In the first half of that game, Tom Brady was wildly missing his receivers -- the same thing we've seen the first few weeks. He looked rusty. But in the second half, he was a different man. He had confidence in the pocket. We finally saw that "Ah-ha!" moment that you look for after an injury like the one Brady suffered last year; that moment where he finally stops thinking about it.
Anyone coming back from an injury like his will naturally be cautious. Balls will be under- or overthrown. You won't have the same zip on the ball. Some guys take a few games to get the confidence back; some guys take a whole year. And I think we saw that process winding down in front of our eyes in the second half. A confident Tom Brady is something to be scared of.
But I do think these Jets are the real deal, and they remind me of a team I know as well as anyone: the 2004 Steelers. I start with the rookie quarterback,
From my experience in a similar situation, here's the upside for Jets fans: this team is going to open up this offense even more as it moves forward. Right now, they simply want to win football games. They can do that by running the football well, playing great defense and getting a few timely plays out of their young quarterback. That was our recipe when Ben came into the league; we really only called on him a few times to make some plays. But he continually came through when he was called on and that gave us the confidence to open up the playbook. I see the same thing in Mark Sanchez and these Jets.
Here's where my Steelers and Sanchez's Jets differ:
If you're on defense, you love this guy, no doubt. He's precisely the type of coach you want: someone who's aggressive and will get in people's faces. But I'm an offensive guy myself, and I would want someone a little more even-keeled. As a running back you're going out there and getting hit. You're taking the shots. And this guy goes out and riles up your opponent? In a way I'm thinking, Come on coach, don't do this to me; don't get people angry at me like this. That's one place where I feel like maybe Ryan isn't really making life any easier for Sanchez.
That one simple play -- a magical play -- goes a long way in their locker room. After so many years where all they needed was a quarterback, they have to be thinking: We won this game because Brett is here and we might not have won it without him.
On the other side of the field, that was a solid game all the way through for the 49ers. They showed me an awful lot of positive things despite the loss, especially playing well without
This is a team that's gone relatively unchanged on offense the past few years -- the same team that was in the playoffs two years ago and that won six of seven games at one point last year. We know how good this team can be. So
If not, there are plenty out there. I think
Here's the pick that I think makes sense: Arizona's offensive line coach and one of the original hogs,
Here's Detroit's next problem: getting people in those seats so their hometown fans can see them on TV. It's not going to be easy, even if they're winning. Given how hard this town has been hit by the mortgage crisis and the automotive industry's struggles, I think
-- I think that Steelers-Bengals game said more about Cincinnati than it did Pittsburgh. The Bengals ran the ball effectively, Palmer played well and, more importantly, they finished. The Bengals teams I knew pretty much blew it at the end of these close games. Yesterday they found a way to win, and that's a major change for the franchise. It's the sign of a pretty good football team.
For the Steelers, the scary thing coming out of this game is the evident strength of the AFC North. What a strong division all of a sudden.
-- The Raiders are a bad football team; that's obvious.
-- Here's what I saw in that late Colts-Cardinals game: Arizona is still very much capable of being blown out by any team on any given Sunday. Nothing's changed.
-- Before we criticize, let's try to understand
-- A word to Bucs coach