Tag:Kevin Kolb
Posted on: October 12, 2010 3:32 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 3:35 pm
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Dey Took Er Jobs: Baby, don't drive that Carr

Posted by Will Brinson



Dey Took Er Jobs takes a look at the various job controversies around the league. If you don't get the title, you don't watch enough South Park.

"We want Carr!" echoed throughout Candlestick Park on Sunday night as 49ers fans expressed their deep (and understandable) frustration with Alex Smith.

The problem is that they don't want the former first-rounder to use some the money the team wasted on him to purchase them all shiny new Kias. No, instead, they wanted to see David Carr enter the game and attempt to lead San Fran to glory.

And what a dumb idea that is.

Reports started circulating Monday that Mike Singletary had told Smith a (paraphrase party coming) real quarterback wouldn't want to get taken out of the game, nor would he let a coach take him out of the game. Apparently, Vernon Davis went over to Smith, gave him a big pep talk about being a grown man and what not and then Smith challenged Singletary's potential decision to bring in Carr.

Eventually Smith won out (although didn't Singletary kind of WANT him to win?), stayed in the game and nearly led a charge back against the Eagles.

Said charge fell short, notch, but that's why you saw Carr maybe getting ready, Singletary and Smith yelling, confusion in the broadcast booth and awkwardness on the sidelines.

Anyway, now Smith is "week-to-week" as the starting quarterback -- apparently, that's the sort of motivation that a quarterback of his caliber needs. (Ironically, of course, fear was the primary motivator for another bust -- in the Canton sense though -- of a 49er, Jerry Rice.)

Fast-forward to Week 6, though, where if Smith struggles against the Oakland Raiders, people will get antsy and start calling for Carr again.

Again, this is a dumb idea.

If you don't believe me, just ask any Texans or Panthers fan who suffered the indelible pain of watching a man once called "Mister Mittens" run their ship into the ground.

Look, Smith's not great, but he's not Carr. Carr is notoriously horrible at understanding pocket time, and if San Fran fans think that Smith has a sense for the worst possible time to generate a turnover, they really have no idea what they're in store for if they get their wish and Carr plays.

Anyway, if Smith doesn't turn his patented "two great drives per game" into something more consistent, there's a good chance that Carr plays. But that doesn't change the fact that putting Mittens in there is a huge mistake.

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Raiders fans also did a little bit of Jump to Conclusion Matting -- Jason Campbell, their flame, their muse, their Plunkett, was supposed to come right in and save the day. He didn't, and in fact, he was quite terrible as the Raiders quarterback, right up until the point when Bruce Gradkowski hurt himself and Campbell needed to step in and helped beat the Chargers Sunday.

Sure, the special teams (or "special" teams, if you're discussing the Chargers end of it) and defense deserve some credit for scoring, but Campbell looked composed, relaxed and accurate en route to completing 13 of 18 passes for 159 yards and a TD.

Tom Cable says that Bruce Gradkowski is still the starter (and, of course, Campbell didn't even consider trying to stir the pot; has anyone ever been more dumped on while remaining polite in the history of the NFL?) and that's fine. Gradkowski got the Raiders back on track after Campbell's shoddy play early in the season derailed them.

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Jimmy Clausen or Matt Moore? That is the question that rings so … okay, you know what? It doesn't really matter. Clausen hasn't progressed since he got the starting nod, but Moore looked even worse in mop-up, blowout loss duty against the Bears on Sunday.

Jeff Otah's return (maybe in the next few weeks) will help the running game, but without a legitimate option at quarterback, which the Panthers don't have, it's hard to fathom that the Panthers have any prayer of contending this year.

Honestly, the smart thing might be considering shopping Steve Smith (if Deion Branch is worth a fourth to the Patriots, he has to be worth the second-rounder they already took from Carolina at least, right?) and possibly even DeAngelo Williams (Jonathan Stewart's contract situation is better, even if Williams is the better runner, which he might not be) in an attempt to totally reload for next year.

Yes, that's the rantings of a man who stayed up way too late crying that Bobby Cox is gone and all we have left in the world is a discussion of Brett Favre's cell phone, but it's also indicative of how shoddy the quarterback situation is in Carolina.

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It's Tuesday, and that means Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb talk. Woo! Right? Actually, this week it's quite important, since Kolb looked good against the Niners and Vick might be ready to return.

Conveniently (or perhaps not), the Eagles play the Falcons, with whom Vick has a little bit of history. Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to win against a very talented Atlanta team, but is it worth playing him if he's still dealing with a pretty serious injury?

Two signs point to yes: first that LeSean McCoy played against the Niners with a broken rib, and two, Andy Reid made sure to get Vick some action against the Falcons last year. In other words, redemption and giving the Eagles the best chance on Sunday will win out.

Which is a good thing for all of us, provided Vick isn't re-injured.

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Quickly …

- Poor, poor Cleveland. Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are both injured, so Colt McCoy will play. McCoy gets the Steelers, so best-case scenario for Cleveland is him being alive on Monday.

