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The Two Minute Mojo 1/21/14
By John Whalen
Special to paydirtfootball.com

The Two Minute Mojo

Off The Charts (This Season’s Statistical Standouts and Trend Setters)

WR Torrey Smith (6’1”, 200lbs, 28yrs old, 88ovr, 96spd, 96acc, 97agi, 86cth) of the San Diego Chargers has to be looking around to see if anyone else wants to share the load. Coming out of week 12, the speedy Smith has amassed 1,190 receiving yards….. That’s as many as the next three Chargers combined. When you add in his return numbers you get a whopping 2,527 all-purpose yards with 5 regular season games to go. “Yo, Torrey…….if you’re not too tired we could really use your help on defense.”

Speaking of Defense…. The Pittsburg Steelers are fielding a unit that lives up to Steel Curtain standards. Steelers’ Coach Mike Ryan calls it, “Organized pressure. We bring pressure without leaving our secondary out to dry.” With a week 12 win over the Bills behind them, the Steelers’ D is now averaging only 241.8 yards allowed per game. Lead by a salty group of veteran linebackers, they give up only 74.2 yards rushing per contest. Opponents are earning a measly 29% third down conversion rate, and the Steelers have racked up 32 sacks on the season so far.

Oh, Yeah……Sacks. Has anyone noticed that with five games left to play, quarterback Andrew Luck (92ovr, 93thp, 89tha, 89awr) of the Oakland Raiders has hit the dirt 36 times? Owch. I know he’s putting up some big numbers, but will he live to tell his grandkids about them? We’ve seen worse protection, but maybe the Raiders should spend some time working on ways to keep their 24 year old franchise quarterback upright? The Mad Bomber thinks he has the solution, “No joke! Offensively we look good on paper but when it comes to gameday, it just not holding up. Aside from that, every team knows that the Raiders are a passing team and they come up with their blitz schemes to get to Luck. We just need to use the two halfbacks formations. I beleive that's what need to work on or next season and bringing in a new offensive coordinator will surely help us.” Well… Let’s all take it easy on poor little Andrew till they work things out. What do ya’ say?

Welcome to the Show (Rookie Spotlight)

Running back Eddie Lacy (85ovr, 88spd, 92acc, 92btk) of the Kansas City Chiefs was drafted with the first pick in the second round this past off season. With 11 games played in his rookie season he has 1,004 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns. Lacy would seem to fit Coach Mike Kleinknecht’s system, reminding some of Rams’ RB James Carter who Kleinknecht developed during his tenure in St. Louis. Lacy is 5’11” and 231 pounds with good strength and a great ability to break tackles. Kleinknecht doesn’t hide his enthusiasm when asked about adding Lacy to his Chiefs’ roster, “I'm a run first coach. So I need a HB that smashes people and tires them down over the course of the game. My offense is Eddie Lacy.” You boys in the AFC West better buckle up your chinstraps. Looks like you’re gonna be knockin’ heads with Lacy for years to come.

The Good, The Bad, and The Uglies (Noteworthy Performances)

The Good: Patriots MLB Jerod Mayo (6’1”, 242lbs, 30yrs old, 93ovr, 84spd, 84str, 86awr) had two picks and a forced fumble (which the Patriots recovered) in a critical week 12 win vs. the Packers. The Pats had their own turnover troubles, but when one of your guys single-handedly produces three takeaways in a game of this magnitude you gotta give him his props. Coach Rob Brick is doing a great job with the Patriots and Mayo is a centerpiece of his tough defense.
The Bad: Colts’ QBs combined for 38%, 99 yards, and QB ratings of 46.6 (Manuel) and 25.5 (Clausen) vs. the Texans in week 12. I know the new coach, Kevin Close, from the CCFL and I am certain he will get it fixed in Indy… But maybe a little Wildcat formation wouldn’t hurt while those QB’s get up to speed?
The Ugly: My “Big Ugly” Award goes to Steelers’ Center, Maurkice Pouncey (93ovr, 6’4”, 324lbs, 26yrs old, 99str, 96rbk, 97pbk) who had 7 pancakes and no sacks allowed vs. The Bills in week 12, leading the Steelers’ ground game to 205 yards and a cloud of dust. That’s a pretty impressive performance for a Center.

