Tag:Jacksonville Jaguars
Posted on: September 28, 2010 11:00 am
Edited on: September 28, 2010 11:56 am
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2010 records determine waiver order for Edwards

Posted by Will Brinson

Don't laugh, but NFL teams will be lining up for Trent Edwards' services this afternoon, just a few days after the Buffalo Bills decided to release him from their roster . Or, more accurately, they may have already lined up and are shuffling around trying to figure out who might be in front of them for his services.

See, if a player is dumped in the first three weeks of the NFL season, the prior season's records determine the waiver order. If it's after the first three weeks, the current season's records determine the order. Edwards was dumped on Monday, after the third Sunday of the season but not before the entire week was completed.

However, according to the NFL's clarifying statement to Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk , 2010 records will matter in this instance, because Edwards' contract is being awarded on Tuesday (which is today and which is after Week 3, obviously).

A quick glance at the standings reveals a few teams that stink this season, primarily because of quarterback problems: the Panthers, the Jaguars, the 49ers, the Browns and the Lions are all 0-3 and have either a) had a quarterback get injured, b) replaced their starting quarterback for poor performance at some point this season or c) been fooled for the 500th time by Alex Smith playing well in one game.

Oh yes, and the Bills. But it's at least "improbable" that they would release him and then claim him. ("Impossible" seems like a stretch, given the absurdity of releasing him this early in the season without even seeking some sort of trade with a quarterback needy team.)

Also in the mix -- according to Chris Mortensen -- are the Seahawks, Chiefs and Jets, although it seems pretty unlikely that, given their back-of-the-line status, any of those three would have a shot at landing Edwards.

But yeah, Trent Edwards is really popular, which is why it makes absolutely no sense that the Bills just cut him outright.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 9:07 am
 

Garrard starts 'as long as he's our best option'

Posted by Will Brinson

Later today, we'll talk quarterbacks in more depth, but Jack Del Rio's resoundingly complimentary quotes to the media yesterday re: David Garrard deserves a little attention now. Obviously, the Jaguars, after getting a big first game out of Garrard, are struggling mightily right now, and their starting quarterback is struggling even more.

Garrard tossed four picks against the Chargers in Week 2 and then went 13 for 30 for 105 yards, no TDs and an interception against the Eagles this past week. Needless to say, Del Rio is answering plenty of questions about his guy. Like, for instance, "How long will he continue to start?"

"As long as he's our best option," Del Rio responded.

That sounds like my dad on a childhood camping trip when we'd wonder aloud if we will "continue to eat Beanie Weenies" -- in this sort of response, "best" doesn't so much apply in the Webster's sense ("excelling all others" or "most productive of good" or "offering or producing the greatest advantage, utility or satisfaction") so much as really means "only."

In case that wasn't clearly implied, Del Rio also called this an "urgent time" for the Jaguars. And it is -- they welcome the Colts this coming week and a loss, especially coupled with Houston and Tennessee winning, would push the Jags two-plus games back of the division lead and keep warming Del Rio's already quite warm seat.

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Posted on: September 25, 2010 3:29 pm
 

Week 3 injury news & analysis III

Posted by Andy Benoit

Cowboys @ Texans

Andre Johnson will play despite battling an ankle injury during the week. Until E Antonio Smith came down with an illness Saturday afternoon, Johnson was the only Texan listed as questionable – everyone else is no worse than probable.

The Cowboys are almost equally as healthy. Starting fullback Deon Anderson is out (knee) and special teamer/nickel linebacker Sean Lee is questionable with a hamstring. Other than that, this is full strength against full strength. (Not counting, of course, suspended Texans Duane Brown and Brian Cushing).

49ers @ Chiefs

Center Eric Heitmann is still not back from his broken fibula suffered in August, though from the sound of things, he’s making progress. Ted Ginn is doubtful with a knee, which means the responsibilities of muffing punts could fall to sixth-round rookie Kyle Williams. (Phillip Adams had a chance last week against the Saints, but he muffed a punt late, resulting in a crucial turnover. At this point, Mike Singletary would give his right eye in exchange for a reliable return artist.)

Chiefs starting DE Tyson Jackson is doubtful (knee). Jackson is a young, high-drafted starter, but the defense can survive without him. In fact, backup Shaun Smith is the more natural 3-4 end. Smith lacks stamina, though, so expect Wallace Gilberry (who, by the way, is probable with a sore back) to see plenty of snaps.