- David Garrard has staved off Trent Edwards for at least the foreseeable future, by beating the Buffalo Bills. Neither of those things is an impressive accomplishment.

- It's easy to refer to the Darren McFadden/Michael Bush situation as a "competition," but that's really based on how they've performed thus far in the year. The reality is that they're two backs who compliment each other, and Cable would be wise to recognize that utilizing Bush's brutish bulldozing as a defense-softener that sets up McFadden is the smart play here. Or, alternately, just don't play D-Mac if his hammy's busted.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 12:04 am
 

Kolb reminds us why Reid got rid of McNabb

K. Kolb had an excellent tonight as Philadelphia beat San Francisco (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

For as poor as Kevin Kolb has looked this year – let’s see, there was the awful first half in the season-opener before he sustained a concussion and there was last week when he was decent enough in a losing effort vs. the Redskins – he emerged Sunday night as a changed quarterback.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because the pressure is off – Michael Vick, trying to return to the health, isn’t breathing down his neck yet (though that could change for next week’s game vs. the Falcons). Maybe it’s because he knows the starting job likely won’t be his when Vick does suit up again, so he doesn’t have to play so cautiously. Maybe it’s because the 49ers fans focused their negative action on the quarterback that plays for their team.

Whatever it was, Kolb looked impeccable in the Eagles 27-24 win against the 49ers. On the night, Kolb went 21 for 31 for 253 yards and a touchdown. He made one major mistake on a sack-fumble, but other than that, he was very good.

In fact, he looked similar to the QB we saw last season when he threw for 300-plus yards and two touchdowns in back-to-back games and gave Philadelphia coach Andy Reid all the evidence he needed to get rid of Donovan McNabb

And when Alex Smith led the 49ers to within a touchdown of the lead midway through the fourth quarter, Kolb kept his composure. He threw a 22-yard rocket to Jeremy Maclin across the middle of the field on the drive’s first play, and that was nearly enough to get the Eagles into field goal range for David Akers that gave Philadelphia a 10-point lead with 4:35 to go.

Yeah, the Eagles took only 19 seconds off the clock on their final series with less than 2 minutes to play and holding a three-point lead, but that was more of a reflection of LeSean McCoy’s inexplicable decision to fall to the turf two yards short of the first down marker. Kolb was still close to being perfect. 

While the QB job is Vick’s when he returns, we can legitimately say that Kolb is good enough to be the starter.

“My biggest thing – and I’ve been saying it since the beginning of the week – is that I want to help us win,” Kolb said on NBC after the game. “I don’t worry about (not being the starter). I don’t care about it. I’m just going out and playing my game.”

Tonight, his game was pretty damn good.

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Posted on: October 8, 2010 12:47 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2010 12:48 pm
 

McCoy returns to practice, expected to play

Posted by Will Brinson

Michael Vick will miss the Eagles Sunday night game in San Francisco (as expected), but LeSean McCoy is apparently going to make a surprise return to the field for the primetime affair, despite having a broken rib.

According to an AP report, McCoy, who returned to practice on Friday is "expected to play."

Of course, just because there's some sort of expectation about his playing time doesn't necessarily mean he'll find the field -- whether or not McCoy is listed as "probable" or "questionable" on Philly's Friday injury report will be more telling as to whether the back can go.

If McCoy does play, the Eagles are clearly risking an aggravation of his broken rib, so it stands to reason that he'll be wearing extra padding.

But taking the chance might be worth it -- after Vick left against the Redskins, Kevin Kolb was pressured early/often and looked McCoy's way a lot, as the running back ended the game with 12 catches for 110 yards.

Of course, catching 12 dump-down passes over the middle also creates the small problem of exposing one's ribcage to oncoming linebackers, which may explain why he's so banged up.

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Posted on: October 7, 2010 9:42 am
Edited on: October 7, 2010 9:42 am
 

Hot Routes 10.07.10: Who's got a Moss hangover?


Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- We’re going to try to keep the Randy Moss chatter to a minimum (the chances of this happening? Um, 15-20 percent?), but first, Vikings coach Brad Childress said the trade for Moss had nothing to do with where Sidney Rice is in his rehab from hip surgery. The chances of people believing that statement. Um, 15-20 percent?

- Titans CB Cortland Finnegan shows some (false?) bravado by “inviting” Broncos QB Kyle Orton, who said after last week’s game that Tennessee was a dirty team, to Nashville to visit him.

- When Michael Vick returns to health, Eagles coach Andy Reid said he’ll be the starting quarterback once again. Funny, I seem to remember Reid saying something similar about Kevin Kolb after he suffered a concussion in Week 1. And how’d that work out for Kolb?

- Arizona needs to figure out its QB situation if they want to have a chance to keep Larry Fitzgerald for the long term.

- For some reason, new Panthers WR David Clowney felt the need to call out the Jets organization for its short-sightedness on him. “Maybe being here, I can actually get an opportunity to run different routes and get involved as a full, complete receiver,” he said.

