Pep in His Step– The finger pointing is well underway in Indianapolis and unfortunately for Pep Hamilton he had three fingers pointing back at him. Everyone knows that it’s simply not all of the offensive coordinator’s fault. When your Pro Bowl quarterback is constantly harassed behind an over-matched offensive line all season the number one agenda on any team’s list in the offseason would be to get some help at those key positions. The Colts decided to play fantasy football and add a big name wide receiver and a big name running back. Even last season in Luck’s career year, he made a habit of starting the games slowly then coming alive in the second half, virtually willing his team to victory.
Now that the wheels are coming off the wagon and the offensive line has gone from bad worse, Luck’s late game heroics are coming up short and people are scared they are going to lose their jobs. Pep Hamilton may be the first to go but head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson are firmly on the hot seat. This was a Hail Mary firing, poised only to appease an impatient owner and greedy fan base that demand changes be made to a team flailing at 3-5 but still very much in the hunt for the division title thanks to the ineptness of the rest of the AFC South.
Everyone Beats the Wiz– Those glory years with the Cardinals seem like they are very far away. Ken Whisenhunt parlayed the second coming of Kurt Warner and a near win in the Super Bowl into one too many chances in Arizona. After finally fizzling out there, he got another chance in Tennessee where he only had five games to coach the franchise savior in Marcus Mariota. In Whisenhunt’s short time with the Titans, the team was 3-20, a mark no coach can convince their boss or fans to ignore. The fact that the organization was, and still is mired in a bit of a leadership vacuum did not do Whisenhunt any favors.
The man that hired him was no longer there and while the decision to move in another direction so soon into Mariota’s career does sound like a knee jerk reaction, this move probably doesn’t happen if Whisenhunt didn’t rub people the wrong way in the organization or if his teams showed an ounce of improvement. He definitely rubbed former quarterback Matt Leinart the wrong way as he was quick to rub salt in his old coaches wound and proclaim that now that Whisenhunt is gone that “Mariota has a shot.” After some time off, Whisenhunt should once again resurface as a coordinator, if he’s so inclined. The future of the Titans is just like the present – a murky mess. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, himself a previously failed head coach gets another audition to show what he can do to improve this team.
Monkey Business in Dallas– As if the cast of characters in the Cowboys organization wasn’t enough, Dez Bryant upped the ante by introducing a pet monkey into the fold. How is there not a weekly Cowboys reality show on television by now, I will never know. It doesn’t even have to be about football as that’s the least interesting thing about this team. After Dez posted the image of his pet monkey to Instagram (which sounds dirty but it’s not), PETA jumped into the fray demanding Bryant set the animal free.
Since it’s illegal to own the animal, the local police were on the case but found no evidence of the monkey’s existence because why should that be the end of the story. I have no doubt that the fans in Dallas will be selling their own versions of the rally monkey outside of the stadium before the next home game. The chances of something bad happening to that monkey with Greg Hardy around seem extraordinarily high. Greg Hardy opted to sign a hundred dollar bill instead of a Panthers mini-helmet for an autograph seeking fan this week, so I can only imagine how much an autographed monkey can fetch. I can’t wait to see what these guys are up to next week.
Clean Sweep – Two weeks ago, the Jets faced the Patriots for the first time this year and came up short in their first big test of the season. It seems that the Jets and the NFL came up short in another way during that game as well. While the Jets appear to be moving forward with the Rex Ryan antics of the previous seasons and the embarrassing fiasco of Eric Mangini before that, some members of their staff still hold very real and very deep hard feelings toward their bitter rival.
Prior to the game, a sweep of the Jets locker room was conducted in an effort to find any spying or listening devices. The Jets were initially cleared of requesting such a search but there was a report that Jets Security Director Robert Mastroddi inquired about the presence of two Patriots employees on the sidelines and had NFL Security look into it.
While these two men ended up being responsible for the handling of extra batteries for the referees stadium microphone, the heightened awareness of possible wrong doing involving the Patriots is at an all time high. Perhaps it’s nothing more than paranoia but not only are visiting teams playing it safe, the Pats themselves have reportedly asked for locker room sweeps prior to the visiting teams arrival for fear another team may attempt to plant a listening device. Now I’m losing track of who thinks who is spying on who. So far though, the only thing the Patriots are sweeping are their rivals in the AFC East.
