This week, I got an unusual (well not that unusual I guess) request. I am going to do it, though I will probably never hear the end of it from the people in my fantasy league and the six people that are probably religiously reading my column now. Here goes. Hi mom. My mother felt left out since I mentioned the senior editor and my wife in my first article and gave no thanks to her for raising me and generally putting up with the terror I caused her as a child. Kidding aside, I would not be the student of football I am in much less here at all without her. Thanks mom for your guidance and support through the years.
Now that you have an insight into my life that you probably weren’t asking for, on to football.
Monday Night Fooball
The Birds and Vikes game on Monday night was billed by some to be a game for the ages based on the explosiveness and fireworks the experts expected to see. Moss always comes to play on MNF, and TO started the season with three TDs in the opening game. I think the only question was would either defense actually show up at the Metrodome? Moss and TO did not stun anyone with their numbers, in fact they failed to meet the expectations set this week. They both had a TD, with 69 and 79 yds respectively. The story was how Jim Johnson’s defense terrorized Daunte, causing two fumbles, one on the goal line preventing a go ahead TD. It seemed to be all downhill from there. Madden finally said something I agree with, when he stated the Vikings need to go down the field with Moss, and just throw the ball up there and let him get it. They never seemed to get that done, and they fell to the Eagles in Philly.
Many teams returned to reality this week. As I predicted (yeah, like I am Nostradamus or something) the league would right itself. Well, sort of. Teams such as Carolina, Indy, and Dallas got back to .500. The fantasy leaders look a little more normal this week. Vinny threw for 300+ again this week, but that just demonstrates the complete lack of a solid running game in Dallas. They rushed for 4.5/carry and 126 yards, but 33 yds came from a fake punt taken by Coakley for 33 yards, leaving them with 97 on 27 carries. Vinny also became only the second quarterback in Cowboys history to throw 300 in back to back games since Dandy Don in ‘67. If anyone predicted that before the season, let me know next week’s lottery numbers. You have to give Parcells credit, though, as he is protecting Vinny like his season depends on it. Truth is, it does. With the stellar running attack and two quarterbacks who have taken, oh about 0 snaps in regular season games, the Boys are pretty much done.
Speaking of reality, are the Jags for real? Do they have the chance to actually host the Super Bowl this year? Well, actually, no. They have been playing stifling defense, and winning ugly in their first two games. They have to prove they can win games on offense for me to become a believer. Now I realize, they won in Buffalo, but Buffalo couldn’t score at a prostitute convention with a grand in their pocket. Time will tell since they play the Colts and Titans twice this year. Those are the teams to beat before the Jags start talking playoffs, much less a super bowl.
By the way, if anyone has taken notice, the Rams just plain suck. Two games so far on turf, and two flops. Luckily, their first game was against Arizona and they just about gave that one away too. In the Rams defense Atlanta is really showing strength, as Vick torched the D for 109 yards on the ground. But, 15 carries for thirty yards is not going to get it done. I really think the problem starts up front, which I like to call Steeleritis. If you cannot run or pass protect effectively, that pretty much leaves one option on offense: punt. Don’t get me wrong, the Rams are still scoring. With decent days from Holt and Bruce, they scored seventeen but Faulk and Jackson have got to get more than twenty touches combined. My wife could get two yards a carry, and she’s pregnant. Marshall, Marshall, Marshall, its time to step up.
Another note on Atlanta: did everyone see Vick get upended on the run for the end zone? That is the kind of hit that will give Jim Mora an embolism. Many more hits like that and he will be watching the Falcons lose from the sidelines just like last year. I know fantasy owners are cheering and holding their breath every time he takes off. One of these days he is going to juke himself into the hospital.
On to other bad teams, the Giants better start making vacation plans for January now, just to get good rates on hotels. We all knew they would be bad; offensive line in disarray, QB controversy, a defense that couldn’t stop traffic, etc. But how bad is it that you get the benefit of seven turnovers and all the offense can muster is 13 points? The defense scored the other TD, and even with seven turnovers the Redskins were in the game the entire time. If Joe Gibbs wasn’t such a devout god-fearing man, I would say check the Washington newspapers for reports of several Redskins found mysteriously dead in the locker room after the game. Maybe Coughlin could fine Strahan for being early again to see if that helps. I’ve got news for you Coughlin, I knew Vince Lombardi, and you’re no Vince Lombardi. Give up on that crap and just coach to win games.
