Washington Redskins Sign Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall to Big Deals

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I am not at all a fan of Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins.  I have always found it funny how when he first bought the team, he also tried to buy a team.  It never quite worked out. 

Now Danny boy has shelled out a $100 million contract to the best defense tackle in football in Albert Haynesworth, and another $54 million to cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Was this a smart move?  I’m not sure.  Without a doubt these signings make the Redskins a very formidable defensive team next year.  The question will be, now that Haynesworth is fat and happy, in more ways than one, will he continue to put up the kind of effort that made him one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL last year?  This guy has a lot of emotional baggage so I am not so sure.  If he does, he will make Jason Taylor relevant again.  Taylor looked to be on his last leg, literally, last year.  Even before he was injured he was not creating the kind of pressure on the quarterback that the Redskins were hoping for.  By taking up multiple blockers on the line of scrimmage, Haynesworth could have a big impact on not just Taylor’s performance but the entire defense.

I have always liked DeAngelo Hall, even though he too is a bit of a head case.  During his years in Atlanta I considered him one of the top cornerbacks in the league, even though he didn’t always get the recognition he deserved.  In Oakland he was often criticized for being undisciplined and out of position.  As a nickel and dime defense back for the Redskins last year I thought he was a real difference maker.  Hall has the potential to be a very solid starter for the Redskins next year.  And he has always had a nose for the ball and turnovers.  With Haynesworth on the line helping get pressure on the quarterback will just make Hall and the rest of the defensive backs even better.

If Haynesworth plays like he did last year, the Redskins should have one of the best defenses in the league next year.

But what about the offense?  With that kind of money doled out to the defensive side of the ball that does not leave a lot of room for signing impact offensive players. And offense is where the Redskins need the most help.

First it’s clear that Jason Campbell is the man at quarterback.  But I am starting to believe that Campbell is just not going to progress a lot further than he is now.  He is, at best, an average quarterback.  Yes, I know the offensive line did not play well and his receivers let him down.  But that gets to my next point.

If Campbell is going to succeed at quarterback he needs two things, better protection at the line of scrimmage and better receivers.  As much as I love Santana Moss, the last two years he’s only showed flashes of being the big play receiver he once was and has constantly battled hamstring injuries.  I am starting to wonder if his better days are behind him.  I have never considered Antwan Randle-el more than a number three receiver.  And the Redskins draft picks at receiver and tight end last year, Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, and Fred Davis were all but useless last year.  Thomas has potential but seems lazy and doesn’t get it.  Kelly I think will be a bust.  And Davis could be a solid contributor, but again, all these guys seem to be real slackers.

Then you have the aging Chris Samuels who is not nearly as good as he was a few years ago and should retire soon.  Jon Jansen is always hurt and I suspect will be cut.  Stephon Heyer, the young left tackle out of Maryland, was benched and the struggled in the last half of the season.  The offensive line needs some help.

And finally, while Clinton Portis is an excellent running back and the best offensive player on the team he always ends up dinged up and less effective at the end of the year.  The Redskins need to find a back that can reduce the workload for Portis to keep him fresh throughout the season.

So what do I expect from the Redskins next year?  An excellent defense that keeps them in games and a streaky offense that just might let them get into the playoffs.  But I don’t expect big things from the team as a whole because I just don’t see the offense being good enough or consistent enough to carry them much beyond one playoff game.

But if the Redskins’ history under Snyder continues, Haynesworth will tank it while enjoying his new found riches and the Redskins will be sitting at home in the postseason, as usual.

2008 NFL Football Season: Week 13

Kevin Faulk, Mr. Reliable

Kevin Faulk, Mr. Reliable

 
GAMES I WATCHED

Pittsburgh Steelers over New England Patriots, 33-10

This was a very disheartening game for New England Patriots fans. New England did not, in any manner, resemble a playoff caliber team. It was a disjointed, mistake prone display of offense, and a completely pathetic, anemic, wimpy showing on defense.

Let’s start with the obvious. The Patriots lost the turnover battle by a ratio of 5-1, and the scores directly off turnovers 17-7. But turnovers cost teams more than any scores after a lost possession, they take away scoring opportunities and keep the defense on the field. The offense, other than Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk, didn’t seem to show up for the game. Moss and Gaffney dropped passes, the running game never did get going consistently, and Matt Light gave up two easy sacks to James Harrison who stripped the ball from Matt Cassel for two turnovers.

