What we know 1 month into season
Things we know (or at least think we do) one month into the NFL's regular season....
• Despite the hand-wringing and dire predictions, the New York Giants definitely have enough receiving talent. And for that matter, so do the Colts and Bears. The Giants, Colts and Bears have won 11 of a combined 12 games, and all of them have gotten bountiful contributions from their young receivers after enduring questions about the position throughout the offseason.
In New York, they're not paying for the decision to release veterans
In Indianapolis, even without
And in Chicago, where the lack of proven receivers was a steady drumbeat for months, the
• By my count, there are 20 ex-NFL head coaches currently serving as assistants throughout the league (excluding those who have been only interim head coaches). The ex-head coach job market has become a particularly rich source of coaching talent, with a surprisingly high number of them growing into roles that are critical to their team's success.
This season, new Broncos defensive coordinator
Last year, the Ravens offense benefited greatly from the skill of coordinator
Be it Pittsburgh defensive coordinator
There are 14 quarterbacks drafted in the past five years who are currently starting in the NFL, but just one of them is from Young and Leinart's 2006 Class: Chicago's
The 2005 class features Green Bay's
The 2007 contingent is Oakland's
• The Cowboys new $1.15 billion stadium is a marvel, but the Cowboys themselves aren't substantially different than the disappointing 9-7 team that we watched last season. Even without
• Buffalo, Kansas City and Tampa Bay, the three teams that fired their offensive coordinators just before the season began, haven't exactly fixed their issues. The Bills, Chiefs and Bucs are a combined 1-11, with that lone win coming in head-to-head play (Buffalo beat Tampa Bay).
• If I had drawn up a preseason list of quarterbacks who were most likely to get hurt at some point this year,
• With one sack and nine tackles through three games, Carolina defensive end
• Buffalo stirred up plenty of fan interest when it signed
• If one bounce of the ball goes differently, the Bengals are the surprise 4-0 team in the league, not the Broncos.
• The "Wildcat'' formation hasn't given us one big highlight moment yet this season, has it? Other than, in our minds, the night
• It's very, very hard to follow up on success in the NFL. Last year's two Super Bowl teams, the Steelers and Cardinals, are a combined 3-4 so far. And six of last season's eight division winners are at .500 or worse through four games. Tennessee and Carolina are winless, Miami and Arizona own one win, and San Diego and Pittsburgh are 2-2.
Only the Giants and Vikings have returned strong so far, at 4-0.
• The transition from
• Denver's switch to the 3-4 defense is working wonders. Green Bay's remains a work in progress.
• If you have to start more than one quarterback in the season's first month, you're probably losing. Of the seven teams that already have started multiple quarterbacks -- Miami, Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Seattle and St. Louis -- only one of them has a winning record: the 2-1 Eagles. The Browns, Chiefs, Bucs and Rams are all winless at 0-4, while the Dolphins and Seahawks own just one victory.
• This season's new crop of head coaches has a real boom-bust quality to it. Four of the league's 11 new head coaches are a combined 14-2 thus far: Denver's
The NFL's other seven new head coaches are a combined 3-25: Cleveland's
• The Saints and the Vikings both can thank the deferral of any StarCaps suspensions for a good chunk of their 4-0 starts. New Orleans defensive ends
• In terms of their high-profile returns from knee injuries,
• If you believe in the power of coaching trees,
• The first-place teams in the AFC West and NFC West are off to great starts -- Denver is 4-0 and San Francisco 3-1 -- but the rest of the weakest two divisions are the same mess they've been in recent years.
In the NFC West, Arizona (1-2), Seattle (1-3) and St. Louis (0-4) are a combined 2-9, with the only non-division win being the Cardinals' victory at Jacksonville. In the AFC West, San Diego (2-2), Oakland (1-3) and Kansas City (0-4) are a combined 3-9, with the only non-division win being the Chargers' home win over Miami.
That's good news for the teams in the NFC North and the AFC South, which both play all four clubs in the NFC West this season, and for the NFC East and AFC North, which have games against the AFC West this year.
• The Bucs and Browns were the teams that had the highest level of indecision at quarterback throughout the long offseason, and that's almost always an indication a club doesn't like any of its choices. Despite months spent pondering their QB situations, both Tampa Bay and Cleveland reversed their opening-day starting decisions after just three games, benching former first-round picks
And here's a prediction you can take to the bank: Those won't be the last moves the woeful Bucs and Browns make at quarterback this season.
• Neither the 49ers or the Raiders have had a winning season since 2002, when both won their division and went to the playoffs. Last year, they both fired their coaches in midseason, with the Raiders canning
Both of them gave their interim head coaches the fulltime gig this offseason, and both men promised to change the culture of defeat in the Bay Area. But that's where the similarities end.
In San Francisco, the shenanigans and the losing has ended with the no-nonsense