Snap Judgments (cont.)
Posted: Sunday September 30, 2007 7:32PM; Updated: Sunday September 30, 2007 8:03PM
Here's the most amazing sentence I've written this season: The Kansas City Chiefs are in first place. Some how, some way, the 2-2 Chiefs share that distinction with both Denver and Oakland, a game ahead of the Chargers. I did not see this coming, and I hereby acknowledge that I have no official clue about this NFL season.
Last year, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees combined to win 24 of a possible 32 regular-season games. The Chargers quarterback and the ex-Chargers quarterback aren't having quite as much success this year. They're a combined 1-6 this season.
With his reeling Rams going 0-for-September, you can add Scott Linehan's name to all those coaching on the hot seat lists. Linehan's offense has had injuries to contend with -- especially on the offensive line -- but the level of underachievement in St. Louis is dramatic nonetheless.
With 39 points in four games, the Rams are averaging less than 10 per game, and by anyone's measurement, quarterback Marc Bulger and running back Steven Jackson (who missed the loss at Dallas due to injury) are two of the biggest disappointments in the league in 2007.
The Browns' Lewis didn't exactly run wild against the Ravens, but his 64 yards on 23 carries included a 1-yard, second-quarter touchdown run that aided in Cleveland's 27-13 win.
Makes you wonder when Baltimore's big, bad defense will show up? The Ravens gave up 27 at Cincinnati, 23 at home last week against Arizona, and 27 more at Cleveland. Could Baltimore be missing outside linebacker Adalius Thomas more than it expected to, or are the Ravens relying a bit too much on their fearsome defensive reputation through four games?
Apparently not even Chicago's defense is good enough to withstand the loss of four key starters. For three quarters, the Bears looked poised to beat the pass-happy Lions without linebacker Lance Briggs (hamstring), cornerbacks Nathan Vasher (groin) and Charles Tillman (ankle), and safety Adam Archuleta (hand). If you throw in the loss of safety Mike Brown, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, Chicago played Sunday without its entire opening-day secondary.
But it did wind up mattering when Detroit hung that 34-point fourth quarter on the Bears, dropping the defending NFC champions to 1-3, three full games behind first-place Green Bay (4-0) and two games behind the Lions (3-1).
Did you see the way the Bears offense mobbed Brian Griese after he threw his first touchdown pass -- 15 yards to Muhsin Muhammad -- after replacing the embattled Rex Grossman? Me thinks the over-reaction spoke volumes about the offense's true feelings for their displaced starter. Put them on truth serum, and the Bears players will tell you they're thrilled that Rex is the ex.
That said, Griese's three-interception afternoon wound up looking positively Rex-ian, didn't it? The veteran QB made some killer mistakes that helped spark Detroit's gargantuan 34-point fourth quarter. Makes you wonder how long until Kyle Orton gets the next shot at starting in Chicago.
The conventional wisdom is that he'll never last long given the reckless way he runs, but Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson is a big-time home-run hitter, capable of going the distance every time his number is called. Sunday was my first chance to see him perform live, and he's one of those rare players in the NFL who changes the air pressure in the stadium when he has the ball in his hands.
Whether Peterson's rushing, catching a pass or returning a kickoff, you can't take your eyes off him. Through the first four weeks of his NFL career, he has tied a team rookie record with three 100-yard rushing games, and set four-game marks for yards gained from scrimmage (549) and most net yards (669). Only time will tell if he's a shooting star or not, but there's nobody beating out Peterson for NFL offensive rookie of the year.