The Texans' transition to the 3-4 defense is in its earliest stages and Pro Bowl defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Mario Williams looked a little lost in space against the Jets. But you also saw an aggressive and attacking Houston defense that accounted for seven sacks of New York QBs and didn't give up anything cheap, and those are hallmarks of Phillips' turnaround work.
Limiting the Jets' first-team offense to three points is a hopeful enough start for a Texans' team that opens 2011 in win-now mode, with the only thing blocking Houston's path to its first playoff berth being improvement on defense.
True, that really wasn't the Jets attack we'll see in Week 1 of the regular season, but compared to that hated AFC East rival to the north -- who happened to hang up 47 points, six touchdowns and 476 yards against Jacksonville while playing mostly reserves -- the initial gap between New York's and New England's offense was fully on display. Super Bowl dreams don't get derailed in a preseason opener unless your starting quarterback goes down, but the Jets have some corrections to make if they're going to keep the Patriots within sight.
Pierre-Paul had two sacks, and also helped force a Michael Boley interception that led to the Giants' only touchdown in the Panthers' 20-10 victory. None of which spelled increased leverage for Umenyiora's contract demands, thus the wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moment for New York's unhappiest of campers. Now get back to work, Osi, before we drop a Wally Pipp reference on you.
Where does San Francisco go now on the Alex Smith front, after the seven-year veteran produced just two first downs on his five drives of action in a 24-3 loss at New Orleans? How many times can you put Humpty Dumpty back together again in 49er-ville?
Smith was harried by constant pressure from the Saints and wound up just 2 of 7 for 10 yards, with two sacks and a fumble. And rookie QB Colin Kaepernick didn't fare much better for San Francisco, which went kicking the tires on Daunte Culpepper Monday in response to its early quarterback crisis.
The Browns appear to be third-place material in the AFC North no matter what happens this season, but their young franchise QB looks like, you know, the real McCoy. Which is what Browns president and noted quarterback guru Mike Holmgren has been quietly telling folks for a while now.
I mean, No. 18 is 35 and coming off neck surgery, so now would be a good time to identify someone who can win a game for you if Manning ever has to miss a week or two. Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky clearly aren't the answer. The tandem faced St. Louis Saturday night, and they combined to go 7 of 16 for 166 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. And that's no aberration. That's the same story their career track records tell.
Ten Rams caught passes, seven players rushed at least once, and St. Louis kicker Josh Brown even found the time to nail a 60-yard field goal. The Rams have more weapons than they know what to do with right now, but it's McDaniels' assignment to figure out that happy problem.
In addition, Cobb is going to add some juice to Green Bay's return game, which was one of the few weak spots in the Packers' arsenal last year. Cobb had two kickoff returns, of 26 and 32 yards, and cleanly handled his only punt return. The ex-Kentucky standout adds an explosive element to Green Bay's already-deep receiving depth chart.