The Ravens should check the transformer on Neon Deion, because the lights are blinking a bit. His hamstring gave out during the game, and I just don’t see the impact I think the Ravens were expecting. Maybe I am being harsh after only two weeks, but I am fully prepared to eat crow if his contribution puts them in Jacksonville. He had a nice punt return for 23 yards, and made on tackle on Plaxico Burress, whom he shadowed when he was on the field. He tackled him before Plax caught the ball, but the refs didn’t call it anyway. Not like there was a need, because the Ravens manhandled the Steelers in about every category, including helmet removal. Deion took off his helmet after the runback, thinking it was still five years ago; and Ed Reed does the same thing in the fourth complaining about a no call on a TD to Randle-El. By Billick’s antics during the game, you would have thought the Ravens were playing like they did in Cleveland the previous week. Brian, three words for you buddy, up the meds.
Just plain lousy game of the week:
Cincinnati vs. Miami – This game was absolutely dismal, and now you know why the Bengals have been out of prime time for so long. It is not all their fault, as both teams were equally pathetic. There were twenty punts in this game, ten apiece. If you fell asleep with five minutes to go like most of America did I imagine, you missed the only offense in the game. I was hoping that the game would not go to overtime, extending the agony. Thankfully, Graham hit the game winner with 5 seconds left.
Honorable mention for the award:
Seattle vs. TB – My thanks to Mike Holmgren for not resting Shaun Alexander so he could get me exactly 1 point in my fantasy league, instead of the 13 I would have received from Chris Brown. I wrestled over this decision all weekend. In fact I turned over to coverage just to hear SA was starting and flew to the computer to make sure he was in the lineup. I was set. Then, 1 point. One %&@! point! So much for me going 2-0 to start the season. Where exactly did the Seattle offense disappear to? This was supposed to be a downfield, vertical attack supported by a great running game. This was the year they were supposed to challenge and maybe win the division title. The only people going downfield in this one were the referees.
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the zebras. Is it just me or are they still a few weeks into preseason? It seems they are getting like basketball referees, and calling games either tight or loose depending on how they feel. There were some really weak calls for offensive pass interference (which in the past was a forgotten penalty) and illegal shift. This week there were 10 illegal formation calls, and 14 illegal chuck calls. I saw a call where the defender put his hand on the receiver, not hold him, not bump him off the route, just touch him and the flag came out. That’s just plain silly. Let em play, refs!
We had, uh, just a few injuries this week. Deuce McAllister, Kellen Winslow II, Todd Heap, Tommy Maddox, Julius Jones and a host of others. All the aforementioned injuries will have significant impact on their teams, though it seems like Aaron Brooks played better without DM in the game. The one long term loss is Winslow, who broke a fibula. Steve Smith broke his fibula, and Vick broke the same bone last year. They are saying eight to ten weeks, but I just don’t see it. Vick wasn’t even close to coming into full contact after eight weeks, and I think Cleveland may be in deep trouble even if he comes back.
Big Ben got his shot in Pittsburgh and played pretty well in relief. The Ravens didn’t throw much at him, but he should be ready for the kitchen sink in Miami next week. Even with the increased pressure of starting compared to relief duty, I have a sneaky feeling that the job may be Ben’s to lose. Maddox is listed to be out six weeks. I know, players should not lose to their job due to injury but if Ben does well he may slide in and play. I said in my rookie class article that he would only play this year if Maddox got injured, and the opportunity presented itself, earlier than even I thought possible.
Take a look at Keary Colbert if he is available on the wires. Delhomme has looked comfortable with him and he may be a great 3WR option. With Smith out, Muhammad will draw double teams leaving Colbert to run pretty free.
Jerry’s streak is over at 274 games with a reception. Jerry, we thank you for dazzling us for so many years. I think this is a sign that the twilight is going dim, and the end is near. There will never be another one like you.
One last thanks, to Pat. The league recognized him this week, and it has been described and publicized so many ways before, so all I can say is thank you. People like you are the reason I can write articles, enjoy my precious freedom, and find solace in my future child’s smile. I can only hope there will be many more like you.