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Tag:Tom Brady
Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 2

Posted by Will Brinson



Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 1 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

(Ed. note: Week 2 Podcast will be live first thing Monday morning. Thanks for your patience.)

1. Michael Vick doesn't gets Michael Vick'd
Vick was going to get injured this year. That's just what happens when you combine a quarterback who runs like he does with an offensive line that blocks like Philly's doesn't. But what an unlikely way for him to get injured -- getting tackled in the pocket and falling into a head-to-head, concussion-inducing hit with Todd Herremans, his own offensive lineman.

And even though Mike Kafka looked pretty darn good in an impromptu relief appearance, and even though he provided an endless amount of philosophy-fueled jokes on Twitter, he's not Michael Vick, and he's not going to steal the starter's job or become the single-biggest story of the NFL season.

Fortunately for the Eagles, they've got a reasonably cushy schedule the next four games, facing the Giants, the 49ers, the Bills and the Redskins. But it's a quick reminder to those ready to crown the "Dream Team" as the likely Super Bowl champion: quarterback is a very talented, but very fragile position for them, and if they can't keep Vick upright, it's going to be tough sailing.

Three other notes on that game, while we're here. One, that was an embarrassing display by Falcons fans as Vick left the game, spitting out blood, to boo him mercilessly. I get that many folks won't get past what he did, and how much he might have cost the Atlanta franchise. But to boo a guy who could have suffered a serious head injury is just lacking in class. And kind of surprising for a sports city that typically doesn't show up to scream that loudly.

Two, can the NFL please do something about these "neck injury" classifications? Vick's neck might be sore, as Andy Reid said shortly after the game, he did in fact suffer a concussion. The only difference is that listing him with a concussion would rule him out for the game. A "neck injury" is a loophole for Vick to return to a potentially dangerous situation in terms of his personal health. The NFL needs to make teams get honest on these injury reports if they're going to be serious about player safety.

And finally, big ups to Matt Ryan for his performance in that game. Anyone who left the Falcons for dead after they were smacked around for the Bears obviously doesn't understand the importance of jumping to conclusions after a week's worth of football. The Falcons still got a little greedy when it came to forcing balls downfield to Julio Jones, and they could probably benefit from targeting Roddy White more, but Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner were dynamite. Ryan suffered an injury, too, but stood strong and led his team to a win with four touchdowns.

Absolutely a signature win, especially when you consider the opponent and the circumstances.

2. Dunta Robinson should be suspended
No need for a cute title here, and yeah, I'm adding one more point to the Eagles-Falcons game, but it's an important one. And it's pretty damn cut-and-dry when it comes to the hit of the Falcons cornerback on Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter on Sunday night: it was dirty.

Maclin caught a ball over the middle, was running after the catch and got absolutely head-hunted by Robinson, who did the exact same thing to another Eagles wideout (DeSean Jackson) when these teams played in 2010.

Robinson was fined $50,000 for the monster helmet-to-helmet shot on Jackson. But that's not enough punishment -- he needs to be suspended.

The league said in 2010, immediately following Robinson's hit on Jackson mind you, that they would begin making an example out of repeat offenders by suspending them. We haven't seen that yet.

But we should; Robinson's decision -- and make no mistake, it absolutely was a decision, not a "reaction" -- to launch himself into Maclin helmet first was similar in a manner similar to the headbanging shot on Todd Heap that landed Brandon Meriweathear a big fine.

And it's similar, if not nearly identical, to his shot on Jackson last season.

There was a flag and there was a penalty, and Robinson was not ejected, as he should have been for the flagrant nature of the hit.

There'll absolutely be a fine coming his way in the middle of the week, but if Roger Goodell and Ray Anderson truly want to make an example out a classic case of a repeat offender, Robinson needs to be suspended.

3. Detroit Swag City
The Lions were one of the sleepiest of sleeper teams to begin the 2011 season. And with good reason -- if Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson can stay healthy, there's reason to believe Detroit's got enough potency on offense to compete with a playoff spot.

But here's the thing: they're actually doing it. It almost never works like that (ask the 2010 Houston Texans) but it's working right now.

Perhaps the biggest difference in these Lions, though, is the heretofore unseen amount of swagger present in Detroit football.

Before the 2010 season began, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli accused the Detroit front office of tampering. In response, the Lions would like offer Exhibit A: a 48-3 beatdown of Kansas City on Sunday in which they absolutely mangled KC in every aspect of the football game. It's the single-biggest margin of victory in Detroit's history, tied with their 45-point victory against Cleveland way back in 1957.

Exhibit B? The Lions decision to run Keiland Williams up the middle on fourth-and-one, leading 41-3, with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Just don't expect them to admit they were rubbing it in.

"We're not trying to do anything other than trying to win the game," Schwartz said.

Exhibit C? The Lions were "thrilled enough with the win" to give defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham a Gatorade bath with 28 seconds left:



This would be totally normal except for the fact that Cunningham is a defensive coordinator and this is the second week of the season. Oh right: Cunningham's the guy the Chiefs accused of tampering during the 2010 season.

So, yeah, message sent. But don't expect this swagger to suddenly disappear -- the guy who instilled it, Schwartz, doesn't see a whole to love about the victory.

"We can play better," Schwartz said after the game.

That's a pretty scary thought considering the Lions forced three fumbles (and recovered all three) and picked Matt Cassel three times. But Schwartz is right -- they've started slow on offense in both of their wins this year, and didn't look exceptional against the run early against Kansas City.

4. The Chiefs are dead, long live the Chiefs
There's a lot to love about the second week of the NFL season, but while we're here, we might as well go ahead and note that the Chiefs are donecakes when it comes to competing in the 2011 NFL season.

They're 0-2, they look lost on offense and defense, their best players are dropping like flies, and they have a negative 79 point differential through two games.

Considering they just got done with the "easy" part of their schedule -- the Bills and the Lions -- this does not bode well for the rest of their year. And Jamaal Charles' injury -- the running back is believed to be done for the year after tearing his ACL while colliding with the Lions mascot Sunday -- is the most tragic part of this Icarusian swoon back to reality.

Charles is truly one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL, he's a home-run threat every single time he touches the ball, and he's the reason the Chiefs led the league in rushing last year and barnstormed their way to the AFC West title.

There will be no more excitement this season, and there will be no such division title.

In fact, the only drama remaining for the Chiefs is whether or not Todd Haley can hold onto his job for the rest of the year. To his credit, he's certainly willing to take the blame.

"The season will not be canceled as far as I know," Haley said on Sunday. "What we have to do is we have to stop doing those things that are costing us dearly, and putting us in very difficult positions."

Haley might wish the season would be canceled, though. A quick glance at the Chiefs schedule pegs their Week 5 game against Indianapolis as the easiest contest remaining, as they've got two matchups with Denver, Oakland and San Diego remaining and play one of the most brutal five-game stretches in the NFL starting in November: at New England, versus Pittsburgh, at Chicago, at the Jets, versus Green Bay.

