Tag:Michael Turner
Posted on: November 29, 2010 3:48 am
Edited on: November 29, 2010 4:20 am
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Posted on: November 22, 2010 6:24 pm
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Hot Routes 11.22.10: Week 11 boxscore tidbits

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Did you notice the Giants only had 208 yards of total offense against the Eagles Sunday night?

Justin Tuck had three sacks and was phenomenal in containment outside and against the run.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis racked up 96 yards on 21 carries against the Colts.

Donald Brown had 68 yards on 17 carries, but 36 of those yards came on one good run. Brown was his usual ineffective self for most of the night. J. Mayo (US Presswire)

Jerod Mayo led the Patriots with 15 tackles, though fellow inside linebacker Gary Guyton stood out more. Guyton had nine tackles.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 21/34, 316 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Fred Jackson and Cedric Benson both rushed for over 115 yards.

For the second week in a row, the Bills won and Lee Evans caught just two passes. (Not trying to suggest there’s a correlation between the two.) Steve Johnson has become Buffalo’s No. 1 wideout. He had eight catches for 137 yards and three scores against the Bengals.

For the second straight week, Felix Jones gave the Cowboys 51 yards on the ground. That is his second highest rushing output of the season.

Jahvid Best, who is battling a bad foot, had just two yards on three carries. Or maybe it was three yards on two carries. Anyway, he was a non-factor.

Dez Bryant averaged minus-two yards per catch on all of his non-touchdown receptions Sunday.

Very rarely does a DT lead his team in tackles. That’s what Ndamukong Suh did for the Lions (eight stops).

Before leaving with a re-aggravated groin injury, Clinton Portis looked fresh on five carries (32 yards).

Pilloried all week for poor route running, Redskins wideout Joey Galloway caught three passes for 32 yards. That was three more than Randy Moss caught, by the way.

Titans rookie Marc Mariani recorded his second touchdown return of the season (87 yards on a punt).

It came predominantly in garbage time, but Derek Anderson was 25/46 for 295 yards and a touchdown. And Matt Cassel, who raised the bar for garbage time excellence last week, was a sturdy 15/24 for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

Dwayne Bowe caught two touchdowns, giving him a Chiefs record six-straight games with a touchdown. Bowe is on pace for 1,100 yards and 18 TD’s.

Adrian Wilson led the Cardinals with seven tackles after struggling a week ago.

Thanks to the big deficit, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson got only 14 carries Sunday (72 yards). That was only two more carries than the Packers gave Dimitri Nance (37 yards).

Sidney Rice’s debut: three catches, 56 yards.

Clay Matthews added another sack to his records (league-high 11.5 on the season). He also had two tackles for a loss and two hits on the quarterback.

LaDainian Tomlinson still looks fresh. He only managed 36 yards on 12 carries, but he turned in 71 yards on seven receptions.

Joel Dreessen could wind up keeping the starting tight end job even once Owen Daniels is healthy. Dreessen, who is a slightly better blocker than Daniels, caught four passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

With RT Damien Woody out, the Texans got three sacks (two from Mario Williams) and seven hits on Mark Sanchez.

Pittsburgh held Oakland to 61 yards rushing, which is par for the course for the Steelers this season.

Jason Campbell was 7/19 for 70 yards and a pick before getting benched in the second half. Bruce Gradkowski finished 13/24 for 98 yards and a pick.

Rashard Mendenhall’s 59 yards rushing were just four more yards than Ben Roethlisberger had on the ground.

James Harrison had two sacks, two tackles for a loss and two hits on the quarterback (one of which drew a ridiculous roughing the passer flag)…and those numbers still don’t describe the depth of his impact Sunday.

Joe Flacco had his first 300-yard passing game of the season against the Panthers.

Ray Lewis got his 30th career interception (and took it to the house).

The Jaguars won despite six turnovers (four from David Garrard).

Peyton Hillis was held to 48 yards on 21 carries, though he produced 95 yards on six receptions.

The Jaguars sacked Colt McCoy six times. Six sacks used to be a half-season for Jacksonville.

Interesting: Michael Turner got 28 carries for Atlanta (131 yards) and Jason Snelling got just one.

Who needs Pierre Thomas? Chris Ivory turned in99 yards on 23 carries for the Saints.

Brandon Stokley, Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu all had at least five catches and 75 yards for the Seahawks.

The 49ers generated only 71 yards on the ground against Tampa Bay’s bottom-feeder run defense. Forty five of those yards came from Troy Smith scrambles.

Mike Williams, barely 48 hours removed from a DUI arrest, caught all three passes thrown his way. Williams finished with 54 yards and a touchdown.

Patrick Willis stamped his ticket to Hawaii: two sacks, two tackles for a loss, two QB hits and a team-high 13 tackles.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: November 8, 2010 3:03 am
Edited on: November 8, 2010 3:27 am
 

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 9

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) The common sense approach for Jerry Jones

Out of principle, I’ve been trying to avoid Dallas Cowboy stories at all costs these past few weeks. I’ve also been buying into the idea of keeping Wade Phillips around for the remainder of the season just because, well, the Collective Bargaining Agreement issues do W. Phillips (US Presswire)complicate matters, and promoting someone from Phillips’ staff to the top position on an interim basis doesn’t pack much punch.

But what happened in Green Bay can’t be ignored. Thus, I’m writing a Cowboys story – an opinionated Cowboys story – that should cover the thousands of other Cowboys stories you’ll read this week. Here it goes:

It would be wrong to say the Cowboys quit Sunday night, as “quitting” would imply they actually got started at some point. The problems for this team are as numerous as they are obvious. Based on the way Jon Kitna seems to be received by teammates, you’d swear Dallas’ 52 other players are all atheists. The only way Kitna could be ignored any further is if Andre Gurode simply stopped snapping him the ball. Beyond Kitna, the running backs appear to be forbidden from pass blocking. The only time Dallas’ defense looks the least bit complex in the presnap phase is when a linebacker or safety lines up in the wrong spot. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has been particularly awful all season, though at least he hasn’t mortgaged his heart and self respect the way Mike Jenkins has (what kind of tackling effort was that on the James Jones touchdown???).

We could go on forever, but the point is, this team has crossed the threshold of pathetic, and because of that, Jerry Jones needs to fire Phillips. Yes, a head coaching change at this point is complicated, but I’ll take complicated over helpless any day. For the rest of this season, replace Phillips with Dave Campo, a fiery motivator with some head coaching experience. Don’t promote Jason Garrett – he may be just as big a part of the problem. Over these next eight games the former NFL backup quarterback needs to prove he’s still worthy of being an offensive coordinator in this league. The overly-simplistic system, lack of identity in the ground game and inconsistency of key players suggest he’s not. (By the way, have we ever seen a hot young head coaching candidate cool as quickly as Garrett? Those two 6-2 teams playing this Thursday night were both turned down by Garrett at one point.)

