It seems to be a constant theme this season and every season lately but the urge to criticize officials is almost overwhelming again this week. However, it is a useless endeavor. Not that these individuals should not be held accountable because even officials at the college level make a good amount of money for working a single game but the bad calls are going to happen. No matter ridiculous it is to throw a flag on a penalty before it happens or make a 49-yard penalty call for pass interference when the ball ends up going through the receiver's hands, the calls on the field stand, even if we can't stand it. So read on for the musings on what we saw this past weekend in the NFL because we will not be discussing the officiating, starting.....now.
Something is off
In an interview as the season was getting underway Tom Brady said one thing that really hit home when he went down in week 1 last year was that the game goes on without you when you fall behind. Already this season we have seen the stories of the new generation of QBs; Sanchez, Flacco, Rivers, and now Henne just to name a few. This game is the most popular in our country right now because of the game itself and not the superstars. I have watched just about every snap of the Patriots this season and there was a sense that Brady was a little bit off. After New England dropped its second game of the season to the Broncos in overtime 20-17, it is now clear to anyone who is watching that Brady is off.
I do not know if it is the knee, his head, his marriage, or whatever but Brady is not just missing targets, he is missing scoring opportunities. The Broncos did a great job in the game and McDaniels deserved his celebration at the end of the game but the bottom line is that the Patriots should have won that game. In the first half Brady had Randy Moss wide open on a 3rd and 12 and overthrew him. Overthrow might be an understatement, he was wide f'n open and the pass sailed about 5 yards over his head. No one is saying the Patriots will score like they did in 2007 but that was the kind of play that was automatic. Later in the game Brady missed Welker on a wide open slant that would have been an easy go-ahead touchdown.
Where does Brady go from here? Does he recover like Peyton did last year? Does he struggle the whole year like Donovan after his knee injury? The Patriots are tied for the AFC East at the moment but it still feels like they are on shaky ground. Both of their losses are to AFC teams. Record against conference opponents is an important tie-breaker when it comes to the playoffs and it is one that cost the Patriots a playoff berth last year. The numbers for Brady show a good season, 61.4%, 6 TDs, 2 INTs, 1344 yards, but the missed opportunities are the reason they have dropped 2 of their first 5.
Hogs not High
The Panthers were getting booed mercilessly in the first half of their 20-17 win over the Redskins on Sunday. Carolina fans take a bad rap from the rest of the league because they have not been around as long and they do not do nonsensical things to show their loyalty such as get dumb tattoos, name their kids after players, or mortgage their house in order to see a playoff game. Or maybe they take abuse because they do stuff like this. In any event the Panthers fan base has grown up a lot, especially after last year's 12-4 regular season led to a blowout playoff loss at home to the Cardinals. During the offseason the fans were angry and wanted to see something done in the front office and on the field. But in the first 3 games the Panthers looked next to hopeless. Enter this stretch of their schedule and now 3-3 seems doable. They got past Washington and next have Tampa Bay and Buffalo. We mentioned that Jon Beason was going to talk with Julius Peppers about playing harder for the $1 million he gets per game, and it seemed to work...I guess. Peppers was more aggressive overall, getting a sack and helping to force a safety but still did not look like his motor was going full-time, all the time.
The Redskins have more than likely come to the end of the Jim Zorn era. With 3 games left against the Giants and Eagles, and Denver, Atlanta, New Orleans added in it looks like an 8 loss season. The question is who will Snyder bring in? Or rather what respectable coach wants to play for them? Mike Shanahan is a popular rumored choice but he will want total control like he had in Denver and it is unlikely Snyder will concede that. The Redskins will most likely have to go with an unproven entity which means either it will be a slower turnaround than Snyder wants or the new coach won't be suited to deal with Snyder and Vinny Cerrato's meddling.
Rush of Blood to the Head
I am going to get this out of the way; I do not like Rush Limbaugh. It has nothing to do with his political views and has everything to do with the person. I know he does not care what someone like me would think of him but if it does offend him he should not worry, I don't like many people. The fact that someone like Rush even has enough money to buy a stake in the Rams is laughable yet reality. Something tells me that Limbaugh likes the controversy this has stirred up more than the prospect of being part owner of a horrible team. Players' Union president DeMaurice Smith sent an email to the players asking them to fight this possibility. Why? Are the other owners in the NFL that much more upstanding of citizens? If Rush gets part ownership it is not like he will be leaving conservative leaflets in the players' lockers. As much as I think Rush is an hypocritical windbag he is not trying to get a piece of the Rams for any sort of ideological crusade, the man likes football and has lots and lots of money. In case you were wondering if this whole protest against Rush is starting to get fishy, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have joined the argument.
Who would resound more in speaking out against Rush, Jesse Jackson or Stephen Jackson? Stephen Jackson decided not to comment. This is America folks and if people want to speak out against the Rush bid that is well and good but also realize this is America folks and when people have tons of money, they get to do just about whatever they want.
I guess I should mention the Rams 38-10 loss to the Vikings on Sunday. The Rams are 0-5 and have scored 34 points....the whole year.
-Dre Bly did the right thing by apologizing for his jackassery on Sunday. In other news, I believe people should not throw babies off buildings, that would be wrong.
-Rex Ryan is great for a quote, but the wildcat proved itself against a top-notch defense last night. The Dolphins are better off with Henne at QB and are the most dangerous 2-3 team in football.
-Was at the bar when Miles Austin scored the game-winner for the Cowboys in OT. Did not know people could be that happy beating a winless team in overtime but the guy in the Roy Williams (former safety not WR) jersey proved me wrong, stylin'.
-Why did Todd Haley not go for 2? You let a 10 point lead slip through your hands and you are an offensive coach and you're telling me you don't have one perfect play from the 2?
-The Giants look just like they did at the beginning of last year; dominant. How will they look in December and January?