No one has a warmer seat than Todd Haley right now.

4. Yes We Cam 2.0
Normally I might be cheesed that people are jacking my "Yes We Cam" swag (unless that's been around since Auburn and I just missed it), but being on board the Cam Newton bandwagon's too fun to get worried about anything.

Newton now has two of the three-highest passing games in Panthers history, he's one of only seven quarterbacks to throw for 400-plus yards in two-straight games, he owns the rookie record for most passing yards in a debut, he owns the rookie record for most passing yards in a game (ever), and, yeah, I get it -- he's 0-2.

The fact that people are screaming about win-loss records by a rookie on a team that's coming off a 2-14 campaign tells me two things. One, either they don't understand that quarterbacks don't play defense (much like pitchers don't score runs in baseball; wins aren't relative to success). Or two, they're sitting back in a corner and chugging a warm glass of Haterade, just because they can.

Newton's a guy that's always inspired critics. And he probably always will. But right now, he's making the right throws, he's saying the right things, and he's showing some of the most impressive progression we've ever seen in a young NFL quarterback.

Does he make mistakes? Absolutely. His three interceptions were pretty terrible. One might even call them rookie mistakes. And one might even note that they were a result of Rob Chudzinski taking the gloves off on the offense and winging the ball around. But there's no real need in ripping Chud, because he and Ron Rivera's coaching staff are the guys putting Newton in a position to succeed, and they deserve credit.

Just like Cam, regardless of the record.

It's been mentioned before, and it'll be mentioned again -- the Panthers probably won't win a lot of games when Newton's throwing for 400 yards. But that's a byproduct of lacking balance in the offensive attack, not because "Cam's not a winner."

5. Is 400 the new 300?

Speaking of 400-yard games, you've probably noticed that we've seen a number of games this season that have featured 400 or more passing yards. Six to be exact, which is quite a lot. In fact, we're currently on pace -- barring another offensive outpouring on Monday night -- for a whopping 48 400-yard games and and an absolutely insane 176 300-yard games in 2011.

Year 300-Yard Games
400-Yard Games
2006
65 7
2007
81 4
2008
76 8
2009
100 7
2010
96 11
2011
22 6

Now, there's a bit of caveating that needs to occur here. First of all, Newton is on pace to throw for something like 6,538 passing yards in 2011. While it would be foolish to guarantee it won't happen, it's pretty unlikely that Newton shatters Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record by nearly 1,500 yards. (Tom Brady is, of course, more likely, but it's still a long ways off.)

Which is to say, it's still early, and you can't just simply project NFL numbers, particularly 400-yard passing games, across a season and expect continuity from here on out.

But as recently as 1998, we had just 52 300-yard games. At this year's pace, we're in reach of that many 400-yarders. It might not happen right now, but remember how 1,500-yard rushing seasons replaced 1,000 yard seasons as the new benchmark?

That transition is in process for the passing game right now, thanks to the entire league taking things aerial. It's a trend that won't go away and, sooner than later, 400 might actually become the new 300.

6. More like a Breathalyzer score
Not every quarterback's out there gunning the ball around with aplomb, though. Take Luke McCown of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who registered a quarterback rating on Sunday -- 1.8 -- that's impressive for all the wrong reasons.



McCown was 6/19 for 59 yards with four interceptions in the 32-3 loss to the Jets and inspiring only in the sense that his play makes you wonder what the hell the Jags were thinking when they decided to cut David Garrard one week before the regular season began. As my man Mike Freeman wrote, Garrard's kicking it somewhere much more fun than Jack Del Rio's office, cackling his ass off at McCown's performance on Sunday.

What makes it slightly more understandable is that it was against the Jets, who aren't exactly a cream-puff defense.

What makes it all slightly less understandable is that the Jaguars traded up to draft Blaine Gabbert this year, and seem hesitant to give him the nod. Why? Obviously Garrard wasn't the guy, because they cut him. And obviously McCown isn't the guy, because even Braylon Edwards is unimpressed with the digit he posted.

Gabbert was 5/6 in junk time, but let's see what the kids' got already. Jack Del Rio might be stringing out his job a little longer by playing the "you left me with no quarterback" card, but if my boss threw away my computer before the NFL season started, I wouldn't leave the other brand new computer I just bought sitting in a box in the sideline while fumbling through deadlines on a 10-year-old PC that I know doesn't work.

I'd crack that box open, see if the new computer is worth what I paid. Which is what Jacksonville needs to do.

7. Mmmmmm. [Fractured] ribs.
It's time to give Tony Romo his due -- the guy gets absolutely shredded when he makes stupid mistakes, like last week's debacle against the Jets. But on Sunday he returned after it was announced he'd suffered some fracture ribs and everyone assumed that it was Jon Kitna's ship to sink.

It was not. Romo came in, hit Jesse Holley for a big gain and the Cowboys took things to overtime where they ended up winning 27-24.

"I didn't want to be 0-2, and at the end of the day it's about winning and losing in this game," Romo said afterwards. "We needed a win. Why I wanted to be out there? I'm competitive. If I can play I'm gonna play."

Not the most convincing win against a 49ers team, but it was a win that an injury-ravaged Cowboys team badly needed to win. Things might be about to get rough for Jerry Jones squad, and we'll find out just how much of a creative mastermind Jason Garrett really is -- Miles Austin's dealing with a hamstring injury, Felix Jones has a separated shoulder and Romo's got a couple busted ribs.

If Romo can play and Dez Bryant can get back from his quad injury, there's still plenty of firepower on this offense, especially if DeMarco Murray can learn blitz pickups quickly enough to stay on the field in more than passing situations. The former Sooner is a highly-talented receiver out of the backfield, and has the potential to be a serious threat.

None (or all?) of that might happen, though, and this could be a situation where Kitna's trying to manage an offense that can't move the ball on the ground and can't stop anyone from passing on them until their secondary's back up to speed.

With Washington and Detroit on the schedule before their Week 5 bye and New England and St. Louis immediately after, that's a dangerous proposition indeed.

8. Living in the 90's
Man ... anyone else harking back to the Super Bowl heyday when we used to get "In Living Color" halftime shows lately? (Men on Football!) And I really hope you do, otherwise I'm suddenly old and busted.

That's back when the Bills used to get beatdown by the Cowboys and Redskins on the reg, and after two weeks of football, there's a sense of déjà vu circulating around certain cities, as Buffalo and Washington are both undefeated.

The Bills seem to be a little bit more "fa real" than the 'Skins, if only because their offense is more potent, but Washington, who plays the Cowboys next week, is a better bet to get to 3-0 than Buffalo, who host the Patriots.

Still, it's a remarkably fascinating story that two teams that literally no one picked to find their way to undefeated at any point past the first week of the season. And I don't want to start laying bets on Rex Grossman or anything, just yet, but kudos to the guy for finding ways to win in Washington when no one -- including yours truly -- even bothered to take him seriously after his "we'll win the NFC East" prediction.

