The leadoff e-mail started, "Please don't take this the wrong way ..." I immediately fastened my seat belt. Things only could get worse. And they did. Basically I was told, among other things, that given my modus operandi, I was not fit to rank 32 NFL teams. The e-mailer was
"I told you not to write that ... I told you that you'd only get in trouble with all that mea culpa stuff," said
Right as usual (Isn't it tiresome to be right so often?). I reveal too much. I could never get a job with the CIA, even a menial one. But let me explain one thing. I don't watch pieces of games. I watch them in their entirety, because there are nuances you simply don't get if you hop around from game to game. I usually catch the local, New York area game live, and then comes the long, and I do mean long, TV vigil, after three VCRs have recorded half a dozen games. Sometimes, if a game finishes early, I'll get a piece of another one. Then there's the Sunday nighter, then the Monday nighter, then more tape viewing. Then dinner.
This schedule has gotten me through a breakdown of 30 NFL teams so far, most of them at least twice. I'm sorry that the Falcons are not among them, but they will be soon. This is the way I do things...have been doing them for as long as VCRs have been around. I think you'll find that many of your most prestigious rankers of clubs and selectors of all-star teams undergo a lot less exposure. I'm sorry if I have offended you.
• Might as well get all of this out of the way. From
Gee, I never heard Wimpy say that. But be that as it may, I will never say that wait and see thing again. Or write it. Just see if I do.
OK, come on, step up, take your best shots. I can bear it. Just a minute ... let me remove the plate from my head first. There! OK, wotta we got?
• "Plate in the head or plate FOR a head, you dumb ... " No,
Team A, Arizona (4-2), beat Team B, Dallas (4-2), and yet A is 10 (ten!) places below the defeated B. "Has Dr. Z fallen asleep and bumped his head?" she writes. ( Have I bumped, uh, bumped, uh bumped, uh...?)
OK, here's the way it is. Before the game, 14 places separated them. The number has been cut to 10. The toughest thing about ranking the teams after the first few weeks of the season is that you lose the integrity of head-to-head. Thus, the Jets, who ran up 56 points on your Cardinals, are ranked below them.
I don't hear any Jets fans complaining, mainly because their blood has not been heated to a boil by a merciless southwestern sun. Arizona is a brutal place in which to play. Everyone knows that. Let the Cardinals win one on the road, say at Carolina after the bye, and you'll see some very kind treatment in the old Z-Rankings. No, wait a minute...I just promised someone that I wasn't going to do the "just wait" number. You see how quickly things slip out of the poor old head, once it gets bumped a few times?
• Whew, I'm getting worn out. What now? Oh. my. This one has reduced my wife to ... my God, she's got a tear in her eye. And she's mailing in a photo she took at ... can it be? Yes, it's the Mendocino Headlands, one of our favorite places in the world. I need a moment to get myself together. This is in answer to a very gentle, very sentimental e-mail from
"Do you have suggestions for where one might propose?" he asks. Of course, he's my E-mailer of the Week, and all that. I knew the answer right away, but just to double check I proposed the question to The Redhead, who, if you didn't already know, is a photographer of
You go down Main Street, which is the main drag in town, past the hotel, heading for the ocean, turn right when you can't go any more, turn left at Lake St., keep going to the end and you're at the Headlands, stretching to your right. We walk there every morning when we're out there. Very few other people are around ("Once they get a look at you," says the Redhead. Come on now, honey, this is deep.) It is one of the most wonderful and most romantic places on earth.
• "With all due respects," writes
Sorry, but I didn't see him against
Tennessee's running game, and Roos' drive blocking, against the Vikings, was nowhere ... 76 yards and a 2.3 average. They scored 21 points off turnovers.
Against the Ravens he had a good day pass blocking, against
Is Roos one of my possible Pro Bowl tackles? Too early to tell. The Patriots'
• More rankings now. From
"Does the Flaming Redhead really banter or are you writing both sides?"
Who can supplant her?
• A very serious, technical question from
First of all, I echo your feelings. Everything is pass blocking now, creating a comfortable situation for the QB. And I think a dedicated adherence to the kind of run blocking rules we learned often are given lesser attention. This is lame, I know, and I'm sorry. I am as puzzled as you are.
"Hello Dr. Z."
"Let's say you are an average NFL player today."
You are an average NFL player today. Why aren't you joining in with me?
OK, OK, signals off. What organization would I want to play for, basing my decision solely on strength of the organization. If you count the coach in there, probably the Carolina Panthers. Moneywise, I'd probably do very well if I somehow got into
• The Tuck Rule was called in Dallas-Arizona, but when the abortive effort was ruled a pass, why wasn't the play then penalized for grounding? This comes from
• Under normal circumstances
Yeah, we all have our hangup words, phrases, idiocies. My favorites are the modifiers of Speed.
"Foot speed." (arm speed?)
"Raw speed." (Cooked speed?)
"Flat out speed." (Flat in speed?)
And so on.