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saintswhodi 09-22-2005 11:25 AM

Jason Whitlock on Week 1 and 2 in the NFL
 
Week 1:

Quote:

[size=18]Psst... Top Secret NFL Facts...[/size]
By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2


Surely one of the toughest assignments in sports is making sense of the first weekend of the NFL season. There are those among us who will simply swear that it cannot be done. And then there are those who know better -- the select group of men and women exposed to my writings.

Not to brag, but I have quite a reputation for diagnosing NFL madness. Given a weekend to overlook results and second-guess excuses, it becomes rather easy for me to figure out whom and what to believe from Week 1.

Clayton, Salisbury, Mortensen and Jaworski pay handsomely for the information and predictions that I'm about to share for free with you, Page 2 readers. Why are you getting such a bargain? I'm tired of underground success. I'm tired of Clayton and Co. getting the glory for my expertise and refusing to share the spoils.

Week 1 of the season, as it is apt to do, created far more questions than it provided answers for the average football fan. Readers of this column recognize that I'm not the average football fan. As a former elite-level athlete, a man in his youth who protected Jeff George's blind side in high school and opened gaping holes for Bernie Parmalee in college, I have keen insight into America's game.

OK, enough with the hype. Here are 10 facts that can be gleaned from Week 1:


With speedster Derrick Johnson added, KC's defense is much improved.

10. Kansas City's defense is closer to being fixed than Indianapolis' defense.

Listen, I love the addition of Corey Simon to the middle of Indy's D. Simon, who looked like he swallowed Jerry Ball, is exactly what Tony Dungy's unit needed: a human bowling ball to plug running lanes.

But Indy's near shutout of the Baltimore Ravens has more to do with Brian Billick's continued offensive ineptness than the Colts' unveiling a defense capable of winning in January. Billick might be the worst offensive coach in the history of the NFL. Billick is the man who decided Kyle Boller was a franchise quarterback. If not for Marvin Lewis and Ray Lewis' carrying the Ravens to a Super Bowl title, Billick would be in the unemployment line.

Meanwhile, Kansas City's rebuilt defense showed off its added speed (linebackers Derrick Johnson and Kendrell Bell and corner Patrick Surtain) and a new look (12-15 snaps in a 3-4 scheme) in demolishing the Jets.

9. The Eagles lost to the Falcons because Donovan McNabb refused to run the football.

You can blame McNabb's unwillingness to run on his bruised chest. I don't. McNabb has spent the past two years trying to prove he's a pocket passer, not a mad scrambler. It's a mistake. The evidence of McNabb's error was all over Philly's Monday night loss to the Falcons, who scored 14 points because Michael Vick was effective on several designed running plays.

McNabb threw the ball 45 times. He was credited with one rush, which really wasn't a run. McNabb can run the football damn near as well as Vick; McNabb was the second coming of Steve Young. Had McNabb run the football three or four times, the Eagles wouldn't have settled for two 49-yard field-goal attempts, which David Akers missed. Had McNabb run, the Eagles would've scored at least 17 points, and they'd be 1-0.

If McNabb doesn't use his legs this season, the Eagles won't be playing in a fifth straight NFC Championship Game.

8. Warren Sapp, my favorite NFL player, is officially washed up.

The Oakland Raiders switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 so Sapp could go back inside, where he's most effective. The move didn't help Sapp at all in the season opener against the Patriots. Sapp is 25 pounds overweight and has none of the quickness that once made him as dominant as Joe Greene.

Sapp can now be easily blocked one on one. He's not a threat against the run or the pass.

7. Everyone -- including yours truly -- who suggested the Minnesota Vikings and Daunte Culpepper would be improved by the subtraction of Randy Moss should be beaten.

I feel so stupid. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not beat the Vikings if Randy Moss is still wearing purple.

6. The feel-good New Orleans Saints will fade quickly because Aaron Brooks is the most fraudulent QB in the NFL.

Saints fans better enjoy the Week 1 miracle because Brooks will continue to get in the way of the Saints' enjoying consistent success. The Saints have the necessary personnel to field a potent offense -- a decent line, top-flight receivers and a big-play running back.

However, Brooks is the anti-Tom Brady. Brooks makes stupid decisions, has zero leadership ability and isn't particularly tough or poised in the pocket.


5. Miami's Nick Saban may prove to be the best coach in the history of the NFL, but beating the Broncos in his opener didn't say anything about him.

That Denver disaster was all about Mike Shanahan. I take that back. That Denver disaster was all about John Elway. I've long contended that Elway is/was the greatest player to ever play the game. Watching Shanahan unravel as a "mastermind" without Elway further proves my point.


Denny Green has learned the truth: Kurt Warner can't play anymore.

Shanahan simply can't coach without Elway. Shanahan's ego isn't out of control. He hasn't changed from his Elway days; he's just the same coach Al Davis fired in Oakland.

4. Kurt Warner stole two league MVP trophies from Marshall Faulk.

I'm not saying Warner wasn't an outstanding player with those great Rams teams. He was. But he was never as important to the Rams as Faulk. I've enjoyed watching Warner disintegrate with the Giants and now the Cardinals.

