What we know (cont.)
Roy Williams hasn't made anyone think he's a No. 1 receiver in Dallas so far. His 11 catches for 219 yards and one touchdown through four games puts him on pace for a 44-catch, 856-yard, four-touchdown season.
Buffalo stirred up plenty of fan interest when it signed Terrell Owens, but the excitement ended after those early days of training camp. There was an awful lot of fuss over a player who has just eight catches for 158 yards and a touchdown through four games. The Bills could have started 1-3 with or without him.
If one bounce of the ball goes differently, the Bengals are the surprise 4-0 team in the league, not the Broncos.
The "Wildcat'' formation hasn't given us one big highlight moment yet this season, has it? Other than, in our minds, the night Michael Vick signed with the Eagles.
It's very, very hard to follow up on success in the NFL. Last year's two Super Bowl teams, the Steelers and Cardinals, are a combined 3-4 so far. And six of last season's eight division winners are at .500 or worse through four games. Tennessee and Carolina are winless, Miami and Arizona own one win, and San Diego and Pittsburgh are 2-2.
Only the Giants and Vikings have returned strong so far, at 4-0.
The transition from Tony Dungy to Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis has been as seamless as anyone could have dreamed. The transition from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora in Seattle has also been seamless, but only in the sense that the Seahawks are the same injury-plagued team this season they were last season.
Denver's switch to the 3-4 defense is working wonders. Green Bay's remains a work in progress.
Carson Palmer is back, and unsurprisingly, that means the Bengals are too.
If you have to start more than one quarterback in the season's first month, you're probably losing. Of the seven teams that already have started multiple quarterbacks -- Miami, Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Seattle and St. Louis -- only one of them has a winning record: the 2-1 Eagles. The Browns, Chiefs, Bucs and Rams are all winless at 0-4, while the Dolphins and Seahawks own just one victory.
Jason Campbell and Jim Zorn are still tied at the hip in Washington. And I wouldn't give you $5 that either one of them are Redskins again in 2010.
Brett Favre still has it. Other veteran faces in new places do too. If you thought Tony Gonzalez, Brian Dawkins, Fred Taylor, Darren Sharper and Orlando Pace were washed up, you were misinformed.
This season's new crop of head coaches has a real boom-bust quality to it. Four of the league's 11 new head coaches are a combined 14-2 thus far: Denver's Josh McDaniels and Indy's Jim Caldwell are each 4-0, while the Jets' Rex Ryan and San Francisco's Mike Singletary are both 3-1.
The NFL's other seven new head coaches are a combined 3-25: Cleveland's Eric Mangini, Kansas City's Todd Haley, Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris and St. Louis's Steve Spagnuolo are all 0-4. Seattle's Jim Mora, Oakland's Tom Cable, and Detroit's Jim Schwartz are each 1-3.
The Saints and the Vikings both can thank the deferral of any StarCaps suspensions for a good chunk of their 4-0 starts. New Orleans defensive ends Charles Grant (four sacks) and Will Smith (two sacks, one fumble forced) have both been big playmakers for a Saints defense ranked 7th in points allowed (16.5 per game). Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams have done their usual work for a Vikings run defense that ranks 9th in the league with 89.5 yards allowed per game.
In terms of their high-profile returns from knee injuries, Tom Brady is far more back than Shawne Merriman, but maybe not quite as far back as Cadillac Williams.
If you believe in the power of coaching trees, Tony Dungy's (Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin, Jim Caldwell) is currently tops in the NFL, narrowly besting Andy Reid's (Brad Childress, John Harbaugh, Steve Spagnuolo), and by a healthier margin, Bill Belichick's (Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, and by the loosest definition, Jim Schwartz).
The first-place teams in the AFC West and NFC West are off to great starts -- Denver is 4-0 and San Francisco 3-1 -- but the rest of the weakest two divisions are the same mess they've been in recent years.
In the NFC West, Arizona (1-2), Seattle (1-3) and St. Louis (0-4) are a combined 2-9, with the only non-division win being the Cardinals' victory at Jacksonville. In the AFC West, San Diego (2-2), Oakland (1-3) and Kansas City (0-4) are a combined 3-9, with the only non-division win being the Chargers' home win over Miami.
That's good news for the teams in the NFC North and the AFC South, which both play all four clubs in the NFC West this season, and for the NFC East and AFC North, which have games against the AFC West this year.
The Bucs and Browns were the teams that had the highest level of indecision at quarterback throughout the long offseason, and that's almost always an indication a club doesn't like any of its choices. Despite months spent pondering their QB situations, both Tampa Bay and Cleveland reversed their opening-day starting decisions after just three games, benching former first-round picks Brady Quinn and Byron Leftwich in favor of late-round QBs Derek Anderson and Josh Johnson.
And here's a prediction you can take to the bank: Those won't be the last moves the woeful Bucs and Browns make at quarterback this season.
Neither the 49ers or the Raiders have had a winning season since 2002, when both won their division and went to the playoffs. Last year, they both fired their coaches in midseason, with the Raiders canning Lane Kiffin after four games and the 49ers axing Mike Nolan after seven.
Both of them gave their interim head coaches the fulltime gig this offseason, and both men promised to change the culture of defeat in the Bay Area. But that's where the similarities end.
In San Francisco, the shenanigans and the losing has ended with the no-nonsense Mike Singletary leading the 49ers to a 3-1 mark and first place in the NFC West. In Oakland, the beat (and the beatings) goes on. The Raiders are 1-3, in third place in the AFC West, and head coach Tom Cable has made headlines for the kind of nonsense Oakland is known.
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