The second the game clock reads 0:00 in Week 17, Jones needs to offer a contract to Bill Cowher. Cris Collinsworth made a great point during the broadcast: when the Cowboys have had a no-nonsense disciplinarian head coach (i.e. Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells), they’ve prospered; when they’ve had a “players’ coach”, they’ve floundered. Go get Cowher. He’ll instill toughness, he runs a 3-4 scheme and, though maybe not a top echelon personnel guy the way Johnson and Parcells were, he’ll ultimately improve the roster.

Cowher wants to coach; it’s amazing he’s still available after four years. Jones got lucky there. If for some reason Cowher is hesitant to get back in, Jones should offer him $10-12 million a season. He should be willing to give up part of his power, too. Sure, if there’s a lockout, Cowher may not get to instill his modus operandi on the team until August, which would be a problem. But that problem pales in comparison to the one that is the status quo.



2.) Childress sets a new standard for buzz kill
B. Favre (US Presswire)
We’ve all made a joke that falls painfully flat. It’s a terrible feeling. The ensuing silence makes the air around you feel thick, and when you try to backtrack or play it off, the nightmare only intensifies. No matter what your politics, in that moment you find yourself marveling at the courage it must take for someone like Vice President Joe Biden to face the world every day.

Biden at least specializes in the foot-in-mouth variety of failed jokes. That’s the harmless kind. The other kind of failed joke is the one that derives from spite and pettiness. The room falls silent on these jokes because everyone knows that there is an uncomfortable hint of truth behind it. That’s what happened when Brad Childress said in his postgame press conference, “I'm not going to stand here like Brett Favre and tell you I need compassion, I need a hug. I'm all right."

(Crickets)

Why – why?! – say that? Now, instead of talking about how Favre threw for a career-high 446 yards and led an incredible two-touchdown comeback in the final four minutes against Arizona, we’re talking about how the quarterback and head coach still don’t like each other.

And it’s not just the Favre storyline that takes a backseat. Percy Harvin played on a bad ankle and was fantastic (nine catches, 126 yards). Adrian Peterson (15 carries, 81 yards and a touchdown, plus four catches, 63 yards and another touchdown) showed late in the game why he has reclaimed his spot as the league’s best running back. Jared Allen, with 2.5 sacks and six hits on Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson, quieted all his naysayers (which even those naysayers were glad about, considering everyone agrees that Allen is a great guy and fun to root for). If the Vikings beat the Bears next week, they’ll welcome the Packers to the Metrodome in Week 11 with a chance to get within one game in the NFC North.

THESE are the storylines that should be highlighted this week. But thanks to Chilly’s chill-hearted joke, we get another week of drama in Minnesota.

3.) What the Hillis happened in Cleveland?

You wonder if the Trap Game is simply a law of nature. If any team would be immune to it, it’d be the Patriots. But sure enough, with showdowns against the Steelers and Colts on the horizon, Bill Belichick’s team came out flat as board Sunday in Cleveland. It was apparent right from the start that the Trap Game law was in affect. Trailing 3-0, rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski signaled for a fair catch on the ensuring kickoff, then, for some reason, though “eh, never mind”, and let the ball bounce to the turf. After a scrum, the Browns came away with possession, leaving a short field for football’s new giant-killer, Colt McCoy (actually, the tongue is not ALL THE WAY in cheek calling McCoy a “giant killer”, considering that the rookie is 2-1 as a starter and has beaten the Patriots and Saints).

New England’s socialistic ball control offense never came close to mustering enough firepower for a comeback. The story of the day, however, was on the other side of the ball. Fullback turned tailback Peyton Hillis rushed for a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. He also caught three passes for 36 yards. By now, you’ve probably heard about eight or nine different people refer to the 240-pounder from Arkansas as a battering ram. Indeed, Hillis seems to perk up at the point of contact.

The Browns have a meat and potatoes offense and, thanks in large part to Rob Ryan, one of the best-coached defenses in the NFL. The talk about Eric Mangini getting fired is clearly preemptive. Credit Mike Holmgren for giving the one-time wundercoach a vote of confidence over the past several months. Mangini is capitalizing on the tough lessons he learned early in his career.



4.) Poor BillsR. Fitzpatrick (US Presswire)


It’s hard to feel sorry for a professional football team, but goodness, how can you not want to see the Bills get off the snide? After back-to-back overtime losses, Chan Gailey’s club went to Canada to clear its mind and play before a crowd that, we’re guessing, literally does not know how to boo. (By the way, only 50,746 people showed up for the game, which is fine with the Bills, as they’ve already been paid $78 million for the whole Canadian home games arrangement. The Rogers Communications executives, on the other hand, aren’t thrilled with the low attendance, though they recently said they’d like to extend the deal past 2012. In fact, they might even try to negotiate with the Buffalo community an even split for Bills home games, which means the Bills would become the divorce children of the NFL.)

Aside from two interceptions and a few ground balls, Ryan Fitzpatrick played well Sunday. So did his new favorite receiver, Steve Johnson. The third-year pro from Kentucky surprisingly won the starting job opposite Lee Evans in training camp. After catching 11 passes for 145 yards against the Bears, Johnson leads the Bills with 30 receptions for 409 yards on the season. He’s a humble, try-hard guy, which makes him an embodiment of this entire club.

But this is still a club that fell three points short Sunday. Since a city change didn’t do the trick for the Bills, how about a temporary name change? Given this team’s heart and tenacity, I propose the Buffalo Anti-Cowboys.



5.) Charlie Whitehurst makes his debut; quarterback controversy in Seattle?


Hahaha, uh, no. Let’s move on.



6.) Colts-Eagles…..annoying?

The Colts are 5-3. The Eagles are 5-3. The Eagles just beat the Colts. That means the Eagles should be above the Colts in the power rankings, right? Sure – whatever, we can have that debate later in the week.

Regarding Sunday’s Colts-Eagles game itself, I can’t get over how maddeningly choppy this game was. Did anyone else notice the utter lack of rhythm? It was one of those games where you have to keep checking the top of your television screen because you can’t remember what the score is and you have absolutely no idea how much time is left in the quaA. Collie (US Presswire)rter.

Forget trying to sort out what, exactly , happened in this game – at the end of it, all I could think about was how pissed off the hardcore 60 Minutes fans must have been. The 60 Minutes announcement – you know, the “For those of you expecting to see 60 Minutes, you’re watching the NFL on CBS. 60 Minutes will be seen in its entirety immediately following this game, except on the West Coast, where it can be seen at its regularly scheduled time” – is something we’ve all come to associate with the ending of what are usually exciting games But when Jim Nantz read the CBS announcement during this game, there was still 13:47 left in the fourth quarter. Thus, the 15 million or so people who plan their Sunday evenings around the news magazine program had to wait 40 minutes for their show. And you know the type of person who is hardcore 60 Minutes fan is also the type of person who thinks football is a ridiculous waste of time. Those people had to be seething waiting for this choppy game to end.

