Week six saw the Green Bay Packers remain unbeaten, defenses gain an upper hand over offenses for the first time this season and the Oakland Raiders pull off one of the biggest trades in recent history. Sports News Ireland reviews week six in the NFL.
Carson Palmer Traded to Raiders
The major story of the week was undoubtedly Carson Palmer’s bumper trade from the Cincinnati Bengals to the Oakland Raiders. Palmer had tried unsuccessfully to force his way out of Cincinnati, threatening to retire rather than play another down for the Bengals. Owner Paul Brown responded by refusing to trade the quarterback and Palmer chose to retire.
That all changed on Tuesday. The Raiders lost starting quarterback Jason Campbell to a broken collarbone and made an audacious bid to prise Palmer away from the Bengals. Oakland offered a first round draft choice in 2012 and a conditional second round pick in 2013, which rises to a first round pick if the Raiders make the AFC Championship Game in the next two seasons. The offer was too good for Paul Brown to turn down.
It was a steep price for the Raiders to pay for a 31 year old quarterback who has not had an elite season since 2006. Oakland are 4-2 and have not had a winning season since 2002, so desperation may have played into their decision making process. The Raiders are clearly mortgaging their future, as the franchise only have fifth and sixth round draft choices in 2012 and have already lost a high draft choice in 2013.
The Raiders will be hoping that Carson Palmer can rediscover the impressive form of his early days in the NFL. The quarterback entered the league as the number one overall draft pick in 2003 and, after spending a season on the bench, took the NFL by storm. Palmer earned two Pro Bowl berths and ended the Bengals 15 year playoff drought. Since 2007, however, Palmer has been a mediocre quarterback, never finishing with a quarterback rating of over 86.7. Overall, Palmer has thrown for 22,694 yards and 154 touchdowns.
The Raiders also renegotiated Palmer’s contract, giving him a $2.5 million guaranteed deal for the rest of this season, $12.5 million with $5 million guaranteed in 2012, $13 million in 2013 and $15 million in 2014.
The Bengals now have a promising young quarterback and wide receiver and are armed with a plethora of future draft picks. If Andy Dalton continues to impress, the future looks bright for Cincinnati.
Crazy Trade Season
Palmer’s blockbuster trade was not the only transaction to be made before the trade deadline. Brandon Lloyd, who led the league with 1,448 receiving yards in 2010, moved to the St. Louis Rams from the Denver Broncos for a sixth round draft pick, which could improve to a fifth round pick based on his performance. Lloyd’s contract expires after the season and the Broncos were eager to receive something for him.
Last season was Lloyd’s only elite season in his eight year career, but he will immediately improve the Rams’ ailing wide receiver group. The Broncos will now rely on young receivers Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal to help second year quarterback Tim Tebow.
A potential trade between the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions may have helped to save a life. Ronnie Brown was set to join the Lions in return for Jerome Harrison and a seventh round draft pick. During Harrison’s physical, however, doctors discovered a brain tumour. The trade may well have saved Harrison’s life. Harrison is not expected to play for the remainder of 2011.
Defense Strikes Back
After the first five weeks were dominated by high-powered offenses, defense struck back this week. In the 13 games played on Sunday and Monday, only two teams managed to score over 30 points. The Atlanta Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers 31-17, while the Chicago Bears comfortably beat the Minnesota Vikings 39-10. Nine teams topped 30 points in weeks one, three and four. Six and eight teams scored more than 30 in weeks three and five respectively.
49ers For Real
The 49ers have been quietly impressive this season, with their suffocating defence helping them to five victories. Sunday’s 25-19 win over the previously undefeated Lions in Detroit was a statement victory that confirms the 49ers are for real. San Francisco have now beaten the Philadelphia Eagles 24-23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-3 and the Lions in consecutive weeks.
The up and coming defense has been immense for the 49ers so far this season. The defense only rank 13th in yards allowed, but are fourth in points allowed (97), joint third in fumbles recovered (six) and joint fifth in interceptions (eight). The 49ers are the cream of the admittedly weak NFC West and could be a serious competitor in the playoffs.
Brady Pulls Through
For the second time in a year, a Rob Ryan led defense managed to stifle the New England Patriots offense. The Patriots had scored over 30 points in 13 straight matches, the second longest streak in NFL history, but the Dallas Cowboys held New England to 13 points for the first 57 minutes of Sunday’s match. The last time the Patriots failed to reach 30 points Rob Ryan was also the defensive coordinator. Ryan’s defense held Brady and co. to 14 points as the Browns surprisingly won 34-14.
Sunday will not be remembered for the Cowboys defense, however, but for Jason Garrett’s tentative play calling and another last drive victory for Tom Brady. The Dallas Cowboys led 16-13 with 3:36 to play in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys had the ball at their own 28 and the Patriots had three timeouts remaining. Rather than throwing the ball and trying to win the game, Garrett elected for three running plays and Dallas were forced to punt.
Brady had been held to 19/32 for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the first 57 minutes of play, but came through for the Patriots on the last drive. Brady completed eight of nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, including the game-clinching eight yard pass to Aaron Hernandez with 27 second left.
All five of the Cowboys matches have now been decided by less than four points, but Dallas have now fallen to 2-3. Meanwhile, the Patriots improved to 5-1 and Bill Belichick’s team now sit atop the AFC East.
The Race for Luck
For some of the NFL’s weaker teams, finishing last may not be the worst thing. The reason: Andrew Luck. Luck is a 22 year old quarterback for Stanford and is reportedly one of the best quarterback prospects to emerge from college football in years. The team with the worst record will have the opportunity to sign Luck with the first pick of the 2012 Draft. For the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5), Indianapolis Colts (0-6), Carolina Panthers (1-5), St. Louis Rams (0-5), Minnesota Vikings (1-5) and Miami Dolphins (0-5) this may be some small solace.
Even if the Jaguars, Panthers, Rams and Vikings choose to stick with their own young, upcoming quarterbacks and the Colts rightly keep one of the NFL’s best ever quarterbacks in Peyton Manning, a host of teams will want to trade for the talented Luck.
Week 6 Notes
Drew Brees became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 350 yards in four consecutive games.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won their 116th match together. The pair are now tied with Don Shula and Dan Marino.
Aaron Rodgers became the first quarterback to start the season with a quarterback rating of over 110.0 in six consecutive matches, an NFL record.
The 2011 Draft saw a surprising number of quarterbacks chosen early and the majority are already starting. Four of the six quarterbacks picked in the top 40 are now starting for their team. The Tennessee Titans’ Jake Locker and the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick are the two remaining back-ups.