The defense was even more pathetic. Where was the tackling? The Steelers offense ran through our defense like they were foam filled tackling dummies. It was embarrassing to watch. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a pathetic display of tackling. The defense tried to get by on anemic arm tackles instead of bone crunching hits. It wasn’t the defensive scheme that failed. It was a lack of execution and toughness.

At this point in the season there is nothing positive to take away from this game. The Patriots seem to be on a win one, lose one roll, and as a result are likely to roll right out of the playoffs. Last year our weak defense was masked the incredible offense, but this year they are exposed. The loss of Rodney Harrison and Adalius Thomas hurt the defense badly, but if the players on the field aren’t going to at least attempt to make solid tackles then why are then even out there? We don’t have a tough, intimidating, hard hitting presence on the field without Harrison. I always hoped Brandon Meriweather would turn into that guy, but he hasn’t. Our defense scares no one, except Patriots fans!

The only glimmer of hope in this game is that our offense can move the ball even against the best defense if we play up to our abilities and hold on to the ball. There were flashing of this. Moss dropped a long ball and a touchdown pass, Gaffney dropped passes, and if Matt Light hadn’t gotten beat so badly on those two Harrison sacks we might have made a game of it.

The road to the playoffs looks very sketchy. I can only hope we can win out and at least get a shot to defend our AFC Championship. But as one fellow Patriots fan said to me via e-mail, if we make it to the playoffs with this defense, we’ll be probably be one and done.

As for Pittsburgh? I’ve been saying all year they have the best, nastiest, toughest defense in the league and they proved it once again on Sunday. In fact, behind the Giants, I think they are the second best team in the league because of their defense. Their offense is mostly just along for the ride.

And one final thought. Poor Wes Welker got totally jacked up by Steeler safety Ryan Clark on one of the hardest hits I have seen this year. I hated seeing that and it pissed me off. I don’t want to see one of my guys get jacked up. Was it a dirty hit? The ball was tipped and uncatchable so I thought it called for a 15-yard penalty but it was not a dirty hit. This is football not patty-cake. Had Rodney Harrison lit up one of the Steelers receivers like that, especially Hines Ward, I would have been cheering, penalty or no penalty, and calling for him to do it again! Pittsburgh has what our defense lacks and needs, big hitters and an intimidation factor. The hit on Welker made me envious we don’t have that on our side of the ball.

MVP: James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers 

New York Giants over Washington Redskins, 23-7

Lethargic. Apathetic. Uninterested. Stale. Those are the words I would use to describe the Washington Redskins the past few games. Like the Patriots, I don’t think it’s the offense scheme that’s at fault working, the players simply are not executing on the field. The pass blocking is porous, the receivers, other than Santana Moss, are terrible, and Jason Campbell is sketchy at times. The Redskins defense has played reasonable well this year, but since they stacked up to stop the run the supposedly top notch defensive backfield got chewed up by Eli Manning and the Giants receivers, particularly Domenik Hixon. The Redskins certainly do not look like a playoff caliber team and seem to lack any fire or emotion. This is particularly surprising since the late Sean Taylor, the great safety who was murdered last year by thieves, was placed in the Redskins Ring of Honor before the game.

The Giants just keep rolling along. Want to stop our league leading running game? Fine, we will just pass the ball instead. At 11-1 they are the best team in the NFL.

One more thought: PLAXICO BURRESS IS AN IDIOT!!!!!

MVP: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants 

Minnesota Vikings over Chicago Bears, 34-14

The Minnesota Vikings have played in some of the most wildly entertaining games all year long. They had a crazy, topsy-turvy shootout with New Orleans, a close game they gave away to the Indianapolis Colts, another close and entertaining game they tried to give away to the Green Bay Packers but Adrian Peterson’s heroics saved them, and now another wild game with the Bears.

This series of plays encapsulates the game. Minnesota is down 7-3 and backed up against their goal line and goes three and out giving Chicago good field position after a punt. They stop the Bears on third down but get a close but legitimate unnecessary roughness penalty giving the Bears a first down in great field position. Matt Forte breaks off a 26 yard run and is just pushed out at the one yard line. First and goal at the one yard line. The Bears seem to be dominating the game and are about to go up 14-3.

