Paranormal Team Building –
The Arizona Cardinals elected to stay on the East Coast instead of flying back to Arizona in between road games over the past two weeks. The team stayed at the New Orleans Saints training facility in West Virginia at the Hotel Greenbrier over the week. The hotel’s long and storied history and claims of being haunted did not go unnoticed by the Cardinals players. Upon arriving, some players heard a little girl’s voice and other noises that could not be explained prompting some to travel in packs and stick closer together than normal while in the hotel. A few players even went as far as to sleep with the lights on. The poltergeist was no doubt a Steelers’ fan as the Cardinals were easily handled by not only Michael Vick but his back up Landry Jones in the 25-13 defeat in Pittsburgh. The game, however, was secondary to some Cardinals players who were just glad to leave the Greenbrier hotel in hopes of never returning again.
It’s Tricky –
We all know it’s tricky to rock a rhyme and rock that rhyme just in time. The timing is instrumental in pulling off a good trick play. Catching a team off guard or out of position is a necessity. Executing that play to perfection is an equally important part. The Colts did neither. While the punt team ran to the sidelines, the Patriots special teams followed, yet more players remained in position over the ball than the Colts had near it. That’s kind of a problem for pulling off a trick play. In a moment of confusion, the ball was hiked and we had one of the bigger coaching blunders in recent memory. In a play that befuddled everyone watching it, there was not much to say afterwards. Colts coach Chuck Pagano simply reiterated that the play was a case of poor communication. That’s to say the least. The Colts punter expounded yesterday, revealing that the play was practiced all week with safety Clayton Geathers as the snapper. After he was injured earlier in the game, wide receiver Griff Whalen took his spot even though he never practiced it. The last minute wrinkle that the Colts would simply try to draw the Patriots off-side if the look wasn’t there was not passed along to Whalen who made the fateful snap. If there is one positive to come from this debacle, the bumbled fake punt attempt finally got people to stop talking about Deflate-gate. So we have that.
Define a Catch If You Can-
Guys, I have to admit something. I don’t know what a catch is. I thought the explanation on the Golden Tate touchdown in this week’s Lions/Bears game was going to be that the official considered that Tate had caught the ball in the field of play, made a football move, then broke the plane of the goal line. Therefore, his fumble or losing control of the ball wouldn’t have mattered. Watching it live, this is how I was able to make sense of the play in my head. Had Tate caught the ball in the end zone, then it would be a fumble as he failed to control the ball through the duration of the catch. That was not what the official explanation was though. Not at all. Between this play, the infamous Dez Bryant play, and Tyler Eifert‘s play earlier this season, I am really at a loss. When did ruling a catch become this difficult? My only suggestion is that the NFL should hire a common sense official. Just some guy sitting at home alone watching the games that officials can have on speed dial to make the final decision. It has to be better than what we’re seeing now.
Johnny Law –
While the Browns and Josh McCown have been playing well and losing some heart breakers, backup quarterback and controversy lightning rod Johnny Manziel was staying quiet and presumably playing the role of good teammate. Then he and his girlfriend got into a bit of a quarrel that concerned enough passerbys to alert the authorities. From there, Manziel who spent the offseason in a rehab facility admitted to drinking and getting into a verbal altercation with his lady friend. While he was not arrested, it was yet another strike on the one-time and future savior of the Browns franchise. Manziel and his girlfriend have publicly downplayed the event and the NFL will investigate but the Browns coaches and management are preaching privacy. While the tabloids will attempt to have a field day with a very uninteresting event, the Browns will move on. As long as McCown keeps playing as well as he is, they’ll continue to move on the field as well.
Faith and Football –
The Colts busted trick play on Sunday Night immediately brought back memories of the Redskins Jim Zorn era ridiculous attempt at the swinging gate fake field goal trick play a few years ago. Former players Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley were on DC Sports radio to discuss their recollection of that event, one they have tried to forget. As the conversation progressed, Clinton Portis alleged that his former coach lost the locker room by splitting it “between Christians and ballplayers.” Backed by Portis, Chris Cooley revealed that if you didn’t share former head coach Jim Zorn’s beliefs and faith, in life and in his West Coast system where Bill Walsh was the deity, you were more or less shunned. While the revelation is a bit surprising, Zorn would have probably had no problem getting players to convert if they were winning especially if it would have led to the promised land, in a Super Bowl lifting the Lombardi.
