Aww Shucks, It Was Nothin'
Peyton Manning's successful return to the NFL was the pinnacle highlight of opening week. Watching Peyton touch his shoulders to signal a huddle up was quite awkward, like botched foreplay on a first date. It just wasn't going to light the candle. Then it was on.
The no-huddle was unleashed and the Peyton-lead Broncos romped down the field with laser-like precision passing and near perfect execution. Peyton's game, his mastery of the no-huddle is comparative to say, Magic Johnson's court wizardry—a once-in-a-lifetime, graceful work of art.
It is pure football entertainment. Peyton got great support from his offensive line and blocking down field was textbook. He was able to take a hit without incident. It is hard not to be a Broncos fan this season.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Oakland Raiders. This team begs for retraction. What an eyesore to bring to the national spotlight on Monday Night Football. It is hard to believe my mother was a die-hard Raiders' fan. Of course, that was back in the days of John Madden, George Blanda and Fred Biletnikoff.
There is absolutely nothing artful or graceful about the Raiders of today. They still play their games on a made-over baseball field, the last NFL team stuck in the 70s to do so. The Halloween-like culture of death that Raiders' fans bring to the game is apropos to the Raider nightmare.
The 2011 Raiders squad established new NFL marks for penalties and penalty yardage, finishing with 163 for 1,358 yards and breaking the standards established by the 1998 Chiefs, who were flagged 158 times for 1,304 yards.Defensive end Tommy Kelly has contracted the Howie Long Jumpoffsides condition.
Backup long snapper Travis Goethel, who hadn't long-snapped in a game since high school, demonstrated the Raiders lack of preparation with 2 worm burner snaps on botched punts. Carson Palmer was unloaded to the right place if Bengals owner Mike Brown wanted to punish him for his hold out. Palmer's skills have been deteriorating for the last five years. Why 18 targets to RB McFadden Monday night?
Palmer has no confidence to go downfield, no receivers and absolutely no accuracy. The once proud Raiders set standard for excellence - now, they remain the most embarrassing team sport franchise on the continent—highly undisciplined, penalty-ridden, poorly coached and absent any professional decorum otherwise.
Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen
Several thought-to-be quality teams took a loss first week; Green Bay, New York Giants, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. There are a few historically good teams each year that give up the ghost and fall into obscurity. At least two of these teams will find themselves with an 0-2 record after Week 2. And at least one team will be 0-3 and out of the playoff mix heading into week four. Pocket Jim from San Diego is with me here—he has as many as three of these teams falling this week.
RG3 Hyper Glow
The hype machine is rolling, and many want to anoint RG3 as the second coming after one standout performance. Don't be mistaken, I'm a fan and a believer. Love the poise, escapability and improvisation. We need to give him some props, then step back, keep the performance in perspective and realize how depleted New Orleans was on defense going into the contest.
It seemed that all of the Saints game emotion had been exhausted on the recent discovery of bounty relief. A good deal of Griffin's passing yardage came via YAC, not on high precision down field throws. Let's see how he handles a second road game in a row vs. a seemingly rejuvenated and opportunistic Rams defense under new Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
Fantasy Football Quick Hitters
Too much hype on QB Russell Wilson—looks more like a Canadian League QB to me. Ask Pat Haden and Doug Flutie about being under six feet and getting balls batted down. Insert Matt Flynn if you want to win.
Wes Welker is being purposefully phased out of New England's plans—Bill Belichick will demonstrate how to win without Welker and cost him millions in free agency from a poor contract year performance. Mess with Bill and take a spill.
Chris Johnson was forced into the top-seven fantasy RB rankings after two poor seasons in a row. Sucker pick. Anyone taking a look at Tennessee's offensive line production? Coach Fisher is long gone after coaching them up all those years, and this team is sinking fast. Unhitch your wagon, or your fantasy team will be draggin.'
Odds and Ends
Seems the replacement refs are doing just fine and will be on the field as far as five weeks into the season. Not a whole lot of complaints or missed calls. No quality drop-off. Looks like instant replay could assist in breaking the Union. New hip football term: The Route Tree.