NFL: Week 1 Random Rants

John McCloryAnalyst ISeptember 9, 2008

Pats fans push panic button

If Bernard Pollard's shot-heard-round-the-world to Tom Brady's left knee is going to lead to "Curse of the Giants front four!" talk throughout the New England area, then let's just shut up about it now and move on. Somewhere in a dimly lit, musty basement, Dan Shaughnessy is penning his next morbidly taunting book.

If the hit wasn't delivered to the best player in franchise history, then we likely aren't debating the possibility that it was "dirty," and maybe not talking about it at all.

Look, it wasn't dirty. To say it was dirty would imply some sort of intent to injure and that simply isn't evident in the replay. We can have the "cheap" discussion, but not the "dirty." In a full speed, contact sport it's completely unrealistic to think Pollard was dirty for trying to get his hands on Brady and make a play. These things happen. Aren't we used to it by now?

I keep hearing NFL analysts and various talking heads claiming that Belichick's coaching abilities will be tested in the wake of Brady's injury. Huh? Suddenly the best coach in the NFL has to prove himself all over again? Three Super Bowls in four years didn't put those questions to rest? Isn't this the guy who put his faith and trust in the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft?

Repetitive and meaningless Spygate chatter aside, nobody gets more out of his players than Bill Belichick. Period. Take a look at every player who has departed from New England in the Belichick era, for example. How many have gone on to be as effective elsewhere? Not too many.

The Pats can still win games with one of the easiest schedules in recent memory, even for AFC East standards. However, the molding of a career long second-string quarterback in Matt Cassel, and the possibility of a fresh, albeit rusty, acquisition (Chris Simms, Tim Rattay, or Daunte Culpepper, for instance), might be too much to ask from a historically resourceful coach.

Broadway Brett and the Jets

The Jets were all but declared runaway favorites in the AFC East the second Brady went down. Amazing how a knee injury can send the media into a total frenzy.

Isn't this precisely what the media wanted, though? They didn't spend all that time and energy in the off-season providing up-to-the-minute breaking news on the Brett Favre situation to see his team drenched in mediocrity below the powerful Patriots in the standings.

The media's love-fest with Favre is back on track and in full bloom, but it's still small potatoes compared to ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrew's infatuation with Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. No comparison there.

More to the point, Favre certainly did work some miracles against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, but nothing we haven't seen before. Just your run-of-the-mill improvisational long bombs that inexplicably find the hands of the right receiver, every time. Same old, same old.

Here's my question: Will future greats such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady still be this impressive and carry the same swagger when they're 38 years old?

Manning and Brady strike me as a tad more old-fashioned in comparison to Favre, if that makes sense. Favre strikes me as the freakishly athletic high school freshman quarterback (well, maybe not so much at age 38 with salt and pepper hair) who the coach unleashes in the 4th quarter of a Friday night blowout. As he sprints onto the field, you know, he knows -- and everyone knows -- that he'll be the one to make the big play that leaves the crowd breathless and wanting more.

Sure, perhaps his improvisational skills are over-hyped, but you still get the feeling he didn't learn this game after years of studying game tape and a 500-page playbook, even though that's probably the case.

No, you get the feeling that he was the rough and tough, down south kid who treats football as a way of life, which is about true. He doesn't know where his skills came from, they're just built in assets.

Manning and Brady, on the other hand, can match Favre's numbers, but come off as too polished sometimes. They don't leave you with the, "how the hell did he do that?!" reaction.

And that, my friends, concludes Favre 101.

Anyway, I find the AFC East to be just about even after week 1. Really, I do. Jets emerged as the media favorite, but those pesky Buffalo Bills aren't getting much buzz despite a convincing blowout versus the Seattle Seahawks in enemy territory.

And if you aren't convinced of the Pats abilities without #12 gun-slinging, then perhaps you aren't aware that the Patriots clinched the division in 2005 using 45 different starters, and breaking the NFL record they set two years earlier.

Not so fast Bretty and the Jets, AFC East will be a photo finish.

Monday Night Madness

Seriously, how enjoyable was the Monday Night Football double-header? I've always wondered what it feels like to have a birthday on December 25th and now I know.

You gotta love the NFL's thought process (for once) in spreading out the games a little more liberally, including Thursday nights kickoff game. I'm sure there's a reason they don't do this more often, but I certainly can't think of one. There are watchable match-ups aplenty in the current NFL season and it'd be a shame not to give each one their moment in the spotlight.