Ryan O’Callaghan has been out since late August with a groin injury. Thus, sixth-round rookie Barry Richardson will continue to start at right tackle.

Eagles @ Jaguars

No one is listed as anything worse than probable for the Eagles this week – including Week 1’s concussion victims, MLB Stewart Bradley and QB Kevin Kolb. (By the way, did you hear that Andy Reid is going to start Michael Vick ahead of Kolb!!!?!!C. Bailey (US Presswire)!???!!?)

The Jaguars will be without athletic linebacker Justin Durant (ankle). Durant will be replaced by versatile second-year pro Russell Allen, who is actually the team’s best linebacker (Allen was Jacksonville’s most consistent downhill attacker against the run last year).

The Jags are already thin at safety, which is why coaches should be nervous about Anthony Smith’s foot (questionable).

Colts @ Broncos

It’s always hard to read a Colts injury report, as president Bill Polian loves to obfuscate the truth as much as possible. (Polian is playing well within the rules when he does, too.)

Six players are questionable, including DT Eric Foster (knee), WR Pierre Garcon (hamstring), OT Charlie Johnson (foot), LB Clint Session (hamstring) and RB Joseph Addai (knee). Of the bunch, only Addai had full participation in practice. Johnson has been playing with a bad foot all season, so he can be expected to go. The Colts have plenty of depth to replace Garcon and Session.

Denver’s injury situation is far more precarious. Knowshon Moreno is already out after injuring his hamstring in practice. (This is not the same hamstring that kept him out during the preseason). Correll Buckhalter will start. We could also see Laurence Maroney, though he’s listed as probable with a thigh. Adding to the challenge in the run game is the fact that RT Ryan Harris still hasn’t recovered from his preseason ankle injury and RG Chris Kuper is questionable with a bum knee.

Cornerbacks Champ Bailey (foot) and Andre Goodman (thigh) were limited in practice, which isn’t ideal when facing the Colt offense. But both corners are expected to play Sunday.


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Posted on: September 22, 2010 10:03 am
Edited on: September 22, 2010 10:05 am
 

Hot Routes 9.22.10: It's a dog-eat-dog world

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) .
  • The Philadelphia Daily News , even amid a Phillies playoff push, is most concerned with reminding you about Michael Vick's past (see: right). Because, as Mike Florio points out , everyone needs to remember that Vick is getting a second chance! DO NOT FORGET THAT HE DID SOMETHING EVIL AND NOW IS GOOD. Otherwise this whole "he's starting now and the Eagles are winning" thing isn't any fun.
  • Chan Gailey is apparently exactly like Mike Shanahan -- because of his hatred for fantasy football players and use of as many running backs as possible -- except for the fact that his teams and running backs aren't worth playing/owning/using. To sum up: he's refusing to name a starter but he may or may not give C.J. Spiller more touches.
  • Pete Carroll, however, is all business, yo. You play like poop and he's gonna let you know. Optimistically, of course, but he'll let you know. In fact, he called out his main bro Matt Hasselbeck for playing so poorly against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
  • Derek Anderson shouldn't worry about getting yelled at. Well, maybe he could get yelled at, but he won't be benched immediately, as the Arizona Republic reports the team will be "patient" with him. That's probably because they don't have another choice.
  • John McClain of the Houston Chronicle writes that the rivalry between the Cowboys and the Texans is just "a figment of fans' imagination." I've only been to Texas like once or twice, so I can't say for sure, but something tells me that if the Texans beat the Cowboys and push them to 0-3, they will be talking a lot. And something else tells me that if the Texans represent the state at Jerry Bowl 2K11, a certain Cowboys owner and his fans will not be very happy.
  • With Luke McCown out for the year, Todd Bouman is the winner in the "David Garrard Replacement" sweepstakes. Guess we can take him out of the controversies column now.
  • And we'll close with awesome news for the always awesome Hines Ward, who was sworn into President Barack Obama's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Tuesday.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 12:48 am
Edited on: September 22, 2010 9:47 am
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: Quarterbacks droppin like flies

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 .

Up until Kevin Kolb's concussion, it sure seemed like the only quarterback controversies we'd see this season would be on a bunch of crummy teams. Now, the Eagles could still end up stinking, but it sure doesn't look ilke that will be Michael Vick's fault -- through one-and-a-half games, he's been absolutely dominant on the offensive end, prompting pundits to point out that he may finally be maturing into the quarterback everyone wanted him to be in Atlanta.