But not so fast! Minnesota has a great goal line stand with Jared Allen getting one of the tackles. The Bears go for it on fourth down and don’t make it. Oh well, the Vikings are backed up to their one yard line anyway. Then Gus Frerotte
unleashes a beautiful long pass to a wide open Bernard Berrian for an NFL record tying 99 yard touchdown pass and a 10-7 lead. The game was pretty much the Vikings from there on out.

The Vikings had a lot of guts trying a long pass in the end zone so they were clearly playing the game to win and weren’t playing scared. And the Vikings defense had a phenomenal day, especially defensive end Jarred Allen who was instrumental on the goal line stand, was in the backfield most of they day, and had three sacks. They might not be the best team headed into the playoffs but they certainly are an entertaining one.

MVP: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings 

Houston Texans over Jacksonville Jaguars, 30-17

The interesting thing about this game was that one of the best wide receivers in the league, the Texans Andre Johnson, and their promising rookie running back, Steve Slaton, got to show off their talent to a national audience. And they took full advantage of it. Jacksonville was never in the game. The Texans should have a better record than 5-7 but they lost their starting quarterback Matt Schaub and gave some games away with turnovers.

Jacksonville has completely imploded this season. Fred Taylor, the 11-year veteran running back who has played for the team his entire career, says this is the worst team he has ever played on. Granted they had devastating injuries all across the offensive line, but it looks like a team that has given up. I wonder if head coach Jack Del Rio will be back next year?

MVP: Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans 

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Mark Clayton, WR, Baltimore Ravens, 5 catches, 164 yards, 1 td, 1 td passing

Defensive Player: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

Offensive Lineman: Chris Snee, G, New York Giants

Special Teams: Rob Bironas, K, Tennessee Titans

Rookie of the Week:  Steve Slaton, RB, Houston Texans, over 180 total yards

2008 NFL Football Season: Week 12

Randy Moss Dominates the Dolphins

Randy Moss Dominates the Dolphins

New England Patriots over Miami Dolphins, 48-28  

Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch this game live because I can’t get DirectTV at my house. I did get to watch it on NFL Replay on the NFL Network.

Thank Matt Cassel and Randy Moss for this important win over the classless Dolphins!  This was essentially a playoff game in the regular season for both teams and it clearly showed.  The loser (Miami!) very likely will miss the playoffs.  Too bad the Titans, Eagles, and Chargers didn’t give the Patriots any help in our bid to get back to the postseason this year.  But a loss against the Dolphins would have been nearly catastrophic to the Patriots’ playoff chances given Miami would have the tiebreaker against us with a sweep of the season series and a better conference record.  Not to mention we would be two games behind the Jets.  As it stands we need to keep winning and hope someone can pick off the Colts and Ravens. 

The Patriots dominated the game offensively but let Miami stay in it because two turnovers lead directly to 14 Miami points. Matt Cassel had his second consecutive 400 yard passing game and is one of only five QBs in NFL history to accomplish this (the others being Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Phil Simms, Billy Volek, and now Matt Cassel).  Meanwhile Randy Moss made some outstanding catches and recorded 8 catches for 125 yards, and 3 touchdowns. 

Joey Porter is a classless loudmouth punk and unfortunately he seems to be rubbing off on his teammates.  He received a couple of personal foul penalties late in the fourth quarter and his coach tried to pull him out of the game but he wouldn’t leave the field.  He’s not only a classless, loudmouth punk but a sore loser too.  Matt Light got into a fight with Dolphin linebacker Channing Crowder on a field goal.  I couldn’t tell from the replay what precipitated the fight but I’ve been watching Matt Light his entire career and he is definitely not a hot headed or dirty player.  The way the Dolphins were playing I’m sure the punk Crowder did something to provoke him then ran away like a sissy when the action got going. It was announced today they both got $15,000 fines but no suspension. 

While the Dolphins had a hard time stopping the New England offense, the New England defense wasn’t anything to get excited about. The Dolphins did not have “give me” touchdown drives on either of the Patriots’ turnovers. If the defense lived up to the offense the Patriots would be hard to beat.

Regardless of whether or not the Patriots make the playoffs, this has once again been a season where Bill Belichick, love him or hate him, has proven what a great coach he is (the debacle in the Colts’ game excepted).  The team didn’t panic after Tom Brady went down and Cassel has steadily improved all season long.  The offense, despite losing its best running back, is performing at a high level.  Ironically it’s the defense that has struggled more this year but they too have overcome significant injuries. 

