Sunday NFL Lessons

The Jets are mortal after all – I’ve been feeling all along that it is important to look at the Jets with context. They have been impressive on both sides of the ball, but it wasn’t going to be sustainable through all 16 games. That just wasn’t possible given that they were working with a totally rebuilt defense and a rookie quarterback. I don’t want to suggest that things are bleak or hopeless for this team – far from it. I just think that the setback against the Saints should remind us that our expectations for teams need to be reasonable or they will be costly.

Potential problems with the Saints? – The Saints deserve tremendous credit for their defensive improvement this year – Gregg Williams was clearly the right man for the job. I’m a little concerned, though, about the offense. They only accounted for 10 points, and Drew Brees had just 190 passing yards. For the second straight game he failed to score a touchdown, and he has managed just 5.9 yards per attempt in each game. The success of this team in the long term is built on the power of the offense, so I can’t help but be concerned by these offensive challenges.

Titans are a sick squad – I’m obviously not in the locker room, so I have no idea precisely what is wrong with the team. It’s not hard to come up with a list of problems, though – Kerry Collins looks old and ineffective, the running game hasn’t established itself, and so on. The most troubling change, though, is one defense. Losing Albert Haynesworth and DC Jim Schwartz has had a far bigger impact than I would have guessed. Suddenly a unit that was almost unbeatable last week made the Jaguars look like offensive superstars this week. I’ve given up on waiting for this team to play up to their potential. They will have to prove themselves before I will trust them again.

Kyle Orton is not a schmuck after all – Josh McDaniels took all sorts of grief in the offseason for his decision to swap Cutler for Orton. Now the Broncos are 4-0, looking brilliant defensively, and enjoying strong play from Orton. The biggest benefit Orton has brought to the offense that Cutler just didn’t is that he avoids mistakes. He has yet to throw an interception or fumble. That’s a big change for the Broncos. If Orton can keep that up then I really think that this is a team that will be playing in January.

Pats are tough and lucky
– I liked seeing that Patriots were tough enough to hold on against a good team today. I don’t believe for a second, though, that that indicates that this team is somehow back. They were incredibly lucky to win the game, needing two key fourth down stops, an uncharacteristic drop from Mark Clayton, and a couple of very questionable calls from the refs. The Pats are obviously a solid team, but I think it would be a mistake to get too excited because they beat a team as good as the Ravens. This is still a team with real problems.

Neither Pittsburgh nor San Diego is impressive right now
– That Sunday night game was really quite ugly. The Chargers were terrible for the first two and a half quarters, then the Steelers took their turn to struggle. You couldn’t possibly convince me that either of those teams are poised to be serious contenders right now based on what we saw tonight.

Nice debut for Henne
– Never bet against a Michigan man at QB. Chad Henne wasn’t perfect in his starting debut for the Dolphins, but there was a lot to like as he led his team to an overwhelming win over the Bills . He didn’t make a lot of huge passing plays, but he did more than enough to set up the running game for a huge day. More impressively, he he didn’t make any mistakes, and he looked confident and in control. I don’t see any reason to downgrade the Dolphins significantly with Henne is charge compared to Pennington.

Seattle has issues – The Seahawks are a team I am totally willing to write off at this point. Their running game is a total disaster, their secondary is porous, and they don’t seem like a well coached or particularly happy team. Seneca Wallace shouldn’t shoulder the blame, either. He wasn’t great at QB, but he was solid, and the problems run far deeper than that.

Eli’s heel could be a real problem – It doesn’t seem like Manning’s heel is seriously damaged. I think that that’s a good thing for the Giants. I’m not a huge fan of Manning, but he’s a far better option than Carr right now. The Giants’ success is due in large part to their offensive prowess right now, and I’m not at all convinced that that would carry on with Carr. The question could be what impact Manning being at less than 100 percent will have on that offense.

JaMarcus Russell
– As I have good reason to say every week, this guy is truly terrible. He completed 36 percent of his passes today. Brutal. As always. I have nothing new to say.

Detroit looked good again. For a half
– They hung tight with the Bears for the first half, and were tied at the break. They looked good. And then the second half happened. The Bears broke a huge kick return to open the second half, and it seemed to totally deflate the Lions. The second half was ugly, but there were still clear signs of progress. This is not the team we saw last year. I just hope that Matthew Stafford’s injury isn’t serious, so that the team can keep building on their foundation.

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