They still won't, of course, but two weeks into the season Grossman looks a lot more right than anyone would have ever thought.

Meanwhile, Chan Gailey looks a lot more smart than anyone would have thought (good thing Todd Haley fired that guy, huh??), pushing the Bills to a remarkable 2-0 after beating Oakland 38-35 in the most exciting game of the day, particularly when you consider the Bills came out of halftime down 21-3.

"That was an amazing gutcheck by our team," Chan Gailey said.

Yes, ripping off five touchdowns in five second-half possessions is a "gutcheck." Or a guy doing remarkable things with unlikely personnel. Story of Gailey's career.

9. Same old, Same old
Being the lone expert to pick the Chargers for the upset over the Patriots on Sunday wasn't a bad spot -- San Diego could/should have won that game. Or at least not lost by two touchdowns anyway.

A brutal fumble from Mike Tolbert blew the game wide open, but it was kind of indicative of how San Diego operates in September; last week it looked like the Chargers might have kicked that monkey off their back.

Then they roll into Foxboro with a loaded gun and "pull a Plaxico" on themselves, firing repeatedly at the ground underneath their feet, whiffing three times inside the Patriots 20 and giving the ball away at the most inopportune times.

It's standard operating procedure for the Bolts, or at least it feels that way because it's September. And they'll probably be fine because the division is down (though you can argue the Raiders are dangerous and I'm fine with that) and they'll probably make the playoffs on the strength of a big November and December run.

But this is a team that's supposed to make a Super Bowl run. And they're not there right now. Which is, well, not that surprising.

10. Reviews under review?
The new NFL system for reviewing all touchdowns has been irritating through two weeks only in that every announcer in every game has to mention it after every touchdown, as if NFL fans weren't already aware of what's going on.

Oh, and the fact that there's some bizarro miscommunication going on with how the officials on the field and the people working in the booth are handling the issue of checking out plays.

Buffalo's interception by Da'Norris Searcy required a 10-minute break in which the officials finally came back on the field and announced, after everyone had left, that Searcy did in fact pick the ball off.

And Darren Sproles had what looked like a controversial score to end the Saints game in which he stepped out of bounds, yet no replay was deemed necessary.

Aaron Hernandez had a score against the Chargers Sunday that looked like a lock for a review under the dreaded "Calvin Johnson Rule," but the replay officials didn't even bother checking. Or it was so clear that they didn't need to.

If we're going to take the time to check out every single touchdown, let's make sure we actually check out every single touchdown. NFL fans might not be the most patient bunch, and it stinks seeing a touchdown celebration held off because of a potential rules issue, but getting the call right is the biggest deal, and providing a streamlined process for ensuring integrity of all necessary reviews is something the NFL needs to get in place immediately.

Put an APB out for:
Chris Johnson's rushing skills. It's one thing to be a star running back who really disappoints his fantasy owners (joke) by not producing at a high clip. It's an entirely different thing to be a star running back who's drawing boos from fans because you held out of training camp, demanded "Manning money" and then decided to start averaging less than 40 rushing yards a game.

Pop-culture referencing Jim Irsay tweet that's sure to drive Colts fans insane of the week
"All u negative,Colt haters.....ahhhh,well...ummm...that's just YOUR opinion...man!"

Hate to break it to, you Jim, but the bums lost. Again.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Andy Dalton and A.J. Green turning into a potentially dangerous connection in Cincy definitely deserves more love.
... Did anyone watch the Stanford-Arizona game on Saturday night? Because Andrew Luck is the real freaking deal, man. Kid is smart, strong, has a cannon for an arm, and can make all the throws. I'd tank my season for him.
... If you want to try a ridiculously delicious sandwich, and you live near a Village Tavern, hit it up for Sunday brunch and get the fried egg BLT. Standard ingredients but add cheddar cheese and an over-medium egg. It's unreal.
... Not even sure how to feel about this one -- some clown of a Bears fan mocked New Orleans devastation thanks to Hurricane Katrina a few years back, and some Saints fans got their revenge on Sunday. Or something.
... Does any good running back in the NFL have less breakaway speed than Michael Turner?
... Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson, two guys with Vikings history, are both franchise leaders for touchdowns (receiving and rushing, respectively) for their franchises now, and it happened on the same day.
... Josh Freeman is such a closer -- he stormed back against the Vikings on Sunday, giving him eight comeback wins in 14 career victories.

Worth 1,000 Words


Hot Seat Tracker
Long story, but I'm still waiting on the fancy math stuff. Whatever, not much has changed from last week, where the same small number of suspects find themselves with warm pants.
  • Todd Haley -- It just stinks that he might not get to hang around and coach Andrew Luck.
  • Jack Del Rio -- See: above. It's just an unbelievable mangling of the quarterback position.
  • Tony Sparano -- The Dolphins are 0-2, can't defend against the pass and despite Chad Henne looking much better, are not as good as we thought.
  • Jim Caldwell -- No idea if Jim Irsay would even can Caldwell at any point, as the Colts might actually like a figurehead with Manning around.
  • Tom Coughlin -- A loss Monday would not go a long way in helping his job security.
Chasing Andrew Luck (Plus Odds)
Chiefs (2/5): Like I said, the schedule is brutal down the stretch.
Colts (2/1): As Pete Prisco likes to say, the snake has no head.
Seahawks (3/1): Seen Pete Carroll screw up too many things to think he can get picking up Luck right. Still, this team is bad.
Jaguars (5/1): Yeah, they've got a win, but they're throwing out Gabbert now. We hope. Which is awkward.
Dolphins (7/1): Surely they can't be this bad.

MVP Watch
Mark my words: a quarterback will win this year. Bold, eh? Whatever. Matthew Stafford's my leader in the clubhouse, but I wouldn't scream at you if you screamed at me for not picking Tom Brady, considering he's looking like, well, Tom Brady. Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves some love and no, I am not joking this week. And sure, Aaron Rodgers if you want. It's early still.

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Posted on: September 17, 2011 4:25 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 2

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Each Saturday, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by bodog.com for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will a quarterback throw for 500 or more yards from Week 2 on in the 2011 regular season?
   
Yes +400    

No -700    

Let’s see, who is Tom Brady (517 yards last week) and the Patriots playing this week? The Chargers? Hmm, ok. Who are the Chargers cornerbacks? Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason? Hmm. Um, no. Nobody is going to throw for more than 500 yards this week. Not Brady. Not anybody. What about for the rest of the season? Probably, but I'd still go with the longshot and say no.

Will Peyton Manning play in a game in the 2011 regular or postseason? 
     
Yes +250    

No -400

I just don’t see it, because by the time Manning is ready to return (maybe in late December at best?), there’s no chance that Indianapolis will be in the running for a playoff spot. So, there will be no point to play him. Therefore, Colts owner Jim Irsay will forbid Manning from playing. And it will be the right call.

