When I first heard the Redskins decided to take away the play calling from head coach Jim Zorn, it reminded me of an “I Love Lucy” episode from many years ago. Yes, I know football and Lucy should have nothing in common, but the ‘Skins have been pure comedy — on and off the field. Ostensibly removing Zorn for the main reason he was hired in the first place -- his offensive acumen -- reminded me of the time Lucy lost her wedding ring in her bedroom and frantically began searching for it. By the time Rickey came home, Lucy was on the floor of the living room, still searching. When he asked Lucy what she was looking for, she informed him that she was looking for her wedding ring, which she had lost in the bedroom. Confused, Ricky asked why she wasn’t looking there. Because, she replied, the light was much better in the living room.
Removing Zorn of his play-calling duties is much like Lucy looking for her ring in the living room. It’s not going to solve any problems because the problem is not plays – it’s players. Now, I’m not endorsing Zorn as the head coach; he has more than his share of problems, in large part because he was hired before he was ready to be a head coach. The team’s problems, however, don’t all rest at the feet of Zorn. The front office — mainly the owner and his general manager -- are not realistic about the talent on the team. The most critical aspect of procuring players is to have an ability to evaluate your own talent first. How else can you successfully evaluate if you can’t evaluate your own?
Going into the season, the Redskins had an aging offensive line that was bound to get injured; a running back who may have seen better days; no real offensive skill players who could scare a defense; and a quarterback who was never meant for the west coast offense. So how did anyone think this would work? The only people who might have thought it was the ‘Skins front office, and maybe Lucy since she was good at looking for answers in the wrong places.
Week 6 saw the return of the old Tom Brady that we have come to know. Throwing just five incomplete passes all day, Brady led an aerial assault in the earliest snow game in the history of the New England Patriots. Six touchdown passes, five in the second quarter, should make the trip this week to London much more comfortable for Mr. Brady.
Did you know that nine teams had over 400 yards of offense Sunday, and of those nine, only two lost their games? The Vikings, Texans, Patriots, Saints, Steelers, Jaguars and Packers all won as they marched the ball up and down the field. The Jets and the Ravens both moved the ball but failed to post wins.
I fell in love Sunday with Joshua Cribbs — my new favorite player. He does everything for the Browns, from returning to covering kicks, and he might be the modern-day Jim Thorpe. With him, the Browns have very little chance; without him, they have no chance.
Big Ben Roethlisberger has started to shatter some impressive records in this brief career. Already with two Super Bowl trophies on his mantle, he now has tied Terry Bradshaw for the most games (31) by a Steelers quarterback with a 100 rating or higher. No record is safe in Pittsburgh as long as Big Ben plays the way he did.
The Saints proved Sunday they’re for real in all three phases of the game. They’re not a one-man team – they’re a complete team and a physical team. They are about execution of their offense and about making plays. I’m sure they’ll lose a game down the road, but they’re going to be a force in January.
The Sunday funnies...
Eagles coach Andy Reid is a great coach, but he might want to think about outsourcing his game-management decisions. Sunday, calling his last timeout with 2:02 to go in the game (yes, before the two-minute warning) as the Raiders faced a 3rd-and-8, allowed Oakland to call a pass. Had Reid saved his timeout and those two whole seconds, the Raiders would have been forced to run the ball, allowing the defense to make a play. This is not the first time Andy has left me wondering about his game-management decisions, but this one might rank No. 1 of all time.
It’s not funny in Nashville, but the Titans have the Super Bowl loser syndrome without ever going to the Super Bowl last year. They look like a team that was not ready for the obstacles that each team must face. I’m sure they’re looking for a do-over in Tennessee.
Seattle has invested millions upon millions of dollars in wide receivers along with many draft picks to help their offense. But in a critical NFC West game, they failed to convert one third down and gained 128 yards on the Cardinals.
Cleveland wide receivers might want to stay after practice this week and work on catching the football. By my count, they dropped at least six passes in Pittsburgh and nine the previous week in their win against the Bills.
