NEW YORK -- Three quarterbacks. That's what I take out of Week 2, along with a Stat of the Week that might be a Stat of the Year, and why the Dolphins are trouble, and why the Vikings should steer clear of a certain tall receiver from the West Coast, and why the enhanced season proposal isn't bowling you over.
But above all, three quarterbacks. One redeeming himself. One taking his game to the next level. One just starting on his journey to be good with the surprise team of 2010.
Is Vick different? Is he going to be someone's long-term option a year from now? Watching him over the last six quarters, I think he has a real chance now.
"I'm 10 times better than I was four years ago,'' Vick told me from the Eagles' locker room in Detroit after the 35-32 win in his first start since 2006, the year before the dogfighting saga hit the public eye. "I've learned so much about the position, about being a complete quarterback, from Andy and Marty. How to stay active back there, how to make good decisions, or they'll be down my throat. I like that. It's something I need.''
The most interesting thing I heard out of Vick was patience. He's 30 now, yet he knows he'll likely have to wait one more year before he has a team of his own. Vick said the Eagles aren't his team; they're
"I know Kevin can do it,'' Vick said. "I saw him do it all summer. For me, I've had a taste of it now, and now, finally, I know it's going to be there for me. If I have to wait another year, I can. I can be patient.''
In a sign of their regard for Vick,
And sore, too. That's allowed. In the first two games of the season, Houston's won games it would have lost in the past. Last week, the Texans allowed the Colts to creep back from a 13-0 deficit, but rammed the ball down their throats in the second half, starting with an eight-minute drive to begin the third quarter; Texans 34, Colts 24.
In Washington on Sunday, Houston trailed 27-10 with 18 minutes to play, but tied it on a play Schaub never saw concluded, and then rallied in overtime, even after
The game in Washington was the kind that really good quarterbacks survive and win. That's what Schaub is right now, and I didn't have to see him throw for 497 yards (38 of 52, with three touchdowns and one pick) to know. I did take the time to watch the play he made with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter, Houston down 27-20. Fourth-and-10. That was the game right here. Make a play or go home 1-1. Schaub took the shotgun snap and moved right to escape some pressure, then moved right some more.
"I felt their guy coming inside on me,'' Schaub said, "so I moved away from the pressure. I saw
"You haven't seen a replay?'' I said.
"No,'' he said. "Guess I'll see it tomorrow when we look at the film.''
Johnson leapt high above safety
"What I care about,'' he said, "is we showed resolve as a team, on the road, in a tough environment, against a really good defense. It was a great win for us.''
A win I don't think they'd have earned in the past. They're growing up, these Texans.
Freeman, the 22-year-old kid from Kansas State, has taken tutelage from offensive coordinator
"It's a great offense for me,'' Freeman said from Charlotte. "Coach Olson's done a great job with me doing things he know I can succeed at.''
You're not going to rip up the Tampa defense, not with the strong midsection led by two 23-year-old tackles (
"If I had to say one thing that's been important here, it's the culture,'' Freeman said. "Everyone's working for the best interest of the team, and we're following Raheem. There's a lot of trust for him in this locker room.'' Whatever works -- and it's working well. Now we'll find out exactly how well. Sandwiched by a bye, the next three games at Pittsburgh at home, Cincinnati on the road, and the Saints at home. The rubber's about to meet the road.
I think a lot of us thought that if the Steelers were 2-2 when
It was funny to hear Tomlin talk about his quarterback situation.
Fourth-quarter, 2:21 to play, fourth-and-one, Miami one-yard line, Dolphins 14, Minnesota 10. On the previous five plays of this drive,
Minnesota is all screwed up. A year ago, Viking Nation was pirouetting with joy after
The popular theory is that he misses
Meanwhile, there's a drumbeat building to trade for and sign holdout Chargers wideout
Though I love Jackson, one of my two All-Pro receivers in 2009, I see three problems with the Vikings trading for and signing him:
1. He wouldn't be eligible to play until mid-October, when the Vikings are slated to play Dallas. The Vikings are in crisis mode now, and they want Jackson. But if the Vikings have to play two more games without him, how smart would it be to deal for him now? By the time he gets in the lineup, Rice might be two or three weeks away from returning.
