11.10.2005
 
Thursday Football (II)
    Detroit - Minnesota | Houston - Jacksonville

    Detroit Lions:
    Minnesota has been solid against the run lately, so the 58 yards Detroit gained in this game was a combination of them losing Kevin Jones, their offensive line struggling, and Minnesota stopping them. That said, having Arizona come into Ford Field this week may be the best thing the Lions could get. Things were so bad in week nine that Joey Harrington was the team's leading rusher.

    The only thing good I can say about the Lions at the mid-way point is at least they're not taking a lot of penalties. After their week 10 game against the Cardinals, there is a very good chance the Lions will not win another game this season.
    TARGETS(catches):
    Vines- 15(9)
    MWilliams- 9(4)
    Pollard- 7(4)
    Bryson- 6(6)
    Pinner- 3(2)
    Schlesinger- 3(2)
    Fitzsimmons- 1(0)
    Jones- 1(1)


    Minnesota Vikings:
    It's amazing what something as wild as running the ball, using a smart and controlled passing game, and a good run defense can do for a team. So not after losing Scott Linehan, not after losing Randy Moss, not after losing Matt Birk, but finally, after losing Daunte Culpepper, the Vikings decided it was time they needed to change the way they call plays. What took you so long?

    Brad Johnson makes this a better team simply because he gives them a different identity; one I've been saying they've needed since the season opening loss to Tampa Bay. Johnson uses his short and intermediate routes better than Culpepper and the former Super Bowl champ gets the ball out of his hands quickly. And the Vikings are 1-0 with him as a starter.

    Holy cow Michael Bennett was fired up to play this game. I haven't seen him run like that in years. I won't get too excited, however, because Bennett is still a guy who's going to lose two yards on every third carry.

    Nate Burleson looks healthy again and he made a nice effort on his touchdown catch.

    As for the mid-season stats, throw them out. I'm looking for this team to redefine itself. They have to. Or they'll be gone.
    TARGETS(catches):
    Williamson- 6(3)
    Taylor- 4(4)
    Burleson- 3(2)
    MRobinson- 2(1)
    KRobinson- 2(1)
    Kleinsasser- 2(1)
    Wiggins- 1(1)
    Moore- 1(1)
    Bennett- 1(1)


    Houston Texans:
    Jonathan Wells showed in this game versatility than I thought he had. Wells was solid in all aspects of the game, but he did not excel in any. He's still a stop gap. The Texans as a team used more short pass plays and quicker drops. The results weren't great, but they were better. And right now for Houston, that's the best they can do.

    The Texans rank in the bottom third of the league in nearly every statistical category on both offense and defense. In fact, the only thing they are doing well right after eight games in returning and covering kicks.
    TARGETS(catches):
    Johnson- 11(9)
    Bradford- 7(5)
    Wells- 5(5)
    Morency- 3(1)
    Gaffney- 2(1)
    Armstrong- 1(1)
    Rivers- 1(0)


    Jacksonville Jaguars:
    With Fred Taylor out again, I am pleasantly surprised to see that Jacksonsville is giving Greg Jones a majority of the team's carries. I like Jones and I don't think the move to fullback was the best idea for him. Jones can really move for a guy that big and strong; as he showed on his game-winning 12 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Houston. The Jags put in Alvin Pearman on passing downs, and he does a good job there too. Pearman could probably produce on every down, but putting with a guy like Jones back there makes opposing teams take notice of his presence on the field.

    While Jimmy Smith was missing for the first three quarters, Ernest Wilford continued to impress. He's easily the #2 receiver on this team now and ever since the Jags came off their bye week two games ago, Wilford has received the more passes than any other Jaguar.

    Jacksonville's offense isn't putting up any stats that are better than they were last year, but new offensive coordinator Carl Smith is doing a good job of drawing up clever plays when he needs them. The Jags have gotten points in every one of their 16 trips to the red zone this year, and they are tied for 5th in the league in red zone TD percentage (62.5%). On third downs, the Jacksonville is ranked 10th. Defensively, the Jags are around the top 5 in every category except against the run. They are 24th in rushing yards per game and 22nd in rushing yards per attempt. That is a concern.
    TARGETS(catches):
    Wilford- 7(4)
    Smith- 5(4)
    Pearman- 5(5)
    MJones- 4(3)
    Wrighster- 2(1)
    Taylor- 2(2)


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