Saints prove they're for real; Panthers not far behind
Posted: Wednesday October 18, 2006 10:09AM; Updated: Wednesday October 18, 2006 11:11AM
In a hurry now. Tired. Feeling mean. I'll have something to say about Arizona-Chicago tomorrow, a whole diatribe on how coaches prevent teams from winning. You say you can't wait? Well, then, call me up tonight. You want the number? Well, you can want in one hand and drop a feather in the other one ... an old Army expression. Told you I wasn't in a good mood. Here are the rankings, which will be in and out like the subway at 2 a.m. Beware the roving bands.
Brian Urlacher looked like the greatest linebacker who ever played Monday night. Which is what happens when a guy doesn't get blocked. There would be about 350 college linebackers in that boat, given similar lack of attention. But don't expect Moe, Larry and Curly on ESPN to figure that out. They were too busy getting Touchdown Charley Barkley's slant on how things were going. For tomorrow's column I was going to do a man-to-man matchup on how the Bears' defense compared with that of the 1985 unit. I've bagged it. What are you, kidding?
Still true to last week's rankings. Bye week, leisurely relaxing, occasional TV viewing while watching the other poor devils getting the hell knocked out of them. Folks, this will get more interesting, I promise.
This is what I remembered from Seahawks-Rams: shootouts, up and down the field, the "over" always covered, without any annoying things like defense to get in the way. The whipped cream on the top was Josh Brown's three fielders of 49 yards or more in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals asked to rent them one of them. His charge was exorbitant and they turned him down. Now look who's sorry?
On Wednesday before the Niners game, Marty ripped into his players at practice, in front of, gosh, the media. This was after a solid victory over the Steelers, but long-term strategists saw this as payback for the players' ripping Marty for blowing the Ravens game. My mind becomes cloudy from all this dealing and double dealing and -- and the curse of old people -- all I can remember was what a nice, pleasant guy Marty was when I first knew him, as a linebacker for the Bills, and even before that, for the U. of Pitt.
Can you blame me for holding back on the Saints this long? I mean they still had to beat a top team the hard way, by digging it out at the end. Here are the three things I liked about their performance in the Eagles game: 1) That magnificent 8:26 drive at the end that closed out the contract. 2) The stunt they ran that rang the curtain down on Philly's last offensive play. I wish I could diagram it for you ... I mean it was just so beautifully conceived. They covered the tackle and tight end with a DB and an LB. Grant, the DE was reduced way down, to a gap between guard and center. They pinched the two outside guys hard, making sure they were occupied, and then looped Grant wide, outside the tackle. His quickness allowed him to get in on time and pressure Donovan McNabb into an incomplete. Beautiful. On TV they were mumbling something about how the Eagles "had to do a better job of picking up those rushers," completely ignoring the ingenuity of the stunt that had been set up. 3) Sean Payton's coaching, how he had Drew Brees go into his kneels and burn the clock until the last-second field goal, to shortstop that possibly rarest of all maneuvers by the Philly defense (which was out of timeouts) ... allowing the deliberate TD so as to get the ball back, down by a point. Did you love this game? I sure did.
Oh, that's swell, Brian Billick, just swell. Your defense blows the Carolina game, your QB goes down with a concussion, your running back looks halfway alive against the Panthers after his deep coma against Denver, and what do you do to deal with this chaos? Fire Jim Fassel, your offensive coach. Just swell, Brian. Toss one on the fire, sacrifice another one. They're only assistants.
Jeremy Shockey complains, Plaxico Burress complains, but when Tiki's carrying the ball, they block. New York-Atlanta was simply a big guy whipping a little guy, without much fancy stuff. And when everybody blocks, even the malcontents, it's a pretty sight.