Tuesday, October 5

8 NFL Storylines After Week 4

I wish I could write here more often. Hell, I wish I had the ability to move things with my mind but we all don't get what we want. Even though there has been a paucity of posts it has not mean we have stopped watching sports. In fact, due to the recent acquisition of DVR in my place there has been even more viewing going on. That's right, I finally joined the rest of civilized society and it was as wonderful as I had hoped for. I've been paying attention to the baseball races winding down but of course especially on football. We're not here to give you late breaking news, just to add our perspective on some of the stories. With that said, here is a story from each division in the NFL that has grabbed attention this so far after week 4.

When your a Jet, you blow .16

I think the Braylon Edwards ordeal has helped the Jets rather than hurt them. They sit at 2-1 and atop the AFC East at the moment. All the focus in the local media shifted from Darrelle Revis' burnt hamstring and Mark Sanchez's quarterbacking to philosophical discussions on whether Edwards should have been suspended and the proper way to calculate alcohol intake. Seriously, on sports radio up here they spent more time discussing how police measure BAC and how Braylon would be more adept at handling that amount of intake than the actual games on the field. It worked. Well kind of, that just kept Jets other than Rex Ryan from having to discuss whether Braylon would be suspended.

I root against rival teams of my own but I also call it like I see it. Mark Sanchez has played well the last two weeks. The turning point came against the Patriots when the Jets were shut down in the first quarter. A chorus of boos rained down from many a bro in the stadium. At that point Brian Schottenheimer finally decided to turn Sanchez loose. Thanks to the Patriots secondary, it worked. If the Pats had held the clamps on El Sanchupaquatal, confidence would not have emerged. The offense would have remained as tight as a horsehair knot on a catapult. Amazingly I think the Pats offense was at fault for this turn of events. They were unable to sustain any drives in the second half, allowing the Jets to dominate the TOP. A big win over their division rivals invigorated the Jets and the Braylon incident dominated all headlines and questions. The joke turned out to be on the media; Edwards sat out one quarter, came in and scored a go-ahead 60-yard touchdown. Nobody cares about your moral high horses and sadly no one cares that Braylon could have easily killed someone, himself, or his two teammates. Everyone just wants to talk about him doing the Dougie in the end zone. The Jets went on to torch the Bills (not the biggest accomplishment but still) this past Sunday.

The Jets have weaknesses yes, but it appears as of now they will live up to the playoff (not willing to say Super Bowl yet) hype that they built up for themselves through their talk and HBO. Hell, LT is abusing defenders again.

Laser-Rocket Slingshot arm

I saw a lot, pretty much all, of Tennessee's 29-10 win over the Giants in week 3. What caught my eye aside from the Eli Manning Lamar from the Revenge of the Nerds-esque shotput interception and multiple personal fouls was Vince Young's delivery. I guess you can say VY bounced back from his nightmare performance against the Steelers in which Kerry Collins was exhumed to take his place. Young went 10-16 for 118 yards and a touchdown. He did not turn the ball over. However, I just can't watch him sling the ball like a wad of pizza dough and feel he is going to be a great passer in the league. This past Sunday he went up to 28 attempts and completed 17 for a very pedestrian 173 yards.

Vince Young has gone from Vick 2.0 prodigy to walking disaster to redeemed QB to game manger. His job is to keep the defense honest while Jeff Fisher runs the tires bald on Chris Johnson. Phillip Rivers will tell you unconventional throwing motions don't mean anything if you can get the ball there. Yet I don't think Vince can get the ball there consistently with the way his ball is slung out from his hand. The Titans sit at 2-2, tied with the Jags and Colts and looking up at the Texans in the AFC South. At this point you can't change Young's mechanics, and the only viable alternative is Crazy Heart himself Kerry Collins. So it is Vince's team to manage.

Men of Troy

The homeristic Hurricane fan wants me to argue that Ed Reed is the best safety of this generation. Realistically, you have to include Troy Polamalu in that category. He and Reed have been head and shoulders above the rest of the league the past few years. Reed won't return until later the season and may not even play past this year due to injuries. Polamalu is back from injury and making spectacular plays.

Pittsburgh was just supposed to hold on until Gray Dong the Magnificent returns this week but they went 3-1. They did lose a tight one to the Ravens but many thought the Ravens would put distance between them and the Steelers in the AFC North with Big Ben out. Not to go ESPN analyst on this situation but I definitely think there is a psychological edge Polamalu gives to the rest of the defense. Pass rushers and cornerbacks know he is back there keeping watch over the deep balls and he will come up and make a play in the running game. Think back to last year and how awful the Steelers defense was without him. When you talk about a guy like that, it is pretty much what the phrase MVP is supposed to mean.

Somewhere They Belong

A little divergent allusion to music for the AFC West's note. I'm not all about Linkin Park. In fact, I wouldn't even call myself a fan. I first heard of them driving to practice in college with a teammate and I was not a fan of their screaming (which they did more of in their earlier work I think) at 5:30 in the morning. Then they became much more mainstream and everyone has heard of them. Look, the transformers movies have their suck amplified by the Linkin Park themesongs, especially the 2nd one but I won't lie, I have a few of their songs on my mp3 player. When I'm at the gym, I'm the kind of mind monkey that will use a rush I get from a song to finish up a run, erg session, or lifting set strong. Sounds lame? It probably is but whatever gets the job done. A few Linkin Park songs do that for me, but 'Shadow of the Day' is not one of them. I can get pumped by 'Somewhere I Belong' and I that song came on my mix yesterday. When considering my AFC West focus which are the Chiefs, I think of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel.