How many times will Michael Vick be shown in a Falcons uniform during the live broadcast of the Eagles/Falcons game Week 2?
    
Over 1½ (-150)

Under 1½ (+110)

When you count all the video highlights they’ll show and the still photos, it’s got to be at least five times, right? Go with the over.

Who will be the next team to sign David Garrard? 
      
Indianapolis Colts 3/2       

Cincinnati Bengals 5/2       

Seattle Seahawks 5/1
      
Miami Dolphins 5/1 
     
San Francisco 49ers 6/1

Oakland Raiders 7/1

Pittsburgh Steelers 15/2  
  
New York Jets 10/1  
  
There were reports this week that Garrard was approached by several teams and that he’s waiting to make a decision to whichever squad will be the best fit. Looking at the above teams, the only squad I see as a real possibility is the Seahawks. For one, they’ve got Tarvaris Jackson as the starter. For two, they’ve got Charlie Whitehurst as a backup. For three, coach Pete Carroll certainly isn’t afraid of turning over his roster. All those factors make Garrard an obvious choice to go to Seattle.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 8:14 pm
 

Ochocinco on Bruschi: 'I love Tedy'

Bruschi makes Ochocinco seem like the sane one. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson


It's been a busy week for Chad Ochocinco even though he was one of the least productive players on the field in the Patriots' Monday night win over the Dolphins (he finished the evening with one catch and an illegal-formation penalty). He made the mistake of tweeting about Tom Brady's awesomeness Tuesday, apparently an activity reserved for the common folk, at least to hear ESPN analyst and former Pats linebacker Ted Bruschi tell it.

In case you missed it, the short version: Bruschi went on the radio to announce that Chad needs to "drop the awe factor" because "he's not a fan." Instead of genuflecting in Brady's general direction, Ochocinco needs to be in his playbook, especially since he's struggled to learn the offense.

Okay, fine. Chad could stand to have a better grasp of his responsibilities. We're still not sure what that has to do with publicly praising his teammate.

Prior to Friday's practice, CSNNE.com's Tom Curran asked Ochocinco about Bruschi's unhinged, old-man rant about the dangers of those blasted compu-tabulators.

Chad, taking the high road, would only say "I love Tedy." Curran added: "Pointing to a blue binder in his locker containing his plays and responsibilities, Ochocinco said that, until he has that mastered, he won't be talking to the media. Until his production rises, he explained, he's not interested in holding court."

To recap: Chad now looks like the sane one. Of course, Bruschi's in too deep, so there's no way he's backtracking now. In fact, he followed up his radio implosion with a television appearance to better explain his insane ramblings.

"The big deal with me is the mentality of the tweet," he explained. "This mentality reflected of being in wonderment, that statement of 'Wow I cant believe what I just saw' is a statement that should be made by a media member or an analyst, a fan, almost an admirer of the Patriots system. That kind of statement, that type of mentality, is not one that should be of an aspiring contributor, someone that wants to be a part of that record-breaking performance. Chad, the mentality is what bothered me. ... Eliminate the 'I'm happy to be here' type of attitude and have more an attitude of wanting to be a part of it and do your work so you can be more a part of it."

Please, for the love of all that's holy, stop talking. We're not alone in this message; Pats fans suggested as much en masse, which prompted some introspection on Bruschi's part.

"I asked myself, 'Was I hard on the guy? Was I a little bit harsh?' So what I did was, I leaned on some of my former teammates. These are teammates that did some very impressive things that made a lot of people say 'Wow'. The one question I asked them was, "Were you ever in awe of what we accomplished as we were accomplishing it?' And to a man the answer was 'No.'"

Right, because nobody was surprised when the 2001 Patriots beat the Rams in the Super Bowl with a second-year quarterback and former sixth-round pick. Least of all Tedy Bruschi. Uh huh.


After both teams coming off a victorious season opener, the Chargers will travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the Patriots on Sunday. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan for a preview of this game. Watch the game at 4:15 PM ET on CBS.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 9:12 am
 

Bill Belichick has (gasp!) emotions

Bill Belichick showed some emotion in a NFL Network documentary (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

While watching the first part of the NFL Network’s fascinating documentary of Bill Belichick that was filmed during the 2009 season, I decided to jot down my favorite Belichick moments. Though you wouldn’t know it by his actions and his comments during the football season, if you see him in informal settings, Belichick actually has a personality.

It’s hard to imagine if you just watch him during his cold, emotionless in-season press conferences. But get him out of the media room, and he becomes a funny, interesting individual.

That said, here are the top-five quotes from Belichick during the documentary that showed Belichick in a light in which he rarely is seen -- as an actual human being who has emotions and a pretty good sense of when to unfurl some nasty trash talking.

-While talking to Jon Bon Jovi (!) during training camp, Bon Jovi basically asks, So, what’s the deal with that Rex Ryan?” Said Belichick in a way that almost could be construed as not hating Ryan: “I think he’ll get his guys to play. I think they’ll play hard for him.”

This is funny in retrospect, because this was before Ryan said he wouldn’t kiss Belichick’s rings and before Ryan beat Belichick in the playoffs last year. But Belichick was right. Ryan’s team does play hard for him.

-Here’s Belichick, while meeting in the pregame with the refs before Tom Brady takes his first preseason snaps after his knee surgery in 2008.

Says one official: “We’ll keep everybody safe.” Responded Belichick: “Take good care of (Brady). Hopefully we can block them.” Then, making an aside comment to Brady, “The only thing I can cheer for in Philadelphia is the national anthem.”

-During a preseason game, Julian Edelman looked fantastic in returning a punt for a touchdown. Immediately, Belichick sought out Wes Welker -- who was injured and not playing not that day -- and decided to poke some fun at him.

“You ever hear of Wally Pipp?”

Said Welker: “No.”

Belichick: “He played before Lou Gehrig. He missed one day, and Gehrig played the next 23,000 games (Ed. Note: this was either a mistake or a slight exaggeration). That might be the punt return story.”

Welker: “No doubt, he can have it.”

Belichick: “There you go. Way to compete.”

-When a reporter, playing off the Ryan “kiss your ring” comment, asked Belichick during a media teleconference if anybody had ever actually kissed his Super Bowl rings.

Belichick laughed but played it like normal: in other words not willing to give the scribes a morsel of interesting information.
 
“Um,” he said, “I don’t think so.”

“Where are your rings?”

“Uh, they’re in a box somewhere.”

-And my favorite moment of the documentary? It came when Ravens receiver Derrick Mason talked trash to Belichick in the middle of a game the Patriots would win.

“F--- you Mason,” Belichick said. “Just shut the f--- up. Can you look at the scoreboard?”

See the video below for a good laugh.

-And an honorable mention:

When he returns to the Meadowlands to play the Jets, he gets a little emotional as he reminisces about coaching in the Giants organization for a decade. When in the defensive meeting room, Belichick, with his voice catching, just can't get over how small the meeting room is compared to his memory of it. He even gets excited about seeing the old racquetball court. He was asked who won the racquetball games between him and Bill Parcells. “I probably beat him more than he beat me. As soon as it was over, he’d light into about four cigarettes.”