The Locker Room (Injury Updates and Player/Coach Movement)
On the Shelf: Two of the highest rated players that have been sidelined for the foreseeable future are FS Jairius Byrd (90ovr, 89spd, 90awr, 78tak) and QB Jay Cutler (94ovr, 94thp, 92tha, 83awr). Losing FS Jairius Byrd for the season continues to create problems for the Bills in coverage and run support. The Bills have been shuffling the secondary since Byrd’s loss. Browns’ veteran QB Jay Cutler is done for the year, but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Cleveland has taken advantage of the opportunity to look at other potential starters and isn’t missing Cutler’s high interception numbers.
On the Mend: Cardinals’ QB Mark Sanchez (94ovr, 89thp, 95tha, 89awr) will return soon and likely revitalize a dangerous passing attack in Arizona. Coach Tim Poteat is chomping at the bit to get his trigger man back in place for the playoff push.
On the Move: The Denver Broncos have introduced Kenneth Washington as their new Head Coach and expect his leadership to bring defensive savvy that has been lacking in the Mile High City as they hope to finish the division race in contention. Washington is a well-rounded coach and had this to say about taking over a strong Broncos team, “Sure.. I"m excited about the opportunity given to me in this league, I am also excited about the team handed down to me and I will do all in my power to continue the winning traditions established.”

The Snap Count (Eye Catching Numbers)
626- Yards After First Contact for Patriots RB Arian Foster (92ovr, 6’1”, 229lbs, 30yrs old, 91spd, 85btk)
62.8- Average Yards Per Catch for Lions RB Jahvid Best (87ovr, 95spd, 96agi, 95acc, 76cth)
38- Catches Allowed by Titans CB Cortland Finnegan (83ovr, 86spd, 96awr)
18- Tackles For a Loss by Eagles MLB Kelvin Sheppard (84ovr, 83spd, 79awr, 88tak)
1- Touchdown Reception by Broncos TE Kyle Rudolph (6’6”, 260lbs, 26yrs old, 92ovr) before recent coaching change

Extra Points (Keep Your Eye On)

Here are a couple of teams to watch in the tight race for the NFC’s final playoff spots… The Packers and the Cardinals. Coach Nick Bond arrived a little too late to salvage the Packers’ season and the prognosticators seem to be counting out The Cards for some reason. What about these two teams as spoilers? I know, I know… The Cardinals still have a good shot at making the playoffs. I’m not saying they won’t. In fact, after a brief chat with their coach, I may be a believer. Regardless, I’m just sayin’….don’t underestimate the impact of these two teams on the race.

The Cardinals have the Saints, Chargers, and Buccs yet to play. They are expecting the return of starting QB, Mark Sanchez, and aren’t intimidated by the upcoming schedule. Coach Poteat is confident in his Cards, “If we can get Sanchez back healthy sooner than later then we have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs. We have lost 2 straight with Sanchez out. We have no intention of being a spoiler. We simply have to find a way to make things work for 2 weeks with poor QB play.” When the Cards’ passing game is working, they can be really tough to slow down. Rest assured that the team doctors in Arizona are doing all they can to patch Sanchez up as soon as possible.

The Packers recently defeated contending Bills and Bears teams, and still have the Lions and Saints on their schedule. They won’t make the playoffs this season, but they don’t mind ruffling a few feathers while sending notice that the future has arrived in Green Bay. Coach Bond’s take, “I strongly believe we're one of the most talented teams in the league, and I think there's plenty to back that up. Since I've been given the opportunity to start coaching the team, we're 2-1 and have performed extremely well in most metrics that I consider important measures of success. We've yet to have a quarterback pass for over a 50% completion rating against us in that period of time, have completely dominated against the run, and have improved our turnover differential by a huge amount. Our running game has become consistent and we're having success in the passing game against a lot of different looks. Teams who come to Lambeau and expect an easy win are in for a surprise. I'm extremely confident about next season with the pieces we have in place and feel that we can beat any team in the league if the pieces fall in place."

Keep an eye on these two teams to see if they ultimately dash someone’s hopes or shake up the playoff seeding. The Saints have both teams on their remaining schedule.

Gridiron Perspective
“I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault.” -JACK TATUM
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