Quote of the Week I
"Hey, let's go 7-0. Let's see if we can go 7-0. ... We're playing for ourselves. We're playing for our professional livelihood.''
The Bengals have seven games left, and Chad Johnson says he thinks the team could finish 8-8. Well, in two weeks the Bengals start a rather interesting five-game stretch -- Eagles, at Steelers, Ravens, at Colts, Redskins -- and I'll just say this: If they sweep those five, I'm changing my name to Peter Ocho Cinco.
Quote of the Week II
"Fourteen down in the second half, in a hostile environment, on the road and you came back! On the road! Character overcomes adversity! Was it perfect? Was it pretty? No! But you came back!''
Quote of the Week III
"I don't know. But I'm not going to be breaking down films another 25 years, I'll tell you that.''
Quote of the Week IV
"He blew it! When I get the apology letter I'm not gonna feel any ------- better! I'm not gonna feel any better!''
Stat of the Week
Detroit defensive coordinator Joe Barry, under attack for having the worst statistical defense in the league this season, told Lions beat writers the other day that Detroit's 35 worst defensive snaps in their first seven games this year had yielded 1,202 total yards -- 41 percent of the yardage allowed by the defense. "So when you hear the head coach talk about 'we're this close ... it's the little things,' it is,'' Barry told reporters.
Well, if I were nine inches taller, much thinner and could drain 22-footers with a hand in my face, I'd have been Larry Bird.
Anybody coaching defense in the NFL would be Belichick-like if he could call "Mulligan'' on his worst five plays each week. To illustrate, let's look at the worst two defenses in the NFL through eight weeks in yards per game, Detroit (32) and Kansas City (31), and see what would happen to each if their most generous 35 defensive snaps were removed from their total yards allowed.
I've taken Barry's worst-35 and the 35 biggest gains Kansas City allowed through seven games.
But it's not really accurate to simply eliminate the worst 35 plays by each defense; you've got to replace those plays with what the teams would have allowed under "normal'' circumstance. The average yards per play in NFL games this year is 5.28. So let's multiply that times 35 plays -- the result is 185 yards, or 26.4 yards per game -- and add it to each team's adjusted total from above.
Detroit, with the ugly plays replaced by average ones, would average 276.3 yards allowed per game. That would put the Lions fifth in the league, a scant .9 yards per game behind undefeated Tennessee.
Kansas City, with its worst 35 plays sanitized, would average 263.2 yards allowed per game. That'd be good for third in the NFL, eight yards better per game than the ransacking New York Giants.
Now, you could be a Martian watching football for the first time this fall and know the Lions and the Chiefs aren't in the same defensive league with the Giants and the Titans. It's not close. And the Lions -- allowing an outrageous opposing quarterback rating this year of 118.0 through their 1-6 start -- aren't close to being a good defensive team.
Barry is a good defensive coach. Rod Marinelli is a good defensive coach. They might be able to figure out what ails their defenses before the end of the season, and if they do, they might save their jobs. To say the defense isthisclose to being good might be good inspiration for downtrodden players. It is, however, not very sale-able to anyone who actually watches the games.
I remember Bruce Armstrong, the former Patriots tackle, saying he could play 64 snaps well in a game but if he allowed one sack, he wouldn't think he had a very good game. If he allowed five? Well, that'd be his last game at left tackle for the Patriots. Or probably for anyone. Same thing here. If you go through half a season allowing five explosive plays a game, you're going to be on the firing line, not on the verge of getting the defense turned around.
Stat of the Week II
The Bills ran 27 straight plays from scrimmage against the Jets in the first half, covering 15 minutes and eight seconds ... and scored no points. The 14- and 13- play drives were interrupted by a 92-yard Abram Elam interception return for touchdown for the Jets.
Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week
I had neither an enjoyable or aggravating story this week, which must disappoint you. No aggressive drivers sneaking up to rattle me on the Garden State Parkway, no pleasant flight attendant surprising me with courtesy (probably because I have not flown in the past seven days), no strange occurrences at stoplights in Manhattan. I'll try to do better next week.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Derek Stanley, the first-year wide receiver for St. Louis, scored the first touchdown of the day at the Jones Dome on Sunday against Arizona. Stanley attended Wisconsin-Whitewater, but he certainly is not the most notable student to have attended that august branch campus of the University of Wisconsin.
That would be John Belushi.