll isn’t interested in a re-build and Russell Wilson might not want to stay. Seattle will host the feisty Lions next week.
Buccaneers 32 Panthers 6
The Buccaneers were missing a lot of weapons on offense for this game, but they still had an ace up their sleeve: angry Tom Brady. Brady was pissed the Bucs got shutout last week by the Saints and he wasn’t going to let that happen again. It turned out he didn’t have to work very hard to toss up 32 points on the Panthers.
Playing at home, the Panthers actually got off to a good start. They forced Tampa to punt on the game’s opening possession and came back with a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. It was all downhill from there.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn responded for the Bucs with a 55 yard TD run. Tampa led 19-6 by halftime and kept tacking on scores in the second half while the Panthers floundered. If Tampa had to push the gas they could have scored a lot more. They spent most of the final two quarters running the ball to drain the clock.
Tom Brady (18/30, 232 yards, 1 TD) welcomed back Antonio Brown (10 receptions, 101 yards) by giving him a lot of targets. The running game did most of the work as Ke’Shawn Vaughn (7 rushes, 70 yards, 1 TD) made the big play and Ronald Jones (20 rushes, 65 yards, 1 TD) did the heavy lifting.
The defense had a field day, sacking Carolina quarterbacks seven times and stopping both 4th down attempts. Easy win for the Bucs, who improved to 11-4. Tampa has already won the NFC South and now the only question is where they will be seeded. The Bucs head to New Jersey next week to face the Jets.
The Panthers are a mess. Head coach Matt Rhule decided to use both Cam Newton (7/13, 61 yards, 1 INT) and Sam Darnold (15/32, 190 yards) at quarterback. Both stunk. But they were better than the running backs. The committee ran the ball 9 times for 15 yards. Yikes. The Panthers fell to 5-10. They travel to New Orleans next week.
Eagles 34 Giants 10
The first half of this game was one of the ugliest things I’ve ever witnessed. It was disgraceful. The Eagles forgot they are a running team and tried to pass the ball with little success. In fact they were lucky a few weren’t picked off. The Giants are a dog shit team and true to form they played like dog shit. The Giants only had 18 passing yards at the break. Somehow both teams managed to kick a field goal and the game was tied 3-3 at the half.
In the second half the Giants kick started the Eagles offense with turnovers and Philly started to run the ball. The results came fast as the Eagles scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter and 14 in the 4th to run away with the win. The Giants scored in garbage time after the Eagles were already headed to the turnpike.
The Eagles tried to use a pass first offense and it was a flop. Jalen Hurts only completed 7/17 passes for 94 yards in the first half. Several of those passes would have been intercepted by a good team. In the second half the Eagles went back to a run first plan and Hurts was much more successful using play action off of the run: 10/12, 105 yards, 2 TDs.
The running back committee didn’t see a lot of action until the second half, but still put up nice numbers: 28 rushes, 123 yards, 1 TD. If head coach Nick Sirianni can’t get it through his head that Hurts is only useful when the running game is flowing the Eagles are going to get bit in the ass. Philly improved to 8-7. They currently hold the final wild card spot in the NFC. It’s looking like the playoffs are becoming a reality for the Eagles. The birds will travel to D.C. next week.
The Giants gave Jake Fromm (6/17, 25 yards, 1 INT) his first career start and it was a disaster. Mike Glennon (17/27, 93 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) relieved him and wasn’t much better. Most of his stats came in garbage time. Saquon Barkley (15 rushes, 32 yards) couldn’t find any space to run because the Eagles had no respect for the Giants passing game. The fact that the Giants offensive line is atrocious didn’t help. The Giants fell to 4-11. They will head to Chicago next week.
Raiders 17 Broncos 13
Both teams entered this game with a 7-7 record and desperately needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive. Las Vegas tried to give the game away on offense, but the defense stepped up to shutout the Broncos in the second half.
The 1st quarter was scoreless, but the Raiders opened up the 2nd quarter with a TD drive to take a 7-0 lead. The Broncos responded with a field goal before the teams traded a few more punts. Then the Raiders started to fall apart.
Josh Jacobs fumbled the ball and Denver recovered on the Raiders 41-yard line. The Las Vegas defense gave them little and the Broncos kicked a field goal. The Raiders got the ball back and on their first play Derek Carr was intercepted. The Broncos returned the ball to the Raiders 1-yard line and Javonte Williams scored a TD on the next play. The Broncos led 13-7 at the break.
The Raiders came out running in the 3rd quarter and marched right down the field to score a go ahead TD. The Vegas defense was still strong and forced a punt. The Raiders had a chance to extend their lead, but Derek Carr was strip-sacked and the Broncos recovered on their own 42-yard line. Denver made it into the Raiders territory, but missed a 55 yard field goal attempt. Their offense was dead the rest of the game. Las Vegas added a field goal in the 4th quarter and won 17-13.
Las Vegas could have had a much easier game if they could have held onto the ball. The defense were the heroes as they only surrendered 158 yards of total offense to the Broncos. Derek Carr (20/25, 201 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble) needs to protect the ball much better. Josh Jacobs (27 rushes, 129 yards, 1 fumble) had a good day aside from his case of butterfingers. The Raiders improved to 8-7 and kept their wild card hopes alive. They are in a dog fight with the Ravens, Dolphins, Steelers and Chargers to claim the final playoff spot. It won’t be easy since they head to Indianapolis next week.
