Last week I began by stating that the Giants were looking like a dominant team. At the conclusion of Monday night's game I thought that I may have been mistaken. Before the first snap of the season I do not think many people thought they would see New England, Indy, San Diego, and Dallas a combined 13-9. A little late off the line this week, but thoughts on week 6 after the break.
I honestly did not think the Rams would win this early into the season, but Jim Haslett rallied the troops for a 19-17 win over the Redskins at FedEx field. The Redskins could very well look back on this game at the end of the season and shake their collective heads. The Skins lost 3 fumbles but give credit to the Rams for making the big pass play at the end to get them in field goal territory. Haslett had some excellent years in New Orleans, another 3 or 4 wins and they might remove the interim label from his name.
Yes John Fox, it is what it is.
John Fox and Bill Belichick have some kind of link through the Parcells/Giants coaching tree. Fox also has the same press conference tactic as he will say short, monotone phrases over and over again. One difference is his unwavering optimism. As Catfish, XM, and I watched the game on Sunday, the Fox sideline reporter said that after facing a 17-3 deficit the Panthers were "not going to make any adjustments they just have to take better care of the ball." This again is classic John Fox, he has a certain way of playing and he won't change it no matter what. He has had a good run in Carolina by using this gameplan, making two NFC championship games and a Super Bowl, but it has also cost the team at times. In the second half of Tampa Bay's 27-3 blowout the Panthers got pinned at the goal line. The Panthers then promptly ran 3 straight dive plays and punted the ball away. By the late second half, the Bucs defense was on the offensive and were jumping routs and punishing the run. Fox stated that he thought his team "gave a good effort". The Panthers are still in good shape in the division and in the conference but Fox and his staff better rally the troops and get after it or what it "is" will be a firing at the end of the season. I don't know if Fox will spend anytime looking for his DE this week.
Mr. Smith goes to A-town
Mike Smith has not gotten nearly enough credit for Atlanta's 4-2 record and current tie for first in the NFC South. Most of the pub has gone to Matt Ryan, and he definitely deserves a lot of the credit. Most rookie QBs would be toast against the Bears defense, but Ryan has shown that he was an NFL-ready QB from the beginning as the Falcons won at the gun 22-20. Smith not only had to turn around a losing team, he had to change the culture and perspective of a franchise that had been embarassed over the past two years. The Falcons have already made this season a success even if the premature playoff talk doesn't pan out.
Cards get it done
The scene at the Pink Taco in Glendale surely was chaotic. The Cardinals' home stadium had long been home to a throng of Cowboy fans when the teams faced off in the old NFC East and despite the fact that a good number of Dallas fans were in the stands, a strong number of red-clad fans cheered on the Cardinals. The atmosphere was electric as Arizona ran back the opening kick-off for a TD, but then both offenses struggled. Kurt Warner made some great throws in the second half, throws I doubt Matt Leinart can make. The Cards seemed to have the game wrapped up being up 10 with just over two minutes to go, but the Cowboys found a way to tie it. The extra 5 yards the Cowboys got on their game-tying field goal try at the end of regulation was ridiculous. Travis LaBoy was hurt and could not get himself off the field which should have led to an injury timeout for the Cardinals, instead the officials called it offsides. I have never seen an injured player be called for a penalty such as this at a critical time. In fact it was a bad decision by LaBoy to try and do the right thing and get off the field, he should have just laid down and flopped around and then maybe the refs would not have thrown the flag. Once the Cowboys tied it and won the toss in OT, I thought the Cardinals were done. But the defense proved they could get the job done by sacking Romo and blocking Matt McBriar's punt to win 30-24. Romo is now on the shelf for 4 weeks and McBriar is done for the season. The boys are now on shaky ground while Arizona has the NFC West for the taking.
Cassel made of Sand
I knew going in that the Patriots were likely to lose this game, but I did not know they were going to get run out of the building 30-10. The Chargers again get a big win to pull to .500 as the Patriots again stand on the brink of mediocrity. Matt Cassel just does not appear to have what it takes to be a succesful NFL QB. It's not that he's a bad guy or horrible, but he cannot make the big throws. He is staring down his receivers and not going through his progressions. The most unsettling aspect of his play is his lack of pocket awareness. One of the things that makes Tom Brady so great is his ability to sense pressure and either release the ball or slide away from it. Cassel has not done that as of yet. I was one who thought Cassel could do the job, but now looking in my 20/20 laser-corrected hindsight the Pats should have signed a veteran QB as a back-up when Brady went down. At this point I have to think that the Patriots are not a playoff team. Haters of the league rejoice in unison.