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NFL Late Hits: Week 17

Published: January 5, 2010

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Apologies for the tardiness of this entry – yesterday was a sea of catch up work, pinched back nerves, and getting back on schedule.

Of course, the talk on any message board I go to seems to still be circling the “Bengals/Colts must go to hell for giving the Jets a free pass.”

It’s understandable. While I submit there is an excellent chance the Jets could have (and this weekend will) beat a Bengals team they match up with pretty well, I have a hard time assuming the same about the Colts game.

The same Colts team gunning for individual achievements (Manning’s game streak, Wayne and Clark hitting 100 catches) despite ignoring the Holy Grail of team records—the undefeated season.

You say tomato, they say to-mah-to.

Of course all this is great—it gives analysts, radio hosts and message board denizens a talking point that could keep them going for a long time.

Meanwhile we’re just left with the *yawn* playoffs to occupy us until Indianapolis shuts us up with a Super Bowl or vindicates many of us by losing early once again after instituting their usual “sit the starters policy.”

Several stories are there to talk about besides the angry mobs of Colts fans, though.

Many of them involve coaching vacancies.

It was actually sort of quiet until the Bills fired everyone on the staff, followed today by the Bears ejecting all their offensive coaches.

Of course, the story on Black Monday which stuck with me the most was the incredibly classy way the Washington Redskins got rid of Jim Zorn.

I realize they “didn’t want to wait any longer to start building a winner,” but 4 a.m.? And then making him clean out his office immediately?

Listen, can you expect anything else from a franchise suing a portion of its fan base? Yes, from a legal and business standpoint, I know they can sue anyone who signed a contract. And yes, they settled with the grandmother they were suing. And people will use the economy to wriggle out of plans they just don’t want anymore.

I’m not saying they just let fans walk away willy nilly—but in this economy, you need to have some sympathy. They took way too long to show much.

So no, it isn’t a shock that Zorn was fired early and then escorted out before the sun rose.

Still, the firing itself is no shock, as Zorn was dead man walking when he had play calling duties yanked. The fact that Mike Shannahan was waiting with pen poised over contract sped it up a bit I’m sure.

I guess you could argue the same for either Bears offesnive coordinator Ron Turner or the entire staff for the Bills.

The Bills imploded all season long—repeatedly too, which is impressive. Given that we began the season talking about changing offensive coordinators, was there really all that much optimism?

There actually was, as many analysts I read were talking the Bills up as #3 or (if they were smoking crack) #2 in the AFC East.

I didn’t share it, so that the Bills have blown the staff up and are looking to potentially blow the team up as well is no stunning revelation to me.

The culling of the Bears offensive staff isn’t that big a shocker either given how bad that squad played. From letting the offensive line remain mediocre to not finding a way to surround Cutler with talent, the Bears offense has been de-fanged all year long.

At some point, someone had to answer for it and Turner was that guy. He’s been there for five years and really, was any one of those really exceptional?

At some point the buck stops there—however keep in mind that after the axe falls on the offensive coordinator, the head coach is usually next up.

Another underwhelming season in 2010 and Lovie Smith may find himself blown out in the Windy City.

It’s barely two days from the end of the regular season and we anxiously await many hirings and several more potential firings (has Cleveland’s Eric Mangini dodged his bullet?).

While I expect it to be calmer this year after 11 changes last season, you never know with the NFL.

For more articles like this one, check out .

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NFL Stands For Nutty Fan Litigation

Published: December 29, 2009

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Colts fans are really, really angry.

Angrier than a toddler with croup. Angrier than the Incredible Hulk.

So angry they allegedly harassed Colts President Bill Polian off the air ten minutes early on his own radio show . 

Remind me never to anger Indiana. I wouldn’t like them when they were angry.
When they are angry (or wronged), they sue. Or more accurately, members of the Indianapolis City council—who, like Congress , seem to have nothing more pressing to occupy their time—are looking to sue for them .
I’m not totally sure who is doing what but for what it’s worth, I think it’s both understandable yet also ridiculous to sue over this.
On the one hand, nobody can argue the Colts tried their hardest to win the game with the Jets.

Maybe popping Peyton Manning back into the game late might have made the fans feel better. But you just don’t pull him midway through the game and then lose while still keeping your competitive credibility intact.

On the other hand, your ticket entitles you to many thingsbut one of those things isn’t a win or even an effort to achieve a win.

It may be implied, but it isn’t a promise written in stoneor on the ticket. Regardless, all I can say is, glad I’m not the judge.

Besides, if anyone in Indy should be suing, it should be back-up quarterback Curtis Painter. Talk about the ‘no-win scenario’.

Welcome to the NFL, Rook.

In thinking about the Colts and their fans, I realized there are probably many groups of disgruntled people out there who could be feeling a tad frisky.

So I reached out to Twitter as well as some fellow podcasters and writers to see what might force themor their friends and fansto drive to the local lawyer.

As always, the results were not disappointing.

Some were silly, some were serious, but all were interesting and entertaining.


I would sue the Rams/Lions/Chiefs/Bills for a crappy season

This was about the most common tweet or e-mail I got. In one case, an e-mailer wrote in very specific detail how he had been wronged by the Rams, not just this season, but for several in a row. Bad drafts, poor coaching, bad free agent signings. It was all there.

I got less lawsuit requests for the Lions involving former GM/train wreck Matt Millen than I expected, though he was involved in one angry email we’ll get to in a minute.

If fans of the Colts would like some perspective, maybe I can put you in touch with the fans of some teams who, in some cases, didn’t win 14 in two seasons, much less one. 


Football blogger @JeremyNPike tweeted a funny, but true one.

“The Bills for reckless endangerment and gross negligence of any QB who lines up under center and disappearance of T.O.”

I’m not blaming the Bills for the disappearance of one Terrell Owens, in part because he is so very good at hiding on his own. I think the reckless endangerment charge might stick thoughat least if you ask Trent Edwards.


Fellow scribe @A_E_M threw out several, the first one being the nugget below.

“…the fact that they have AARP players (B Favre) but dont give AARP discounts.”

I have no idea if not being eligible for said discounts is accurate. We already know the league is only just getting on board with looking out for it’s elder statesmen, so it wouldn’t shock me if there were no senior discounts.

On the other hand, does any sport do that?
@fantasyf00tball tweeted one that he called ‘The Shannahan Clause’ and I call the ‘Fantasy Football Owner Lament’.
“I’d sue Kubiak for not settling on a running back.”
Nobody who has ever played fantasy football has ever seen a Denver coach (former or current) allow for predictability in their backfields. The aforementioned Shannahan killed owners for years with his mix-and-match backfields. Kubiak did it this year with his gang in the Texans’ running back group.
Heck, current Broncos coach Josh McDaniels played with our emotions for much of the 2009 season, alternating between veteran Correll Buckhalter and rookie Knowshon Moreno.
A judge might throw this outat this point there is implied risk. On the other hand, these guys need to come with warning labels.
At worst, maybe we can get the Surgeon General to slap some on their fantasy drafts: “Contents may cause headaches, dizziness and early ejection from the fantasy playoffs.”
Here’s one I got three different flavors of, though they all came down to the same sentiment.
I’d like to sue the league for not letting Ochocinco wear Chris Henry’s jersey.

