1. I think this is what I liked about Week 2:
a. The Washington Post's "Smarter Stats'' NFL preview page online, by Doug Farrar. A sample this week: "When the Titans go three-wide, don't necessarily expect a pass play -- [Chris] Johnson averaged 8.6 yards per carry out of those formations.''
b. Great rush/forced-fumble combo by Will Witherspoon of the Titans on Pittsburgh's first series, preventing the Steelers from beginning a runaway in Nashville.
c. Jahvid Best is the genuine item. I remember when I put him in the bottom of the first round for my SI mock draft, and I was ... shall we say, derided for it. He's looking like the best bargain in the round right now.
d. Smart player use by Cincinnati offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, putting flex-type tight end Jermaine Gresham wide left as a wide receiver.
e. Leon Hall, a top-five corner, played a top-five-corner game in Cincinnati's win over the Ravens.
f. LaDainian Tomlinson: 22 carries, 138 yards, 6.3 per carry. Reborn.
g. Quincy Black might not ever be Derrick Brooks, but the Bucs linebacker makes a couple of plays a game that remind me of him.
h. Have to admit I was really pulling for Charlie Batch when Mike Tomlin put him in the game. That'd be just about the best story of them all, local community leader leading the team of his dreams as a kid to wins when, by all rights, he should be on the unemployment line.
i. The one-handed touchdown catch by Moss was so good because he never added the second hand, even to secure the ball. He caught the ball over Darrelle Revis with his right hand, palmed it and scored.
j. Richie Incognito was a heck of a signing by Miami, and he played well against the moose of the Viking interior, next to Jake Long.
k. Good comeback week for Philip Rivers.
l. Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney never get old. What impact they had against the Giants.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 2:
a. Ref John Parry took the easy and wrong way out in the early-game brawl between Pittsburgh and Tennessee. I don't care about Hines Ward's reputation; four Titans surrounded and mugged him, and one of them slugged him in the head. And it's an offsetting penalty? Dumb call.
b. The Chicago offensive line might be worse than we thought.
c. Vince Young had an alarming regression Sunday. Good quarterbacks have to have more pocket awareness than he had against Pittsburgh.
d. The Browns have lost two games they could have won. Last year, Jerome Harrison rushed for 286 yards against Kansas City. Yesterday, he rushed for 33 yards against Kansas City.
e. The NFC West.
f. Brandon Jacobs' cool. Or lack thereof. He tossed his helmet into the stands last night in Indy. That solves a lot of things.
g. Teams in QB crises: Carolina, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Arizona.
h. Where's the electric back Felix Jones used to be? Has his weight gain caused the occasional Barry Sanders move to vanish from his repertoire?
i. The Giants tackles were awful Sunday night. They're not the first to get pinwheeled by Mathis and Freeney.
3. I think I loved seeing Marion Motley chosen number 74 on The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players, the countdown series on NFL Network every Thursday night. Very deserving, and Paul Zimmerman would be happy to see that one of his favorite players of all time hasn't been forgotten. Great show, by the way, by NFL Films. Have I said enough that Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films, absolutely, positively deserves a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Right now, in fact.
Sabol is on the preliminary ballot of 113 men that the 44 Hall of Fame voters will whittle down to 25 in the next month by secret ballot. I spent two hours studying the ballot the other night. We are asked not to divulge our list of 25 whenever we do vote, but this just in: Ed Sabol is long overdue for his bust.
It's difficult to say a man who shot film of NFL games, and helped make legends out of NFL players, deserves to be in Canton over many of the players he and his company shot film of over the years. But ask coaches and players how they fell in love with football, and one of the things you'll hear as much as anything else is the magic they saw on NFL Films shows over the years.
Brett Favre told me the night he won the Super Bowl he dreamed of Steve Sabol one day waxing eloquently about the day Brett Favre won the big game, and he loved the fact that generations would remember the day because of what NFL Films would show them.
Ed birthed the company and gave it life and direction. Son Steve took it to the next level, obviously. But this is Ed's time, and I hope my 43 peers on the voting committee see it that way when we meet to vote in Dallas on Feb. 5.
4. I think this is one piece of evidence I'd throw out there about Ed Sabol's candidacy: I came across this letter from then-commissioner Pete Rozelle to Ed Sabol on Oct. 19, 1977, a week after the league finished negotiations on the richest TV contract a sports league ever signed with the networks. I think it shows the regard Rozelle, and the owners, had for what Sabol did.