- Free agent QB Chris Simms is due back in court today for a hearing on his charge of driving under the influence of marijuana. Simms had been with the Titans before the team released him last month.

- For those who care about what Patriots fans think about the Moss trade, here’s your chance to read about it. For those who don’t care, here’s your chance to ignore a fan story about Randy Moss. Choose wisely.

- Cardinals RB Beanie Wells and coach Ken Whisenhunt finally had a meeting about Wells’ playing time.

- Brett Favre might want to avoid checking out Deadspin.com tomorrow. It might not be very pretty. Here's the NY Daily News' take.

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 5:23 pm
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: The Old Hanging Chad(s)

Posted by Will Brinson

Dey Took Er Jobs takes a look at the various job controversies around the league. If you don't get the title, you don't watch enough South Park .


As late as Monday afternoon, this column had the potential to be BOR-ING. But bless you both, Chad Henne and Buddy Nix, for your beautiful run of incompetence -- Chad Henne decided to get his interception on against the Patriots in a Monday night South Beach slaughtering and Nix shipped Marshawn Lynch out to Seattle on Tuesday afternoon for a fourth round pick, totally changing the landscape of people fighting for jobs in the NFL.

As a result of Monday night's performance, there's all kinds of wild conjecture flying that the Dolphins will consider looking to Tyler Thigpen (you may recall him from mop-up duty last night) or Chad Pennington.

In part, the latter makes sense -- Pennington led the original 'Fins revival a few years ago. The reluctance to bail on Henne stems from the fact that he has "all the tools" (as the old saying goes) and Miami invested a second-rounder in him

And the fact that bailing from Henne, regardless of how robotic some of his throws look, is a knee-jerk mistake.

Look, again, some of his decisions in the pocket were beyond embarrassing, but if you take away the three picks (it's okay, I'm laughing while I write it too), he went 29 of 36 for 302 yards and two teeters, and that's the type of game that will win most of the time.

Now as to why we so willingly yanked out all the mistakes from his line, well, look no further than the special teams issues on Monday night -- when the third branch of your team coughs up 20-plus points, it changes your gameplan entirely. In the case of the Dolphins, it switched them from a run-heavy/run-often team looking to keep the ball out of Tom Brady's hands into a team that was forced to pass more than it wanted to.

Or, as Tony Sparano said, it "puts a lot of stress on the position."

Panic is inevitable in South Beach -- the Dolphins fired their special teams coach within 12 hours of the Pats loss -- and that's okay. But they're 2-2 headed into the bye, just a game (plus tiebreakers) back of the Pats and Jets and firmly in a convoluted playoff race just a quarter of the way into the season.

Giving up on Henne now would be overkill -- especially when games against Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Baltimore after the bye will give them plenty of opportunity to make a move.

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"Beast Mode" should end up starting for the Seahawks -- Julius Jones was released after Seattle acquired Lynch, Leon Washington is best used in situational running and special teams, and Justin Forsett just hasn't looked like a feature back.

As has been bandied about many a time between Andy and I, Lynch isn't exactly an elite running back. But he does possess some traits -- most notably an ability to actually be physical when running -- that the rest of the Seattle backs just don't have. Add in Pete Carroll's disappointment with the running game following the loss to the Rams, a bye week to prep Marshawn for the team's system and there's no reason to think he couldn't garner the majority of carries right off the bat.

The fascinating subplot of this job fight is that Lynch was in Forsett's wedding recently -- the two were roommates at Cal, which means it should at least be congenial.

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Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb just WON'T LEAVE ME ALONE. Stupid Vick had to go and get his stupid ribs stuck in between two stupid Redskins on a stupid run near the stupid goal line (why yes, I do own him in like four fantasy leagues, why do you ask?) and now Kolb takes the reigns as starter.

Again.

The Eagles get the 49ers on national television this week and then get a bye, so it's unlikely that Kolb could perform so well in two weeks to warrant Andy Reid changing starters for the rest of the season. But I'm fairly certain I've said that like twelve times this season already.

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Jake Delhomme is healthy which means we can just move on past that whole Mini-Seneca Wallace Era that featured a win and ... oh, I see. We can't move on? There's some sort of controversy in Cleveland? NO!

Okay, there's not a controversy, per se, but Eric Mangini did say that starting Delhomme wasn't "a knock on Seneca" because he'd, after all, "decreased the amount of turnovers the last couple of games." Translated from Coach on the Hot Seat Speak, that means that if Jake throws more than one interception in the first half next week, he's getting yanked.

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Cadillac Williams actually acknowledged that he might not be Tampa Bay's feature back for much longer; presumably that means that LeGarrette Blount makes a play for the starter's role, which, by the way, is bat-s insane.

And also just kind of gross from a karma perspective, considering that it should definitely be Stafon Johnson starting somewhere. But whatever -- Cadillac has been awful this year, and if he can't average more than three yards per carry, you certainly can't blame the Bucs for putting some fresher legs in there.