All three e-mailersTito from NY, Ed and STKLM1 from parts unknownall felt very strongly that the league erred in not allowing the man formerly known as Chad Johnson to honor his friend in this simple way.

Ed said he wasn’t a Bengal fan, but thought that given the situation as well as the fact that both players played the same position, the impact should have been negligible and the gesture allowed.

I asked him whether he would have felt the same way in regards to Sean Taylor, who died in 2007 from a gunshot would inflicted during an attempted robbery at his house.

Ed said some things transcend rules and yes, if a teammate had wanted to honor Taylor in that way, then what’s the big deal?

I don’t disagree. It all worked out for everyone involved with the Chris Henry thing, but I never saw the harm in Ochocinco’s request to begin with.


Back on the lighter side, @A_E_M came back with this tweet.

“What I would def sue for is not the NFL but ESPN for their MNF crew, can we get 3 ppl that actually can stay neutral?”

I got a similar e-mail from Dean in Texas who swore that another season of the NFLN crew of Millen and Collinsworth would force him to either drink himself to death or shoot his television.

It’s almost a yearly complaint about one or both of the weeknight game crews.

Neither crew is an incredibly compelling booth on the order of a Madden/Michaels. Few out there are.

Both booths have their downsides. On occasion I’ve heard both Millen and Collinsworth drop a few comments that make me go “what the heck?”

But I have also heard some good analysis. I’m hoping they get better as time goes on and honestly, anything is better than having Bryant Gumbel in the booth, because I’m at least reasonably sure Millen knows the names of the players.

ESPN has yet to put together a booth to unanimous applause, though firing/releasing /letting Tony Kornheiser leave was met with pretty large amounts of joy. I like Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico quite a bit and Gruden brings a ton to the table, but A_E_M isn’t wrongoccasionally it gets pretty cloying in the booth.

Still, there’s no Gumbel/Kornheiser so, I’m good.

For this last one, I could have gone several ways. There were Chicago fans who want to sue over the Cutler trade (Gaines Adams was worse, folks), people who want to sue Browns Coach Eric Mangini for being Mangini, and many a Raider fan who wants to sue Al Davis for sole custody of the franchiseoften citing some form of dementia.

In reality, it’s no contest though.


Nobody seems to be angrier than the Redskins fanbase.

For those who aren’t up on it, when Washington Redskins ticket holders were hit with hard times and asked out of their ticket agreements, the team did what any sensitive corporation would be obliged to dothey sued their fans .

The common sentiment from the missives I got was something I can’t repeat here (I mean it’s the Internet, but we try to keep it clean) involving owner Dan Snyder and where he can spend his winter break as well as enough activities to keep him very busy.

To be honest, only one referred to the Redskins’ fan-aimed lawsuits but none of them were particularly pleasant in feeling towards the ownership. They love their Skins, but Snyder…well, that’s another matter.

Taken in total though, most of these e-mails involved wresting control of the team from Snyder and a few might have mentioned burying him Jimmy Hoffa-style under an end zone.

See Colts fans? It could be worse. You feel your franchise quit on you, but at least they aren’t showing up at your door with a subpoena.


 If you have a lawsuit you would dearly love to see delivered to a NFL team or individual, drop it in the comments! More articles like this can be found on .

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NFL Late Hits: Week 16

Published: December 28, 2009

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I’m going to try and not make this whole column be about the Colts and Head Coach Jim Caldwell.

It may be hard.

I’ll give this to the Colts’ coach—damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

Well, I guess if you were predisposed to think Peyton Manning—one of the most durable quarterbacks in the game—would end up hurt. Frankly, I wouldn’t think that way.

I can’t put it better than my boy Sigmund Bloom did on Twitter :

You can’t coach afraid of negative outcomes, you focus on the positive outcomes you are pushing towards. Wonder how team feels right now.

Caldwell was preserving Manning, a guy who rarely gets hurt, and may have thrown off the timing of a team who was on a roll. There’s no way he puts the starters in for long this week, is there?

We’re watching momentum disintegrate for the Saints—are we going to see it for the Colts now?

As for the Jets, Mark Sanchez didn’t throw an interception. Starters may have been sitting, but Sanchez protected the ball. Big deal for him this season considering how he has struggled. Good decisions, solid play-calling, effective ground game.

They still need to win against the Bengals (starters or not) and all those things need to be going if they are going to win.

Interesting side note: The Colts/Jets game inspired this piece of writing on a University of North Carolina website called The 5th Corner where writer AEM uses it as a cautionary tale for the NCAA Basketball Tournament , which is considering a move to a 96 team tournament.

(sidenote-within-a-sidenote: I think expanding to that size is a horrible idea, incredibly unmanageable and frankly giving the College BCS anti-playoff people ammunition they don’t need .) 

See what you did Jim Caldwell?

The Chargers, Cowboys and Patriots seem to be heating up at the right time. This is standard operating procedure for the Bolts, but it seems like new ground for Dallas.

Romo has turned the concept he’s a Christmas choke artist on its ear the last few weeks. Maybe the Cowboys aren’t perfect and maybe they won’t make it far into the playoffs, but they seem to be ready for the playoffs at a time when some teams—like the aforementioned Colts and Saints as well as the Vikings—are stumbling.

In the last few years, both the Giants and Cardinals have shown us where momentum can take you. One of the fringe teams will heat up and cause some havoc in the playoffs.

Finally, I’ve danced around it enough this month: it’s retarded that Titans running back Chris Johnson isn’t getting more buzz for MVP. Beyond that, it’s criminal. I’m not saying he should be a lock to win it, but not enough writers are even taking note of him beyond ‘wow he’s pretty good’.

Maybe it’s a moot point, given that his team has struggled even when he’s doing well and his impact on any game is negligible.

This fallacy—or what I consider one—pretty much makes it impossible for almost any position not named ‘Quarterback’, a problem which is already part of the Heisman lack of defensive players.

No one player wins a game every time out (just ask John Elway) but the MVP needs to be a game changer. Chris Johnson is a constant threat to break a long touchdown—a defense cannot afford to ignore him or he will burn them.

Maybe he hasn’t won a lot of games for the Titans. But at any moment, he could.

That should count for something in my opinion.