2. It's not very smart to deal a high draft choice (likely a second-round pick, or a second-plus something) to acquire a guy who is one misdeed away from a possible year's suspension.
3. The Vikings have put off negotiations with prominent players in the last year of their contracts -- linebackers
4. Even if the Vikings deal for Jackson and play it safe, signing him to, say, a one-year, $7 million contract instead of a long-term one, in essence they'd be trading a high draft pick for a guy who'd be a 12-week rental, then watching Jackson hit the free-agent market next offseason. Not smart.
I understand the desperation. But for the Vikings, it's clear Jackson's not the answer.
Last week, it was reported in Boston with some outrage that the car
But sources close to the story tell me it's not true. These sources say Brady was signed to represent Audi in corporate promotional work three years ago, independent of Brady's long involvement with Best Buddies, a charity that pairs mentally challenged people with mentors and friends in mainstream society. Part of his Audi deal was having Brady make four appearances a year for the car company. As part of his compensation, Audi gave Brady an expensive car to use each year. Best Buddies later partnered with Audi, and as part of that agreement, Audi told Brady he could do two of his four annual Audi appearances with the charity, on behalf of the car manufacturer.
Whether the appearances were done at Best Buddies events or other events not aligned with the charity, Brady was still going to get the car. Brady, the sources said, has never been paid money by Best Buddies, and the car involved in the crash was owned by Audi, not Best Buddies.
I'm all for good watchdog work against those who would use their celebrity to take advantage of the little guy. That's not what this story is about. The Brady/Audi story is a business deal between a famous athlete and a big company that has nothing to do with a charity Brady has worked with since 2002 -- and I'm told he's financially supported as well.
One good byproduct of this story? Two longtime Patriots fans have stepped up to donate $1,000 per Brady touchdown in 2010 to his favorite charity. Brady chose Best Buddies, and the fans,
I asked on Twitter: Which would you prefer for the future in the NFL -- a 16-game season with four preseason games or an 18-game season with two preseason games. I got 593 responses, and the results surprised me.
• A 16-game schedule: 386 votes (65.1 percent).
• An 18-game schedule: 207 votes (34.9 percent).
Now, maybe some people are telling me what I want to hear, because I'm very much against expanding the regular season; it's already hard enough to get players through 16 games. I think the league's asking for trouble, big-time, if it goes to an 18-game schedule, which it will try to do in this next CBA with the players. The players are aware of the league's intentions and are not impressed.
"The 18-game schedule and player safety,'' Jets linebacker
A sampling of what my Twitter followers said:
Interesting idea from former NFL executive and San Diego Chargers president
The schedule will continue to be a hot-button issue through negotiations next year.
I'd love to focus on a few of the other games -- especially the meaning of Jets 28, Patriots 14 and the significance of the game for Mark Sanchez -- but I'll save that for tomorrow.
"We just sucked.''
"Tell Peter King we already got our two wins.''
"We will not try to stop
Too late, KPIX. And the context won't matter. That little ditty, I'm certain, was a part of
Tennessee's fake-to-one-side, kick-to-another onside kick late in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh.
The Titans practiced the play last week -- led by special-teams coach
Moore continued to play like he was seeing ghosts in a 20-7 loss to Tampa Bay. In eight quarters of two terrible offensive performances by the Panthers, Moore has completed 41 percent of his passes. He's playing with an indecision that has to be a shock to coach
I know, I know. Looks like I blew this one. I thought Moore was going to play well this season. The scary part of Moore's game right now is it looks like he has none. What would I do if I were
True fact: The last time Sims played in a game for a winning team before Sunday's 35-32 triumph over Detroit was Dec. 23, 2007, when the Lions, his original team, beat Kansas City. Since then, he was 0-1 in 2007, 0-16 in 2008, 0-11 in 2009 and 0-1 this year with the Eagles. That's a personal 29-game losing streak for Sims.
