Thanks for making it look like I knew what I was talking about in 2003 when I unfairly dragged Donovan McNabb into a controversy I created to hype my multi-million-dollar radio show. Love the NFL Truths. Wish I knew football and cultural issues as well as you.
Your NFL Truths for Week 9:
10. It’s not a coincidence that Cam Newton made significant progress last week. A competitor is inspired by criticism.
After throwing a game-changing, pick-6 interception in the fourth quarter on Sunday against the Bears, Newton marched the Panthers 53 yards in 11 plays for a go-ahead field goal. Panthers WR Steve Smith dropped a would-be, go-ahead TD catch. Smith also fell down on Newton’s pick-6.
In the postgame news conference after the Panthers’ 23-22 loss, Newton sounded and looked like a leader rather than a crybaby looking to deflect blame.
Was he perfect on Sunday? No. When a teammate bailed him out with a fumble recovery in the end zone, Newton didn’t stick around to celebrate. He jogged to the bench and sat alone. Newton is a work in progress.
But you can’t bake a cake without turning on the heat. Shielding Newton from the heat with bogus claims of racism will only stop Newton’s cake from rising. Football, like life, is a game that humbles its participants. Newton needs to be humbled. It will toughen and season him. Humility will make him a better player. It will make him respect the game and add urgency to his preparation.
Everyone needs critics. They keep you honest and alert. They make you work harder. The people without a passionate band of critics are the people I don’t trust.
9. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are 4-3 and you don’t hear much hype around the No. 1 overall pick. Why?
Screw it, let me ask the question everyone wants to know: Why is Robert Griffin III, whose Redskins are 3-5, getting more hype than Luck?
Griffin has better stats. He’s completing a higher percentage of passes (66 to 55). He has a better TD-to-INT ratio (8-3 to 8-8). Also, Griffin plays on the east coast and Luck plays in flyover country.
But, most important, Griffin has played a far more challenging schedule than Luck. In the last four weeks, the Redskins have lost to the Falcons, Giants and Steelers. The Colts have beaten the fraudulent Vikings, Packers, Browns and Titans.
It’s going to be a long time before we know who the better QB is, Griffin or Luck. Hopefully we’re looking at a Manning-Brady situation and both rookie QBs are outstanding for a long time.
8. With 83 seconds to play, the ball on the Giants’ 28 and three timeouts in its pocket, Dallas faced second-and-1 and somehow never ran the ball once to get a new set of downs.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had QB Tony Romo throw the ball three straight times. Two fell incomplete, the last was picked off.
You have to run the ball on third down. I don’t care if they know it’s coming. I don’t care that Felix Jones is unreliable and already had a critical fumble. Tony Boo Boo is unreliable, too. Tony Boo Boo threw four interceptions on Sunday.
Jason Garrett is an idiot.
7. I’m normally against firing coaches midseason. It really serves no purpose. Plus, you could prevent some coach from having a Tom Coughlin-like recovery. But, I could make a strong case for canning Garrett, Andy Reid, Romeo Crennel, Norv Turner and Rex Ryan right now.
Turner and Ryan could still turn things around. Might as well save their pink slips for January and play things out. The situation in Kansas City is hopeless. Vince Lombardi couldn’t fix what ails the Chiefs. Might as well let Romeo cement his legacy as one of the worst head coaches in recent NFL history.
Reid and Garrett, I’d can ‘em now. Garrett can’t manage game situations and he’s contributed to Romo’s inconsistencies. Reid is the pass-happy version of Marty Schottenheimer. Reid’s act in Philly is stale. He’s a good coach who has stayed in one spot too long. Schottenheimer did 10 years in Kansas City and bounced. Reid has been in Philly for 14 years.
Get Reid out of Philly before he subjects rookie QB Nick Foles to the kind of beating Michael Vick has endured the past two years.
6. I’m back in love with Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If they beat the Giants this weekend, which I expect, Pittsburgh will be my favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh’s last eight games are against Kansas City, Baltimore, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Diego, Dallas, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Pittsburgh could enter the postseason on an 11-game winning streak. I can’t imagine them losing more than two games the rest of the way.
5. There are three candidates for league MVP right now: 1. Matt Ryan; 2. J.J. Watt; 3. Peyton Manning.
Ryan has to be the frontrunner as long as the Falcons remain undefeated. His performance in the wind at Philly was important. He’s not a “dome” QB tossing up stats away from the elements. Ryan was spectacular in tough conditions.
Watt leads the league in sacks, has recovered two fumbles and has broken up 10 passes. He’s halfway to the most dominant defensive season since Ray Lewis owned the 2000 season. No offense to Marshall Faulk, but considering Ray’s Super Bowl performance that season, Ray should’ve been the MVP of the league in 2000. If Watt continues his marvelous play, I hope MVP voters don’t automatically vote for the QB with the best stats and regular-season record.
I’m blown away by how good Manning has been this season. And I know I’m repeating myself from earlier this season, but I’m equally shocked that Peter King predicted Manning would be this good. If Ryan and the Falcons falter and lose two or three games, Manning is going to be the favorite to win this award. I won’t object, even if Watt finishes the season strong.
4. I’m not sure we’ve seen a team as bad as the Bears start 6-1.
I don’t like teams with bad offensive lines and moody quarterbacks. The Bears can’t protect Jay Cutler and eventually that’s going to catch up with them. The Carolina Panthers’ front four owned Chicago on Sunday. If Steve Smith doesn’t slip and fall, the Bears lose at home to the Panthers.
I see the 5-3 Packers winning the NFC North and the Bears backing into the playoffs at 10-6. Lovie Smith and Jay Cutler are going to stick around Chicago for a few more years and continue to do the same dance.
3. I still can’t believe Patriots guard Brian Waters is going to sit out the entire season.
I expect Waters to play next season for the Cowboys or Texans, teams in his home state.
The Patriots reportedly offered the 35-year-old Waters $4 million to play this season. He has chosen to sit out. My money is on Waters returning and putting together one, or perhaps even two, more Pro Bowl-caliber seasons.
Waters is one of the most underrated offensive linemen of all time. He played in the shadow of Will Shields and Willie Roaf in Kansas City for years. He then got lost in the chaos and turmoil created by Scott Pioli’s arrival in KC.
I’ve only seen two offensive guards play at a higher level than Waters when he was at his peak — John Hannah and Larry Allen. In 2004, when Kris Jenkins was still a beast for the Carolina Panthers, Waters put a clown suit on Jenkins, who had to leave the game with an injured shoulder.
Waters is a Hall of Fame-caliber player who was never in the right situation to get the proper hype.
2. You can’t go wrong picking either Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein or Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o for the Heisman Trophy.
I’m so tired of every top football award going to a quarterback or running back that I slightly prefer Te’o. Notre Dame is clearly winning football games with its defense. The Irish are in the hunt for the national championship because of the defense Te’o leads. What more does a defensive player have to do to win the Heisman Trophy?
Regardless, whether K-State and ND win out, Klein and Te’o should remain at the top of most Heisman ballots. They’re the two most important players in college football.
*1.* Big Game Bob Stoops should consider leaving Oklahoma and trying his hand in the NFL. He’s lost his college mojo.
You’ll never convince me Stoops isn’t a great football coach. He’s hit a stretch of bad luck and has come up small in a series of big games. I like what Greg Schiano is doing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jim Harbaugh obviously handled the transition from college to pros really well.