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BillyCarpenter1 09-17-2003 06:32 PM

Don't jump to conclusions--By Phil Simms

Don't jump to conclusions

By Phil Simms
Special to

(Sept. 16, 2003) -- After the past few years, you would think we would know better.

The St. Louis Rams came out of nowhere to win the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots came out of nowhere to win the Super Bowl. There are new teams in the playoffs every year. You think we finally would have realized what the NFL is all about. Yes the fans and the media -- everybody -- we still are so quick to draw conclusions.

After one week of the NFL season, everybody knew which teams were going to the playoffs and which teams had no shot. After one week of the season, it sounded as if there were at least eight to 10 quarterbacks who should be benched and five or six coaches who were on the "hot seat." The hot seat? Hell, let's fire them now.

The knee-jerk reactions are so incredible; it astounds me. We see it more than ever. Maybe I watched too much TV and read too many columns around the country this week. Maybe that's the problem. It was just so over-the-top.

Some examples:

•After Tampa Bay beat Philadelphia in the Monday night opener, it wasn't a matter of whether the Bucs would get back to the Super Bowl. The only question was who they would play. Heck, they'll probably go undefeated, too.

Well, I spoke to a few knowledgeable football people last week and they said, "Look out for Carolina. They match up well with Tampa Bay in terms of style, they're a good football team that can rush the passer, and they can cause some problems for Tampa Bay's offensive line." And they proved to be right.

•The New England Patriots, after the Lawyer Milloy incident, were beaten soundly in the opener against Buffalo. It was said the players were so against the organization and the coach they would never win. That's a little extreme, I would think. This is a team we all expected to be good. And I think they turned it around pretty good and quieted some of that talk with a solid road victory against Philadelphia.

(Just one more thing about that season opener: How about giving the Bills a little more credit? Even without Milloy in the equation, keep in mind Buffalo probably spent the entire offseason waiting on the Patriots. The Patriots beat up the Bills pretty good twice last year, and Buffalo wanted a little revenge. Even without Milloy, the Bills would have been fired up for the game. If New England had been at its best, it still might not have won.)

•The Tennessee Titans made it to the AFC Championship Game last season and looked impressive in beating the Oakland Raiders in Week 1. They followed that with a game against the Colts. And as soon as you mention the Colts, fans say, "Oh, the Colts can't win the big one." What exactly is the big one? I can't figure that out. Regardless, we found out last week the Colts are tougher and more physical than we thought, and they beat the Titans 33-7.

•The Bengals are 0-2, and it's not a knee-jerk reaction as much as an observation based on history to think things haven't changed much in Cincinnati. However, I do think the Bengals will be an improved team this season. They made the passing game rough for Jake Plummer in Week 1, and they made things pretty rough for Rich Gannon and the Oakland Raiders last week. Remember, seven of the 23 points the Raiders scored came on a defensive touchdown. I've got a feeling the Cincinnati Bengals will be a sound football team, and will be tough and consistent throughout the season. Will they win eight games? I don't know about that. But I think they'll win at least six games. I really do.

While the Eagles take a much-needed bye week, New England's detractors are suddenly quiet.

I might be wrong. We'll just have to wait and see.

As for the so-called Monday morning quarterbacks, they are never wrong. When you're jumping to conclusions too soon, you always have time on your side.

If the Bucs get back to the Super Bowl, their loss to Carolina will be a fluke. ... If the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl, it will be because of that bad taste in their mouth from Week 1. ... If the Colts don't win it all, it's because they can't win the big one, whatever that is. There's always an opportunity to say, "I told you so." Eventually.

Good bye for Eagles
One knee-jerk reaction that did not change from Week 1 to Week 2 was the assessment of the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they followed a tough Monday night opener against the Bucs with a game against a team that is quite unorthodox on both sides of the ball. When it goes bad against the Patriots, it's just going to be a long, ugly day for you.

So can the Eagles get some rhythm to their offense? Can Donovan McNabb regain some confidence? McNabb is arguably one of the best players in the league, but everybody is susceptible to this. When you don't have success over a short period of time, you can't help but lose a little confidence.

It doesn't matter how physical NFL players are, how hard they train and how prepared they might be. Once you lose a little bit of confidence, you lose that rhythm and it can become very tough. For an NFL quarterback, when your confidence is shaken, all of a sudden you don't trust what your eyes see. You don't read the defenses as well. Your decision-making is not as good. And those things affect the outcome of games.

It's a good thing the Eagles have a bye this week, because now they get to sit back and work on some fundamentals with the whole team, reassess what they're doing and try to make it work.

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