Week 8 of the NFL season is the week before the official midpoint in the season. Yeah I know that there are 16 games in a season but there are 17 weeks in the NFL season because of the bye week. I had more than my share of football so far this season and it has been better than I ever expected.
I know I am guilty sometimes of blogging about the top tiered teams a lot in this league, but I respect what some of the surprise teams are doing so far this season. Although my Cowboys are out of the picture, the surprise teams out there just keep gaining momentum.
You have to love what teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are doing. They aren’t winning any one particular way, they do it with defense one week, offense the next, and some weeks their special teams dominate. They aren’t filling up the statistical columns with useless statistics; they are just filling up the win column with wins. Not to mention young quarterback Josh Freeman is holding up his end of leading the offense as he continues to impress.
Who would have ever thought that the Rams and the Raiders would have .500 records at 4 – 4 this late in the season? The surprises this season keep getting better and better. The silver and black are playing well and the Rams have found a way to win more games this year than they have the past two combined. It doesn't hurt that they appeared to have struck gold with rookie quarterback Sam Bradford.
Let’s not forget about the 5 – 2 Chiefs who are just good enough to find ways to win over the teams they play regardless of the talent level. The Chiefs haven’t changed personnel much this year but they did make two big changes to their offense and defense. They got smart and hired Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weiss. They didn’t fare to well apart but they have won a ton of games when they work together. Some people are born to be together. Weiss has lifted young Matt Cassell into relevance once again.
Speaking of doing good things together, it’s too bad that Mike Martz reuniting with Lovie Smith didn’t bring back the magic. The Bears look like world beaters one week then they look like they couldn’t beat a good middle school team the next. Maybe they can get it right before the end of the season. If not, young Jay Culter will probably be tossed under a bus very soon.
Also I’d like to give a big shout out to Mike Singletary for finally listening to me and getting Troy Smith in the game. I knew you would finally read the blog sooner or later like the Cleveland Browns did. Now that I have your ear there are a few more things you need to hear. First of all develop a package for Brian Westbrook. Make it a 3rd and medium package or a when Frank Gore needs a breather package. Similar to what he did in Philly. He can still do that. Lean on Frank Gore about 5 to 6 times with short passes in the flats on first down. The man is dynamic. Let him be great. Clean up your secondary. You get double moved too much. Every receiver has a tell on the double move. Your guys need more time in the film room on defense.
This week also marked the return of young Matt Stafford. He showed up and put the Redskins to bed as the Detroit Lions led by former NCCU assistant Coach Jim Schwartz has found a way to get Calvin "Megatron" Johnson the ball on a consistent basis. I also have to applaud Ndamikung Suh as he is proving his worth as a franchise defensive lineman in the league. If you saw the Lions yesterday you had to be impressed with this young team. Although the Redskins made some bone head coaching moves, the Lions looked young and fast compared to the aging Redskins.
Now let’s identify the bonehead decisions. First of all Mike Shanahan has really crossed way over the line. Earlier this year he made a big deal about Fat Albert not passing the conditioning test, and now Albert may be the best player on that defensive line hands down. Well yesterday he benched Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman because Rex “has a better understanding of the 2 minute offense.” Ok Mike, your shenanigans are getting old already in D.C. You can’t keep losing games and making some of the decisions you are making. If you pull a guy like McNabb, the person you are putting in better be the future or you have a recipe for a real disaster. "We're close to being a good football team," said tight end Chris Cooley. "But every part of our offense is garbage. Not just one facet but all of it. It's me, too. I keep thinking we're going to do something to really break out of this. I just don't know when."
After the game, Shanahan threw McNabb under the bus, backed it up and drove over him with it. How else do you describe a coach saying his backup quarterback gave him a better chance to win than his starter? This is not to say that McNabb could have pulled out the game, but the chances that Grossman, who had not played a snap this season, was going to save the day seem remote, at best.
After the game, McNabb - in a blue crushed velvet jacket and gold tie - was his usual placid self. McNabb exhibits no highs or lows, at least to the media. He doesn't complain. He doesn't point fingers. He doesn't make excuses. He doesn't get down, or up. He maintains an even strain, like Gordo Cooper in "The Right Stuff."
This is just another case of McNabb being the consummate professional. Maybe his coach and a few teammates should take out their notebook and study that!
Stay Breezy! I’m out.
Statistics taken from NFL.com