And one more thing.  Wes Welker rules!!!

Next week will be a tough game against Pittsburgh.  I hope Big Ben sends a few of his stupid interceptions our way.

MVP: Randy Moss, WR, New England Patriots 

GAMES I WATCHED

New York Jets over Tennessee Titans, 34-13 

If you could only watch the offensive and defensive lines play and nothing else, barring turnovers, you could pretty much tell who won the game.  The team that dominates the line of scrimmage almost always wins.  The Jets offensive line put on one of the most dominating performances I have seen this year, and they did it against a great, highly touted defensive line.  Nick Mangold has been playing extremely well all season but this was an A+++ performance.  The interior line made Albert Haynesworth all but disappear as a factor in the game.  Haynesworth lined up at defensive end a few times and once overpowered the overrated D’Brickashaw Ferguson for a sack on Favre.  But for the most part the Jets handled the Titans tough defense. 

The Jets played a mostly run oriented, short passing game that was highly effective all game long moving the ball and putting points on the board.  Their offensive success kept them in third and short situations and they seemed to make nearly all of them.  The Jets controlled the ball for over 40 minutes compared to only 20 minutes for the Titans and they really started to wear down the defense in the second half.  Even though the game was, to me, already over because the Titans showed no signs of being able to come back, Leon Washington breaking off a 61 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter was the nail in the coffin. 

Defensively the Jets also played quite well.  They clearly geared up to stop the run and were very successful doing so.  Unlike last week, however, the Titans could not generate offense through the air.  Kerry Collins didn’t play terribly, the Titans were just in third and long frequently.  It didn’t help that his receivers dropped several balls throughout the game, especially the first half, that could have made it a little more competitive. 

While this is only one game in the regular season, the Jets have served notice that they are going to be a team to be reckoned with down the stretch.  They have a five game winning streak and have knocked off two division rivals and the team most thought was the best in the NFL going into the game.  While all their wins haven’t been quite as impressive as this win over the Titans, if they can duplicate this kind of performance every week they are going to be hard to beat.

MVP: Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets

Washington Redskins over Seattle Seahawks, 20-17

As far as professional football games go, this one was a bit lethargic by both teams. It took a third quarter interception by Matt Hasselbeck with the game tied at 10, resulting in the Redskins starting in great field position and going up 17-10, to basically seal the game. While the Seahawks played fairly well defensively, Clinton Portis was the star of the show in the second half, grinding out 143 yards in the game. Ironically for these two West Coast, short passing oriented coaches, the game was decided by a power running attack by the Redskins in the second half.

Maybe it’s just me but the Redskins are not looking like a playoff caliber team. They seem lethargic (I say it again) and without the fire I saw earlier in the season.  And not just this week, but lat week against Dallas too.  Maybe it’s just a late season slump.  We’ll see.  Regardless, Jim Zorn is destined to be a solid head coach.  I’m impressed.

MVP: Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins

Indianapolis Colts over San Diego Chargers, 23-20

The Colts and Chargers played a pretty even game. The difference in the game was one single turnover. Philip Rivers fumbled the ball in the red zone, on the 10 yard line, which the Colts drove to a 17-10 lead.  At least a 10 point swing, and possibly a 14 point swing if they could have scored.  Game over. Well, not quite. San Diego did come back late in the game to tie it at 20-20 but left too much time on the clock. Manning quickly got the Colts into very long field goal range but Adam Vinatieri booted a 51 yarder for the win.

I am frankly shocked that the Chargers, with all their talent, are 4-7. I don’t care if Tomlinson is not playing up to his standards or that they lost Shawn “Juicer” Merriman to injury, there is just no excuse for this team to have a losing record. 

And while Peyton doesn’t look like the Peyton we’ve seen in years past, he’s on a roll and the Colts are going to be a tough, scary match-up if they make the playoffs.

