|G. Newman Lowrance/Associated Press|
|Kansas City Chiefs QB Brady Quinn continued to struggle as a starter Sunday, dropping his career record to 3-10.|
A handful of observations as we turn the page on Week 6 and head into Week 7:
» New quarterback, same issues in Kansas City. There's a reason Brady Quinn has played for three different teams (Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns) during his six-year career, and his deficiencies were on full display in Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quinn mustered just 180 yards despite attempting 38 passes, and also threw two interceptions. Quinn is now 3-10 as a starting QB in the NFL, tossing multiple picks in four of those games. If the Matt Cassel chapter has indeed been written in Kansas City, the Chiefs might be better off seeing what they have in Ricky Stanzi instead of leaving the reins in Quinn's hands for the rest of the season.
» A glimmer of hope. Linebacker Justin Houston has been the sole bright spot in the Chiefs' otherwise completely disappointing season. The second-year player has broken out to the tune of 21 tackles, six sacks, an interception and a safety. In the evaluation period prior to the 2011 NFL Draft, I rated Houston as the second-best outside linebacker (behind the Denver Broncos' Von Miller) and the No. 31 overall prospect in that class. Concerns about Houston's character likely helped drop him into the third round on draft day. Not much has gone right for the Chiefs' defense, but Houston gives fans something to smile about.
» Taking a slight step back. St. Louis Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein has been so impressive that some media members have even floated his name as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate. While that is laughable, he had been nothing short of spectacular leading up to Sunday's matchup with the Miami Dolphins. Zuerlein has a calm demeanor and makes 50-yarders look like chip shots. Week 6 started off well; Zuerlein's two early field goals left him one shy of tying the record for most consecutive makes to begin a career. But then he missed his final three attempts, and his 2-for-5 day ended up being the difference in the Rams' 17-14 loss. So much for those Rookie of the Year dreams.
» Gresham's got the goods. Every year, I find myself more and more intrigued with Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham. He has the potential to be an elite player at his position, but lacks consistency. On Sunday, he showed his skills with a 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown that included a dominant stiff-arm in the Bengals' loss to the Cleveland Browns. If I were Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, I would keep trying to find ways to get Gresham the ball.
» Stafford scuffling. Don't let the Detroit Lions' win over the Philadelphia Eagles fog the continued struggles of quarterback Matthew Stafford. For the first 50 minutes Sunday, Stafford looked atrocious. The Lions' offense didn't convert on a single third down in six first-half chances, and ended up succeeding on just three of 13. Detroit's running game is partly to blame, because the offense is typically in third-and-long situations, but the majority of the weight falls squarely on Stafford's shoulders.
» The one that got away. I wonder what the Houston Texans think about Jacoby Jones' breakout year with the Baltimore Ravens. He's turned into the offensive and special-teams player the Texans always wanted him to be. A perfect fit for the Ravens, Jones is making big-time impact plays, like a third-quarter kickoff return for a touchdown that ended up being a huge momentum-saver in a close win over the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has explosive speed, meaning his blockers don't have to hold their blocks as long as they otherwise might; windows only need to be open for a second for him to burst through on a return.
» End of an era. The Dallas Cowboys deserve credit for holding to their plan to run right at the teeth of the Ravens' defense. Dallas had averaged just 67.8 rushing yards per game through Week 5, but by the end of their first possession on Sunday, they had already totaled 66. The amazing part about the Cowboys' rushing success was that it didn't come from misdirection traps or counters or reverses, just downhill physical runs and blocks at the point of attack. The Ravens had been dominant against the run for the past decade, but the Cowboys' big day just serves as further evidence that opposing offenses aren't scared to go after this unit on the ground.
» Sticking it to 'em. Speaking of teams that committed to the running game, how about the tenacity of New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride? With their game against the San Francisco 49ers still close and the Giants inside the Niners' 10-yard line on Sunday, Gilbride handed the ball to Ahmad Bradshaw three straight times. On the third try, Bradshaw became the first opponent to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers in 14 home games. Bradshaw, by the way, has been awfully impressive over the past two weeks.
Follow Brian Billick on Twitter @coachbillick.