The Sept. 11
trade of former Super Bowl MVP receiver Deion Branch from New England to
Seattle presents a couple of issues for the Seahawks. Coach Mike Holmgren has
to figure out how to get the ball to four established wideouts--Branch (right),
Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson--while not de-emphasizing the
Shaun Alexander--led running attack that rolled up 153.6 rushing yards per game
last season. Of greater concern, Branch has never played in the West Coast
offense. The prototypical receiver in that system is bigger than the 5'9",
188-pound Branch and has to withstand more physical play than what Patriots
receivers are used to. While Branch learns the Seattle offense, he'll likely
split time with the speedy Burleson at flanker; Jackson starts at split end,
and in a three-receiver set Engram lines up in the slot. "The most
immediate thing Deion does for us," Holmgren said last week, "is to
further develop our four-receiver package. Typically in the past we might have
six plays in our game plan for four wide receivers. When Deion gets in there we
might have 15."
have a lot of time to become a team," a weary-sounding Tom Brady said on
Sunday night, after New England held off the the Jets 24--17. "I expect us
to be right there at the end, like we always are, but we're not close to where
we need to be." Despite a 2--0 start, the Pats have struggled--no surprise
considering their first (Branch), second ( David Givens) and fourth ( Tim Dwight)
wideouts from 2005 are gone through trade or free agency. Two replacements,
rookie Chad Jackson and former Raider Doug Gabriel, haven't practiced much
because of strained hamstrings. Look for Gabriel, who in Oakland showed he can
get open, and tight end Ben Watson to be Brady's primary targets by
How important is
Sunday's matchup between 0--2 Carolina (left) and 0--2 Tampa Bay? Since the
playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only three teams-- San Diego in 1992,
Detroit in '95 and Buffalo in '98--dug out of an 0--3 hole to reach the
How can the Raiders spend a league-high 61% of their cap dollars on offense and
look as god-awful--a total of 291 yards and two field goals--as they did in the
first two weeks?
Most surprising team so far this season: the Bills. To have split on the road
against New England and Miami and have zero turnovers with quarterback J.P.
Losman still feeling his way is pretty positive stuff.
Note to all Titans fans hollering for Vince Young to play: He's not ready yet.
That's why Tennessee signed veteran Kerry Collins--to take the lumps while
Young gets mentally prepared to lead the franchise for a decade.