The Broncos are mathematically alive for the playoffs, but in reality they are dead. Too many teams are in front of them for the final spot. The defense played well and won the turnover battle 3-0. Yet the offense was putrid. Drew Locke (15/22, 153 yards) was ineffective and the ground game only gained 18 yards on 16 carries. That is not a typo. Double Woof. Denver fell to 7-8 and will head to Los Angeles to play the Chargers next week.
Chiefs 36 Steelers 10
Man, talk about teams heading in opposite directions. Kansas City has overcome their midseason slump and are streaking towards the #1 seed in the AFC. The Steelers are in serious danger of missing the playoffs as the offense continues to sputter and the defense is running out of juice.
This game was over in the 1st quarter. The Steelers received the opening kickoff and after only gaining a few yards punted. The Chiefs took the ball and easily moved the ball down the field for a TD. Pittsburgh got the ball back and Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted near midfield on their first play. Patrick Mahomes took advantage of the turnover and threw a TD pass to increase the Chiefs lead to 14-0.
The Chiefs added nine more points in the 2nd quarter with a TD (missed extra point) and a field goal. The Steelers made one trip into KC territory and missed a 36 yard field goal attempt. The Chiefs held a 23-0 at halftime. For the fifth game in a row the Steelers were shut out in the first half, something the franchise hadn’t done since 1940. Wow.
The Steelers fumbled the ball with their first possession of the second half near midfield. The Chiefs cashed in the turnover for a TD and went ahead 30-0. It was officially garbage time. The Chiefs started running the ball a lot to bleed the clock. The Steelers offense finally scored a few points after the Chiefs defense quit caring.
The Chiefs took a big lead early and just coasted the rest of the game for an easy victory. Travis Kelce had to sit this game out, but KC didn’t need him. Patrick Mahomes (23/30, 258 yards, 3 TDs) was excellent as Byron Pringle (6 receptions, 75 yards, 2 TDs) had a career game. Andy Reid called 33 running plays (a huge number for him) in order to chew up the clock. The running back committee totaled 127 yards and a TD.
The KC defense sacked Ben Roethlisberger twice and forced 3 turnovers. They didn’t give up any points until they were ahead 30-0. Strong game all around for the Chiefs, who improved to 11-4. Kansas City is the only team in the AFC that has clinched a playoff spot, compared to 5 teams in the NFC. The top seed is theirs to lose. They travel to Cincinnati next week.
The Steelers offense is a fiasco and their defense is wearing down from trying to cover it up. Ben Roethlisberger (23/35, 159 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) is washed up. Najee Harris (19 rushes, 93 yards) has been a lone bright spot, but he is still hampered by the Steelers lousy offensive line. The Steelers fell to 7-7-1. They are still alive, but it’s a crowded field. They need to win out and get some help. They host the Browns next week.
Dolphins 20 Saints 3
Week 16 ended with a Monday night dud. The Saints were bit hard by the covid bug. They were missing a lot of players, including quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill. The defense played great, but the offense was nonexistent.
Rookie quarterback Ian Book (#4 on the depth chart) was pressed into action for his first NFL start. His first pass went for 4 yards. His second was intercepted and returned 28 yards for a TD. It never got much better for Book.
Luckily for Miami their defense chewed up the rookie because the offense struggled some against the stout New Orleans defense. Miami only scored one TD on offense, that came in the 3rd quarter. They did kick a couple of field goals and that was good enough as the Saints never threatened them.
The Dolphins defense really took it to the rookie Book, picking him off twice and sacking him 8 times. Ouch. Tua Tagolvailoa (19/26, 198 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was essentially just a game manager. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (10 receptions, 92 yards, 1 TD) continued to have a nice a rookie season. The Dolphins improved to 8-7. They are still alive in the AFC East, but would need both the Bills and the Patriots to collapse. They currently hold the final wild card spot by tiebreaker. Lots of contenders for the final spot, but the Dolphins hold the inside track. Pretty impressive for a team that started the season 1-7. They travel to Tennessee next week.
Extensive injuries on offense has made this a lost season for the Saints. Ian Book (12/20, 135 yards, 2 INTs) is fourth on the depth chart for a reason. Alvin Kamara (13 rushes, 52 yards) and Mark Ingram (4 rushes, 17 yards) weren’t able to give him much help. The Saints fell to 7-8. Still alive, they need to win their final two games and get a lot of help. It doesn’t look good. The Saints will host the Panthers next week.
That's a wrap for Week 16. The playoff picture is getting clearer, especially in the NFC, but a lot can change in the final two weeks. I'm looking forward to it.
I'm so bummed out about John Madden's death. He was truly one of a kind. Aside from his great coaching career, he taught everyone all about football between his broadcasting and work with his video game.
If you have the time, watch this clip from his Football Life episode on the NFL network. At least the first minute, where Joe Buck of all people does an excellent job summing up Madden's legacy. You have to watch it on Youtube because the NFL owners are the greediest bastards on Earth.
Thanks for reading and feel free to make a comment below.