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The San Francisco 49ers Christmas Wish List

Published: December 22, 2009

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All across the country, children are frantically writing their wish lists for Santa Claus and hoping that even the most impossible gifts will be under their tree come this Friday.

And let’s face it—more than a few adult football fans are wishing for the impossible just as hard as their kids for a new Red Ryder BB Gun.

San Francisco fans are not any different than any other NFL fan—and now that their playoff hopes are done they can turn their attention to some things that might come in handy for 2010.

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NFL Late Hits: Week 14

Published: December 14, 2009

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I’ve been meaning to pull this over from my own blog at and post it here at B/R but I kept getting thwarted by technology, life, and other things.

Better late than never, right?


We’ve got a couple of topics here for this edition of Late Hits so let’s get to it.


Tackling: Lost Art or Ignored Skill-set?

Watching the Giants and Eagles play last night was painful.

Not just for the officiating which was admittedly atrocious—that’s been an ongoing problem not just attached to this game.

Not for the drops by New York receivers, though they were frequent and contributed to a season-shattering loss for the Giants.

No, the single most painful thing was the horrific tackling efforts made by the players on both teams.

When did tackling become a lost art form? When did players just decide that running into someone and hoping they will fall over is more effective than wrapping a player up?

It’s been suggested to me that I do an in-depth article or series on this subject and I may. For now though I’ll keep it to just a few thoughts.

This reminds me a lot of how I felt about basketball, halfway into Michael Jordan’s career. Every Sportcenter highlight of Jordan seemed to be him making one spectacular dunk after another.

Now, anyone who has ever watched more than five minutes of Jordan—or basketball in general—knows there is more to both Jordan and the game than a dunk.

Yet for years, most of the Jordan plays ESPN seemed to show were dunks.

Know what I noticed? Years later, a generation of players seemed more intent on getting Sportcenter-worthy dunks than working on fundamentals.

It didn’t destroy the game or anything, but I remember thinking it changed the game for a while.

Flash-forward to the last few seasons of NFL football during which we’ve had in-depth segments on ESPN such as “JACKED UP”.

During that time—and you can’t tell me there isn’t a correlation here—players stopped tackling and started looking to clobber opponents.

Sure, sometimes the ball carrier gets blown up and the play ends. Sometimes a fumble occurs.

Often—dare I say more often than not—the ball carrier shifts, the “big hit” glances off him, and the player continues to run down the field.

Last night was a debacle when it came to tackling. So many times players just bounced off of the ball carrier instead of trying to wrap the guy up and, if not pull him to the ground, at least slow him down for another defensive player to catch up.

Am I saying this is all the fault of sports highlight shows? No, of course not. Coaches from Pop Warner to the NFL are supposed to teach and reinforce proper tackling technique.

Yet, consider that many of these players have grown up in the age of Sportcenter and its ilk. They’ve learned that, from a defensive standpoint, it’s the spectacular big hits which gain you air time as much as anything else.

For the guys in the trenches and the fellas in the secondary who might not be quite as able to generate a dynamic interception, it’s a way to stand out.

I think there is a connection here. Maybe my reader was right—maybe this is worthy of a longer article.

Post-game shows are already talking about shifting the focus away from the giant killer hits, in part because they are becoming more cognizant of the damage caused by the blows, especially in regards to concussions.

It will be interesting to see how things change in this increasingly cautious climate.

Until then I merely propose this to anyone who reads this and plays football at any level -WRAP THEM UP.


Chris Johnson, Heading Towards Elite?

At some point, Chris Johnson shifted from very good running back to phenomenal running back.

It’s been happening for weeks. Doesn’t matter if Kerry Collins or Vince Young is behind center (though Young seemed to improve things even more), Johnson aka “Coach’s Dream” just puts up numbers.

There are backs who are very good backs behind a solid offensive line. Guys who, with blocking, can break some long runs and look fantastic. Or who, with a scary pass game, find themselves not facing eight men in a box on every play.

Some backs don’t need that. Well, perhaps “don’t need it” is too strong. More like they can overcome not having it.

LaDainian Tomlinson did in his earlier Charger days. Barry Sanders did it pretty much his whole career with the Lions.

Now, it’s still early to call him “Hall of Fame”, and the Titans offensive line can play better than either of the above did, but the Titans’ Johnson is a guy who transcends his situation, which is admittedly better now than it was a few weeks ago.

Still, I don’t think anyone calls the Titans pass game “threatening”.

Johnson has tremendous speed but he’s more than just a fast set of legs. He knows when to use that speed and has incredible vision, allowing him to find the holes he needs to bust lose.

On top of that, Johnson is a demon when he cuts. He makes folks just flat out embarrass themselves when they try to rein him in. Sometimes he just blows by them—sometimes he blows through them.

Johnson is on pace to break Marshall Faulk’s record of 2,429 total yards and he is looking like a great bet to top 2,000 yards on the ground.

I think you add Johnson to the MVP debate, though his team has struggled so much this year that the argument for him is hard to make.

Many voters will point to the fact that while his numbers are great, before Vince Young came back into the picture, the Titans weren’t winning.

So how important could Johnson be?

I say this: if it was LenDale White and the now departed Chris Henry in the backfield, I don’t know that they are having the success they’ve had the latter half of this season.


Screens, Clips, and Chop Blocks

Carolina Panthers were apparently saying Pats wideout Randy Moss was dogging it during the game yesterday. To respond to this I will refer to Pats coach Bill Belichick who said that for a team who lost again, they sure do have a lot to say.

Moss doesn’t seem to be happy, and getting sent home for tardiness would be the sort of thing to exacerbate that so it wouldn’t shock me.

I just don’t know that the Panthers need to be talking about it. They have bigger fish to fry.

The AFC playoff race is a big fat mess. Isn’t December awesome?

Maybe December isn’t awesome for the Cowboys though. Romo and his minions once again slip and slide through the month and, while they can still see the playoffs, that picture is only visible via the Hubble scope.

What is the problem with the Cowboys? At least some of it is play-calling and yesterday they fell in part because they lost DeMarcus Ware.

But what does it say about a team that year after year folds late? In baseball, you’d start looking at the top of an organizations coaching/GM staff (and the team would be called the New York Mets).

I think you might need to here as well. Garrett, Phillips—it might be time for a change.

I’ve heard some muttering about Bucs coach Raheem Morris maybe losing his job. I’ll admit I’m far from his biggest fan or supporter. I’ll also admit that 1-12 is awful.

But the Bucs blew their team up and made some late changes to coaching staff (maybe at Morris’ behest). It takes a while to rebuild.

Give the man a few years here folks.


I’ll end with some Heisman thoughts

I really wanted Ndamukong Suh to win the Heisman, in part because it’s about time we started paying more attention to the defensive side of the ball for this trophy.

