Posted: Wednesday September 20, 2006 11:58AM; Updated: Wednesday September 20, 2006 12:08PM
Well, it looks like this is sayonara. From now on I'll just be a dim memory for you loyal readers. My ship has finally come in. It'll be the sweet life. In my e-mail box are the following messages, all from sunny Nigeria and they begin as follows:
Private and confidential, from Thompson Malawe
Urgent business proposal, from Yonice Kabila
Dear my friend Zimmermann, from Robert Nelly
I'm gonna pocket $1 million bucks from each e-mail proposal and all I have to do is guarantee with some of my own funds the frozen assets of, uh, I believe some of the royal families, and I forget the rest of it, but it's gonna put me on Easy Street. So with a light heart and bags packed for Nigeria, I'll give you my final Power Rankings:
Well, first of all, they beat the defending champ. Secondly, I might be getting a little giddy about only one game, but here's what captured me: The Jags never pulled in their horns. They never stopped coming, either offensively or defensively. Bold football. Attack on both sides of the ball, never mind what the percentages say. Yeah! With Indy coming up, in the Dome, this lofty status might last only one week, but let 'em enjoy it while they can.
They're not happy about their big win over Oakland because they failed so often in the red zone. Their motto now is, "Keep Stover off the field." (He's the kicker, for those of you who need things spelled out.) So why are they still at No. 2? Because they were last week and you don't drop a team way down after a handy victory.
Now it gets dicey. Any number of worthy candidates could fill this spot: Chargers, Falcons, Bengals, Browns (no, strike that ... Linda, are you messing with me again?), Bears and so forth. But I'm going with the high-flying Indies because I have a feeling they're gonna be up here for a while.
An old-fashioned college option attack, good for 306 yards rushing, and yes, I'm a sucker for the ground offensives. Reminds me of a dream I had a few years back that they came out in a single-wing, with Vick at tailback, and I actually called Dan Reeves about it, but ... ah, you've heard that story already.
I picked them to beat Pittsburgh. They're all banged up. So why didn't I change my pick? It's the wounded-animal syndrome. Unless it's your QB who's down, injuries often induce a snarling nastiness in those who are left to carry on.
Call this drama "Grossman Reborn," which sounds like a play by Arthur Miller. "Three weeks ago it was 'Damn Rex,'" says TE Desmond Clark, who has 10 catches in two games. "Now everybody loves him again." Well, we know how fast that can change, but why knock a rebirth of Rudy Bukich to Mike Ditka? At least for this week.
This bothers me: They're calling their pass rush the Pacific Sack Exchange. Hey, all you clever phrase-makers out there, you ever hear of a Jets unit with Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau, etc.? You know where the term "sack" comes from? No, not looting and pillaging and the sack of Rome and the girls' dorm. It's a George Allen phrase, when he was coaching the Rams in a game with the Cowboys and their QB, Craig Morton, was coming up. "We'll get that Morton Salt," George said. "We'll put him in a sack." Hence the phrase, sack. True story. Honest.
They're doing OK, but there are a few unsettling "since" numbers. They're not serious sinces. These go back only to 2004, but Shaun Alexander has now had back-to-back games under 100 yards, and that hasn't happen since December 2004, and Matt Hasselbeck completed less than half of his passes against Arizona, and this hasn't happened since November of the same year. Not real bad ... I mean not like sinces that go back to, say, something like 1945, but still nagging.
Big Ben showed a lot of courage Monday night, but the book still says that if you put him in a position in which other things aren't working and he has to take charge of the game himself ... well, he's not ready for that yet. It happened in the playoffs in '04, and in the Super Bowl last year (although Hasselbeck was bad too), and now it happened again vs. the Jags. Well, the poor guy had 104 degrees of fever that afternoon, and his appendix was still wondering what it was doing out of his body, and my God, was that ever a scary sight when he clutched his midsection toward the end of the game ... but still, he has to prove he can control a game without a lot of help.
An unbelievable win over Philly, but some writers always look for trouble. What I'm wondering is what they're going to do about their right cornerback, Sam Madison, who played the first half way off Donte' Stallworth and just gave up everything underneath. You're telling me that maybe the defense was set up that way? Uh uh, no way. It was like stealing. But the Eagles, for some reason, gave up on trying to further push that mismatch in the second half, and Sam finished the game. I felt he'd be lifted for sure, his place taken by some young guy scared to death, but it didn't happen. Maybe they were double-covering everything to his side after a while, but doesn't that really put a damper on your defensive scheme? Just wondering. Just looking for trouble. Just making myself unpopular again. What do I care? I'm off to Nigeria.