Why was this game so choppy? For one, it was loaded with injuries, including a scary one for Colts receiver Austin Collie that delayed the action for several minutes. (More on this shortly.) Two, the game began with a 62-yard run by LeSean McCoy and an interception by Asante Samuel. This gave the Eagles 10 quick points, which many people did not notice because a couple of the early window games were still finishing up. Thus, when you finally got into watching the game, you instantly felt behind. Finally, Peyton Manning was brilliant at times, but he threw 21 incompletions. That’s a lot of clock stoppages.

If you were to go back and edit out some of the commercials and obnoxious (and scary) injuries from this game, you’d see that it was actually a pretty good contest. A few key notes:

***Michael Vick was every bit as superb as his numbers suggest. Vick was 17/29 for 218 yards and a touchdown, along with 74 yards and another touchdown on 10 runs. You forget how much more fun football is when Number 7 is a star.

***The Eagles were able to get pressure on Manning, sacking him three times and forcing him to redefine his pocket on several occasions.

***Jacob Tamme will be claimed in every fantasy football league across America this week (if he wasn’t already). Dallas Clark’s replacement posted Dallas Clark-like numbers Sunday: 11 catches, 108 yards and a touchdown. The surprisingly-lithe third-year pro was targeted 17 times.

***Jim Caldwell made a mistake in the way he utilized his timeouts on Philly’s final drive. Caldwell should have used his first timeout after DeSean Jackson’s 11-yard run on the drive’s first play. Instead, Caldwell used his timeout after Philly’s next first down play. His thinking was, he’d then still have a timeout to use after the second down play and third down play. That’s exactly what happened, so all was well. But Caldwell still should have used his timeout right away. If you need to save clock, then start saving clock ASAP. If Indy had, say, recovered a Philly fumble on the second down play, they would have had 40 seconds more left on the clock. The odds of that scenario playing out are small, yes, but they’re still greater than zero.

***Regarding the hit on Austin Collie, it’s understandable that the Eagles disagreed with the personal foul call. It wasn’t a helmet-to-helmet shot, and it’s debatable whether Collie was even defenseless anyway. That said, some of the Eagles could have shown more respect in arguing the call while Collie was still down. Upon seeing the replay on the big board, Asante Samuel jumped up and down and actually ran around Collie’s motionless body on his way to getting in an official’s face. Come on, Asante.



7.) Indy’s uniformsP. Manning (US Presswire)

Jim Nantz noted that the Colts wore throwback uniforms for only the second time in franchise history. It’s kind of hard to wear throwbacks when your current uniforms are basically already throwbacks. It doesn’t get much blander that then blue and white in Indianapolis. Given that they employ the most marketable player in the league, it’s actually amazing the Colts have not done some modern redesign to their jersey and brand. Yes, the horseshoe logo and understated color scheme has tradition, but most of that tradition is tied up in Baltimore. (And the people of Baltimore hate the Colts anyway.)

The only other time the Colts have worn throwbacks was Thanksgiving ’04 at Detroit. Those uniforms were basically the same as the modern unis, except that the white helmet had the horseshoe on the back, not the side. The significance here is that those helmets were white. On Sunday, Indy’s helmets were blue. Why does that matter? Because, ostensibly, this marked the first time in Peyton Manning’s entire football career that he took the field for a meaningful contest in a helmet that wasn’t white. Manning has worn a white helmet as a Colt. He wore a white helmet at Tennessee, and his Isidore Newman high school team wore white helmets. Sunday, he got to wear blue.



8.) No joke by The Bay

The Raiders are for real, given that reality in this case is a solid but not spectacular 5-4 record. Winners of three-straight for the first time since 2002, Oakland held the first-place Chiefs to just 104 yards on the ground. Coming into the game, Kansas City had rushed for over 200 yards in each of its previous three outings.

Fourth-round rookie Jacoby Ford (2010 Scouting Combine best 4.28 forty time) had six catches for 148 yards, including two crucial long grabs late over the middle right in front of Chiefs star corner Brandon Flowers. (Give credit to Jason Campbell, who on both plays showed fantastic pocket poise and accuracy.) Ford also took the second half opening kickoff back 94 yards for Oakland’s first score.

There were plenty of unusual interruptions in this game due to confusion among the officials. Jeff Triplett crews are usually great crews, but every once in a while Triplett and his men will have a few bumbling moments. One hiccup came on the overtime coin toss. The Chiefs called heads and won, but Richard Seymour thought they called tails. This wasn’t nearly as bad as the Jerome Bettis-Phil Luckett ’98 Thanksgiving game, but still, the NFL could put an end to this silly risk of coin toss controversy by having the home team always be heads and the away team always be tails. What’s the point of having players call heads or tails?



9.) Fine, I missed an extra point; so Suh me!
N. Suh (US Presswire)
Do not let anyone tell you that the difference in the Jets-Lions game wound up being Ndamukong Suh’s missed extra point. Football is way too complex for that. If Suh makes that third quarter extra point, the Lions are up 14-10, rather than 13-10, which changes the play-calling and, subtly, the mindset of everyone involved. It would have been a totally different game; who knows how it would have played out?

The difference, or differenceS, in the Lions-Jets game were Matthew Stafford’s shoulder injury (it’s very concerning just how easily that part of his body gets hurt), LaDainian Tomlinson’s six catches for 47 yards (seemingly all of which came at a convenient time for the Jets), Santonio Holmes’ big 52-yard catch-and-run in overtime (amazing how significant one missed tackle can be, huh?) and Darrelle Revis’ All-World performance against Calvin Johnson (the Lions star receiver caught one pass for 13 yards and was targeted just four times).

The Jets have some work to do offensively, but the good teams find ways to win even when they’re not clicking on all cylinders.

10.) Quick Hits

***Sticking with Lions-Jets, I wish someone would force Jahvid Best to change his number. Tiny running backs with explosive speed and quickness shouldn’t wear 44, it just doesn’t look right.

***As expected, the smashmouth Falcons were able to run the ball down the Bucs’ throats all afternoon Sunday. Michael Turner had 24 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

***In his first game back since suffering a week 6 concussion, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson did not look at all eager to stick his nose in there and be physical. Not saying the Falcons have another Bryan Scott situation on their hands (remember Bryan Scott, the rising safety for Atlanta who got a concussion and, for the next year or two, was noticeably afraid of contact?). But Robinson’s lack of aggressiveness was plain to see.

***This seems like a perfect segue into ripping Mike Jenkins one more time for his pathetic tackling effort (or non-effort) on the James Jones touchdown. Seriously Mike. What. Was. THAT?

***Nate Burleson got flagged for celebrating a touchdown by kicking the ball into the stands a few weeks ago. When he scored Sunday, Burleson did a wind up to boot the ball again, only this time he intentionally missed it. Clever. (P.S. Burleson had seven catches for 113 yards this game.)

***How about Ray Rice racking up 97 yards on seven receptions?

***Safety Chris Harris spent some time at linebacker for the Panthers. It’s a little surprising they didn’t try him at quarterback.

***When was the last time we saw two teams score fumble recovery touchdowns on kickoff coverage on the same day? Talk about the ultimate lucky touchdown. The Cardinals got one from Michael Adams and the Packers got one from Nick Collins on a fumble that would have been ruled down by contact if the Cowboys had been able to challenge.