I can’t quibble with Alabama running back Mark Ingram’s selection—he’s a tremendous running back and it’s the Crimson Tides’ first Heisman. I might have yelled myself horse if it was McCoy or Tebow, but at least with McCoy it might have been half-hearted.

We know the award is mostly going to go to the sexier offensive positions. Even when Charles Woodson won it, it was on the strength of his kick return abilities as much as (if not in spite of) his defensive capabilities.

I hope voters start giving more thought to the guys in the trenches. I hope they look past the records at the best player rather than the best player on a large university team which is in the National Championship a lot, which echoes some remarks I have heard from voters.

Not all of them, but some.

And I hope the Heisman organization finds a way to make the voters wait until at least the Conference Championships are done. I don’t know if it would have mattered, but knowing that votes were cast before Suh’s performance against McCoy rubs me the wrong way.

But maybe that’s just me.

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Trendspotting: Will Maurice Jones-Drew Keep It Up?

Published: October 22, 2009

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The Trendspotting articles have been a series on the website this season where we look at various players and try to decide whether they will keep up their stats and production (or in some cases, get them back on track) or if they are candidates for a down-turn.
After a brief break, they’re back with a look at Marucie Jones-Drew, running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had a bunch of concerns about Maurice Jones-Drew coming into this season. Most of those concerns—regarding his size, weight and their impact on his durability as well as the fact that he has never carried the ball as many times as the Jaguars want him to—are things which take a whole season to play out.
I felt he was still a top ten back. Six weeks in, he’s not only that but a top two back. The top back in some leagues.
However, while his overall numbers are very good his week to week numbers have fallen flat a few times.
A quick look at his overall games (credit to for supplying the stats ) shows a few games where his owners might have struggled.
1   IND 21 97 1 8 5 26 0 18.3  
2   ARI 13 66 0 7 4 17 0 8.3  
3   HOU 23 119 3 7 4 28 0 32.7  
4   TEN 6 14 1 3 3 26 0 10.0  
5   SEA 12 34 0 5 5 23 0 5.7  
6   STL 33 133 3 7 5 45 0 35.8  
TOT     108 463 8 37 26 165 0 110.8
Looking at the numbers I was struck by how inconsistent the production has been. His big games are big—very few backs have had games like that this season, much less more than one.
On the other hand, he’s had a few subpar games to alternate with those huge games.
What is going on with Jones-Drew? Is there a cause for concern? What is causing the yo-yoing production?
In this week’s Trendspotting, we look at the diminutive back and examine whether his owners need to sell high—or if the rest of us need to buy.
While I was working on the research for this, I did something a little different and threw out a post in the Footballguys forums to take the temperature of his owners and see what people felt might be going on if anything. You can check out response here, but I found very little worry for his prospects and some thoughts on the up and down production which mirrored what I was already thinking.
A few people are selling high(ish) and a few are looking to buy but overall his owners are patient and calm.
Good stuff there though and I encourage you to check it out.
And why shouldn’t his owners be patient. The overall picture in fantasy right now is one of struggling first round running backs.
Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Steven Jackson, Steve Slaton—all are players taken in the first who have had issues in the first six weeks. We could add folks like Tom Brady and Randy Moss (Week Six fireworks notwithstanding) as well. 
So it isn’t a reach to say that Jones-Drew has more than been worth his pick, along with the other survivor of the first round, Adrian Peterson. 
I took a look at the many leagues I am in (mostly PPR leagues, but some not) and Jones-Drew is the top back in many of them. You can’t be upset when so many other studs have fallen flat.
What about those down games? Well, first consider that in the above graph from FBG’s player page, eight and ten points are not tragic totals (and do not include PPR points). Disappointing? Perhaps. 
Looking closer though, Jones-Drew ran into things that may have shut down the production for many of the backs in the same situation.
As Sigmund Bloom points out in the thread, both the Arizona and Seattle games he was hamstrung by an early deficit. Looking at those two games, Jones-Drew got his usual amount of catches as well—between four and five which is right at his average so far. Against Arizona he still compiled a nice 83 yards total. 
While the Seattle game didn’t even have that going for it, there hasn’t been a back this year who didn’t put up lackluster points once.
Still, that game highlights one problem with Jones-Drew—or rather his situation. For whatever reason, the line has not been able to create enough room for him to run. It could be starting two rookies on the line, it could be an echo of the adversity the squad faced last season.
Luckily, Jones-Drew has proven himself to be that special breed of back who can overcome weakness around him. In the tradition of LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and Steven Jackson, Jones-Drew is a back who transcends situation. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have concerns (which we’ll touch on in a minute) but it does say that regardless of his team he will make positive yards most of the time.
One thing owners have to love is the propensity of the Jaguars to give him the rock in the red zone.
A quick look at the numbers show Jones-Drew has gotten more looks than ANYONE else on the team and by a huge margin. In fact, of 71 total red zone looks, Jones-Drew has been ‘the man’ on 30 of them. The next closest is quarterback David Garrard with 21. After that it is a huge dip to the surprising Mike Sims-Walker who has seven.
Of his eight touchdowns, all but one are short yardage/goal line scores. He can still break a long one on occasion (as evidenced by his 61 yards touchdown against the Texans in Week Three) but you know that the team will nearly always give him the rock in the red.
Mind you, so does the opposition. That’s true of many stud backs though, so really you’re looking for opportunity and Jones-Drew gets plenty of it.
You also have to like some of his upcoming schedule. The Titans aren’t scaring anyone, Kansas City, Buffalo, Texans and Colts can all be run on. The Jets are reeling—we’ll see how they are in a few weeks but they aren’t an immovable object, especially without NT Kris Jenkins.
They aren’t all easy matchups but it’s not an awful schedule.
The only concern I have with Jones-Drew is no different than what I was worried about in August: can he hold up to the workload?
As much as he hasn’t carried the ball 30 times every game, he has already racked up 108 carries. His first three years the total number of carries were 197 (2008), 167 (2007) and 166 (2006). 
He’s already more than halfway to the most carries he has ever had in his NFL career. I’m not even adding the catches, which he should easily eclipse as well this season. 
Jones-Drew has never carried the ball as often as he will this season (barring injury). So my biggest concern remains, will he be able to keep it up all season.
The team is not forcing either Greg Jones or Rashard Jennings into the mix with great frequency. This is Jones-Drew’s team, it is not a running back by committee nor does it show any signs of becoming one.
It is a hard—and honestly very dicey—to try a predict injury. Many people do—I’m not one of them. But we have seen backs fade as a season goes. If Jones-Drew had carried the ball 250+ times at least once in college (as other slight backs have—most notably Barry Sanders who for some reason people love to point out to me was a smaller back who never had injury issues) I’d be less concerned.
He hasn’t though and any owner or analyst should at least be a little concerned as the season progresses if he continues on a pace to pass 300 carries (and probably 350 touches total including catches). He’s never done it before—that doesn’t mean he can’t and there is a first time for everything. There aren’t many things more season killing though than to have a stud back wear out as you hit the Fantasy Playoffs.
Am I saying sell high? Am I guaranteeing an injury or dip in production?
No, not at all. I wouldn’t sell Jones-Drew and if I ran across an owner who was looking to part ways, I would see what I could do to acquire him.
What I am saying is, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If you own Jones-Drew, make sure you have back-ups you would be comfortable rolling with into the playoffs. It’s not ground-breaking advice and further, it applies to just about any stud back.
With his lack of history though, it’s more critical than doing so for a guy like Peterson.
Otherwise though, if you’re an owner of Maurice Jones-Drew, it may be a slightly bumpy ride but it’s also one that could help you towards a championship.    