Regarding the Vikings and Packers: It almost pained me to see Aaron Rodgers give Packer's fans the courtesy of the Lambeau Leap, I'll admit. Weren't at least most of these fans writing Rodgers off a couple months ago and begging for Favre's triumphant return? Now they literally welcome him with open arms?

Um, okay, a tad hypocritical but I suppose the past is the past and all is forgiven, that is until Rodgers delivers an abysmal mid-season performance to resounding boos and "We want Brett!" chants.

I kid, I kid.

The Pack look strong with Rodgers at the helm, and with a wide open NFC, they deserve to be put in the mix of Super Bowl contenders. Yeah, I said it and you heard it here first. I mean, what's not to like about this team after the only question (Rodgers) was all but put to rest Monday night against the league's best defensive team?

If the Chicago Bears can reach the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman doing his best impression of a cardboard cutout, then the Pack have a legit chance. They boast a stacked defense with some serious offensive weapons.

Is it too early to mention the distant possibility of a Jets-Pack Super Bowl and the endless irony and redundant subplots it would entail?

By the way, am I the only one who finds Tony Kornheiser unbearable as the Monday night color guy? It's okay to throw in some humor now and then but when it's obvious you feel the need to contribute nothing else it becomes annoying. Provide some valuable insight or expert analysis. Heck, tell me something I don't know. Anything. What I'm trying to say is be more like Cris Collinsworth. There, I said it.

I still say Kornheiser proposes to Favre on an episode of PTI by week 6. Mark it down.

Regarding the Broncos and Raiders: If every player in the NFL was put into a pool and each team conducted a randomly ordered draft, and the Raiders were given the advantage of back-to-back picks each round, would Al Davis construct an above .500 team?

That's my hypothetical question of the week. It's a doozy.

Although it's only been a week, Darren McFadden's talents will likely go to waste on this Oakland Raiders team. And, from what loyal Raider Nation and Monday Night Football viewers witnessed, that's the least of their problems.

I can't decide if Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell is a work in progress or if he's flat-out too big to be successful under center. I know it sounds bizarre that anyone could be "too big" for an NFL quarterback, especially since the common gripe is that someone is "too small," but he seems very awkward in his mannerisms.

I found myself on the edge of my seat holding my breath when he stepped back in the pocket. And the crazy thing is his down-field bombs didn't make me as nervous as his 5-10 yard chucks. He seemed uneasy and unsure of himself in those situations.

Again, don't know if he's simply shaking the dust off or is just too mammoth. Perhaps the Broncos defense played an important role in suffocating Russell. We'll see how he responds.

Week 1 Leftovers

- If there's an NFL-hopeful rising through the high school or college ranks with the last name Pennington, now might be the time for him to separate himself from Chad Pennington, or get used to the droning sound of boos.

- Is Plaxico Burress destined to be the top wideout of this season? Who else is Eli Manning throwing to in that offense? Don't say David Tyree.

- If you drafted a quarterback with the first pick of your fantasy draft, you might be in for a long season. Too early to declare Ben Roethlisberger as the last man standing?

- In the midst of my internet browsing I noticed Bernard Pollard Fan Club t-shirts, with the #12 x-ed out, are already for sale. Stay classy, NFL fans.

- Wait, Shawne Merriman opted for season-ending surgery? He must've finished his investigation into whether those four physicians had proper licensing.

- Get excited, Eagle fans! Donovan McNabb posted some impressive week 1 stats. On second thought, now would be a good time to focus on Phillies baseball and consider the fetal position beneath a large object.

- This season may finally reveal who will emerge from the 2006 NFL draft, with Jay Cutler and Mario Williams (really?) as the early favorites. But the real question is, does anyone care?

- Has anyone fully comprehended the fact that Chad Johnson legally changed his last name to Ocho Cinco? Are you used to seeing it in writing yet? I'm sure as hell not. His new identity has left me in an odd chasm between laughter and disbelief. Yeah, I'm lost.

- So are the Cowboys the Super Bowl favorite this year, or could the Browns replace their secondary with the Pop Warner all-stars and not know the difference?

- The news of Vince Young going MIA after a week 1 victory that, unfortunately, left him slightly crippled, is bizarre and troubling. Let's just say a car with a presumably distraught and frustrated quarterback and a gun isn't a good combination.

- I sincerely hope Roger Goodell considers the amount and severity of injuries that were suffered in week 1 before he extends the NFL season in years to come. Besides, why fix what isn't broken?


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