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Ryan Torain could be stealing a job, too. Clinton Portis, always a charming interview, hopped on the radio Tuesday and gave Mike Wise an on-air scoop (yes, the same one, irony alert, thanks) when he told him that he didn't think he'd play this week.

Torain's been a better runner, a more physical runner, is healthier, doesn't fall down randomly when running in the middle of the open field, has fresher legs and has more to prove. Plus, this is Mike Shanahan we're talking about -- it wouldn't be appropriate for him not to have a random dude come storming up from the practice squad to rush for 1,000 yards in his system.

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Quickly ...

- Forgot to mention the Bills whole RB situation, but the presumptive notion has to be that Fred Jackson will see some carries and C.J. Spiller will get a much-increased role.

- The Jags dumped Todd Bouman which means Trent Edwards gets promoted which means that David Garrard slightly thinner ice than Jack Del Rio.

- Darren McFadden, who's been pretty daggum good this year, could miss Week 5. If he does, Michael Bush gets to really make a power play for the starter job in Oakland (although they'll still split carries when McFadden's healthy); Bush looked better against Houston and was considered a distinct possibility to begin the season as starter before a hand injury.

- Poor Garrett Hartley. That's like having your dad beat you in basketball. When you're 29.
Posted on: October 4, 2010 4:01 am
Edited on: October 4, 2010 12:40 pm
 

10 Sunday stories deserving your attention Week 4

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) Conspiracy in Philadelphia

Until Sunday, it hadn’t dawned on me that Trent Edwards and Kevin Kolb are the same person. That’s why they’re never in the same place at the same time. Kevin “Trent Edwards” Kolb was a master of the safety outlet pass against the Redskins. Including what we saw in the first half against Green Bay in Week 1, Kolb is officially the most consistent dumpoff thrower in the game today (the consistency being, he dumps it off on every play).
K. Kolb (US Presswire)
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin became nonfactors once Kolb replaced the injured Michael Vick. And somehow, tight end Brent Celek dropped out of the picture as well (until the final few minutes, anyway). Running back LeSean McCoy took 16 handoffs Sunday (64 yards rushing), which was just one more than the number of passes thrown his way. At least the emerging second-year pro was productive, turning those 15 passes into 12 receptions for 110 yards.

You wonder if Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg really trust their offensive line. Many believe Vick won the starting job because his legs allow him to elude the frequent pass-rushing pressure Philly’s makeshift front five has surrendered. On Sunday, the coaches were awfully willing to call screen passes and keep Kolb in simple check-down scenarios. Perhaps they knew Jason Peters couldn’t block Brian Orakpo without holding (which Peters got called for twice).

Futile as the offense was, Jason Avant actually had a shot at a go-ahead hailmary touchdown at the end of regulation. That play was made possible by a 15-yard double-hook-and-ladder play.

Quick Tangent

Inst’ it surprising that the hook and ladder is not a more common play? You’d think someone from the Mike Martz school of thought would realize that it’s a potentially lethal play that not only can trick opponents but also give defenders something to think about. You have to figure defensive backs and linebackers would pursue the ball a little less aggressively if they had reason to believe that a hook and ladder could be in the works.

Eventually, football will evolve to where the hook-and-ladder is mainstream. There are just too many possibilities for it. Some team that has a former college quarterback plaing receiver (think Brad Smith of the Jets, for example) will incorporate it. But, for whatever reason, we’re not there yet.

2.) Back to Kolb and the Eagles

By now, every NBC executive has hit his or her knees and pleaded with God to heal Michael Vick’s upper rib cartilege. If Vick has to sit out next week, we might officially have the most uninteresting matchup in the five-year history of NBC’s Sunday Night Football: Kevin “Trent Edwards” Kolb’s 2-2 Eagles visiting Alex “Too Bad for a Nickname” Smith’s 0-4 Niners. Instead of looking forward to the night cap, football fans will spend all of Sunday trying not to think about going back to work tomorrow.

See, it’s not just that Kolb appears to be an iffy quarterback (and I realize it is very, very early in his career, so I say “iffy quarterback” with the proper grain of salt), it’s that he is boooorrrrrrrring. Kolb doesn’t have a rocket arm. And he’s not mobile. Moxie is something we attribute to guys whom we like but can’t figure out why. I, like you, do not really know what moxie is. But I do know Kolb doesn’t have it.

It seems the best case scenario is that Kolb becomes a great West Coast system quarterback. That’s fine – Joe Montana obviously did well in a similar role. But it’s miserable for fans to watch the early development of a West Coast quarterback after they’ve already gotten a taste of the electrifying Vick. That’s like going back to just holding hands and occasionally kissing someone whom you’ve already….well, you get what I’m saying.

If Kolb starts against San Francisco, the NFL should call for a special flex schedule in which they move the Niners-Eagles to CSPAN and give us Redskins-Packers on SNF. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Redskins again now that they’ve discovered they can run the ball.