MVP: Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts

New Orleans Saints over Green Bay Packers, 51-29

Drew Brees put on a show with over 300 yards passing and four touchdown passes against the Packers in one of the best offensive showings I’ve seen this year. Meanwhile Aaron Rodgers did his best Brett Favre imitation, the bad Brett Favre that is, with three interceptions, two of them stupid ones that turned into Saints scores. The Saints offense was simply unstoppable all game long. The Packers put up some crazy numbers on offense as well but the turnovers and the inability of the defense to get a pass rush on Brees and his accurate passes and bombs just blew the game totally open in the second half. This was a phenomenal QB clinic by Brees in this game. He just shredded the defense of the Packers again, and again, and again. I think Green Bay is a good offensive team and will bounce back, but their defense, despite having two of the best corners in the league, were really exposed in this game.

MVP: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Terrell Owens, WR, Dallas Cowboys, 7 catches, 213 yards, 1 touchdown

Defensive Player: Ed Reed, FS, Baltimore Ravens, 2 interceptions and NFL record 108 yard interception return for a touchdown

Offensive Lineman: Nick Mangold, C, New York Jets

Special Teams: Domenik Hixon, 201 return yards and 68 yard kickoff return for a touchdown

Rookie of the Week:  Leodis McKelvin, CB, Buffalo Bills, 2 interceptions and 64 yard interception return for a touchdown

2008 NFL Football Season: Week 11

 
Troy Polamalu Makes Amazing Interception against Chargers

Troy Polamalu Makes Amazing Interception against Chargers

GAMES I WATCHED

New York Giants over Baltimore Ravens, 30-10
 
The New York Giants have emphatically proven their playoff run resulting in a Super Bowl championship last year was no fluke.  They have played dominant football this year other than a hiccup against the Cleveland Browns. 

If I were writing a headline for this game it would be: Giants Running Attack Ravishes Ravens’ Defense.  They ran over one of the NFL’s top run stuffing defenses with seeming ease racking up 210 yards on the ground with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw.  Coupled with two Ravens turnovers and that’s the story of the game.

On offense the Ravens didn’t look all that terrible.  While Joe Flacco did throw two interceptions, one was a tipped ball that wasn’t his fault.  In this game, in something that is very unusual for the Ravens, it was the defense that was the weak link.  Even though this may not have been his best outing, I continue to be impressed with the arm, poise, and decision making of Flacco.  From what I have seen so far this season, I think he will become an elite quarterback in this league. And the Ravens were smart to draft him this year since there are not top flight quarterbacks coming out of the draft next year.

MVP:  Aaron Ross, CB, New York Giants, 2 interceptions and a touchdown.

Pittsburgh Steelers over San Diego Chargers, 11-10

This was another bizarre game in a year that has seemed to have its fair share of them.  Both offenses moved the ball fairly well, especially Pittsburgh’s, but neither were able to score.  The Pittsburgh defense was its usual nasty self, limiting San Diego to 218 yards, but more importantly snatching two turnovers and scoring a safety.  Those plays were the keys in Pittsburgh’s victory. Hines Ward also played a superb game and continues to be the go to receiver in clutch situations.

Troy Polamalu made one of the most amazing interceptions I have ever seen.  It reminded me of the one he had against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2006 AFC playoff game that Pittsburgh won and eventually lead to their Super Bowl XL victor. That interception was overturned by the officials (of course it was, it was against the Colts!).  How he managed the interception he made in this game is beyond me.  It was quite impressive.  And of course once again the officials totally blew the call on Polamalu’s fumble recovery for a touchdown at the end of the game, which would have made the score 18-10 (with an extra point).  Luckily the play didn’t factor into the outcome and hopefully it won’t hurt the Steelers in any tie breakers for the playoffs down the road.  This is the second (maybe even third) game this year that San Diego was involved in where officials made and egregiously bad call – usually to their detriment.

San Diego appears to be all but out of playoff contention. And frankly, I am rather glad. I think this is one of the whiniest teams in the NFL. Good riddance.

MVP: Hines Ward, WR , Pittsburgh Steelers

Dallas Cowboys over Washington Redskins, 14-10

Dallas is back in the playoff hunt with a critical win over the Washington Redskins. Neither team was overly impressive offensively, especially the Redskins who are suddenly struggling. The Redskins offensive line looked rather pedestrian, especially center Casey Rabach, who I had been impressed with up until the last couple of games. Meanwhile Romo chucked up a couple of interceptions in the first half playing with a cast on his broken pinkie, with one of them costing the Cowboys a scoring opportunity. But Romo played pretty well given the injury on his throwing hand. Meanwhile Jason Campbell looked out of sorts, but much of this can be attributed to great coverage by Terrance Newman on Santana Moss and poor play by the Redskins recovers. The Redskins appear to have three huge busts on their hands with rookie wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, and tight end Fred Davis. They have played very poorly and been no factor all year long.

