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Tag:David Garrard
Posted on: October 22, 2010 1:28 pm
 

Garrard out Sunday; Bouman likely to start

Posted by Andy Benoit

Not surprisingly, the Jaguars have announced that quarterback David Garrard will not make the trip to Kansas City this Sunday. Garrard has sat out practice all week with a concussion. Backup Trent Edwards injured his thumb after replacing Garrard in the Monday night disaster against the Titans. Edwards is listed as questionable, though he also has not practiced.

No starter for Sunday has been named, but in all likelihood, the Jaguars will go with journeyman Todd Bouman, who was re-signed earlier in the week. Bouman last started an NFL game in2005. Patrick Ramsey is also on the roster, though unlike Bouman, he has not had four previous stints with the Jags. Thus, Ramsey presumably does not know Dirk Koetter’s system well enough to lead the offense at this point.

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 10:51 pm
 

Jaguars hurting at quarterback (more than usual)

Posted by Andy Benoit

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio could be on the show Hoarders. Some people collect cats. Some collect magazines and newspapers. Some prefer garbage. Del Rio? He likes quarterbacks.

The Jaguars brought in yet another signal-caller Wednesday, this one just as washed up as all the others. Former first-round pick Patrick Ramsey, who has been a fringe backup for the past five years, was signed just days after ex-Saints backup Todd Bouman (last NFL start: 2005) was brought in. Here’s the kicker: Ramsey and Bouman split repetitions in practice on Wednesday.
J. Del Rio (US Presswire)
Maybe Del Rio doesn’t have a quarterback hoarding problem. It’s not like he’s Jon Gruden. The Jaguars’ frequent quarterback transactions (in addition to these two signings, they picked up ex-Bill Trent Edwards a few weeks ago) have been out of necessity.

Backup Luke McCown was lost for the season (ACL) in Week 1. Starter David Garrard suffered a concussion against the Titans on Monday. And Trent Edwards sprained his thumb after hitting it on a Titans helmet. The Jags nearly had to go to third quarterback Zach Miller, who, unfortunately, is actually a tight end.

Garrard is said to be improving, though before he can return to action, NFL rules mandate that he be medically cleared by an independent third party. If he is unable to go against the Chiefs on Sunday, it will be either Bouman or Ramsey under center.
Whoever it is, the Jags need to make sure he’s prepared. Del Rio was not happy with the play-calling limitations that came with Edwards being on the field Monday night (you may recall, the Jags essentially milked the clock during their fruitless fourth quarter comeback effort). Of the run-heavy late fourth quarter drive, Del Rio said:

"The best explanation I can give you is the fact that we just did some of the plays that we could do with Trent and where we were prepared to handle that particular situation.

"I wasn't wild about the consecutive runs there ... I would have loved to have seen us be able to score, at all, but score quicker. We spent too much time, in my opinion. ... We were a little bit handcuffed with a quarterback that had been here two weeks and that's part of what you have to fight through as a football team, preparing for different scenarios. And we got caught a little bit there and a little bit short in terms of what Trent was able to do and what we were able to do. ... I don't find it acceptable."

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 2:25 pm
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: Always QBing in Philadelphia

Posted by Will Brinson



The Michael Vick/Kevin Kolb saga is the most amazing thing to happen to someone charged with writing a job competition column since Trent Green's spinal cord Jeff Garcia.

That being said, I think Vick's still getting the nod when he's healthy -- the "chubby" and "happy' Andy Reid pointed out (again) that he's got a "beautiful" situation and he does, primarily because Vick and Kolb are besties. (Or "BFF's" if you prefer.)

The Eagles travel to Tennessee for a tough Week 7 matchup, but there's no real reason to use Vick there -- the Titans put tons of pressure on the quarterback, Philly's offensive line is banged up and Vick isn't entirely healthy.

Make him the third quarterback, let Kolb prove himself at a high level again and cruise into the bye, at absolute worst, just one game back of the NFC East division lead.

Following the bye, Reid's decision isn't even that tough, because he's established that Vick is his starter. Once the speedster's healthy, hand him the reigns and let Michael Vick do what Michael Vick do.

Is that a slight to Kolb on Reid's part? Sort of, but not anything that's worse than what happened to him earlier this year. Plus, Kolb's under contract, he's not going to become worse by getting more time to develop, and Vick, regardless of the outcome against Atlanta, gives the Eagles the best chance to win.

Look no further than some of the "big" throws that Kolb made -- his bomb to Jeremy Maclin was fantastic, but it was also underthrown a little bit. Watch the replay and you can see Maclin, who was way past wide open, hesitate a little.

Similar things (wobble much?) could be said for some of the throws he made earlier in the game. That's not to say he's bad by any stretch. It's just that Kolb throws darts, Vick slings lasers and if Vick's healthy, he needs to be Philly's guy.