Washington came into Week 4 having gained only eight first downs on the ground; against the Eagles, they rushed for 10 first downs. (And since we’re on the topic of Skins running game, I’ll say once more that Ryan Torain will wind up being this team’s top rusher in the second half of the season.)

P.S. Eagles fans….perfect job welcoming Donovan McNabb back. Treated him to a well-deserved standing ovation before the game, then treated him like the enemy visitor he was after that.

3.) Are the Rams for real?

This question is usually a leading one. We tend to ask if a team is for real only after we’ve already decideS. Jackson (US Presswire)d that it is. Or, more accurately, only after we’ve decided to hope that it already is. (Example: the Chicago Bears before Sunday night. The “3-0 – that’s right – 3-0! Can you believe it!?” Chicago Bears.)

In this case, the question is just a question. Are the Rams for real? If by “for real” you mean “a team capable of finishing .500” – which is where the win over the Seahawks left Steve Spagnuolo’s team – then, yes, the Rams are for real. Don’t underestimate the value of playing in the NFC West.

A bad division may be St. Louis’ greatest strength, but it’s not the only positive. Obviously, Steven Jackson is a star. Aiding him is that Sam Bradford shows flashes of brilliances as a precision passer. Yes, he also shows a vulnerability to rookie mistakes (did you see his interception to former Texas rival and fellow first-round rookie Earl Thomas in the end zone?). But mistakes are partly a symptom of Bradford’s willingness to attack downfield. He’s showing he can make the tough anticipation throw – and even with bodies around him.

More intriguing is the Ram defense. Its secondary overachieved against Seattle’s overrated passing game. (And yes, Seattle’s passing game IS overrated. Brandon Stokley, just days after signing, seemingly captured Mike Williams’ role as the No. 1 receiver.)

The Rams front seven has been dominant two straight weeks. End James Hall has a sack in three straight games (four sacks total on the season). Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis has become much more of a downhill player. In fact, he now seems likely to emerge as one of those players who achieve greatness despite limited athleticism (ala Zach Thomas – or ala the anti-Barrett Ruud).

Spagnuolo does a great job of manufacturing big plays through A-gap blitz concepts. In short, St. Louis’ system is better than its personnel. That can translate to wins as long as everyone buys in (the Patriots proved this in the early 2000s). The Rams will be up and down in 2010. But when you’ve won six games over the previous three years, that’s progress. And, thanks to the NFC West, they’ll have meaningful games in December.

4.) Motown Blues

The toughest thing for a downtrodden franchise to do is learn how to win. The Lions are finding this out. Last season, Detroit’s offensive line was as porous as a colander. And its defensive line may have been the worst the NFL has seen in at least 15 years. Consequently, the offense sputtered and the defense ranked dead last in point and yards allowed. The Lions finished with a record of 2-14 (which, sadly, was an improvement over the previous year).

This season, the Lions are not awful. The offense has playmaking potential in the ground game, thanks to rookie Jahvid Best. The front five is able to protect Shaun Hill well enough for Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson to actually be weapons. The defensive line is revamped, with powerful No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh living up to the hype and venerable veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch igniting an assemblage of fellow newcomers.

And yet the Lions are still 0-4. Most maddening is the way they’ve gotten there. Detroit lost at Green Bay Sunday by the score of 28-26. In Week 2 the Eagles beat them 35-32. And you remember the Calvin Johnson non-touchdown catch in Week 1 against the Bears.

These are the type of losses that happen to a team that has grown accustomed to losing. The Lions are football’s version of the fat person who works out but still gains noticeable weight after eating anything heavier than a salad. Or they’re that poor person who finally finds a job but is at fault in a fender bender on their way to cashing that first paycheck. Bad things just happen to the Lions. To them, failure is familiar and, therefore, on some super subconscious psychological level, easy to achieve. And we’ll assume karma is glad to chip in and help screw them over at all times, given that has evolved into the status quo.

In short, the mojo and psychology of a team can be very real. Learning how to win is not easy. Detroit is finding that out.

5.) Unglamorous glamour guys

Three teams featured a fullback as their primary ballcarrier in Week 4. It’s hard to say whether this is a sign that the fullback position is not declining after all or if it’s a sign that the fullback position has already officially died.

For the second straight week, Peyton Hillis rushed for over 100 yards for the Browns. This time, it came in a winning effort (a surprising upset over the Bengals).

Mike Tolbert had 16 carries for 100 yards in the Chargers’ 41-10 blowout of the Cardinals. (By the way, say this about the Cardinals: they sure get their money’s worth when they lose. Especially on the road. Remember this team in its 2008 Super Bowl year? That year the Cardinals lost to the Jets 56-35, the Eagles 48-20, the Vikings 35-14 and the Patriots 47-7.)

Lastly, the Packers got a hearty nine carries and 39 yards from John Kuhn, who is clearly a better option than Brandon Jackson (though Jackson had an acceptable 33 yards on nine carries against the Lions).