So, yes, he will be making a LOT of money this time next year, thanks for asking. Because, as we'll detail shortly, there are plenty of teams in the NFL that could use a potential Pro Bowler who can rush for 100 and throw for 250 all in the same game.

But, having said all that, it's necessary to understand that Michael Vick won't be starting for the Eagles and there is no "technical" quarterback controversy.

For now.

Kevin Kolb will get the nod this weekend against the Jaguars who, fortunately for him, appear to be vulnerable through the air, sitting at 29th overall against the pass (an even 300 yards per game allowed).

Also fortunate for him is the game being played in Jacksonville, as far away from the only people who believe there's a debate about who to start under center (that would be the ever wonderful Philadelphia fans) for the 'Guls.

One good game from Kolb and we all go back to not freaking out about Vick starting, watching him perform well in spot action, and debating about who'll overpay him this offseason.

Well, at least until Kolb's next bad game anyway.

The same can't be said for a number of other quarterbacks in the NFL, though.

****

Matt Moore, for instance, may never see the field as a Panther again. That depends solely on how Jimmy Clausen plays this Sunday.

Admittedly (I use that word because I'm a Panthers fan who also dislikes Notre Dame and therefor find myself consistently conflicted about Clausen), the team has looked better offensively during the short stretches that Clausen's played.

He's young and he seems like he might be a bit of a bag, but at least he doesn't try to do his best David Carr impersonation by hanging in the pocket for as long as humanly possible before making ill-advised decisions.

Which, you might have noticed, is what Moore's been doing.

Oddly, it never made sense that John Fox wouldn't bother using Clausen unless the Panthers season was completely down the drain; he seems destined to leave Charlotte regardless of the outcome for 2010. But the early move to the rookie presents an interesting situation -- if the Panthers reel off a slew of victories and make a run (they're not winning their division or making the playoffs, but they can at least try), maybe it gives Jerry Richardson some hope that Foxy can coach up the young franchise quarterback and give him reason to offer the long time coach a deal.

Of course, Foxy might tell him to get bent and it won't matter. But that's another story for another day.

****

Buffalo's "controversy" is only "controversial" in that it involves multiple quarterbacks -- anyone who didn't think that Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards were going be taking turns as the official Bills hide-a-mole all season along hasn't followed that team closely enough.

Really, the only surprise is that Chan Gailey decided to make a move this quickly. Or is it that he waited this long? I can never tell with that team.

****

Vince Young and Kerry Collins have been taking turns swapping jobs for as long as Reggie Bush has been immorally gripping a Heisman trophy. However, all indications from Jeff Fisher are that VY is still the QB and Collins' cup o' joe on Sunday was merely because of the Steelers defense and how poorly it matches up with Young's game.

(Aside: Pittsburgh's just good, y'all. People are going to have to start profusely apologizing to Peter King in February if Troy Polamalu stays healthy. Unless those same people drafted Ryan Mathews on their fantasy teams anyway.)

That doesn't mean that Vinsanity is free of getting the hook in the future though; he simply has to keep his head together moving forward, and not be the reason why the Titans beat themselves. That's entirely possible, although games against the Giants, Denver and Dallas aren't exactly that first week freebie Young got against the Raiders.

****

Oakland is now a "controversy free zone." Or something -- Tom Cable doesn't want to talk about whether Bruce Gradkowski is going to start, he just wants to know why JaMarcus Russell is wearing a Jason Campbell mask and still on his roster.

It's really outstanding just how horrible Oakland has made Campbell; not that he was Jim Plunkett (well, he wasn't Plunkett to anyone that has a modicum of sanity remaining anyway) before, but it sure seemed like he could be a shade above mediocre and manage to help the Raiders make a run. So much for that though -- Campbell's been 30 of 52 for a TD and two INTs so far in the season, good enough for a stinker of a 61.9 QB rating.

Gradkowski isn't exactly Plunkett either, but at least he's not Curtis Painter. Although, in hindsight, maybe Painter's job would be a lot less difficult if he just got traded to Oakland and had the opportunity to back up someone who's not Peyton Manning.

****

David Garrard is our final quarterback who got benched in Week 2 for poor play. Fortunately, he was able to pull a Judge Smails on Luke McCown's hamstring just before the backup led the Jaguars to their second score of the day, allowing Garrard to sneak in and toss a potentially job-saving TD.