"Wow,'' Sims said after the game from the Eagles' locker room. "I never sat down and figured that out.''
Well, who would?
I would -- eight days followed the win in 2007, 366 (a leap year) in 2008, 365 in 2009 and 261 days preceded Sunday in 2010 ... an even 1,000.
"To be honest with you,'' he said, "it did feel like a long time, but not that long. Not 1,000 days. Because I've been on the sidelines for some games we won but I just didn't play those days. So this feels pretty good.''
How not to handle a mini-crisis: Saturday morning, on an Amtrak train from Boston to New York, an elderly man fell in the bathroom while the train was near Stamford, Conn. He banged his head and bruised his arm, and was lying on the floor of the train. The train stopped to discharge and pick up passengers, and a nervous-sounding voice came over the PA about a man having fallen and we might have a delay. "I think we're gonna need medical,'' he said, with a scared edge to his voice.
I mean, are you kidding me? The PA system on a train with 300 passengers is not the place to sound borderline panicky about an old man who falls in the bathroom. A simple, "If there's a doctor on the train, or any medical personnel, please report to the bathroom at the rear of the café car,'' would do just fine.
I live on Amtrak on fall weekends, going back and forth to NBC Studios in New York for
My half-marathon (the New Hampshire Half-Marathon, Bristol, N.H.) is 12 days out now, and I'm quite excited to report I'll have Team King running Oct. 2 as the leaves begin to turn in the heart of New England. I'll be joined by my brother-in-law,
Kuniholm's an engineer at Duke University. In 2004, his Marine reserve unit was called into active duty for the war in Iraq. On the first day of 2005, his unit was ambushed -- five died and Kuniholm was wounded. His right arm had to be amputated below the elbow -- and he worked on the design for one of the advanced prosthesis he wears. The hand looks like a metal hand. It's inspiring to see (I've seen a picture of it.) Kuniholm will join our group the night before the race, when my wife will prepare a pasta dinner for us. I'm grateful to Wounded Warrior Project for sending Kuniholm to the race, and I hope his presence raises the awareness for the cause he's trying to help every day at Duke.
A few notes: The fundraising event at Harpoon Brewery Thursday night with me and some of my Boston media friends sold out in a few hours the other day; thank you very much ... I have a training run Tuesday morning with
You can still contribute to our two charities, Feed the Children and Wounded Warrior Project, for the event -- please do -- at
1. Two Fenway Park club seats in the upstairs State Street Pavilion section to Red Sox-Orioles Wednesday go to the first person to donate $200 to the cause -- and to follow up with an e-mail confirming the donation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks a lot for your support.
"who's the slouch now?''
"I will destroy the Ravens secondary, simply because i've confidence in the body of work i put [in] this week where i feel i wont fail.''
I wouldn't call four catches for 44 yards and no touchdowns exactly a destruction.
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 2:
b. Great rush/forced-fumble combo by
d. Smart player use by Cincinnati offensive coordinator
h. Have to admit I was really pulling for
k. Good comeback week for
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 2:
b. The Chicago offensive line might be worse than we thought.
c. Vince Young had an alarming regression Sunday. Good quarterbacks have to have more pocket awareness than he had against Pittsburgh.
d. The Browns have lost two games they could have won. Last year,
e. The NFC West.
g. Teams in QB crises: Carolina, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Arizona.
h. Where's the electric back
i. The Giants tackles were awful Sunday night. They're not the first to get pinwheeled by Mathis and Freeney.
3. I think I loved seeing
Sabol is on the preliminary ballot of 113 men that the 44 Hall of Fame voters will whittle down to 25 in the next month by secret ballot. I spent two hours studying the ballot the other night. We are asked not to divulge our list of 25 whenever we do vote, but this just in: Ed Sabol is long overdue for his bust.
It's difficult to say a man who shot film of NFL games, and helped make legends out of NFL players, deserves to be in Canton over many of the players he and his company shot film of over the years. But ask coaches and players how they fell in love with football, and one of the things you'll hear as much as anything else is the magic they saw on NFL Films shows over the years.
