CZAR: Storylines from Week 3

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1. Warner hits the skids

quarterback appears to be in a freefall. Everyone had him in the stratosphere with the likes of Joe Montana, and thus far this season he¿s been playing closer to his roots, Northern Iowa and the Arena League. Monday night he was frantic under pressure and instead of finding his stars, and Ike Bruce, he opted to force passes vs. the Tampa Bay to players like and rookie .

coach Mike Martz, who selected Canidate as a first-round pick in 2000, blasted the running back Monday night and I guess that means he¿s officially a bust.

The were concerned that Warner was feeling the pressure entering the Bucs¿ game while saying he was losing his confidence. Well, he looked worse than that. And he didn¿t win many friends in the locker room by pointing fingers on the sidelines after costly incompletions or interceptions.

ABC analyst John Madden kept saying Warner never was in rhythm. It was more than that. He didn¿t seem to know where to go with the football and when he was flushed from the pocket, he could never find a safety-valve receiver. This is a Pro Bowl quarterback who is pressing. And what he needs to understand is that the Dallas will be coming after his butt this Sunday, and he better have some answers. He¿s got to deal with the pressure and play like the winner we thought he was.

2. may be real deal

After a disappointing opening-day loss, the Philadelphia are in high gear, especially on offense. Quarterback has had two very good consecutive games, plus the additions of ex-Packer and rookie running back have given coach Andy Reid some extra weapons for his bag-of-tricks game plans.

Also, based on early results, Reid looks like he was right to toss last year¿s defensive MVP to the . Either Trotter isn¿t the impact player we thought he was, or Washington coordinator Marvin Lewis¿ scheme has stalled both his instincts and his abilities. The lone negative for Reid has been three consecutive inactive games for No. 1 pick , a cornerback, and the offensive disappearance of last year¿s No. 1 pick .

Freeman, thus far, has been a perfect fit as the ' slot receiver.

"He looks a lot lighter and quicker than he was in Green Bay last season," said consultant Ron Wolf of Freeman.

Mark Hatley, the new personnel boss in Green Bay, said the offered Freeman more money than what he¿s earning in Philadelphia. "But I think it would have been tough for him in the locker room," Hatley said. "He was going to have to take a big pay cut (from $5 million to $1.5 million) and that was too much for his ego. It¿s hard on players who have been the top dog."

3. in trouble

The are being pretty mum about , possibly the NFL¿s No. 2 runner behind . But the inside word is that Green (quadriceps strain) may be sidelined for two more games. Also, safety , who has struggled with his role as the secondary¿s signal caller, was playing with a separated shoulder. Now, he¿s out with a broken forearm.

This Sunday the host the unbeaten Carolina (doesn¿t that sound strange?) and they are still searching for a pass rush and wondering if their linebackers will ever make some plays. Thus far, has been a bust and , who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, is hurting his cause for big money. He turned down a $5 million per year average and has been performing like a minimum-wage earner. Now, he¿s sidelined with a torn chest muscle for 6-8 weeks.

4. Wild times in

The ghost of still haunts the . How¿s that?

Well, last Sunday¿s sideline outburst between quarterback and all-world receiver wouldn¿t have been national news if not for Carter¿s rants the past two seasons. Carter was starting to bug many of his teammates last season, as he took a bossy tone with many of them. Carter often acted like he was in control of the , not coach Denny Green and owner Red McCombs.

However, there was also this media-spun fabrication that Carter and Moss were good buddies and that Carter was serving as a mentor to Moss. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Mike Tice, the current coach, wishes Green would have cut Carter loose before last season. Carter set a poor example as a so-called leader and some of that has apparently rubbed off on Minnesota¿s two biggest performers, Moss and Culpepper.

Tice says Culpepper¿s outburst was all frustration and that the two players are friends. We¿ll stay tuned on that. Without question, Culpepper is struggling, having committed nine turnovers during this 0-3 start.

5. Spurrier puts Ramsey on fast track

The Washington have this weekend off and it couldn¿t come at a better time. Steve Spurrier, the ol¿ ball coach, has discovered that , his former Heisman performer at Florida, can¿t win at the NFL level.

"I¿d love Danny to marry my daughter, but I wouldn¿t want him quarterbacking my team," said a rival NFC coach, who obviously respects Wuerffel¿s character and leadership skills.

Spurrier now needs to prepare No. 1 pick to play quarterback. Ramsey has passed most of Spurrier¿s playbook tests, but getting on the field has been a different matter.

6. Wrong decision by Fox

I have been boosting rookie head coach John Fox all season. He¿s totally responsible for the Carolina being 3-0. He¿s made every right coaching call until Sunday. With eight seconds left in the game against the , he called a time-out to try a 39-yard field goal.

He claims he wanted to go up 10 points, put the game out of reach. But kicking a field goal is risky business. Too many things can go wrong like a bad snap or a blocked kick. Both of those can put the opposing team on the scoreboard.

No, with eight seconds left, you put your best runner or kick returner in a shotgun formation and allow him to run around and kill the clock. He simply has to stay out of trouble and run toward the sidelines before he¿s tackled. That way if the ball bounces free, it goes out of bounds. There are lots of talented runners who can kill eight seconds. It¿s a low-risk play and it doesn¿t offend the opposing coach who thinks you¿re running up the score. Mike Tice apologized for not shaking Fox¿s hands after the game, but Fox could have prevented that entire bad-blood moment.

Tagged: Cowboys, Packers, Rams, Vikings, Eagles, Buccaneers, Redskins, Panthers, Antuan Edwards, Vonnie Holliday, Ahman Green, Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, Freddie Mitchell, Jeremiah Trotter, Lito Sheppard, Patrick Ramsey, Lamar Gordon, Brian Westbrook

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