Mark Sanchez might want to stroll over to the Meadowlands one of these days and practice throwing into the wind. To be a success in New York, he’ll have to deal with the windy conditions in New Jersey. First three weeks of the season, Sanchez looked nothing like a rookie. The last three weeks, he’s looked nothing like a first-rounder.
On the lookout
Sidney Rice is now becoming a household name and the new favorite target of Brett Favre. Sunday’s six-catch, two-touchdown day will make the rest of the NFL very careful about single-covering Mr. Rice.
The Houston Texans may have found the formula to playing run defense as they held Cedric Benson and the Bengals to 46 yards rushing. The past three weeks, no team has broken 50 yards rushing against them (Oakland 45, Arizona 44).
The defensive players from the ‘09 draft made a statement yesterday. Jarius Byrd, Buffalo’s second-rounder, had two interceptions, while Pats second-rounders Darius Butler and Patrick Chung, Texans first-round Brian Cushing, St. Louis second-rounder James Laurinaitis and Detroit third-rounder DeAndre Levy each had one.
On the lookout for all fantasy fans...
Mike Wallace of the Steelers had just two catches for 50 yards, but you can tell he’ll keep having a bigger role each week in the offense. He can make plays with the ball in his hands, and he demonstrated a toughness that has to make Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin very proud.
Nice to have you back involved with the offense, Mr. Lance Moore of the Saints. Last year, Moore scored 10 touchdowns, but injuries this year have limited his production. Based on Sunday’s game (six catches, one touchdown), he’s back.
Off the beaten track
The race for the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft is currently among the Rams, Bucs and Titans. But the way the Titans are playing right now, they might be the favorites.
David Garrard made one huge mistake not getting enough loft on the ball over Rams defensive end Leonard Little, allowing him to intercept the ball and score a touchdown. Other than his bad throw, Garrard played well, throwing for 335 yards.
The Panthers completed only nine passes all day but ran for 267 yards against the Bucs. The Bucs are really bad at stopping run or pass. Every week, depending on the opponent’s strength, this will determine the area they are attacked. As they fly over the Atlantic this week to face the Patriots, the Bucs will have to think about stopping both after the Patriots gained 193 rushing yards and 426 passing yards against the Titans.
Three-step-dot drops...a dot dot dot thought...
…The Steelers will miss defensive end Aaron Smith in their run defense, but having Troy Polamula back will make this week’s game with the Vikings must-see TV.
…I know the Lions are bad on defense, but Aaron Rodgers of the Packers looked very sharp yesterday. If -- and that’s a big if -- his offensive line gives him time, Rodgers can make all the throws.
…The Giants will be back, and they won’t forget the feeling of heading home after that whipping by the Saints.
…Great for the Chiefs to get their first win of the year. They’ve played extremely hard, although not effectively, the last few weeks. Without scoring a touchdown, they won a game. Cheers.
…How can the ‘Skins think they’re a talented team when every opponent has been winless and their margin of victory in their two wins has been a combined five points and their margin of loss has been 22 points? In reality, the ‘Skins are a bad team with high expectations, which is why they’re looking for answers in the wrong places.
Coach of the week...
Dick Jauron, Buffalo
He’s been very professional dealing with the uncertainty of his position, and his players have played hard for him in every game. They’re not the most talented team in the NFL, but yesterday they got a win against the reeling Jets. Wins will be hard to come by for Jauron the remainder of the season, but getting his team to play hard won’t be a difficult challenge.
Assistant coach of the week…
John Marshall, Oakland defensive coordinator
Facing the very hot Donovan McNabb, Marshall threw caution to the wind, attacking the Eagles and holding their high-scoring attack to just three field goals. The Raiders played their best game on defense against a very good team. They were aggressive, and their defensive line was dominating.
Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi
MAY 13 Jeff Fedotin
Former discus star launches football career with 49ers.
MAY 08 Joel Corry
The high-priced right tackle is scheduled to make $7 million this season.
MAY 06 Jeff Fedotin
Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin should provide a big boost to the Green Bay ground game.