NEW YORK -- We usually start with the winners in this space every Monday, and we'll get to them soon enough. But today, there's something so compelling about the Washington Redskins have to start there.
No less respected a voice than
And so last night, Redskins vice president of football operations
"Jim's doing too much,'' Cerrato told me. "He's coaching the quarterbacks, putting the game plan together, calling the plays, coaching the team. We need Jim to coach the team, to do what a head coach does. It's been 14 games now [the Redskins are a toothless 4-10 since last Halloween], and we've got to do something.''
This is simply an act of delaying the inevitable, of course. Zorn cannot survive. Brought in to refine everything about
I expect Washington to give this new play-calling thing three or four weeks, and when that doesn't work, Zorn will be dismissed. I was told Sunday night that the logical in-season successor, defensive coordinator
Speaking of big-name coaches, it wouldn't surprise me if
By several measures, the Giants entered Sunday's game at the Superdome as the best defensive team in football. Midway through the second quarter, I turned to
New Orleans had six possessions in the first half. Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, a failed fourth-and-goal plunge from the Giants 1, touchdown. Brees was
In the spring, I power-rated the Saints as the 24th-best team in football. I thought there was no hope for their defense. "Twenty-fourth!''
Brees, in his 5,069-yard passing season last year, was phenomenal. This year, he's 4 percentage points more accurate, and on pace to throw 35 touchdown passes and five interceptions. Ridiculous. As long as his line keeps him as clean as it has through six games -- he's been sacked only four times -- he's going to have a phenomenal year, one of the best a quarterback has ever had.
I think a Minnesota-New Orleans NFC Championship Game would be one of the most anticipated football games of this era. Think of it: Brees and his all-world offense in one corner.
Entering Sunday's game against Baltimore, Peterson was on a four-game streak of being held under 100 yards rushing. That had happened only once, in 2007, in his pro career. What's more, teams were loading up to stop Peterson as much or more than ever, even with Favre in the backfield. Though it kept killing teams because Favre has responded so well, here came the strong safety, creeping down, even on downs when Favre might very well pass. On several plays against Green Bay two weeks ago, Peterson saw nine in the box.
"I get the question all the time, 'Are you frustrated?' '' he told me Sunday afternoon. "Are you kidding me? We're winning, we're playing explosive on offense, and I'm supposed to be frustrated. When the other guys can make plays --
I wonder how teams are going to play Minnesota going forward. We've seen the Vikings for six weeks now. The Ravens looked like they tried to hem in Peterson while relying on their corners to hold up in lots of single coverage. But Peterson rushed for 143 yards on 22 carries, and Favre ate the Baltimore secondary alive -- completing 72 percent of his throws with three touchdowns and no interceptions. There's no better combo platter of rusher and passer out there now, and I challenge you to think back to when there was. Kurt Warner and
"It's hilarious to me, watching Brett,'' Peterson said. "Sooner or later, defenses will understand they can play like that [with eight or nine men up], but Brett's going to get them if they do. The guy's arm is great. His deep ball is outstanding. Whatever they want to do, we're fine with it.'' We can see that.
Two last points on Peterson. We were stunned at NBC Sunday to see the Vikings -- with 2:30 left in the game, trailing Baltimore 31-30, with a third-and-nine at the Ravens' 17 -- to not go aggressively for the first down. "We were a little surprised too,'' Peterson said. Peterson ran for a three-yard gain, with the Vikings happy to settle for the field goal. It was a poor call because the Ravens had scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, the Vikes looked gassed on defense, and even if
Finally, Peterson entered the season with a gaudy career average of 5.16 yards per rush in his first two years.
• I wasn't sure at first glance, but now I am: If the NFL gave Jets safety
At least last year, Smith flew into Boldin at the same time the ball arrived. This Wesley play was worse. This morning, discipline czar
• In the first five weeks of the season, Tom Brady didn't look much like the classic Tom Brady. But coming off knee surgery, it shouldn't be surprising that he wasn't as good early.
