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Week 2: Ponder, Redskins and surprises
One of the biggest things that happened on Sunday was the Vikings blowing a 17-0 lead in the Metrodome. That’s huge. That makes no sense to me. Minnesota is now 0-2.
I say they should start rookie Christian Ponder immediately. I mean, what are we talking about here? Sit the old guy, Donovan McNabb, down and start building your team around the young guy. I just think that makes the most sense for this franchise. Why wait a couple more weeks until you lose a few more games?
They must know they have something in Ponder or they wouldn’t have drafted him in the first round. I say play him and let McNabb back him up and help bring him along. But let Ponder play. That’s what I would do if I owned that franchise, especially if you are going to keep losing football games.
The reason they may not do it is because most teams believe they have to give their fans hope. They are afraid of making radical changes. But the fans would enjoy watching the younger quarterback play, and it’s a way of saying the future is now. And what helps making a switch like that is they still have Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the NFL. His mere presence and ability will make it easier for Ponder.
Here Come the Redskins
I really do like what Mike Shanahan is doing with the Washington Redskins. I think he has the roster the way he likes it. You take a guy like Rex Grossman, resurrect his career and go out and win two close home games. The important thing now is to take the show on the road. It’s pretty obvious to me now that Grossman learned this offense from Kyle Shanahan when the two were down in Houston together a couple years back after the Bears released him.
My Fired Up segment on Sunday's pregame show was about all the unexpected things that seem to happen every weekend in the NFL. Right off the bat, I've never seen Baltimore get dominated like it did against Tennessee. It makes no sense whatsoever after what the Ravens did to the Steelers on opening weekend. So what’s going to happen next week? I’m serious now.
Cleveland beating the Colts in Indianapolis is still hard to process. So anybody out there who ever questioned the money the Colts ownership decided to pay Peyton Manning, something like $23 million a season, we are all learning how truly great this quarterback is. (I almost said "was.")
If that offense is so easy to learn, why aren’t we seeing results now from Kerry Collins? I mean, the Colts are 0-2 and looking bad. It looks like the air has been let out of this team because Peyton is no longer around and the players are starting to believe that maybe he was the whole show.
I will say this, though: I have always liked Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. I like how he moves around in the pocket, and one of the touchdowns he threw was a thing of beauty. He’s been under a lot of pressure, but coming from Texas he’s used to what’s happening in the NFL.
The Buffalo Bills are another example ... where did these guys come from?
They got behind the Raiders 21-3 and kept coming back until they won and now are 2-0. That tells me a lot about this football team. It tells me they don’t quit. These kinds of wins set the stage for the sixth and seventh week of the season, when the division games come up for them. What I mean is, they're building up confidence and momentum.
So, if they beat New England it would be no shocker. If they beat the Jets, it’s not a shocker. They are laying the groundwork for the future. Teams get more out of games like Sunday's win over Oakland than anything else. That was an impressive comeback.
The first thing you have to know about Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is he’s smart and knows how to go through his progressions in Chan Gailey’s offense. He knows how to read coverages and go through it quickly. The Bills have a nice offensive scheme going there.
We have to give the Bills and Gailey credit. They were criticized for passing on all these rookie quarterbacks, but they knew they had a good one in Fitzpatrick. They knew more than we did.
For an organization to pass up all of these rookie quarterbacks in this year’s draft, we have to accept that Fitzpatrick must be pretty good. We saw enough of him last year — he put up some nice numbers — and now they may have another Jack Kemp; you know, a brainy quarterback. Maybe you have to be really smart to play quarterback in Buffalo so your brain doesn’t freeze.
Newton Pretty Special
Now, the Packers looked like they walked into Carolina and said, "We’ll take care of business." I mean, they played the first half with no sense of urgency, and they quickly found out that this is the NFL. The Packers didn’t look good at all. I know it’s hard to keep that type of momentum on a football team. Coaches want to have an even flow. But if you want to be a great team, you have to be excited to play on Sundays.
Cam Newton played really well, too. His 422-yard game last week was totally unexpected. But the kind of game he had Sunday was kind of expected. When you are throwing it 46 times, you are going to have some interceptions. He had three.
What I loved about Newton, though, is he competed to the very end. You can tell how much he wants to win, and I keep hearing what a hard worker he is. There is no question he has brought a great energy to that team and his teammates are feeding off it. He has truly energized that franchise.
And for 72 minutes today — or until Tom Brady hit the fourth quarter — he owned the NFL record for the most passing yards (854) in consecutive games. Brady, who has thrown for seven touchdowns in two games, now has the record with 940 yards. When I played, it took a month or so to get those kinds of numbers.