Dallas, or I should say Marion “The Barbarian” Barber, closed the show in the fourth quarter with a tough, rough drive at the end of the game that ate up the clock and sealed the win. I don’t like Dallas. In fact they are one of my least favorite teams. But I sure do love to watch Marion Barber run. He’s a real football player.

Three Cowboys players really stood out in the game for Dallas. Terence Newman, CB, who had great coverage and one interception. Jay Ratliff, NT, who schooled Casey Rabach who couldn’t handle him one-on-one and had two sacks. And of course, Marion Barber on the last drive was most impressive. But defense won this game as the Redskins could run a little, but couldn’t pass at all.

MVP: Terence Newman, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Cleveland Browns over Buffalo Bills, 29-27

This was an exciting game to watch, especially with the big plays in the second half. But it also looked like two very mediocre teams playing. Trent Edwards was horrible through much of the game, throwing three interceptions on the first three drives of the game. But the Browns squandered the opportunities. The Browns only scored six points on those three interceptions, despite good field position, and overall only turned four Bills turnovers into nine points. While Trend Edwards was awful, Quinn played a fairly decent game, but once again the Browns’ much touted wide receiver Braylon Edwards continued to drop ball, after ball, after ball. Edwards was supposed to be a big play receiver this year, but instead he’s become a bit of a laughingstock with his inability to hold on to the ball.

The Browns played it fairly close to the vest in the second half pounding the ball with Jamal Lewis and seemed to seal the deal with a 72 yard touchdown run by seldom used running back Jerome Harrison on the first play of the fourth quarter, putting the Browns head 23-13. But rookie cornerback and kick returner Leodis McKelvin, who had a spectacular night on kickoff returns, returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to keep the Bills in the game at 23-20. After going up 26-20 on one of Phil Dawson’s five field goals, the Bills scored a touchdown on a short drive to make it 27-26. But the Browns came right back and with little time remaining Phil Dawson hit a 56 yard game winning field goal. The Bills were able to get into position to attempt a game winning 47 yard field goal but Rian Lindell missed it.

Leodis McKelvin had a superlative game on kickoff returns and single handedly kept the Bills in the game by giving them good field position on special teams. The Browns started kicking away from him in the second half, which only resulted in good field position for the Bills. Marshawn “Hit and Run” Lynch also had a solid outing with his first 100 yard rushing game of the season. But it was all for naught as the turnovers and poor play by Edwards kept the Bills in check most of the night.

One thing I notice about the Browns defense in the last couple of games I’ve seen is they really get winded in the second half, especially Shaun Rogers, their vaunted nose tackle. Of course Rogers is a huge man and usually is double and sometimes triple teamed. Having 300 pound dudes beating on your for three quarter will wear you down.

MVP: Phil Dawson, K, Cleveland Browns

ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS

The New York Giants or the Tennessee Titans? Conventional wisdom seems to be the Titans at 10-0 are the best team in the league. I think the New York Giants are. They both have great running games and outstanding defense, which is what championships are made of. But the Giants have a potentially more explosive, big play offense that can put points on the board fast. I know Tennessee fans will say “wait a minute, the last two weeks we showed some big play ability too!” While this is true, I still think the Giants have a more dynamic, versatile offense, which to me separate the two. Of course that is just my subjective opinion. The only way this argument can be settled is on the field. And the way this season is going, it just may be.

Donovan McNabb is an Idiot: How can any NFL quarterback not know that a regular season game ends in a tie if nobody scores in overtime? That is just unfathomable!! Not only is McNabb and idiot for not knowing this rule, he was idiot for admitting it after the game. I am stunned by it. Given that and his three interceptions and fumble, he has to go down as the goat of the year so far.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Anquan Bolden, WR, Arizona Cardinals, 13 catches, 186 yards receiving

Defensive Player: Terence Newman, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Offensive Lineman: Chris Snee, G, New York Giants

Special Teams: Leodis McKelvin, KR/CB, Buffalo Bills

Rookie of the Week:  Steve Slaton, RB, Houston Texans, 156 yards rushing, 1 touchdown

2008 NFL Football Season: Week 9

Matt Cassel Plays Well Against Colts

Matt Cassel Plays Well Against Colts

GAMES I WATCHED

Indianapolis Colts over New England Patriots, 18-15

This was one of the most frustrating losses the Patriots have suffered in a regular season game in long, long while. In a season without Tom Brady and parity in the AFC, where the playoff race is going to be extremely tight and likely decided by tie breakers, every single game at this juncture of the season in the AFC for the contenders is critical. A team just absolutely cannot afford to beat themselves. And that is just what the Patriots uncharacteristically did in very winnable game, against an unusually beatable Indianapolis Colts.