***Hope you enjoyed watching Nick Collins, by the way, because if the NFL is true to its word about cracking down on illegal hits, the Packers safety should be suspended a game for his shot on Roy Williams. That hit was almost as egregious as Brandon Meriweather’s hit on Todd Heap. (True, Meriweather was not suspended, but that was likely only because the hit occurred the week before the NFL issued the harsher punishment for violating the rule.)

***I didn’t watch the Chargers-Texans game, but in seeing the highlights and scanning the box score, it’s looking like I might have to learn how to say the name Seyi Ajirotutu. Dammit all.


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: October 25, 2010 3:26 am
Edited on: October 25, 2010 3:13 pm
 

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 7

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre

Two things about the Brett Favre hoopla:

a.) You like it. Even if you’re part of the vocal majority that loves to groan about how much you don’t like it, deep down you really do like it. Or, in the very least, you like that you don’t like it. You like that you can pretend to be above it all. But you’re not. None of us are. That’s why we all watched with keen interest Sunday night. B. Favre (US Presswire)

b.) As someone who loves the Favre hoopla, I’ll admit that it does distract from all the other storylines. That’s why we’ll take this opportunity to acknowledge those storylines here. They include…

**The Vikings are now 2-4 and go on the road to face the Patriots next week. Thus, we can crank up the “Is it all over in Minnesota?” talk again this week. It will take about 24 hours for that storm to gather, but make no mistake: it’s coming.

**Those of us who decided Chris Johnson is a better running back than Adrian Peterson may have to reconsider. Johnson was the better running back in 2009. But in 2010, Peterson is averaging an NFL-best 114 yards per game on the ground. Each of his 131 yards against the Packers was a testament to the very concept of manhood. In his fourth season, Peterson has improved in all of his areas of weakness. His fumbles have disappeared. He’s shown more awareness in blitz pickup (did you see the block he had on the Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown that was ruled not a touchdown but probably should have been ruled a touchdown?). And he’s a factor in the passing game (two crucial catches for 41 yards Sunday night, and he was averaging three catches per game coming into Week 7).

**I’m not going to issue a full mea culpa on my Matchup breakdown for a second consecutive week, though I will say the Vikings offensive line performed much better than expected. John Sullivan is finally healthy at center, which stabilizes things at least a bit. Bryant McKinnie had one of his better games of the season (his name wasn’t called once against the Packers). That said, Sullivan and McKinnie still cannot be fully counted on week in and week out.

**I will actually issue a mea culpa to Anthony Herrera. He played so well Sunday night, particularly in generating movement to the left as a run-blocker – than whatever criticism I laid on him last Friday has been rendered moot (or just plain incorrect) for at least the next two weeks.

**Bernard Berrian is a shell of his former self. If a person were to lose weight with the same speed and decisiveness that Berrian has lost confidence, we’d give him or her a pamphlet about eating disorders.

**For the past four months or so, Paul Charchian of KFAN and I have had an on-going debate about Jared Allen. My stance: Allen is a top five defensive end. Charch’s stance: Allen, in the past year and a half, has become overrated as a pass-rusher, and he only turns in major production against inferior competition.

The Packers deliberately game-planned for veteran left tackle Chad Clifton to block Allen one-on-one Sunday night. Clifton easily shut Allen out. I haven’t conceded the debate to Paul just yet, but in our next few email exchanges, my arguments will at least be ending in more periods and fewer exclamation points.



2. Prognosticators, just quit now

In this week’s preview podcast, Will Brinson and I clumped the Saints-Browns, Ravens-Bills and Broncos-Raiders game into one quick segment that lasted all of 10 seconds. We didn’t feel it was worth spending part of our 30 minutes previewing these games because the outcomes, we figured, were predetermined.

As it turns out, Drew Brees threw four interceptions, two of them resulting in scores to David Bowens, and the Saints were never really even in it against the Browns. (When you consider that the Steelers are visiting the Big Easy next Sunday for a nationally televised Halloween night showdown between the past two Super Bowl champions, it’s obvious that this was a classic trap game. Why did we not at least recognize that before!?)

The Bills, facing a stingy Ravens D and led by a Harvard quarterback whose three greatest attributes – heart, grit and guts – are euphemisms for his overwhelming lack of talent, generated 506 yards of total offense (or, in Buffalo terms, “a half season of offense”). If not for a Hall of Fame play by Ray Lewis in overtime (the strip fumble of Shawn Nelson), we might not be describing the Bills as “the league’s last winless team”.

By the way, regarding that strip fumble, what a poor sequence of events for Bills center Geoff Hangartner. The play would have almost certainly been blown dead on forward progress had Hangartner not come in and pushed Nelson and the pile forward for a few extra yards (it was during those extra yards that Lewis stripped the ball). Can’t fault the veteran captain Hangartner for the extra effort, though. Nineteen times out of 20, an effort play like that pays off. But you CAN fault Hangartner for exacerbating the mess by slamming his helmet on the ground afterwards. That resulted in a 15-yard penalty to help put the Ravens in range for Billy Cundiff’s game-winning field goal. D. Bowens (US Presswire)

Finally, regarding the Broncos-Raiders game: nothing much to say, other than the Broncos apparently talked among themselves about the league’s new emphasis on illegal hits and decided, just to be safe, they wouldn’t hit any opponent under any circumstance Sunday afternoon.

That obviously included Darren McFadden, the Raiders’ third-year running back who is finally coming into his own. Credit Oakland for using McFadden more to his strengths this season. He is not a physical runner, and he does not have agile hips and power to press a hole and consistently move the chains inside. McFadden does, however, have the acceleration and breakaway speed to be a force in space, which is why the Raiders have taken to running him off tackle and on halfback tosses more often. After his career-high 165-yard, four-touchdown performance Sunday, McFadden is averaging 111 yards per game on the ground, second best in the NFL.

So the Browns pound the Saints, the Bills take the Ravens to the limit and the Raiders, behind 328 yards rushing, hang 59 points on the Broncos. It’s the NFL; those of you who can guess what I’m going to say next, don’t worry – I have too much respect for CBSSports.com readers to use clichés about parity and “any given Sunday”. I’ll just say, good action, fun games.



3. Picked!

Let’s stay with the Browns-Saints game for a second so that we can talk about David Bowens. Yes, it’s impressive for any player to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. (Bowens is the first Brown to do it since Bob Franklin in 1960.) More impressive is that Bowens, 33, is a former defensive lineman turned linebacker. But even MORE impressive is how he celebrated both scores. On the first TD, Bowens leaped and performed somewhat of a Pas de Chat while crossing the goal-line (it’s a ballet term – use your Wikipedia). As gracefulness goes, it was about a seven.

