From: Michael Salfino
Date: Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 4:39 PM
Subject: Week Nine Breakfast
To: Scott Pianowski
Boy this has been a really strange year...
Okay, just kidding. They're all weird, I know. Or maybe the weirdness is normal. But I'm not talking about the usual reshuffling. Randy Moss is the David Lynch of this 2010 season, and I'm having a hard time following the plot. Let's put Robert Blake in white face, all bug-eyed giving Moss updates on the NFL Network. Moss apparently went all Robert Loggia last week - not with tailgaiters but instead with the caterer. Hey, if I was served Italian in Minneapolis, I'd probably lose it, too. Who wants to eat lutefisk parmesan? Does any of this drama matter given that Moss is running routes like I would five minutes after pigging out on Sunday pasta and gravy?
Speaking of strange, the Jets are the second team since 1991 to have three plays of 30 or more yards from scrimmage while getting shut out. It's happened 876 times that team has exactly three, and they've averaged 27.3 points in those games. Yes, I refuse to admit the Jets offense is in trouble. Screw the world and, perhaps, reality.
What are the other big stories this week? Michael Vick is back. The Bucs are 5-2. Is Tim Tebow going to ruin everything for Brandon Lloyd owners (like me)? Have the Niners found a new QB? Are the Saints all better? I guess the honeymoon is over for Donovan McNabb in Washington. How is your cardiovascular? We'll pull you for your final reply for Drunk Hulk if you can't pick up the pace. No lollygagging as we head into the home stretch. Week Nine Breakfast is served.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 1:33 PM
Subject: my hero, zero
To: Michael Salfino
Congratulations to the Jets - they just had the most impressive offensive showing from a team that wound up scoring zero points. I'm not sold on Mark Sanchez yet, so I can't be sold on this offense. Why does Jerricho Cotchery play in front of Santonio Holmes again? But I'm sure Rex Ryan has a plan (or Steve Weatherford, or whomever is in charge over there). If the Jets are truly elite, they should emphatically rebound against Detroit and Cleveland the next two weeks.
For all the talk of the wacky season, there's a lot of familiarity at the top of the AFC standings, where New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Baltimore stand. This looks like another brilliant job from Bill Belichick; the defense seems to get better every week, while the offense finds a way with a bunch of spare parts handling the ball. BenJarvus Green-Ellis? Danny Woodhead? How about all of those David Givens types on the outside?
Moss to Tennessee is a logical fit. He needed to be on a contender, obviously (everyone knows what a frontrunner Moss is). He needed to be matched up with a strong head coaching personality, and Jeff Fisher qualifies. Vince Young, okay, there's the rub. But just for grins, go look at the current leaders in QB rating. (And yes, Virginia, there is great Italian food in the MSP area - this was one of my regular spots back when I lived there.)
I go back and forth on McNabb. Is he a Hall of Famer? Is he a plus quarterback at this point in his career? Benching him for Rex Grossman is an obvious slap in the face; Shanahan clearly wanted to make a point and didn't care too much if the comeback chances went out the window. Didn't Shanahan pick McNabb in the first place, or am I remembering that wrong?
The Bucs still don't have a signature win; they'll show me something if they can win at Atlanta. Josh Freeman's pocket awareness has come a long way in one year. Why are the Colts underdogs at Philly? Talk about a trap line. I'm looking forward to the Raiders and Chiefs, something I haven't said since the Holmes & Gannon days.
What do we make of Josh McDaniels? He's in a 4-14 rut (bad), but he's turned Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd into a couple of two-month superstars (very good). Buy or sell on McDaniels?
Put your birthday cake on hold for a second and talk some Revolution 9 sense into me.
From: Michael Salfino
Date: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 12:26 AM
Subject: Re: my hero, zero
To: Scott Pianowski
Cotchery getting the most snaps is a joke. Sanchez needs the best supporting cast possible - he's not going to pull anyone along with him at this stage of his career. Cotchery is a modest talent who a very good QB might maximize because he's generally smart and reliable. But Sanchez is a low volume guy who needs as many playmakers as possible on the field. Of course, he needs to see them when they're uncovered, as Braylon Edwards was for two long, easy touchdowns last week.
Not buying the Patriots defense. New England had no business winning in San Diego. But they are dangerous because Brady is great. His supporting cast is good though - Green-Ellis isn't some stiff just because he's a Patriot. He was undrafted? So was Arian Foster, not a stiff. Was Terrell Davis a stiff because he was a sixth rounder? Heck, Belichick used to get credit for winning with a sixth-round QB, remember? Silly. Woodhead is Percy Harvin genetically spliced with Wes Welker. Aaron Hernandez is a stud receiving tight end. Let's not feel sorry for Brady.