I'm a huge Dennis Green fan. But I can't figure out why he'd make Warner his starting quarterback. Warner is just too immobile and too erratic after contact to play behind an average offensive line.

3. Speaking of immobile quarterbacks, I don't expect to see Drew Bledsoe leading the Cowboys to a playoff run.

The Cowboys upset the Chargers solely because Marty Schottenheimer forgot to get the football to the game's best running back, LaDainian Tomlinson. L.T. touched the ball twice in the final 10 minutes of Dallas' upset victory.

The Cowboys win six or seven games this season, max.

2. I know this is a column about the NFL, but I have to sneak in one take about college football: Charlie Weis deserves significant praise for Notre Dame's impressive 2-0 start.

Weis' best move at Notre Dame so far was bringing back former Lou Holtz assistant Rick Minter as defensive coordinator.

After leaving Holtz's Notre Dame staff, Minter was head coach at Cincinnati for a decade and then rejoined Holtz at South Carolina after the Cincy athletic director canned Minter for making Bearcats fans believe Cincy could be a top-20 program.

Minter is an awesome football coach, the best defensive mind in college football. If Notre Dame continues to shine this season, some wise athletic director at a BCS school would be wise to hire Minter.

1. Tom Brady is still a better quarterback than Peyton Manning.

Period.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...k/050915&num=0


Week 2:


Quote:

By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2


Listen, I told you last week that the NFL information and insight I pass along to you in this column needs to remain a secret between us.


Some of you blabbed last week about the 10 kernels of NFL truth I shared in this space. Clayton, Mortensen, Salisbury and Jaworski all complained to the bosses at ESPN, claiming it's unfair that I release this information to you before I inform them.


Thanks to me, you weren't at all surprised when Drew Bledsoe and the Cowboys couldn't put away the impotent Redskins at Texas Stadium. You knew in advance that Aaron Brooks wouldn't make an important play against the Giants. And I'm sure you got a good chuckle out of watching Brian Billick's Baltimore offense throw away another game.


I told you the truth about Week 1. And now, if you agree to keep your mouths shut, I'll tell you the 10 things that struck me about Week 2.



Joey Harrington is struggling, but it's not all his fault.
10. Detroit's wide receivers -- Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams -- played like lazy dogs last week.


Lions quarterback Joey Harrington, who threw five interceptions, is taking most of the heat for Detroit's embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears.


Harrington might be a bust, but he's getting screwed over by half-hearted efforts from Detroit's choking triplets. Williams, Rogers and Williams couldn't spell "professional effort" if you spotted them the Jerry and the Rice. At least two of Harrington's picks were direct results of Detroit's lazy dogs loafing.


9. Not one football fan in Cleveland or Kansas City is shocked that Marty Schottenheimer's San Diego Chargers are off to an 0-2 start.


Marty is the king of elevating the expectations and hopes of football fans, and then disappointing them. In 1998, Marty had Chiefs fans believing they were on the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance, and the team finished 7-9.


Schottenheimer, Chuck Knox's evil twin football coach, is clueless on how to use the game's most talented offensive player, LaDainian Tomlinson, in a way that wins games in crunch time.


8. Speaking of misuse, Al Davis should've come out of his McAfee Stadium suite and slapped Raiders coach Norv Turner for ignoring Randy Moss late in Oakland's loss to the Chiefs.


How do you reach the red zone in the game's final minutes and never throw the ball to Moss? Did Kansas City corner Dexter "The Human Highlight Film" McCleon bribe Turner and quarterback Kerry Collins?


McCleon's most productive move Sunday night was talking a game official into flagging Moss for a nonexistent pass interference call on a TD catch.


7. The value of NFL wide receivers has never been higher than it is right now.


Next offseason, Terrell Owens and Drew Rosenhaus will argue that receivers are just as valuable as running backs. They might be right, especially given the rules that basically allow receivers to run down the field unencumbered.


Mike Tice might lose his job next week because of Moss' Minnesota departure, and Daunte Culpepper might lose his status as a Pro Bowler for the same reason. It has become a lot harder to call plays and read a defense in Minnesota when coverages aren't rolled to one side of the field to contain Moss.


The Vikings are 0-2 and Culpepper has thrown eight picks and zero TD passes without Moss.


6. Neither Mark Brunell nor Joe Gibbs proved anything in Washington's come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys.


The 'Boys aren't any good. And, I'm sorry, but for 55 minutes, Gibbs looked like the worst coach in America and Brunell looked old and inept. Hitting Santana Moss on a couple of fly patterns late doesn't cover up the incompetence that kept the Redskins out of the end zone for seven quarters.


Patrick Ramsey should be Washington's starting quarterback.



A leaner, meaner Michael Strahan could wreak havoc on quarterbacks all season.
5. The popular choice for NFL defensive player of the year is undersized Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney, but the league's top defender early in the season is Michael Strahan, another undersized defensive end.