In a 10-minute span of the second quarter, he threw five touchdown passes. It was a combination of the Titans being defensively inept and their offense handing it back to Brady on three turnovers and two punts. But Brady started flawlessly, seven for seven in the first quarter, and in the second completed 17 of 21 for 252 yards. He showed no hesitation in the pocket, not looking paranoid about bodies flying around him.
"Some days out there when it's snowy like that, it's actually an advantage for the offense,'' he said afterward. "Today was one of those days because we had good footing and it's just fun to be a part of it. I was saying, when you see the weather forecast on Thursday, you're kind of [angry] and then once the day of the game comes around, everyone is excited because you're out there and you're like, 'This is football. This is how it should be.' '' The Patriots haven't looked this good since 2007.
• As one of my editors at SI,
Actually it's the Nice Nineteen this week.
"I just gave that team the win.''
No one's arguing, kid.
"Let's assume that Dr. Omalu [noted neuropathologist Bennet Omalu, who has studied brain injuries to football players] and the others are right. What should we be doing differently? ... No one has any suggestions -- assuming you aren't saying no more football, because, let's be honest, that's not going to happen.''
Gladwell compares dog-fighting to football players suffering concussions, and it's a compelling,
"I've been playing sports since I was 8 years old, and never in any sport have I experienced anything like this.''
Has any quarterback in NFL history completed 85 percent of his throws in snowy/wintry-mix weather like Brady played in Sunday? I doubt it. With a 29-of-34, 380-yard, six-TD, no-pick game against the hapless Titans (haven't ever written those two words together, I don't think), Brady had an unimaginably good 35-minute game.
Russell removed the arrows from his back long enough to play good, but not great Sunday in Oakland. But no player in the league had been as bad in the first six weeks of the season as Russell, so his outing against the Eagles is worthy of mention here, with congratulations. Russell completed 17 of 28 passes for 224 yards, with a TD and two interceptions.
At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, it's hard to be anonymous, but Bushrod was until Sunday. Then he pitched a shutout against one of the best pass-rushers in the game,
Now, some would argue, with good statistical evidence, that the Giants had the league's best defense going into the game at the Superdome Sunday. The Saints put that D in the shredder. Brees had but seven incompletions in 30 throws, for 369 yards and four touchdowns. No interceptions. He was brilliant. It's hard to hit receivers in stride better than Brees did.
Also the USC rookie linebacker alumni section.
In the Pack's 26-0 whitewashing of Detroit, Matthews had two sacks, another tackle for loss, a pass batted down and five tackles. Green Bay held Detroit to 71 net passing yards, and Matthews played the biggest role.
The Texans went to Cincinnati and laid a 28-17 beatdown on the red-hot Bengals, thanks to four touchdown passes from Schaub and two important second-half turnovers by Cushing, who forced fumbles in the third and fourth quarters that Houston recovered. Cushing added an interception on the Bengals' last drive of the day. For the season, he's led the Texans in tackles in four of their six games.
So far, Cribbs has been the Browns' best player, and it's on display every week. With the Browns down 14-0 late in the second quarter, Cribbs took a kickoff at his two, sprinted up the right sideline, ran through the Pittsburgh coverage and singlehandedly kept Cleveland in a game it had no business being in. He also returned a punt for 26 yards and ran six times for 45 yards. Only blemish of the day: an interception, thrown out of the Wildcat formation.
I can't take credit for this one; Tony Dungy deserves it. During the Giants-Saints, we were watching
As I pointed out earlier in this column, there is absolutely no excuse for launching yourself into a defenseless return man without the ball, the way Wesley did against Clifton Smith of the Bucs. The more I watched the play Sunday night, the more I was repulsed. It was barbaric.
Yards: 5,264. (The record is 5,084, by
Completion percentage: 73.5. (The record is 70.6 by
He's on pace to be sacked a career-low six times, and he's doing this with two new receivers among his top four targets.
