Snap Judgments (cont'd)
This year's early nominee for the Marques Colston out-of-nowhere award goes to Seattle rookie running back Justin Forsett, a seventh-round pick out of Cal who so far has looked like a young Tony Dorsett -- if you'll excuse the rhyme.
Forsett ripped off 136 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in Seattle's 29-26 overtime win over visiting Chicago on Saturday. That gives him 194 yards rushing on 28 carries this preseason, a whopping 6.9 average run. Only Washington's Marcus Mason (another no-name who's making good) has more rushing yards this preseason, albeit courtesy of the Redskins' one extra exhibition game.
Who needs Shaun Alexander? (Apparently no one, since he remains un-signed).
Same old, same old in Chicago. The Bears got 16 points out of their defense and special teams against Seattle, and 10 out of their offense. The trouble is, you can't build your season around the premise that your offense will be outscored by both the opponent and your own team.
How 'bout them Cowboys? I'm not sure there are many positives to take away so far from double-digit road losses at San Diego and Denver. But their show sure plays well for the cameras on HBO. Come to think of it, the ol' Hard Knocks' series didn't work wonders for Kansas City last year either.
I watched most of that Panthers-Eagles game Thursday night -- even making it through that almost one-hour weather delay -- and all I kept thinking was that Philly head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg looked in midseason form.
The Eagles threw the ball 52 times in the game, completing 25 for 247 yards passing, compared to just 22 rushes. Does anybody in the league bother giving less lip service to the myth of the all-important balanced offense? Philly's going to throw the ball more than it runs. A lot more. Almost every time.
Oh, so that's why Matt Cassel hasn't started a meaningful game since high school. Anyone care to debate the issue of whether Tom Brady is more valuable to his team than any other player in the NFL, Peyton Manning included? (Would you trade Cassel straight up for Jim Sorgi? I wouldn't). Next contract negotiation with the Patriots, Brady's agents should pop in the video of New England's first two 2008 preseason showings on offense.
Not that you need reminding, but Minnesota's Super Bowl express depends on the state of Tarvaris Jackson's right knee, which sustained a sprain to the medial collateral ligament at Baltimore. When I first heard the news that Jackson had left the game with a knee injury Saturday night, I had flashbacks to how the Ravens wiped out the Falcons' 2003 season when quarterback Michael Vick fractured his fibula against Baltimore in an exhibition game that August.
Jackson's injury is nowhere near that serious, of course, but with Gus Frerotte, Brooks Bollinger and John David Booty behind Jackson on the depth chart, would the Vikings dare dial up the still unsigned Daunte Culpepper if Jackson at any point this season went down for any length of time? Given how Minnesota head coach Brad Childress and Culpepper got along in their brief time together, I think not.
The more I see of Baltimore rookie running back Ray Rice, and the more Willis McGahee continues to have health-related question marks surrounding his surgically repaired left knee, the more I'd be inclined to snap up Rice if I were one of those Fantasy Football playing types (which I'm not).
Ravens rookie head coach John Harbaugh loves the kid, but for now has to stick with the company line that McGahee is his starter. But no matter what the semantics, Baltimore is going to use the rookie from Rutgers early and often. And the onus is on McGahee to re-prove that he can be counted on to get on the field and produce.
Rice touched the ball 11 times at home against the Vikings on Saturday and produced 94 yards, including a 42-yard burst the first time his number was called before the hometown fans. But that was only the start of the love affair. It's going to get better, Baltimore.
Even before he injured his left shoulder in action against Detroit at home Sunday night, I had my doubts whether Chad Johnson's new and improved attitude was even going to make it through September. His transformation had a bit too much overnight, calculated feel to it. I figured he was two or three frustrating Bengals losses away from reverting to the forehead-slapping form he exhibited for most of this offseason.
But now that he's hurt, and maybe won't be healthy enough to be the early-season factor he had hoped, I think the odds he blows up on the Bengals again have risen to better than 50-50.
When I visited Ravens camp way back on July 22, sources within the organization told me they didn't expect franchised linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs to report and sign his one-year contract until a couple days after Baltimore's second preseason game. That has become somewhat of the standard move for unhappy franchise players, to blow off training camp as a sign of their displeasure, but still give themselves two weeks to prepare for the regular season.
Still, Suggs came in exactly two days after the Ravens' second preseason game, so I'm impressed by Baltimore's prognostication skills.
Now playing the role of Terrell Owens in Philadelphia, Javon Walker in Green Bay, Randy Moss in Oakland, Chad Johnson in Cincinnati and Keyshawn Johnson in Tampa Bay, we give you Anquan Boldin in Arizona -- the latest, greatest (and clearly underpaid) receiver who wants to shoot his way out of town using only his mouth.
You better suck it up and hit the practice field a bit more, Plaxico Burress. That touchdown machine Domenik Hixon is starting to close some ground.
Not that I expect anyone to change their minds in Tennessee or Washington because of this, but did you notice how much more productive backup quarterbacks Kerry Collins and Todd Collins were this weekend when compared to starters Vince Young and Jason Campbell?