And one week later, I’m feeling pretty darn great about declaring in this space that the Colts would miss the playoffs.
There’s always drama and stories. There’s always sizzle and fizzle in the NFL.
Is it too early to predict Comeback Player of the Year? Sure, Plaxico Burress is the en vogue choice, but go west! The Chargers took a flyer on the supremely talented but oft-injured, missile-like safety. When he is healthy, he is one of the great defensive players in the league. Sanders changes games and masks deficiencies in a defense with his bone-crushing hits and great knack for causing turnovers. But Sanders, who is truly 5-foot-6 (at 5-foot-9, I tower over him when we stand next to each other), can’t stay healthy, and that’s why Indy finally had to cut the cord. I understand it from an Indy perspective. But San Diego might have found a gem off of the scrap heap.
This summer, Sanders has looked like the player who won the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year award. According to fellow safety Eric Weddle, Sanders hasn’t missed a practice or a play. He is flying all over the field in games. Weddle describes Sanders’ physique as a "chiseled rock." And the learning curve for Sanders, going from the Colts defense to the more aggressive style in San Diego under Greg Manusky, has been seamless.
I’m not naive. Sanders will likely get hurt at some point. History is on that side. But I think the world of Manusky as a coordinator. He is going to put Sanders in position to dominate. The Sanders/Weddle combination at safety has the potential to dominate. We’ve seen glimpses in the preseason. And I think it will continue into the regular campaign.
I think the ultimate upside for the Texans defensive end is to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. He’s a perfect fit in Wade Phillips defense. Watt’s having no trouble grasping the Texans playbook and is having an amazing training camp and playing great in the preseason.
Watt’s high motor and intensity fits in perfectly with DeMeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Brian Cushing and the veterans on defense. In talking to Watt on the SiriusXM Blitz on Monday, he totally gets and appreciates the sense of urgency to the Texans this season.
He plays and acts like a vet. He’ll register sacks, stop the run and do things that won’t even show up in the box score.
Get out in front of it with J.J. Watt for Rookie of the Year.
Aaron Rodgers did a pretty wonderful and noteworthy thing when we visited the Packers at training camp. He insisted on bringing Flynn for an on-air interview on our radio show. I thought it was pretty cool and rather telling. As Rodgers explained, he loves Flynn’s talent, preparation, and contributions to the quarterback room. Rodgers sees it that Flynn has one year left in Green Bay before he gets traded for a solid draft pick. And I totally agree. Matt Flynn is the best backup quarterback in the NFL and will be starting next season.
Two backup quarterbacks in one column? What is this, amateur hour? Ask the Colts how important it is to have a capable backup. Actually, I am ahead of the curve. Hoyer and Flynn can both start right now in the NFL. While I think Flynn is the top back-up in the league, Phil Simms told us on the SiriusXM Blitz that he thinks Hoyer has that title. Talking to Hoyer on our radio show, he stressed how much he has learned from Tom Brady when it comes to preparation and taking every single rep seriously at practice.
If the Packers or Patriots lost their stud quarterbacks for a stretch, the season would not be over. Compare these quarterback situations to what the Colts were going through with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky before they had to coax Kerry Collins off of his couch. That’s why Flynn and Hoyer deserve to be recognized.
Giants’ injuries/defense/playoff chances
On Monday, I thought the Giants would win nine games. Now, I am wondering how they are going to get to eight.
The news was devastating that budding star cornerback Terrell Thomas tore his ACL on Monday night. This was on the heels of first-round corner Prince Amukamara breaking his foot and Osi Umenyiora shocking the Giants by having surgery last Friday. This is a killer for the pass rush and pass defense, which was supposed to be the major strength.
And for good measure, Tom Coughlin shocked reporters when he announced on Tuesday that second-round draft pick Marvin Austin is done for the year after tearing a pectoral muscle.
Did I mention Bruce Johnson was also placed on IR and Brian Witherspoon tore his knee?
If it wasn’t for bad luck the Giants wouldn’t have any at all.
Oh yeah, the Giants still have major issues at receiver and on the offensive line. This is not a playoff team.
The preseason is the preseason, but how gruesome did the Eagles defense look against Pittsburgh last week. For the record, I think the defensive line will be great with Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins joining Trent Cole and being coached by Jim Washburn. And the Eagles have the best trio of corners in the NFL. But the inexperience and the August performance at linebacker and safety is alarming.
The safety position doesn’t strike fear. Nate Allen had a terrible game against Pittsburgh. It is noteworthy because he is coming off of a ruptured patellar tendon during his rookie campaign last year. Jarrad Page is a fill-in, not a difference maker. Kurt Coleman looks to be a starter and he was a seventh-round pick last season. And then you have this year’s second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett, who doesn’t quite look ready for prime time.
When I saw Casey Matthews at training camp, he flashed talent and leadership and his teammates and the staff raved about him. It was like I was watching a different player on FOX last week against Philly. He looked like, well, a rookie. Moise Fokou is the "seasoned" linebacker of the group. That’s concerning.
And I believe in Juan Castillo making the transition from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator. But there is a major unknown and hypothetical attached.
Fan violence at 49ers/Raiders game
I’ve never understood the logic. Who goes to a ballgame looking to fight? Did anyone learn anything from a man nearly getting beaten to death at a Giants-Dodgers game? "Crosstown" rivalries are great to spice up the monotonous and ho-hum nature of the preseason. It’s sad and pathetic that alcohol fueled bozos had to force the 49ers and Raiders to cancel this annual game for next season. It’s pathetic that fathers and mothers are once again rightly nervous to take their kids to a game. It’s a sad state of affairs.
You would have to be considered the most foolish player in NFL history to mess with Thomas Jones, one of the hardest workers and most respected veterans in the game. If you don’t believe me, ask his former teammates in Chicago or with the Jets or his current teammates in Kansas City.
Jones and Baldwin had a brawl with fists flying that resulted in Baldwin getting dinged up. Normally, you don’t want your first-round draft pick, brought in to add explosiveness, to get hurt in a fight with a teammate. But did Jones see a young cat not working hard and demanded accountability? Was it a case of Baldwin not wanting to be subjected to rookie hazing? He knows what it takes for the Chiefs to get back to the playoffs. Baldwin, who wasn’t viewed as a sure-fire first rounder, came in with a sense of entitlement. That’s unacceptable and Jones took matters into his own hands.