You wouldn't think a game between 1-5 Arizona and 0-5 Oakland could be entertaining, but there is at least one interesting subplot: Matt Leinart making his first start in Oakland. The Raiders, as you might remember, passed on him at with the seventh pick in the 2006 NFL Draft in favor of safety Michael Huff, offering lame excuses like "lack of arm strength" and "not a good fit in our vertical passing game." Now they have a guy who has forced zero turnovers starting at safety while the Golden Boy comes marching in on the heels of two really good performances. That has to be a bitter pill to swallow.
Oh well, at least Oakland is set at the quarterback position. Brilliant. I think you can make the case that Oakland passing on Leinart was a bigger mistake than Houston drafting Mario Williams over Reggie Bush.
On FSN’s Pro Football Preview Friday, Eddie George and Tim Brown both clearly picked quarterback Michael Vick over Ben Roethlisberger because of his winning past (34-21 as George suggested) and his mobility. Neither wanted Roethlisberger because of his immobility (nothing was mentioned about his offseason injuries or his slow start as reasons for picking Vick over Roethlisberger). Both former players picked Vick over Roethlisberger because of “what he brings to the game.” Mentioned in support of Vick was that he can run 30 yards every time he drops back to pass. The retired players were asked what if Vick and Roethlisberger switched teams, and both quickly answered that it wouldn’t matter, that Vick’s going to do what Vick’s going to do regardless of what team he’s on. Should I jump on the Michael Vick bandwagon? If you’ve read RotoWire’s Breakfast Table then you know that there are those who think that Vick might be the problem with the Falcons and that the team could be better off with QB Matt Schaub. Perhaps I'm extrapolating a comparison made between Vick and Roethlisberger and using it out of context as a general statement about Vick, but I don't think so. I am fascinated by the difference in perception of Vick’s standing between these two top athletes and of those whom I respect in the media (including but not limited to the Breakfast Table). How can this disconnect be so great? Does it matter? How am I misintepreting things? What am I missing?
Guys, I think you have to realize who Tony Kornheiser is. When he flip flops on teams or his calls, its a mock of fans and media types who bandwagon. He indulges in bandwagonning for comedic effect and in many ways is the sports journalism version of the Colbert Report. He admits he bandwagons and does it purposely so viewers and Joe Theisman can laugh and throw darts at him. You can't expect him to be a traditional analyst cause that's not what he was brought in to do. He is a journalist who's job is to find the story in each game and present that story in a comedic/analytic light.
I agree that he seems uncomfortable, but most of that has to do with the format of MNF. They script his pre-game comments and you can tell that his final close-up before each game is read off a teleprompter. Perhaps they could improve by letting him improv that portion. In contrast to PTI, people talk in turn on MNF. It isn't a sock em rock em talk show and Tony is going to be more tame, it's inevitable. This is another side of Tony we shouldn't just cast aside because its not the Tony we're used to.
Additionally, Kornheiser's calling card throughout his career has been his ability to identify cultural movements/current events and connect them with sports in an artistic manner. For instance, fantasy sports are a cultural phenomenon that are at its absolute height of popularity. It is significant to hear Kornheiser bring up his fantasy team every week on the biggest show in America because it shows you how far the hobby has come. Are the rest of us not sitting at home talking about the guys we have going as well? Everytime Tony mentions his team, the guys I'm watching with comment on his team and it spurs fantasy sports conversation whether they are complaining about him or not. There has not been a person in the booth who is as culturally savvy and talented as Kornheiser since Cossell left. Al Michaels is a parrot who uses canned phrases and mickey mouse type observations, so, don't even bring him up as the next best.
If anyone needs to get booted, it's Joe Theismann. He constantly skews viewer perspective by over favoring veterans and quarterbacks. When people ask questions about whether to bench someone like Jake Plummer, he doesn't even analyze the question. He just plays the veteran card and dismisses the question as unthinkable. Well, before the Ravens Broncos game, it was a legitimate question. Theismann always makes the vanilla middle of the road analysis without any sort of personality or thought provoking perspective. I love it when Kornheisser calls Theismann out for his bad calls because Theismann doesn't admit it and sticks to his stubborn old ways. As for Mike Tirico, he's even worse. I feel like he should be speaking at a PTA meeting not on MNF. The guy's so hokey he could be Va Tech's mascot.
If you could play Michael Vick as a running back on your fantasy team, and just disregard his passing numbers, he would still be a better option than Jamal Lewis. I question Vick's ability to even sniff becoming a legitimate quarterback in the NFL on a pretty regular basis, but the numbers tell the entire story:
Wow, the Anthony McFarland trade to the Colts really could make an impact. You just don't see those at the deadline.
