Week Three Friday 10-pack

It’s already Week Three, and we’ve got more than three story lines to watch for the upcoming slate of games.

With 16 games, it’s easy.  Next week the byes begin, which will begin to make it harder for us to come up with 10 worthwhile takes entering each weekend.

But we suppose we’ll manage.

1.  Consistency is the key for Vick, Reid.

Eagles coach
Andy Reid got one thing right on Tuesday, when announcing that Mike Vick
had become the team’s new quarterback.  Vick, as Reid observed, is
among the hottest quarterbacks in the league.

The next question
becomes whether he can continue to perform at that level.

2006, Vick’s last season as a starter before Week Two of the 2010
season, the former Falcon’s performances swung wildly.  In a 29-27 win
over the Bengals, Vick generated a passer rating of 142.7 by completing
19 of 27 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.  The next week, in a
30-14 loss at Detroit, Vick’s passer rating plunged to 52.0.  In the
next game, a 17-13 loss to the Browns, Vick’s passer rating dipped to
43.4 before rebounding the following week (despite a 24-10 loss) to

It was then back to 47.9 (a 31-13 loss to the Saints,
otherwise known as the
middle finger game
) before rebounding to 115.1 in a 24-14 win over
the Redskins before falling back to 62.8 in a 17-6 win over the Bucs
before shooting to 121.0 in a 38-28 loss to the Cowboys before
plummeting nearly 100 points to 22.7 in a 10-3 loss to the Panthers.

and perhaps fittingly, Vick’s passer rating for his last game with the
Falcons — a loss to the Eagles in Philly — increased to 97.6.

Vick can continue to play at a high level (or, perhaps more accurately,
if Reid can get him to continue to play at a high level), Vick will
continue to keep the job in Philly, for 2010 and beyond.  If Vick plays
like he did in 2006, Reid soon will be mending fences with the guy who
had the job for less than a half.

2.  Wildcat looms over
biggest game of Week Three

Last year, the Dolphins unfurled
their Wildcat attack on the Jets, which helped pave the way toward a
31-27 mid-October win.  After the game, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace made
clear his disdain for the unconventional single-wing approach.

going to be honest, I can’t respect that stuff,” Pace said.  “All that
Wildcat. Because we’re in the NFL, man.  If you’re out there running
that nonsense, it’s crap

And, of course, the Jets would
later rely on that “nonsense” and “crap” to scratch and claw their way
into the playoffs, using Brad Smith in the shotgun formation to beat the
Bengals in Week 17.

After the game, the Wildcat apparently had
gotten Calvin’s tongue.

On Sunday night, look for a healthy dose of the Wildcat flowing in
both directions, with the Dolphins relying from time to time on the
change-of-pace, misdirection-based approach and the Jets trying to give
them a mouthful of their own medicine.

As Miami’s version of the
Wildcat has evolved, defenses have a little more time to prepare for
it.  In its most effective form, the offense emerges from the huddle
with the quarterback splitting wide and a running back lining up to take
the snap.  Recently, the Dolphins have been sending quarterback Chad
Henne to the sidelines after the preceding play, making it obvious that
something fishy is coming.    

It may be a good idea to follow
the same approach against the Jets.  Despite the fact that a chunk of
the strategic advantage is sacrificed, getting Henne off the field keeps
a defensive back from taking a free shot at him.  That it hasn’t
already happened could be the biggest surprise regarding the retro
offense that the Dolphins first used almost two years ago to the day.   

Flacco should be safe, for now

With the addition of
receiver Anquan Boldin and receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and rookie tight
ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, combined with the ongoing development
of tailback Ray Rice, most league observers expected to observe a major
upgrade from quarterback Joe Flacco in his third NFL season.

through two games Flacco has struggled.  Badly.

A so-so
performance against the Jets in Week One (38 attempts, 20 completions,
248 yards, one interception for a 62.2 passer rating) dissolved into a
disaster against the Bengals in Week Two, with 39 attempts and 17
completions for 154 yards, a touchdown, and four interceptions.  Passer
rating?  23.8.

The decline has prompted many to wonder when/if
the Ravens will bench Flacco for Marc Bulger.  The easy answer?  Not

The Ravens faced a pair of playoff teams to start the
season.  Sure, Flacco floundered against them, but in two years he has
played in five postseason games.  Also, with speedy receiver Donte’
Stallworth out for half the season, the Ravens lack a deep threat that
can stretch the field and clear out space for its collection of
possession receivers.