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Braylon Edwards To The New York Jets: Fantasy Impact

Published: October 7, 2009

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Next to the news that Michael Crabtree is set to be a 49er, the Jets acquiring Braylon ‘AH THE BALL SCARES ME’ Edwards for Wide Receiver Chansi Stuckey, Linebacker Jason Trusnik and two picks (thought to be a 3rd and 5th-round pick) was the most surprising news of the morning.

Rumor has it the 3rd can become a 2nd if Edwards hits certain escalators. Rumor also has it those escalators are ridiculously high.

Frankly, this is something GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson have wanted for a long time. To me, this wasn’t necessary. Sure, the Jets could use a WR to pair with Jerricho Cotchery.

Right now though, the Jets have offensive line issues not wide receiver issues. Maybe Edwards will pull defenses off the offensive line. He wasn’t doing it in Cleveland, but maybe it will be different in the Big Apple.

While this is a ‘Win Now’ move for the Jets, I honestly think it was one that was far from critical. Add to it the fact that theoretically the Jets could lose him in 2010 and now you’re renting a cement-handed wide receiver with attitude.

How is that an improvement?

More than likely 2010 will be an uncapped year and the Jets will keep him for a relative song. You can expect Edwards to chirp all off season if that’s the case.

They can’t give Edwards any more money before they deal with Leon Washington’s requests. Washington has done everything they wanted—and quietly—without a new contract.

Edwards won’t care, but Jet management should.

Suffice to say, I am leery of this trade. The Jets may not have given up much but there is a lot more at stake than two players and a pair of draft picks.

What about the players themselves? What is the impact on them?  Let’s take a look.

Braylon Edwards

Well aside from having to be more careful in NYC picking fights than he was in Cleveland, Edwards has a chance at turning his faltering career around.

Edwards had one fantastic season in 2007, but has been unable to recapture his numbers (80 catches, 1,289 yards, 16 TDs). That’s partly on the offense but Edwards shares a huge chunk of that blame.

Sure Edwards has ability—but he’s dropped so many passes at this point, how much do you trust him?

Add to it that he is going to an offense that is supposed to run the ball early and often, despite struggling to do so of late. This is not a ‘bring it and fling it’ offense where he will log a ton of targets, especially not with Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller there.

Edwards has a chance at redemption but limit your expectations. He has to learn a new offense, one that is not receiver focused and overcome his dropped pass issue.

I think Edwards  remains  a WR3 on a fantasy team, with the hope he can crawl up to WR2 status.

Jerricho Cotchery

The upside is, Cotchery has someone across from him who will attract some attention from defenses in a way nobody—save perhaps Keller—does right now. This could help free him up for some better opportunities down the line.

However, we are still talking about an offense which right now is throwing only 50 percent of the time (110 pass attempts vs 112 rushing attempts), a stat I expect will change to favor the run more as the season progresses.

Fact is, when the Jets get the run going, they will ride it. We just saw what happens when Sanchez needs to throw too often.

So Cotchery, while he may be open more, will be sharing targets with one more legitimate receiver.

I think the quality of his catches may go up (more yards after catch, better percentage of targets caught) but the quantity may suffer.

He should remain a solid WR2—even as Edwards learns the offense Cotchery will remain a reliable choice for Sanchez.

Leon Washington and Thomas Jones

Add Shonn Greene in here if you’d like, but however you look at it the run game is a shambles.

Now the offensive line has struggled mightily, as I talked about in my Trendspotting Article last week, and part of that is just bad play on their part.

However with a rookie quarterback at the helm, they have been facing  many stacked fronts. A defense will sell out to stop the run and make the rookie beat them through the air.

Sanchez has looked very good at times, but he isn’t scaring defenses. So opposing defenses continue to stack the line.

And wouldn’t you know it, the run game struggles.

Both Jones and Washington (who is sent up the gut like he’s Jones way too often) are being met in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage often.

If Edwards can become a credible threat while helping Cotchery get open, then defenses will have to ease up on he stacked fronts.

Jones and Washington could find their running lanes a little less cluttered which will help them be more productive.


It’s hard to really have much of an effect on something that is already not worth most fantasy owners notice.

But there is some value here and taking Edwards away will affect it both negatively and positively.

Rookie wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi has emerged as a legitimate No. 1 in Cleveland. The big question here is, will he find himself open as much with Edwards gone?

Certainly his targets will go up. If you had him as a WR4, he will probably stay there though since the overall offense is lackluster at best and he has nobody to pull coverage off him.

Jerome Harrison played very well subbing for Jamal Lewis and will probably keep the majority of the carries. Without Edwards there, he may see some more stacked fronts but really, can it get worse?

No team is waltzing out to meet Cleveland, shuddering in fear of the awesomeness of their wide receivers anyway.

Harrison probably won’t suffer too much for Edwards’ absence though again, you’re talking about a player whose offense is not very good. Harrison is a great bye week filler in the right matchup and an OK RB3 at times.

That won’t change.

Something to watch might be what happens behind Mohamed Massaquoi. Someone may emerge to fill the void left by Edwards.

Will it be Josh Cribbs? Rookie Brian Robiskie? Journeyman Mike Furrey?

Looking at the overall stats, Furrey has been more—and more consistently—than any other Cleveland wide receiver.

Massaquoi may be the defacto WR1, but don’t be surprised if Furrey emerges as the WR2 in that offense.

It may not be worth more than a bench spot on your Fantasy Roster, but it’s something to track.

Even from the worst situations, sometimes value will emerge.