These guys both would be considered failures at their respective head coaching ventures, but damned if I don't think they know a ton about football. A lot more than you or me. It is not a new addage but some coaches are better as coordinators than head coaches. Neither of these guys are likely to run the show again but as far as implementing a game plan, they are on par with just about anyone in the league. Most people that think of the Patriots now are the way they were during their Super Bowl run. Present perception does not equal past reality. When the Patriots were winning their Super Bowls they had a dynamic pass attack that included play action and a variety of screens that was complimented by a pounding run game. When Weis left and the Pats got Moss and Welker, Josh McDaniels changed the scheme. The defense a strong up front 3-4 with linebackers capable of pass rushing or dropping into coverage and veteran secondary players. Crennel and Belichick put the clamps on teams so bad they changed the rules..I mean they emphasized rules already in place (/Polian'd). Once those players left Belichick created a new identity.

The bottom line is that the Chiefs are not the most talented team in the league, but they have a lot of potential and having those two guys guiding the offense and defense bodes well for the future.

As a Patriots fan it is my everlasting shame to be reminded of Super Bowl 42. The Patriots bid for a 4th title went up in smoke for a variety of reasons but the most painful of them was Eli Manning's desperation heave that was caught by David Tyree and his helmet. Now living in New York I get to listen to Eli on the radio. He does an interview with Michael Kay every week. Despite the fact that I think Michael Kay is a sack of crap, he does get good guests. So on my drive home from the gym yesterday I listened to the sack interview Eli.

Now Eli's interview is a good get because he is the QB of the New York Giants. The Giants beat the Bears 17-3 in a game Sunday Night that brought shame to the game of football. The Giants who have been **cliché alert** much maligned so far this year for their sloppy play sit at 2-2 and tied for the lead in the NFC East. Eli giving an interview over the phone sounds like a cross between the Waterboy and Gomer Pile. There are lot of clichés like "We need to execute" and "He's been working hard and preparing" but most of the interview is Eli saying "Uh" and "You know". When Kay asked him about the reception Tiki Barber got at the ring of honor ceremony (hint: it wasn't warm and fuzzy) Eli downplayed it. Kay tried to provoke him into a response considering the shots Tiki took at Eli in the past. Since this flustered Manning it took about 4 minutes of "Eahhh Ya know" before he said a coherent sentence. Eli of course took the high road. It is the right thing to do, when he easily could have mentioned how he got his ring while Tiki missed out or the fact Tiki has become a joke and cheated on his wife with some random college chick.

Are they who we thought they were?

The Packers are 3-1. They sit in second place only because they lost to the Bears last week. They are still the favorite to win the NFC North. Yet I am not so sure all of a sudden how much of a Super Bowl lock they are. A lot of people out there think they will make it to Dallas. So far this season they have not shown it. Aaron Rodgers is a very good QB, no debate there, but the Ryan Grant injury puts more on his shoulders that were already burdened with not much of a run game. The defense was opportunistic last year, but those chances will not always be there if they play solid teams. The team looks very shaky to me, yet all the "top" NFL teams have glaring weaknesses. Another factor that threw me off was last Sunday night against the Bears. Why did Mike McCarthy challenge that fumble late in the game? Then why didn't he allow the Bears to score to get the ball back? They were not Les Miles level mistakes but it really seems coaches spend a lot of time preparing schemes but not on split-second decisions in games. NFL and college there has been a rash of bad game management.

Letting go

The Carolina Panthers are in disarray but not complete and utter disarray. They gave the Saints everything they had, in the Superdome, following a home loss. They still sit winless and the dregs of the NFC South and it is unlikely they will move vertically in the standings for the rest of the year. The owner of the Panthers, Jerry Richardson is a loyal man. He stood by Julius Peppers and did everything he could to keep him with Carolina. He has kept with his GM Marty Hurney and coach John Fox since 2002 and there has been a lot of success but also lately, a lot of frustration. With rookie (and emu) Jimmy Clausen starting Carolina has not inspired confidence that they are going for the gold this year. They seemed resigned to their fate and that cannot create a lot of bile in the fanbase. House will be cleaned in the offseason.

Some house may be cleaned now. Dwayne Jarrett was arrested for DUI this morning. It is his second arrest for this offense in two years. Jarrett now has more DUI arrests than career touchdowns. He has one more career start than DUIs. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong with Jarrett but his lack of production on the field and repeated undisciplined actions off it mean he will not be with them much longer. It is hard to figure out why they kept him this long in the first place.

Regurgitate some opinions to sound smart

Hey! Did you hear? The NFC West is bad. No really! Nothing makes blockheads feel smarter about the NFL this year than proclaiming how horrid the NFC West is. The winner of the division might be under .500! You're not breaking new ground. You're not being insightful, you're not productively contributing to football discussion. The teams are not that good, we know, we get it, let's move on.

All that said, why not the Rams? I admit I was down on Bradford but while he has not lit the world on fire, he has inspired his team a lot more than Max Hall(?) in Arizona, Alex "tiny hands" Smith in San Fran or Hasselbeck. Usually pundits tell you to bet on the team with the best QB. In this division, it just might be....Bradford? Holy shit this division sucks.

[I give myself bonus points for avoiding discussing Vick]

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