On his second score, Bowens came to nearly a complete stop before somersaulting across the goal-line. The gracefulness of that was a one-and-a-half, maybe a two. But the cleverness? A 10. Best of all was the half-second of reluctance the ref showed before signaling touchdown on that play. You just know he wanted to flag Bowens for taunting. But thankfully, it was during live action, and this is not college, so he couldn’t. (Don’t worry, purists, the NFL will probably make somersault touchdowns a suspendable offense within in the next few days.) Bowens had just one career touchdown coming into this game. Major props to him for having the presence of mind (and gall) to come up with two original celebrations on the fly like that.

In all, there was a record nine pick-six’s on the day Sunday. (I’m sure I’m the only one who cares, but for what it’s worth, when I first heard this, I was able to immediately remember/visualize eight of those pick-six’s; out of pride, I refuse to look up the one I’m forgetting.) One of those pick-six’s was turned in by DeAngelo Hall. Hall’s 92-yard interception return was just one of his four – FOUR! – second-half interceptions.

That’s a great accomplishment. And, quite frankly, it couldn’t have happened to a more obnoxious guy. Hall had a great game, but poor Jim Haslett now has to deal with the even-more-inflated ego of a cornerback who has no problem publicly demanding a bigger role in the defense or questioning the scheme.
D. Hall (US Presswire)
I hate to be negative about Hall when he’s just had the game of his life, but a week ago experts were saying that the film was revealing the slight diminishments in his speed. Hall’s man coverage technique can be iffy, and his tackling – though excellent against the Bears – is generally poor. I bring this up only because you’re going to be offered an awful lot of DeAngelo Hall Kool-Aid this week.



4. Da Bears

While we’re on the topic of Hall and this game…

Bears fans, I assume, will have no problem this week if I go ahead and point out that their team is still a mess offensively. No need to rehash everything here. We all know the Bears aren’t running the ball worth a cent right now (the debate is whether you blame Matt Forte, Mike Martz, the offensive line or all three). The pass protection has been poor – unless, for some reason, you consider blowing simple assignments a key asset, in which case the pass protection has been superb. Guard Chris Williams was particularly shaky Sunday.
Finally, there’s the standard Jay Cutler scrutiny. Cutler made some spectacular strong-armed throws in this game, but he’s not the type of quarterback who can thrive when players around him aren’t performing. Thus, if the blocking doesn’t get better and receivers like Devin Hester and Johnny Knox don’t become more consistent in their technique, the Bears will only continue to flounder. It wasn’t until just over four minutes to play in the third quarter against Washington that Cutler ended an 0/28 drought on third down.



5. A lesson for the kids: it’s okay, maybe even good, to get in fights

Sorry, but what else can you deduce here? Kenny Britt gets in a bar fight at 1:45 Friday morning. It isn’t his first off-field incident, so the NFL could wind up suspending him soon. With this dark cloud hanging overhead, Jeff Fisher benches Britt for the first quarter against the Eagles. All Britt does is go on to set a Titans franchise record (not Oilers, just Titans) with 225 yards receiving. He also scored three touchdowns. All this just days after getting in trouble. Coincidence…or pure genius?

Actually, Jeff Fisher says coincidence. "His performance has absolutely nothing to do with what happened [Friday], OK? Absolutely nothing," Fisher told reporters after the game. "It was a great performance. I mean, an outstanding performance. It is two separate issues right now."

Fisher may further punish the second-year pro once he learns more details of the fight. Britt is probably rooting for that, as a punishment from Fisher would likely mean he wasn’t punished by the NFL or Nashville authorities (which could still happen).

Britt has now caught a touchdown in five straight games. However, prior to Sunday, he had only topped 45-yard receiving mark once. (You didn’t know 45 yards was a mark, did you?)



6. The NFC’s best wide receiver

Larry Fitzgerald used to hold this title. But through no fault of his own, that title is now out on loan until the Cardinals get a real quarterback. (Looks like they could be going back to Derek Anderson now that Max Hall, who left the loss at Seattle with a head injury, has had a fair chance to show everyone why he wasn’t drafted.)

With Fitzgerald gone, the best wideout in the NFC is Roddy White. (Sorry, Miles Austin fans.) Entering Week 7, White led the conference in receptions and yards. His 11-catch, 201-yard performance against the Bengals only wR. White (US Presswire)idened his lead. If you were to put White’s six-year career on a line graph, it would come out looking a lot like Facebook’s traffic numbers over that time. The former first-round pick has progressed in each season as a pro.

This week, White made no bones about wanting to steal the spotlight from Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. He even starred in his own homemade trash-talking video. On Sunday, he backed it up, proving to be an elite vertical threat, underrated possession target and vastly underrated run-blocker (White’s not Hines Ward, but he’s close.). Most noteworthy is how White bounced back with a touchdown and two-point conversion after Adam Jones ripped the ball away from him in the third quarter for what seemed to be a momentum-shifting 59-yard fumble return for a score.

White was the main reason Atlanta won Sunday, though also give credit to Michael Turner and his downhill tackle-breaking abilities. Turner, capitalizing on Atlanta’s offensive line beating Cincy’s defensive line for most of the day, racked up 121 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.



6B. On that note….what’s the deal with Cincy?

The Bengals, meanwhile, have Dallas Cowboys Syndrome: talented team that plays well on paper, but at the end of the day, somehow still loses. Carson Palmer was a surgeon, throwing for 412 yards and orchestrating a hurry-up offense that took advantage of Atlanta’s fairly rudimentary zone scheme. Cedric Benson was phenomenal in setting up his blocks and creating his own space (his 70 yards on 20 carries don’t accurately illustrate his performance). The Bengal defense was poor, but the offense overcame that in the third quarter, going up 25-24 after trailing 24-3 at the half.

So what gives? Hard to say without studying the film. But we do know, on the surface, the Bengals, like the Cowboys, have a very hands-on owner, a head coach with tenuous job security (Marvin Lewis is in the final year of his contract) and a bunch of talented individuals but no clear cut leader (admittedly, I’m a little uneasy implying here that Palmer isn’t a leader – but that’s a whole other discussion best saved for another time).



7. It could be worse

The San Diego Chargers were out to prove to the world Sunday just why they’re a legit 2-5 team. The Chargers had three turnovers (it was actually four, but Philip Rivers’ interception to Devin McCourty was essentially the same as a 36-yard punt, so we won’t count it), including Richard Goodman and Jacob Hester fumbles that truly embodied the term “giveaway”. K. Brown (US Presswire)

After making his first career catch, the undrafted rookie Goodman went to the ground, wasn’t touched but, thinking the play was over, let go of the ball. "I'll be the first one to admit that it was my fault," Goodman said afterwards. "I've got to learn from my mistakes. After making that catch, I've got to give it back to the ref." (Since he wants to learn from the mistake, someone should probably tell the poor guy exactly what the mistake was: it’s not about handing the ball to the ref, it’s about making sure you’re actually down). Hester’s fumble is a little harder to criticize, as even the Patriot players thought it was an incomplete forward pass. The man who should get credit for the recovery is Pepper Johnson, New England’s defensive line coach who was standing on the sideline and shouting at his oblivious players to jump on the loose ball.