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San Francisco Preps for Frank Gore Injury Aftershocks, Shaun Hill Can’t Rattle

Published: September 30, 2009

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As of Tuesday the news was good, though it could be better. There were no tears, no rips, and no destroyed ligaments to end Running Back Frank Gore’s season.
However, according to Monday’s MRI Gore’s right foot is a mess. The ankle is strained and the right hind foot is sprained. Estimates have him likely out for the next three weeks.
Certainly, losing Gore creates a significant set of challenges. The question is, what are they and how big are they really?
First, the San Francisco run game hasn’t been as dominating as perception may have it.
Ranked 16th overall, the bulk of their rushing yards came on Gore’s outstanding 207 yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks. Aside from that, the games against the Arizona Cardinals (38 total yards) and the Minnesota Vikings (58 yards) were far from dominating.
Certainly Gore getting hurt put a damper on the run game against Minnesota, but there wasn’t that excuse in Week One. 
Before you get irate, consider that this is a good thing. For a team to be winning using means other than the ones they were expected to shows depth and an ability to adjust when things aren’t going as planned.
The 49ers have shown a solid, if not spectacular passing game and a good defense. Furthermore these two very important facets of the 49er game are still intact despite Gore’s injury.
The plan has always been to lean on the defense running game or not. The team intended to do this in order to keep games close and reduce pressure on quarterback Shaun Hill. That doesn’t change now with Gore hurt. The onus remains on the defense to make plays.
The defense is ranked 13th overall in total defense after three weeks with six sacks and four interceptions, and are very solid on the ground. The team has yielded just 200 yards over the first three weeks and ranking fourth against the run. Being able to stifle the run game of an opposing team is a big help in terms of controlling the clock and again, plays into the hands of the overall team plan.
Of course with the exception of the Vikings these were not top-shelf run games. Holding Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards is impressive though and shows the grit this defense has.
Coach Mike Singletary has given this team a hard-nosed personality and it shows on the defensive side of the ball. Gore going down will not send a ripple through this unit. 
Note also that despite Gore’s absence for almost the entire game, the team was able to keep pace with—and come within a miracle play of beating—Minnesota. 
Shaun Hill is not as prolific as Drew Brees. He does not have Tom Brady’s ability to will games into wins. He does not have Peyton Manning’s poise and ability to read defenses at the line.
Hill does manage the offense well and while he makes the occasional mistake (like an early fumble in the Vikings game) he generally keeps the opposing defenses from stacking eight men in a box.
Frank Gore is a guy who, while he was better with large, gaping holes, didn’t need them. Rookie Glen Coffee will and needs the defenses to respect the threat of a pass. While Hill may not be the future of the position in San Francisco, he is able to do enough to keep defenses from stacking the line.
Speaking of Glen Coffee—nobody expects him to drop 200 plus yards on an opposing defense like Gore did in Week Two. Still, the Niners believe in him enough to wait on promoting fellow rookie Kory Sheets from the practice squad. Mike Robinson is still there, but Robinson is far more a Special Teams player than a full-time running back.
So the onus is on Coffee. On the plus side, he had a great preseason and there was talk that he would have a sizable role in the offensive game plan. That didn’t happen, at least not in the first three weeks prior to Gore’s injury.
On the downside, Coffee looked nowhere near as effective as we’d hoped against Minnesota (a team nowhere near as dominating against the run this year) and admitted later that he wasn’t quite ready to step in. In fact, he had to take a seat after taking over in the first when he had the wind knocked out of him.

How Coffee could be anything but ready when Gore had already been fighting an ankle problem the prior week is cause for concern, but it sounds as if he won’t make that mistake again. If he doesn’t he seems to have the talent to fill in for Gore and keep the offense rolling.

Finally, keep in mind that while Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye’s schemes are run heavy, they do call for the ball to be thrown. In Raye’s offense, a tight end like Vernon Davis can make some real noise, something we saw on Sunday.
Davis had an explosion of production with Gore injured and while the dynamic running back is out, Davis may benefit more than anyone.

The offense will need to move the chains and Davis—who has gone from the doghouse to the penthouse in Singletary’s eyes—seems to be in a position to do it. Davis has always had talent and if he is ever to fulfill his potential, now is the time.

While wide receivers Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, and Arnaz Battle will be called upon to keep things going, Davis could be the linchpin to continuing the winning ways the 49ers have experienced in their opening games.
Of course, none of this will be easy. There are plenty of problems that could be exposed while Gore is out.

For example, no defense can play perfectly if they can’t get off the field. If the offense stalls too often, the defense will tire out and become less effective.
Shaun Hill’s ball security will be tested. His accuracy will be pushed. Teams may believe that they can lie back and wait for Coffee to prove they should focus on him and if that happens, Hill will be facing some serious obstacles in the secondary.
Another issue is the lack of depth behind Coffee. I said weeks ago I felt it was risky for the team to keep just three running backs. With Gore gone, what happens if Coffee goes down, especially during a game. Michael Robinson is a decent back but he’s never done anything when given spotlight time before. With Kory Sheets on the practice squad, an injury during the game could be disastrous.

Plus, since Sheets is not on the main team, he’s not getting a tremendous amount of reps. If he does get called up, how long will he take to get up to speed?

All these little ripples may amount to very little. Perhaps Gore is back in two or three weeks and things revert back to normal. Maybe some good will come out of it and Raye and Singletary will allow Coffee to spell Gore more often to cut down on his wear and tear. If that happens, the 49ers will have a back with something left in the tank for a possible playoff run.

Still, despite the other strengths which the team has, Gore is still a huge cog in this machine. When you remove a guy like him, there are bound to be affects and it can be a little unnerving to see whether those will be good or bad.

On the surface, it appears like the aftershocks of Gore’s injury won’t throw this team off.

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Where in the World Was Glen Coffee for San Fracisco 49ers?

Published: September 19, 2009

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Count me amongst the many fans, analysts, and fantasy football people who thought 49ers rookie running back Glen Coffee would spell veteran Frank Gore often when they met the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.

While you’re at it, count me amongst the folks who were definitely shocked Coffee got a grand total of ONE carry.

With multiple analysts spending the week leading up to the Arizona game asking not “if” but “how many” carries Gore would lose to Coffee, it makes you wonder what was going on.

It’s not as if Gore was a monster moving the chains. Twenty-two carries for just 30 yards doesn’t leave you with much more than a cringe when you look at the statline. The two touchdowns were very good but in terms of moving the ball, Gore just couldn’t.

It certainly wasn’t Gore’s fault. The offensive line played badly and I counted easily half a dozen or more times where he was met—and hit by—Cardinal defensive players in the backfield.

In fact, his touchdown on the ground highlighted what he can do when he gets some blocks, in this case a nice hit by David Baas.

Yet overall, Gore spent most of his effort trying to get inches not yards. As that’s the case, wouldn’t you expect a little more rest time by utilizing Coffee?

Here are a few things to consider in respect to that question.

1) Rookies struggle with blocking:
Quarterback Shaun Hill felt pressure early and often from the Arizona defensive linemen and linebackers. He was at times rushed, he was sacked four times and overall didn’t find as much protection as he needed.