All three of these guys got their chance thanks to injuries to others. Hillis stepped up after rookie Montario Hardesty went down with an ACL. Tolbert shined when rookie Ryan Mathews hurt his right ankle in Week 2. Kuhn came in when Ryan Grant was lost for the season with an ankle injury.

More noteworthy is that all three are getting legitimate reps. The Browns and Chargers both have viable scatbacks they could turn to in Jerome Harrison and Darren Sproles. And the Packers could be forcing the issue with Jackson. But coaches are choosing to go with these bulldozers instead. (Even with Mathews healthy now, Tolbert appears to be the No. 1 back in San Diego).
 
Hillis, Tolbert and Kuhn are all downhill runners who play with good pad level and balance. But they’re also nimble enough to make defenders miss. And, not coincidentally, all three can catch. Hillis is wonderful on screens. Tolbert is actually athletic enough to run routes out of the slot. Kuhn is effective in the flats.

There’s something refreshing and pure about true fullbacks getting heavy touches. It’s a case of good, fundamental football being rewarded.

6.) AFC East mugging

The AFC story in Week 4 was the outburst from LaDainian Tomlinson. It was his first 100-yard rushing performance in 26 games. He looks like a star No. 1 running back again. This begs the question, Have we ever seen a running back hit the 30-year-old Wall and later recapture his magic? The first answer that comes to mind is, No. The second answer is, Well…Thomas Jones. Except Jones – whom L.T. replaced in New York – was never a star before his veteran years. And he never really hit a wall. L. Tomlinson (US Presswire)

Ricky Williams is another answer. He shares the load with Ronnie Brown, just like Tomlinson shares the load with Shonn Greene. But it’s debatable whether Williams is a star back. And, he never really hit a wall.

A lot of people thought a 28-year-old Emmitt Smith was slowing down after he gained just 1,074 yards in 1997. Then Smith put together two straight 1,300-plus-yard seasons after that. Still, he was not declared washed up at that point.

Curtis Martin barely topped 1,000 yards at age 29. Many thought he would tail off the next season, but instead he rushed for 1,308 yards at 30 and a career-best 1,697 yards at 31. Martin, however, remained with the Jets that entire time.

The current Jets star was dismissed by his longtime San Diego team. Who knows, maybe time will still prove that the Chargers were wise to get rid of the future Hall of Famer. But going off the evidence we have through these first four weeks, Tomlinson looks similar to his old (young) self. The lateral agility and acceleration are not 100 percent there, but they’re at least 85 percent there. And that’s enough.
Meanwhile, don’t look now, but Mark Sanchez has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions on the season. And Dustin Keller is playing like an All-Pro. Plus, Rex Ryan’s defense is as dominant as ever.

On the other side in this game, we’re always hearing about the financial struggles of the Bills. One thing the team could do to alleviate costs is only bring its defense on road trips. That would cut travel costs by nearly 50 percent. The Bills offense doesn’t show up for most of the games anyway. For example, in the first 22 minutes of this game, Buffalo had less than 50 net yards and less than five minutes in time of possession. You really think that’s worth paying for extra hotel rooms, equipment managers, meals, etc.?

7.) Electrifying Bolt

Supposed you had to explain Shaun Phillips’ performance against the Cardinals to all the narrow-minded fantasy nuts out there. How would you do it? Here’s my approach: if the Chargers outside linebacker were a quarterback, he would have thrown for 450 yards. If he were a running back, he would have rushed for 160 with three scores. If he were a wide receiver, he would have had 10 catches and at least two taunting penalties.

Phillips was simply remarkable Sunday. With Shawne Merriman (or that Shawn Merriman imposter the team has kept around the past year and a half) and Larry English out, Phillips stepped up to the tune of four sacks, four quarterback hits, five tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. He dominated with sheer speed (Cardinals right tackle Brandon Keith probably couldn’t describe Phillips to a police sketch artist at this point) and craftiness. The only way Derek Anderson, who was benched this game, could have avoided an interception on the play in which Phillips dropped into an underneath zone coverage was if the notoriously inaccurate Anderson had made Phillips his intended receiver.

It’s not just Phillips. The entire Charger defense has been stupendous through the first quarter of the season. (Remember, San Diego is 2-2 because its special teams units couldn’t cover against the Chiefs and Seahawks.) Ron Rivera’s unit has not allowed more than 14 points in any game this season. And only once has an opponent put together a 10-play drive against this team (Arizona’s opening drive Sunday, which ended in an interception). Of course, the Chargers have not exactly faced the most dynamic offenses so far: Kansas City, Jacksonville, Seattle and Arizona. But hey, this it the NFL, where all success is quality success.

Other defenders

Phillips was not the only defensive player who stood out Sunday.

**Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb was phenomenal against the Steelers, particularly in his isolated deep ball coverage against Mike Wallace. Webb, fresh off his December ACL injury, broke up three deep balls on an island.

**Texans free safety Troy Nolan got significant playing thanks to an injury to Eugene Wilson. The 2009 seventh-round pick responded with two critical interceptions, as well as five tackles.

