There are two weeks to play yet but Saints cornerback Brandon Browner has already broken the NFL record for penalties. Browner was flagged for the 23rd time this season (21 accepted) on Monday night. The previous record was set by Texans tackle Chester Pitts in 2003. The list of Browner’s accepted penalties according to Kathleen Terrell at nola.com:
Defensive Holding – 10
Unnecessary Roughness – 3
Face Mask – 3
Pass Interference – 3
Illegal Block Above the Waist – 1
Illegal Contact – 1
Browner was signed by the Patriots in 2014 after spending three years as part of a very good Seattle defense but didn’t prove to be effective without the supporting cast there. After signing with the Saints this season he has been flat out the worst starting cornerback in football, ranking 117 and dead last one the list according to Pro Football Focus. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Browner was out of the league in 2016.
Paul Schwartz at the New York Post comments upon the state of the Giants:
“Gee, wonder how happy the NFL and TV network suits are about their decision to flex Sunday’s Giants-Vikings game to the prime time Sunday Night Football stage on NBC? The Giants could be eliminated before they take the field and might be without [Odell] Beckham, their one true superstar, because of a suspension. “
Beckham has been suspended for the game pending appeal after committing an NFL record six personal fouls with some out of control reaction to the physical coverage he was getting from the Carolina Panthers. The Giants could be eliminated before the game if the Redskins clinch the NFC East with a win over the Eagles Saturday night.
Despite that, I doubt that anyone is regretting the decision to move the Giants. First, the Eagles and the Redskins are both miserable football teams and the game should effectively be a coin flip (the Eagles opened as four point favorites). But more to the point, the game involves the Giants which means CBS and the NFL Network get the New York market. The guess here is that only the Chicago market is more lucrative and that only because the Bears are the only team in town. Like every other NFC North team, the Vikings have a national following and barring a complete collapse they are probably playoff bound.
They could probably find a better game but networks don’t care about the quality of the match up. They care about viewers. Sometimes that means the average NFL fan loses.
Things you should know about the Buccaneers as the Bears head out to face them this Sunday in Tampa Bay:
- Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has 1305 yards rushing on the year in a contract season. That’s only nine yards behind the Vikings Adrian Peterson for the league lead. The Bears did an adequate job stopping Peterson on Sunday and they’ll have to do the same or better against Martin. It will be interesting to see if they choose to put eight in the box against Martin as they did against Peterson or if they choose to try to stop him with the standard seven which has been more their habit this season when facing good running backs.
- Not to be forgotten in the running back mix is Charles Simms. Simms is one of the best at catching balls out of the backfield this year. He is one of only four running backs in the NFL with at least 400 yards rushing and receiving. The others are Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram and Giovanni Bernard. He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Add in the threat of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who returned this month from a shoulder injury that had left him sidelined since week 2, and this is all bad news for the Bears who have struggled to cover both running backs and tight ends with their linebackers. Look for the Buccaneers to take full advantage of that match up.
- Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will have a reasonable opportunity to get back on track this week. Of course, the Bucs defense might be saying the same thing about the Bears. The Buccaneer’s secondary has been their biggest weakness this year. Opposing quarterbacks have completed a NFL high 69% of their passes against them this year. Opponents have a passer rating of 100.3, fifth highest in the NFL, and its 107.9 the past three games. They’ve made Ryan Mallett, Matt Hasselbeck and Case Keenum look like franchise quarterbacks.
- On the other hand, the Bucs have been very good against the run. They held Rams rookie Todd Gurley to 48 yards on 21 carries on Thursday. They are tied with Denver for the league lead at 3.3 yards per carry. Again, this doesn’t bode well for the Bears who rely on ball control and defense when they are playing well.
- This game will be a contest to see who will have the worst first quarter. Like the Bears, the Bucs are becoming notorious for their slow starts. They have averaged just 3.4 points in the first quarter. Greg Auman at the Tampa Bay Times reports:
“‘It affects your game plan when you’re playing from behind, obviously,’ rookie G Ali Marpet said after Thursday’s 31-23 loss. ‘Our mentality is to run the ball first, and it takes you out of that, which is frustrating.'”
Tell me about it.
- The Bucs are also struggling on special teams. They gave up two long kickoff returns to the Rams, a 44-yarder on the opening kickoff to set up a touchdown and a 102-yarder that led to a fourth-quarter field goal. We can hope the Bears are headed in the opposite direction after a good effort Sunday against the Vikings.