Snap Judgments: Titans need QB change, the gutty Pats, plus more
Only the 1992 Chargers have started 0-4 and made the playoffs
The Titans are surprising in that they're winless after four weeks
Now may be the time to see if Vince Young really is their future QB
NEW ORLEANS -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take stock of Week 4 while simultaneously watching the Jets-Saints big-stage duel of undefeateds in a raucous and sold-out Superdome ...
Isn't it almost Vince Young time again in Tennessee? I mean, at 0-4, it's dangerously close to a lost season already for the Titans. Forget about catching the first-place 4-0 Colts. That's a pipe dream. And a wild-card run isn't happening either (Playoffs? Playoffs?) The 1992 San Diego Chargers are the only team in league history to start 0-4 and recover in time to make the postseason.
Where are you going at this point with the 37-year-old Kerry Collins, who has clearly failed to catch lightning in a bottle for a second year in a row? You might as well find out once and for all what you have in the mercurial Young, given that Tennessee faces a huge contract decision with him in 2010 anyway. With the Titans facing the specter of being 0-6 heading into their Week 7 bye -- they're at home against the Colts and at New England in the coming two weeks -- why not re-insert VY and one way or another let 2006's No. 3 pick help make your long-term decision for you.
The situation calls for something drastic in Tennessee, the site of this NFL season's biggest underachievement by far. The future is definitely not now for Jeff Fisher's team. Might as well start finding out what comes next for the Titans, or this year will be a waste in every conceivable way.
To me, there's no more stunning development in the NFL's first month than the disintegration of the Titans defense, which last season came within one meaningless Week 17 loss at Indianapolis from leading the league in fewest points allowed. When you can make the Jaguars offense look like a juggernaut, you've got huge issues. Jacksonville scored on five of its first six possessions in its 37-17 demolition of the reeling Titans.
Tennessee has absolutely lost its swagger on defense, and the Titans don't hit or punish people anywhere near the way they used to. I was among those who believed that Tennessee would easily weather the loss of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz but, so far, those assumptions have been proven patently false.
Hate to say it, but at this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if Fisher made a change at defensive coordinator before the season is out. Chuck Cecil has not kept the train moving in Nashville. Not at all.
Speaking of coaching changes in Tennessee, maybe for the first time, some real anti-Fisher momentum has the chance to take root. I'm not predicting or expecting Houston-based Titans owner Bud Adams to listen to the local discontent in Tennessee, but between last January's shocking one-and-done playoff ouster and this year's 0-4 start, Fisher is at the very least more vulnerable than he has been in quite some time.
Who'd have thunk it, but Jacksonville, the team that nobody watches play (either in person or on TV), is suddenly 2-2 and on a two-game winning streak in the AFC South. Maybe the Jaguars should change their name to the Jacksonville Blackouts.
Between this surprising Mike Sims-Walker at receiver, and Maurice Jones-Drew at running back, what is it with the Jaguars and their hyphenated playmakers on offense?
What a fascinating personal battle it was to watch between Tom Brady and Ray Lewis in Foxborough, Mass. It might have gone largely unnoticed, but there was a moment in the first half of the Ravens-Patriots that should have sent chills through every New England fan. When Brady took off on a scramble inside the Baltimore 10, Lewis came running towards him and hurtled himself at Brady with nothing but bad intentions in mind.
Lewis went flying over Brady as the quarterback wisely went into a self-protection slide at the last possible moment. But if he hadn't, I had visions of a Mo Lewis-type hit on Drew Bledsoe in September 2001, the collision, ironically enough, that launched the Patriots' Brady era and subsequently their dynasty. The replay of sorts didn't occur, but what if another Lewis had sent another Patriots starting quarterback to the sidelines, a little more than eight years apart?
By now we should all just realize it'll never be as pretty for New England as it was in the magic carpet ride of 2007, but the Patriots just gutted out back-to-back home wins over the Falcons and Ravens, and there was nothing fluky about either victory.
With the Patriots schedule now calling for at Denver, Tennessee, at Tampa Bay (in London), bye week, and Miami, New England could (and even should) be 7-1 heading into its Week 10 showdown at Indianapolis.
The best news for Pats fans? The red zone issues improved significantly against Baltimore, with New England scoring three touchdowns in five trips inside the Ravens' 20, after cashing in just four times in their 13 red-zone incursions the first three weeks.
I do believe Matt Cassel knows he's not in New England any more (and while he's not in Kansas, he is very, very close). The 0-4 Chiefs have to be a little nervous about making that huge investment in a contract extension for Cassel this offseason, based on his first month of work in Kansas City.
Cassel seems to be playing timidly, and without anywhere near the confidence level he showed last season in leading the Patriots to 10 wins in 15 starts. While he told me in training camp he relished the chance to show people that he was more than a winning "system quarterback'' in New England, he has disproved nothing so far. Let's see if the next three months changes the story in any dramatic fashion.
There were sideline shots of Jim Schwartz on Sunday in Chicago where the Lions rookie head coach looked positively Elvis-like with those shades and a white jacket that looked like the upper half of one of The King's trademark white jumpsuits.
If not Elvis, Schwartz's look was at least an echo of Jerry Glanville, circa early '90s with the Falcons.
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