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Week 4 Judgements: Grossman far from sharp yet 'Skins still 3-1

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist
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1. One thing about riding the wave with Rex Grossman: It's always an event. Yes, he has a touchdown pass in each of his seven starts with the Redskins; he also has nine interceptions and five fumbles. Nevertheless, he's 4-3, including 3-1 this season. Maybe we should have listened to the guy when he said Washington was the team to beat in the NFC East.

2. Maybe, just maybe, the "retirement" of Carson Palmer was the best thing that happened to Cincinnati. If Palmer doesn't quit the Bengals, the Bengals don't draft Andy Dalton. Good thing they did. They have a quarterback who should stick around a long, long time.

3. I saw where Rob Ryan said he'd take Dallas' receivers over Calvin Johnson. Now I know why he coaches defense.

4. I'm telling you, the protection of Michael Vick is not Philadelphia's biggest problem. That porous defense is. The Eagles have been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter of their last three ballgames -- all losses -- and in the second half Sunday surrendered three second-half TDs, three drives of 62 or more yards each and 289 yards. Welcome to the sauna, Juan Castillo.

5. Now, more than ever, I'm convinced it's easier to win going west than it is going east. Two weeks ago, four clubs in the Pacific Time Zone played on the East Coast, and all four lost. On Sunday, four teams from the east went west, and all but Miami won. Draw your own conclusions. I already have.

6. A sure sign it's not good to be Reggie Bush: In his return home to San Diego, Bush was called "Reggie Jackson" by the PA announcer in the first quarter. Big difference: Jackson scored.

7. Tell me again why Philadelphia spent a fourth-round draft pick on Alex Henery. He jerked two fourth-quarter field goals wide Sunday -- a 39-yarder, followed by a 33-yarder that could've given the Eagles a comfortable 9-point lead. Egad. Guaranteed, nobody enjoyed that victory more than David Akers who, oh, by the way, kicked the game-winning extra point.

8. Maybe this is San Diego's year after all. For the first time since Norv Turner took over the Bolts won't have a losing record after five games. Slow starts have been the norm for San Diego, but not this season.

9. If that was an Osi Umenyiora audition for potential trading partners, I'm interested. I'd guess a lot of clubs would be, too. The Giants should keep him, and they should pay him. You can never have enough elite pass rushers.

10. If you have a franchise quarterback you get him franchise receivers. So why hasn't St. Louis? Sam Bradford, I feel your pain.

11. Don't dress as a piñata for Halloween. Go as Bradford or Ben Roethlisberger. Same difference. I swear, neither of these guys lasts the season if their offensive lines don't learn how to pass protect.

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12. Yeah, I'd start to hyperventilate if I'm Steve Spagnuolo. I know it's only four games, but his Rams haven't won, his offense stinks and his next three games are at Green Bay, at Dallas and New Orleans at home. Good luck, Steve. You're going to need it.

13. Mike Martz must have gotten the memo on balancing his attack. The Bears ran nine times before Martz allowed Jay Cutler to pass ... and that was in the second quarter. Hey, whatever works.

14. Now we find out if Cam Newton can win. Four of his next five games are home.

15. Suddenly, Eli Manning looks more like brother Peyton, and the envelope, please: In the fourth quarter of his last two wins -- both come-from-behind victories -- he's 20 of 24 for 265 yards, four touchdowns and a 152.3 passer rating. Now that's what a franchise quarterback is supposed to look like.

Five Things I Like

1. Houston's Mario Williams vs. Pittsburgh right tackle Marcus Gilbert. It was Pro Bowl defensive end vs. rookie lineman, and the result was predictable: The worst mismatch since the Red Sox took on September.

2. Matt Forte's leverage. That makes 954 total yards for Matt Forte over his last six regular-season games, an average of 159 per start. What are you waiting for Chicago? Just give him the damn money!

3. Detroit coach Jim Schwartz dedicating Sunday's victory -- the second straight comeback from 20 points down -- to former Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. He and Schwartz worked together with the Titans, and Schwartz wouldn't forget it. Class move, Jim.

4. Everything about Calvin Johnson. For those keeping score at home, that's four straight games with two TD passes in each -- an NFL first. When it comes to Andre or Calvin Johnson, I'm taking Calvin.

5. Sav Rocca's 63-yard punt with just over three minutes left. It not only got the Redskins out of trouble (they were pinned at their own 9); it basically iced the game.