The Colts run defense was a problem in 2003-2004 before Indianapolis traded for Corey Simon. His presence on the defensive line last season kept teams from running right past the smaller and fast defensive lineman of the Colts. This season without Simon (on IR with an unclear illness) the rush defense again has been a problem.
McFarland's production may have fallen a bit, but he's a product of Tony Dungy's former defense in Tampa Bay. I'd think he'd be able to jump right in and make an impact.
Does this increase the chances of the Colts actually getting to an AFC Championship game (let alone a Super Bowl) this winter? I think so.
Even when they get an intriguing game like Monday night, man is ESPN just driving football fans nuts. Tony Kornheiser is lost on the telecast and seems to contradict himself every five minutes (even Joey T has noticed this). Mike Tirico over-glorifies everything, talks a little too much, makes mistakes spotting the ball. When Charles Barkley is the most insightful football commentator of the four I see in the game booth, something's wrong (I was sad when he left last night). Of course most of the celeb cameos in the booth are awkward, distracting, and far too long (Barkley a notable exception, at least for me). Why does the game box have to be so large and so obtrusive? And what's with the special effects on Berman's highlight package at halftime - are they trying to give us all vertigo?
Very disappointing, ESPN. You should be better than this.
The Arizona Cardinals, despite lofty preseason expectations, are right where they often are after six games: 1-5. This 1-5 start stings for many reasons: the Cardinals have several good offensive players, such as Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart and Edgerrin James, they have a brand new stadium and they have lost three games by three or fewer points.
But this team has some huge problems, as evidenced by Monday night's performance. James carried 36 times on Monday night for 55 yards, and is now averaging 2.7 yards per carry. His previous career low is 3.6 yards per carry, set in 2002. Suffice it to say, Arizona's offensive line is just plain offensive. The Cardinals allowed two defensive touchdowns and a special teams score on Monday night. They blew a 23-3 lead with 15:02 remaining. They squandered an extremely rare Monday Night Football appearance in beautiful (but poorly named) University of Phoenix Stadium.
You want some good news, Cardinals Country? Next week the Cards visit the Raiders. If those two teams were combined, would they still be bad? I'd have to say yes. There are no better illustrations of the importance of a good offensive line.
The Cardinals just marched down the field on the Bears and scored a touchdown. Of course, the fans, the team, the guys in the booth ... they are all acting like Arizona just won the Super Bowl. Edge is back, Leinart is the man, the play-calling is amazing, blah, blah, blah.
The one thing that nobody mentioned? Arizona went the entire drive without a penalty. It feels like that never happens anymore. No one jumped, nobody held, nothing.
I don't think the Cardinals will remain penalty free, let alone sack free, in future drives, so they had better enjoy this while they can.
Yet again, the Falcons struggled in a gut-check game. In Sunday's game against the Giants, Michael Vick lost a fumble, threw an interception and was sacked seven times. Worse, he couldn't beat a New York secondary that had been exposed through its first four games. Yes, Michael Jenkins had a rare case of the dropsies, but the fact is all people ever say about Vick is that he's this incredible playmaker and he can't be defended. Is the offensive line in front of him too good? Does Vick's inability to run Greg Knapp's West Coast offense mean that he'd be better suited in Art Shell's non-system out in Oakland, where the offensive line is pretty much non-existent?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article today that pointed out the Falcons made a Super Bowl apperance with Jamal Anderson pounding the ball on the ground and Chris Chandler (yes, Chris Chandler!) at the helm using a lot of play action. Why can't Vick, the most feared running QB in the NFL execute play-action pass plays? Why don't people realize he's got a Pro-Bowl tight end and three former first-round draft picks at receiver and that he's the problem with the Falcons?
The system could be the problem, but it seems Atlanta has all of the other pieces in place and it now falls on the shoulders of #7. I agree with Herb, that Vick sells tickets and fills the Georgia Dome, but as my man Shooter McGavin says, "You know what else would draw a crowd? A golfer with an arm growing out of his..."you get the idea.
Good job at the end of Sunday's game by Sean Payton - New Orleans was tied and driving inside Philly's 10 yard-line with 2 minutes left, and Philly had no time outs. Instead of handing the ball off and giving the Eagles the option of letting the running back score and getting the ball back with time on the clock. Payton had Drew Brees take a knee three times, run the clock to three seconds and kick the game winning field goal.
Had the Saints handed it off, I'm pretty sure Andy Reid would have been smart enough to tell the defense to let the back score. Payton took that option away from him and settled for a 90 percent chip-shot FG.