Posted: Sunday October 15, 2006 7:20PM; Updated: Tuesday October 17, 2006 9:56AM
The future in Tampa Bay just might be Bruce Gradkowski, who cmpleted 25-of-44 for 184 yards in Sunday's win.
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I'll say it again: Bruce Gradkowski is the future in Tampa Bay. Chris Simms? Not so much. No way Jon Gruden doesn't see things that way if Gradkowski continues to perform as he has in his first two NFL starts. Simms is already regretting he didn't jump on a $10 million signing bonus the Bucs offered him as part of a long-term deal in the offseason.
That's two touchdown receptions as a Seahawk for Deion Branch, with many more to come. And somewhere, Tom Brady must be sniffling through that particular clump of highlights.
A pair of one-loss teams playing in their home domes got exposed on Sunday. St. Louis, which was the NFL's softest 4-1 squad entering Week 6, gave up 20 consecutive points to the Seahawks, and 23 in the second half overall, to lose a game that could have given it a foothold atop the NFC West.
Atlanta (3-1 coming in) fell two games back of first-place New Orleans in the NFC South, some how losing by 13 points to the visiting Giants despite averaging a gaudy 8.6 yards per rush (26 for 223). Maybe it had something to do with New York, behind Tiki Barber's 185-yard day, running wild for 259 yards on 38 rushes -- a pretty fair average of 6.8.
After watching him bulldoze his way into the end zone on one of his two short touchdown catches in the Georgia Dome, something tells me Jeremy Shockey's ankle is just fine.
So the Raiders are going to make receiver Jerry Porter the scapegoat for all that ails them? Nobody's saying that Porter has been 100 percent innocent regarding his season-long stint in coach Art Shell's doghouse, but Shell hands out a four-game suspension for Porter complaining aloud about the length of Friday's practice? That's a penalty only one game less than what Albert Haynesworth received for stomping on Andre Gurode's face two weeks ago. How inequitable is that?
I would be shocked if Porter's four-gamer stands up to the appeal process once the player's union gets involved, and for the life of me I can't figure out why the Raiders don't just trade Porter and let both sides turn the page.
About that Damon Huard permanently replacing Trent Green angle I've been floating for the past couple weeks or so ... never mind. The Steelers may have taken care of Huard's starting candidacy for the foreseeable future.
Porter suspended, Mike Williams inactive in Detroit, and Randy Moss mailing it in -- and admitting it -- in Oakland. When trouble surfaces, why is an NFL receiver always in the middle of it?
Steve Smith is the most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL today. And I'm not forgetting about LaDanian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Michael Vick, Tiki Barber, Shaun Alexander, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Brady or anyone else.
This Dick Jauron reunion tour is absolutely killing the Bills. Last week, Buffalo's head coach took his team to Chicago -- where he once coached the Bears -- and got throttled. This week, the Bills lost at Detroit, where Jauron spent most of his NFL playing career and served as the Lions defensive coordinator and interim head coach in 2005.
Here's a call I believe will be made: Joey Harrington should remain the Dolphins starting quarterback until the ex-Lion loses the job based on performance. Regardless of the progress of Daunte Culpepper's knee in his mid-season rehabilitation program. Harrington didn't distinguish himself against the Jets on the road on Sunday, but he still gives Nick Saban's flailing Fish a better chance to win right now than the immobile Culpepper.
Houston at Dallas made us remember that the Texans beat the Dave Campo-led Cowboys in their first-ever regular-season game, at Reliant Stadium in 2002. That loss as much as anything sealed the fate of Campo's three-year stint as the Dallas head coach, and put owner Jerry Jones in the mind to go shopping for Tuna in December of that season.
But not a whole heck of a lot has gone right for Bob McNair's five-year-old franchise since that euphoric opening night in Houston.
Half of the civilized world was calling for Tony Romo to replace Drew Bledsoe in Dallas, but somehow I don't think mop-up relief in a blowout win was what they had in mind.
With Detroit, Tampa Bay and Tennessee all getting their first victory of 2006 in Week 6, the 1976 Bucs are almost ready to pop the corks. All that stands in the way of protecting the legacy of their 0-14 regular season is 0-4 Oakland, which plays at Denver in the Sunday night game. Better hold off at least another week or so, guys.