**Rookie cornerback Alterraun Verner was the talk of Titans training camp. In his NFL starting debut against Denver, the fourth-round pick showed why. Verner broke up three passes and recorded 11 tackles. He has plenty of room to improve – some of those tackles came because the Broncos targeted his side of the field – but the burst and athleticism are clearly there.

8.) Bears fans….are you there?

To anyone who has censured me for being negative about the Bears’ offense, you can send your apology notes to andy.benoit@cbsinteractive.com. It’s not hard to figure out: a bad offensive line, a bunch of raw wide receivers and a quarterback who trusts his natural ability just a little too much is a recipe for disaster. J. Cutler (US Presswire)

Coming into this game, the Bears had avoided disaster against the Lions, but it was clear that the ingredients for it were there. In terms of protecting Jay Cutler, the Bears had a disastrous start in the Dallas and Green Bay games, but they were able to overcome it. Sunday night at New York, they weren’t. Things got so bad that Cutler was eventually sacking himself (an out of bounds run for the sixth sack, and another out of bounds surrender that nearly went down as the ninth sack).

It is very difficult to give up nine sacks in a half. We almost never see it because teams that can’t pass protect eventually turn to their run game. But the Bears don’t have a run game. That became very conspicuous once Todd Collins entered the contest and Mike Martz gave the old-fashioned approach a whirl. Matt Forte looks better than he did a year ago, but he’s still not showing the juice to accelerate. Forte’s yards per carry average in each of the four games thus far: 2.9, 2.9, 2.6 and 2.2.

The Bears have a premiere defense – amazingly, Julius Peppers somehow seems underpaid – but they simply don’t have the necessary personnel to run Martz’s system. They’ll be a fun team to watch closely moving forward.

9.) Cardiac Cats are back?

The Jaguars are winning close games again. At least, that’s what everyone will be saying this week. It’s amazing: because Josh Scobee made a 59-yard field goal, we’re not talking about Jack Del Rio’s job security, television blackouts or a quarterback controversy. Instead, we may actually hear chatter about the 2-2 Jags being contenders in the AFC South. And we’ll absolutely hear chatter about the 2-2 Colts supposedly being old and no longer being a dominant club. (This whole notion, by the way, is ridiculous.)

What people won’t remember is how close the Jaguars came to settling for overtime in this game. With the game tied, the Jags got the ball at their own 23-yard-line with 42 seconds remaining and one timeout. When they ran a draw to Maurice Jones-Drew for eight yards, the Colts used a timeout in hopes of getting the ball back to Peyton Manning. It was a stark contrast: one team hiding its quarterback and the other desperately trying to showcase theirs. Garrard justified his coach’s lack of trust in him by throwing an incompletion on the next play. But a six-yard strike to Tiquan Underwood yielded a first down, and a 22-yard strike to Underwood on the next play put Scobee in field goal range. After one more Garrard near-meltdown (Colts corner Jacob Lacey dropped an easy interception), Scobee came on to seal the deal.

10.) Quick Hits
J. Flacco (US Presswire)
**It wasn’t a great slate of games this Sunday, but we at least got great finishes. Atlanta-San Francisco, Indy-Jacksonville, Detroit-Green Bay, Denver-Tennessee, Cleveland-Cincy, New Orleans-Carolina, Baltimore-Pittsburgh and Philly-Washington all went down to the wire.

**It just dawned on me that we’re near the end of this week’s Stories Deserving Your Attention and there has been no real mention of the Steelers-Ravens game. That’s too bad. It was, by far, the best all-around display of football on Sunday. The story of the game was how Cam Cameron continues to show more and more trust in Joe Flacco (24 completions on 37 pass attempts), and how that trust is being rewarded (the game-winning drive, for example). The Steelers did not play prevent defense on Baltimore’s final touchdown drive. Rather, they just played against a collected, strong-armed young quarterback.

**I’d love to be Terrell Owens for just two minutes after the Browns game. I’d like to know how I (he) truly felt after going for 200 yards in a losing effort. (I have absolutely no idea how Owens felt, and I won’t speculate. Just curious.)

**The Denver Broncos have a prolific offense, but their lack of a run game shows up in the red zone. The Broncos were 0/5 against the Colts and just 2/7 against the Titans inside the 20-yard line.

**The fumble on Nate Clements’ interception late in the fourth quarter was strictly a fantastic play by Falcons receiver Roddy White. Clements can’t be faulted for trying to score there. White has done this before. Recall that when these two teams met in San Francisco last year, White chased down Dre Bly and forced a fumble after an interception. (It was on that play when Bly, like an idiot, started celebrating during the runback.)

**The empty seats for the Texans-Raiders game could have put the WNBA to shame.

**Jimmy Clausen did some good things against the Saints (though I have no idea why I had to see 800 replays of that gimme 58-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Stewart) but it’s obvious that the rookie’s decision-making is a little too slow for the pro game at this point. Last week Clausen dawdled in the pocket; this week, he wound up asking for the snap too late in the play clock (particularly on the game’s final drive). It’s all part of his learning curve.