Brett Favre told me the night he won the Super Bowl he dreamed of Steve Sabol one day waxing eloquently about the day Brett Favre won the big game, and he loved the fact that generations would remember the day because of what NFL Films would show them.
Ed birthed the company and gave it life and direction. Son
4. I think this is one piece of evidence I'd throw out there about Ed Sabol's candidacy: I came across this letter from then-commissioner
Wrote Rozelle: "The improved financial terms prompted me to give thought to all of the factors that have contributed to the NFL's growth on television. One of the major contributions has unquestionably been made by you and your organization. In every way, you and your people have fulfilled our original goal for NFL Films -- to operate as a sound business entity but primarily as a promotional vehicle to glamorize the game and present it in its best light. Your dedication to imaginative film portrayals of our sport can certainly be credited with its success in attracting fans to the stadiums and to their TV sets in ever-increasing numbers. Please convey to your entire organization the great appreciation of this office for NFL Films' outstanding accomplishment. Regards, Pete Rozelle.''
5. I think if you just learned how to pronounce the name of one very high Nebraska draft choice -- defensive tackle
He showed it Saturday. His tight coverage helped push down the draft stock of Washington quarterback Jake
6. I think the most interesting thing I read this week, by far, was the column about Randy Moss in
"Brett was livid. The rest of the weekend I was fielding calls from [agent for Favre and Moss]
"I told Brett to trust what we had at the position; that
Wow. That gives you a great window into how little regard Favre had for Thompson by the time his 2008 "retirement'' came about. This isn't the first insightful, important piece by Brandt either. He's really good in the role of writer with a window into how the game works.
7. I think I have four opinions on the
a. If I were Roger Goodell, I would have given the Jets a $25,000 fine, in addition to the good idea of having owner
b. If I were the boss of Ines Sainz, I would tell her, "Dress a little more conservatively.''
c. That's not a sexist comment. It's a reality-based comment. I've been around NFL players who look at and make comments about attractive female reporters. It's life. Young men are going to make comments about attractive women in the company of other men. There are attractive women who cover the NFL who present themselves as professionals doing a professional job, and dressing for business.
d. One of the byproducts of the Sainz story is the discussion of why women should be in the locker room in the first place -- or why any reporters should be in the locker room. I've gotten e-mails and tons of Tweets wondering why we should be in there, and saying we could solve this entire problem (which I don't believe there is) by having all the players cool off, calm down, take a shower, get dressed, and then meet us in an interview room.
I understand that. But you need to understand how your coverage, and your knowledge of the game and the characters in it, will be very adversely affected if we in the news media don't get access to the players soon after the game, and in their habitat, the locker room.
To illustrate my case, let's revisit the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans between the Vikings and Saints last January. When Favre entered the interview room for his postgame press conference, it was about 45 minutes after the painful defeat, which he helped cause with a terrible fourth-quarter interception. He took a beating in that game. In the interview room, he was composed but sad. The Associate Press wrote this: "I've felt better," said Favre, who looked every bit his 40 years. "It was a physical game. A lot of hits. You win that and you sure feel a lot better."
Fifteen minutes after the game, a group of writers, me included, entered the locker room. My observations of the scene, and Favre's state, were in Monday Morning Quarterback hours later. Read the first few paragraphs of
8. I think the reason
9. I think I admire
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
a. I saw the riveting movie,
b. What a great call by Michigan State coach
c. I'll say this about the addition of
d. Re the train wreck that is
e. Good question by
f. A couple of Mets notes: Did you know that Wise is the official Cheez Doodle of the Mets?
g. And Saturday's battery for the Mets was
h. How do the Mets get away with charging New York Met prices for Binghamton Met baseball? And whoever kidnapped
i. Coffeenerdness: Set a personal record for espresso shots (six) and cups of Italian Roast (three) Sunday. There's a reason why I'll someday regret my autumnal Sunday night habits, and that's it right there.
j. Good luck,
k. Best episode of