Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 1:
a. Here's how you know Jason Taylor was not fit Thursday night: The first time he touched a Giant with the ball was on the 30th play of the game, 22 minutes in, when he tackled Brandon Jacobs.
b. I'll just say this: If Jason Taylor was anywhere near healthy, he's going to have a bad season. Maybe very bad. I watched him through the binoculars on 30 or so snaps Thursday night. No burst whatsoever.
c. Another Example of King Idiocy Dept.: I picked Washington to be an NFC Wild Card. Rally time, Men of Zorn.
d. For the record, Ocho Cinco is not "Eighty-Five'' in Spanish. It's "eight five.''
e. There is no preventive conclusion to be drawn from the shooting of Richard Collier. None. Young men with a few bucks in their pocket, 26-year-old men, who have a day off the next day, are not certainly in the wrong for being out at 2:45 a.m. What do you think 26-year-old kids do on Friday and Saturday nights around this country? They stay out. To equate the lateness of the hour with a shooting is nonsense.
f. Best thing the officiating department did in the offseason: Officiating czar Mike Pereira made it a point of emphasis with his officials to head off taunting and extreme trash-talking EARLY in game, and last Thursday night, you saw Ed Hochuli go into both huddles to settle down the yapping ... and it worked. Why? Because Hochuli told the Giants and 'Skins the next guy over-woofing would get a 15-yard flag.
g. Before the draft, the Dolphins dealt a fourth-round pick to beef up the bottom of their roster, acquiring tight end Anthony Fasano and linebacker Akin Ayodele. Nice Sundays for them: eight catches, one touchdown, four tackles, one fumble recovery, in total. You can't argue with the way Bill Parcells churns his roster.
2. I think it's folly that Daunte Culpepper retired. Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Baltimore, Green Bay, and St. Louis should have pursued him. What were they afraid of? Either as a strong backup or a possible two- or three-year solution, what's the problem with Culpepper playing for your team? And if I were New England, I'd have him come in this week and duel with Chris Simms.
3. I think, by the way, I checked with Vinny Testaverde, just to be sure, Sunday night. The Patriots hadn't called. He's comfy in semi-retirement, living with his family in Tampa.
4. I think, if I were a betting man, I'd bet Mike Holmgren would work on the East Coast before he retires. And as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, this is no retirement tour for Holmgren. He'll be back, whatever happens this year with the Seahawks.
5. I think these are my college football thoughts of the week:
a. Akron by two touchdowns AT Syracuse? Akron. Wow. Talk about a new low for the Orange.
b. Where to start re: Notre Dame? To struggle mightily to beat San Diego State, a loser to Cal Poly the previous week ... Charlie Weis better have more than a few four-leaf clovers in his pocket this year.
c. Horrible, horrible "excessive celebration'' call by the ref in the Washington-BYU game, which led to a 15-yard penalty, which led to a missed extra point, which led to a BYU win. A sin. An absolute sin. The Washington quarterback taunted no one, embarrassed no one, by tossing the ball in the air and jumping into the arms of an offensive lineman. That was a shameful display of abuse of officiating.
d. Watching the Ohio State-Ohio U. (my alma mater, by the way) game Saturday during our NBC rehearsal, I got Jerome Bettis into the affair between the Bucks and mighty Bobcats. Bettis was taken with the OU backup quarterback who had to come into the game because of a shoulder injury to the starter. The backup was Franshaw "Boo'' Jackson. Yes, Franshaw. Who had a massive, World B. Free-type Afro spilling out of the back of his helmet, obliterating his nameplate, looking like he had a mink over his shoulder pads. "Franshaw!'' Bettis bellowed while watching Jackson rally OU in the second quarter. "This is your big moment, Franshaw!'' Well, we battled. Had 'em 14-12 entering the fourth quarter, then gift-wrapped it for 'em.
e. Pete Carroll had to be chuckling watching Franshaw drive the ball on the Buckeyes, and watching OU stuff the OSU offense through most of the game. That big USC-Ohio State game should be over Saturday at halftime at the Coliseum.
6. I think I'm starting to think Carson Palmer belongs in Jay Cutlerville. He hasn't been a commanding presence on the field for some time, I'd say going back to mid-2006, and I'm hard-pressed to think of him in the same league with the top five or six quarterbacks. I did put him there in my top 50 in the SI NFL Preview issue, but after watching him Sunday, I almost wish I could have that one back.