**Why did the Panthers wear their alternate blue jerseys against the Saints? It was a road game, which minimized the marketing appeal of the third uni. And it was an indoor game, which meant that avoiding the heat-trapping black jerseys was not an issue.

**Speaking of heat…have you seen that the Colts now have two kids who hold a giant white board over Peyton Manning to create shade for the star quarterback when he sits on the bench? That must be a dream job for those kids. Still, every time I see Manning’s personal shade creators, I can’t help but think about the pathetic loser who used to constantly hold an umbrella for Michael Jackson.

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Posted on: October 3, 2010 5:06 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2010 8:41 pm
 

Michael Vick out with chest injury

Posted by Will Brinson

Michael Vick was the feel good story of the NFL season. No if's, and's or but's about it -- er, actually, there might be a "but" since he was just escorted to the locker room in order to be examined by trainers and have X-rays taken on his ribs after suffering a brutal hit that you can see to your right.

The play occurred when Vick decided to do what makes him such an amazing player, which is scramble like crazy and fry everyone's brains with his athleticism.

The downside though, is that Vick is a lot more vulnerable to getting hit when he runs. And this time, it was particularly painful as he got rocked diving for the end zone, yet couldn't score.

Even if he had scored, it would have been for naught -- the Eagles were flagged for holding well before Vick even took off.

He's currently in the trainers' room getting X-rays taken on his ribs and the Redskins are currently in the midst of a stunning early beatdown of the Eagles, but even with that deficit, he's listed as "questionable" to return.

Kevin Kolb is under center and well, honestly, the only way that this year for Eagles' quarterbacks could get weirder is if Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham came parachuting onto the field with helmets on.

Update: Vick will not return to the game against the Redskins having been diagnosed with a "chest injury." Follow us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) for more info on the injury.

Update (6:45): Adam Schefter reports on Twitter that there is "speculation" (that word is key, considering he used it twice) that there's a possibility that Vick suffered a hairline collarbone fracture. Given the way the Eagles have played since he left, that is not good news if correct.

Update (8:35): Andy Reid did what any normal NFL coach would do following the game, which is "act cryptically and reveal nothing"; Vick, who finished 5/7 for 49 yards with 17 yards rushing, also declined to speak to the media.

"He's got a sore chest is what I can tell you right now," coach Andy Reid said.

The good news is that his X-rays did indeed come back negative.

There's also a report (important word here) out there that Vick suffered three broken ribs.


Posted on: September 30, 2010 9:50 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2010 12:10 am
 

For the gambler in you

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The weekly Bodog prop bets are out, and with it comes this surprising news. Apparently, people are betting on Pittsburgh to win the Super Bowl.

From Bodog sportsbook manager Richard Gardner:

“With Big Ben’s return on the horizon and the Steelers sitting pretty at 3-0, we have seen a flood of money from bettors taking them to win the Super Bowl. No one expected them to start 4-0 which could have been bet at 50/1, but their defense has been rock solid and their back-up QB’s have stepped up to the plate, so a win against the Ravens this weekend will have them challenging for the odds on favorite to win the Super Bowl.”

I don’t see it, but if you’ve got some extra money lying around, it might not be the worst bet in the world .

Vick vs. McNabb - Who will score the most touchdowns in the game (passing and rushing) 

         
Donovan McNabb (WAS) QB +175

Michael Vick (PHI) QB -215

Vick is the favorite. And I would have to take him as well. At this point, he’s been nearly unstoppable (fourth-and-ones with the game on the line notwithstanding).

If Donovan McNabb scores a rushing TD will he celebrate in the following way?
 
  
Michael Jackson leg kick dance 20/1

Dunk the ball over the goal post 25/1

Finger roll the ball over the goal post 25/1

How can dunking the ball over the goal post and rolling the ball over the goal post get the same odds? Is McNabb athletic enough to still dunk it? Besides, what if he goes up for the dunk but just misses, yet the ball still goes over the crossbar? What then? Who gets paid off?

How many times during the game will they show Kevin Kolb on the sideline? (needs to be a direct shot of him, not in the background):

Over/Under 3 ½

This is a tough one. But I go with the under. Kolb was on the sideline last week too. Besides, it’s not the biggest story out there this week.

Which team will be the last remaining winless team in the 2010 NFL season?
        
Carolina Panthers 7/4  (+175)

Cleveland Browns 5/2  (+250)

Buffalo Bills 7/2 ( +350)

Detroit Lions 7/2  (+350)

San Francisco 49ers 6/1  (+600)

Man, like our latest Top Ten With a Twist, the Bodog people don’t think much of Mike Singletary’s coaching ability.

(EDIT: 12:08 a.m.): Thanks to reader SayWhat??, I screwed up and read the odds wrong. The Panthers are the favorite to be the last winless team, not the 49ers. In that case, yeah, go with the Panthers. Or the Bills.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com