Five Things I Don't

1. The call on Victor Cruz’s fourth-quarter "fumble." I'm sorry, I still don't get it. The ref said Cruz "gave himself up," but he didn't slide or take a knee. Translation: It sure looked like a fumble to me. Let's just say I don't understand the rule, and, after listening to Mike Pereira, the NFL's former supervisor of officials, it appears officials don't, either. "Yeah," said Eli Manning. "We got a break on that one."

2. Atlanta's defense. The more I see it the more I'm worried about this team. It was the Falcons' defense that collapsed in last year's playoffs, and it was the Falcons' defense that made Tarvaris Jackson look awfully good Sunday ... and that's not easy.

3. Carolina's coverage teams. Devin Hester blisters them for a 73-yard kickoff return plus a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown. It's hard not to admire Hester's achievements, but it's not as if this is something out of the norm, folks. I mean, the guy has 11 punt returns for touchdowns, an NFL record. So why do opponents keep kicking to the guy?

4. Pittsburgh's inability to create turnovers. After four games the Steelers have one. They had 35 last season. At the rate they’re going, the Steelers wind up with four takeaways -- and good luck taking that to the playoffs.

5. Anyone playing Baltimore in the first quarter. The Ravens outscore opponents 52-7 in the first period, with the Jets the first to score on them there in four games.

Five Guys Who Have Some 'Splaining To Do

1. Houston's Danieal Manning -- He cost the Texans a first-half touchdown when, after Shuan Suisham's field-goal attempt was blocked, he inexplicably shoved Suisham from behind -- when Suisham had absolutely, positively no shot at catching Johnathan Joseph. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

2. Philadelphia running back Ronnie Brown -- Bad enough that he didn't score from the 1. Worse, he turned and tried to throw the ball to Michael Vick ... or so it seemed. What in the world? Once, I wondered why Brown didn't get more touches at the goal line. Now I know.

3. Cleveland safety Usama Young -- He takes a rotten angle at Tennessee's Jared Cook, then blows the tackle ... push ... shove ... whatever it took to get the guy out of bounds. Weak. Real weak.

4. Dallas coach Jason Garrett -- You have a quarterback with broken ribs and a 27-3 second-half lead. So why keep throwing? Trust your defense, not your quarterback. Garrett should have.

5. Former quarterback Kurt Warner -- The NFL Network analyst predicted that nobody would score 30 on Sunday. Nine teams did. Guess that means Kurt won’t be considered for the starring role in “Nostradamus: The Movie.”

Just Asking But ...

 What are the chances that Miami's bye takes on new meaning for embattled coach Tony Sparano?

 Would someone please tell St. Louis' receivers they didn't sign up for volleyball?

 How nervous should Pittsburgh be about Ben Roethlisberger's injury?

 Which Harbaugh had the bigger win -- John or Jim?

 Would somebody tell Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez this is a passing league?

Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Time to give the veterans a rest and check out how our rookie starters are doing. Actually, not bad, if you don't consider the W-L record. They're 3-7 there, but, honestly, did anyone expect anything different?

PLAYER/ATT/COMP/YDS/TD/INT/W-L:

Cam Newton, Carolina/163/97/1386/5/5/1-3
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati/124/72/868/4/4/2-2
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville/69/33/387/2/2/0-2

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

2 -- Touchdowns Houston lost with penalties
5 -- Returns for TDs in the Jets-Ravens game, four by defense
9 -- Dan Bailey field goals in one week
12 -- Sacks of Bradford (7) and Roethlisberger (5)
12 -- Straight regular-season games with New England scoring 30 or more points
13 -- Consecutive games where Tom Brady has at least two TD passes
41 -- Straight St. Louis losses when it loses the turnover battle
61 -- Colt McCoy passing attempts
107 -- Yards on Joe McKnight's TD return, the longest play in Jets' history
148 -- Green Bay points through four games, a franchise record
0-5-1 -- Denver vs. Green Bay on the road, including Milwaukee
80-16 -- Opponents vs. Minnesota in the second half

My Top Five

1. Green Bay
2. New Orleans
3. Detroit
4. New England
5. Houston

My Bottom Five

32. Minnesota
31. St. Louis
30. Miami
29. Indianapolis
28. Kansas City

Next Weekend's Three Best Games

Oakland at Houston ... Another test for Raiders -- or is that Houston?
N.Y. Jets at New England ... First place at stake in AFC East.
Green Bay at Atlanta ... Rematch of NFC divisional playoff game.

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