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:48 am
 

Bruschi calls out Ochocinco for tweeting too much

Ochocinco was impressed with Brady, Bruschi less so with Ochocinco. (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

At best, new Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has been slow to learn the playbook. At worst, he's been ineffective and looks out of his element. Either way, it's been a rough start in New England for the six-time Pro Bowler, so much so that there was even speculation during the preseason that he might not make the 53-man roster.

He avoided the turk but was on the field for just 18 snaps against the Dolphins Monday night, catching a single pass for 14 yards. Still, the Patriots won 38-24 and quarterback Tom Brady threw for 517 yards, good for fifth-best in NFL history. And while Ochocinco had very little to do with the Pats' offensive explosion, he was in awe nonetheless. In fact, he took to Twitter Tuesday to extol Brady's awesomeness (sic'd):

"Just waking up after a late arrival,I've never seen a machine operate like that n person,to see video game numbers put up n person was WOW"

Turns out, that was a bad idea. Former Patriots linebacker-turned-ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi teed off on Ochocinco for the tweet. Not so much because of its content, but because Ochocinco should have better ways to spend his free time.

Appearing on Boston radio WEEI, Bruschi broke out the soap box and got to work (via CSNNE.com's Tom Curran).

"Drop the awe factor, OK, Ocho, Chad, drop the awe factor," Bruschi began. "You're not a fan, all right? You're not someone who's on another team or watching TV. You're not an analyst. You're a part of it. They want you to be a part of it. So get with the program because obviously you're not getting it and you're tweeting because you're saying, 'It's amazing to see'? It's amazing to see because you don't understand it! You still don't understand it and it's amazing to you because you can't get it.

"Stop tweeting and get in your playbook," Bruschi raged. "Wake up! If you're just waking up now - I don't know when this was, six minutes ago? - get out your bed and get to the stadium and watch some film if you still think its amazing. If you're in it and you know what you're doing and you execute out there you don't think it's amazing. You know why? Because it's what you're supposed to do. All of a sudden it's second nature. 'I know I was supposed do that, yes I went 99 yards, I threw for 517 you know why? Because we're that good and that's what we're supposed to do and that's what I thought we were gonna do.' You are still in awe to be a member of the New England Patriots offense. Join the system, buddy."

Bruschi wasn't done: "They need [Ochocinco] to be a part of that jaw-dropping offense. … [Chad] close your mouth. Put your hand under your chin and close your jaw. Then open your eyes and watch some film. That's what you need to do. If you're still in awe that means you don't get it because you don't understand it."

When Ochocinco arrived in New England in July he told the media that he had no plans to draw attention to himself. "I've always been a chameleon, so I am going to blend in and do it the Patriot way, which is win."

To be fair, Chad has been relatively quiet. Unfortunately, that silence includes his lack of productivity, which why Bruschi's shining that hot, white interrogation spotlight directly on Ochocinco.

No idea what happens next but we're guessing Chad will tweet about it.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:39 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 10:15 pm
 

Retired players file lawsuit against NFLPA

Carl Eller is one of the plaintiffs suing the NFLPA (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Just because the NFL lockout is over and the owners and players have signed a new CBA (without, mind you, agreeing to HGH testing), that doesn’t mean the lawsuits have stopped.

No, not in regards to the former NFL players who believe they helped make the current NFL what it is today and also feel like they’re getting screwed in the aftermath.

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel reports the latest, as a group of 28 former players, including Hall of Famers like Carl Eller (pictured at right), Chuck Bednarik and Elvin Bethea, have filed a lawsuit against the NFLPA, union executive director DeMaurice Smith, and Tom Brady and Mike Vrabel, two of the plaintiffs from the lockout lawsuit.

The suit -- filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis -- states that when the NFLPA decertified last March, the players were in no position to bargain for and agree to the benefits for the retired players, and as Wetzel writes, the players want a declaration that “the ‘right to negotiate with the League the rights and benefits for NFL retirees’ rests with the Eller plaintiffs.”

The veterans’ attorney Michael Hausfeld said this lawsuit does not affect the current labor peace but that the former players want to readjust the benefits they’ve received in the new CBA.

Said Hausfeld: "The retirees rights were sacrificed for the benefit of the active players.”

Why this continues to come about, I think, is a general feeling of disrespect from the current players to those who came before them. That’s the sense I got from former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini when CBSSports.com spoke to him recently. Even with the $620 million Legacy Fund created by the NFL and the NFLPA in the new CBA, the players obviously feel that doesn’t adequately compensate them for their sacrifices in the past.

“I think it’s a travesty the way they treat the older players,” Pastorini said. “I’m part of that group. They’re throwing us a bone with the $620 million. By the time they get to a new CBA after 10 years, they won’t have to worry about us pre-(19)93er’s. It’s sad, but it’s their M.O. They want to wait for us to die.

“What they’re talking about now is to give us a bone and to shut us up. It’s just wrong. It’s damn wrong. And the players association is just as greedy as the owners are, if not more so. The players don’t go to bat for us, which makes us ashamed.”

Although some current players, like Saints quarterback Drew Brees, have advocated for the retirees, the general feeling of discontent still lingers. Now, the former players are hoping the court system will bestow upon them the relief they feel the NFLPA hasn’t given to them.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:49 pm
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 1

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 1 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Brady Revis Ginn Jackson
Prisco Brady Urlacher Ginn Gailey
Judge Brady Ngata Ginn Harbaugh
Brinson Brady Urlacher Cobb Harbaugh
Katzowitz Newton Haden Ginn Jackson
Wilson Rodgers Suggs Trufant Gailey
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and goodness, was it a week. We saw Cam Newton break the rookie record for passing yards in a debut and, not to be outdone, Tom Brady show up on Monday night and eviscerate the Miami Dolphins for the fifth-highest passing yardage total (512) in NFL history.

Oddly, that was only the second time Brady's been over 400 yards in his career. But it was just good enough to land Brady our inaugural Eye on Offense Award. Though there are compelling arguments made for other players -- Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton -- you'll see his unreal performance on Monday night was just too much for our panel to pass up.

Scoring on defense isn't a must, but it helps too, and despite a hefty effort by Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata in throttling the Ravens, Brian Urlacher's 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown give him the nod on defense.

Meanwhile in the special teams category, Ted Ginn mopped up the competition with his back-to-back returns in less than five minutes. We had a three-way tie for the inaugural Eye on Coaching award and while we almost ruled out the Raiders and Bills because they're the Raiders and Bills for strength of schedule purposes, we give Chan Gailey the sympathy nod here since as our boss puts it "he'll never win again."

