Snap judgments (cont.)
Maybe you don't notice what doesn't happen -- if you know what I mean -- but I didn't recognize any sea change in how NFL defenders went about their business Sunday, the first game day since the league stiffened up its enforcement of dangerous hits.
Perhaps it was too small of a sampling to notice any trend, but couldn't you say roughly the same thing about last week's violent collisions? There were apparently some examples noticed of defenders holding up a bit or going for a leg tackle instead of a higher hit, but I didn't see instances where any contact was obviously shied away from.
If Josh McDaniel doesn't make it to year three in Denver, the Broncos head coach might look back at Sunday's 59-14 home loss to the hated Raiders as the moment his tenure turned tenuous. Losing so badly at home to Al Davis and Co. isn't going to be an easy failure to move beyond in Denver.
Let's see, Denver goes down 24 points in the first quarter at home against Oakland and winds up falling by an astounding 45 points. San Francisco drops to 1-6 by losing 23-20 at previously winless Carolina.
And all I could think of was: Next week's 49ers-Broncos game must be driving 'em wild with anticipation in London.
And the Chargers lose yet another one thanks to their special teams play. How many times have we already said that this season? New Chargers kicker Kris Brown is an ex-Texan because he wasn't particularly clutch in Houston, but now his reputation seems to be following him to southern California.
Brown missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with :23 left as San Diego fell to 2-5 with a 23-20 loss to New England. In fairness, Brown wasn't the biggest culprit on the Chargers special teams. He was lining up for a 45-yard attempt to force overtime, but guard Louis Vasquez was flagged for a false start, costing San Diego five key yards. Brown's kick wound up clanking off the right upright, with the extra yardage likely making the difference between a conversion and a miss.
It wasn't exactly Favre returning to Lambeau, but no one enjoyed the Browns upset at New Orleans more than Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita. The former Saints defensive leader, who signed as a free agent with the Browns in March, had one of the four interceptions of Brees. But maybe Fujita's biggest contribution for Cleveland came last week, in sharing secrets of how to prepare for Brees and where the weak spots in his game might be.
The Jets and Rex Ryan were off this week, but wouldn't you know a Ryan was still front and center in Week 7. Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Rex's twin brother, had a great game plan for playing the Saints, and his postgame Gatorade shower was richly deserved.
The Browns really harassed Brees into multiple mistakes, and made him look flustered for much of the game. It was the first time in a long time that I can remember thinking that Brees' lack of prototypical NFL quarterback height really hurt him in a game.
Maybe they won't put him out of his misery during the season no matter what, but that's about curtains for Mike Singletary in San Francisco, right? If the befuddled 49ers (1-6) had any hope of climbing back into the mild, mild NFC West race, that 23-20 loss at previously winless Carolina ought to remove all doubt. Good thing the baseball Giants made the World Series, because otherwise the heat would be even greater on Singletary in San Francisco.
It's time we start looking at the first-place Seahawks (4-2) as a serious threat to win the division and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With Seattle's 22-10 win over Arizona (3-3), the Seahawks now have what amounts to at a two-game lead on the rest of the division And first-year Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is about to start generating some legitimate coach-of-the-year buzz. The Rams could have been right there with Seattle at 4-3, but their last-minute, 18-17 loss at Tampa Bay takes some of the luster off how well St. Louis has played thus far.
A week after I wrote that Atlanta's lack of explosive playmakers kept it from being as dangerous as the likes of Philadelphia and other top contenders in the NFC, Falcons receiver Roddy White reminded us all that he might be the most underrated receiver in the game. White had 11 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns in Atlanta's 39-32 victory over the visiting Bengals, adding a pivotal two-point conversion reception as well. White caught 11 of Matt Ryan's 24 completions, often in spectacular fashion. He did get stripped of the ball by Bengals cornerback Adam Jones after one of his receptions, but he was also clearly the best receiver in the game, which included Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.
David Carr's showing in relief of the injured Alex Smith ought to tamp down some of the "We want the backup'' clamor in San Francisco. Carr was just 5-of-13 for 67 yards with a game-deciding interception in the final minute-plus. Smith sprained his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the first half and spent a good bit of the day on the sideline with his arm in a sling.
I wonder what ex-Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan thought of his ex-Broncos quarterback, Jay Cutler, on this day? Maybe at this point he doesn't even recognize the kid he drafted in 2006's first round. Except some of the turnovers are probably vaguely familiar.
Well, it was a good run for Max Hall in Arizona. The rookie quarterback left the game in the third quarter with a blow to the head at Seattle, after going just 4-of-16 for 36 yards and a pick. Derek Anderson, the former starter, replaced Hall.
And with that, Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt is officially at his wit's end at quarterback. Could the Matt Leinart experience really have been worse than this in 2010?
Dan Carpenter is rapidly becoming the entire Miami offense. The Dolphins kicker was 5-of-5 on field goals this week, after last week's 3-of-3 showing from long distance in the overtime win at Green Bay. That means he has produced 24 of Miami's most recent 45 points, and that's never a good development for an offense.
The man has certainly taken his share of grief this season, but that was a superb individual effort turned in by Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth on the Cutler fumble he forced at the Washington 1. Haynesworth, anticipating Cutler sneaking the ball, went up and over Bears center Olin Kreutz to knock the ball out of Cutler's grasp as he tried to extend it over the goal line.
That's the kind of disruptive force Haynesworth can be when he's on his game and motivated.
How old am I? I actually covered Todd Bouman when he was a rookie practice squad quarterback with the Vikings in 1997. The Jaguars, down to their third quarterback already this season, had to play Bouman at Kansas City on Sunday after getting both David Garrard and Trent Edwards hurt in the Monday night loss to Tennessee.
Bouman, 38, hadn't started a game since 2005 in New Orleans (the Saints' San Antonio/vagabond season), and he still hasn't won a game as a starter since 2001 in Minnesota. Now that's a losing streak, when you're up to nine years and counting.