Ah yes, glorious football. The first Sunday of the NFL season has come and gone. Here are my thoughts on the games on which I focused:
Seattle 9 at Detroit 6: Well, it was much better than I thought it would be. The Lions pretty much shut down the passing game (I'll be looking at the game more closely in the next couple of days), blocking one kick and deflected another, and kept Shaun Alexander in check. However, their punt and kickoff coverage teams played poorly, and Hanson missed a 52-yarder that played into Marinelli's decision to punt late in the game (although why they didn't go for it ... never mind, I know why, they couldn't move the ball). Kevin Jones looked good on some plays and had nowhere to go (as usual) on others. The offense looked basically the same as last year - this team has a lot of work to do.
Special teams may be a concern again. Aside from the blocked kicks, whether Hanson's kick was tipped or not, if he can't hit from 50+, and if he continues to struggle from 40-49, then the Lions will be in big trouble. If you can't kick indoors ...
Chicago 26 at Green Bay 0: See, here's the thing. Favre just doesn't get it. He's like an aging pitcher whose claim to fame was his fastball, no longer able to sneak it by hitters and either unwilling or unable to adjust his game. So he keeps throwing off his back foot into triple coverage, hoping to pull something out, instead of dumping the ball short and keeping the drive going. Another bad throw, another interception, another shot of Favre walking off the field. Let's not sell Chicago's effort short – they did a great job containing the 51 players not named Green or Driver – but keep in mind that when Number 4 finally hangs up his cleats, we'll want to stop remembering his career a couple of years ago or so.
Indianapolis 26 at NY Giants 21: (Totally unlike NCAA football, huh? All road winners.) Speaking of past his prime ... Madden is done. He's into Harry Caray territory, except he doesn't have a hidden fridge of Old Style on which he can blame his senility. (They sell anything other than Old Style at Wrigley? I don't believe it.) All he's got left are his reflections on football in the '80s and the rare insight into something on the field. Michaels is starting to miss a step as well (Hey Al, this rule, running 10 seconds off the clock, I think it's been around for a while), but that could be just from, well, not quite osmosis, but whatever the corolllary would be when you are discussing loss rather than gain. Anyway, one thing I think they missed was on Eli's last interception, where I'm pretty sure he got hit as he threw it. They just figured he was throwing up another jump ball ...
Anyway, thankfully we will not have to hear about MANNING VS. MANNING for a while now (last I checked, they weren't playing against each other, not unless Eli was trading jerseys with R.W. McQuarters). My prediction is already coming true: anything wrong with the Colts' running game will be blamed on Edge's departure. You see, he'd have run for 150 tonight. By the time the season's over, pundits will be suggesting that he'd have broken Dickerson's record, despite the fact that he might not even get 1000 yards in Arizona. And John, running backs aren't the same as QBs. You may not have realized this, but a number of teams these days rotate RBs in and out, and it doesn't seem to bother them very much ... hmm, if I could only think of an example ... hmm ... a team who split RB duties and had success doing it ...
Other thoughts from the week:
— Seeing it right after it happened, I thought Geathers did as much as he could to avoid hitting Green in the head, and I thought it was more shoulder-to-helmet than helmet-to-helmet, and Green could have tried to slide instead of getting those extra yards ... anyway, unless the NFL wants to change how its helmets are made, helmet-to-helmet hits will continue to be a serious problem for the players. One suggestion would be to fine the networks $100,000 (or more) every time they show a hit like that in a positive light. ESPN would be broke by now.
— I'm sure we'll soon be reading about how Drew Bledsoe lost the game for the Cowboys by not throwing enough to a certain a-hole receiver.
— I thought Arizona would destroy San Francisco, leading some to believe that Dennis Green had worked his magic, only to discover by season's end that no, their OL still sucks, and the Cardinals are still a mediocre team. Well, they didn't destroy the Niners. Draw your own conclusions.
— The Patriots almost lost at home to the Bills. Nope, nothing to worry about in Foxboro. They're still on course for the Super Bowl, in which they'll play ...
— ... the Panthers, who won't be in any trouble at all if Steve Smith is out of the lineup.
— Before you anoint Reggie Bush as the best running back in NFL history, let's remember how the Browns have done against the run in recent years.
— Pittsburgh-Miami on Thursday night was like opening a new Hooters and having the male owner waiting tables.
— Jake Plummer having a bad game? You don't say!
— No, Donté Stallworth isn't a completely different player now. They played the Texans.
— We're sorry, the Tampa Bay Bandwagon is no longer in service. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.