The removal of Garrard in a painful blowout to San Diego is interesting, if only because he'd looked so stout in Week 1 while the Jags were dismantling the Broncos. Oh, and because everyone spent all preseason demanding that Jack Del Rio infuse controversial concern into the depth chart, only to have him firmly reject the notion that Garrard might lose his job.

It's safe to say that Garrard is safe to play … for now. But if the Jags keep sink further behind the leaders of what appears to be a very difficult division, people could get panicky.

****


Jamaal Charles and Jerome Harrison have to have kidnapped the children of their respective coaches (Todd Haley and Eric Mangini). There's no other explanation for why they see so few touches despite being so clearly the better backs on their team.

And I hear you, Chiefs fans who say "HEY SHUT IT, WE'RE 2-0, HALEY RULEZ!1" Also those of you who say, "Excuse me, Mr. Brinson, but Charles really doesn't do that much damage with his carries" -- I hear you too. But the thing is, and this is the thing: why not, you know, actually utilize Charles? Not that he should get the rock 30 times a game in between the tackles -- that would be silly. But a screen or two perhaps? That's not so much to ask, right?

As for Harrison, he has fumbled plenty and he has seen some shoddy rushing behind a Browns offensive line that only seems concerned about getting to the golf course; it just seems like Mangini keeps putting him in worst-possible scenarios, like getting three straight carries while being backed up against his own end zone. Don't worry, though, Peyton Hillis is there to not punch it into the end zone!

But, hey, maybe Haley and Mangini just really appreciate having two running backs that can handle the rock. It's not a problem like with quarterbacks.

Unless you're in Philly, of course. Then it's a "beautiful thing".

Well, at least until that first next bad game from Kevin Kolb.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 2:52 pm
 

Hot Routes 9.20.10 Some box score tidbits

Posted by Andy Benoit

In this week’s 10 Stories That Deserve Your Attention, we focused on how LaDainian Tomlinson appears to be handling a much heavier load than expected for the Jets. This is supposed to be Shonn Greene’s backfield. Well, the man Tomlinson essentially replaced, Thomas Jones, is doing the same thing in Kansas City. Jones carried the ball 22 times against the Browns Sunday (83 yards). Jamaal Charles, who is coming off the bench, had 11 carries (49 yards).

Third-round rookie tight end Tony Moeaki led the Chiefs with five catches for 58 yards.

Ndamukong Sun flashed dominance for the second week in a row. Suh recorded a sack against Michael Vick (he may have gotten away with a facemask on the play) and consistently pushed the interior pocket.

How about these rushing statistics for the Cowboys: Marion Barber 11 carries for 31 yards; Felix Jones 7 carries for 7 yards; Tashard Choice 1 carry for -1 yard. Somehow, you can’t help but think this is Tony Romo’s fault.

Trent Edwards was 11/18 for 102 yards and two picks against the Packers. When Marshawn Lynch ran for 14 yards to end the first quarter, that brought Buffalo’s net yardage on the day back to zero. C. Matthews (US Presswire)

Jermichael Finley has his second career 100-yard game. Expect at least five more this season for the best tight end in the NFC.

Should we just go ahead and vote for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award now? Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had three sacks for the second week in a row. This for a guy who sat out virtually the entire preseason with a hamstring injury.

Actually, we’d better not crown Matthews yet. Mario Williams followed his stellar Week 1 performance with a shimmering outing against the Redskins. Williams recorded three sacks, two tackles for a loss and two pass deflections. It’s safe to say the Texans probably don’t win that game without him.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 145 yards on 28 carries against a fairly-staunch Dolphins D. There wasn’t a cheap yard in the bunch. Peterson put on an absolute show late in the second half, showing his familiar powerful burst and uncanny change-of-direction prowess. However, his show came to an abrupt end on the second to last drive, when the Dolphins kept him out of the end zone on four-straight plays from inside the 10.

Chris Johnson had his streak of 100-yard games snapped at 12 by a Steelers D that has given up just one 100-yard rushing performance in its last 36 outings. Johnson managed just 34 yards on 16 carries. He had an 85-yard touchdown called back because of a Eugene Amano holding penalty (even with nose tackle Casey Hampton out, the Titans center had a rough afternoon).

A week after his impressive return to the NFL, Seahawks wideout Mike Williams had just one catch for seven yards against the Broncos.

Wes Welker and Randy Moss were both held to 38 yards receiving.

The Chargers held Maurice Jones-Drew to 31 yards on 12 carries. Rashad Jennings actually got nine carries, producing 38 yards.

