The Eagles came into this season expecting to blaze a trail toward defending their NFC title and representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. A few things have happened since then, and those hopes are quickly fading. The Eagles had two fundamental problems last year: the inability to run and to stop the run consistently. Apart from a suffocating performance against San Diego, they are in the same boat this year. On offense, they are passing 73 percent of the time, which equates to 43 attempts per game for a quarterback that has a sports hernia, bruised ribs and an ankle sprain. Andy Reid implored his coaches to run more; here’s how I imagine the conversation went:
Andy: We need to run more. We are going to kill Donovan if we don’t.
Brad Childress: We’ll run more when you run more.
Andy : Really? That’s all it will take?
Brad : Yes. You run, we run.
(Reid summarily grabs the playbook, tears out every running play in the thing, snatches a hot dog and exits stage left.)
So goes the Eagles’ season.
Speaking of walking out, an intoxicated (you think?!) fan ran onto the field with 28 seconds left and stole the ball out of Brett Favre’s hands and dashed for the endzone. Stupid move, but funnier than hell. Brett said after the game that the incident had no effect on their attempted comeback. Some things that did affect their comeback were the five interceptions he threw. The Packers have many problems this year, and they have just added another: Brett Favre trying to take the place of twenty-two other guys out on the field. The seven point differential came off an interception, and it is too much to expect your defense to stop the other team when you turn the ball over deep in your own territory. Just think though, if the Packers were even playing average football they would be leading their miserable division.
Just Plain Lousy Game of the Week – CLE vs. HOU – This game was watched by well over a hundred people, and all of whom were insomniacs grateful to finally find sweet relief. There were probably more people at Minute Maid Park crying than there were at Reliant Stadium. At least David Carr only got sacked twice – with how little he was hit Sunday, he probably thought they called the game early.
Offensive MVP: Edgerrin James. I know you were thinking that either Steve Smith or LT would have this award locked up, but I think a big part of the Colts’ success is due to a change in offensive philosophy and a renewed focus on controlling the clock and playing good defense. Doing these things well is a big part of what they have lacked in the last few years. The Edge is leading the league in rushing and has 7 TDs to boot.
Defensive MVP: Deltha O’Neal. Six picks go a long way to making your team a contender, especially when four of your teammates have at least two more. Bengals fans have been waiting for Marvin Lewis’ influence on this young defense and we are finally seeing it. This veteran has taken everything in and is playing on a pro bowl level, helping his team get to 6-2 at the halfway point.
Coach of the Year: Tom Coughlin. Last year, all of his players hated the man. Now his attention to detail and hard line approach is showing the fruits of his labor. They have the most complete team in the NFC right now, and are in position to exert their will and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Giants need to hone their consistency, but a pasting of a good Washington team goes a long way toward making their case.
Comeback Player of the Year: Santana Moss. He is catching everything thrown his way, and, despite some slow weeks at the beginning of the season, has really made Joe Gibbs look good as of late. He is finally living up to his potential and has cemented his place as a No. 1 receiver. Second in the league in receiving doesn’t hurt either.
Biggest Bust: Jamal Lewis. No doubts in my mind. Anyone who admits he is not playing hard to make sure he is around for a contract extension shouldn’t even be in the league. If I were Ozzie Newsome, I would offer him a minimum contract or trade him and go after some draft talent. Chester Taylor isn’t doing too bad backing him up, with 6 yards per carry. Many teams have found that smaller, faster backs can make an impact on production. In Jamal’s defense, the offensive line is a mess and they have no passing threat whatsoever.
Rookie of the Year: Cadillac Williams. Everyone predicted he would make an impact this season, but damn! He ranks 20th in the league in rushing, and that’s after being hobbled for two games with a foot sprain. Now that Griese is out, he is the key to keeping the pressure off Tampa Bay’s young quarterbacks.
Best Free Agent Acquisition: Corey Simon, by IND. Though he was a whiner in Philly and thought to be expendable, he has covered the middle of their defensive line. He has freed up Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis (who had fourteen sacks in two years and already has eight this season) providing a bona fide pass rush that, so far, has allowed Cato June to roam free and intercept five passes.
Worst Free Agent Acquisition: Ricky Williams, by MIA. I know he wasn’t really a free agent, but they could have simply forced him to give the money back and stay away from the team. Of course, you can’t get blood from a turnip but if any team — and I mean ANY team — was willing to trade for him, they should have done it. He finally had a respectable game, but it was against a beleaguered Saints team. Despite his feeble efforts the Dolphins are still 3-4.
Marion Barber looked like a complete stud on Sunday, but take it with a grain of salt — he was running against the Cardinals.
Congratulations to the Texans for getting off the schnide. Too bad the emotional win against the powerhouse Browns will not save Capers’ job.
Jeff Garcia looked like a rag doll after some of those hits against Chicago. How does a veteran like him make a late throw over the middle?
Daunte Culpepper blew out his entire knee this week, and will be out until next September most likely. The good new is he doesn’t have to be a part of that wretched team any more this year; the bad news is I need to pick up a new backup quarterback.
The 49ers found a way to beat a very good Tampa Bay team this week. After some research and much disbelief, I have received confirmation that the Bucs did make it in time for opening kickoff.
I seem to remember someone resembling me saying to grab Heath Miller last week. Oh wait, that was me. I hope you listened, and hope he was available; he had another great week against Baltimore.
It almost seems like the Patriots toy with teams, like a cat does with prey. Once they become bored, game over. I have no clue how they pulled together and won this week’s game.
Thanks for reading, on to next week….