Rookie running backs often struggle with blocking. Well, ROOKIES struggle with blocking but for a wide receiver it isn’t as critical.

While Coffee had a very nice preseason carrying the ball, he’s still improving his blocking. Gore has more experience with it and is better.

If your quarterback is getting hammered, you’re going to keep your more reliable players in to try and stem the tide. That’s Gore.

He’s also a good pass catcher and having Gore in there means you are telegraphing your plays. With Gore in the backfield, he could be a threat to run the ball, or he can slip out to the fault for a nice catch.

It payed off wonderfully in the fourth quarter when Gore did exactly that for a nifty three-yard touchdown which ended up being the difference in the game.

It’s a nice added dimension and on a third down, having a player who can block and catch is almost a necessity for a team.

Can Coffee catch? Sure. But Gore can catch, block and run—so why take him out when you know he’s someone you can count on for all three. 

With fewer snaps, Coffee was just involved less overall. It doesn’t explain just one carry, but it was no doubt a factor.


2) Gore is the engine in this offense: When it comes down to it, Frank Gore is the thing that makes this offense effective. We already know Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye wants to run a ratio of about 60 percent run-to-pass plays.

If you plan on doing that, you go with your best back. That’s Gore, no matter how good Coffee looked in the preseason.

If your offense is struggling, you keep hammering with your main guy looking for some momentum. If something is going to spark the offense, it’s going to be that guy.

Despite poor offensive line play, Gore looked good running. He kept his legs moving and fought for every millimeter of ground he could get. When he broke free for that touchdown run, he still had to run an Arizona player over.

You want Gore in there because you know he CAN run that player over.


3) It’s early: Frank Gore is healthy and will never feel better this season than he did in week one. As the season goes on he—like every other player—will start to feel the accumulated effects of many weeks of having his body battered.

In fact, the fear that Gore will wear down towards the end of the season is what drove many to predict Coffee would carry the ball early and often.

It is very common, though, for rookies to hit what is termed the “rookie wall.” Particularly running backs who get hit every time they touch the ball, often even on the runs where they don’t get tackled.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the “rookie wall” is usually a point late in the season where a young player just hits a point of exhaustion he cannot overcome.

The NFL season is longer than most college seasons and is much, much harder on the body.

Sure, we’re worried about Gore wearing down. The team may be worried about Coffee wearing down as well.

If Gore can carry the lion’s share of the early load, there is a better chance Coffee can shoulder a bigger burden near the end of the season, when every game could make a difference in a birth for the playoffs.

If the team does make the playoffs, Coffee may still have something in the tank to be a factor in those games.

Meanwhile, if Gore carries the ball a little less in December, he will be more rested for the playoffs.

This may seem like thinking a little further ahead than necessary, but be sure Coach Mike Singletary will be thinking that far ahead on some level.

Keep Coffee fresh early, gradually give him more carries as we get deeper into the season, rest Gore more often towards the end and perhaps have two running backs who are not exhausted for the playoffs.

I haven’t even touched on the idea that Coffee may still need some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Preseason doesn’t fully prepare a guy for the difference between college and the NFL.

So Coffee may get eased in, in part because they don’t want to overload him.

None of the three reasons I stated fully explain the paltry three carries for a rookie we all expected to burst out of the gate.

However, I feel they all factor into that low total to some extent.

I believe we will see more of Coffee this Sunday in the game with the Seattle Seahawks.

However, I also believe we will still see a lot more Gore than we originally expected to when we finished the preseason.

And I think, in the end, that will be a good thing for the 49ers and their fans.


You may also find this article and many like it at!

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NFL Week One Recap: Part Two

Published: September 14, 2009

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If it wasn’t for a lucky—but still skillful—play by Brandon Stokely this game would be viewed as a disappointment. Instead, Kyle Orton’s ok-but-not-fantastic 243 yards and a touchdown looks much brighter and the Broncos might feel better about a game where they could not get their rhythm going.

Correll Buckhalter was the most effective back, but Coach McDaniels seemed determined to get rookie Knowshon Moreno a bunch of work. Both got eight carries but Moreno could only accumulate 19 yards to Buckhalter’s 46. Orton moved the ball around a lot, but no receiver stood out.

Brando Marshall only saw four catches, Eddie Royal had just two and overall there were many drops from Orton’s targets. The Broncos may have run, but their offense looks shaky at best.


Carson Palmer had a good yardage total (247) but his two interceptions showed some of the rust he accumulated from so much time on the I/R. Chad Ochocinco was back to normal form with five catches for 89 yards but Chris Henry—who Palmer had gushed over all Summer—was almost nonexistent with his expected targets going to second year wide receiver Andre Caldwell who had six catches for 54 yards.

Veteran Laveranues Coles had several drops and was a non-factor. Cedric Benson continues to play well for the Bengals (76 and one TD) and might have some nice fantasy value this season. Overall though, not the start anyone hoped for with Palmer and Ochocinco finally healthy.




Mark Sanchez looked calm and cool in the pocket as he threw far more than many expected and totaled 272 yards and a touchdown in his Jets debut. His one interception proved he has a ways to go—he made a bad decision and threw right into the arms of Safety John Busing.

Still, a nice performance. Dustin Keller had a very nice game with four catches for 94 yards and Jerricho Cotchery caught six balls for 90.

Chansi Stuckey was the recipient of Sanchez’s first touchdown and also had 64 yards on the day. Despite the 107 yards and two touchdowns, Thomas Jones looked horrible for most of the game. He looked bad in preseason and until he broke loose for a pair of long runs (one for a touchdown) his yards per carry was weak.

True to Rex Ryan’s word, Leon Washington got a lot of carries—15 in total—gaining 60 yards on the ground to go with his 24 through the air.



The Jets defense spent most of  the day in the Texans’ backfield and that made things difficult for quarterback Matt Schaub. If Schaub can’t get some protection, he’s going to get hurt again. He was only sacked once, but spent a lot of time picking himself up off the turf.

The entire offense was out of sync, as the Jets defense threw multiple looks at them and they had no answers. Andre Johnson had a quiet game—just four catches for 35 yards—and was shadowed effectively most of the day by Jets corner back Darrelle Revis.

Running back Steve Slaton found no room to run on the ground and got just 17 yards, salvaging the day a little with three catches for 35 yards.




Are you convinced Adrian Peterson is a stud now? That he’s the engine for this offense and should have been the No. 1 pick in every fantasy draft? Sure, the 198 total yards and three touchdowns came against a pretty bad Cleveland team. It doesn’t lesson the fact that he’s a man amongst boys.

Watch him as he dismisses Browns defenders when he rips off a 64 yards touchdown run (the 57 second mark is the best spot).

