Graham gaining ground with Saints

BY foxsports • September 30, 2011

There was a classic on Monday Night Football? Let’s call it an absolute disgrace.

Settle in for our “Football Friday” Sizzle and Fizzle…


Jimmy Graham

When Saints general manager Mickey Loomis plucked the former University of Miami basketball star in the third round of the draft two years ago, he couldn't curb his enthusiasm. Mickey knew he had unearthed a special and rare talent and special and rare person. You see, Jimmy Graham has only played football exclusively for just two years. And last year, his first with the Saints, was the first time he ever fully focused on it.

Loomis is smiling even more broadly now. He has himself a star tight end. And it hasn't even fully clicked for Graham. Wait until he really understands and grasps football.

In talking to Graham this week on the SiriusXM Blitz, he confessed that he learns something new every day. The kid is a sponge and a total workaholic, making him the pet project of coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. According to Graham, Brees will work with him every day after practice. It is paying off. Graham had a career high 100 receiving yards in Week 3. In his last six games, he's scored six touchdowns. Graham raves about Brees’ leadership and credits him for helping him become a key component in the Saints' attack. And Sean Payton challenges Graham daily, knowing how good the tight end can actually be.

With the Saints smartly cutting ties with Jeremy Shockey this offseason, Graham is now on the field all the time. He told us he played 61 plays in Week 1 against Green Bay and is totally committed to becoming a legit blocker and a complete tight end.

What’s his ultimate upside? I think Graham can be the best tight end in the league in two years. He has the pure skill and work ethic to reach that lofty plateau.

I just love watching this cat. And Jimmy Graham is so easy to root for.

Fred Jackson

Ever feel disrespected at your work place? Ever feel like you have something to prove on a daily basis? Well, you have something in common with the great Bills running back Fred Jackson.

And I don't haphazardly use the word great. In Chan Gailey's system, Fred Jackson performs at a great, highly productive level.

He will always be questioned because he went to some school called Coe College. Marshawn Lynch was supposed to be the man. He was shipped to Seattle. The Bills drafted C.J. Spiller in the top 10 a year ago. He has trouble getting on the field.

All Jackson has done is average 139 yards per game from scrimmage this season, following a breakout campaign last year. He's a hard runner, a great receiver out of the backfield, and a strong blocker. Plus, Jackson is a true team leader.

He's also a free agent after the year.

Jackson told us on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he wants to stay in Buffalo. He loves the fan base. He loves the city. He loves Gailey and the organization.

Do the right thing, Buffalo. Pay Fred Jackson

Raheem Morris

I thought Tampa was in a gigantic spot last Sunday afternoon at home against the Falcons. Atlanta has owned the Bucs the last few years. Tampa was 1-1 and, despite a majestic comeback the week before against the Vikings, the Bucs hadn't truly played dominant or crisp football. Sunday wasn't about style points or aesthetic quality. The Bucs needed a division win against the division winner from a year ago to genuinely be taken seriously as a legit factor in the NFC South. The Bucs got it done. And I loved how, when I talked to Morris on the SiriusXM Blitz on Monday, he didn't minimize it, calling the win a "major deal." And he's absolutely right. Morris was thrilled with how his man-to-man defense played and how his defense sacked Matt Ryan four times.

It is not often the Bucs get the national television exposure. They play the hapless Colts on Monday Night Football this week. Tampa will win and go to 3-1 in the first quarter of the season, proving last year was a building block and not a fluke.

It's fair to say the Bucs offense needs more consistency. I told Raheem it needed more pop and sizzle. He said he will use that in his team meeting this week. Sizzle fever, catch it.


Redskins/Cowboys/Cowboys fans

Have the color commentators on Monday Night Football stopped gushing yet? If you listened closely, you would think that Tony Romo threw for 800 yards, cured diseases, rescued small animals from a burning building, found peace in the Middle East and beat the Washington Redskins.

Last time I checked, Tony Romo didn’t throw a touchdown on Monday.

And that was a terrible, awful, pathetic, slopfest of a sporting event. Dallas looked awful. Washington stunk. There was horrible coaching, mind-numbing clock management, terrible officiating and poor play.

This wasn’t an example of a great defensive game. I love those. This was totally inept football.

How in the world was Alan Ball flagged for hitting a “defenseless” Santana Moss? He led with his shoulder, not his head. Moss caught the ball and tried to run. That could’ve been a game-changing blunder by the officials. Phil Costa looked like a freshman center called up to varsity. He couldn’t snap the ball! It was embarrassing. Somewhere, Andre Gurode had to be laughing. Romo was chewing out his receivers who had no idea how to run routes. Jabar Gaffney and Tashard Choice had no idea when to get out of bounds and when to stay in bounds. After Romo hit Dez Bryant on the 3rd and 21, Jason Garrett didn’t take one crack at the end zone, holding for a field goal to put the Cowboys up two. Up two! Garrett’s a Princeton grad. Take a chance at a touchdown. If Washington got in field-goal range and won, not tied, at the end with a field goal, Garrett would’ve been roasted in Wade Phillips fashion.

The Redskins and Cowboys are going nowhere. That was a battle of two teams that are major works in progress. Yes, both defenses are improved. Rob Ryan is doing a great job. Sean Lee is a budding star. Ryan Kerrigan has added energy to the Skins. But let’s have some perspective here.

And speaking of perspective, give a ton of credit to Romo for playing with a cracked rib and a bruised lung. But I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret. Tony Romo has been tough for years. He wants nothing more in life then to deliver a championship to the Cowboys and the city of Dallas. You can rip on his errors in the fourth quarter. That’s fair game. But Romo’s preparation and ability to play through pain and commitment is amazing. I don’t want to hear about the trip to Cabo. Jason Witten went on that same trip. I dare any “Cowboys fan” to question Witten’s toughness. The fact that Romo was praised like he was on Monday night and into Tuesday was actually absurd. He should’ve been praised for his toughness and his commitment and his leadership for years.

I don’t see either team making a playoff run.

In fact, I see them both losing this weekend.

Watch Cosmic Schein for the full effect, but the Lions will win in Detroit and the Rams will get their first win of the year against the Skins.

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