Posted on: October 5, 2010 10:14 am
Edited on: October 5, 2010 6:41 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
We’re a quarter of the way into the season, and some players who were originally slated to be backups suddenly have emerged as starters. Maybe it was through an injury to the former starter. Maybe it was because the starter wasn’t as good as the team thought and the backup was better. Maybe it was because – and Wally Pipp could relate to this – somebody just needed an off-day.
In fairness to the old-time Yankees first baseman, who was replaced one day (permanently, it turned out) in 1925 by a guy named Lou Gehrig because Pipp had a headache, that story might not be true exactly. Instead, he might have been benched because manager Miller Huggins simply wanted to shake up the lineup. Either way, Gehrig played the next 2,130 games, and Pipp ended up in … Cincinnati (and apparently, he was also one of Sports Illustrated’s first writing hires, one of those cool but useless facts).
Anyway, there have been some impact players to emerge this season so far, simply because they, like Gehrig, were given that chance to shine. Some have won a starting position. Some are just holding it until the real starter returns. But they’re all making a (mostly good) impression. It sounds like the perfect Top Ten With a Twist list to me.
10. Lance Moore, WR/PR, Saints: The story of Moore’s career. A Saints starts gets injured. Moore steps in and makes plays. Remember in 2008 when Moore caught a team-high 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns after Marques Colston was hurt? Obviously, when Reggie Bush returns from his broken leg, Moore will fade back into the background – maybe. But man, he looked electric against the Falcons (six catches, 149 yards, two touchdowns), and he’s become a big target for New Orleans when it’s in the red zone.
9. Max Hall, QB, Cardinals: Look, we all know Derek Anderson isn’t a very good quarterback. But I didn’t think he would have a chance to lose his job this early. Hall, meanwhile, was a 2010 undrafted free agent (seriously, how poor is Anderson to lose to an undrafted free agent?). Not that Hall was great when he replaced Anderson on Sunday, because he wasn’t, but he might be Arizona’s best option at this point. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, meanwhile, isn’t talking. “I think we're going to go without [a quarterback) this week,” he joked Monday. “I think we're going to go with all Wildcat."
8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: He averaged about eight carries per game his rookie year in 2008, but with Kevin Faulk lost for the season – and Fred Taylor unavailable for the Miami game Monday – Green-Ellis (47 carries this year for 215 yards) has already nearly doubled his attempts from last year. He had his breakout in Week 3 against Buffalo when he carried the ball 16 times for 98 yards and a score, and vs. the Dolphins, he was impressive with a 16-carry, 78-yard, one-touchdown performance.
7. Shaun Hill, QB, Lions: The reason Hill is so low on this list is because there’s no way he’ll take the job from Matthew Stafford. But still, how impressive has Hill looked the past few weeks? After Stafford went out with the shoulder injury in Week 1, Hill was terrible. But the past three weeks, he’s completed 61.9 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions (he’s also averaging 301 passing yards per game), and he really impressed me in Detroit’s two-point loss to Green Bay.
6. Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders: It didn’t take long for Raiders coach Tom Cable to figure out that, in order to save his job, he’d take his chances with Gradkowski instead of Jason Campbell. This is not to say Gradkowski is an elite quarterback, because that’s a laughable notion. But he played well at times when he was in Tampa Bay after Chris Simms ruptured his spleen in 2006 (Gradkowski failed to win the starting job in 2007). For now, though, Gradkowski is entrenched as Cable’s guy. As long as Cable is around.
5. Koa Misi, LB, Dolphins: Ikaika Alama-Francis was supposed to be the starter, but the night before the season opener, he caught some kind of illness and he’s been recovering ever since, losing 15-20 pounds in the process. Misi, the team’s second round Draft pick this year, has taken over his starting spot with consistent play and a smooth transition to the pro game. It was originally thought that Misi’s main objective would be as a situational pass-rusher – he was, after all, a defensive end in college – but he’s proven his worth as an every-down back with two sacks and a fumble recovery TD. In the meantime, he’s also Wally Pipp’d Alama-Francis.
4. Taylor Mays, S, 49ers: Mays so Wally Pipp’d former starter Michael Lewis that San Francisco released Lewis Monday, the day after Mays’ huge game against Atlanta. Mays had taken Lewis’ starting job already, and it sounds like Lewis asked for his release, but still, that’s pretty impressive for a rookie. Mays, in case you didn’t see it, had a phenomenal touchdown (both feet down!) after a punt block to give San Francisco a 14-0 lead. He also made 11 tackles.
3. John Carney, K, Saints: Carney, who will turn 65 later this year (I’m kidding, he’s 46), has returned once again to the NFL, and after making three kicks this past week, you have to wonder how much longer Garrett Hartley will stay on the roster – or why he’s on the roster at all at this point. Obviously, Carney isn’t the future kicker in this organization, and maybe the Saints are keeping Hartley around, because they’re hoping he can overcome what’s been a terrible start to the season for him. Otherwise, he’d already have been Pipp’d.
2. Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins: Torain and Clinton Portis have split carries, but it seems that if this was the 100-meter dash at the Olympics, Torain would be Usain Bolt and Portis would be the other seven guys. Meaning Torain is pulling away and eventually will take Portis’ starting role. It could happen this week actually as Portis hurt his groin Sunday. Let me also briefly mention San Diego’s Mike Tolbert, who replaced first-round pick Ryan Mathews when he was injured and rushed for 255 combined yards the past three games (including a 100-yard performance Sunday when Mathews was in the game). But coach Norv Turner says he’s committed to keeping Mathews as the starter, so Tolbert doesn’t fit on this list all that well.
1. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: It was supposed to be Montario Hardesty and Jerome Harrison running the ball in Cleveland. Hillis – who was traded from Denver in the Brady Quinn deal this past offseason – was supposed to be just an afterthought. Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs had never heard of the guy until he ripped off 180 total yards (144 on the ground, the most Baltimore has allowed in five years) against the Ravens. With Hardesty out with a season-ending injury and with Harrison failing to make an impression on the Cleveland coaching staff, Hillis has taken advantage, tying the league high with four touchdowns and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Like Gehrig, it appears that Hillis has no future plans to give up his starting spot.
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Tags: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Gradkowski, Clinton Portis, Derek Anderson, Fred Taylor, Garrett Hartley, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Jason Campbell, Jerome Harrison, John Carney, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Faulk, Koa Misi, Lance Moore, Marques Colston, Matthew Stafford, Max Hall, Michael Lewis, Montario Hardesty, Peyton Hillis, Reggie Bush, Ryan Torain, Shaun Hill, Taylor Mays, Tom Cable, Top ten with a twist
Posted on: October 4, 2010 5:38 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2010 6:03 pm
Posted by Andy Benoit
The Cardinals managed a paltry 124 yards of total offense against the Chargers. And 124 is also only three times the number of points Arizona gave up.
Antonio Gates was targeted seven times. He finished with seven catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Those are the type of numbers a player puts up when going up against thin air.
The Chargers defense had nine sacks.
Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday started their NFL-record 158th game together. (The previous record of 157 was held by Jim Kelly and Kent Hull.)
Donovan McNabb completed just 8/19 passes in his return to Philly. That’s his lowest completion total in a win since his NFL starting debut (which, coincidentally, came against the Redskins).
Santana Moss had zero catches and was targeted just one time.
Quintin Mikell led the Eagles with seven tackles, though none were dynamic enough to make us forget the one he missed (you know, when Ryan Torain plowed over him for a touchdown run).
Arian Foster sat out the first quarter against the Raiders for disciplinary reasons. That allowed Derrick Ward to rise from the dead and finish the day with 12 carries for 80 yards. (Interesting that Steve Slaton wouldn’t get more carries in this instance.) Foster still got his, too. He gained 131 yards on 16 carries, including a sensational 74-yard touchdown.
Raiders tight end Zach Miller caught 11 passes for 122 yards and a score. On the other side, Texans backup tight end Joel Dreessen led the team with five catches for 73 yards and a score. (Perhaps the bigger news is that Owen Daniels, in a contract year and coming off a serious knee injury, seems to be assuming a backseat role).
Haloti Ngata had 11 tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits against the Steelers. And yes, in just watching the down-to-down action, Ngata was indeed THAT dominant.
The Saints ran 79 plays Sunday. The Panthers ran 47. The Saints had 27 first downs. The Panthers had 10. (The game was close because the Saints were just 1/5 in the red zone and lost two fumbles.)
Panthers linebacker James Anderson had 16 tackles and a sack.
Saints safety Usama Young played well filling in for an injured Roman Harper. Young led the team with six tackles and recorded a sack and a tackle for a loss.
Seahawks running back Justin Forsett looked much better against the Rams than his 19-carry, 65-yards stat line suggests. Forsett showed great initial quickness and lateral agility between the tackles. Credit the Rams linebackers and defensive backs for keeping him in check.
Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons had two sacks for the second straight week.
Kyle Orton threw for 341 yards against the Titans. He also attempted 50 passes for the third time this season (the Broncos are 1-2 when he does).
Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal both went over 100 receiving yards. It was Lloyd’s third 100-yard game of the season. Denver also had two 100-yard receivers against the Colts (Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney).
Chris Johnson’s longest run against the Broncos went for just eight yards. His backup, Javon Ringer, ripped off a 54-yarder. (To be fair, Ringer was ultimately chased down on that run; Johnson would have taken it to the house.)
Dave Ball had 2.5 of Tennessee’s six sacks of Kyle Orton.
The Lions ran 78 total plays; the Packers ran 40. A week after setting a franchise record with penalties 18 penalties for 152 yards, Green Bay benefitted from 13 Detroit penalties totaling 102 yards.
Charles Woodson recorded his 10th interception return for a touchdown, third most in NFL history. (Rod Woodson holds the record with 12; Sharper is next with 11. Deion Sanders had 9.)
Jordy Nelson lost two fumbles for the Packers. (And the lost fumbles never turned up…we think someone from the Lions may have found them.)
Brandon Pettigrew had a career day, catching eight passes for 91 yards. He’s another guy who has successfully bounced back from a late ’09 ACL injury.
Taylor Mays did not just have a spectacular blocked punt touchdown for the 49ers, he also led the team with 11 tackles. Looks like Michael Lewis won’t be getting his starting job back any time soon.
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Tags: Antonio Gates, Arian Foster, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Pettigrew, Charles Woodson, Chris Clemons, Chris Johnson, Dave Ball, Deion Sanders, Derrick Warwd, Donovan McNabb, Eddie Royal, Halot Ngata, Jabar Gaffney, James Anderson, Javon Ringer, Jeff Saturday, Jim Kelly, Joel Dreessen, Jordy Nelson, Justin Forsett, Kent Hull, Kyle Orton, Michael Lewis, Owen Daniels, Peyton Manning, Quintin Mikell, Rod Woodson, Roman Harper, Ryan Torain, Santana Moss, Steve Slaton, Taylor Mays, Usama Young, Zach Miller