East Coast Offense
By Christopher Liss
RotoWire Managing Editor
Sorry for the goofy title - it's one of those things you come up with when you're pressed for time that in retrospect is either a stroke of genius or a just too stupid to be taken seriously. As long as you don't employ this method while naming your kid, I think it's okay to take five seconds to come up with something permanent.
Around the League
Let's get caught up quickly on the major developments of the last few days:
The fallout from this is that Wali Lundy gets the job in Davis' place. As my colleague, Mike Salfino pointed out, Lundy is a good bet to thrive in coach Gary Kubiak's zone blocking system because he's a "one-cut-and-go" type of runner in the mold of the successful Denver backs of the last few seasons. (Kubiak was Mike Shanahan's offensive coordinator with the Broncos). Lundy is only 5-11, 210, but that's the same size as Terrell Davis, and he should be well suited to Kubiak's system.
If the unproven Lundy doesn't pan out, Vernand Morency and Ron Dayne are around. Morency has good athleticism, but he's more of a backfield dancer and therefore less suited to Kubiak's system, and Dayne, despite his bulk, is also slow to move straight ahead to the hole. It's why he was an ineffective short-yardage man for the Giants during his early years.
Given the dire state of the Patriots' receiving corps, it's odd that Oakland reportedly got only a fifth-round pick in return for the 6-2, 215-pound Gabriel who returns kicks and can do damage down the field. Gabriel averaged 15.8 yards per catch a year ago, and rather than replacing holdout Deion Branch, plays a lot more like the departed David Givens. The Patriots like to throw the ball deep on occasion, and if Gabriel can adjust to the new system fairly quickly, there's some upside here - even if Branch, who's merely a chain-moving possession guy, reports. Gabriel's presence could hurt rookie speedster Chad Jackson, who had a chance to win a starting job in camp, but missed too much time with a bad hamstring. Now, even if Jackson gets healthy, he could be blocked by Gabriel.
It's always dangerous to Google suspected ailments you think you might have - (Chest pains, call 911 immediately - never mind that it will cost you $3000 in medical bills for what turns out to be bad indigestion and anxiety). But I searched for "appendectomy recovery time" and found out that people can resume normal activity four days after the procedure, but that it takes 4-to-6 weeks before they can do strenuous work. I'd say playing quarterback in the NFL constitutes strenuous work. The word in Pittsburgh is that Roethlisberger will definitely miss Thursday's game, but that he could return for Week 2 - given that it's a Monday night game 11 days later. Hines Ward had the same procedure done on him a couple years back, and he returned in two weeks, but wasn't 100 percent for several weeks after that. The bottom line is that Charlie Batch will take over for at least a week or two, and Ward, Willie Parker, Heath Miller et al. are likely to be less productive on account of it.
Below the Radar
Of course, all the Wali Lundys, Jerious Norwoods and even Troy Williamsons have likely been picked up in deeper leagues, but here are a few guys who might still be available that are worth keeping an eye on.
Beating the Book
Ravens +3 at Buccaneers
Typically when a home team is favored by three points, Vegas is treating the teams as equal because three is roughly what the home field advantage is worth. This varies from venue to venue and year to year, of course - going into Invesco Field during a blizzard in December is typically worse than playing in San Diego in October, but on average, a three-point home favorite means equal teams. But are these teams equal? Last I checked the Bucs were a playoff team, returning a healthy Michael Clayton and a more experienced Chris Simms, while the Ravens won just six games last year. Sure, they upgraded at quarterback with Steve McNair, but McNair isn't what he was six years ago, and neither are Jamal or Ray Lewis. These don't look like even teams to me. Back the Bucs who win fairly easily.
Buccaneers 24 - 13
For the rest of this week's slate, check out Beating the Book
Surviving Week 1
The last thing anyone wants to do is pay an entry fee into a Survivor Pool and get bounced out Week 1. So I'm going with the Patriots at home against the Bills. Coach Bill Belichick has a tremendous record against young quarterbacks who get confused by his coverage schemes and throw too many interceptions. Combine that with Buffalo's poor offensive line, and it should be a long day for J.P. Losman. I realize some of you might want to "use up" the Cardinals this week against the Niners, but I wouldn't stake my life on the Cardinals at this point no matter who they were playing.
For the complete take on Survivor, strategies and rules, check out Surviving Week 1
One last word on the title - it's admittedly stupid, and I might change it next week for the RotoWire version. The article's also running on Yahoo! Sports, and the title makes a little more sense there because my bio says I'm from New York.
Article first appeared 9/6/06