Sanchez, Jets Shutdown
The Pats beat Moss, the Jets struggled and Dallas quits.
By: Braden Gall | 11/1/10, 12:25 PM EDT
Brady and the Pats got the better of former teammate Moss.
What is this, 2007? Once again, the road to the Super Bowl clearly will wind its way through the historic streets of Foxborough, Mass. The town that was once home to the world’s largest straw hat factory — thanks, Wikipedia — is also home to the team to beat in 2010. We’re seven weeks into the NFL season, and order seems to have returned to the NFL; the Patriots are 6–1, and Tom Brady is the leader in the clubhouse for MVP honors. Brady played gunslinger against Brett Favre and the Vikings, finding Brandon Tate on a broken play for a decisive 65-yard touchdown in the Pats’ 28–18 win over the Vikings. “That’s a pretty basic scramble situation,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Tate’s first career touchdown. “It really was not a very well-run play. But (we) made the best of a bad situation.” That’s what champions do. Ray Lewis and Rex Ryan may make more noise, but the Pats are quietly building a case that they’re the best team in football. Again.
Wade Must Go — and So Must Brad
The removal of Wade Phillips as Cowboys head coach is looking more and more like a no-brainer. The Cowboys have given up the pretense of even trying to save Phillips’ job and are playing even worse than their 1–6 record would indicate. “I’m dumbfounded,” owner Jerry Jones said after a 35–17 loss to Jacksonville in which the Cowboys made David Garrard look like vintage Joe Montana. “I’m distraught, to say the least,” Phillips said, before committing professional hari-kari with this remark: “I’ve got talented players and I’m not getting them to play well enough. To me, that’s the root of the problem.” In that case, problem easily solved. Over to you, Jerry. A little less obvious, but no less necessary, is a change at the top in Minnesota. A popular pick to make the Super Bowl, the Vikings slipped to 2–6 with their loss to New England, and Childress has pretty clearly lost his locker room, which erupted with some bizarre postgame performance art from Randy Moss, who conducted a five-minute monologue in which he extolled his former team and coach while expressing disappointment with his current boss. That disappointment is understandable. Childress’ offense targeted the second-best receiver in history all of two times yesterday. That’s a fire-able offense right there.
Jets Offense Exposed
Coming off a bye, the Jets were inexcusably bad on offense in a 9–0 loss to Green Bay. The Packers’ defense is middle-of-the-pack (excuse the pun) by any statistical measure, yet Mason Crosby’s first-quarter field goal was all the production the Pack would need on a blustery day in the Meadowlands. It was a miserable afternoon for the Sanchize; Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez completed only 42.1 percent of his passes and was picked off twice. Aaron Rodgers didn’t fare much better — he was 15-of-34 passing — but the Pack protected the ball and took advantage of Jets miscues to embarrass Rex Ryan’s self-proclaimed Super Bowl favorites. “It felt embarrassing to be shut out at home,” said right tackle Damien Woody. “Our personnel and our coaching staff is too good for us to be shut out at home.”
Tough Threesome in NFC South
The division produced the Super Bowl champion in 2009, and it’s producing one of the most compelling races in the NFL in 2010, thanks to the emergence of the Tampa Bay Bucs, who have joined the Falcons and the Saints to create a three-way battle for dominance at the top of the division. The Bucs moved to 3–0 on the road and 5–2 overall with their 38–35 comeback win over the Cardinals, as rookie LeGarrette Blount rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Josh Freeman played mistake-free football. Meanwhile, the Saints showed that they’re still dangerous by beating the Steelers 20–10, and the Falcons have looked at times like the best team in the NFC. All three clubs have championship qualities. The winner will have earned it.
What’s Up in D.C.?
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King cites Mike Shanahan’s “stones” in yanking Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman to run the Redskins’ two-minute offense. I question Shanahan’s sanity. Rex Grossman? Why not put in a call to Ryan Leaf while you’re at it? Shanahan benched McNabb for the Skins’ final two possessions, citing Grossman’s comfort level with the two-minute offense. I’d hate to see Grossman operate in uncomfortable circumstances. He fumbled on his first play, and Ndamukong Suh grabbed the ball and raced 17 yards for the clinching touchdown to complete a 23-point fourth quarter in the Lions’ 37–25 win. McNabb took the high road, saying, “You have to be a professional. There's a long season ahead of us.” And, thanks to unnecessary unrest at the quarterback position, it just got longer.
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