Michael Vick went down early as Donovan McNabb returned to Philadelphia and left town with a win. The Eagles are once again left with uncertainty at quarterback. Elsewhere, the Ravens knocked off the AFC North kings and the NFC waits for a contender.
Michael Vick went down, Kevin Kolb filled in, and Donovan McNabb won. Huh?
Week Two Headlines
The Eagles are a mess, especially at quarterback
I’m extremely bothered by the Philadelphia Eagles’ current situation. Obviously, they couldn’t have predicted Michael Vick’s week four injury just like they couldn’t have predicted his shocking resurgence. Vick’s injury is unfortunate and, depending on the duration of recovery, devastating. However, injuries are a significant part of football. What bothers me is that Kevin Kolb was the organization’s hand-picked franchise quarterback and the primary reason they traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins. Andy Reid didn’t trade McNabb because he knew Vick was ready to be a star again. If this were the case, Vick would have been the starter from day one. No, Reid and the Eagles put their eggs in Kolb’s basket. Right now, those eggs are rotting faster the pumpkin on my front porch. Kolb has no vision. He can’t read a defense. A receiver 15 yards downfield is out of range. His internal clock in the pocket is about ten seconds too slow. With Kolb under center, the Eagles transform into a high school football team. Kevin “Checkdown” Kolb should take a look at Trent Edwards’ career in Buffalo. Edwards was released last week because his safety outlets were his primary targets.
What were the Eagles thinking? Is this really the guy the organization wanted to see play so badly that they shipped the winningest quarterback in franchise history to a division rival? McNabb was far from spectacular on Sunday, but he could at least make use of the Eagles’ offensive weapons. Reid and the Eagles have been drowned in praise for nurturing Vick into an MVP candidate. How then have we all ignored how badly the Eagles appear to have whiffed on Kolb? He throws like Brady Quinn, thinks like Derek Anderson, and reads a defense like Matt Moore. Would you trade McNabb away to make a player of Kolb’s quality your starting quarterback? Well the Eagles did, and this was AFTER they had three full years to evaluate him. The short career of the this “franchise” quarterback is currently headed down the Mike Mamula path. Reid got lucky with Kolb’s injury in week one. Kolb’s injury and Vick’s subsequent play painted Reid as a genius instead of a busted gambler. Without a healthy Vick, though, the Eagles appear destined for a 6-10 finish. Only now, Reid’s misplayed cards are in full view.
Flacco takes down Steelers, keep shot at division title alive.
In an AFC North showdown that lived up to its physical billing; Joe Flacco led the Baltimore Ravens past the Pittsburgh Steelers. Flacco connected with T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the game winning score with just over 30 seconds remaining after Pittsburgh took the lead late in the 4th quarter. With the play of their defense, the Ravens are undoubtedly a playoff contender. However, the Baltimore offense will eventually need Ray Rice and the ground game to find their rhythm. Despite struggling at times this season, Flacco has proven he has the ability to lead the offense when a score is needed. On the other hand, Flacco isn’t good enough to carry the Ravens deep into the playoffs without a reliable ground attack.
For the first time all season, mediocre play at the quarterback position cost the Steelers. With Roethlisberger’s suspension now over, the Steelers should finally have a reasonably potent offense to pair with their vicious defense. While gifted, the Ravens’ defense isn’t quite as good as Pittsburgh’s, and unlike Pittsburgh, the Ravens don’t have a two-time Superbowl champion at quarterback. As a result, Sunday’s game meant more to Baltimore than Pittsburgh. Yes, it’s early in the season, but a Baltimore loss to the Steelers without Roethlisberger would all but guarantee Pittsburgh the division. The Bengals have proven they aren’t a serious threat to repeat, and with a loss already at the hands of Cincinnati, the Ravens couldn’t afford to fall to 1-2 in the division. Instead, at 2-1 in the division, the Ravens have themselves perched atop the AFC North with a leg up on the Steelers as Roethlisberger returns from his suspension. Again, it’s still way too early to guarantee playoff spots, but Baltimore’s victory may be the difference between a division title and a wildcard berth.