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Tom Brady Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
He throws for over 500 yards. He wears UGG boots. He dances. No better choice. Brady makes the ordinary receiver look like Jerry Rice. The two tight ends for the Patriots both looked like Kellen Winslow.
Tom BradyTom Brady, QB, Patriots
First, I hear Vontae Davis tell us that Miami has the best pair of starting cornerbacks in the business. Then, I watch Brady shred the Dolphins' defense for 517 yards and four touchdowns in a lopsided game that, frankly, could've been worse. Yeah, I know, Miami's cornerbacks were suffering from the heat all night and ran in and out of the lineup. But I wouldn't blame them if they didn't want to be anywhere near that field -- not when Brady's torching an entire unit. Marvelous, marvelous performance, but typical Tom Terrific. Nobody does it better.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tom Brady Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
I watched his 517-yard passing performance with my own two eyes. It was sensational. His ability to find open receivers and put the ball into tight spots was amazing. He hit 10 different receivers. Brady also threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker, changing the play at the line of scrimmage. I've seen him do some amazing things, but this was by far the best.
Tom BradyTom Brady, QB, Patriots
Of all the record-breaking performances we saw this weekend, it wasn't close as to which was the most impressive -- Brady disemboweled the Dolphins defense on Monday night and while it's one thing to watch a quarterback rack up yardage by chunking the ball deep, it's an entirely different thing to watch someone conduct their offense the way Brady did Monday. Two 100-yard receivers and four guys with six catches or more? Yikes.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Cam NewtonCam Newton, QB, Panthers
Obviously, he didn't accumulate as many big numbers in Week 1 as Tom Brady, and in fact, the Panthers didn't even win their game. But Newton's pro debut was better than impressive. It was outstanding. And sort of surprising. With his 422-yard performance, he shattered Peyton Manning's record for a pro debut (302 passing yards), and he destroyed Otto Graham's 346-yard total in 1950 when Graham was making his NFL debut (he previously had played in another pro league). So, obviously, Newton is much better than Manning and Graham. Ultimately, we don't know if Newton will be Carolina's savior, but we do know this: he was damn fun to watch in his first game.
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
It's not a particularly sexy pick after what we saw Aaron Rodgers do the the league's best defenses during the postseason in January and February, but after a four-month lockout in which the Packers admitted that they weren't holding player-organized workouts (and Rodgers was pimping auto insurance), he looked every bit the Super Bowl MVP when he stepped on the field against the Saints last Thursday. If Tom Brady was prolific, Rodgers was clinical. He completed 77 percent of his attempts for 312 yards, including three touchdowns. He also knows how to rock a 'stache, something Brady could never pull off.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Darrelle RevisDarrelle Revis, Jets
He gets crucial interceptions. Sure, Tony Romo gift-wrapped it but after giving up some big plays early to Dez Bryant it was Revis who clamped down on Bryant in the second half and shut down the Cowboys' biggest weapon. By the second half Revis looked like the best defensive player in the NFL. That's because he is.
Haloti Ngata Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens
People ask how the Ravens could have unraveled mighty, mighty Pittsburgh, and I tell them to rewind the videotape to the Steelers' first two series of the second half. On the first, Ngata blows up running back Rashard Mendenhall, forces a fumble and recovers it. On the second, he deflects a pass at the line of scrimmage that Ray Lewis intercepts. The guy's a load. Pittsburgh committed seven turnovers, and Ngata was a primary reason why. The Steelers had no answer for him.
Prisco Brinson
Brian UrlacherBrian Urlacher, Bears
He was all over the field for the Bears and scored a touchdown on a fumble return. But his best play was an interception of Matt Ryan. He was locked in man coverage with the back and ran stride-for-stride with him and made a great pick of the football. Urlacher was overrated at times in his career. But now that he understands the game better, he's much improved over the guy who used to get mostly with amazing physical skills.
Brian UrlacherBrian Urlacher, Bears
Who would have thought the 33-year-old Urlacher could look so young at the start of his 12th season? He made an interception that was the definition of acrobatic. His recovery of a Julius Peppers-forced fumble ended up in the end zone. He also piled up 10 total tackles and continued to show that he's the motor that drives the very vanilla-painted car that is Lovie Smith's Cover-2 defense.
Katzowitz Wilson
Joe Haden Joe Haden, Browns
His performance was lost in the shuffle because the entire Browns defense was caught sleeping when the Bengals quick-snapped in the fourth quarter and Bruce Gradkowski threw the easiest 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to A.J. Green you'll ever see. But Haden clearly frustrated 2011 No. 4 pick Green for much of the day. With that kind of performance, Haden will draw the opposing team's top receiver every week, and in Week 1 at least, it looks like he can handle it.
Terrell Suggs Terrell Suggs, Ravens
This could go to any number of Ravens defenders but Tuggs racked up three sacks and two forced fumbles and made the Steelers offensive line look like, well, the Steelers offensive line. Suggs has now sacked Ben Roethlisberger 15.5 times in his career, more than anybody else, The only thing he didn't do Sunday was score a two-point conversion.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Ted GinnTed Ginn, WR, 49ers
That noise you heard on Sunday was Dolphins fans puking. Ginn has been a lousy wide receiver but as a kick returner has long showed promise. This might be the year he becomes a star as a returner.
Ted Ginn Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers
He returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He returned a punt for a touchdown. Yet Seattle kept giving him chances.Someone please explain the logic of giving Ginn four opportunities to return kickoffs. I'm serious. The Seahawks had no touchbacks, and someone tell them the NFL just moved kickoffs to the 35. It's OK to drill the back of the end zone. Instead, the Seahawks kept feeding Ginn, daring him to beat them, and, well, he did. When San Francisco acquired him it was as a return specialist first and pass receiver second. Now I can see why.
Prisco Brinson
Ted GinnTed Ginn, WR, 49ers
Ginn Jr. is playing for a new contract. He's off to a good start. He returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the 49ers victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Just when it appeared the Seahawks were making a game of it, he ripped of the 102-yard the kickoff return and then followed it up with a 55-yard punt return for a score. Wow.
Randall CobbRandall Cobb, WR, Packers
Cobb might face a fate worse than being struck down by lightning if he takes any more kicks out from the back of the end zone, but for one night, he was the difference maker for the Packers as they topped the Saints in part because of his 108-yard touchdown return. It might not count for this purpose that he scored on a pass, but it doesn't hurt either.
Katzowitz Wilson
Ted Ginn Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers
My favorite part of Ginn's performance for the 49ers on Sunday -- you know, he scored on a 102-yard kickoff return and a 55-yard punt return in the span of less than a minute -- was the Twitter reaction immediately following, proclaiming that Ginn had fulfilled his entire two-year productivity quota in a single afternoon. And even if Ginn doesn't do much for the 49ers for the rest of the season, we honor his standout performance in helping lead San Francisco past the Seahawks on Sunday. 
Isaiah Trufant Isaiah Trufant, DB, Jets
A former Arena League and UFL player, Trufant was signed to the Jets practice squad last season and elevated to the 53-man roster just before the Cowboys game. Sunday night, he was in the right place at the right time, scooping up a Mat McBriar blocked punt (courtesy of Joe McKnight) and scoring a touchdown with five minutes in the game. The play tied the score, 24-24, and moments later, Tony Romo's ill-advised interception pretty much sealed Dallas' fate.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Hue JacksonHue Jackson, Raiders
He got the Raiders their first season-opening win in almost a decade. When the Raiders win, the terrorists lose. I'm wondering if Jackson is getting more autonomy than other recent Raiders coaches because the team's game plan looked, well, sensible.
Cliff Lee John  Harbaugh, Ravens
Talk about issues. He had an offensive line that hadn't played together. He had inexperienced wide receivers. He had cornerbacks who seemed vulnerable. And he had a quarterback who never, ever, ever beat Ben Roethlisberger. So he draws defending AFC champion Pittsburgh in the season opener and doens't just win; he wins in a 35-7 laugher. Unbelievable. The pre-game edge had to belong to the more experienced club, the team that made fewer off-season changes, and that team was Pittsburgh. Logic told us that Baltimore was an unsettled club that would only improve as the season progressed. But tell me: How do you improve on this?
Prisco Brinson
Chan GaileyChan Gailey, Bills
The Bills passed on taking a quarterback in the first round of the April draft because Gailey believed in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now we know why. He threw four touchdown passes as the Bills blew out the Chiefs 41-7. The defense also did a nice job shutting down the Chiefs offense. Gailey has this good-old-boy demeanor about him, but the man knows offensive football. He has his team ready to play against the Chiefs and pulled off what many considered to be an upset.
John HarbaughJohn Harbaugh, Ravens
The most impressive thing about the Ravens manhandling the Steelers was the game plan they had from the start -- and that falls on Harbaugh. They attacked on offense in an unexpected, high-powered manner and the defense just swarmed. Hell, they even had a built-in fake extra point play ready in case they needed it ... or in case they wanted to embarrass their arch-rivals on national television.
Katzowitz Wilson
Cliff Lee Hue Jackson, Raiders
In making his head coaching debut, Jackson had his team ready to play vs. the Broncos and coached a smart game, using much of the same gameplan Oakland formulated to beat Denver last season, to lead Oakland to the 23-20 road win. It was the first season-opening win for the Raiders in eight years, and at this rate with Jackson in command, Oakland might run the entire AFC West table again. 
Chan Gailey Chan Gailey, Bills
If anyone's due some recognition, it's Gailey. After suffering through a four-win season a year ago, the Bills showed up ready to play against the Chiefs in Week 1. Kansas City did not and they got rolled 41-7. Whether the Bills can keep this going remains to be seen, but for now we  salute you, Chan.