And the schedule's conducive to record-setting. Seven of the Colts' remaining 11 games will be played in total climate-control (home and the Jones Dome), with an eighth in Houston, where the threat of weather will result in closing the roof. The Colts could luck out on the road weather-wise: Nov. 22 at Baltimore and Dec. 17 at Jacksonville. The one bear of a game, Jan. 3 at Buffalo, could be moot if the Colts have clinched a first-round bye by then. I could see
Last year, in the first six games of the season, Tennessee allowed seven touchdowns.
Yesterday, in a 36-minute span against New England, Tennessee allowed eight touchdowns.
The Eagles and
Eerie. Other than physique, jaw structure and a pathetic 2008 Eagles tie against the Bengals, how can the two careers be any closer in the middle of their 11th seasons?
Cowher won a division in his 11th year, went 6-10 in his 12th, went 15-1 in his 13th but lost to New England in the playoffs, won the Super Bowl in his 14th, and went 8-8 in his 15th, and last, season. I think if you asked the average Steelers fan, he'd think the Rooney family's patience with Cowher was a smart thing.
Maybe the average Eagles fan can't see the future as clearly right now, but I would give one caution to those with Reid fatigue: It appears they not only have Donovan McNabb for at least a couple more prime seasons (probably), but also have developed a legitimate heir in 25-year-old Kolb. Ten years into the Cowher reign, the Steelers didn't have one quarterback, never mind two.
So I went to Yankee Stadium the other night to watch Yankees-Angels. Pretty cold. In the bottom of the fourth, a vendor came by. "Hot chocolate!'' he yelled. "Hot chocolate!''
I looked at his badge: Hot chocolate $10.
Sixteen ounces of chocolate-flavored water. Ten bucks. I went online to try to quantify the profit margin, and the best I can figure is the Yankees must be making about $9.15 profit on each hot chocolate sold. I looked at a bulk shopping site, nextag.com, and figured that bulk Swiss Miss would be 23 cents a serving, an insulated cup and lid a combined 6.5 cents, and let's call the hot water 5 cents. And let's say the vendor makes 50 cents per cup sold; I wondered via Tweet how much per vessel an average vendor makes, and the answer varied far and wide, but it seemed like 50 cents per cup was about the average that vendors get. If that figure is right -- or close -- it means the team makes approximately 91 percent profit on every sale of the watery cocoa.
Readers of this column know I'm a faithful follower of the Red Sox. And maybe the Yankees aren't any different from many teams and many products all over sporting America. It's just that, $10 for a cup of hot chocolate, I think we'd all agree, is over the top. Let me put it this way. Thirty-one years ago, I was an intern for the
And that's what I thought of when watching this vendor walk down our upper-deck aisle: I had the best seat in the house for a no-hitter, and that ticket cost less than a hand-warmer would run me on this night.
Ten notes from a quickie trip to Texas last Monday/Tuesday to see U2 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington:
1. U2 was good.
2. Cowboys Stadium is a lavish place (massive understatement), and as roomy as any outdoor or indoor stadium I've been in. The traffic going in was manageable -- 42 minutes from downtown Dallas to the parking lot. I'll withhold a longer review until I see a football game there. The videoboard, having been raised by U2 to accommodate its own gigantic spaceship/claw-thing around the stage, was inactive, which was a bummer. Would have loved to see a 164-foot-wide HD TV in action.
3. In attendance:
4. Never, ever, ever eat airport Chinese food. I know it smells good when you pass by, but remember the last time you got it, and the sesame chicken was 70 percent breading, 15 percent inedible goo over the breading, 6 percent gristle, 4 percent tough meat, and 2 percent sesame? It hasn't changed. Walk on by.
5. When in Dallas, I strongly, strongly recommend the
6. "What's this with you and
7. Saw one of the strangest airport signs-of-the-times I've ever seen when changing plans in Atlanta on the way home: a flu-shot kiosk.
8. Every aircraft should have a hand-disinfectant dispenser.
9. Since when did it become OK for flight attendants to pass the hat for a cause? I'm all in favor of breast-cancer research and fund-raising, but on airplanes? Every leg of every Delta flight? On an early-morning Delta flight, one flight attendant told us she'd let us sleep as long as we donated enough money (chuckling), but then semi-strong-armed us ('We can do better than $315, folks!'') when the first passing of the hat didn't result in enough money for her liking. I'd be interested in your responses on this, but it struck me as a little creepy.
