Quarterback Weekly: Brady’s 400

Depending on your age, ethnicity, national citizenship, etc. it is likely that you’ve never seen the movie Brewster’s Millions starring legendary comedian Richard Pryor. Now, as you might have guessed based on our history together, what I am about to say has nothing to do with the actual plot or context of the movie which, of course, I have not seen myself. The only reason I even brought it up is because I had a great idea for a spoof of the movie called “Brady’s 400” in honor of Tom Brady throwing his 400th career touchdown pass against the Jaguars this past Sunday. The tagline would be something like “If you had 13 years to throw 400 touchdown passes – how would you do it?” At this point you’re probably thinking “hey, wait a minute, hasn’t Tom Brady been a starting QB for 14 years?” but NOT SO FAST! If you’ll remember with me, difficult as it may be to recall that rueful day, Brady lost a season due to an ACL tear at the hands of noted Patriots hitman Bernard Karmell Pollard. And oh, what a tragic day that was when New England’s 18-1 revenge campaign was cut short before it even began. Worry you not, however, because I’m sure the subject of a Patriots revenge tour will surface somewhere in this week’s edition of…(wait for it)…Quarterback Weekly!

What did you guys think about the SNL-type cold opening? Clever or just trying too hard? Drop a comment about it on your way out! Anyway, while Tom Brady may have reached yet another great milestone this weekend, the 31 lesser quarterbacks who started in Week 3 certainly gave us plenty else to discuss. There were terrifically timed touchdown tosses, insanely ignorant interceptions, and even frantically flipped first downs! Extra points awarded to me for muscling out that alliteration run. To the quarterbacks, shall we?

Going into Monday Night Football’s Chiefs-Packers matchup, a Kansas City wide receiver hadn’t caught a touchdown pass since Dec. 8, 2013. THAT WAS 21 GAMES AGO, PEOPLE. 21 games without a touchdown from a wide receiver, who just happen to be the league’s primary scorers these days. Well that very odd streak was put to rest in the third quarter when new Chief Jeremy Maclin created some space in the middle of the field and Alex Smith, despite his burning desire to check down and flip a screen pass to Jamaal Charles, hit him between the numbers as his momentum carried him into the end-zone. In all honesty seeing this streak come to end makes me a little sad. It was one of the weirdest happenings in sports and we were damned lucky to have it. So while many of his teammates may be patting Smith on the back for getting that odd monkey off of his back, I’ll give him an #AttaBoy for the assumption that he’s planning to ignore his wide receivers for at least 27 more games starting next week. There’s hope for us yet!

Your next course is a heaping helping of Black & Silver because we’ve got to talk about how Derek Carr is beating the “sophomore slump” stigma in style. Last season I was blown away by Carr’s deadly precision and willingness to sling the football into unimaginably tight windows. Those attributes were on full display in Week 8 when the then-rookie gave Seattle all they could handle in a 30-24 loss at Century Link field. Of course, as with any talented rookie, Carr was burned by his own confidence when a back-shoulder pass to Andre Holmes was picked off by Richard Sherman on the sideline, helping the Seahawks seal their win. Back here in the present, Carr showed off his improved timing and accuracy on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts against the Browns (he went 20-32 for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns in the game). In case I can’t manage to track down video evidence of that beauty, allow me to put my legendary story-telling skills to use for your benefit.

Lined up in the slot, Seth Roberts hesitated as the outside receiver cut to the middle of the field, running a basketball-like screen on his own defender. With the newly-liberated space around him, Roberts ran a hitch-and-go (which is when a receiver pretends to run a short route – the “hitch”, but instead turns away after halting the defender and heads deep down the field – the “go”) and caught a perfectly-thrown pass from Carr as he ran into the end zone. Carr made what NFL talking heads would call a “veteran throw”, meaning the timing and accuracy required to successfully complete the throw are at a level of difficulty usually reserved for much more experienced quarterbacks. What made the toss so great is that the football left Carr’s hand as soon as Roberts turned out of his hitch route and landed in his arms exactly when he passed the cornerback and turned his head. Even though the defender had managed to catch up to Roberts, the ball was there before the poor guy ever had a chance to locate it. Noted friend of the Redding Report/4th & Gyas Sergio Guerra Jr., Raider Enthusiast, was quoted saying that watching the touchdown “felt as if I had lost a puppy and then it returned into my arms, and it was glorious.” So that should fill in any gaps left un-filled by this vignette.