Philip Rivers 334 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and an unofficial 3 screams at his offensive linemen against the Jaguars.

Shawne Merriman got on the field for the first time all season and recorded three tackles.

Tim Hightower was the lone bright spot for the Cardinals. With Beanie Wells still out with a knee injury, the third-year running back carried the entire load Sunday. Hightower rushed for 115 yards on 11 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown scamper in which he showed newfound quickness and acceleration.

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 3:20 am
Edited on: September 20, 2010 9:17 am
 

10 Sunday stories that deserve your attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. Too much Manning

This is not an objection to NBC’s heavy Manning Family coverage Sunday night. We’ve come to expect the Manning home videos and Olivia/Archie luxury box shots. And, let’s admit it, we like it. And credit NBC for not ramming too many “AndE. Manning (US Presswire) let’s not forget, Cooper is a successful human being, as well!” reminders down our throats.

In this case, the “too much Manning” headline has to do with the fact that both players were on the field deep into the fourth quarter. Why? Why play either star in garbage time?

For the Colts, backup quarterback Curtis Painter clearly needs extra work (word is he gets close to zero reps in practice). Why not work Painter? And why not rest Manning and protect him from injury?

Ditto this last sentiment for the Giants. In fact, given the beating Eli took Sunday night, ditto it in all caps: WHY NOT REST MANNING AND PROTECT HIM FROM INJURY!? The Giants offensive tackles couldn’t get a fingertip on Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis (each had two sacks and at least one forced fumble). Plus, backup Sage Rosenfels, acquired from Minnesota after the preseason, could benefit from some live game experience in Kevin Gilbride’s offense. So why keep Eli in there and risk injury?

You may be thinking that it doesn’t matter, the Manning brothers never get hurt anyway. Yes, and Tom Brady was once a player who never got hurt. Injuries are always a real possibility.

In fact, on that note, why do you think the NFL conveniently schedules these Manning Bowls for early in the season? (The 2006 Manning Bowl took place in Week 1.) The guess here is that the league knows that the deeper in the season the game is, the greater the possibility that one brother will be out with an injury.

2. Bad day to be a bad quarterback

There were plenty of quarterbacks who did receive the treatment that the Manning brothers should have received in the fourth quarter.

***Derek Anderson was benched late in Arizona’s blowout loss at Atlanta. Anderson was 17/31 for 161 yards and two interceptions. Backup Max Hall managed to complete two of his three pass attempts, though one of those completions went to Falcons fifth-round rookie cornerback Domonique Franks.

It’s likely that Anderson will be the starter against the Raiders in Week 3. It usually takes a head coach six or seven games to come to grips with the fact that they won’t be the one to solve Anderson’s accuracy woes. Hall’s name is more likely to surface in serious discussion around Halloween.

***Dennis Dixon left Pittsburgh’s win over Tennessee in the second quarter with a left knee injury. The Steelers have three different starting quarterback candidates next week (it’s like a Democratic primary election in Utah, and Ben Roethlisberger is the incumbent Republican candidate). Dixon is one option. Charlie Batch, who was 5/11, 25 yards Sunday is another. And third is Byron Leftwich, who was released earlier in the week but will be re-signed soon (if this was dating instead of football, Leftwich’s friends would be telling him he’s getting played by the Steelers).

Of course, if the Steelers are going to force seven turnovers and score a special teams touchdown each week, then maybe the man to start at quarterback should be whoever is best at taking a knee. That’s all this team seems to need from its offense right now. (For taking a knee, Batch is the best option, given that Dixon and Leftwich are both getting over knee injuries.)

***Sticking with the Steelers-Titans game, Jeff Fisher sat Vince Young late in the second half, citing the need to “get a spark” on offense. The Nashville crowd, forgetting last year’s 0-6 start, cheered Collins’ arrival, which means we get to spend the next few days once again wondering about Young’s psyche (If we’re lucky, he’ll publicly pout or get in trouble, which will allow us to also wonder about his maturity).

Don’t expect Jeff Fisher to wonder about Young’s psyche. “I wasn’t concerned, to be honest, about (Young’s) feelings at that point,’’ Fisher said afterwards when asked about the benching. “I was trying to win the football game.”

Young was a languid 7/10 for 66 yards with two interceptions and two fumbles (one lost). Fisher insists that Young is still the team’s starting quarterback (unless a certain hotheaded 87-year-old suddenly says otherwise). But how can a starting quarterback truly lead a team when the head coach has already tried to spark a comebacker by benching him? (By the way, thanks to an uncharacteristic soft zone defense from Pittsburgh late in the game, the Titans almost did mount a comeback.)

