Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we arrive at the midway point of the NFL's fake-game schedule, putting us (thankfully) just 17 days away from when they start keeping score for real. ...
And with a nod to the impact that defensive end
So far, it's tough to quibble with the Falcons' move to sign
Setting aside Turner's rare blend of power and speed for the moment, I've heard plenty of folks question whether he could possibly produce big numbers this season while running behind an Atlanta offensive line that will be average at best and makeshift at worst. I can't tell you if Turner will have as many holes to run through as he should this season, but I'm confident he'll hit the ones that are there fairly frequently, and he'll pop his share of them for defense-gashing chunks of yardage.
New Falcons offensive coordinator
"All I know is that when he went in there, people couldn't tackle him,'' said Saints quarterback
Turner first opened mine and a lot of other folks' eyes back in mid-December 2005, when he helped the Chargers knock off the 13-0 Colts in Indy with that memorable game-clinching 83-yard touchdown burst with just over two minutes to go in the 26-17 San Diego upset. Brees was the Chargers quarterback that day, and he still can't believe someone so big (5-foot-10, 244 pounds) could move so fast.
"No one really knew he had that top-end speed, even though we had all heard of Michael 'The Burner' Turner,'' Brees said. "It was like one of those moments where you go, 'Oh, man. Where did that come from?' ''
I'm convinced there are going to be more of those moments for Turner in Atlanta this season. Suspect offensive line and all, the Falcons made the best move of the year in enticing Turner into their backfield. After the debacle of Atlanta's 2007 season, it was the right call for a team in desperate need of something or someone to count on.
• A concussion for
• I'm not saying there was a great choice to be had by Bears head coach
• Now that was the
Edwards' 9-of-11, 104-yard, two-touchdown pass showing against the Steelers in Toronto (how weird does that sound?) Thursday night leaves me questioning my supposition that Buffalo, almost by default, will enter the season with the AFC East's fourth-best starting quarterback.
• That said,
And while we're at it, how come no one seems fixated on just how quickly Pennington will pick up the Dolphins offense, given that he'll have the same amount of time to acclimate himself that Favre has in New York? I still expect quick-study rookie
• Remember in my pre-training camp burning questions when I asked how long it would be before the veteran QB-loving
• OK, I'll ask it: Was Favre even the best Jets quarterback named Brett on the field in Washington the other night? I mean, rookie
I know he was playing in what amounted to mop-up time against the Redskins' subs, but only a 23-yard
• Just think, once the NFL does the inevitable and goes to 18 regular season games -- and that's a move that may be negotiated as part of the league's next CBA -- the two-game preseason schedule would already be over for this year. I can't think of any fan who would object. The NFL's exhibition season gets harder to watch every year, with so many teams merely playing the games with nothing more in mind than avoiding injuries to key contributors.
• Somebody do
• We know
I don't care who you play, 472 yards rushing on 78 carries is getting it done in the ground game. The Raiders have four different running back who already have 86 yards or more this month:
That should help lighten the offensive burden on first-time starting quarterback Russell's shoulders. If Oakland can run for 236 per game, I like their chances to win a couple. With that kind of surplus in the backfield, it also makes you wonder if the Raiders will be the first team called if somebody gets thin at running back.
Oakland's running the ball so well that even
• It was so predictable, because anytime you have a three-man competition at the game's most crucial position you're already in trouble. But does San Francisco's quarterback situation look like a train wreck in slow motion or what?
Maybe O'Sullivan is the next
I'm tweaking it a bit, but what's that they say about when you have three potential starters, it means you really have none?
• This year's early nominee for the
Forsett ripped off 136 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in Seattle's 29-26 overtime win over visiting Chicago on Saturday. That gives him 194 yards rushing on 28 carries this preseason, a whopping 6.9 average run. Only Washington's
• Same old, same old in Chicago. The Bears got 16 points out of their defense and special teams against Seattle, and 10 out of their offense. The trouble is, you can't build your season around the premise that your offense will be outscored by both the opponent and your own team.
• How 'bout them Cowboys? I'm not sure there are many positives to take away so far from double-digit road losses at San Diego and Denver. But their show sure plays well for the cameras on HBO. Come to think of it, the ol'
• I watched most of that Panthers-Eagles game Thursday night -- even making it through that almost one-hour weather delay -- and all I kept thinking was that Philly head coach
The Eagles threw the ball 52 times in the game, completing 25 for 247 yards passing, compared to just 22 rushes. Does anybody in the league bother giving less lip service to the myth of the all-important balanced offense? Philly's going to throw the ball more than it runs. A lot more. Almost every time.
• Oh, so that's why
• Not that you need reminding, but Minnesota's Super Bowl express depends on the state of
Jackson's injury is nowhere near that serious, of course, but with
• The more I see of Baltimore rookie running back
Ravens rookie head coach
Rice touched the ball 11 times at home against the Vikings on Saturday and produced 94 yards, including a 42-yard burst the first time his number was called before the hometown fans. But that was only the start of the love affair. It's going to get better, Baltimore.
• Even before he injured his left shoulder in action against Detroit at home Sunday night, I had my doubts whether
But now that he's hurt, and maybe won't be healthy enough to be the early-season factor he had hoped, I think the odds he blows up on the Bengals again have risen to better than 50-50.
• When I visited Ravens camp way back on July 22, sources within the organization told me they didn't expect franchised linebacker-defensive end
Still, Suggs came in exactly two days after the Ravens' second preseason game, so I'm impressed by Baltimore's prognostication skills.
• Now playing the role of
• You better suck it up and hit the practice field a bit more,
• Not that I expect anyone to change their minds in Tennessee or Washington because of this, but did you notice how much more productive backup quarterbacks