Being in a new city for just the second day, I had to scout out a location to watch the Steelers-Texans game. With the Seahawks-Bills game on here locally in Seattle, I trudged off to find Sunday Ticket somewhere so that I could catch the Black & Gold, as well as bits and pieces of other games. As you probably have already noticed, things are fairly hectic right now, which in turn has led to helter skelter thoughts and posting from me, at least compared to the order that delineated the site during the offseason. That will change now that I'm here and more or less moved in. Anyway, here's what I saw:
1) Cleveland's coming-out party put on hold
This one's obvious for Steelers fans, and for much of the football loving country I suppose. After all, we've heard plenty about the Browns this offseason. Hell, even Jerry Jones was worried about this one, or at least so he said after the game. But it wasn't for good reason really. The Browns were flat. The secondary stunk. No surprise there. Jamaal Lewis had nowhere to run. Derek Anderson was under durress all day long, etc. And when it was all over with, the Browns were sent home with their tail between their leg. They now find themselves in the exact position I disucssed throughout the offseason. They're 0-1, with a huge game against Pittsburgh coming this Sunday. 0-2 and the panic button officially will be hit. Count on it.
2) Still think Garrard's in the same class as Roethlisberger and Romo?
I sure don't, though I never thought he was really. In case you were wondering, I mention those three together because all got mega extensions recently. Roethlisberger's was the largest, but Garrard's and Romo's contracts were very similar, and not all that far behind in terms of dollars. Anyway, Garrard's numbers weren't awful (23-35, 215 yards), but 2 INTs and a lost fumble did him and his team in. Beyond the box score though, I saw Garrard miss several throws that were undeniably tough windows to fit a pass in., but he wasn't even really close on them. I just don't think he has enough to single-handedly win games for this Jaguars team. And with the defense not quite as formidable up front, there likely will be a few more games that Jacksonville has to keep up in offensively. Hopefully for them, the running game will contribute more though moving forward. Against Tennessee, Taylor and Jones-Drew combined for just 31 yards on 14 carries.
3) Drew Brees to 40?
Only five times have QBs reached the 40 TD plateau in NFL history, including Tom Brady's record setting mark of 50 last year. I wouldn't be surprised if we see it done a 6th time in 2008 by Drew Brees. Brees averaged a ridiculous 10+ YPA against rival Tampa Bay, finishing the day 23-32 for 343 yards and 3 TDs. Impressive. I think too many people are sleeping on this team after last year's bizarre up-and-down campaign.
4) Seattle is miserable
I had to listen to scores of Seahawks fans moan and groan for the better part of the game against Buffalo yesterday. This is Arizona's division to lose as far as I'm concerned. That's not much in terms of analysis, I know. But what I saw was very very ugly. The schedule's easy enough for them to be in contention in the NFC West, but the defense better play better because I don't see them getting much help from the offense this year. Side question: when does it ever work for teams that have lame-duck head coaches who are likely to walk away at the end of the year? Holmgren, for all his accomplishments in Seattle, seems to have made quite a mess out of the situation as his tenure seemingly comes to a close.
5) AFC suddenly wide open
Even yesterday, I don't think anybody would have put Pittsburgh atop their list as favorites in the heavyweight AFC. New England, Indy, San Diego, of course, would head most people's lists. But Tom Brady may be done for the year, Peyton Manning clearly was not ready to play in the Colts loss to the Bears, and the Chargers had a head-scratching loss to the Panthers. Remember, the Chargers started slow last year, so I wouldn't be too concerned about them just yet. It's also too early to write Manning and the Colts off. He will round into form sooner rather than later. But nevertheless, the Steelers' most formidable competitors in the AFC suddenly seem far more vulnerable than they did just a short time ago.
We'll do an AFC North report each week starting sometime in the next day or so. I'll save my thoughts on our divisional rivals until then.
What were you impressed, surprised, unimpressed by this weekend? Thoughts moving forward?
Thank God football's back.