Strahan is playing at 255 pounds this season, down 20 pounds from his normal playing weight. Strahan could "legitimately" break the NFL sack record this season. He has 2½ sacks already, and looks absolutely unstoppable.


Playing in New York, Strahan will get lots of love. But if the Colts' D continues to shine, Strahan might get overshadowed by Freeney, another 255-pounder. Still, Strahan is more dominant than Freeney.


4. Colts fans think I hate my hometown because I believe Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning.


I don't hate Indianapolis. I love Indy, the city that brought you the Indianapolis 500, the Indiana Pacers, Zebs Barbecue, the Masterpiece Lounge, the Black Expo and Janice Toth, the most beautiful woman Stonybrook Junior High ever produced.


I like Peyton Manning. He's a tremendous football player and a solid citizen. Heck, Peyton was the guest speaker when I was inducted into the Warren Central High hall of fame. I have no problem with Peyton. Saying he's a notch below the best QB in the NFL isn't an insult.


Now, truthfully, I do hate the Colts.


3. It's way too early to jump on the 2-0 Bengals' bandwagon.


We're talking about the Cincinnati Bengals. Anybody foolish enough to believe right now that what we're seeing from Carson Palmer is the real thing deserves to have his/her heart broken.


I'm not predicting doom for Palmer. I'm just saying it's much too early to be predicting success. Do not reach any conclusions about the Bengals until Week 10.


2. The graduation of quarterback Jason White isn't the reason the Oklahoma Sooners are in the toilet.


I know this is a column about the NFL, but I have to drop a little college science from time to time. The Sooners are in the toilet because their offensive line is stinking the joint up. If the line was playing at the level it played in previous years, Oklahoma would be able to get away with handing the ball to Adrian Peterson 30 times a game and using its play-action passing game on second-and-4.


1. Bill Cowher, without a Super Bowl title, is the second-best coach in the league.


If I have to tell you who No. 1 is, you're not qualified to read this column. I'd take Cowher ahead of Billick, Bill Parcells, Dick Vermeil and Mike Holmgren, all coaches with titles.


When you hire a football coach, you hope that he has a couple of coaching qualities that are constants. Bill Cowher-coached teams are going to run the football and play defense. If a team has those two elements, it will win games and contend for titles on a regular basis.


Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...k/050922&num=0

WhoDat 09-22-2005 12:38 PM

RE: Jason Whitlock on Week 1 and 2 in the NFL
 
Betcha he's wrong. I bet you Brooks finally has the good year we've been waiting for. Top 10 in yards, TDs, Comp %, and QB Rating. I think he finally puts it together. I hope so anyway.

BlackandBlue 09-22-2005 12:45 PM

RE: Jason Whitlock on Week 1 and 2 in the NFL
 
Quote:

isn't particularly tough or poised in the pocket.
Huh? He looked fairly confident in the pocket in the first two games. Wasn't particularly thrilled with the turnovers, but I'm not going out there to say he's not tough or poised in the pocket.

saintswhodi 09-22-2005 01:17 PM

Re: RE: Jason Whitlock on Week 1 and 2 in the NFL
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BlackandBlue
Quote:

isn't particularly tough or poised in the pocket.
Huh? He looked fairly confident in the pocket in the first two games. Wasn't particularly thrilled with the turnovers, but I'm not going out there to say he's not tough or poised in the pocket.

I'll give you the tough, but poised? I gotta disagree with that one. He hung in there so I gotta give the man credit. But the turnovers subtract from the poise IMO.

BlackandBlue 09-22-2005 01:38 PM

RE: Re: RE: Jason Whitlock on Week 1 and 2 in the NFL
 
I'm able to seperate the poise from the turnovers. I like a guy that walks to the line, and you can feel the confidence oozing from the tv screen, regardless of what the defense is throwing at him. Or maybe he's to ignorant to know that his life is in danger everytime he drops back to pass. :D

EDIT: I talked to WhoDat about D.J. yesterday, in addition to him, do you think the Saints might want a redo on Kendrall Bell? Friggin animal.

saintswhodi 09-22-2005 01:42 PM

Re: RE: Re: RE: Jason Whitlock on Week 1 and 2 in the NFL
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BlackandBlue
I'm able to seperate the poise from the turnovers. I like a guy that walks to the line, and you can feel the confidence oozing from the tv screen, regardless of what the defense is throwing at him. Or maybe he's to ignorant to know that his life is in danger everytime he drops back to pass. :D

EDIT: I talked to WhoDat about D.J. yesterday, in addition to him, do you think the Saints might want a redo on Kendrall Bell? Friggin animal.

DJ and Bell are absolutely killing right now. I wouldn't take back Brown for DJ, but missing out on Bell is huge. I will admit I was one of the people that was down on him though due to the injuries. Damn, I wish one time they would have gone against what I wanted and gotten Bell. Brown has been a stud for us though. I feel much better with him at RT than I would have with Mayberry there. DJ is gonna be good for a long time, but so will Brown, and probably more dominant for his position. But you can;t really get mad at having either. But Bell was a FA damnit. lol


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