The two gimme fumbles were costly, though not costly enough to prevent the Chargers from attempting a game-tying field goal in the closing seconds. Kris Brown, who was signed to fill in for injured Pro Bowler Nate Kaeding earlier in the week, would have had a 45-yard attempt if not for a Louis Vasquez false start. After that penalty moved the Chargers back five yards, Brown’s 50-yard boot hit the right upright. Mind you, this came after Brown’s second errant pooch kickoff of the day went out of bounds (his first errant pooch kick hit a Patriot and came out looking like a horrendous onside attempt). The Chargers also missed a few tackles on a 34-yard Julian Edelman punt return that helped set up a Patriots field goal to end the first half.

To be fair, the Chargers did get a great special teams play when they recovered a surprise onside kick in the fourth quarter. But in the end, turnovers, special teams errors and a few penalties cost Norv Turner’s club. (This is a sentence that could have been copied and pasted from any number of previous 2010 Chargers stories.)



8. Kudos to FOX studio analysts

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but the FOX studio analysts deserve acknowledgement for their late shift Sunday. They didn’t have to stay any later than usual, but they did have to stick around and do a halftime show for the Cardinals-Seahawks game, even though that was the lone late window contest on FOX. That must have been rough. Think about it: only the states of Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of Montana, Kansas, and tiny parts of Florida and Ohio, got that game. This means FOX’s big dogs spent an entire afternoon at work just so they could talk for two or three minutes about what amounted to a locally televised contest. How tempting must it have been for Curt, Terry, Howie, Michael and Jimmy to simply record a generic halftime report at the end of the early window games so that they could just head out and enjoy the rest of the NFL action from the comfort of their living or hotel room?



9. Being an American pig

Call me jingoistic, but I’m glad the British are getting an absolute clunker of a game next week (the 1-6 Niners face the 2-5 Broncos in London). I know I’m not doing myself any favors with the folks at 280 Park Avenue by saying this, but I can’t stand the NFL sharing any part of its regular season with our friends across the pond.

We have our football and they have theirs. If we share ours, they’re going to eventually realize how boring theirs is. Then they’ll be clamoring for more and more of ours, and the league will oblige because, dammit, it’s a business and there’s money to be made. Before we know it, we’ll be forking over a significant piece of our great American sport.

Is this fear talking? You bet. But the football gods don’t want the NFL to go international, either. That’s why they’ve done their best to make the Broncos-Niners game as unattractive as possible. What’s funny is that the 49er fans who have been chanting for David Carr over Alex Smith may actually get their wish, but they won’t get to see it because the Niners’ home game won’t be in Candlestick.

And on the subject of chanting for the backup quarterback…if you were one of the Bronco fans chanting for Tim Tebow in the first half Sunday, you’re a moron. Kyle Orton, like the rest of the Broncos, was not good against the Raiders. But he’s nowhere remotely close to deserving a benching.



10. Quick Hits


**Josh Freeman has now led two game-winning drives in the closing seconds of a fourth quarter (vs. Rams and vs. Bengals). The Bucs are 4-2 and, according to Raheem Morris, the best team in the NFC (insert laugh track audio here).M. Williams (US Presswire)

**Marshawn Lynch (24 carries, 89 yards) looks a little trimmer than I remember. He’s proving to be a very solid pickup for the Seahawks.

**For the second straight week, Seattle’s Mike Williams set a career-high for receptions (10 last week, 11 this week). Williams has incredibly strong hands and, for a 6’5”, 235-pounder, uncanny body control.

**The Jaguars’ biggest problem remains their tendency to give up big plays. Dwayne Bowe (two touchdowns) proved this, as did Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles.

**For what it’s worth, Devin Hester cut his dreadlocks. He also had zero punt returns Sunday because the Redskins wisely refused to kick anywhere near him.

**It came in a losing effort, but Israel Idonije had a terrific game for the Bears. He was a big reason why Donovan McNabb was uncharacteristically off kilter.

**The Redskins have scored 17 points or less in all four of their wins this season. This is remarkable considering they entered Sunday with, technically speaking, the league’s 32nd-ranked defense.

**It was surprising to hear that Roger Goodell actually called James Harrison this week.

**Even if this is only Quick Hits, I refuse to mention anything specific about the Panthers-49ers game.

**Imagine if the Chargers had won – then we’d all have to recycle the “Belichick going for it on fourth down” debate. Glad we don’t. (Though in case we do, my stance: it was absolutely the right call, just like last time; the problem on this particular play was BenJarvus Green-Ellis not trusting his blocks and bouncing it outside, where end/linebacker Antwaun Applewhite, who had a marvelous game, made the play.


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Posted on: September 27, 2010 4:10 am
Edited on: September 27, 2010 2:33 pm
 

10 Sunday stories deserving your attention Wk 3

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) Cowboys justify the hype

It’s disappointing not to have two weeks of Wade Phillips Hot Seat chatter to look forward to. (What can you say? The guy is fun to dump on.) But at least we have reason to believe the Cowboys will be in the thick of the NFC East race now. Even if you’re not a fan of America’s Team (and Mexico’s Team), you have to admit, because their NFL-high five primetime games left (counting Thanksgiving), football is more exciting with the Cowboys being relevant.

Dallas’ 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter against Houston – capped by a Marion Barber one-yard touchdown burst – was the type of drive that turns a season around. It was also a microcosm of Sunday’s game. On the drive, Tony Romo completed three different third downs of nine yards or longer. He bought himself time in the pocket and worked deep into his progressions on several throws, hitting four different receivers on the drive, including Roy Williams three times. T. Romo (US Presswire)

We should probably give Williams a week off from his whipping boy duties. The former Texas Longhorn was tremendous in catching a game-high five passes for 117 yards and two scores. Williams consistently won battles at the line of scrimmage, and he showed commendable fluidity making catches on the move. The key was that Jason Garrett played to Williams’ strengths by asking him to run straight-line patterns, as opposed to direction-changing routes.

The Cowboy defense was equally impressive. DeMarcus Ware posted three sacks, and it wasn’t simply a case of him feasting on backup left tackle Rashad Butler (Butler actually wasn’t bad this game). Ware benefitted from having excellent man coverage behind him.

As glad as we all should be to see the Cowboys avoid the irrelevance that generally awaits an 0-3 team, let’s hope Jerry Jones’ men don’t turn in too many more performances like this. Otherwise, we’ll once again get the nonstop reminders that the Super Bowl is in Cowboys Stadium this year, and that Jones REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wants to have the first true home field advantage in the game’s history.

2.) Hold your horses, Texans fans

On Houston’s side of things, that secondary that gave up over 400 yards passing to both the Colts and Redskins – you know, the secondary we all conveniently overlooked these past two weeks while hastily editing our preseason picks and branding Gary Kubiak’s club as the breakout club of 2010? – is officially porous.

Romo, in completing 23 of 30 passes for 284 yards, exposed Houston’s flaws at cornerback. First-round rookie Kareem Jackson struggles early in coverage. If it’s zone, Jackson’s not always sure how long to carry the receiver. If it’s man, he doesn’t always deliver an effective jam (no rhyme intended). Opposite Jackson, second-year pro Brice McCain had trouble when Cowboy receivers redirected late in their route.