Posted on: September 13, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:49 pm
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 1

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 1 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Brady Revis Ginn Jackson
Prisco Brady Urlacher Ginn Gailey
Judge Brady Ngata Ginn Harbaugh
Brinson Brady Urlacher Cobb Harbaugh
Katzowitz Newton Haden Ginn Jackson
Wilson Rodgers Suggs Trufant Gailey
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books and goodness, was it a week. We saw Cam Newton break the rookie record for passing yards in a debut and, not to be outdone, Tom Brady show up on Monday night and eviscerate the Miami Dolphins for the fifth-highest passing yardage total (512) in NFL history.

Oddly, that was only the second time Brady's been over 400 yards in his career. But it was just good enough to land Brady our inaugural Eye on Offense Award. Though there are compelling arguments made for other players -- Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton -- you'll see his unreal performance on Monday night was just too much for our panel to pass up.

Scoring on defense isn't a must, but it helps too, and despite a hefty effort by Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata in throttling the Ravens, Brian Urlacher's 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown give him the nod on defense.

Meanwhile in the special teams category, Ted Ginn mopped up the competition with his back-to-back returns in less than five minutes. We had a three-way tie for the inaugural Eye on Coaching award and while we almost ruled out the Raiders and Bills because they're the Raiders and Bills for strength of schedule purposes, we give Chan Gailey the sympathy nod here since as our boss puts it "he'll never win again."