So be patient, Ravens fans.  Besides,
there’s no reason to think that Marc Bulger would do any better.

Could Cassel be the next to sit?

With seven of 32 starting
quarterbacks already gone from the field due to injury or
ineffectiveness, one of the next hot spots could come in Kansas City,
where the Chiefs have to be wondering whether Matt Cassel ever can
duplicate the performance he produced after Pats quarterback Tom Brady
tore an ACL in Week One of the 2008 season.

That year, Cassel
completed 63.4 percent of his throws for nearly 3,700 yards, with 21
touchdowns, 11 picks, and a passer rating of 89.4.  In 2009, his first
year with the Chiefs, Cassel connected on only 55 percent of his passes,
for 2,924 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.    

two games in 2010, Cassel has been the inept captain of an anemic
offense, with only two offensive touchdowns.  He has completed only 52
percent of his attempts, and his passer ratting has dropped from 69.9 in
2009 to 55.8.  Though the Chiefs also have two wins, Cassel had better
start clicking soon, or Brodie Croyle could get the keys to the Charlie
Weis offense.

Thinking ahead, it’s hard to envision Cassel
returning for 2011, even if the Chiefs can overachieve their way into
the playoffs.  Weis had no prior connection to Cassel, and Weis surely
will be lobbying for a guy like, say, Brady Quinn.

Bragging rights are bigger in Texas, too

The Houston Texans
arrived on the NFL scene eight years ago with an unlikely upset win over
the Dallas Cowboys.  Four years later, the Cowboys settled the score
with a 34-6 blowout.

Two years later, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
took the Olympics-frequency rivalry to a new level by explaining the
differences between the franchises.

“The Cowboys have never been
about checkered tablecloths and boots and hats,” Jones said. “They’ve
been about glitz and glitter.  Leave
the other stuff to the Houston Texans

Texans owner Bob
McNair responded by taking the high road.

“I’m not offended by
what Jerry said,” McNair told the Houston Chronicle at the time. 
“I’m glad he knows we’re the Texans.  I’m proud to be a Texan and a
Houstonian. . . .  Houston’s a hardworking city, and the Texans are a
hardworking team.  I don’t see anything wrong with checkered
tablecloths, hats and boots.”

Jones later apologized for the
remark, and McNair said he told Jones he wasn’t offended.

But we
doubt that.  And we suspect that McNair has been waiting patiently for
another crack at the Cowboys, and that he wants his team to win this one
almost as badly as he wants to see them finally get to the postseason.

course, the ultimate revenge would come if/when the Texans — not the
Cowboys — play for the Lombardi Trophy in the glitzy and glittery
football palace that Jones has erected in Dallas.

6.  Eagles
return to the scene of their biggest loss

In February 2005,
the Eagles played for the third time in Jacksonville.  On that occasion,
however, they didn’t play the Jaguars, who are undefeated in three
games against Philaldelphia.  

The Eagles instead played the
Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, and the Eagles came dangerously close to
stealing the victory.  A monster performance from Terrell Owens, which
in many respects helped create the monster he’d become the following
year, ultimately went for naught due to a stunning lack of urgency with
the game on the line, possibly because quarterback Donovan McNabb became

Months after the game, Owens supported his effort to
get fired by the Eagles by taking this infamous slap at McNabb:  “I’m
not the one who got tired in the Super Bowl.”

McNabb, for his
part, denies getting sick or tired.  Either way, the Eagles lost the
game.  And it’s hard not to wonder whether McNabb would still be the
quarterback of the Eagles today as the team prepares to return to
Jacksonville, if the Eagles had won the last time they played there more
than five years ago.

Who knows?  Maybe if McNabb were still with
the Eagles, Mike Vick would be playing for the Jaguars.  

Packers have a chance to make a huge statement

Green Bay’s
opportunity to command the league’s attention comes on Monday night,
when the Packers invade Soldier Field to face the 2-0 Bears, whom many
think should be 1-1.  

But the unblemished record held by the
home team will make a runaway win by the Packers even more impressive. 
Given the protection problems that the Bears have had and the resulting
beating that quarterback Jay Cutler has absorbed, Packers linebacker
Clay Matthews could give Cutler the same facemask full of sod that ended
Kevin Kolb’s first stint as a full-time starter less than 30 minutes
after it began.