Both young corners have the talent to improve. It’d help if safeties Eugene Wilson and Bernard Pollard – especially Pollard – flashed the same big-play prowess they flashed late last season. And it would also help if superstar Mario Williams (and “superstar” is not an appellation to be used lightly) broke his habit of vanishing every few weeks. Williams was a nonfactor this game despite facing single blocking most of the afternoon.

3.) Saints get marched on

No need for a “What’s wrong with the Saints?” piece – it’s just one loss. And let’s refrain from chalking up the home loss to the absence of Reggie Bush. Heck, we talked in the Week 2 Preview Podcast about how whenever Bush goes down, Lance Moore steps up. Sunday, the unheralded fifth-year veteran caught six balls for 149 yards and two touchdowns. He also set up a first quarter touchdown by returning a punt 72 yards. M. Turner (US Presswire)

The Saints still lost, of course. Why? The Falcons’ rushing attack. Michael Turner, Jason Snelling and lead-blocking fullback Ovie Mughelli confirmed what we already knew: the way to beat the good-but-certainly-not-great New Orleans defensive front seven is to run right at it. Not only does a power run game keep Drew Brees off the field while allowing a team to control tempo and tone, but it also minimizes the creativity and aggressiveness of Gregg Williams’ blitzes. This brings to mind that brilliant Mike Tyson axiom (and yes, those last four words really did just show up in that order): everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. The Saints defense is crafty…until it gets hit in the mouth.

The Falcons hit the Saints in the mouth in the form of 50 runs for 202 yards Sunday. Turner, looking every bit like the 244-pound bowling ball he is, ran 30 times for 114 yards. Snelling, a more upright runner with comparable downhill power, had 14 carries for 62 yards. And Mughelli – well, he basically punched his ticket to Hawaii simply because he is a fullback and his name has now been mentioned twice on a mainstream website.

One last note: Falcons head coach Mike Smith went for it three times on fourth down, including twice on fourth-and-two in a first-half series. The Falcons reached the end zone after being successful on both of those fourth-and-two attempts. They later failed on a fourth-and-six inside the final four minutes of regulation, and the Saints promptly capitalized on by matriculating downfield for a game-tying field goal. But credit Smith for sticking to his plan and playing to win.

4.) Killer kickers

Those of us who shrewdly picked the Falcons to be serious contenders in the NFC South this year (and there actually wound up being quite a few of us) can thank Saints kicker Garrett Hartley for those satisfying feelings of smugness we’re all enjoying. Hartley badly missed a 29-yard field goal in overtime (actually, no need to say “badly missed” – the only way to miss from 29 yards is “badly”), prompting Sean Payton and the front office to schedule a tryout for kickers on Monday.

A kicker tryout? That’s like the Saints and Hartley dating for three years, getting into a fight and the Saints deciding to go home with a stripper the same night. The Saints will regret acting on their anger in the morning.

Hartley is the same kicker who booted three 40-plus-yard field goals in Super Bowl XLIV (by the way, let’s lose the Roman Numerals on the Super Bowls now – they’re a pain to decipher). He’s the same kicker who nailed a 40-yard game-winner in the NFC Championship two weeks before that. Oh, and he’s also the same kicker who booted the game winner just last week at San Francisco!

Yes, Hartley is 4/7 on the season. But do three misses in the regular season really trump four huge makes in the postseason? Besides, the only kickers out there who are any good are Dave Rayner and Kris Brown, and they’re out there only because, lately, they’ve gotten quite good at doing what Hartley just did against the Falcons.

Hartley wasn’t even the worst kicker in football Sunday. That distinction went to Oakland’s $16 million man, Sebastian Janikowski. The Polish Whatever His Nickname Is These Days missed three field goals in the Raiders loss at Arizona, including the would-be game-winner from 32 yards. If Janikowski weren’t an Al Davis favorite, the Raiders would be competing with the Saints for bum kickers to bring in. You just hope Janikowski’s awful day doesn’t stay with him and create a Mike Vanderjagt-like fall from grace.

5.) The lost fumble that’s not a turnover

One more note from the Saints-Falcons game, then we’ll move on. In the third quarter, the Saints gave the ball to backup running back Chris Ivory on a fourth-and-one play. Ivory fumbled and Atlanta recovered. The play goes in the books as a turnover. But it shouldn’t.

Technically, there was no turnover of possession by the fumble because the play yielded the same result as if Ivory had been held short of the first down (which, by the way, he would have been if he’d held onto the ball). The point of the turnover statistic is to reflect sudden changes in possession. This was not a sudden change of possession.

An interception or lost fumble on fourth down or on the final play of a half should not be classified as a turnover. Just like we don’t classify red-zone field goals as red-zone scores.
This, coincidentally (or not), is a perfect segue to…

6.) The Denver Broncos

Have we ever seen a team play as well on offense as the Broncos did Sunday and score only 13 points? It’s amazing what zero touchdowns on five red zone trips will do to a bottom line. The Broncos racked up 519 yards, including 476 passing from Kyle Orton. Remarkably, Orton did not set a franchise record for single game passing yards. Even more remarkable is that the man who holds that record is not named John Elway. (Jake Plummer has the mark at 499.)

There are two ways to look at the Broncos after Week 3. K. Orton (US Presswire)

One: Josh McDaniels has an ingenious system and four excellent receivers to execute it (a willowy, speedy, budding star in first-round rookie Demaryius Thomas, a silky smooth role player in Jabar Gaffney, a shifty underneath threat in Eddie Royal and a highlight reel wizard in Brandon Lloyd, who leads the NFL with six catches of 25-plus yards this season). The Broncos showed they can dominate with this system and talent – they just need to do a better job at finishing drives.

Or, two: the Broncos just played a team that doesn’t mind letting the Denver skill position players “get theirs” because that team knows it can stop this offense when it counts. Of the two scenarios, the second is most likely. Recall that Indy gladly let Brandon Marshall catch 21 passes for 200 yards against them last season. In that game, they still held the Broncos to 16 points.

The Broncos talk about how they accept the fact that Peyton Manning will move the ball up and down the field, and how if they can just bog down in the red zone, they have a serious chance to win. What they don’t realize is that the Colts take the exact same approach to them. The only difference is, the Colts succeed.

Denver does have plenty to be excited about offensively, though. Their front line, despite starting two rookies and untested first-year guard Stanley Daniels, kept the Colts pass-rush in check. (Left tackle Ryan Clady was particularly good against Dwight Freeney.) And Orton’s arm looks stronger than it did last season.
 
But it doesn’t matter in this matchup as long as Manning is on the other side. He loves facing the man coverage scheme of the Broncos, mainly because he’s willing to let Champ Bailey win against Reggie Wayne in order to exploit mismatches elsewhere. Sunday, Manning found Austin Collie 12 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

He also hit practice squad call-up Blair White (most predictable, yet still agreeable, nickname ever: The Blair White Project) for a score.
In case you didn’t know, appearance-wise, White lives up to his last name. And, chances are, you already know what the BYU grad Collie looks like. This begs the question: before today, had any quarterback in NFL history ever thrown touchdown passes to two different white wide receivers in the same game?

