From: Michael Salfino
Date: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 11:09 PM
Subject: Top 5 Breakfast
To: scott pianowski
Taking a page from Rob Gordon, here are the top five stories as we round the quarter turn of this 2010 NFL Season:
1. Is Randy Moss' amazingly unexpected return going to be a Minnesota sequel more akin to Godfather Part II or Part III? Subquestion: Is Brett Favre going down this week like Joey Zasa, or will the New Meadowlands be the setting for a Green Bay-styled triumphant return (honestly, it doesn't feel like Favre ever played here)?
2. Is it too much too soon for Sam Bradford, or is he setting the Rams up for an unexpected playoff run on way to becoming football's next big thing?
3. Is Mark Sanchez already the next big thing for the soaring Jets, whose new team motto is, "As Advertised."
4. Was Sunday against Washington karma's revenge against Andy Reid or Michael Vick?
5. Is there a quality team right now in the NFC? The Saints had their "Songs in the Key of Life" season last year, but now I'm only hearing I Just Called to Say I Love You Subquestion - Is it better for a Super Bowl champion to burn out or to fade away?
Week 5, Top 5 Breakfast is served.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM
Subject: championship vinyl
To: Michael Salfino
The Patriots and Randy Moss belong on the Top-5 breakup list. Giving Moss away in the middle of a season - when you're 3-1 for crying out loud - means one simple thing: Bill Belichick felt the potential distraction in Moss wasn't worth the production on the field. Moss might not be in the first level of receivers at this stage in his career, but opposing defenses still treat like this is Moss 2007, and that's all that matters. He alters defensive schemes, and teams account for him at all times. You can do a lot with Randy Moss on your offense, even when he's not catching a single pass.
No one agrees with me, but I wouldn't have cast Jack Black in High Fidelity. I like the story better when it centers on Rob.
Sam Bradford 2010 is Matt Ryan 2008, with less help around him. I'm in love. Smart, decisive, can make all the throws. Spags has done a great job with the defense, too; it says a lot when you can confuse veteran quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck. You only need eight or nine wins, tops, to take the NFC West. St. Louis will still be in the mix on the final weekend.
The Jets are damn good but they're certainly not "as advertised." This was supposed to be a loose revival of the 2000 Ravens, a team that won with teeth-chattering defense and a running game. The defense hasn't been as good as we thought, the expected lead back has been a flop, the kid quarterback has been surprisingly great. I'm still not sure where the offense goes from here. You've got a 23-year-old quarterback and a 31-year-old starting tailback; ideally those ages would be flip-flopped. Can Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes coexist on the same offense? If this defense is so wonderful, how come it couldn't stop Chad Henne two weeks ago?
Is anyone in the NFC East a legitimate? Washington's best wins don't really hold up under the microscope. How much credit do the Giants get for exposing the flaws in Mike Martz's backyard offense? Andy Reid has a hellish task this week, rebuilding the confidence of Kevin Kolb. Dallas has been the worst return on a dollar for about five years running.
The Saints are portrayed as America's Team in the media, but it's not that way in fantasy. Sean Payton has pissed everyone off at one point or another with his sideline smugness and his personnel shifting. You know it's going to end badly for Pierre Thomas, right?
Which came first, the music or the misery? Dial up some Torain In Vain and let's figure this out.
From: Michael Salfino
Date: Thu, Oct 7, 2010 at 5:02 PM
Subject: Re: championship vinyl
To: Scott Pianowski
Brady's hair plugs must have fallen out when he heard about Moss being dealt. I hear people saying that Brandon Tate will fill the void. Huh? But was there a void to be filled? There was in what we thought Moss would be but what about relative to what he turned out to be?
Maybe Randy Moss will prove to be as depressingly boring to Brett Favre as Catherine Zeta-Jones's Charlie was to Rob? You know, Moss was tracked down from behind this year in Week 1 by Rey Maualuga who started 10 yards behind him at the line of scrimmage by the time Moss had the ball. Maybe Moss has lost a step or two or three. The Patriots aren't dopes. And Bill Belichick will deal with distractions as long as it's worth it when measured against what a player gets you on the field. They put up with all kinds of nonsense from Lawrence Taylor, both Bills. Moss just wanted the ball, after all. That's only a problem if he doesn't deserve the ball. So I bet the Vikings are getting damaged goods.
Not liking Jack Black in High Fidelity is more offensive than you putting Sanchez in Trent Dilfer land a couple of weeks ago (post Patriots game). Top-five movie stealers in the smallest amount of screen time.
1. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs (remember he was in the movie for just 16 minutes)
2. Jack Black, High Fidelity
3. John Turturro, The Big Lebowski
4. Michael Keaton, Beetlejuice
5. Tom Cruise, Tropic Thunder
(I love old movies, but you couldn't really steal movies back then in the studio system; it wasn't allowed. Maybe Sydney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon qualifies, though you can't steal a movie from Humphrey Bogart.)
I still worry about Bradford's shoulder every time he gets hit. If he's Matt Ryan, and the Rams are the 2008 Falcons, then Steven Jackson is Michael Turner, only with a boatload of catches, too.