After you take a second to come to terms with the Raiders being 2-1 and boasting one of the most talented young teams in the NFL, feel free to strap in, because we’re about to enter some territory yet to be precedented here at 4th & Gyas. We absolutely have to talk about the Minnesota Vikings; there’s just no way around it at this point. Here’s the M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong plot twist: the big ticket is actually their defense. I know this is Quarterback Weekly where we discuss the various successes and maladies of quarterbacks from around the league, but the thing here is that as long as Minnesota’s defense exists, those same quarterbacks have become something of an endangered species. In the past two weeks, while facing the Lions and Chargers, the Vikings defense has recorded 20 hits on Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers and boy do those guys look unhappy about it.

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The scariest part is that those 20 hits exclude Minnesota’s six sacks and the (mostly) unrecordable pressure on any play when the QB is not hit in some manner. It’s also, again mostly, impossible to keep track of how hard a quarterback is being hit, but I think the fact that San Diego called a timeout on Sunday just to let Philip Rivers breathe after being hit by Anthony Barr is a pretty good indicator of where the impact would rank on a scale. So far this season Minnesota has only allowed four passing touchdowns and will face a tough test this Sunday as they try to Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. Old Man Noodle Arm may have a quick release, but we all know things turn sour when his protection falls apart. The Manning-faces from that game should be glorious.

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If you’re quite finished with the appetizers I’d love to serve you the main course. Since the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl last February, the media force-fed “Deflategate” controversy has dominated sports headlines. Talk show hosts, judges, and any amount of random idiots have all taken their shots at Tom Brady’s expense. Now that we’re actually back to football it looks like Brady will have the last laugh. Three games into the 2015 season, Brady has thrown for 1,112 yards and 9 touchdowns (including that 400th) with a whopping ZERO interceptions and is showing no signs of slowing down. As a point of comparison, Peyton Manning has thrown for 755 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions over that same span. During their undefeated start to the season which will be so rudely interrupted this Sunday by their very early bye week (I see you, NFL) Brady has led the Patriots offense to 119 points. Teams expecting to face this Tom after his named was thrown in the mud and spat on this offseason should prepare themselves for this version of Brady:  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Two-Minute Drill

It’s time for America’s favorite game: the Two. Minute. Drill!! It took me a lot longer than I was expecting to get my thoughts out last time, so let’s all take a second and think about what to say. Ready? Go!

  • I have no words for the way the Chiefs imploded on Monday night, but if I forced myself I’d go with: trash, garbage, hot garbage, and embarrassing
  • The Cardinals are the scariest team in football right now. Carson Palmer is taking whatever he wants, and that defense is doing the same. Two pick-six plays in ten minutes!!
  • It looks like it may be a lost season for the Baltimore Ravens (0-3) who went from being the AFC’s last hope against the Patriots; Indy was never a factor, to washed-up bottom feeders. Ouch.
  • The Bengals are really starting to utilize their wealth of offensive weapons. Should Andy Dalton turn out to be an actual quarterback, the AFC’s playoffs race might get a lot more interesting.
  • Confirmed: Jimmy Clausen is not a starting quarterback for completely valid reasons, in spite of where he was drafted. I mean did you see that loss to the Seahawks? Woof.

It’s uncanny how blank my mind becomes every time I start that gosh-darned timer! This has been Quarterback Weekly, don’t forget to stop by the comments section or express your undying abhoration for this column at thegyasishoes@gmail.com or @4thandGyas on Twitter. Until next time, folks!

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