***Raiders head coach Tom Cable wanted to put a spark into his offense as well, so he pulled the covers off the ridiculous lie that Raider fans had somehow tricked everyone into believing: that Jason Campbell is a quality quarterback. The same problems that plagued Campbell in Washington – indecisiveness in the pocket, slow mechanics and a paralyzing fear of taking chances downfield – are, not surprisingly, plaguing him in Oakland. J. Campbell (US Presswire)

Trailing 7-3, Bruce Gradkowski opened the second half under center for the Raiders and led the offense to 13 points, pulling out a 16-14 win. Gradkowski’s numbers were fairly pedestrian – 11/22, 162 yards, a touchdown and a pick – but the Raider offense was markedly livelier under his direction.

Cable hasn’t committed to a Week 3 starter at this point, but it’s hard to imagine him not choosing Gradkowski. The other players love the veteran’s energy. Take a look at this thoughtful, though albeit somewhat illogical, quote from left tackle Mario Henderson: "I said it last year, (Gradkowski) is a great quarterback. A good backup and definitely a great starting quarterback."

While we’re on the Raiders offense…

We (I) have been extremely harsh on the first-round skill position players for Oakland. It’s not fair to boisterously criticize guys and then go quiet when they actually play well. So, I’m making sure to point out that Darren McFadden had an excellent game Sunday (30 carries, 145 yards). McFadden now has 48 carries for 250 yards on the season. Also, wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey is showing noticeable improvements as a route runner. Heyward-Bey has a unique ability to stop and start with a crisp suddenness. He caught six balls for 80 yards against St. Louis.

***In Carolina, Matt Moore was 6/16 for 125 yards and one benching, as Jimmy Clausen relieved him late in the second half. Moore’s completion percentage through two games is 40.8. Clausen may not be ready – if he were, John Fox probably would have used Moore’s Week 1 concussion as an excuse to start the second-round rookie – but with opponents now familiar with Moore’s weaknesses (which mainly center around pocket toughness), there are plenty who believe the Panthers need to make a change. 

***Finally, the quarterback controversy we’ve all been waiting for seems to have arrived in Jacksonville: David Garrard out, Luke McCown in. At least, that’s the way it went late against San Diego. Perhaps it was just a blowout factor. Or, perhaps it was a harbinger of change.
Garrard’s four interceptions (three his fault), weren’t a result of him trying to make a big play (because he doesn’t try to make big plays). They were simply poor execution. The Jags may not be prepared to make the switch under center just yet, but does this sound like a coaching staff that’s fully in Garrard’s corner?

“We need him to be more consistent. I thought he missed some easy things today.”
–head coach Jack Del Rio

“We protected good enough. We’ve got to throw and catch better. It’s that simple.”
–offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

3. Here you go, Bears fans

I got ripped by Bears fans last week for making three of the 10 Stories That Deserve Your Attention negative bits on the Bears. Well, despite some early pass protection issues, Chicago went into Dallas and came out 2-0. Am I about to offer a mea culpa here? Absolutely not. I still think, ultimately, pass-blocking will be a crippling weakness for Mike Martz’s offense. But, just focusing on Week 2 Sunday, the Bears deserve a lot of praise. So let’s enjoy the moment and spread some around…

***Jay Cutler was terrific when he got time to throw. And he handled the early pressure from the Cowboys front seven well. Cutler finished 21/29 for 277 yards, three scores and zero interceptions (and for Cutler, a no-pick game is the equivalent of a 550-yard day….so, theoretically, he had 827 yards passing this game). Something Cutler doesn’t get praised for enough is his deep ball, which is probably the most accurate in the game.

***Devin Hester’s touchdown grab in the back corner of the end zone was the type of play that only happens after hours and hours of footwork drills.

***Matt Forte had 10 carries for 29 yards. (Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to include these numbers. I forgot that a positive Bears piece includes pretending that Forte is potentially the next Marshall Faulk.)
***New nickelback D.J. Moore intercepted Tony Romo twice.

***The Bears defense held the Dallas offense to just 13 points.

4. Speaking of the Dallas offense…

This is where we talk about Wade Phillips being on the hot seat, Jerry Jones assembling a team with no chemistry, Tony Romo not being a leader and the myriad of other stars in Big D being underachievers, right?