10. One guy in front of me boarding the packed Dallas-to-Atlanta flight had a rolling bag, a fat briefcase and a lined trench coat. He stopped at about row 21 and shoved all of it in the overhead bin, completely filling one bin designed to store the stuff of two or three passengers, and then closed the bin. A couple of minutes later, the flight attendant announced that people would have to start checking their bags because the overheads were full. Thanks, pigman.
"In the first four grafs of his Jets story, the
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 6:
a. Three words for Cleveland GM
b. A long, long time ago -- oh, maybe four weeks -- most of us were saying the NFC East was the best division in football. We'll see how things play out this year, but right now I think the AFC North and NFC North might be better, and the NFC South is close.
d. Phils 11, Eagles 9.
f. The Patriots had 439 more passing yards than Tennessee: 432 to minus-seven. Minus-seven! On 14 throws.
g. Billboards coming down in Buffalo this morning?
h. Seattle wins at home by 41, then loses at home by 24. That's the season in Seattle.
i. Starting strong safety for Houston Sunday:
2. I think I've got to question the Bears leaving themselves without a pick in the first two rounds for two straight drafts. I liked the
3. I think it'll be interesting to watch
Keteyian, an investigative reporter with CBS News, will report that there was more than the "casual, happenstance'' relationship described by Nashville police between Gilliam and Kazemi. Rather, I'm told the report will reveal "a stunning number of phone calls and text messages'' between the two in the days leading up to the murder/suicide. So now the story gets deeper. At the very least, it could force police to confront why they didn't find the phone records that Keteyian found, and to delve into what they mean.
4. I think the NFC West became a two-horse race Sunday, with Seattle's no-show against Arizona. Arizona-San Francisco meet Dec. 14 in the game that could decide the division.
5. I think we've all heard just about enough on
6. I think two teams suffered major, major injuries that will impact the pennant race. The NFL's co-leading sacker,
7. I think the trading deadline, as usual, won't have much meat to it. Deadline is Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. I expect the Jags to listen to offers (any offer) for defensive end
8. I think this is what I liked about Week 6:
b. The Texans' run D has been suspect all summer and early fall, but it bottled up
c. Speaking of teams not known for run defense, the Cards really stonewalled the Seahawks, holding them to 0-for-11 on third-down conversions and seven first downs total.
d. A great job by
e. Jacksonville: 33 first downs.
f. Arizona is starting to play like the Cards played in January.
9. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 6:
a. I would like more football out of FOX's NFL pregame show and less yuks. The endless har-har-har obscures the football knowledge of some smart people who have much to say about pro football.
b. Rex, you know you've got to take the holding duties away from
c. Seattle's leading rushers versus Arizona:
d. Washington's offense. It's offensive.
e. Biggest Redskins problem isn't
f. You think Cleveland's drop problem ended with the trade of
g. The field looks 240 yards long when the Browns start drives.
h. I'd like to see better decision-making by Cutler late in big games. He just wings some balls. That would have driven
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Shouldn't every
b. My thanks to the nice people at BookEnds in Ridgewood, N.J., for hosting me last Thursday night for a
c. I've gotten a kick out of your e-mails and Tweets asking when I'd be coming to City X or State Y for a book signing. Uh, let's just say the budget for promotion began and ended with the New York/Boston stuff. I'd love to come to sign in various places, and I'm sure I'll do two or three more -- I just don't travel as much during the season as I used to.
d. Coffeenerdness: You can rotate in some different food every once in a while, Starbucks. That wouldn't kill you, that little imagination.
f. After watching
g. Totally agree:
h. I can't take these playoff off-days.
Amazing to have a must-win game in the middle of October, but that's what San Diego has. They'd fall 3.5 games behind Denver with a loss to the Broncos tonight. It's a hunch as much as anything else, but I say the desperate team wins, 19-16, with