****
Steve Young, in recapping Monday night's game, suggested vaguely that David Garrard's concussion might actually be more of a "concussion," if you know what I'm saying.

If you don't, Young was implying that perhaps Garrad didn't suffer a concussion (in fairness to the Hall of Famer, the contact with his head on the turf was light and Garrard wasn't exactly playing lights out) and that he got yanked for stinking up the joint.

Enter Trent Edwards, who actually kind of inspired the Jaguars' offense for the final two minutes of the first half.

Of course, one Mercedes Lewis fumble later, and Edwards spent the first two minutes of the second half helping put Jacksonville in a worse hole.

Young's skepticism aside, it seems like the injury to Garrard is legit -- on Wednesday, he wasn't at the Jags' practice facility and the team had already signed Todd Bouman for the 4,535th time this season.

Plus, they added Patrick Ramsey to the roster on Wednesday; desperation is clearly in the air.

The only logical move is to roll the dice with Edwards and pray that he does well. If that happens, Jack Del Rio needs to dump about 10,000 pounds of Rophenol in the Jax River and hope everyone forgets about that Garrard extension.

****
Colt McCoy "didn't look lost" against the Steelers, which is pretty freaking impressive, considering he's a rookie, he has zero offensive weapons, and Pittsburgh brings the devastating pain on defense.

As such, there's no reason to consider starting anyone else -- McCoy gives the team at least hope for the future, because of his success at Texas and the fact that Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme are, combined, probably 80 years old.

Of course, that essentially turns Delhomme into a $7 million paperweight, but it's not like no one saw that coming when Mike Holmgren signed him.

****
Matt Moore is the starter in Carolina once again, and, well, it seems pretty obvious that the Panthers are about to rip off a six-game winning streak, right?

Wrong. That's the homer in me talking. Oh, and by the way, I totally took Carolina with my pick this week, like an idiot, again.

So you can probably expect two or three picks from each QB. Unless, you know, Moore wants to do what he did at the end of last year (read: not be terrible), in which case I called it above. ****
Quickly…

- The Chiefs might have lost two straight, but it's totally conceivable that they could still be undefeated. As a result, it's hard not to concede that Todd Haley's done a pretty darn good job managing the Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combo. Sure, Charles' fantasy owners hate it, because he's not guaranteed monster touches, but it's probably better for him all around.

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Posted on: October 19, 2010 9:12 am
 

Top Ten With a Twist: 2007 Drafted QBs

JaMarcus Russell, the first pick taken in the 2007 NFL Draft, is one of the bustiest draft picks in league history (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I saw an interesting tweet from @PScrags a few weeks ago, and it went like this: “FACT: Of the 10 quarterbacks drafted in the 2007 NFL Draft, not ONE is a current starting NFL quarterback.”

That perked my ears, and I thought I’d check out that particular Draft and see what happened to that non-illustrious 10 (in doing my own painstaking research, I discovered there actually were 11 QBs taken that year). As of today, PScrags' statement isn’t exactly true, though it could be soon, assuming Michael Vick retains his starting spot for the Eagles.

Carolina's Matt Moore, it should be noted, was an undrafted free agent that year, and now he’s back to being a starter after Jimmy Clausen showed he’s clearly not ready to play in the NFL. But Moore wasn't drafted anyway, so we're not including him.

1st Round

No. 1. JaMarcus Russell, Raiders: Well, we all know what happened to him, don’t we? The only question now is this: how many of us were introduced to Purple Drank because of Russell? A fair number, I suppose. Therefore, a toast to Russell. A toast of Purple Drank.

No. 22. Brady Quinn, Browns: Remember how amazed we were by how far Quinn had fallen in the Draft and how long he had to sit in the green room? Remember how some people thought he could be a No. 1 overall pick? Jeez, how crazy are some mock drafters anyway? He’s now, depending on the day, either the second- or third-string QB in Denver.

2nd round

No. 36. Kevin Kolb, Eagles: Well, he was the starter at the season’s beginning. Before the concussion and before Michael Vick transformed himself into one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. When Vick returns, he likely will knock Kolb into the backup spot. Unless Andy Reid changes his mind once again. And because Kolb has played well in Vick's absence, that's a possibility.

No. 40. John Beck, Dolphins: He was the third-string QB in Baltimore during the offseason, but that was before Marc Bulger came into the picture. He was traded to Washington where … he’s the third-string QB.

D. Stanton came in relief of S. Hill during Sunday's Detroit game (US Presswire). No. 43. Drew Stanton, Lions: I bet you didn’t know this: Stanton threw a TD in his first-ever NFL attempt. Ultimately, that probably will be the highlight of his career. When Matthew Stafford returns to the field after the Week 7 bye, Stanton will fall back to No. 2 (until backup Shaun Hill recovers from his forearm injury).