Wrote Rozelle: "The improved financial terms prompted me to give thought to all of the factors that have contributed to the NFL's growth on television. One of the major contributions has unquestionably been made by you and your organization. In every way, you and your people have fulfilled our original goal for NFL Films -- to operate as a sound business entity but primarily as a promotional vehicle to glamorize the game and present it in its best light. Your dedication to imaginative film portrayals of our sport can certainly be credited with its success in attracting fans to the stadiums and to their TV sets in ever-increasing numbers. Please convey to your entire organization the great appreciation of this office for NFL Films' outstanding accomplishment. Regards, Pete Rozelle.''
5. I think if you just learned how to pronounce the name of one very high Nebraska draft choice -- defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, by Detroit with the second pick in 2010 -- you'd better get ready for a second one. The Cornhuskers will have another top-five pick next April, again from the defensive side: 6-0, 205-pound cornerback Prince Amukamara. Pronounced "ah-MOOK-ah-mar-ah.'' I spoke with Suh about him the other day. "He's going to be a lockdown corner in this league,'' Suh said. "He's really good.''
He showed it Saturday. His tight coverage helped push down the draft stock of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, thought to be a candidate for the first overall pick next April, at least for now. In the 'Huskers' beatdown of Washington, Locker was an awful four-of-20 -- that's 20 percent completions.
6. I think the most interesting thing I read this week, by far, was the column about Randy Moss in National Football Post by former Packer salary-cap czar and negotiator Andrew Brandt. Terrific insight about how angry Favre was when Packers GM Ted Thompson didn't sign Moss in 2007. A snippet of it, starting with the time on draft weekend 2007, when it was the Patriots who got Moss over the Packers, because New England was willing to give Moss a one-year deal and a clear path to free-agency after the season, while Green Bay insisted on a second year:
"Brett was livid. The rest of the weekend I was fielding calls from [agent for Favre and Moss] Bus Cook about what went wrong in trying to sign Randy. Ted did not want to deal with Bus, so I listened patiently to their rancor and tried to explain our position. I truly empathized with Brett. He had befriended and admired Randy for years and the two of them had dreamed of playing together. Here was an opportunity for us to make it a reality. But ultimately, we stood on our principles requiring more than a one-year commitment.
"I told Brett to trust what we had at the position; that Greg Jennings would be a star in a couple years. He said he didn't have a couple of years. Brett offered to give up some of his salary for the following season -- although that was his last season with the Packers -- to bring in Randy. I told that was much appreciated but we would never take his money away from him to sign another player. Brett was forever wanting a more aggressive attitude by the front office toward player acquisition than the present regime. My constant message that our method of drafting and developing talent rather than acquiring proven commodities only served to infuriate him and his resentment of a general manager that showed him none of the compassion and welcomed input of previous regimes.''
Wow. That gives you a great window into how little regard Favre had for Thompson by the time his 2008 "retirement'' came about. This isn't the first insightful, important piece by Brandt either. He's really good in the role of writer with a window into how the game works.
7. I think I have four opinions on the Ines Sainz case:
a. If I were Roger Goodell, I would have given the Jets a $25,000 fine, in addition to the good idea of having owner Woody Johnson fund a media-orientation program. Just funding the program makes it a little wrist-slappish. And I would write a letter to every Jets player and coach telling them it's bush-league and beneath them to act like fourth graders trying to get the attention of the pretty girl in class.
b. If I were the boss of Ines Sainz, I would tell her, "Dress a little more conservatively.''
c. That's not a sexist comment. It's a reality-based comment. I've been around NFL players who look at and make comments about attractive female reporters. It's life. Young men are going to make comments about attractive women in the company of other men. There are attractive women who cover the NFL who present themselves as professionals doing a professional job, and dressing for business. Alex Flanagan, for instance, or Andrea Kremer, Rachel Nichols, Michele Tafoya, Suzy Kolber. Or many others. I don't know Sainz, but I don't think she helps the cause of women in the media by dressing for Maxim when she dresses for work.
d. One of the byproducts of the Sainz story is the discussion of why women should be in the locker room in the first place -- or why any reporters should be in the locker room. I've gotten e-mails and tons of Tweets wondering why we should be in there, and saying we could solve this entire problem (which I don't believe there is) by having all the players cool off, calm down, take a shower, get dressed, and then meet us in an interview room.
