NFL

NFL AM: Dalton Flops In Primetime Again

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Bad Andy Shows Up On Monday Night

Andy Dalton was making a legitimate case to at least be considered for NFL MVP.

He engineered three fourth quarter comebacks en route to leading his Cincinnati Bengals to an 8-0 start.

Still, many were skeptical, and as soon as the skeptics began to disappear, Dalton gave them and Bengals fans reason for concern with the egg he laid on Monday night in the team’s 10-6 loss to the Houston Texans.

The former second-round pick from TCU completed 22 of 38 throws, for 197 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.  He was much worse than the 61.0 quarterback rating would suggest, as Dalton was the catalyst for three drives of three plays or less, and just two scoring drives while reaching the red zone only once.

This was against a pretty mediocre Texans defense which has allowed 23.4 points per game while playing in the worst division in football, the AFC South.

“I feel like it’s 2011,” said reigning defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, who had one of the three sacks of Dalton. “I’m pretty excited. This is an incredible team.”

It’s probably just one bad game and every quarterback has them.

Unfortunately with Dalton’s 0-4 record in the postseason and his team’s struggles in primetime, it’s impossible not to wonder if we’re going to see a repeat of it in January.

Jeff Fisher Sacks Nick Foles

Just nine games into the Nick Foles era error in St. Louis, the Rams are making a change at quarterback.

Foles is being sat down in favor of weak-armed journeyman Case Keenum, who has replaced both Matt Schaub and Ryan Fitzpatrick over the past two seasons.

“We’re going to go ahead and go with Case,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “This is my decision. Nobody came down the hall and said, ‘This is what we need to do.’ The lack of offensive production is a collective effort and coaching. But we need more production, and it starts with that position.”

Foles ranked 29th in the NFL in passer rating (75.9) and 28th in passing yards (1,678). As an offense, the Rams are 31st in yards per game and 32nd in passing yards per game.

Just two weeks ago, St. Louis was 4-3 and in good position for a Wild Card.  After two consecutive defeats to the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, Fisher is looking for a spark elsewhere.

“I don’t expect Nick to like it,” Fisher said. “He’s competitive, but he understands, and we’re gonna move forward here. I’m not saying this is week-to-week, but this is what’s best right now for our team as we move forward, from a production standpoint offensively.”

The Rams acquired Foles in a blockbuster trade this offseason which sent former first-overall pick (2009) Sam Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles, along with a swap of late-round draft picks.  For the Rams trouble, they will receive a 2016 second-round pick from Philadelphia, making the deal less of a bust for the team who doesn’t know where they’ll call home next year.

“By no means do we regret the trade, by no means do we regret the extension,” Fisher said. “Nick is a good quarterback.

“Nick just needs a break. He just needs a break right now. He’s going to continue to work. He’ll run scout team, he’ll be prepared to play, but he just needs to get more experience under his belt in this offense. And we need to do a better job around him. I keep circling back to that. It’s not easy. It’s hard, but to me, it’s the right decision for us moving forward.”

True franchise quarterback’s don’t need “a break,” and the Rams haven’t had one since they let Kurt Warner walk about 10 years ago.  St. Louis has a really nice roster, but they are simply wasting time until they find a legitimate signal caller, and despite all the nice things that Fisher is saying about Foles right now, not so deep down everyone in that franchise knows that they still have a major need at the position.

Rob Ryan Ousted As Saints DC

It was initially reported by Fox Sports that Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan would be allowed to pursue other opportunities and let go by the team, following their 47-14 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Shortly after, in head coach Sean Payton’s press conference, the head coach denied the report.

Later that evening it was confirmed by Payton on his weekly WWL radio show.

“I’m disappointed for Rob it didn’t work out,” Payton said. “I’ll tell you one thing now: He’s a fantastic staff guy, respected greatly, not only in the locker room but by his peers. And we just had to look closely at some point to at least give this an option because the direction we were heading wasn’t good. We really struggled with substitutions, getting lined up, getting guys on the field and being able to function.”

Former Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen will try to make chicken salad out of chicken…well, you know with the Saints defense.

“He’ll be handling everything from A to Z,” Payton said.

The Saints rank dead last in total defense and 31st in the NFL in pass defense.  The team has allowed 14 touchdown passes the past three weeks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Saints became the first team to allow at least four TD passes without an interception in three straight games.

Ryan had been living on reputation a lot longer than production, as his defensive units haven’t been mediocre, much less good in a long time.

Many players complained privately about his defenses being too complicated, and Allen will likely try to simplify things.

We’ll see if there’s improvement as New Orleans sits at 4-6 and tries to get back on the right track to earn a Wildcard.

“Dennis and I have spoken at length and will continue to speak,” Payton said. “I recognize it’s a tough challenge mid-stride.”

Outside of Cam Jordan, the Saints defense has no legitimate stars.  Many of their draft picks in the secondary (Kenny Vaccaro, Patrick Robinson) haven’t worked out and neither has their free agent signings (Jairus Byrd, Brandon Browner).

Ryan’s firing is every bit an indictment on general manager Mickey Loomis as it is on Ryan himself.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.