Well, what if I told you the Cowboys aren’t in that much trouble? Yes, the offense has scored just 20 points in two losses on the season. But teams as talented as the Cowboys are always just a few clicks away from exploding.

The Cowboys are still dangerous. Miles Austin looks even better than he did a year ago. Dez Bryant is living up to the hype. Jason Witten is too fundamentally sound to be anything less than the star that he is. Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice haven’t forgotten how to play. And guess what? The rest of the NFC East is 1-1, which means the Cowboys are only a game out of first place. It’s Week 2, folks.

Of course, if the Cowboys lose next week, then the (stuff) might actually hit the fan. Next week, the Cowboys are facing…

5. The Houston Texans

It’s not a Cinderella story if we’ve all been expecting it for three years. We’ve been waiting  on the Texans forever. (Imagine how we’d view Cinderella if she’d been invited to the ball but shown up late. What a brat!)
A. Johnson (US Presswire)
Still, there’s no denying that it’s fun to see the Texans succeed. One week after upending the AFC South bully Colts, Houston came from 17 down in the second half on the road to defeat a decent Redskins club in overtime.

Gary Kubiak masterfully used his icing the kicker timeout (insert your own “the NFL should do something about icing the kicker timeouts because it just doesn’t seem right” comment here….then insert the hollow follow-up comment that inevitably comes after you think about it and realize that there really isn’t anything the league can do about icing the kicker timeouts). Right before Redskins kicker Graham Gano successfully booted what was thought to be a game-winning 51-yarder, Kubiak motioned to the line judge. Gano then missed the unwanted mulligan attempt, and the Texans drove down the field and silenced a Redskins crowd that had already gone silent sometime shortly after Matt Schaub’s 400th passing yard.

Schaub finished with a gaudy 497 yards passing on the day. His performance overshadows the fact that Houston’s D has given up over 400 yards passing in back-to-back weeks. It’s almost gotten to the point that it’d make more sense to track Houston’s pass defense not in terms of yards given up but in terms of miles given up. But obviously, big days from Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb against this team haven’t been enough. One common theme in both Texan wins has been dominant play by Mario Williams.

Redskins-Texans Part B: karma, irony or just bad blocking

How’s this for irony: late in the fourth quarter, Donovan McNabb converted a crucial third-and-20 to keep a potential game-winning drive alive. However, the play was called back thanks to a holding call against Washington’s backup offensive tackle, Stephon Heyer. Heyer is a former starter who plays both the left and right side with poor technique (ala a certain Cowboys offensive lineman who made Redskin fans quite happy a week ago).

6. A joke sits out

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was deactivated for this game because of an ankle injury. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports said before the game that the team was sick of Haynesworth making the injury a distraction during the week. Jason Reed of the Washington Post noted, “Haynesworth did not watch the game from the sidelines, which team officials said was normal for inactive players. Offensive lineman Will Montgomery and safety Kareem Moore, however, both joined their teammates on the bench for the game.”

The Skins would love to trade Haynesworth, but there are no takers. They can’t just cut him because then he would win the power struggle. Haynesworth deserves a 2005 Terrell Owens-like suspension, but the Players Union would raise a stink about that, which only exacerbates the current distraction.

So here’s an idea: since Haynesworth is an underachieving part-time player and fulltime headache for Mike Shanahan, why don’t the Redskins just put him on Injured Reserve? There’s always something physically wrong with the big clown anyway – ankle, knee, (heart?). Wouldn’t it be great if, one day, Haynesworth is milking an injury and one of the coaches comes up to him and says, “Boy, Albert, sure does look like you’re too hurt to practice. We’re going to play it safe with you and keep you out…for the rest of the season.” Putting Haynesworth on IR would send a message and give the coaching staff as much power in this whole disaster as possible.

7. Eagles not saving talk radio after all?

Could And Reid actually be curtailing the quarterback controversy in Philadelphia? Despite a very stellar performance from Michael Vick, the sentiment around the league seems to be, “Don’t get your hopes up, Reid says Kevin Kolb is still The Guy.”
M. Vick (US Presswire)
Come on, Andy! Please – please – just let us at least have the fun of speculating about the possibility of Vick stealing the starting job. Pleeeaaaasssseee!

In fact, let us see a little more of Vick before you go putting him on the shelf and running your team the right way. We never get to see electrifying mobile quarterbacks these days. (Probably because of what Bill Walsh once said, which is essentially that athleticism-based quarterbacks put the head coach at the mercy of the man under center.) But the mobile quarterbacks are fun! They're so much more fun than the fundamentally-sound dropback passers.