7.) Drunk driving = superstar status

Is it just me, or did the mainstream media – and especially NBC during the Sunday night telecast – propel Braylon Edwards into superstar status this week? Last I checked, Edwards is a gifted receiver who often runs slipshod routes and, at times, seemingly plays with oven mitts on. That makes him not a superstar but, at best, a solid No. 1.

But you would have thought the man was Jerry Rice 2.0 the way everyone played up the story of his one quarter suspension. Too bad Edwards couldn’t have gotten busted during the offseason or in a smaller market. That would have made his DUI more forgivable, right?)

Of course, in the end, Edwards was a difference-maker against the Dolphins (two catches, 87 yards and a touchdown, plus sensational run-blocking). So maybe the hype was worth it. The most damning part about this whole ordeal for the NFL is that the Jets are right when they point out that players that have gotten a DUI on other teams have not been disciplined at all. Edwards’ de facto one-quarter suspension was a first.

But why did the Jets announce the one quarter plan before the game? They should have told the players and then kept it quiet. The media would have speculated, sure, but by then, the game would have already been going on. Thus, there would have been no distraction. Instead, the one quarter plan was announced, which is why the Dolphins wisely deferred to the second half after winning the coin toss (they knew that this likely meant one more possession for Edwards to miss).

There has, at least, been some good that has come from this whole mess: Edwards, knowing his image needs serious repair and that the NBC cameras would be all over him, finally shaved his hideous beard.

8.) Who the Hillis?
P. Hillis (US Presswire)
It came in a losing effort, but how about the game Browns running back Peyton Hillis had against the Ravens? The former Broncos fullback who has somehow crept into Cleveland’s starting tailback position carried the ball 22 times for 144 yards and a touchdown against the staunch Ravens D. he also added 36 yards receiving.

The Browns front five dominated a Ravens front seven that came out looking like a group that was thinking about the Steelers (next week, CBS, 1:00). Hillis is a mechanical, if not choppy, runner, but he’s an absolute battering ram once he establishes downhill momentum.

9.) Okay, let’s start learning more of the Chiefs players

The Chiefs are 3-0. Their most recent win was a blowout of a disoriented 49ers club that, on Sunday, showed serious signs of the Tin Man Syndrome. Still, the win legitimized this rising young Kansas City squad enough to warrant a “get to know their names” feature. Disclaimer: this positive attention isn’t to suggest that the Chiefs are a playoff contender – it’s still very, very early. But it is positive attention nonetheless.

So, who to learn about? You already know Matt Cassel is a caretaker being paid like a superstar. You already know Jamaal Charles is an uncommon home-run threat. You already know Dwayne Bowe is a talented wideout who occasionally lands in Todd Haley’s doghouse. You already know Dexter McCluster is Percy Harvin Sans Migraines. You already know Glenn Dorsey is a former first-round pick who could finally be coming to life as a 3-4 defensive end. You already know that the same goes for Derrick Johnson at inside linebacker.
Okay then, here are two more names to add to the file (we’ll see how this week goes and, if necessary, add even more names down the road).

Tony Moeaki, tight end. The third-round rookie out of Iowa has the strong yet supple frame that coaches covet in a “big, athletic tight end”. He also has long arms and soft hands, which has allowed him to snatch a team-high 12 passes and two touchdowns on the season.

Brandon Flowers, cornerback. The third-year starter is close to being described as the “third-year sensation”. Flowers intercepted a pass for a second straight week Sunday (he ran last week’s pick back for six points). More impressive has been his shutdown ability, which he started to flash in 2009.

10.) Quick Hits

Unable to decide on a final story to create a nice round 10, I’m going to take the easy way out and drop in here some one-liner observations from all the other games.

***Patriots inside linebacker Jerod Mayo looked extremely fast against the Bills, particularly in closing on the ball. Looks like he’s regained his ’08 form.

***Charlie Batch’s pocket presence was close to flawless against the Bucs.

***Jimmy Clausen looked every bit like the unprepared rookie that he is. This isn’t meant as a harsh criticism of the Golden Domer. In just about any other situation, Clausen would still be learning from the bench. But the Panthers realize they have next to no chance with Matt Moore. So, Clausen, fairly or unfairly, is forced to play. He consistently held the ball too long against the Bengals Sunday. That was the crux of his problem. It will be interesting to see how much quicker he can get by next week. (If it’s not dramatically quicker, Carolina is in trouble.)

***It’s strange to see Redskins defensive lineman Lorenzo Alexander lining up at outside linebacker, though he wasn’t too bad in this role against the Rams.

***The Seahawks won because they got two kickoff return touchdowns from Leon Washington. Great comeback story, but this is the exact type of game we shouldn’t read too much into. San Diego must get better in special teams coverage; Seattle is dangerous at home. Both true statements. A third true statement: anyone who thinks the Seahawks are better than the Chargers is crazy.

***With Donovan McNabb headed back to Philly in Week 4, I figured you’ll be glad for a break from Eagles quarterback stories this week. Thus, I won’t acknowledge Michael Vick’s magnificent performance in Jacksonville. (Oops.)

***Nnamdi Asomugha won the matchup against Larry Fitzgerald Sunday (two catches, 26 yards), though Asomugha may have gotten some help from Derek Anderson.

***Bears fans, sorry I couldn’t irritate you this week, but your team didn’t play Sunday.

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Posted on: June 23, 2010 9:09 am
 

Michael Turner Reveals Why He Struggled in '09

Falcons running back Michael Turner was not himself last season. Sure, he averaged 4.9 yards per carry, nearly a half-yard more than in his 1,699-yard debut season in Atlanta the year before. But watch the film and you’ll see an inconsistent, sluggish runner who struggled to change directions or hit his holes with great initial burst. Some would assume Turner’s late-season ankle problems were a factor, but the 28-year-old (27 at the time) was struggling early on, well before injuries hit.

Now, we know why. In an article by SI.com’s Jim Trotter, Turner says, "If you go back and look at some pictures of me from last year at this time, I probably looked big -- a lot bigger than normal," Turner says sheepishly while kicking back after a recent organized team activity. "I was heavy, too heavy. It was hard for me to overcome."

Turner is listed at 250 pounds. He didn’t specify what he weighed last season, but said he’s back to his desired weight this summer. (He wouldn’t be discussing the issue publicly if he weren’t.) Whether this translates to more production remains to be seen.

Turner is one of the best tackle-breaking runners in the game. He’s only been a featured back for two seasons in his career (he backed up LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego his first four years), but his bruising style of play can take a toll. The Falcons have excellent depth at running back with electrifying (though raw) Jerious Norwood and downhill inside runner Jason Snelling. With a full-strength Turner and Mike Mularkey’s power-based scheme. the Falcons could challenge Carolina, Minnesota, Dallas and New York for the most punishing rushing attack in the NFC.


--Andy Benoit

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Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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