As good as Green Bay’s defense has been, the
offense is even better, even without running back Ryan Grant.  In the
end, a game that looks good on paper could end up looking great for the
Packers — and awful for the Bears and the rest of the NFC.

Jahvid Best could be worst Vikings trade in 21 years

In October 1989, the Vikings gave up a truckload of draft picks and
players for the man who was perceived to be the missing link for a Super
Bowl run, tailback Herschel Walker.  More than 20 years later, they’re
still trying to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since
January 1977.

With a four-spot drop in the 2010 draft, the
Vikings helped a division rival get a tailback who may end up not being
the missing link but a building block.  The player picked with the
Vikings’ pick, Jahvid Best, has been lighting up the league for the
Lions, with five touchdowns in two games and more than 230 yards of
offense against the Eagles in Week Two.

Since the 1998 season,
the Vikings have owned the Lions, winning 21 of 24 times.  The pendulum
could now be swinging back in the other direction, and if it happens the
Vikings have only themselves to blame for helping Detroit get their
best back since the days of Barry Sanders.

9.  Falcons get
their shot at the champs

In many corners of the country, the
Saints have been the ultimate feel-good story.  In Atlanta, the only
feeling that New Orleans’ success has inducted is nausea.  

Falcons, who have strung together winning records in consecutive seasons
for the first time in team history, have craved for months their crack
at the Saints.  This week, they get it.

With the Saints heading
home on a short week after a grueling Monday nighter in San Francisco,
the Saints could be ripe for an upset.  If it happens, it would thrust
the Falcons directly onto the short list of elite NFL teams.

it would put the Falcons in the driver’s seat to win the NFC South.  By
beating the Saints in their own building, the Falcons would need only to
hold serve at home to secure the all-important tiebreaker.

Haslett heads home, sort of

Two years ago, Redskins
defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was the defensive coordinator of the
Rams.  When former head coach Scott Linehan was relieved of his duties
only four games into the campaign, Haslett took over.  

In his
first game as interim head coach, Haslett took the Rams to FedEx Field
and beat the Redskins.  

Haslett’s Rams surprised the Cowboys the
following week to pull their record to 2-4, but then the wheels came
off again, with 10 straight losses to end the year.  Haslett wasn’t
asked to return.

Now, after a year in the UFL, Haslett is running
the defense in D.C., and he returns to St. Louis for a crack at the
team that he led to a rare bright spot with those back-to-back wins. 
Fresh in his mouth is the bad taste that comes from blowing a 17-point
loss to the Texans.  It’ll only get worse if Haslett’s defense fails to
keep the Rams from scoring enough points to get only their second win
since Haslett left.

33 responses to “Week Three Friday 10-pack

  1. I’m sorry did you say Flacco could get benched for MARC BULGER????? BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  2. actually not a bad read, even if the required corrections are extremely blatant. let ole scurdsy straighten you out a bit:
    in fact the key for the eagles is inconsistency. predictable boring offense that drops vick into the pocket consistently will be the death of the eagles hopes this season. they need to use vick in surprising roll out bootleg packages that get him in space improvising and give him the option to run. if they run the same consistent offense as everyone else vick will turnover them to death. corrected
    the dolphins jets certainly isnt the biggest game of week 3. even if it was the jets have too many ready made excuses for it to mean much if they lose with revis out and edwards fiasco. easily the biggest game is in texas. easily. corrected
    bulger’s pro bowl resume makes me wonder if he might just be able to start in the nfl. he is known for accuracy and decision making, which just happen to be the 2 problems flacco is having
    cassel isnt going to sit anytime soon because he isnt the problem. hey florio: the chieves are 2-0
    the texans are the best in the nfl right now and are definitely thinking superbowl. i think the cowboys are pretty bad and philips is the blame. “whu happened?” isnt a good motto for a team.
    that paragraph about the eagles in jax is a mess
    if the pack wins big noone will be surprised dude. the surprise will be if the bears can hang with them
    the worst viking trade in 21 years is the toughest question i have seen in a long time…….
    falcons need to see a golden opportunity here with the saints coming off a weak monday nite performance, losing raggae bush, and suddenly faltering on defense. close game, great game
    the skins have already won the game in st loo, dont you watch football?

  3. Is there something in particular that makes Miami vs New York the “biggest game of week three”? Maybe I’m just failing to understand, but it seems like a regular divisional game… you know, Green Bay vs Chicago, Minnesota vs Detroit, Atlanta vs New Orleans, New England vs Buffalo, Cleveland vs Baltimore…. what makes this particular matchup so much bigger than all these games, especially the GB vs CHI game?

