Prisco's Monday Musings
Have Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder moved past Cam Newton?
• Andy Dalton or Christian Ponder or Cam Newton ? That question would have been laughable during the offseason after Newton's impressive rookie season, outplaying the other two during their rookie seasons. What about now? In three games, Dalton has 867 yards and six touchdown passes, three in the each of the past two games, and a passer rating of 105.1 Ponder has completed 70.1-percent of his passes, thrown four touchdown passes, no interceptions and has a passer rating of 104.9. Newton has thrown two touchdown passes, five interceptions and has a passer rating of 78.3. Newton has had one good game, that coming against the horrible New Orleans Saints defense. So it's a legitimate question now: Is Newton now No. 3 in that group? Newton also needs to get his head out of his you-know-what. He isn't endearing himself to his teammates, as you can tell by the way Steve Smith ripped him after Thursday's game.
• The replacement officials are taking a beating. Some of it is justified. The game operations aren't good. And they have blown some calls and made some rules mistakes. But the venom directed at them is sickening. Some announcers have gone over the top when it comes to ripping them. Here's the deal: Blame the league and the regular refs for their calling the games. They are the reason they are on the field. The other thing is the games play on. I keep hearing how they've cost teams games. Really? Where? Two words for that: Ed Hochuli. He once cost the Los Angeles Chargers a possible win by blowing a play dead. Remember? I love what guys like Tony Dungy and Tom Brady keep saying, which is don't worry about things you can't control. The games play on, no matter who refs them. One more thing to the NFLPA: If you really want to make a statement about the officiating, ask your members to sit out a game and pass on a check. Didn't think so. How many players would kiss off that idea?
• The Jacksonville Jaguars got a brilliant effort from Maurice-Jones Drew, who rushed for 177 yards, but it took a miracle touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts with 47 seconds left to beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Moral of the story: Time to let Gabbert play. I know people think he can't play, but how do they know? The offense doesn't even try, until it has to do so. Take the training wheels off. If he can't do it, then you have to get somebody else. Run, run pass is a formula for failure.
• What does Randy Moss do? He can't stretch a field and he dropped an easy pass against the Minnesota Vikings . I will be shocked if he does something that makes us go "wow" this season. He just looks old.
• I hate when players go down for the year with an ACL, which is the case with New York Jets corner Darrelle Revis . What does it mean? It means the Jets won't be able to be so aggressive on defense. Kyle Wilson , who has been the nickel corner, will step in and start opposite Antonio Cromartie . Wilson is a solid player, but he isn't the man-cover player of a Revis. That should impact in a big way what the Jets can do now in terms of pressure. Revis was that security blanket.
• I keep hearing all the time that teams should bat the ball down in trying to defend the Hail Mary pass. Why not just pick it off? The Tennessee Titans nearly lost a game because they tried to bat the ball down, and Titus Young caught it for the tying touchdown Sunday for the Detroit Lions . That happened to Glover Quin of the Houston Texans a few years ago when the Jaguars beat them on a Hail Mary.
• It's time for the Carolina Panthers and the Washington Redskins to let Newton and Robert Griffin III play real quarterback. That read option is going to get one of them killed or hurt. You know how easy it is to break a finger or a hand or whatever. Don’t expose your quarterback to meaningless hits. I know Griffin can run, and he had 85 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals , but it's too risky to have your franchise quarterback playing like a running back.
• Don't you think I could rush for 100 against the Saints defense? Jamaal Charles ran wild Sunday, rushing for 233 yards and a 91-yard touchdown. The Kansas City Chiefs have to be thrilled that Charles is back looking like he did before his knee injury last year. Charles was run down against the Atlanta Falcons in the first game, but not against the Saints. That's a good sign.
• What is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense? If you spend all that money to bring in Vincent Jackson , don't you have to try to throw to him? He had one catch for 29 yards, and that came on the final drive.
• Santonio Holmes came up big for the Jets against the Miami Dolphins on the same field where he quit last year. Holmes had nine catches for 147 yards and his catch set up the game-winning field goal.
• San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman was everywhere against the Vikings. He had 17 tackles.
• When the 49ers start scaring down the field, I will start believing in them as real Super Bowl contenders.
• Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell are so good inside for the Arizona Cardinals . The bad news is Dockett might be down a couple of games with a hamstring injury.
• Falcons coach Mike Smith is 6-0 on the West Coast. That is really impressive. Smith brings his team out on Friday and is a big believer in forcing players to stay hydrated on the flight out. Hey. It works.
• Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten clearly isn't himself. He had three drops and two false starts against Tampa Bay. But the really perplexing thing is he wasn't in the locker room after the game. That's because Witten is one of the game's best interviews. Maybe he just didn't want to have to answer questions about whether his lacerated spleen is the reason he's struggling some. It has to be.
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