3rd round

No. 92. Trent Edwards, Bills: The wound is still too fresh to delve into the details, but in one week, Edwards lost his starting job and then lost his backup job. Jacksonville has since claimed him off waivers. Let me repeat: the Bills – who might be the worst team in football – decided they couldn’t use him. Edwards replaced David Garrard on Monday Night Football after Garrard sustained a concussion, and actually, Edwards didn't play badly.

4th round

No. 103. Isaiah Stanback, Cowboys: What can we say about Isaiah Stanback? Namely, he has five pass receptions in his pro career. He tore his Achilles in the preseason with Seattle, and he was released soon after. It’s almost not fair to call him a QB, but that’s what he did in college, so that’s how we’ll list him.

5th round

No. 151: Jeff Rowe, Bengals: He sat behind Carson Palmer and Ryan Fitzpatrick for a season. The next year, he lost his third-string job to Jordan Palmer. Ah, nepotism sucks, eh? Unless, of course, you’re the recipient of that nepotism. Then, it’s awesome.

No. 174. Troy Smith, Ravens: When Baltimore signed Bulger to back up Joe Flacco, that signaled the end of Smith’s time with the Ravens. There’s little doubt Smith has great athleticism, but he’s proven he’s not a starting QB in the NFL. He’s currently the third-string QB in San Francisco.

6th round

No. 205. Jordan Palmer, Redskins: Jeff Rowe’s worst nightmare. Actually, Palmer is one snap away from taking older brother Carson’s job if the latter has to leave the game because of injury.

7th round


No. 217. Tyler Thigpen, Vikings: Thigpen actually has had a better career than many of the QBs on this list. Sure, he’s the third-string QB in Miami, but he’s started 11 NFL games (with an absurd record of 1-10) and he’s thrown 19 TDs against 15 INTs.

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Posted on: October 11, 2010 6:03 pm
 

Jones-Drew X-Rays on wrist come back negative

Posted by Will Brinson

Great news for the Jacksonville Jaguars -- X-rays on Maurice Jones-Drew's wrist injury came back negative today.

That's according a very relieved Jack Del Rio (via our Jacksonville Jaguars' Rapid Reports), who was concerned because of MJD's reaction (read: loud screaming) on the field.

"He's (usually) pretty quiet out there," Del Rio said.

David Garrard echoed a similar sentiment.

"He comes out and it looks like his season was over the way he was screaming on the ground," Garrard said. "Then he comes back and is as tough as all get out."

Jones-Drew only left for a few minutes -- he returned to the field and seemed fine to play. Still, for a team that two weeks ago looked like they might just implode and move to Los Angeles, keeping their star player healthy on the heels of a two game winning streak is tremendous news.

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 5:23 pm
 

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

Posted by Will Brinson

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****
Quickly ...

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

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

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

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

10 Sunday stories deserving your attention Week 4

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) Conspiracy in Philadelphia

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

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

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

Quick Tangent

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

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

2.) Back to Kolb and the Eagles

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.) Are the Rams for real?

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.) Motown Blues

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

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

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

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

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

5.) Unglamorous glamour guys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.) AFC East mugging

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.) Electrifying Bolt

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

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

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

Other defenders

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

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

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

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

8.) Bears fans….are you there?

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

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

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

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

9.) Cardiac Cats are back?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on: October 3, 2010 9:46 pm
 

A special win for the Jaguars

J. Scobee celebrated after kicking his 59-yard game winning field goal (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When Jacksonville PK Josh Scobee’s 59-yard field goal barely sailed over the cross-bar as time expired and into the Jaguars mascots arms, the jubilation could begin. Scobee yanked off his helmet and ran screaming around the field.

"I've never been that excited to hit a field goal in my life,” Scobee told reporters after the game, including Rapid Reporter Jim Nasella.

You can forgive his excitement. For a team that has faced much adversity this season – tepid fan support, a coach in Jack Del Rio whose backside was beginning to feel rather warm, a QB situation that is stomach-churning, a defense that hasn’t been impressive and a squad coming off the worst back-to-back beatings in club history – beating the Colts was a moment of pure joy.

Much of the credit must go to RB Maurice Jones-Drew (26 carries, 105 yards, one receiving TD and one rushing TD), but QB David Garrard had quite a game as well. He was 17 of 22 for 163 yards and two scores, and he led the Jaguars on a last-minute, 59-yard drive that set up Scobee for the game-ending heroics.

"Jacksonville did a good job of controlling the clock,'' Colts WR Reggie Wayne said. "Nothing you can do, the guy (Scobee) boomed it.’’

Plus, you can’t forget the offensive line, which kept Garrard upright and shut down the Colts fearsome pass rush of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

More than anything, it was simply a special win for a team in desperate need of one.

“It was a great moment in that locker room,'' Del Rio said. "I said, 'Guys you want to savor this. You want to get together tomorrow and enjoy it.'”

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