Chad Pennington: Chad Pennington is one of the classiest players in the NFL and I hated to hear that he has yet another shoulder injury. I strongly suspect we’ve seen the last of Pennington as a viable starter in the NFL, which is a shame because he is a real winner.
The Wildcat: So far I have only seen the Miami Dolphins run the Wildcat offense successfully. I think the Wildcat is a passing fancy, although we continue to see it in certain situations. We’ve already had versions of this in the past with players like Kordell Stewart, so I limited situations this will continue. As a viable, oft used offensive set, I just don’t see it having legs in the long run.
Felix Jones: The Cowboys exciting, fast, play making running back, who injured his ACL last year, has yet another knee injury. This makes me wonder if he will ever stay healthy enough to have a consistent impact for the Cowboys.
New England Patriots over Atlanta Falcons, 26-10
New England’s offense is still a work in progress. Brady is clearly still rusty with his timing, rhythm, and accuracy, but I am confident this will improve throughout the year. We finally got our running game going. As I mentioned last week, we really need to utilize the backs on our roster and establish a successful running game to keep defenses from pinning their ears back and going after Brady. Look what happened to the Cardinals against the Colts!
The young defense is playing surprisingly well so far. It will be interesting to see how this unit progresses as the season unfolds.
We really, really needed this win given we have the Baltimore Ravens coming to town.
MVP: Fred Taylor, RB
GAMES I WATCHED
Detroit Lions over Washington Redskins, 19-14
I have to admit I loved watching the Redskins lose and the Lions finally win a game. Matthew Stafford did a great job in the pocket and appears to be a player, with improvements in accuracy and touch, who will be around for a long time. What was most impressive to me about the Lions is that they did not fold late in the game when the Redskins hit a big play to Santana Moss for a touchdown. Last year the team would have probably folded up the tent and lost but they did not panic and closed the show. This was a very impressive showing for the Lions.
The Redskins, on the other hand, continue to look lost on offense and are not generating big plays on defense. And even though Albert Haynesworth is not playing like a $100 million man, his loss to injury in first half hurt the defense.
MVP: Matthew Stafford, QB
New Orleans Saints over Buffalo Bills, 27-7
The Saints may be the best team in the NFC but I was not quite as impressed with them in this game. As with most teams this year, it’s really the teams that run the ball effectively that have had the most success on offense, even if its’ a team that still ends up passing far more than running. It was really Pierre Thomas’s second half 126 yards rushing that salted away the game for the Saints.
The Bills are an enigma to me. On the offensive side of the ball they have the personnel to score more than they are. The Saints may have an improved defense but they are not stalwarts on that side of the ball. Their two best receivers, Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, were not even factors in the game. They have an effective running game but they have to get points. I think the Bills need new leadership and Dick Jauron should be out after this season if they don’t show some improvement.
MVP: Pierre Thomas, RB
Indianapolis Colts over Arizona Cardinals, 31-10
I know Arizona is a passing team but they did just the opposite of what you need to do to beat the Indianapolis Colts – run the ball. Granted, Tim Hightower and Chris Wells have fumbleitis but going into a shot gun formation and passing every down plays right into the hands of the Colts’ defense. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are not that great against the run (and therefore I do not consider either a premier defensive end) but they are outstanding pass rushers. By getting behind and not running the ball, they allowed Freeney to run free, and harass Kurt Warner. It was ugly. Wayne Gandy, the left tackle assigned to Freeney, is the goat of the game and was schooled. Why the Cardinals didn’t give him help when they realized Gandy was not going to be able to block Freeney is a real head scratcher. And to top it off the Cardinals turned the ball over twice in the red zone that the Colts turned into points for huge swings in momentum.
Peyton Manning was his usual brilliant self. He appears to be playing about as well as I have ever seen him play. The Colts offense took advantage of the Arizona turnovers and the defense took advantage of the Cardinal game plan with their excellent pass rushing ends. The Colts offense looks to be the best in the league at this juncture.
MVP: Peyton Manning, QB
Dallas Cowboys over Carolina Panthers, 21-7
This was really kind of sloppy looking game for the most part. The Panthers are not impressive on offense and gave up huge running plays on defense. The Cowboys won the game, but they too don’t look like the offensive juggernaut some expected them to be. Both Tony Romo and Jake Delhomme have had rough starts to their season. I don’t think we will see Romo benched but I won’t be surprised to see Delhomme benched in favor of Matt Moore, or even A.J. Feeley, before the season is out.
MVP: Tashard Choice, RB
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis
Defensive Player: Dwight Freeney, DE, Indianapolis
Offensive Lineman: Carl Nicks, G, New Orleans Saints
Special Teams: Darren Sproles, KR, San Diego Chargers
Rookie of the Week: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions