When you watched the 49ers vs Bears game on Monday Night Football, what were you thinking as Colin Kaepernick lit up the scoreboard? You probably had a mixture of thoughts run through your mind, so let me tell you the most important underlying statement that was made during that game - the 49ers offense as a whole possesses more upside with Kaepernick playing quarterback than it does when Alex Smith is at the helm.
First off, there was a different energy around the team when the offense took the field. I talk about this all the time and it is becoming more evident in today's NFL each week. When a team takes the field knowing what they are going to get - example being the Chiefs defense with Matt Cassel, or the 2011 Broncos with Kyle Orton, their attitude is such that they themselves realize that even if they were to play their best game, that their influence on winning and losing the game is of a limited capacity.
Now when Vernon Davis, Kyle Williams and the big men up front saw the upside of Colin Kaepernick in practice, they realized the possibilities are endless. The crazy thing about the game Monday night was Kaepernick carved up one of the top units in the league by doing things that were considered his weaknesses. His poise in the pocket was excellent, his downfield accuracy was spot-on and his command of the offense was like that of a veteran player. Maybe there is a controversy to the outsiders of the 49ers organization, but people inside of it know deep down that the upside of the franchise is higher with Kaepernick under center over Smith.
If you are a true NFL junkie, you probably don't need me to tell you that once you start to think you have things figured out, NFL parity reminds you that you don't. It is the best and worst thing about the game today. When I say 'get open,' I am simply saying to keep an open mind about every game and every situation that arises. The Texans and Jaguars game from Sunday was a perfect example of the saying 'expect the unexpected.' The NFL is the poster-boy for this saying. Justin Blackmon, a player who had yet to acclimate to the speed of the pro game with his lack of suddenness to separate, broke out in epic fashion. Beyond that, he did it with Chad Henne throwing him the football.
Furthermore, if you were an Arian Foster fantasy owner, you probably thought you were sitting pretty heading into a game the Texans were supposed to control throughout. A game in which Matt Schaub would probably only have to throw 20-22 times in order to stave off the Jags with a healthy lead in the second half. Of course, none of those things happened, in fact, the exact opposite did. Just another reminder that anything can happen, and often does.
Is there any better time of year for the die-hard football fan? Continuous football day and night from Thanksgiving morning til Sunday Night Football concludes with the Packers vs Giants. Whether you are a pro or college fan, it is such an enjoyable time in general, you should always be able to find a game for your taste this weekend.
If you didn't get a chance to watch the Packers vs Lions game Sunday afternoon, I can sum up why the game was so close in about two sentences. Mike McCarthy is becoming very stubborn in his play calling, as he refuses to see the harm it is doing to his offense by continuously running the ball on first and second down. The Packers ran 59 offensive plays, a relatively low number for them, and 29 of them were runs. James Starks and Aaron Rodgers got approximately the same amount of opportunities to make plays in the game. Think about that. All you need to really know is that Rodgers only threw the ball 27 times, and 10 of those went for first downs. The play-calling kept the Lions in the game until the very end. The Pack only won the game by four, and were lucky to do so considering the poor game-plan implemented on offense.
Greg Schiano has very quickly become one of the better coaches in the pro ranks. In just over half a season he has changed the culture in Tampa Bay. Despite their secondary lacking the talent to consistently stop the pass in a passing league, his team has bought in to the idea that they will find a way to win any game. Josh Freeman had lost that mindset a year ago, and usually when a player does, it is gone forever. Schiano's team seems like they really do play to the final whistle, not because it is some cool mantra, but because they honestly believe they can still pull out the win.
I really do hope when Aaron Hernandez returns to the field Thursday night vs the Jets, that he is truly back to full health. In the following weeks, which Rob Gronkowski is expected to miss, if Hernandez is 100%, you are about to witness the career defining breakout of a great player. Hernandez is the kind of talent that other teams in the league start to scout for because when they see him play they realize how dangerous their own team could be with a player of his versatility. If you have Hernandez on your fantasy team, start him with extreme confidence and let's all just hope together that he doesn't miss any more time with an unfortunate string of nagging injuries.
Please everybody enjoy the holidays and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. It's a great time of year to relax and enjoy the world's best sport. Fire off your lineup questions at me on twitter @JLanfranca and thanks for reading again.