Week 9 Judgements: Browns have found their quarterback

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer

1. I don't care if Cleveland quarterback Seneca Wallace is good to go this week. He doesn't play. Colt McCoy does, and he stays in there the rest of the season. Seeing is believing with this guy, and watching him dissect New England convinced me the Browns may have their quarterback for the future. I know, he has a résumé with only three starts, but look what he's done -- knock off defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans one game, then stun New England the next. What's more, he quarterbacked a Cleveland team that exceeded 30 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2004. OK, so the defense won the New Orleans game. Sunday's upset doesn't happen without McCoy, who hit five of seven third-down passes -- including four for first downs -- and scrambled for a touchdown. The Browns scored on four drives of 60 or more yards, with one of 13 plays, another of 10 and a third of nine. That's not supposed to happen to New England, and it's not supposed to happen to New England when it tackles a rookie quarterback. But it just did.

2. I'm not sure who should feel worse about New England's loss -- Bill Belichick or Denver's Josh McDaniels. It was Belichick's defense that Peyton Hillis shredded for 228 yards and two touchdowns -- including a career-high 184 yards rushing. But Hillis isn't in Cleveland's lineup without McDaniels' help. It was the Denver head coach who earlier this year had the brilliant idea to trade Hillis and draft picks for quarterback Brady Quinn. Quinn is the Broncos' third-string quarterback, and he doesn't play. Hillis is a one-man wrecking ball who's one of the most reliable and effective backs in the business. This trade was so bad I had to check to see if McDaniels was related to former Red Sox owner Harry Frazee.

3. Next up for Cleveland: The New York Jets, and tell me whose defense is better: Rob Ryan's or brother Rex's? I'm serious. Rob's Browns just surrendered 31 points in successive defeats of New Orleans and New England, or two more than the Jets gave up to Green Bay and Detroit its last two starts. Rob beat Drew Brees and Tom Brady; Rex lost to Aaron Rodgers and beat Drew Stanton. You make the call.

4. That's Big D, as in Disgraceful. Dallas sure looks as if it quit, and, sorry, but it's time to make the change at head coach. It's just too painful watching Wade Phillips tortured every week. But tell me this: If the Cowboys don't make a move -- and Jerry Jones insists he won't -- what does that tell you about Jason Garrett and his future in Dallas?

5. It's safe to exhale, Brad Childress. For now.

6. The more I see of Philip Rivers the more I move him up in the MVP race. The guy is carrying the Chargers on his back, and, frankly, nobody is playing better. In his latest performance, Rivers threw for four touchdowns for only the second time in his career -- and he did it without the Chargers' top five receivers (including Vincent Jackson) entering this season. Yep, that was Seyi Ajirotutu and Randy McMichael who victimized Houston, and now you know why the Texans rank last in pass defense.

7. Tell me there isn't irony in what's happening in Oakland. Quarterback Jason Campbell has found a home, while the man who replaced him in Washington -- Donovan McNabb -- has found a home in the doghouse. Campbell's been there, so he knows what it's like. But it took a move to Oakland ... the Oakland Raiders ... for him to make a name for himself.

8. Add the name of Perry Fewell to the list of next year’s head-coaching candidates. The Giants’ defensive coordinator not only has revived Big Blue, making its defense a force again, but he has head-coaching experience at this level. He was 3-4 in Buffalo last year after taking over for Dick Jauron in mid-season, and the more I see of the Bills, the more I marvel at that record.

9. I feel for Indianapolis and quarterback Peyton Manning. Each week he loses another receiver, with Austin Collie the latest casualty. The only reason the Colts hang in there is No. 18, but the cavalry has to arrive sometime, doesn't it? If Green Bay can overcome a tsunami of injuries, I guess Indy can, too.

10. Houston's Arian Foster makes an apparent touchdown catch, only to have it overruled by officials in the latest episode of "When Is a Catch Not a Catch?" Or is that Calvin Johnson Revisited. It was the right call ... the way the rule is written ... but the rule needs to go. It stinks.

11. Brandon Marshall is right. If you're going to be considered a serious playoff threat you better beat good opponents. The Dolphins have not. Instead, they lost to New England, the Jets, Pittsburgh and Baltimore -- and they're all in the AFC. Plus, the Dolphins are winless at home. Say good night, Miami.