Another logical fit for Moss. Just like the last one and the one before that. He's been more logically fitted than Mr. Spock, but he's done as a playmaker. He's an example of the guy who always got by on great ability but who has no fallback once he lost that specialness. Those guys crater. The top-shelf speed is gone, we have to admit. All evidence points to it - Moss has run by one guy the last year, and that's a corner who popped his hammy mid-play. He's the Eric Dickerson of wide receivers. Another Andre Rison. There's no rule that you have to fade away. Some guys just burn out. My theory was that tall receivers vanish early because I couldn't remember any that played into their mid 30s.
There were 86 guys from 1970 to 2000 who were 6-4 or more and only 10 had even 500 receiving yards at age 33 or later and only four of them were wide receviers - Ed Mcaffrey, Joe Jurevicius, Keyshawn Johnson and Harold Carmichael. The most yards was 903 by McCaffrey. No wide receiver had more than six TDs. Make of it what you will. But my theory definitely survives the first test, and Moss sure ain't proving it wrong.
I'm with you on McNabb. He's a strange player. I do think that if you have to ask if a guy is a Hall of Famer, he isn't. But is he now, or has he ever been championship caliber? I say yes given his record. So that's damn good. But that only answers "has he ever been." Is he now? Well, it may be a Moss situation where he's losing a little ability and doesn't practice or prepare enough to overcome it. This isn't me saying it, but the head coach, reportedly. The gym rats like Ray Lewis age well. The guys who just show up on Sundays never do.
The Bucs stink. They are 5-2 now and will not finish the year even .500, I guarantee it. They're the anti-Chargers, who will finish 10-6.
McDaniels is a punk who acts like he's a champion when he's just along for the ride on Belichick's coattails. Trash-talking the Chargers last year on the field? That's so lame. Why are we even talking about him and the Broncos? Because they've created some fantasy value in unexpected places? That's all well and good but proving to be irrelevant to job one - winning. The Broncos are just illustrating the limits of YPA as they have no running game at all to speak of. I've always said that you have to pass early and run late. But Denver can't hold a lead by beating the clock even when they get one.
From: Scott Pianowski
Date: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 2:58 PM
Subject: naughty number nine
To: Michael Salfino
The great thing about being a Patriots fan is the knowledge that Belichick truly is the smartest man in the room. New England traded inside the division to acquire/invent Wes Welker (a move that was panned in almost every 2007 annual). The Jets cast Woodhead aside, the Pats see his potential and pick him up. And when it comes to in-game decisions, Belichick is a master. He understands clock management as well as anyone, and he realizes that it's all about finding the most plausible winining scenario - the hell with playing for the friendliest loss. (Did you catch Gary Kubiak punting against the Colts at the 5:39 mark, down 13 points? I'd hate to root for a team like that. Your forever .500s, the Houston Texans.)
I'm not expecting great things from Moss, but the point is that some landing spots make more sense for him than others. You absolutely cannot have him in a losing situation or tied to a milquetoast team (mmmmm, milquetoast). The Titans at least have a shot at making this work. In most cities, it's not even worth the cost of a flight and the time for a physical. If Moss can't do something of note in the second half against a joke of a schedule (he faces Houston's secondary twice, along with Jacksonville) then he truly is done.
Tampa's true value doesn't match the record, but I still give them eight or nine wins given the schedule remaining (four reasonable home games: Carolina, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle). No affection for Josh Freeman? If you threw all of the 25-and-under quarterbacks into a pool, how do they shake out? Sam Bradford better be the No. 1 pick. Maybe I can't see Sanchez logically, but I can't put him ahead of Freeman. How many victories has Sanchez steered on his own, with little help elsewhere? Will he ever be the best player on his own offense?
A bunch of home dogs this week, which means some upsets are coming our way. I'd give Seattle a chance against the Giants, but not without Matt Hasselbeck. The Patriots and Jets could struggle against a couple of junkyard dogs (Cleveland hung around with Pittsburgh and beat New Orleans, both on the road; the Lions will be a winning team by 2012 at the latest). I look for the Steelers to maul the Bengals, a team on its final legs (Carson Palmer is a statistical sham). Does KC over Oakland even count as an upset? Can Miami grab another pelt on the road?
I recognize Andy Reid is the master of the bye week (he's 11-0 off the extra rest), but anytime you can get Peyton Manning as a dog, I'm grabbing the points. It's hard to get a read on where Michael Vick will be; he's probably not 100 percent, he's always been a scattershot guy in the pocket, and how much will he want to run off a major chest injury? Colts 28, Eagles 24.
Feliz Cumpleanos, amigo. Hope Johnny Drama didn't give you Clippers tickets.