Snap Judgments (cont.)
The four teams from the states of Ohio and Missouri have combined to go 0-12 this season, which accounts for more than one-fourth (25.5 percent) of the 47 losses that have occurred in 2008.
But something's gotta give this week because the Browns are at the Bengals, and barring a tie (wouldn't that be something?), somebody's going home a winner. As for the Chiefs and Rams, they don't play this year, so theoretically, they could both go 0-16. With another month or so of losing in Kansas City and St. Louis, I reserve the right to drop the theoretical element of that premise.
You get the feeling the NFL might very well believe Ravens running back Willis McGahee was deliberately poked in the eye by some Browns defenders last week, but that upon further review, the replays didn't provide indisputable evidence that such misdeeds went on.
In other words, what goes on at the bottom of the pile in the NFL, stays at the bottom of the pile in the NFL.
So much for the notion Pittsburgh has corrected its problems on the offensive line, which was the mantra when I visited Steelers camp in Latrobe, Pa., this summer. After that eight-sack beating that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took at Philadelphia last week -- and he was hit another half-dozen times besides the sacks -- Roethlisberger is averaging four sacks per game this season.
At that pace he would finish with 64 sacks this season. Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times in 2006, and 47 more last year, the highest two-year total in franchise history
Anybody in Dallas still complaining about the Cowboys taking a complementary back like Felix Jones in the first round of the draft this year? Jones is the first Cowboy in team history to score a touchdown in each of this first three games. If he's a luxury item with Marion Barber already around, I believe in luxury.
I covered the 2002 NFL draft from the Lions' team headquarters in suburban Detroit, and well remember the Joey Harrington first-round pick that Millen made that day. In many ways, he and the Lions never recovered from that mistake.
So it was a bit ironic to see the Saints, Harrington's fourth NFL team, release him on Wednesday, the same day the Lions finally put Millen out of his misery.
Don't know how Plaxico Burress' attempts to have his suspension shortened or overturned might play out, but I do know it was a relatively low-risk way for Giants coach Tom Coughlin to make a show of disciplining the, at times, unreliable and self-centered Burress.
With New York on a bye, Burress misses just next week's very winnable game against Seattle, and there's no position that the Giants are deeper at than receiver. They haven't even been able to get rookie Mario Manningham active this season.
I already like one move the Lions have made in the post-Millen era: elevating assistant general manager Martin Mayhew to the GM role, at least while they begin their due diligence for an all-out search for Millen's successor. I covered Mayhew for three of his four seasons as a Bucs cornerback in the mid-90s, and he was as smart an NFL player as I've ever encountered. I don't know if his ties working under Millen in Detroit since 2001 will necessarily help his candidacy for the full-time job -- he was one of Millen's first hires -- but Mayhew is well-respected within the league for his front-office experience and intelligence.
Troy Brown finally retired Thursday with much fanfare from the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. That's as it should be. He was the quintessential team-first Patriot, and I still think his willingness to switch from receiver to part-time nickel cornerback in 2004 -- his 12th season in the NFL -- when New England's injury-riddled secondary needed bodies, was one of the most selfless feats in recent NFL history.
I believe 98.7 percent of the rest of the league's players would have balked at Bill Belichick's request to make such a move. Then again, maybe only about four percent of the NFL's 1,700 or so players could have handled such a tricky midseason assignment.
Life is always good in the NFL when you're three games into the season and still unbeaten, but some teams will invariably handle early success better than others. I don't have any concerns about the Titans keeping their perspective at 3-0 after talking with Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz this week.
"Maybe if you don't expect to win, maybe it's that way, where you're on a cloud,'' Schwartz said. "But we have a real veteran team now. We've transformed this team. A couple years ago we were the youngest team in the NFL. I just don't know if there's as much euphoria about being 3-0 when guys expect to win.
"We have a real level-headed bunch of guys, and they're not going to get real high if they win or real low if they lose. By Wednesday, whether we won or lost the last game, it's gone. It was like we were 0-3 at practice [Wednesday]. We've been doing this long enough to realize 3-0 isn't a guarantee of anything. All it means is you got off to a good start. We're not reveling in anything.''