London Calling Again?
The Miami Dolphins got off to a very underwhelming start and by the time the team flew across the pond to play the Jets, the curse of London was willing and ready to claim another coach. This week the Buffalo Bills will meet the Jacksonville Jaguars and while Rex Ryan and the Bills are in a bit of a tailspin, the bombastic head coach is in zero danger of losing his job. You can’t say that with the same confidence toward the coach on the other side of the field this week. Gus Bradley, the once leader of the Legion of Boom, has not exactly righted the ship in Jacksonville as he enters his third season. The Jaguars have only had one winning season in the past 10 years and rebuilding takes time but the Jaguars do not seem to be a team on the brink of taking even a baby step, let alone a big one toward a playoff berth. At 1-5, the Jags are failing to reach even the lowest of expectations and a poor showing in London (a second home of sorts for this franchise) will do nothing but make Gus Bradley’s seat quite a bit hotter.
1. New England Patriots (5-0), last week 1: Brady nd Company didn’t put the pedal to the medal but they made their point anyways
2. Green Bay Packers (6-0), last week 2: The Packers defense had it’s hands full trying to keep Rivers out of the end zone
3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-0), last week 3: Cincy followed up last week’s emotional win by stomping the Bills on the road
4. Denver Broncos (6-0), last week 4: The defense is so good they’re now defending Peyton from the naysayers
5. Arizona Cardinals (4-2), last week 5: Zona had no answer for the Steelers third string quarterback. It was that kind of week.
6. Carolina Panthers (5-0), last week 9: a huge win for a young team that is believing in themselves
7. Atlanta Falcons (5-1), last week 6: the perfect season ends at a predictable place – in New Orleans
8. New York Jets (4-1), last week 10: the first real test for this Jets team comes in this week against the Patriots
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2), last week 11: It will be Landry Jones‘ turn to keep the ship afloat for one more week
10. Indianapolis Colts (3-3), last week 12: Luck returned but it wasn’t enough to beat the Pats on Sunday Night
11. Seattle Seahawks (2-4), last week 7: I’ve been hesitant to drop them much in the rankings but it’s now time
12. Buffalo Bills (3-3), last week 8: this team needs a bye week badly but they have to fly to London first
13. Minnesota Vikings (3-2), last week 13: sometimes you have to win ugly
14. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3), last week 15: see above
15. Dallas Cowboys (2-3), last week 17: Matt Cassel, come on down, you’re the next contestant to start for the Dallas Cowboys
16. St. Louis Rams (2-3), last week 20: the next five games are very winnable but that all depends on which Rams team shows up for them
17. New York Giants (3-3), last week 14: the Giants failed to take early control of the NFC East by not showing up on Monday night
18. Miami Dolphins (2-3), last week 25: the coaching change breathed life into all facets of this team
19. Oakland Raiders (2-3), last week 23: The Raiders come off their bye and head to their division rival in sunny San Diego
20. San Diego Chargers (2-4), last week 16: it’s almost time for that Chargers second half run
21. Cleveland Browns (2-4), last week 24: Cleveland once again, comes up short
22. Houston Texans (2-4), last week 28: Hoyer wins and lives to start another week
23. Baltimore Ravens (1-5), last week 19: This, this is not a very good team
24. Chicago Bears (2-4), last week 26: of course the Bears gave the Lions their first victory on the year, why wouldn’t they
25. Kansas City Chiefs (1-5), last week 21: things were bad and continue to get worse
26. Tennessee Titans (1-4), last week 22: Mariota’s hot start is a distant memory and now an injured MCL makes things worse
27. Washington (2-4), last week 18: after barely losing to the Falcons, the Redskins got blown out by the Jets
28. New Orleans Saints (2-4), last week 27: for one day, the Saints played like the team they once had
29. San Francisco 49ers (2-4), last week 29: in the last two weeks Kaepernick is playing like he has nothing to lose, which is a good thing
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3), last week 30: the Bucs come off their bye and head to DC in a bid to get to .500
31. Detroit Lions (1-5), last week 31: it wasn’t easy but the Lions emerged victorious for the first time this year
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5), last week 32: will London claim another head coach? another head coach?