Sunday, October 7, 2007

1st Quarter QB Summary

NFC South

Tampa Bay (3-1)—Jeff Garcia continues his hot run that began in Philadelphia last year. He hasn’t thrown an interception this season, the only starting quarterback that can make that claim. He also has directed the Bucs offense into the endzone at a rate they have not seen in many years, even in the Super Bowl season of 2002. He has thrown caution to the wind with his body and almost went “lights out” in the season opener, missing two series to clear the cobwebs after getting hit in the back of the head. He dove head first near the endzone in the same game to get a first down and the hit looked like he might never get up. He is the biggest reason the Bucs finished the first quarter of the season at 3-1, giving the defense hope and a little help staying fresh for the whole game.

Carolina (1-3)—The Panthers have disappointed their fans in a big way so far and don’t look like they know what’s going on as they head into the 2nd quarter of the season. Jake Delhomme missed the last game and is still weighing surgery on his injured elbow. David Carr proved that his experience in Houston wasn’t a fluke or playing on a fledgling franchise, but he is not going to blossom into anything exciting. Carr is now dropping the ball down below his waist during his delivery (almost as far as Byron Leftwich and you see how that is working for him) and throwing with gloves on in beautiful weather. He better keep trying different gimmicks until he finds something that works. Steve Smith’s frustration will continue to grow, as evidenced by reading his lips on the sideline phone last week.

Atlanta (1-3)—Bobby Petrino finally got his first win as a pro head coach with Joey Harrington as his starting quarterback while Michael Vick was facing new state charges for dog fighting, gambling, etc. Byron Leftwich is in the fold in case Harrington can’t keep up, but don’t expect Leftwich to be effective in Petrino’s offense any time soon.

New Orleans (0-4)—Sean Payton was the NFL Coach of the Year last year and Drew Brees won some post season awards as well, but what a difference a year makes. Neither Brees, who leads the league in interceptions, nor Payton, who looks like a deer in the headlights, seem to have the slightest idea how to win their first game as they head into their fifth. The Saints are arguably the biggest disappointment thus far in 2007 and now Deuce McAllister is out for the season and Reggie Bush hasn’t been used in the best way suited for him to make the “splash” plays that made him famous.

NFC North

Green Bay (4-0)—Brett Favre has the world by the tail (or is it tale) again. He has been such a soap opera every off-season as to his retirement plans that he seemed to be an afterthought as far as competing for a championship or just playing to get the all-time passing records. I don’t know if even he knows what the overall motivation was, but with their 4-0 start and his stellar performance this season, the Brett Favre tale just gets bigger and better.

Minnesota—With Tarvaris Jackson starting the season as the starting quarterback, the Vikings may be just exactly where they are supposed to be…and if not for first round pick Adrian Peterson, they may be quite a bit worse off.
Detroit (2-2)—Jon Kitna has the Lion’s faithful believing. After getting drilled in Philadelphia in week 3, they came back to even their record with a good win against the defending NFC Champion Bears. Kitna has been a solid quarterback throughout his lengthy career and with the likes of Roy Williams and the newest superstar receiver on Detroit’s roster in Calvin Johnson, there is much to be excited about in Motown.

Chicago (0-4)—The Bears are the other team up for the award of most disappointing to open the season. The Saints and Bears met up for the NFC Championship and neither has a win thus far. Lovie Smith finally had to give up on Rex Grossman before the season was completely gone, but turning to Brian Griese did not help as he threw three picks against the Lions and kept Chicago winless. Now even the backup in the windy city isn’t popular.

NFC East

Dallas (4-0)—Many thought the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the better teams in the NFC this year, but they are blowing people away so far, even with Wade Phillips as coach. The reason doesn’t look like coaching, but mostly the right arm and both legs of Tony Romo. He is playing like a young Brett Favre (or today’s Brett Favre). Laughing and smiling all the way through the game makes it fun to watch the Cowboys and Terrell Owens is almost as happy as Randy Moss is in New England.

New York (2-2)—Tiki Barber started the season by criticizing the leadership skills and style of Eli Manning from behind the broadcast desk. Eli has had his up’s and down’s, but did lead his team to a big win against Washington late in the game. And with last week’s destruction of the Eagles, the Giants are off to a solid start in the East, at least until they see the Cowboys.

Washington (2-2)—Jason Campbell is managing Joe Gibb’s offense relatively well this year. Don’t know if there is enough talent for the Redskins to make a run or if the Cowboys and other NFC teams will just be better as season moves into next phase.

Philadelphia (1-3)—Donovan McNabb is trying to recover from last year’s knee injury while playing, something Daunte Culpepper could tell him is not an easy task. The Giants laid 12 sacks on him the other night, a problem for the quarterback and the coach calling the plays. Putting your franchise player in a situation to get hurt again because of an overmatched left tackle is not smart.

NFC West
Seattle (3-1)—Matt Hasselbeck continues to lead the Seahawks as the favorite in this weak division. The strong running game is a nice compliment to Hasselbeck’s solid passing and Holmgren’s offensive style. Shaun Alexander is off to a much slower start than usual, but he will get it cranked up sooner or later.

Arizona (2-2)—Ken Whisenhut is playing the two-headed quarterback with Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner. He hasn’t had much choice as Leinart is under performing and not leading this talented offense. Warner seems like the perfect choice to be the relief guy and sling it around after Leinart falters. Leinart’s work habits and focus have been questioned in his short career and he already sounds like he won’t take this switching to the hot hand scenario with closed lips, but what’s a new coach that actually wants to win now supposed to do when your “franchise quarterback” is playing like a flake?