I understand that. But you need to understand how your coverage, and your knowledge of the game and the characters in it, will be very adversely affected if we in the news media don't get access to the players soon after the game, and in their habitat, the locker room.
To illustrate my case, let's revisit the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans between the Vikings and Saints last January. When Favre entered the interview room for his postgame press conference, it was about 45 minutes after the painful defeat, which he helped cause with a terrible fourth-quarter interception. He took a beating in that game. In the interview room, he was composed but sad. The Associate Press wrote this: "I've felt better," said Favre, who looked every bit his 40 years. "It was a physical game. A lot of hits. You win that and you sure feel a lot better."
Fifteen minutes after the game, a group of writers, me included, entered the locker room. My observations of the scene, and Favre's state, were in Monday Morning Quarterback hours later. Read the first few paragraphs of this link. This should illustrate why the NFL will have to pry my cold, dead hands off postgame locker-room access.
8. I think the reason Albert Haynesworth will be hard to move -- but not impossible -- is that the Redskins refuse to give away a player they've paid $34 million to in the last 19 months. Would they move him before the Oct. 19 trading deadline? They'd love to, but only if they get a good offer for him. And why would anyone give a good offer when they're unsure how motivated Haynesworth would be to work hard when he's already gotten 70 percent of the money coming to him in the contract.
9. I think I admire Jerry Jones for not going all Steinbrenner and firing his kicker, who has missed 34- and 44-yard field goals in the first two weeks. But really, how can you trust David Buehler? And why would going to a Matt Stover be such a revolutionary move?
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
a. I saw the riveting movie, The Tillman Story, the other night, and it's well worth 94 minutes of your time if you can find it in limited release around the country. But be forewarned: It's disturbing, it does not make the government or the military look good at all, and it's a depressing commentary on our image-is-everything society.
Pat Tillman, as everyone who reads this column knows, was in the first month of his second tour of duty with the Army Rangers in Afghanistan when he was killed by friendly fire. There is evidence presented by filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev that Tillman was killed by men from his own platoon even after he sent up a warning flare that was consistent with a signal from his platoon. When he believed he and another soldier were recognized, he stood up -- and that's when he was mowed down by his own peers. All of his belongings were then burned, including a diary with what-are-we-doing-in-this-war questions throughout. An ugly, ugly chapter in our history, and one some in our government hope you won't watch. Please do.
b. What a great call by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, the fake field goal in overtime to beat Notre Dame. And how sad to hear he suffered a heart attack hours later.
c. I'll say this about the addition of Manny Ramirez for the White Sox: It actually propelled them in reverse. Since Ramirez entered Chicago's lineup Sept. 1, entering Sunday's games, the White Sox are 7-9, and have gone from four games behind to 10. In 48 at-bats, Ramirez has one homer and one RBI. What a darn shame.
d. Re the train wreck that is John Lackey. I'm at the Red Sox-Jays game Friday night at Fenway, and Lackey gets lit up ridiculously -- 4.1 innings, eight hits, two walks, three hit-batsmen; 13 outs, 13 baserunners -- and in the Globe Saturday morning, this is the quote I read, in part, from Lackey: "They just kind of found some holes.'' Dude, were you even at the game you pitched? You got shelled.
e. Good question by Joe Posnanski: How can Ron Gardenhire not be the best manager in baseball?
f. A couple of Mets notes: Did you know that Wise is the official Cheez Doodle of the Mets?
g. And Saturday's battery for the Mets was Dillon Gee and Josh Thole. With Lucas Duda in left.
h. How do the Mets get away with charging New York Met prices for Binghamton Met baseball? And whoever kidnapped Carlos Beltran, please put him on the 7 train and send him back to Citi Field.
i. Coffeenerdness: Set a personal record for espresso shots (six) and cups of Italian Roast (three) Sunday. There's a reason why I'll someday regret my autumnal Sunday night habits, and that's it right there.
j. Good luck, Ross Tucker. It was great working with you. You've got a great future in this business.
k. Best episode of The Office was on the other night. "The Dundies.'' Remember? If you're a real fan, you'll remember who got "The Fine Work Award.'' And "The Bushiest Beaver Award.'' But can you remember what award Michael Scott gave Kevin?
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