  4. I love in your point 3 that you classify the Bengals as a playoff team, but have taken numerous shots at them and have them finishing third in the AFC North this year?
    When will you stop spreading manure on both sides of the fence?

  5. “The Cowboys have never been about checkered tablecloths and boots and hats,” Jones said. “They’ve been about glitz and glitter.”
    Way to slap every hard working Texan in the face Jerry!
    Who in Texas could root for the Cowgirls, the whine and cheese crowd?
    So you’re saying you have a bunch of Liberace’s on your team? HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa

  6. Just like the Bears couldn’t beat that power house Cowboys team on the road…and No the Packers offense has not been impressive, piling on points against the JV Bills doesn’t mean crap.

  7. trading down a few picks to save some money with the hope that your guy will still be there is always risky move — that risk looks indefensibly stupid when your trading partner is a division rival.

    I wonder who proposed that trade, MN or DET? My guess is DET proposed with the hopes of moving up, but MN shouldn’t have been so arrogant as to believe DET couldn’t hurt them with the move.

  8. Flacco just hasn’t been living up to expectations. So many people have predicted his rise to the top. But, it just hasn’t happened. Now he’s got some receivers on his team that can make his job a lot easier. But, he still can’t throw too accurately or make good decisions, at times. He needs to prove himself immediately. It’s now or never for Joe Flacco.

  9. High-Larry-Az!
    Glitz & Glitter!
    Maybe they should be back-up dancers for Cher in Vegas instead of trying to play football.
    I just can’t wait to see the Cowboys on Glee next season!

  10. It could be a fantastic weekend for Packer fans.
    We’ve got to win in Chicago, of course. Those games with Chicago are always full of historical passion making them fun to watch. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Green Bay will pick off Cutler 2-3 times and run one or two back. This week it won’t be Clay Matthews as defensive player of the week … it will be someone in Green Bay’s secondary.
    It would be even a bigger Monday night game if results from Sunday include victories by Detroit, Houston, Pittsburgh, and/or Atlanta. I acknowledge it’s wishful thinking … but it’s not an outrageous outcome. If I can only have one of those, I’d take a Detroit victory. That would be fun over here in Wisconsin. Go Lions!

  11. You should mention to whomever thinks the Bears should be 1-1 that there was still 31 seconds left when Johnson decided it was more important to showboat for Sportscenter than it was to act like a professional and keep the ball from hitting the ground.
    Martz and Cutler getting in FG range with 3 timeouts and 31 seconds left? Not impossible.

  12. kravon says:
    September 24, 2010 10:10 AM
    Until Flacco can solve the mystery of the Steelers defense that team will not win a title.
    Didn’t have to solve that mistery last year to get to the post season … now did they ….
    more likely the Ravens need to figure out how to stop Manning as he has kept the Ravens from advancing almost every year when they made the playoffs since their superbowl.

  13. I don’t get how this would be the worst Vikings trade in 21 years. It’s not like the Vikings were going to take Best. They have this Peterson fellow who is pretty good, and Best wouldn’t have been the fit for the Vikings offence, they needed a guy who is better in pass pro.
    The fact that the Lions made a good choice is a credit to them, but to move down 4 spots to #2 in Round 2 and draft a db that you were going to draft at #30, while gaining additional picks is normally considered a good trade and not the WORST TRADE IN 21 YEARS.
    The Worst Trade in the last 21 Years is when you trade the most dominant receiver of his generation and end up getting a WR who couldn’t catch a cold.

  14. Florio you should do double or nothing on a bet with Brocato.
    if the Jets beat the Phins, then Florio you wear a Jets jersey for the next 3 sundays. If the Phins beat the Jets, Brocato has to sport Dolphin gear for 3 weeks! :awesome:

  15. I am not even a Chiefs fan and I can tell you its not really Cassel’s fault.
    The Chiefs led the league in dropped passes last season. And not by a few, they almost doubled the team that finished in 2nd.
    And if you watched their first two games this season, it appears they got right back to where they left off.
    At least their DB’s can catch passes because their WR’s and TE’s cannot.

  16. You might want to cut this down to five or something, because you’re reaching with a lot of these.
    6 is just awful, and 8 isn’t much better.
    Best has played two games, one where he was held to under 2 YPC. He then rushed all over what looks to be a pathetic run defense in Philly. Secondly, the Vikings have no need for him.
    You’re creating stories that are non-stories to fill a quota…how about we get back to reporting and analyzing the news as it comes instead of pulling **** out of your *** to get this done every week?

