Pacman's done in Dallas and Brees will break Marino's passing record
Dan Marino's statistical legacy will take another hit
Roy Williams trade won't be long-term success for Cowboys
Shaun Alexander's tenure in D.C. will be like Eddie George's in Dallas
Staring into my oblong-shaped crystal ball, here's what I foresee for the days, weeks and months ahead in this 2008 NFL season.....
Dan the Man Marino's statistical legacy is going to take its third major hit in five NFL seasons when Saints quarterback Drew Brees shatters his single-season passing yardage record of 5,084, set in his magical 1984 campaign. Marino saw his one-season touchdown pass record of 48 go by the boards in 2004, courtesy of the Colts' Peyton Manning, who threw 49 (Tom Brady broke Manning's record with 50 in 2007).
Marino also watched Brett Favre run down his career touchdown pass record of 420 in September 2007, when Favre threw No. 421 against the Vikings in the Metrodome. And now its Brees' turn to relegate Marino to second place in single-season passing yardage.
Through six games, Brees has thrown for 1,993 yards, a 332.2-yard per game pace that would give him 5,315 yards at season's end -- or 231 more than Marino. Through his first six games of 1984, Marino had thrown for 1,848 yards, or 308 per game.
Yeah, we hate those on-pace projections too, to a certain degree, but this time we're allowing it because Brees is going to finish the job (and besides, he was my preseason pick for league MVP, so there's that.) And like Marino with Miami in 1984, Brees will have the benefit of good weather to throw the ball in down the stretch. In the Saints' final 10 games, they'll play half of them in domes (three in the Superdome, one in Atlanta, one in Detroit), and they should also have good weather this week in Carolina and in Week 13 at Tampa Bay.
That leaves only three games that could be climatically challenging for the Saints passing game: Their Week 8 game against San Diego in perpetually rainy London (remember last year's Dolphins-Giants Mud Bowl in Wembley in Week 8?), a Week 11 trip to Kansas City, and a Week 15 Thursday night game in the windy and probably frosty confines of Chicago's Soldier Field.
The Saints are not going to have a dominant running game at any point in 2008, so they will keep throwing the ball (late in blowout wins aside). And also working in Brees favor is that at 3-3, New Orleans will likely need every win it can get, prompting it to fully play the season out through Week 17, rather than rest him and other key starters in late December.
Between now and the close of the regular season, the Cowboys will tell Pacman Jones to pack it in. Even if Jones should be cleared to play once again in a month or so by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell -- and we're nowhere near certain that will even happen -- it will be a short-lived reprieve for a once-promising career that is destined to end unhappily. There will be another embarrassing incident somewhere, some night, involving him and someone else, and that will be that.
Jones is his own worst enemy, and while his self-destructive behavior can be curbed, it's not realistic to believe he can change his temperament, judgment and lifestyle so completely as to avoid all future off-field troubles. That's unfortunate for him, because the reality at this point is he has earned himself that no-tolerance policy from the league, and the chances of him ever again getting the benefit of the doubt is slim and none.
Let's face it: If Jones can't make it in Dallas, where everyone from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on down went out of their way to erect a safety net around him and keep him on the straight and narrow, he can't make it anywhere.
In the short run, meaning between now and the end of their 2008 regular season, the Cowboys' acquisition of receiver Roy Williams will pay some dividends for Dallas. But in the span of time, the trade won't be judged a long-term success or be identified as one of the key moments in the Cowboys' return to Super Bowl form -- if and when that ever occurs.
This wasn't a fate-of-the-franchise-altering Herschel Walker deal in reverse, but Dallas simply gave up too much for a fifth-year player who has shown flashes of dominance, but nowhere near enough to warrant surrendering a large chunk of its 2009 draft for: first, third and sixth-round picks.
Williams' career will be reinvigorated by escaping the losing atmosphere of Detroit for the chance to win in Dallas, and he'll have his moments where he'll be the play-making force that inspired the Lions to choose him so high in 2004's first round. But there won't be a Randy Moss-to-New England or even Terrell Owens-to-Philadelphia or Dallas level impact made by Williams. And the Cowboys paid as if there would be, even if they were only shopping for a No. 2 complementary receiver for Owens at this point.