Happy Thanksgiving Week, all. Our family will celebrate in Seattle with both daughters (hooray!), and I hope all of you have a good time eating, watching football, and giving thanks for having such a wonderful NFL columnist in your lives. You know, me.
I have two quick questions, and opinions, before I get to your email:
• Steelers QB
• Steelers QB
• Steelers G
• Lions QB
• Rams QB
• Cards QB
• Cowboys QB
• Dolphins NT
• Packers CB
• Packers LB
• Redskins RB
• Redskins G
• Redskins FB
• Ravens CB
• Bills RB
• Bills G
Just a thought: Maybe we should be happy with 16 games.
There are eight teams within two games of the two wild-card spots: Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Denver (6-4); Miami, Baltimore and Houston (5-5) and Tennessee and the Jets (4-6). It's possible but not likely that a 9-7 team will be a wild card in the AFC, so
By the way, fun game last night, wasn't it? How about
Now onto your email:
The answer: Warner's injury was a blow to the head, which is potentially life-altering (though clearly not, in this case), compared to Stafford injuring his non-throwing shoulder. Shoulders heal. Heads might not. Ask
My take is that it was great. NFL players have an unofficial fraternity. McNabb, as much as any quarterback, is a pal of young quarterbacks and loves to take a leadership role with them. You saw it with
I know nothing about what he said, but if I had to guess, I'd bet it was something like this: "You're a great player, and you'll be a great player in this league for a long time. Forget what's being said about you. It doesn't matter. Work hard, be a good teammate, know there will be better days, lead your team, be a man.'' Something like that. For people to be upset about that is wrong, I think. It's McNabb being a human being, a good one.
I've been writing for a while that the NFL has an insane offseason schedule. Players are asked to spend four months in physical and classroom training to be uber-prepared for a 16-game season. Do you know what teams do in off-season minicamps and OTAs? They install the playbook for the season. Do you know what they do in training camp? They install the playbook for the season a second time. Do you know what they do each week during the season? Install the gameplan for the week, a different one every week with plays from the playbook that they learned on two different occasions, one in the spring and one in the summer, and they go out at practice and go over the plays again so they'll know them that week. That's three times they're taught the same plays. And last week, two teams -- Detroit and Kansas City -- scored key touchdowns on plays their offense coaching staff invented during the week and installed just for that week.
My point -- is all this necessary? Is it necessary for assistant coaches to be at work till 7 and 8 p.m. in May. (I can't tell you the team, but I can tell you that one NFC coaching staff works from about 7 till 7 four days a week in May, polishing their plays and techniques for the season and studying how every other team in the league plays.) Now, I'm all for getting better in the off-season, but ask yourself this question: If you ask your coaching staff to work 70-hour weeks for six months during the season, and that's being conservative on some teams, and then you ask them to work 50 or so per week in the off-season, how much are you gaining by that?
Re the players: Why, why, why would you ask a seven-year vet on a team with the same coaching staff for, say, a third season to sit in on installation meetings that he's hearing for the ninth or 10th time? Maybe a few things are tweaked, but do you need to sit there for six or seven weeks in the offseason, listening to a rerun of what you've heard year after year?
I just believe a lot of what NFL teams do is mind-numbingly repetitive and unimportant to the final product you put on the field in September. The thought that players will be less prepared to play if they sit in a class room for two fewer months in the off-season is wrong. Now, players will have to work out hard to be sure. I'm not saying players should be turned loose in the off-season. They should have workouts schedule at their team's facility, or in an organized fashion somewhere. (Many University of Miami players work out in Coral Gables for weeks in the off-season.) I am saying four months of a full-time job in the off-season is not necessary.
Good question. I have to say I don't know why this is. In their three losses, New England has been outscored 47-10 in the second half, which makes me wonder, like you, if they've taken their foot off the gas in the second half.
Wake up: Check.
Where's my caffeine fix, King?!"
I can't have an inspired coffee thought every week. Come to think of it, at 4:53 a.m. Monday, about the time I often get to a coffee thought, I'm lucky to have any thoughts whatsoever.