7. I think the Scott Linehan Watch will begin any week now. He's 7-21 in his last 28 games with the Rams.
8. I think this is what I liked about Week 1:
a. Clinton Portis is one heck of a blocker.
b. Does London Fletcher make every tackle?
c. What a win for John Fox.
d. Ditto Jeff Fisher. And Andy Reid.
e. Kareem McKenzie had a really good night blocking for the Giants Thursday.
f. DeSean Jackson, you have served fair warning on the NFC East. If you can hold up, you should have a Devin Hester impact on the division.
g. We're not supposed to say such things in this business, but I really feel for Tom Brady.
9. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 1:
a. Ridiculous Call And Execution of the Weekend: With a nine-point lead and 7:27 to go Thursday night -- and Brandon Jacobs running over the Redskins -- the Giants, in the midst of a clock-eating drive, called a first-down pass downfield to Plaxico Burress; mistake number one, because Jacobs should have continued to wear down Washington. Mistake number two: Eli Manning threw into clear double-coverage and nearly had it intercepted. What happened to common-sense, churning-it-out playcalling?
b. Speaking of bad play-calling, Zorn took the cake Thursday night. Sheesh. No no-huddle or hurry up in the last six minutes AT ALL, down two scores? It's like he was in a hurry to see the McCain speech.
c. I can't believe they're the same old Lions.
d. Somebody lasso Joey Porter. Why the same old nonsense before the game? I'll tell you what'd cure that yelling and screaming before kickoff: a nice 15-yard penalty.
e. I know Bruce DeHaven, the Seattle special-teams coach, pretty well. I can tell you after Buffalo defensive end Ryan Denney split out and caught a touchdown pass from punter Brian Moorman on a fake field goal attempt, that DeHaven will not sleep for three days.
f. Is Miami sure Ted Ginn is better than Devone Bess? I'm not.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. When Peter Gammons says the AL MVP is Dustin Pedroia, that gets my attention.
b. It look possible now -- likely, even -- that the Red Sox and Yankees will play their first meaningless games in a few centuries when they meet at Fenway for the last three games of the season.
c. I think the Rays are too good to be hearing footsteps.
d. Coffeenerdness: Do not rebel against Pike Place Blend, all ye who want a lighter coffee in the morning at Starbucks. Bold is good. Strong is good. I've heard the folks in my Montclair, N.J., store want the milder stuff back. No! No!
e. I've got some opinions, strong ones, about the political events in this country in the last 10 days, but I think it best I let them germinate a bit longer. You don't read this space to read my political views anyway.
f. One political thought, though, and it's one I think every day: Why is political discourse in this country so sarcastic, so biting, so rude, so disrespectful, so deceitful? No wonder the two sides hate each other so much when they get to Washington and find it hard to agree on the color of pen ink.
g. I haven't seen a movie in a long time.
h. Welcome home, Laura. Hope you enjoyed the Far East. Good luck with the knee surgery this week. I'll be thinking about you.
Who I Like Tonight, and I Mean Tony Kornheiser
We've got the dual Monday-night situation again, the recent custom of the first Monday of the NFL season. I bet Brett Favre will be watching game one.
Minnesota 27, Green Bay 20. The Vikes might have the best runner (Adrian Peterson), pass-rushing defensive end (Jared Allen, until Julius Peppers proves 2007 was a fluke), 4-3 defensive tackle (Kevin Williams) and corner (Antoine Winfield, who I like more than everyone else does) in football this year. Can any other team claim to be this star-heavy? Not Dallas. Not New England. Not Indy. And tonight, not even the bum foot of Bernard Berrian, brought in to be a deep threat for Tarvaris Jackson, scares me off. I just might have picked Minnesota even if Favre were quarterbacking Green Bay tonight.
Denver 24, Oakland 17. Mike Lombardi, of SI.com and the new Web site National Football Post, worked for the Raiders until 2007 and then the Broncos last season. He wrote on National Football Post this week that this was the report he filed to Mike Shanahan after observing Javon Walker last year in a subpar, injury-affected season:
"He sees himself as a star and a player that has natural talent and does not appear to be willing to make the necessary sacrifices in his game to blend into the team concept and the fill an important role in the offense. He has much to overcome this off-season and I'm not sure he has the mental capacity to handle the off the field issues and play the game for the love of the game. He is not the player that his current salary for '07 commands, and it is going to be difficult to get him to understand that his career is at a crossroads.''
This is the man the Raiders guaranteed $16 million (in a $55 million deal) in the offseason. Walker will be motivated to produce for Al Davis, and he'll have some nice moments. But dominate is what the Raiders need him to do, and he's not mentally or physically ready to do that.