Chris Johnson is still struggling to find his rhythm and Javon Ringer actually was more productive running the ball for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Ringer had 60 yards on 14 carries. Johnson had just 34 yards on 14 carries.
The period of time that an elite running back stays at the top is very short. You look through the history of the NFL and there are very few Emmitt Smiths and Walter Paytons. Most running backs who lead the league in rushing can do it for a year or two, three at the most, and then suddenly seem to go downhill. And they go downhill in a hurry.
There are a lot of factors that enter into it. The running back, the play of the quarterback, blocking of the offensive line and different game situations. But I really believe their skills diminish in a hurry.
If I’m a general manager today, I would always play the percentages. I wouldn’t give a running back a big contract like Tennessee did with Johnson. I would rather find another running back.
The only running backs that have looked dominant have been Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson, but Jackson has also been hurt a bunch. Peterson's punishing style makes me wonder how long he'll be able to keep it up. Again, if I’m the general manager, I don’t give a running back big-time money.
Eli is manning up
On our pregame show, we talked about whether the Giants finally got the better of the trade with Eli Manning over Philip Rivers. Rivers is really hurt on offense by not having Darren Sproles and with Antonio Gates at less than 100 percent.
Eli is playing very well. He’s going to have games when he throws for more than 300 yards and look outstanding. Manning will also have those three or four interception games and you ask yourself, why? It's been different this season. Manning has really cut down on those negative days. The leadership that Eli has provided for the Giants has been critical. It has allowed the Giants to stay in first place in the NFC East.
Even though Miami jumped out to an early lead, you never really have faith in them until it finishes the game, which it hasn't yet.
It does look like Miami and Indianapolis are going to be the frontrunners all season in the Suck for Luck campaign. I mean, to get that No. 1 overall draft pick.
But we still have a lot of football yet to be played. I think both of them will win a game, but not a whole lot more than that. And I don’t see either one of these teams taking a dive in order to draft Andrew Luck. Both teams are going to try to win and, believe me, the more they lose, the harder they're going to try. No one wants to go through the season like Detroit did a few years back and not win a game. Nobody wants to go 0-16.
The Saints losing to the Rams is unexplainable. New Orleans looked almost unprepared, giving up six sacks, turning the ball over twice and incapable of putting points on the board against a team that has been gashed all season. It doesn't make sense.
Give the credit to St. Louis. They did a great job pressuring Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Steven Jackson did a great job running the football. Anytime you have a running game like that and get some turnovers, it’s going to help you control the game. But this loss is still unexplainable because we were thinking New Orleans was a special team and the Rams were at the basement of the league.
So, when you start searching for answers to how this happened, maybe the injury to Sean Payton is a big reason. We all know about his leadership and maybe he could have given his team a spark had he been on the sidelines. Maybe he could have given them a spark offensively, too. At least, do some things that would have protected them from giving up six sacks. But who knows?
I think all of us working with Howie were happy for his son, Chris Long. This was a great day for Chris with three sacks and also for his team. This was such a positive win for the Rams in what must be a gut-wrenching type of year for them. But with their schedule starting to get a little easier, maybe they can start winning some games and salvage something out of this season.
Rookie QBs duel it out
I really enjoyed watching the Carolina-Minnesota game. I love that Cam Newton plays such a wide-open style, but when you do that, you're going to turn the ball over and that’s going to hurt the team. Newton's athletic skills are outstanding and he’s going to be fun to watch for a long time.
The Vikings’ Christian Ponder is a smart young quarterback and he had only the one turnover. That’s why they were able to win the game.
Ravens still class of the league
The final outcome of the Arizona game was easily predictable with Baltimore winning. But the Cardinals did some nice things.
They were able to get some turnovers and a punt return for a touchdown gave them a spark.
Then, Baltimore showed why they are considered one of the NFL's better teams, even though it lost Monday night against Jacksonville.