It’s his team and will continue to be so. Newly un-retired quarterback Brett Favre looked like a man who had skipped Training Camp, missing Sidney Rice in the end zone and generally not on the same page with his receivers. This happened with the Jets last season and will last another three to five weeks.

Rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin was the only real story in the receiving corps, as he had a nice touchdown from Favre and carried the ball twice for 22 yards to add to his 36 receiving yards. Bernard Berrian was there but might as well been invisible and Rice only got 17 yards on a pair of catches.


Brady Quinn looked serviceable in his performance, throwing for 205 yards, one touchdown and one pick. Tight End Robert Royal was his favorite target, gaining 60 yards and a touchdown on four catches.

Jamal Lewis held the starting job for another week and totaled 57 yards on the ground, though surprisingly added 47 yards on a trio of receptions. Will this keep up? If Quinn keeps having to check down, it might, and Lewis may have some value yet.


49ers 20, CARDINALS 16


Shaun Hill wasn’t very pretty but got the job done with a 18/31, 209 and one touchdown effort. As he did often in the preseason, he found Vernon Davis often, helping the newly minted team captain to a five catch, 40 yard day. Veteran Isaac Bruce had a huge 50-yard catch on his way to a four catch, 74-yard day.

Josh Morgan started out hot but ended up with just three catches for 38 yards. All three got more targets than catches, but at times Hill just wasn’t quite on point with his throws. Still, that will come with time, and the day was encouraging.

Frank Gore couldn’t get much going on the ground, which is a huge concern for a team which purports to run the ball 60 percent of the time. Gore supplemented his 30 yards on 22 carries with another 18 on three receptions. Gore did score twice, once on the ground and once through the air.


While Kurt Warner was able to throw for 288 yards, he struggled often and threw a pair of picks as well as a touchdown. The 49ers defensive line did an outstanding job of disguising their defensive schemes and Warner seemed to have a hard time adjusting.

Larry Fitzgerald contributed to the cause with 71 yards and a touchdown, while Anquan Boldin only had two catches for 19 yards.

With Steve Breaston out, Jerheme Urban caught five balls for 74 yards. Warner did have a 100 yard receiver but it wasn’t any of the usual suspects—instead it was running back Tim Hightower who caught 12 passes for 121 yards. Hightower and rookie Chris Wells both struggled on the ground and neither ran the ball more than eight times, with Wells gaining 29 to Hightower’s 15.




Eli Manning and the Giants offense allowed the Redskins to hang around far too long and were unable to finish them off until Steve Smith recovered an on-side kick with 1:30 left to play.

Manning played well, totaling 256 yards and a touchdown with his favorite and most reliable target being the aforementioned Smith, who hauled in six catches for 80 yards.

Brandon Jacobs was never really get any traction on the ground, gaining just 46 yards over the course of 16 carries. No. 2 back Ahmad Bradshaw had a little more luck, totalling 60 yards on 12 carries. Bradshaw added 11 receiving yards and Jacobs compiled 17 himself through the air.

Unfortunately, the two biggest stories for the Giants were injuries. Third stringer Danny Ware was injured on the opening kick-off, sustaining  a dislocated elbow while rookie wide receiver Hakeem Nicks left in the fourth quarter with what turned out to be a sprained ankle.

They dodged a bullet with Nicks, as the initial injury looked far worse than the two to three weeks he should be out. The extent of Ware’s absence is currently unknown and as of Monday morning he is out indefinitely.


The Redskins were in the game a long time, but were unable to do much until the end of the game. Quarterback Jason Campbell was inconsistent, connecting with tight end Chris Cooley for a touchdown at one point and finding Giants corner back Corey Webster for an interception another. The run game was also average at best.

Clinton Portis earned every yard of his 62 yards, finding it extremely tough to gather any momentum against a tough Giants run defense.

Antwaan Randel El had the best game of the Washington wide receivers, catching seven balls for 98 yards. As mentioned, Cooley got the touchdown and added 68 yards to that. No other wide receiver had more than a pair of catches as the offense never got going on a consistent basis.




Seattle came out firing against the hapless Rams but were far from perfect. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s 279 yards and trio of touchdowns were solid, but he also turned the ball over twice. Nate Burleson had seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, but also fumbled the ball twice, losing it once.

Still, the bright spots were dazzling. Second year tight end John Carlson had six catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns while running back Julius Jones carried the ball 19 times for 117 yards and his own touchdown.

Newly acquired receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh had a solid day, gaining 48 yards on six catches and should be a bigger part of the offense as the season progresses.


There isn’t much good to take away from the Rams efforts. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson had the most yards with 87 yards on five catches. Donnie Avery seemed healthy and ran for eight yards on top of his 46 yards on six receptions.
But Steven Jackson was limited when the Rams fell behind and while his yards per carry was an impressive 4.19, his totals topped out at just 67 yards.
Jackson was also virtually ignored in the passing game after the Rams had said he would be a bigger part of it. They’re going to have to get him more involved if they have any hope of overcoming offensive line problems.
Neither of the quarterbacks in this game were pretty, but Aaron Rodgers limited his mistakes and got the job done. His 184 yards and a touchdown didn’t have visions of highlight reels dancing in your head but he won and that’s all that counts on the field. Fantasy-wise, he’ll do better and owners should worry.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings got his year off to a booming start with six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown and he continues to make his mark with every game. Donald Driver had a little less success—just 39 yards on four catches—but he is a steady presence and someone Rodgers can look to when it gets dicey.
Ryan Grant got nearly every carry and put in a workman-like performance with 61 yards on 16 carries. He also found the end zone once for six points.
Just a guess, Jay Cutler might have been hoping for a better start to his regular season Bears career. The Packers’ new 3-4 scheme continues to impress and kept Cutler on his heels all night long and forced Cutler into four interceptions. Those picks made his 277 yard, one touchdown stat-line almost irrelevant and while he settled down after the first three, his final interception (to Al Harris) with a minute left just capped off a bad night.
Devin Hester had a great night, totalling 90 yards and a touchdown on just four catches. Rookie Johnny Knox made the most of his two catches with a yards total of 82.  Earl Bennett built up the Vandy-connection discussion a little more as his college teammate found him seven times for 66 yards.
But there were times when the wide receivers looked over-matched and a few of the interceptions might have been due to some confusion over routes and timing.
Matt Forte started his second year off with a ‘oof’ as it took him a total of 25 carries to get just 55 yards. He was also just about forgotten in the passing game, a concern many had due to Cutler rarely checking down to his running backs last season in Denver.
Forte was a huge disappointment, perhaps worse than Cutler and Bears fans and fantasy owners have to hope this was just a blip on the radar and not a sign of things to come. It’s too early to panic, but it is a situation that bears watching (pun really NOT intended), especially since life doesn’t get easier against the Steelers next week.

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