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Just make do with it

In the NFL, overcoming adversity is what life's all about

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Wednesday September 22, 1999 01:27 PM

By John Donovan, CNN/SI

Flags and Flattery
Direct Snaps
Illegal Use of Hands
Must Sees & Mismatches
The Bottom Line

The NFL is all about making do. Moving on. Filling big shoes. Stepping up. Not crying over spilled milk. Taking it to the next level. Giving it everything. Checking guts.

You get the picture.

Overcoming the unforeseeable is what separates the Denver Broncos (who made do without John Elway for a half-dozen games last year) from the San Diego Chargers (who never took their game to another level after Ryan Leaf wigged out).

Early in the '99 season, several teams already are having to make do, with differing success. Rick Mirer has struggled as the replacement for the injured Vinny Testaverde with the Jets. Kurt Warner has shown signs of being a capable starter in St. Louis after Trent Green went down. Neil O'Donnell won his first outing as a replacement for Tennessee QB Steve McNair, out with a back injury. And last week Glenn Foley came in for an injured Jon Kitna and led Seattle to a win over the Lions.

Ron Rivers is filling in admirably for the for-now retired Barry Sanders as Detroit's new featured back, something Byron Hanspard will have to do for the Falcons now that Jamal Anderson has ripped up his knee and is gone, probably for the whole season.

"You are going to have adversity," a somber Dan Reeves said Wednesday in announcing the extent of Anderson's injury. "The teams that handle it best are going to be the teams that are in the playoffs."

Sometimes, it's difficult to see how much is lost when a player goes down or out. The vaunted New York Giants' defense won the opener against Tampa Bay without Pro Bowler Jason Sehorn in the lineup. Last week, with Sehorn still nursing a sore hamstring, the Giants lost and gave up 50 points to the Washington Redskins.

The Broncos hardly missed an injured Elway last year when Bubby Brister filled in. But, boy, could the 0-2 Broncos use the now-retired Elway this season.

On to the Glance, which this week tackles one of life's eternal questions: Are the Tennessee Titans for real?

Luckily, the Glance doesn't answer eternal questions.

The Lions
Admit it. No way you picked these guys to be undefeated at this point of the young season. Heck, no way you figured they'd have two wins in any part of this season.
The Broncos' funk
Well, Bubby wasn't the answer. And Griese hasn't exactly burned it up. Heck, even TD can't get untracked. Looks like Elway timed this thing just right.
The 'Boys are back
Emmitt Smith looks like the old Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys are finding ways to win. And no one else in the NFC Least looks like a title contender yet.
Flag -- Rookie quarterbacks:
Couch. No. McNabb. No. Smith. Nope. McNown. Ehhhh. In a few years, maybe these guys will be decent. But until then ...
Flag -- Jake Plummer:
When you call the plumber, you know it's going to be expensive. When you call this guy -- at least early in the year -- he'll cost you, too.
Flag -- The Jets:
OK, so maybe it's not their fault. But you wanna see what kind of coach Bill Parcells is? You'll find out this season.
Flattery -- Stephen Davis:
The Redskins' running back has become an integral part of the season's best offense, and has made Washington fans forget about Skip Whatshisname.
Flag -- Norm Johnson:
You know, a kicker's life ain't that tough. Pay attention, kick a ball, get paid. The poor Eagles' PK screwed up the first two. If he doesn't watch it, No. 3 is next to go.
There are a lot of bad teams out there. And there are some really bad ones. Then there's Cincinnati.
You have to root for Brad Johnson, who has been banged up, benched and now is kicking butt.
Why isn't Warrick Dunn getting as much heat in Tampa Bay as Trent Dilfer?
To Joey Galloway. It should be a crime that these hands aren't in use.
To Leon Lett. Some guys never learn. A waste of talent, money and a crime against his team.
To the Vikings' offense. Do you guys really miss Brian Billick that much?
Denver at Tampa Bay (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET). Who would've figured that the defending Super Bowl champs would be staring at 0-3?
Washington at New York Jets (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET). Can Brad Johnson pick apart his second New York defense in as many weeks?
Atlanta at St. Louis (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET). Now without Jamal Anderson, the defending NFC champs are staring at 0-3 unless the can get by the Rams.
The Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons have the same record as Cincinnati, Carolina, Philadelphia and expansion Cleveland. And that's not good, any way you look at it.

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