The Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons are exceeding expectations, but are they also setting a dangerous precedent?
In my new career with the media, I find it difficult to throw away the preconceived notions I have about a team or a player coming into the season. Nowhere is this more evident than when I look at what is taking place in Baltimore and Atlanta. Week after week I think these teams can't possibly be this good with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback. On an almost weekly basis, they prove me wrong.
I thought, like most people, the Falcons would win about four games this season. After seeing the Ravens offense during training camp, I was pretty sure there was no way, no matter how well the defense played, Baltimore would win more than eight games. Yet, here we are, nine games into the season, and both teams are in contention for division titles with matching 6-3 records. Their success has owners in places like Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis and elsewhere looking very closely at the rookie head coach and first-round quarterback experiment.
It's a copycat league, right? So all you need do is get a new head coach and draft a quarterback and immediate success can be yours, right? Not hardly. Even the principals involved realize theirs is not a fool-proof plan.
"What we are doing is the exception," said long-time Falcons linebacker
"I wouldn't say it is necessarily a great formula for winning," said Baltimore quarterback
But therein lies the problem. What Flacco and
The secret to Atlanta's and Baltimore's success is obviously not simply having hired a new coach and drafting a quarterback in the first round. Rather, it was in hiring the right coach and the right quarterback.
If anything, it's the rest of the league that needs to be scared of how good the Falcons and Ravens might become.
Status among players in NFL locker rooms is determined by a number of factors, including production on the field, contract numbers and longevity in the league and on a particular team. The Saints'
Shockey was well established in New York by the time
Brees, however, is the face of the franchise in New Orleans and he can have a fiery personality when necessary, which he exhibited on the sidelines during his discussion with Shockey. It is all about winning for Brees and he will not tolerate guys who aren't doing what they are supposed to do.
Brees showed Shockey who wears the proverbial pants in their relationship.
Can you just imagine Del Rio with a chart on the white board at 1 a.m., trying to figure out if he should put
"Henderson lost his composure against the Bengals," I envision Del Rio saying. "We should move him next to Scobee, who has been calm under pressure so far this season."