12. Now I understand why Mike Singletary insists the 49ers aren't out of the playoff picture. Because they aren't. They play in the NFC West where nobody is out of the playoff picture. I swear, the first one to eight victories wins this division.

13. Yeah, I'd have to say Matt Stafford is injury prone. Too bad, too. The guy is a talent when his shoulder is right ... which isn't often.

14. Let's hear it for Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Since getting fired by Miami, he's 3-0 vs. the Dolphins -- outscoring them 80-32.

15. Yeah, sure, Roy Williams, the Cowboys can win nine straight. It's comments like that that make you realize these guys have lost touch with reality.

Five things I like

1. Brett Favre's game-tying touchdown pass. For all those Favre bashers who called for his benching and/or retirement, shame on you. Tarvaris Jackson never makes that throw, and the Vikings never rally from two scores down with four-and-a-half minutes to go.

2. A week off for Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb. These two need a lot of time away from each other.

3. Dr. Jesse McGuire's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner prior to the Colts-Eagles game. He didn't sing it; he played it ... on a trumpet. The NFL should forget about hiring big names to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl and hire Dr. McGuire to play it.

4. Cleveland offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's Fumblerooski call that befuddled New England and sent Chansi Stuckey hurtling into the end zone.

5. Belichick meeting Mangini at midfield for a postgame handshake no one was certain would happen. The New England head coach was contrite after getting hammered, saying the Browns "obviously did everything better than we did. They clearly were the better team." That's a big 10-4, Bill.

Five things I don't

1. Kareem Jackson covering Seyi Ajirotutu. Sorry, I mean not covering. Ajirotutu -- elevated from the Chargers' practice squad -- burned him for two TDs.

2. Detroit throwing on third-and-8 with two minutes left and the Jets out of timeouts. You gotta be kidding me. Even if Matthew Stafford were in there -- which he wasn't -- I run the ball and take another 40-45 seconds off the clock. Detroit didn't and gave New York a gift. "That was huge," said Jets tackle Damien Woody. No kidding. The game-tying field goal was made with four seconds left. Remember that when you wonder how the Lions blew this one.

3. Those "Fire Chilly" signs that fans waved in the Metrodome. Way to support the home team, people. All the guy did was fire an un-coachable player who was guilty of insubordination. Tell me what's wrong with that. There were 30 teams that passed on Randy Moss, and that should tell you something.

4. Julian Peterson's out-of-bounds hit on LaDainian Tomlinson that drew a flag and gave the Jets a shot at a game-tying field goal. You gotta play smart, Julian, and that was dumb, dumb, dumb.

5. San Diego's punt protection. There isn't any, with Houston blocking another kick -- and make that five in nine games. Yeah, I know, officially it wasn't a block because the ball traveled one yard, but let's be honest -- it didn't get there by itself. I'm sorry, enough is enough. Either fix the damned thing or get rid of Steve Crosby.

Just asking but ...

 Why aren't teammates speaking up for Donovan McNabb?

 Think Josh McDaniels would like a mulligan on that Peyton Hillis deal?

 Really, now, can Wade Phillips survive the season? How about the week?

 If you were Raheem Morris, would you have run on fourth down?

 Was Le'Ron McClain really spitting mad? And, if so, what does the NFL do?

Significant numbers

1 -- Calvin Johnson catches vs. Darrelle Revis

2 -- Straight games with 10 or more penalties for Philadelphia

4 -- Arizona fumble recoveries for touchdowns this season, tying an NFL single-season record

10 -- Dallas turnovers the past three games

22 -- Straight games with a Philip Rivers TD pass

200 -- Consecutive starts for Peyton Manning

240 -- Yards in penalties called by Jeff Triplette's crew in the Kansas City-Oakland game

12-0 -- Philadelphia following byes under Andy Reid

17-1 -- Matt Ryan's record at home

My top five

1. Baltimore
2. Pittsburgh
3. New England
4. N.Y. Giants
5. Atlanta

My bottom five

32. Buffalo
31. Carolina
30. Dallas
29. Denver
28. San Francisco

Next weekend's top three games

Baltimore at Atlanta ... Falcons' unbeaten record at home tested.

New England at Pittsburgh ... A glimpse of AFC Championship Game?

Philadelphia at Washington ... McNabb Bowl, Part II.


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