There are three reasons we lost a very winnable game. 

Belichick Bungles:  Let me say I think Bill Belichick is the best coach in the league and has done a great job of keeping the Patriots on the road to the playoffs despite losing Tom Brady.  Usually his game management is spot on.  Against the Colts I have no idea what he was thinking.  First, he wasted a timeout on a challenge saying there were 12 men on the field when, (a) the replay shows the Colt player got off the field on time, and (b) it was an inconsequential penalty anyway.  Second, I don’t totally disagree with the move, but I’m not sure why he went for a two point conversion leading 12-7 when we could have secured a two field goal lead with an extra point.  And then, he didn’t challenge the play when Faulk was ruled short of the goal line when it appeared he probably made it.  And most infuriating, the Patriots were going for it on 4th and 1 and we made it!! But, Belichick had called a timeout and then kicked a field goal instead.  What was he thinking??? Make up your mind and stick with it.  I just wanted to cry. (In his press conference Belichick said he didn’t realize how far we needed to go to get the first down and changed his mind.) 

Gaffney’s Gaff.  I’ve seen Jabbar Gaffney make some amazing, acrobatic catches, including an unbelievable one in a loss to the Colts in the AFC Championship game two years ago.  In the third quarter Matt Cassel lays a ball right in his silly little hands, which would have been a sure touchdown, but he dropped it!  At that point I almost cried. 

Big Penalty on David Thomas:  I know technically Thomas’s late hit after the play was over at the end of the fourth quarter was a penalty.  But the poor guy didn’t hear the whistle and was just blocking and doing his job.  This play took us out of field goal range and basically lost the game for us. I’m not going to complain about the call because it was obvious and you can’t complain about it, except to say any time the Dolts are involved in a game, the officiating is always going to favor them.  It did on our two-point conversion as well. 

The bright spots in this game?  Matt Cassel played well and seems to be improving as they year progresses.  We still have trouble in the red zone but his pass to Gaffney was perfect and would have resulted in a touchdown had Gaffney just caught the ball!  Our defensive backs didn’t get completely torched by Peyton Manning and his minions.  And Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are doing a good job in the running game. 

Losing games you should win is no fun.  Now I know how the Redskins fans felt last year.

MVP:  Adam Vinateri, K, Indianapolis Cots. 52 yard  game willing field goal.

Tennessee Titans over Green Bay Packers, 19-16

The Tennessee Titans continue to make believers of the doubters out there (and I used to one of them).  They have a stout, solid defense, a superior offensive line, an awesome two back attack, and they can pass the ball when they need to.  Good defense and a good running game most often leads to a good record and championships. 

While the Titans have not be a dominating team this year, they are sporting an 8-0 record and have done just enough to win in the close games they have been in.  The key to this game was very simple: two turnovers by Green Bay (an interception and a fumble by Aaron Rodgers) equals a win in a close game for the Titans. 

Chris Johnson continues to be a very impressive rookie running back.  And even though Kerry Collins was a bit off at times, he made the plays in the passing game when he needed to.  Chris Carr, the Titans kick returner, is one of the best in the league and has been consistently giving the Titans good field position on kickoff returns. 

I am not sure what was up with Greg Jennings, the speedy Green Bay receiver.  He seemed to be out of sync with Rodgers, dropped balls, and couldn’t get open.  I know Cortland Finnegan is one of the best cornerbacks in the league but Jennings was just awful. 

MVP:  Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans. 161 total yards, 1 touchdown

New York Giants over Dallas Cowboys, 35-14

What a difference a quarterback makes.  I know the Cowboys were struggling before Tony Romo got hurt, but Brad Johnson and now Brooks Bollinger are just awful, awful, awful.  Granted the offensive line didn’t help much as Justin Tuck and the defense ate up the line of scrimmage, but even when they had time these two quarterbacks were ineffective or throwing interceptions.  Leonard Davis, my all pro left guard, probably would have lost his spot on my Mid-Season All Pro Team had I made the picks after today because he was terrible, as was the entire offensive line. 