Someone take them to Chic-Fil-A (NFL’s top 5)
1. Steelers – They lost to a division rival in a close game. Their Pro-Bowl quarterback returns after the bye. You can move them down if you wish, but the Steelers are still the best team in football.
2. Jets – Mark Sanchez’s quarterback rating was over 100 for a third consecutive game and LaDainian Tomlinson is playing like vintage LT. We know the defense is a top five unit, but the Jets offense is evolving into a juggernaut of its own.
3. Ravens – I’m beginning to think I’ll retire before Ray Lewis. How is he still this good? If Ray Rice ever shows up for the 2010 season, Baltimore could be really, really scary.
4. Texans – Beating the Raiders by a touchdown won’t turn heads, but any win on the road without your best player (Andre Johnson) is a nice win. With the Colts’ loss, the Texans have an early cushion in the AFC South.
5. Falcons – Not a chance the Falcons are the 5th best team in the NFL, but I felt obligated to put an NFC team somewhere, so the Falcons got the nod over the Saints and Packers.
(Last Week: PITT, IND, GB, NYJ, HOU)
Not even worthy of Ramen Noodle (NFL’s bottom 5)
28. Panthers – Carolina gave its best effort of the year in New Orleans. The Panthers defense is severely underrated and should allow Jimmy Clausen and the offense to steal a win or two at some point. Unfortunately, that may not happen for another month or two.
29. Lions – Matt Stafford can’t return soon enough.
30. 49ers – When you jump out to a 14-0 lead and end up losing 16-14; you’re just not a very good team. Fear not, though. At 0-4, San Francisco is alive and well in the hunt for the NFC West title.
31. Cardinals – Derek Anderson’s NFL career may have finally come to a close on Sunday. Larry Fitzgerald is reportedly paying ABC to disqualify Kurt Warner from DWTS.
32. Bills – Where’s C.J. Spiller? What do the Bills have to lose?
(Last Week: CLE, DET, SF, CAR, BUF)
Stock rising (but not in top 5, yet)
Rams – Two wins in a row has Sam Bradford and the Rams competing for the NFC West.
Chargers – Philip Rivers will have the Chargers in the playoffs. His play goes mostly unnoticed, but with him under center, San Diego always has a shot.
Cowboys – Dallas didn’t play this week, but they had a great week nonetheless. Philadelphia’s loss brought the division back to the Cowboys. The play of the Giants’ and Redskins’ offense must have the Cowboys feeling good too.
Stock falling (but not in bottom 5, yet)
Bengals – Terrell Owens and Carson Palmer had a big day, but the offense still couldn’t put enough points on the board. For whatever reason, Cincinnati can’t get consistency from their offense. Until that happens, they won’t beat too many good teams.
Eagles – Hopes of an NFC East title are tied to the results of Michael Vick’s MRI on Monday. If Kevin Kolb knows what’s best for him, he’ll claim he’s still suffering from concussion symptoms. Bad offense + mediocre defense = long season.
Bears – I had the Packers here until the Giants mugged the Chicago offense on Sunday night. It could take weeks for the Bears to coax Jay Cutler back into the huddle after the punishment he took in New York.
Things I thought and would’ve said, but my son is only 3 months old and wouldn’t understand…
- Eagle fans handled Donovan McNabb’s return to Philadelphia perfectly. They gave Donovan McNabb -the person- a standing ovation during pre-game introductions to thank him for his years of service and for resurrecting a bad franchise. Then, on the Redskins first possession, the crowd serenaded Donovan McNabb -the quarterback- with a chorus of boos. Because after all, he’s the opposing quarterback.
- I can’t figure out how Antonio Gates continually tears defenses to shreds. He’s scored at least once in every game this season for a total of six touchdowns. Do opposing defenses watch film on the Chargers?
- 49ers rookie safety, Taylor Mays, made his debut today at starting safety. His 11 tackles were impressive, but his toe-touch in the back of the end zone to secure a blocked punt for a touchdown was the highlight of his debut.
- The Bengals are frauds. Yes, the Browns were due for a win, but the Bengals don’t scare anyone offensively, and the Cincinnati defense, while solid, doesn’t make enough big plays to carry a bad offense.
- The Bears are frauds too.
- Whoever was masquerading as Jay Cutler throughout the first three weeks of the NFL season apparently quit, because the Jay Cutler from 2009 returned Sunday night in New York.
- Josh Scobee’s 59 yard game-winning field goal turned down the flame under Jack Del-Rio’s coaching seat.
- This past week I broke down the NFC by class and declared the Falcons the best team in the conference. I was wrong. There’s no best team in the NFC. Find me one team you believe in right now.
- Quarterbacks are football players too, right?
- Not sure what the Packers are doing, but they don’t look like a playoff contender right now, much less a Superbowl contender.
- Signs you’re not a very good football team; on second and goal, your quarterback is taking the snap from center at the 29 yard line. One of many reasons the Lions lost again today.
- On a positive Detroit note; Calvin Johnson will win any jump ball thrown in his direction. His second quarter touchdown reception came after he out-jumped two Green Bay defenders in the end zone, one of whom was 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson.
- It was only a matter of time before the Giants’ defense found their groove. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen until week 16 or 17, though.
- The Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals are atop the NFC West at 2-2. The 49ers are well behind at 0-4. Go figure.
- The Denver Broncos are a surprisingly better team than expected. However, they need help in the red zone because 2/7 won’t cut it. Maybe a little Tim Tebow action?
- Titans’ running back, Chris Johnson should abandon his quest for 2,300 yards and start focusing his efforts on getting to 1,500.
- For whatever reason, Peyton Manning turns David Garrard into a Pro-Bowl quarterback. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the Jaguars and Colts only meet twice a year.
- Someone should remind Tennessee’s defensive coordinator that flipping the bird to an NFL official is frowned upon.
- If Ben Roethlisberger is in shape and can play at 80% of his ability, the Steelers may not lose again.
- Anyone who watches the Eagles on a weekly basis can clearly see that DeSean Jackson does not like contact….at all.
- Vince Young didn’t even get a shot at a game-winning 4th quarter drive against Denver on Sunday because his teammates forgot to catch the kickoff. Unbelievable mistake.
- The Panthers didn’t win, but they are showing signs of growth. As the youngest team in football, that’s all you can expect from a lame duck coach with a rookie quarterback. However, someone should encourage Jimmy Clausen to forgo calling out the defensive coverage as the seconds tick off the game clock late in the 4th quarter.
- Peyton Manning threw his first interception of the 2010 season and it wasn’t even his fault. Rookie TE, Brody Eldridge dropped a perfectly thrown ball right into the waiting arms of the Jacksonville defensive back, in the red zone nonetheless…
- …Reggie Wayne didn’t help the Colts’ cause either when he later fumbled in the red zone. Two big red zone turnovers were the difference for Indianapolis on Sunday. Now the Colts sit in the basement of the AFC South with a record of 0-2 in the division.
- On the NFL Network’s pre-game show, Michael Vick admitted to his former coach, Jim Mora Jr. that every DVD of game film Mora Jr. ever sent home with Vick to study never left his car. Not one. Mora Jr. said, “If there was a million dollars in one of those cases…” Vick finished the sentence for him, “it would still be there.” Whoa.
- The Jets only beat the Bills, but it’s hard not to believe in the suddenly blooming Mark Sanchez-led offense.
- If the Lions ever figure out how to get out of their own way (4 turnovers on Sunday, at least two in every game this season), they might actually win a game because they’re really not that bad.
- I’ve been hard on Carson Palmer, but you’ve got to love seeing a quarterback getting in the face of a safety that just maliciously laid-out a defenseless receiver. If I’m a Bengal receiver, that makes me feel a little better about Palmer’s struggles (although he played relatively well today).
- Donovan McNabb after today’s win: “Everybody makes mistakes in their lives. And they (the Eagles) made one last year.” Uh, Donovan, did you watch your performance today? You played the abominable Kevin Kolb to a draw. This is why Philly never fully embraced McNabb. He’s oblivious sometimes.
- For those of you who had the Kansas City Chiefs as the only undefeated team in football after four weeks, please stand up.
- The Major League Baseball playoffs start on Wednesday. I watch every single inning of playoff baseball. In other words, Tuesday night will be my last good night’s sleep for at least a month.