Week 2 of the NFL season and I am already amazed at the excitement and enthusiasm of each game. Last week when the San Diego-Denver game ended, I thought to myself it might be awhile before another offensive explosion game might happen ... then one day later comes the Philadelphia-Dallas shootout and I was left speechless.
When the Monday night game was over, I started to hear some whispers and complaining around where I live and thought it'd be best to address the issues.
Give some Brotherly Love to Donovan
Donovan McNabb is great player. Actually, I think that needs to be written in a little stronger tone ... Donovan McNabb is a Hall of Fame player. I live near the city of Brotherly Love, and have spent most of my childhood here, so therefore I have been lumped into a category called a "Philadelphia Sports Fan." There is not a specific definition of a "Philadelphia Sports Fan" but the general consensus would have them as being very passionate, very knowledgeable, very hard core and not afraid to criticize their favorite star player. (Just ask Allen Iverson.) We all know the Philly fans are coarse and even booed Santa Claus, but they do passionately love their Birds. But for some reason they have a very hard time showing love and admiration to their "star." I cannot walk down the hall in my office complex or go to my son's high school game with having someone come up to me and say, "We would have won but McNabb is holding us back." Holding you back? He is your whole team, he makes it go -- get a freaking clue.
It is at this point where I would like to disassociate myself from being a Philadelphia Sports Fan and hope I can explain to everyone that in Philadelphia they don't know how lucky they are to have McNabb quarterbacking their team. My football career has been spoiled being around some of the game's greats from Joe Montana to Rich Gannon. But I also know what my football life is like without a great player at the position. The NFL is a quarterback league and life is just miserable and frustrating when you get up early each morning and head into work knowing you DON'T have a quarterback. Ask the Chiefs, the Vikings and the Jets before Brett Favre. Consider yourself very lucky, Philadelphia.
Monday night McNabb showed the football world he is one of the top players in the game, not just at quarterback, but the whole league. Now, this is not to say Tony Romo was not as impressive, but in Dallas Romo gets love (he also has Jessica) and is never under the constant microscope that seems to follow McNabb in Philadelphia. McNabb was accurate throwing the ball, strong in the pocket, very difficult to tackle and made all the tough throws as he demonstrated poise, confidence and leadership. He has played two games without his two best receivers and has not thrown an interception.
It was crystal clear on Monday night that McNabb is tremendous. The other evident observation to me was that McNabb makes all the others around him better. And isn't that what great players do? McNabb is the one who makes the Eagles offense go, not the one who holds it back. Everyone complains that there is not a No. 1 wideout on the Eagles, but DeSean Jackson looked impressive, if you ignore is premature celebration. Brian Westbrook is very talented and very productive, but he needs someone who can throw him the ball allowing him to make plays in the passing game. If you think the back can make the team, you might want to check in with LaDainian Tomlinson and ask him what life was like as a Charger before Drew Brees started to play well. McNabb needs one more touchdown pass to surpass Ron Jaworski (175) for the most touchdown passes in franchise history and he has 114 touchdowns passes in the red zone with only seven interceptions in his entire career. McNabb is 30-20 in the NFC East and has an impressive 85 QB rating in those 50 games.
Current backup Kevin Kolb may at some point in his NFL career provide this kind of production in the regular season, but it will take him some time. One of the golden rules I followed in my NFL career was that teams always over-evaluate their backups when the current starter is a great player. And I hope McNabb plays for a long time, but life without him won't be as good as life with him. Philadelphia needs to learn how to really show him love.
The State of Missouri has one only good football team: The Missouri Tigers
How has football gotten so bad in Missouri? Not too long ago the Chiefs and the Rams were showing the Show Me State a little more than they are showing us now. Over the past three years the Rams and Chiefs are 24-44 and neither team has had a win since last December. The Chiefs are on a franchise record 11-game losing streak and the Rams have their own streak of six. And the reality of these facts is it is not going to get any better anytime soon -- for either team.
The Chiefs play the Falcons this week and if they don't win that game they could possibly enter their bye week 0-5. But really how can the Chiefs win games this year with the offensive talent they have assembled? The Chiefs offense has really struggled to score and I think the only way they can score more than 20 points in a game is if they get two defensive touchdowns. The Chiefs offense this season has had 22 possessions and only three resulted in scores (two TDs, one FG); their 13.6 scoring efficiency rate is second-worst in the league. They are already on their third quarterback in three weeks and no matter who plays QB, the pass protection is not conducive for keeping ANYONE healthy.