I Left My Team in San Francisco – Two years ago, this team was in the Conference Finals, one win away from a Super Bowl appearance. This week they are starting Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and some guy I never heard of until last week at running back. Things are not going well in the post Jim Harbaugh era. The exodus of retired players was the big story of the offseason but Colin Kaepernick was at one point the next big thing in the NFL and now, that’s just a faded memory.
Lost in the fog that is rolling into the bay, the 49ers are now a team ready to tank their way to the number one pick. Prior to his benching, long-time tight end Vernon Davis voiced his displeasure with the play and attitude of his quarterback while one of Kaepernick’s offensive lineman, Joe Staley, came to his defense in a boisterous players only meeting. Two weeks later, Vernon Davis was shipped out from the only team he has ever played for in exchange for a few late round picks and Colin Kaepernick is getting a chance to see the game from the sidelines in hopes of re-charging his batteries. Everything that could have gone wrong in San Francisco has gone wrong.
1. New England Patriots (7-0), last week 1: Yada yada, undefeated season, yada yada Tom Brady.
2. Denver Broncos (7-0), last week 4: We got a glimmer of that old Peyton and they added Vernon Davis to help out. Oh, and that defense is pretty good.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-0), last week 3: Sometimes you have to win ugly on the road in the division.
4. Green Bay Packers (6-1), last week 2: We finally found Rodgers Achilles heel, all you have to do is have the best defense in the league.
5. Arizona Cardinals (6-2), last week 5: Everything is clicking for the Cards.
6. Carolina Panthers (7-0), last week 6: I keep resisting putting the Panthers in my top 5 but a win against Green Bay next week forces my hand.
7. Atlanta Falcons (6-2), last week 7: The hot start is a distant memory but there’s still time to turn things around.
8. New York Jets (4-3), last week 8: This team is teetering on the edge of disaster.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4), last week 9: Ben should be back to being Ben this week.
10. Minnesota Vikings (5-2), last week 11: The quiet 4-2 Vikings are now a quiet 5-2 and now are a top-10 power ranked team.
11. St. Louis Rams (4-3), last week 14: You can win by throwing the ball all over the place or by having a solid defense and run game. The Rams have the latter.
12. Seattle Seahawks (4-4), last week 10: This team barely beat a team led by Matt Cassel at home. What is happening?
13. Indianapolis Colts (3-5), last week 12:Iif only Luck can play the entire game like it’s the last quarter.
14. Buffalo Bills (3-4), last week 13: The Bills need Tyrod back immediately.
15. Oakland Raiders (4-3), last week 17: The Raiders are buzzing and face a big test on the road in Pittsburgh where they’ve played surprisingly well in the past.
16. New York Giants (4-4), last week 15: Maybe Pierre Paul is the spark that defense is waiting for?
17. Miami Dolphins (3-4), last week 16: And the good times came crushing to an end against the Patriots as reality struck.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4), last week 18: Was the bye week enough for Chip to fix the Eagles offense?
19. New Orleans Saints (4-4), last week 23: It’s the defense’s turn to match the success of the offense this week against the lowly Titans.
20. Chicago Bears (2-5), last week 21: With Forte gone for the next few weeks, things are going to get a bit worse.
21. Dallas Cowboys (2-5), last week 19: Cassel was not the answer although the team played well overall.
22. Washington (3-4), last week 22: This team has a lot of issues and playing the Pats out of the bye is #1.
23. San Diego Chargers (2-6), last week 20: The Chargers are running out of gas and healthy bodies.
24. Baltimore Ravens (2-6), last week 24: There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Baltimore so let’s cheer Tucker’s new dance.
25. Cleveland Browns (2-6), last week 25: I’m sure the Browns will play tough and lose again this week.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4), last week 31: I admit it, I have underestimated the fight in this team all year.
27. Kansas City Chiefs (3-5), last week 26: The Chiefs are 2-0 since losing Charles. It makes no sense to me either.
28. Houston Texans (3-5), last week 30: If you just lost your starting running back you better hope the Titans are next on your schedule.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5), last week 38: After the bye, the Jags hit the road to pounce on a vulnerable Jets team.
30. Tennessee Titans (1-6), last week 29: The Titans are hoping a coaching change can spark some wins.
31. San Francisco 49ers (2-6), last week 27: The Gabbert era is upon us, just as we feared.
32. Detroit Lions (1-7), last week 32: The Lions are so bad that the two teams above them in this power ranking fired their coach this week and benched their quarterback.