  17. Hey Florio does the crap just pour out of your mouth when you speak?
    Oh also make sure you are wearing your Green Bay Jersey Monday night..
    Once again no credit to The Bears

  18. Here is a question for Lord Florio that I know he won’t answer…..he never does when people prove him wrong in comments —
    How can you even consider that the Vikings have screwed up with trading their draft pick with the Lions? Such a ridiculous statement! Cook has not played a down yet. 2 games does not a good running back make. Best is a feature running back, and the last I checked, the Vikings have one in AP. Best would not be good in a Chester Taylor type role and seems most everyone knows that but Florio!
    You read it here first (ok, maybe second) that Best won’t get 60 yards on Sunday and won’t get a single TD. BTW, the last opposing team running back to get over 100 yards in the dome was Jackson Dec 06.

  19. “Hey Florio does the crap just pour out of your mouth when you speak? Oh also make sure you are wearing your Green Bay Jersey Monday night.. Once again no credit to The Bears”
    I think Florio just realizes that the Packers are a significantly better team. It seems pretty clear.
    Here’s a free gambling tip: Packers -3 is a LOCK.

  20. Vick has never been consistent. Reid consistently wins in the regular season only to lose in the playoffs. At least we can count on the Eagles losing to the Cowboys.
    Saints are defending SB champs playing a division rival. How is Jets-Fins bigger than that? Or Packers-Bears? Or even Vikings-Lions with the Viqueen offense playing against one of the worst defenses – now or never for them.
    Only media types think Flacco will sit this season without a major injury.
    Bears win at home. Pack might win at Lambeau later.
    Expect a similar statement like the Bears made when they played the Vikings last year in Chicago.

  21. Javid Best is one knee injury away from a bust. He was passed over by a lot of teams due to his propensity for being injured in college.
    Sure if he can stay injury free and run like the wind the Lions look like genius’. If not, its another poor choice in the draft: williams, rogers, the list is so long no one can remember the names anymore.

  22. Reid is no dummy and neither are the Eagles management. They had buckoo chances to unload Vick and didn’t budge. Why. They aren’t risking the franchise on an unproven commodity in Kolb.
    Vick was back up insurance all the way and now that he is producing at a high level, no way Kolb plays now.
    Kolb is the backup whether he likes it or not. It wasn’t just his injury but the lack of productivity prior to it. Had he thrown for 5 touchdowns then got injured different story.

  23. Worst Vikings trade in 21 years? Try Randy Moss for Napoleon Kaughman and a draft pick that turned into Troy Williamson. Not even close.

  24. #7
    Way to throw Chicago under the bus and assume a blowout again. Didn’t you predict the same thing last week at Dallas?
    Speaking of last week, you obviously weren’t paying attention to the game either. Dallas got huge pressure on Cutler early in the game, knocked him down, sacked him, and generally was in his face. Though you weren’t the only one to predict that. All of CBS picked Dallas, and one of the analysts (forget which) predicted Cutler would’ve been sacked like 7 times.
    Then Martz adjusted the play calling, and all of a sudden Chicago was shredding the vaunted Dallas D. For as bad as the offense has looked, that is still a top tier defense – especially when it comes to pressure.
    And please, if you’re still relying on your preseason observations about protection for this team, just stop. In the preseason, players in this Martz/Tice offensive line system don’t implement their full set of blocking schemes. The goal of the preseason was to intentionally put the linemen in 1-on-1 situations so that they could get practice in pass/run blocking as well as give the coaches the opportunity to gauge the ability of the linemen and plan for their strengths and weaknesses. Now that the games count, blocking schemes will be adjusted to account for the defense and the pressure. Cutler will continue to hit his hot route, and Green Bay will be forced to back off.

  25. “unconventional single-wing approach.”
    Unusual? Definitely. Uncommon? No doubt.
    But the single-wing might be the most conventional offense in the modern NFL.
    The Dolphins only run it because they have no real QB and have to go back to the Stone Age to reinvent one of the most conventional offenses ever into a gimmicky run-pass option that other teams rarely see and must spend extra time preparing to play against.
    If they ran it every play they’d never gain a yard.

  26. “Besides, there’s no reason to think that Marc Bulger would do any better.”
    Ummm….he’s not Joe Flacco?

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