Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday January 14, 2008 2:07AM; Updated: Monday January 14, 2008 10:21AM
The Fine Fifteen
1. New England (17-0). Eight quarters shy of history, I can't see the Patriots losing. Not to the beat-up Chargers at home, or to the red-hot Giants or Packers.
2. Green Bay (14-3). I wrote this Saturday night online, but it bears repeating: 145 running backs make more than Ryan Grant ($310,000). That's an average of 4.5 running backs per team making more than the hottest back in football.
3. New York Giants (12-6). Weird scene of the day, and I mean very weird: Peyton Manning is coming off the podium after his postgame press conference, and someone says, "Hey, Eli just threw a touchdown pass! Giants are up 7-zip.'' Peyton smiled a quarter-smile and said, "Good for him.'' First smile in hours.
4. San Diego (13-5). Representatives from the 2008 edition of Webster's were in the Chargers' locker room, trying to define "miraculous.''
5. Indianapolis (13-4). If I'm Bill Polian, and Tony Dungy walks, I might want to change the mindset of the team a little bit. That's the second horrible home playoff loss as a big favorite in the last three years.
6. Dallas (13-4). I didn't like seeing a couple of things here: Tony Romo losing his cool and the offensive line not being able to stem the Giants pass-rushing tide in the fourth quarter. If you think that has anything to do with Romo taking 2 1/2 days in Mexico with his girlfriend, I feel sorry for you.
7. Jacksonville (12-6). Good sign for the Jags: The last five quarters of David Garrard's playoff experience show he's a long-term keeper. Bad sign: Not enough good players in the Jacksonville secondary.
8. Pittsburgh (10-7). Ed Bouchette wrote a thoughtful piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the other day about how Steelers fans can't look at this season as a failure because of the resuscitation of Ben Roethlisberger's career. He's right. Add in Mike Tomlin, and I'd look at the glass as three-quarters full in Pittsburgh -- how many teams in the NFL can say they've got a better coach/quarterback situation for the long-term than Tomlin/Roethlisberger? Look at this Fine Fifteen. New England, yes. Who else? No one. (Indy is interesting, because whoever you pair with Peyton Manning when Tony Dungy retires -- Next month? Next year? Next decade? -- is going to have a good future, obviously.)
9. Seattle (11-7). The output for the starting defensive line of Patrick Kerney, Brandon Mebane, Rocky Bernard, Darryl Tapp that was supposed to control the game in Green Bay: nine tackles, two assists, no quarterback pressures. And you wonder why the Seahawks allowed six straight touchdown drives.
10. Tennessee (10-7). Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz impressed Arthur Blank last Friday in Atlanta. If I were you, Mr. Blank, I'd have one of your men call Bill Belichick this afternoon and ask: "Of all the people you've interviewed to this point, which is the one who'd give the Patriots the toughest game once he got a chance to build a team?'' I'd bet a latte Belichick would say Schwartz. And the selection of Thomas Dimitroff, a Belichick/Scott Pioli scout, wouldn't hurt Schwartz.
11. Tampa Bay (9-8). Pretty good shape for the future. The only Bucs starter slated for free agency is center Jon Wade.
12. Washington (9-8). One reason why Joe Gibbs decided to retire is that if his grandson, Taylor, who has leukemia, had a relapse during the 2008 season. Gibbs felt he couldn't up and leave the Redskins during the season to serve in the supporting role for his family. So it was best to make the break now.
13. Cleveland (10-6). Romeo's not going anywhere.
14. Philadelphia (8-8). Good for you, Brian Westbrook, making the AP All-Pro team. You were clearly one of the best two backs in football this year.
15. Minnesota (8-8). Interesting free-agent question. Fullback Tony Richardson, one of the best blocking backs in the game, is 36. He's unsigned. Will the Vikes beat back a couple of challengers for the services of this fine fullback?