St. Louis (0-4)—Whatever happened to “The Greatest Show on Turf”? Mark Bulger was a good replacement to keep the timing offense rolling, but their window of opportunity closed significantly with the retirement of Marshall Faulk (one of the greatest all-around backs in history) and the aging of the receiving corps. Steven Jackson is a great back, but doesn’t fit the old style. Bulger is now nursing broken ribs and will miss some time, so things don’t look good for their 2nd quarter either.

San Fransisco (2-2)—Alex Smith has a solid future in the Bay area with Frank Gore keeping the defenses honest, but Smith is also going to miss time with a separated shoulder, although it looks like he will avoid surgery which is great news for him and 49ers fans. Trent Dilfer as Smith’s replacement will have those fans praying for some miraculous healing.

AFC South
Indianapolis (4-0)—Peyton Manning has the defending Super Bowl champions chugging along once again, making the Colts one of only a handful of teams to start 3 seasons in a row 4-0. Injuries in week 4 to Joseph Addai and Marvin Harrison will probably slow them a bit, but they have avoided the season ending injuries that have already hit a number of teams.

Tennessee (2-2)—Vince Young still throws too low on the shoulder, but so does Tony Romo and as long as both keep making great plays with their arms and legs, no one will make much of it.

Houston (2-2)—Matt Schaub looks like the off-season move of the year by Texans brass. Rich McKay didn’t look deep enough into his crystal ball to know that Mike Vick’s career was going to be sidelined, maybe forever.

Jacksonville (2-2)—I thought the move away from Byron Leftwich and the to David Garrard was a season or two overdue. Garrard has the quick release and mobility to make the Jags competitive in every game and the defense has always been a strength.

AFC North
Pittsburgh (3-1)—The Steelers quickly became a conference favorite, dismantling their early opponents and putting new coach Mike Tomlin on a very high pedestal. Big Ben is back to running the Steeler’s offense with precision. He is reading defenses and hitting the open receiver and keeping Pittsburgh in the win column on a very, very regular basis.

Baltimore (2-2)—Steve McNair has been hanging in their physically for the last few years, trying to get the Ravens back to where Trent Dilfer took them in 2000. Kyle Boller will get plenty of playing time as McNair plays through a series of nagging injuries just like every year. The defense is still formidable enough to keep things close on a regular basis.

Cleveland (1-3)—No team has ever traded their opening day starter before the second week of the season and that does not bode well for the rest of the season. Needless to say, everyone is waiting for “Golden Domer Boy” Brady Quinn to get the nod, but Derek Anderson is doing an admirable job in his first few starts.

Cincinnati (1-3)—Does Carson Palmer have what it takes to get the Bengals back in the fight for the playoffs? His top target is Chad Johnson and even though some of his antics with touchdowns is entertaining, it is distracting as well. The Future Hall of Famer sportcoat was in really bad taste. Palmer needs to lead on and off the field and a good, strong talk about letting your play do the talking would be appropriate right about now.

AFC East
New England (4-0)—The Patriots are playing like they have the biggest chip on their shoulders and are out to beat the crap out of everyone on their schedule. When they signed Randy Moss in the off-season, I blogged about them just sealing the deal for this year’s Super Bowl. Well, after a quarter of the season, they look like they are right on track.

New York (0-4)—The other rookie coach from last year that was lauded for his success was Mangenius. But, like the Saints and Sean Payton, things have gone terribly wrong to start 2007 and it doesn’t look like Chad Pennington has the athletic ability and arm strength to make the big things that are going to be necessary to get over on many of their division or conference foes.

Miami (0-4)—The Dolphins get a new coach in Cam Cameron and dispatch of Daunte Culpepper before he can recover from his surgically repaired knee. The worst part is that to replace a physically gifted player like Culpepper, they find a 37 year old Trent Green, who was coming off a season ending concussion. Not a good bet, but a good bet is that the Dolphins will be bringing up the rear of the division race.

Buffalo (2-2)—The Bills were hoping that J.P. Losman would be able to lift them to the old heights of the Jim Kelly era, but without Willis McGahee who has moved on to Baltimore. Things weren’t going all that great anyway, but then someone dove into Losman’s left knee after a throw and now it looks like a freezing winter in upper New York.
AFC West
Kansas City (1-3)—I was glad the Chiefs went with Damon Huard as their starter, partly because of how he did in relief of Green last year, and partly because the Chiefs need some veteran leadership. Brodie Croyle will probably get plenty of action throughout the season as the Chiefs are likely to go back and forth since they will struggle simply because they just aren’t that good on either side of the ball.

San Diego (1-3)—You fire your coach who took you to 14-2 last year and replace him with a coach that has a losing record in the regular season and has one game (a loss) of post-season head coaching experience. Don’t blame it all on Norv Turner, but Ladainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers have had some heated words for the world to see and that isn’t good for the long haul.

Denver (2-2)—Jay Cutler looks like a solid guy to lead Mike Shanahan’s offense for the foreseeable future, but they are going to have to play defense and special teams as well. Cutler is a quiet leader that won’t run around like a Brett Favre and wear his emotion on his sleeve, but he will put the ball on the money more often than not.

Oakland (1-3)—Just as the JaMarcus Russell watch was going into hyperdrive, the Raiders ran into the Dolphins with dispatched QB Daunte Culpepper as Oakland’s starter. All he did was account for 5 scores, including 3 running touchdowns and let all the Dolphin’s fans that his knee was A-OK. I think Lane Kiffin will get it going in the future, once Russell takes over and gets some seasoning.

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