Good point about the Jets. But I will bet you the Jets defense rebounds. You've heard of this guy Revis, right? I already bet Liss Gang Green finishes the year at sub-5.5 YPA allowed.
Ideally those ages will be flipped? You want to have championship aspirations led by the 23-year-old QB. The 31-year-old running back you can replace. Heck, the Jets can replace him right now.
Why are we limiting our quest for legitimacy to the NFC East? Because you know I like the Cowboys. Not in a fond way but just respecting their talent level, the best in the conference. But they are led by Mr. Magoo so that's a problem when the chips are down, which they are guaranteed to be at some time in any championship quest. Over 16 games I like them. In any one game, anything with them can happen. If they had Peyton Manning at QB, then Wade Phillips wouldn't be a big deal. But Tony Romo is far from iron willed. His girlfriends push him around, and he seems too sensitive on and off the field. He's the Rob Gordon of QBs, always doubting himself and apologizing.
The Saints have no vertical offense. Drew Brees is averaging barely over seven yards per attempt, which sounds okay until you realize that he's completing 73% of his passes. New Orleans passing game is now five yards and a cloud of turf. Robert Meachem really can't play with that toe? How bad can it be? He's not Tom Dempsey out there. If he had a square-toed shoe, I could see mothballing him. Finally, it's already ending badly for Thomas.
Assorted notes before I leave that I haven't said elsewhere, at least not that I can remember (so no Ryan Torain skepticism):
--The Chiefs are going to give the Colts trouble. Matt Cassel is a good bet to be finally figuring out the Charlie Weis system, and there's been no better coordinator than Weis dating back to his days with the 1998 Jets. And I think Dexter McCluster is going to start having a DeSean Jackson-like impact from scrimmage; he'll be a solid starter by Week 10 or so.
--I'm buying Brandon Lloyd and this Broncos passing game even in Baltimore. Kyle Orton is on pace for 700 pass attempts, so there's your volume play. And 18 targets for Lloyd last week, too. No one has tested the Ravens Ed Reed-less secondary yet.
--Hakeem Nicks over Randy Moss for the balance of the year, easy.
--Edwards over Holmes.
--Henne is too mechanical, and the Jets help him out by forcing him to throw it up to avoid the sack. You play coverage on him and he goes through his progressions like they're being timed with a sundial. Those times the Dolphins are playing the wrong Chad.
--Kevin Kolb isn't going to make it. Neither is Knowshon Moreno. Forget about Vince Young. Michael Crabtree's mouth and ego are bigger than his talent -- always a red flag. Matt Hasselbeck is finished. Marshawn Lynch still stinks -- why do you want the third-best back on Buffalo, Seattle?
So take us home for the week before we cue Barry Jive and the Uptown Five and roll credits.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 1:01 AM
Subject: be honest . . . and unmerciful
To: Michael Salfino
Five supporting roles dear to my heart:
1. Harvey Keitel, Pulp Fiction
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Almost Famous (insanely good performance)
3. Fred Williard in anything
4. Dave Roberts, October 2004
5. Dennis Hopper, True Romance
I'm sure there's some Patriots vanity tied to the Moss giveaway. Most brilliant coaches think they can make stars out of their second string, or with the erratic players on someone else's roster. It's rare that a head coach makes a strong personnel man because there are too many internal biases to fight against.
The best thing about 23-year-old starting quarterbacks is you get them for the next 8-10 years; then you look back and count the playoff wins and Super Bowl appearances. Sanchez's best ball is ahead of him, but the window for the rest of the team is right now. Long term, he's a valuable chip, but if you could trade him for Matt Schaub, say, just for this year, you'd do it.
The Top 5 Cusack roles:
1. Lloyd Dobler
2. Martin Q. Blank
3. Rob Gordon
4. Craig Schwartz
5. Walter (Gib) Gibson (ready to be bumped when Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe next year)
If Jerry Jones could dial back his ego a bit and let a strong presence take over the sideline, the Cowboys might go 14-2 someday. This is the deepest roster in the NFC by far, but you can't have a long engagement with someone like Wade Phillips. Every head coach needs to bring one of two elements to the table; he needs to be a genius with schemes or a master motivator. Phillips is adequate in the first area, and a major whiff in the second. He'll be a great coordinator again someday.
Let's remember what Matt Cassel 2008 and Kyle Orton 2010 have in common - Josh McDaniels. The Broncos coach is a bizarro update of the Andy Reid coaching model; a wizard from Monday to Friday, and then some disconnections on game day. But if the Broncos can't cobble together a makeshift rushing game, even for show, Orton won't be standing at the end of December. You can't give opposing teams an open invitation to kick the tar out of your quarterback. Balance is important.
Five random predictions on the way out:
- Ryan Torain is going to be great for a few weeks, then get hurt right before Thanksgiving.
- Terrell Owens finishes the year as the unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Cincinnati.
- The Ravens defense is unmasked as the year goes along, and Baltimore doesn't make the playoffs.
- The Cardinals win five games or less for the season. They should be 0-4 right now, but the balls roll funny for everybody, kid.
- Ahmad Bradshaw makes the Pro Bowl, and I mean through the front door, not as an injury replacement (nice call, Middlin' Stevie Moyer).
Enjoy the games, Jersey.