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Tom Brady Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
He throws for over 500 yards. He wears UGG boots. He dances. No better choice. Brady makes the ordinary receiver look like Jerry Rice. The two tight ends for the Patriots both looked like Kellen Winslow.
Tom BradyTom Brady, QB, Patriots
First, I hear Vontae Davis tell us that Miami has the best pair of starting cornerbacks in the business. Then, I watch Brady shred the Dolphins' defense for 517 yards and four touchdowns in a lopsided game that, frankly, could've been worse. Yeah, I know, Miami's cornerbacks were suffering from the heat all night and ran in and out of the lineup. But I wouldn't blame them if they didn't want to be anywhere near that field -- not when Brady's torching an entire unit. Marvelous, marvelous performance, but typical Tom Terrific. Nobody does it better.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tom Brady Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
I watched his 517-yard passing performance with my own two eyes. It was sensational. His ability to find open receivers and put the ball into tight spots was amazing. He hit 10 different receivers. Brady also threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker, changing the play at the line of scrimmage. I've seen him do some amazing things, but this was by far the best.
Tom BradyTom Brady, QB, Patriots
Of all the record-breaking performances we saw this weekend, it wasn't close as to which was the most impressive -- Brady disemboweled the Dolphins defense on Monday night and while it's one thing to watch a quarterback rack up yardage by chunking the ball deep, it's an entirely different thing to watch someone conduct their offense the way Brady did Monday. Two 100-yard receivers and four guys with six catches or more? Yikes.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Cam NewtonCam Newton, QB, Panthers
Obviously, he didn't accumulate as many big numbers in Week 1 as Tom Brady, and in fact, the Panthers didn't even win their game. But Newton's pro debut was better than impressive. It was outstanding. And sort of surprising. With his 422-yard performance, he shattered Peyton Manning's record for a pro debut (302 passing yards), and he destroyed Otto Graham's 346-yard total in 1950 when Graham was making his NFL debut (he previously had played in another pro league). So, obviously, Newton is much better than Manning and Graham. Ultimately, we don't know if Newton will be Carolina's savior, but we do know this: he was damn fun to watch in his first game.
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
It's not a particularly sexy pick after what we saw Aaron Rodgers do the the league's best defenses during the postseason in January and February, but after a four-month lockout in which the Packers admitted that they weren't holding player-organized workouts (and Rodgers was pimping auto insurance), he looked every bit the Super Bowl MVP when he stepped on the field against the Saints last Thursday. If Tom Brady was prolific, Rodgers was clinical. He completed 77 percent of his attempts for 312 yards, including three touchdowns. He also knows how to rock a 'stache, something Brady could never pull off.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Darrelle RevisDarrelle Revis, Jets
He gets crucial interceptions. Sure, Tony Romo gift-wrapped it but after giving up some big plays early to Dez Bryant it was Revis who clamped down on Bryant in the second half and shut down the Cowboys' biggest weapon. By the second half Revis looked like the best defensive player in the NFL. That's because he is.
Haloti Ngata Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens
People ask how the Ravens could have unraveled mighty, mighty Pittsburgh, and I tell them to rewind the videotape to the Steelers' first two series of the second half. On the first, Ngata blows up running back Rashard Mendenhall, forces a fumble and recovers it. On the second, he deflects a pass at the line of scrimmage that Ray Lewis intercepts. The guy's a load. Pittsburgh committed seven turnovers, and Ngata was a primary reason why. The Steelers had no answer for him.
Prisco Brinson
Brian UrlacherBrian Urlacher, Bears
He was all over the field for the Bears and scored a touchdown on a fumble return. But his best play was an interception of Matt Ryan. He was locked in man coverage with the back and ran stride-for-stride with him and made a great pick of the football. Urlacher was overrated at times in his career. But now that he understands the game better, he's much improved over the guy who used to get mostly with amazing physical skills.
Brian UrlacherBrian Urlacher, Bears
Who would have thought the 33-year-old Urlacher could look so young at the start of his 12th season? He made an interception that was the definition of acrobatic. His recovery of a Julius Peppers-forced fumble ended up in the end zone. He also piled up 10 total tackles and continued to show that he's the motor that drives the very vanilla-painted car that is Lovie Smith's Cover-2 defense.
Katzowitz Wilson
Joe Haden Joe Haden, Browns
His performance was lost in the shuffle because the entire Browns defense was caught sleeping when the Bengals quick-snapped in the fourth quarter and Bruce Gradkowski threw the easiest 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to A.J. Green you'll ever see. But Haden clearly frustrated 2011 No. 4 pick Green for much of the day. With that kind of performance, Haden will draw the opposing team's top receiver every week, and in Week 1 at least, it looks like he can handle it.
Terrell Suggs Terrell Suggs, Ravens
This could go to any number of Ravens defenders but Tuggs racked up three sacks and two forced fumbles and made the Steelers offensive line look like, well, the Steelers offensive line. Suggs has now sacked Ben Roethlisberger 15.5 times in his career, more than anybody else, The only thing he didn't do Sunday was score a two-point conversion.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Ted GinnTed Ginn, WR, 49ers
That noise you heard on Sunday was Dolphins fans puking. Ginn has been a lousy wide receiver but as a kick returner has long showed promise. This might be the year he becomes a star as a returner.
Ted Ginn Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers
He returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He returned a punt for a touchdown. Yet Seattle kept giving him chances.Someone please explain the logic of giving Ginn four opportunities to return kickoffs. I'm serious. The Seahawks had no touchbacks, and someone tell them the NFL just moved kickoffs to the 35. It's OK to drill the back of the end zone. Instead, the Seahawks kept feeding Ginn, daring him to beat them, and, well, he did. When San Francisco acquired him it was as a return specialist first and pass receiver second. Now I can see why.
Prisco Brinson
Ted GinnTed Ginn, WR, 49ers
Ginn Jr. is playing for a new contract. He's off to a good start. He returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the 49ers victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Just when it appeared the Seahawks were making a game of it, he ripped of the 102-yard the kickoff return and then followed it up with a 55-yard punt return for a score. Wow.
Randall CobbRandall Cobb, WR, Packers
Cobb might face a fate worse than being struck down by lightning if he takes any more kicks out from the back of the end zone, but for one night, he was the difference maker for the Packers as they topped the Saints in part because of his 108-yard touchdown return. It might not count for this purpose that he scored on a pass, but it doesn't hurt either.
Katzowitz Wilson
Ted Ginn Ted Ginn, WR, 49ers
My favorite part of Ginn's performance for the 49ers on Sunday -- you know, he scored on a 102-yard kickoff return and a 55-yard punt return in the span of less than a minute -- was the Twitter reaction immediately following, proclaiming that Ginn had fulfilled his entire two-year productivity quota in a single afternoon. And even if Ginn doesn't do much for the 49ers for the rest of the season, we honor his standout performance in helping lead San Francisco past the Seahawks on Sunday. 
Isaiah Trufant Isaiah Trufant, DB, Jets
A former Arena League and UFL player, Trufant was signed to the Jets practice squad last season and elevated to the 53-man roster just before the Cowboys game. Sunday night, he was in the right place at the right time, scooping up a Mat McBriar blocked punt (courtesy of Joe McKnight) and scoring a touchdown with five minutes in the game. The play tied the score, 24-24, and moments later, Tony Romo's ill-advised interception pretty much sealed Dallas' fate.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Hue JacksonHue Jackson, Raiders
He got the Raiders their first season-opening win in almost a decade. When the Raiders win, the terrorists lose. I'm wondering if Jackson is getting more autonomy than other recent Raiders coaches because the team's game plan looked, well, sensible.
Cliff Lee John  Harbaugh, Ravens
Talk about issues. He had an offensive line that hadn't played together. He had inexperienced wide receivers. He had cornerbacks who seemed vulnerable. And he had a quarterback who never, ever, ever beat Ben Roethlisberger. So he draws defending AFC champion Pittsburgh in the season opener and doens't just win; he wins in a 35-7 laugher. Unbelievable. The pre-game edge had to belong to the more experienced club, the team that made fewer off-season changes, and that team was Pittsburgh. Logic told us that Baltimore was an unsettled club that would only improve as the season progressed. But tell me: How do you improve on this?
Prisco Brinson
Chan GaileyChan Gailey, Bills
The Bills passed on taking a quarterback in the first round of the April draft because Gailey believed in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now we know why. He threw four touchdown passes as the Bills blew out the Chiefs 41-7. The defense also did a nice job shutting down the Chiefs offense. Gailey has this good-old-boy demeanor about him, but the man knows offensive football. He has his team ready to play against the Chiefs and pulled off what many considered to be an upset.
John HarbaughJohn Harbaugh, Ravens
The most impressive thing about the Ravens manhandling the Steelers was the game plan they had from the start -- and that falls on Harbaugh. They attacked on offense in an unexpected, high-powered manner and the defense just swarmed. Hell, they even had a built-in fake extra point play ready in case they needed it ... or in case they wanted to embarrass their arch-rivals on national television.
Katzowitz Wilson
Cliff Lee Hue Jackson, Raiders
In making his head coaching debut, Jackson had his team ready to play vs. the Broncos and coached a smart game, using much of the same gameplan Oakland formulated to beat Denver last season, to lead Oakland to the 23-20 road win. It was the first season-opening win for the Raiders in eight years, and at this rate with Jackson in command, Oakland might run the entire AFC West table again. 
Chan Gailey Chan Gailey, Bills
If anyone's due some recognition, it's Gailey. After suffering through a four-win season a year ago, the Bills showed up ready to play against the Chiefs in Week 1. Kansas City did not and they got rolled 41-7. Whether the Bills can keep this going remains to be seen, but for now we  salute you, Chan.



 
 
 
 
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