1. I don’t think that we should read too much into how the Saints won today. It wasn’t pretty, and it probably shouldn’t have happened, but there was a lot to take from that. First, Washington was the best passing defense in the league coming into the game but the Saints managed 419 passing yards against them, and they made the winning TD look as easy as it can possibly look. Next, the Redskins were at home and were fired up by trying to save their season and all that so it made sense that they were stout. Finally, the Saints were missing three cornerbacks , so I’m not concerned by their ability to stop Jason Campbell. The Saints almost lost to a bad team, but they found a way to get the win in the end, and that’s all that matters.
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Three big personnel moves occurred in the NFL yesterday, and each of them is worth a discussion:
Ronnie Brown – The Dolphins’ impressive but fragile running back has been put on the IR, and that means he’s out for the season. This time it his right foot that is the problem. Back in 2007 it was his right leg. Maybe he should just amputate that leg and start over again. Needless to say, this is a big blow for an already fragile team. Only three teams have run better than the Dolphins this year, while only two teams have passed worse. Add in Brown’s impact as one of the only players in the league who can effectively run a wildcat and you have a big hole. They aren’t totally without hope – they still have Ricky Williams and he has looked good this year. Williams is a far more straight ahead, less versatile back than Brown is, though, and it’s doubtful that Williams will be able to lead a similarly effective running attack – if he can even stay healthy for the rest of the season.
Ryan Fitzgerald – Perry Fewell needed to make an impact quickly as the new head coach of the Bills, and he found the easiest way to do it – he changed his quarterback. The ineffective Trent Edwards has been benched in favor of the ineffective Ryan Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has had significant play in three games so far this year, and the team has earned two of their three wins in that time. He has thrown twice as many touchdowns as interceptions, and has completed less than half his passes, so it’s not a perfect solution. The Bills have been a truly terrible passing team this year, though, so it won’t hurt. None of it gives me any reason to even consider backing the Bills now or into the future.
Bruce Gradkowski – It took far too long, but the Raiders have finally come to their senses. They have benched JaMarcus Russell and given Gradkowski the reins. It’s not just a fleeting thing, either – coach Cable says that Gradkowski will be given a real chance to settle in and play. Gradkowski is not a great QB and he is in a brutal situation, so this isn’t going to make a significant change for the team. It still was the only thing to do. Russell has been absolutely terrible, and he is making absolutely no progress while he is playing. He probably won’t make any progress when he isn’t playing, either, but at least he won’t be making more truly terrible plays and crushing his final shreds of confidence and self respect. I can’t imagine that the team will be anything other than relieved by the change – it might even give them a boost. The good news is that Gradkowski barely has to do anything to be just as good as Russell.