Brad Childress Survives, Wade Phillips Era Ends: NFL Direct Snaps
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It's rare when two coaches grab the important headlines in any football story.
But I feel there's no way around it.
What transpired in Minnesota last week from the shouting match between Brad Childress and Percy Harvin, to the unfathomable comeback led by the ageless Brett Fave, is too incredible not to lead off this column.
Likewise, the total destruction of the Dallas Cowboys continues, and it's gotten so bad that Jerry Jones has finally appointed a new sheriff to pick the pieces.
But elite player performances were plentiful, and mistakes were made, and I've got plenty to opine about.
Five Things That Impressed Me About Week 9
1. The Minnesota Vikings
As mentioned before, with all the turmoil that has gone on in Minnesota over the last few weeks, it is truly remarkable that they were able to pick them up and put their best effort forth.
Behind an almost impossible career day from Brett Favre, the Vikings were able to erase a 24-10 deficit with five minutes left in the game, and win 27-24 in overtime.
But it wasn't just Favre who was key in the victory, Percy Harvin had a big day, and the pass rush finally decided to ratchet it up and play like the season depended on it.
Because there are a lot of weak spots in the NFC right now, The Vikings might just be able to make a run for the playoffs. While it's doubtful they'll catch the Packers, they still could eke out a Wild Card spot.
2. Peyton Hillis
The big Browns running back physically punished the Patriots defense all day to the tune of 220 yards from scrimmage in Cleveland's surprising upset of New England.
What really impresses me about Hillis is his ability to run right through defenders, and his willingness to use spin moves to gain more yardage. He's turned into a nice pickup for them.
3. Philip Rivers
Although the Chargers are 3-5, Rivers is playing about as well as an elite quarterback can at this point in the season. He's on pace to break Dan Marino's record for yards thrown in a season, and he has shown remarkable poise in the face of adversity all season long.
Case in point, in the Chargers 29-23 victory over the Texans, Rivers was able to throw touchdown passes to veteran Randy McMichael and virtual unknown Seyi Ajirotutu while all of his top four targets where on the sidelines or inactive.
4. Clay Matthews
I just love watching this guy play and his intense approach to the game. The way he zipped around blockers like Jason Witten was incredible. Matthews' four tackles, one sack, and a pick, helped the Pack rout the Cowboys.
Right now, he gets my vote for NFL defensive player of the the year.
5. Jason Campbell
The Raiders quarterback was as determined as I had ever seen him in leading a last-second drive to force overtime in Oakland big win over Kansas City.
In overtime, his rocket pass to Jacoby Ford set up the game-winning boot by Sebastian Janikowski, and thus the Raiders have arguably their biggest win in years.
Five Things that Depressed Me About Week 9
1. Wade Phillips
As an ex Dallas gunslinger used to sing:
"Turn out the lights, the party's over."
In a season defined by high expectations, a porous defense, an injured franchise player, and an owner playing a continuous game of will he or won't he, Wade Phillips was finally given the pink slip on Monday morning.
He had simply lost control of his team, especially a defensive unit that has allowed 121 points in the last 12 quarters.
Now, it's up to Jason Garrett to try an make a favorable impression on Jerry Jones by making this season that can no longer be salvaged, end on a good note.
With a terrible defense, and a gimpy quarterback, it's not going to be easy.
2. The Chargers Special Teams Unit
As highlighted by Peter King in this week's Sports Illustrated, San Diego only had two punts blocked in the last eight years coming into last season. This year, they've already had five.
The latest occurred when guard David Herron vacated a hole that provided an easy pathway to the punter, to double-team a rusher.
Did I mention they're 3-5?
3. Rob Gronkowski
The Patriots rookie tight end fumbled a kickoff that led to easy Browns touchdown and kind of set the tone for a tough day against the inferior Browns.
He later had a ball stripped from him on offense. Suffice it to say, it was not a good day.
4. Channing Crowder
The Dolphins linebacker was obviously upset at what he felt was poor officiating in Miami's loss to the Ravens. But to confuse Anne Frank with Helen Keller is an embarrassing faux pas that will probably not be forgotten soon.
5. Charlie Whitehurst
To only go 12-23 with two interceptions and a passer rating of 44.7 is pretty darn bad.
Who will coach the Dallas Cowboys next year?
What worse is that the Seahawks only had the ball for 17 minutes the entire game, being completely dominated by the Giants in their own building.
What exactly did Pete Carroll see in Charlie Whitehurst in the first place?
1. I was very interested in the greatest players of all time special on NFL Network. However, my one nitpick is that there were too many modern players on the list. As a youngster, I would have liked to have learned about the old-timers that build NFL football on the very foundation it resides on today.
2. I will miss Jon Miller terribly on Sunday Night Baseball, but as far as Joe Morgan goes, I think I speak for most people when I say, yahoo!
3. It was a bad week for Edgar Rentieria. To go from World Series MVP to unemployed in a week is pretty sad.
4. I was not impressed by Conan. He looked too nervous, he looked he didn't want to be there, and the Seth Rogen interview was pure torture. I know he'll get better, though.
5. Cam Newton is just another in a long line of college athletes who don't use their head and let other people influence their actions.
6. I had dinner with an old friend and co-worker the other night. If you had told both of us when we were working together eight years ago that I would be a substitute teacher and he would be a Rhode Island state trooper, neither of us would have believed you.
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