Yes, it’d be a political nightmare to turn your back on Kolb at this point, but think of how much fun the Vick storyline would be each week!

By the way, for those of you who read last week’s Key Matchup on the Lions defense against Vick, for the record, Detroit did indeed wind up playing zone, which still didn’t neutralize the speed of the Philly receivers (see DeSean Jackson’s 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown). And the Lions did indeed shadow Vick. Instead of using a linebacker, they went with safety Louis Delmas. It wasn’t a poorly-executed plan – Vick was held to only 37 yards rushing. But the plan was contingent on Vick not making consistent throws from the pocket. On Sunday, Vick was able to make those consistent throws from the pocket, in part because his escapability eradicated several would-be sacks.

8. Don’t fall in love with the Chiefs

Kansas City is a young, up-and-coming team. At 2-0, it will be very easy to forecast them as the breakout club of 2010. Don’t.
Yes, the Chiefs are much improved. But their Week 1 win over San Diego was influenced by weather, home opener momentum and huge plays on special teams. Their Week 2 win came against a Cleveland team was counting on Seneca Wallace at quarterback and that specializes in losing home openers (1-11 since 1999). Kansas City’s win was also propagated by a Brandon Flowers interception return score and a late missed field goal by Phil Dawson. The Chiefs still haven’t shown they can sustain offense under Matt Cassel (check out the iffy Week 1 and very average Week 2 box scores). They’re getting better, so be encouraged. Just don’t let go of that grain of salt yet.

9. J-E-T-S counting heavily on L.T.

Upon closer inspection, it appears that LaDainian Tomlinson is the No. 1 running back in New York. Can that really be?

We thought Shonn Greene sat most of Week 1 as punishment for early fumbles. But against the Patriots, Greene had just 15 carries for 52 yards. Tomlinson had 11 carries, but they came in bigger moments. He gained 76 yards on those 11 carries and 26 yards on four receptions, showing hints of the lateral quickness and acceleration that made him the best running back in football three years ago.

This isn’t to suggest that Tomlinson is the L.T. of old. But Phil Simms said something very interesting during Sunday’s broadcast: “What I see with LaDainian that I didn’t see as much in San Diego, with him, it is (now) all out every play.”

P.S. Tomlinson isn’t the only old-timer getting serious work in New York’s backfield. Fullback Tony Richardson has handled a majority of the load ahead of Hard Knocks star John Conner (The Terminator). Richardson was excellent against New England.K. Kardashian (US Presswire)

10. FOX chickens out

We’ll wrap up by throwing FOX under the bus. This is because the network kept things too P.G. During the Cowboys-Bears game, FOX did a full-screen three-graphic special on Miles Austin. The theme was, basically, how great is it to be Miles Austin right now?

The first graphic was about Austin putting up big numbers on the field. The next graphic was about his big new contract ($20 million guaranteed). The third graphic was about his ripped abs, which he recently showed off on the cover of Men’s Fitness.

And that was it. Numbers, contract and abs. No mention of the best thing in Austin’s world right now (the reward that those three previous things undoubtedly helped him earn): Reggie Bush’s ex-girlfriend.

FOX didn’t have the guts to do a Kim Kardashian photo during a football presentation. Fortunately, we do. (And, just to prove that Fox could have done it, we actually used a rare tasteful photo of the sex symbol.)

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Posted on: September 19, 2010 4:53 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Ryan Mathews carted off in first quarter

Posted by Will Brinson

Ryan Mathews was supposed to the "next LaDainian Tomlinson." Or at hte very least, a serviceable replacement. After a horrible start to his season against the Chiefs, things got even worse Sunday against the Jaguars as Mathews lost an early fumble and then was carted off after a right foot/ankle injury in the first quarter.

Mathews was running into a pile and a rewind and slow-mo job shows that Kirk Morrison came down on his right foot as he pushed forward, in a relatively nasty looking little injury.

10 bucks says he's classified as "questionable" to return, and another $10 says he won't see the field again against Jacksonville; San Diego has too much invested in Mathews to risk further injury, particularly if he's dealing with something like a high ankle sprain.

Update: (5:10): Well, scratch THAT idea. Mathews is already back on the Chargers sideline and seems likely to play. Guess he's not the next LdT after all. (Because, you know, he would have put on a helmet and a raincoat and sat on the bench staring at nothing.)

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