Dallas in a deep, deep trouble.  Johnson and Bollinger are making me glad the New England Patriots have Matt Cassel. 

MVP:  Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers over Washington Redskins, 23-6

The Titans defense is good. The Giants have the best defensive line in the league. The Ravens have given up a lot of points at times but they are a force to be reckoned with across the board, but the Pittsburgh Steelers have the most ferocious defense in the league. Last week, in a loss to the Giants, I said they were the best unit on the field that day. And the Pittsburgh defense once again stormed the field and took no prisoners. They absolutely mauled the Redskins offense from start to finish. The Steelers have the best quartet of linebackers in the league so I will give them a shout out here: James Harrison (who could be in the running for my end of year defensive player of the year), LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, and Lawrence Timmons.

Pittsburgh started the game with a gutsy onside kick that failed but the Redskins could only produce a field goal. The next series saw Big Ben throw an interception on a tipped pass and the Redskins were once again in good field position, but the Steelers defense again held them to a field goal. The Steelers weren’t doing much on offense in the first half either as the Redskins have a very solid but unheralded defense themselves, but a blocked punt late in the first half turned into a touchdown and was a turning point in the game. Unfortunately, Ben Roethlisberger further injured his shoulder on his quarterback sneak for the score and was out of the game and it is unclear how severe his injury was.

Byron Leftwich came in and played quite well in the second half and threw a beautiful 50 yard bomb to Nate Washington on the opening drive of the third quarter, which eventually resulted in another touchdown and an insurmountable 16-6 lead the way the Steelers defense was playing (Jeff Reed missed the extra point).

Now let’s talk about Big Ben. I am rather surprised that people are still on the Big Ben bandwagon saying he is the best quarterback in the league or an all pro. To me he’s playing poorly. He is holding the ball too long and taking big hits. He makes as many bad plays for the team as good ones. Don’t get me wrong, I like Big Ben, and have a lot of affinity for him. He has the potential to be a great quarterback. But he’s got to be a quicker decision maker and get rid of the ball faster. I hope he heals fast for Pittsburgh’s sake. While Leftwich played well last night, he’s not the answer at QB.

MVP: James Farrior, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS

Arizona Cardinals: I said several weeks ago I thought Edgerrin James had lost some speed and wasn’t getting to the hole quickly and that I was impressed by rookie Tim Hightower. It’s been talked about recently in the press that Hightower would likely be the starter soon so it was no surprise that he got the starting job this week. But I was shocked that James didn’t even get one carry. Reports are he bad mouthed the coaches and got in the doghouse. This is likely Edge’s last run as a starter or premier RB in the league barring injury on other teams. He obviously is unlikely to be a Cardinal next year. I think he probably has a few good years left in him as a secondary back. It would be nice to see him part of this newly exiting team as they move into the playoff race.

Browns go with Brady Quinn. I don’t necessarily disagree with this decision but I feel sorry for Anderson. Anderson’s receivers have been awful this year. Braylon Edwards drops so many passes that were he a third WR instead of the first, he’d probably have been cut by now. And Kellen Winslow, Jr. was called a distraction by his coach. If the receivers don’t play any better than they have up to this point, Quinn won’t do any better. It is a team game, after all. Will Brady Quinn be a winner or a bust like the last first round QB drafted out of Notre Dame ? Remember who that was? None other than Rick Mirer who, thank goodness, Bill Parcels passed over in favor of Drew Bledsoe when he was the head coach of the New England Patriots.

Goodell’s Canned Interviews are a Joke. NFL.com ran a “ask the commissioner” interview segment a few weeks ago. It’s such an obviously scripted and canned joke it makes me sick. I used to like Goodell. I am now starting to tire of his heavy handed tactics. Why waste our time and insult our intelligence with this corporate, scripted nonsense? I notice they are doing another one soon. I won’t be wasting my time on it.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Defensive Player: John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons

Offensive Lineman: Kevin Maewae, C, Tennessee Titans

Special Teams: Adam Vinateri, K, Indianapolis Colts

Rookie of the Week:  Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans