What have we learned - Week 1
I wondered if Andy Reid would have learned his lesson after the end of last season, when he was kind of forced to run the ball and, surprise! the Eagles made the playoffs. Well, um, no, he didn't learn his lesson. McNabb, coming off major surgery, was back flinging it around, and he's not 100%. Meanwhile, Brian Westbrook rushed 20 times, which isn't bad, but the rest of the team (McNabb included) rushed 9 times. Westbrook averaged 4.3 yards a carry, which isn't bad, but Correll Buckhalter carried 4 times, and Tony Hunt, who last year at Penn State proved he could carry a heavy load, didn't get in the game. The Eagles need to run the ball, and they didn't, because Andy Reid is an idiot. Meanwhile, three turnovers led to 13 Green Bay points. The first poorly caught punt was one thing, but with a minute left, one timeout, and the ball coming down at your own 30-yard line, why are you even trying to catch it? Green Bay is going to down it near that spot anyway. After Lewis muffed the first punt, I didn't even want Philly to send anyone back to receive punts. Just let them drop! Of course, Nancy Boy Favre had ONE good drive, and the announcers couldn't stop slurping him. He did absolutely nothing to win that game for Green Bay, but that's all we heard about. God, I hate Nancy Boy Favre. The Eagles always seem to have weird games like this, where they're clearly better than the other team but somehow give it away (see Tampa Freakin' Bay last year), so maybe this will get it out of their system. Sheesh. RUN THE BALL, ANDY REID!!!!!!
Turnovers: Eagles 3, Packers 2. Final score: Green Bay 16, Philadelphia 13. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 1-0.
Indianapolis is pretty much in another galaxy of football, probably occupied only by New England. However, I'm not as sold on New Orleans as everyone else seems to be. They may win the division because two of the teams in it (Atlanta, Tampa) stink, but I get a "one-year wonder" vibe from them. I didn't watch any of the game, but I notice the Saints got no sacks. Teams need to sell out and try to sack Manning. It probably won't work, but that's the only way you have a chance. He and his receivers are too good.
Turnovers: Saints 3, Colts 1. Final score: Indianapolis 41, New Orleans 10. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 2-0.
You probably couldn't have paid me to watch the Denver at Buffalo game, but it turned out pretty dramatic. I did see a great call late in the game, when Denver picked up a 3rd-and-3 with a designed run by Jake Cutler - and not a draw, but a roll-out. Nicely done. I don't want McNabb to run that often, but I'm amazed they don't call one or two designed runs for him a game. Anyway, the big news out of this game is that a Bills player might be paralyzed. That sucks. I'm astonished that this happens fairly regularly in football (not too often, of course, but enough times to be noticeable), yet nobody says much about it. It's nice that the NFL is studying concussions, because this is just an amazingly violent sport.
Turnovers: Broncos 1, Bills 1. Final score: Denver 15, Buffalo 14. It's a wash.
Did anyone really think Cleveland had a chance? Really? I wasn't expecting such a big beatdown, but I didn't think the Browns would really be close. They don't even know who the quarterback is, for crying out loud! To add insult to injury, Dallas holds their first-round pick next year, so even if they suck (which they will), they won't be able to pick a decent running back like Steve Slaton or Darren McFadden. Poor Cleveland. They've never recovered from having the franchise stolen from them.
Turnovers: Browns 5, Steelers 1. Final score: Pittsburgh 34, Cleveland 7. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 3-0.
St. Louis was playing pretty well against Carolina, when suddenly they fell apart. The Rams are pretty much the same team they were last year - somewhat explosive on offense, and wildly underrated quarterback who gets no protection, and a weak defense. All of that adds up to 8-8 again. Why Marc Bulger signed a long-term deal with them instead of becoming a free agent is beyond me. They don't care about keeping him upright. Meanwhile, I watched a bit of the Panthers on offense, and although I still think Jake Delhomme is overrated (based on one season, everyone thinks he's great), they have more receivers than Steve Smith and a decent running game. If Delhomme doesn't lose them games (in the past, he seems to have some Favre in him), they could win the division, especially if I'm right and the Saints aren't as good as they were last year.
Turnovers: Panthers 2, Rams 2. Final score: Carolina 27, St. Louis 13. It's a wash.
I laughed while I was watching ESPN this morning. One of the dudes was mercilessly bashing Joey Harrington for his performance yesterday in the first game of the post-Vick era. The host asked him if the Falcons should sign Byron Leftwich, and the dude said no because the Falcons don't have a good offensive line. Yet he bashed Harrington! Guess what? No quarterback looks good without an offensive line, even someone who can get away from the rush like Vick. How can you judge Harrington when he was getting smacked around all game? Harrington didn't play great, of course, and he needs to cut down on the interceptions, as both of his were returned for touchdowns. And I think we need to stop anointing the Vikings. They got two touchdowns off turnovers and one on a broken play. They're not bad, but let's see how they do down the road with that (essentially) rookie quarterback.
Turnovers: Falcons 2, Vikings 1. Final score: Minnesota 24, Atlanta 3. Turnovers = loss? Yes, directly in this case. 4-0.
There were some people who actually thought the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets could hang with the Patriots. HA! I didn't watch much of this game, but it was like a small-time college program going against one of the big boys - they hung around as long as they could, and then the talent just took over and the Pats blew them out. I guess Jets fans cheered when Chad Pennington got hurt and Kellen Clemens came in. You stay classy, Jets fans! And for anyone slurping Randy Moss after one game, of course he's going to do well in his first game! Let's see how he does after a couple of months and he decides to stop running routes.
Turnovers: None. Final score: New England 38, New Jersey Jets 14. It's a wash. New England didn't need any turnovers, because they were just so much better.
I didn't watch ANY of the Miami-Washington game. Two lousy teams beating on each other. Blech. And then it went to overtime! Sheesh. When you have bad teams like that, the refs should just call it a tie and send everyone home. Why torture their fans any more than you have to?
Turnovers: Washington 2, Dolphins 1. Final score: Washington 16, Miami 13. Turnovers = loss? No. The Dolphins are too shitty to take advantage! 4-1.
Tennessee rushed for 282 yards. 282 YARDS!!!!! I'm still not sold on Vince Young, but he doesn't have to do anything if they're rushing for 282 yards. Good god, that's a lot. I guess teams are going to have to stack the box against them, because he still doesn't look terribly comfortable when he's going back to throw. I still have no idea why people think the Jaguars are any good. They've been overrated for about three years. They have talent, but all you have to do is smack them in the mouth and they fold like a plastic chair. Here's something odd: Dave McGinnis is the linebackers coach of the Titans. He used to coach the Arizona Cardinals. Dirk Koetter is the Offensive Coordinator of the Jaguars. He used to coach the Arizona State Sun Devils. On the radio this morning, one of the sports talk show hosts said he told McGinnis last week that if the Titans stuff the run early, Koetter would give up on it and throw all the time, because that's what he did at ASU. I'm sure McGinnis could have figured that out by himself, but is that kosher, for a "journalist" to be giving coaching tips to someone who could use them? It was really strange listening to it.
Turnovers: Titans 1, Jaguars 1. Final score: Tennessee 13, Jacksonville 10. Another wash.
Another game I completely skipped was the Kansas City-Houston tussle, but I was somewhat surprised by it. I wasn't surprised too much that KC lost, but I was a bit by Houston's dominance. I'm not the first to say it, but I wonder how the Falcons are feeling now that they let Matt Schaub go? I know Larry Johnson held out and might not have been ready, but he got only 10 carries. It was only 10-0 at halftime. I don't want the Chiefs to kill Johnson because he's a Penn Stater and I feel bad for him, but they need to ride him if they have any chance at having a good season. It's nice to see Mario Williams have a great game. It's not his fault they took him over Reggie Bush and Vince Young!
Turnovers: Chiefs 4, Texans 2. Final Score: Houston 20, Kansas City 3. Turnovers = loss? Yes, and one fumble was returned for a touchdown. 5-1.
I love how people say that Oakland has a pretty decent defense simply because teams didn't slaughter them last year. Well, when you know one touchdown will win the game, why push yourself so hard? Detroit went out and moved the ball up and down the field, and looked pretty impressive. I'm not saying they're going to win 10 games like Jon Kitna seems to think, but any road win in the NFL is good. The Raiders are just awful. It's so weird. They can't do anything right. Sebastian Janikowski missed three field goals, probably because he plays for the Raiders.
Turnovers: Raiders 3, Lions 2. Final score: Detroit 36, Oakland 21. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 6-1.
I guess Chicago's defense it still pretty darned good, but they aren't going anywhere with that offense. They got rid of Thomas Jones, and Cedric Benson does not seem ready to carry the load. And Rex Grossman is really, really, really awful. Man, he stinks. Meanwhile, the Chargers played decently enough to win, and they got some turnovers (shocking!) to shorten the field. My question for the vaunted Chicago defense: If LaDanian Tomlinson runs parallel to the line of scrimmage, why don't you KNOW he's going to throw a pass? Sheesh. Everyone in the universe knew he was throwing a pass, except for about five or six people in the Chicago secondary.
Turnovers: Bears 4, Chargers 2. Final score: San Diego 14, Chicago 3. Turnovers = loss? Yes. It would have been a bigger margin if the refs hadn't missed an obvious offsides call on a Bears fumble recovery. What morons those refs are! 7-1.
Seattle beat a Tampa team that might go 4-12 again. I didn't watch much of it, but it appeared that the only way Tampa could stop Seattle was if they let the receivers go wide open and hope they drop the ball because they were stunned at being so wide open.
Turnovers: Buccaneers 2, Seahawks 1. Final score: Seattle 20, Tampa 6. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 8-1.
I missed the entire game last night. Man, I guess I should have watched it! What we did learn was that the Giants are worse than we thought, and the Cowboys might be worse too. We also learned that the Giants' season might be over, as Brandon Jacobs got beat up and Eli Manning will be out for a month. If the Eagles get their heads out of their asses, they might win the division easily.
Turnovers: Cowboys 2, Giants 1. Final score: Dallas 45, New Jersey Giants 35. Turnovers = loss? No. 8-2.
Look at that: teams that won the turnover battle had an .800 winning percentage. That ain't bad. I wonder if you shouldn't turn the ball over in the NFL?
Meanwhile, Penn State beat up Notre Dame, which I figured they would as long as they didn't turn the ball over. They did early and Notre Dame was in the game. Once they settled down, Penn State beat them badly. I watched this game on ESPN, and I was sick by the praise heaped on Jimmy Clausen, the Notre Dame QB. Dear Lord, he didn't do anything! The only thing he did was not screw up. He certainly didn't do anything to win the game. College football continues to be topsy-turvy, as Oregon stomped on Michigan and pretty much sealed Lloyd Carr's fate, but the wildest game was probably South Florida going to Auburn and beating them. Yes, the University of South Florida. Man, that was a wild game. The Big 10 really stinks this year, by the way. Ohio State struggled to beat Akron. Wisconsin struggled (on the road, it should be noted) to beat UNLV. If Penn State can get past Michigan on the 22nd in Ann Arbor (which is going to be tough, despite the Wolverines' struggles), they might run the table. That would be nice.
Another year of football! Isn't American great?