The Rams are an organizational mess and removing the coach is not going to be the answer. The Rams are 7-22 in the past 29 games. The Rams have been outscored by opponents 79-16 this season. They've lost five in a row by an average score of 40-15 dating to last season and have yet to run a play inside the opponent's 20 this year. They have only converted three third downs all year and have been outscored in the second half by 219 points in the past 29 games. And changing the coach might clean up this mess? Please, this is a mess from the top to the bottom and won't get better until the ownership group asks some very tough questions.
So if you live in the Show Me State, Saturdays might be the best day to watch football.
The game I will pay very close attention to this week
Arizona at Washington. At some point early in the season when I was in the NFL, there would be a game that I would say to myself, if we win today, we will go to the playoffs. And this is one of those games for the Cards. The 'Skins had a dramatic come from behind win last week against the Saints and will need to play their best football to beat a muchimproved Arizona team. Now, I know the Cards have not been 3-0 since the Don Coryell days, but Kurt Warner has been sensational so far this season. The Cardinals play a style of defense that can pressure Jason Campbell and create confusion with his timing. Coach Jim Zorn should be keenly familiar with the Cardinals defense and how to best attack. This should be a very good game and if the Cardinals leave Washington 3-0, then they have taken the next step for Coach Ken Whisenhunt and will be a playoff team.
• FROM A MEMO SENT TO ALL NFL CLUBS BY COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL ... "Player safety on the field is important to all of us in the NFL. Football is a tough game and we need to do everything possible to protect all players -- offense, defense, and special teams -- from unnecessary injury caused by illegal and dangerous hits. From this point forward, you should be clear on the following point: Any conduct that unnecessarily risks the safety of other players has no role in the game of football and will be disciplined at increased levels, including on a first offense. Playing by the rules shows respect for your fellow players. No one wants to see unnecessary injuries. Let's have a safe and exciting 2008 season."
Proactive is the best word to describe Commissioner Goodell's management style. He does not let anything linger and he is very quick to get control of the situation before anything happens. The NFL has a tremendous product for the fans to enjoy and it is very important to keep the players as healthy as possible, as it is the players that make each Sunday so enjoyable.
• FROM THE WASHINGTON POST... Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerrato will co-host a call-in radio show from 10 a.m. to noon Monday and Friday on ESPN 980 in Washington.
This cannot be fun for Vinny each week. Instead of watching tape and finding ways to improve his team, he is fielding questions twice a week that can only trap him into giving some controversial answers. And how is Cerrato going to defend the game management of his head coach, when everyone who watched the game knows he made a mistake? This cannot work.
• FROM THE DENVER POST ... Ed Hochuli said: "I'm getting hundreds of e-mails -- hate mail -- but I'm responding to it all. People deserve a response. You can rest assured that nothing anyone can say can make me feel worse than I already feel about my mistake on the fumble play. You have no idea. ... Affecting the outcome of a game is a devastating feeling. Officials strive for perfection -- I failed miserably. Although it does no good to say it, I am very, very sorry."
As a country we all love winners, but another quality we admire is when someone has enough strength and assurance to admit a mistake. I was very critical of Ed this past Monday morning but admitting his mistake and going out of his way to talk to the fans is very honorable. It sounds like Ed has had as many sleepless nights as the Chargers coaching staff has.
• FROM THE AP... Brad Childress said: "I'm just not seeing right now the aggressiveness from Tarvaris [Jackson] that I saw throughout the offseason, training camp, the two preseason games that he played in. And part of it may be experience. I know Gus [Frerotte] will give us that. And I know his approach will also lend itself to that."
I am not sure I can see aggressiveness in the quarterback, but the one thing I have not seen from Jackson so far this year is his ability to connect on the deep ball and make plays down the field. We knew going into the season he was not going to be consistently accurate but he had to make plays down the field. The Vikings longest pass play this year has been for 24 yards with Jackson.
• If I were the Minnesota Vikings, I would prepare for seeing a lot of Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith this week. The Panthers feel like their season is just starting for their offense and suspect they will get Smith the ball early and often in the game.
• I I were the Green Bay Packers, I would extend the contract of wide receiver Greg Jennings as soon as possible. He is clearly one of the best players on their team and might be among the top 10 receivers in the NFL.
• If I were the New Orleans Saints, I would be worried about my four-minute offense (this is where the team with the lead tries to keep the ball away from their opponent). In their last two games they had to punt the ball back to their opponent and have won one and lost one. This is more evidence why they need a big back.
• If I were a team playing the Chargers now, I would be more worried about Philip Rivers beating me than LaDainian Tomlinson. The Chargers have a 62-48 percent pass-run ratio in the first half so far this year and Rivers has a 122.5 quarterback rating.