National Football League
Schein 9: Pundits foolishly gave up on Cardinals
National Football League

Schein 9: Pundits foolishly gave up on Cardinals

Published Sep. 24, 2009 3:13 p.m. ET

I've recently seen the cost to send my daughter to nursery school in New York City next fall.

Good thing Jim Zorn and Norv Turner are keeping everyone in business.

Then again, the way it's going, she might skip the ABCs and just coach the Redskins.

Plus, the Jets live up to Kerry Rhodes' words.

The Titans don't take a punch.

And the Bengals knock me out of my survivor pool.

We navigate through the madness, figure out if it's time to panic, and hand out the Week 2 SCHEINERS in our SCHEIN 9 ...

1. Foaming at the mouth

Every NFL team craves a hot start.

Panic at the disco after two weeks? Let's examine.

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I couldn't believe how many talking heads declared the NFC champion Cardinals dead after a home loss to a good 49ers team. This was the single-most foolish notion flooding the airwaves. The Cards eradicated the stereotype they can't play on the east coast by dominating the Jaguars on offense, defense and special teams. I still like 1-1 Arizona to win 11 games. A win on national television this weekend against Indy would go a long way in the court of public opinion. And I think the Cards can get it.

The 0-2 Jags are a mess. Jack Del Rio's team is finished for 2009. Pack it in.

In Tennessee, it's time to panic. The defense doesn't look the same now that both Jim Schwartz and Albert Haynesworth have left the building. I cannot believe Houston came into the Titans' house and poured 34 points on the now 0-2 Titans. Chuck Cecil looks a tad overmatched running the defense. Now, Jeff Fisher is one of the best coaches in the NFL. And we've seen this script before where the Titans are left for dead and suddenly go on a major winning streak. But I think the competition is too great and the Titans don't have enough sizzle in the passing attack. I didn't pick them preseason to make the tournament and obviously think the task toward recovery is daunting, starting this week at the Jets, which should be another loss.

The Eagles have injuries at every position on offense, starting with Donovan McNabb. The defense was dominated on Sunday. Andy Reid's game plan against New Orleans was goofy, putting the ball in Kevin Kolb's hands. And sure, the human distraction, Mr. Michael Vick, is eligible to play. But I cannot panic. The Eagles are too strong when it comes to coaches and talent and have yet to play a game in the division. The Eagles will be fine.

Jake Delhomme and the Panthers played better on Sunday, but still lost a division road game in Atlanta. The Panthers are 0-2 and going nowhere. We chronicled Delhomme's follies
last week. They have overshadowed the struggles on defense. With Atlanta and New Orleans looking strong, I think it's officially panic time.

The 0-2 Dolphins are in panic mode. The Jets, Patriots and Bills are all better than last year. Miami blew an opportunity to beat Indy at home in a ballgame when they dominated time of possession. Tony Sparano and the Fish didn't play with any sense of urgency down the stretch and did a poor job managing the clock and game (how do you settle for a field goal on a 3rd-and-6 before the Manning touchdown?). Then WR Ted Ginn dropped two touchdowns, including on the final drive. The Dolphins have 8-8 written all over them.

2. Rise and SCHEIN


A lot of players stepped up in big spots this week.

Washington safety Chris Horton played an excellent game. He saved the Washington win when he stripped Donnie Avery of the football as St. Louis was trying to take the lead in the fourth quarter. That shifted all the momentum back to Washington on a day it really seemed ripe to be upset. This is not a one-game fluke. Horton should play at this level all season.

This offseason, I called Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson the most underrated move of the entire offseason. He has been a team leader and tackling machine for the 2-0 Falcons and their surprisingly strong defense.

Calais Campbell, a player the brass really likes in Arizona, blocked a crucial Jacksonville field-goal attempt in a huge situation for the Cardinals.

Denver's Elvis Dumervil doesn't seem fazed by the adjustment to the 3-4 defense, sacking Brady Quinn four times.

I'm always thrilled for RB Correll Buckhalter when he is healthy enough to contribute after all the game time he missed with injuries in Philly. Buckhalter, now in Denver, had 76 yards and a TD on just nine carries. If he's healthy, Buckhalter will contribute in Josh McDaniels' backfield all year.

With the help of three new starters up front, Fred Jackson carved out a career day with 163 rushing yards in a strong bounce-back win for Buffalo over the Bucs.

3. Hide the women, children and Matt Millen

When our "brain trust" created this category, I never dreamed I would be putting Tom Brady and the Patriots here in Week 2.

But hand it to Kerry Rhodes. The Jets embarrassed the Patriots.

Tom Brady didn't throw a touchdown. Tom Brady got outplayed by Mark Sanchez. Tom Brady and the Pats had back-to-back delay-of-game penalties. Tom Brady didn't complete half of his passes.

These are facts.

Rex Ryan had the home crowd and his defense whipped into a frenzy, and the Jets put Brady out of whack. Darrelle Revis threw a blanket on Randy Moss.

Now, I am not backing off my Pats Super Bowl pick. But New England looks very vulnerable. The defense didn't respond in the second half against New York. It has lost a lot of experience and talent from a year ago, and the Jerod Mayo injury is gigantic. And the Pats need to establish balance on offense.

You no longer have to pitch the perfect game to beat New England, a statement that gives the red-hot Matt Ryan and the Falcons reason to believe for Week 3.

4. Backseat coaching

Two of my favorite targets were at it once again on Sunday, with both Jim Zorn and Norv Turner confusing the masses and frustrating the fan bases.

Zorn is totally lost and overmatched in Washington. And if you don't believe me, ask the fans who showered Zorn and the 'Skins with boos after a win. Four Washington drives came to a thud inside the 10. On one drive led by quarterback Jason Campbell, Zorn opted to run on first and second down and then throw with running back Clinton Portis on third down! It was sheer insanity.

And the end of the game, up 9-7. Zorn opted to go for it on a fourth down deep in St. Louis territory instead of putting three on the scoreboard to force the Rams to need a touchdown to win instead of a field goal. The Skins couldn't convert and turned it over on downs.

Mike Shanahan should be the Skins coach next year.

Meanwhile, Turner could have run an extra play for his Chargers offense at the end of the first half before a field-goal attempt, but didn't.

And why in the world when you employ Phil Rivers and your offensive line is without two starters would you run the ball on fourth-and-the-game instead of letting your quarterback try to make a play? That's just crazy! Turner was one of the Ravens' MVPs in the win in San Diego.

5. Schein's anatomy

San Diego really missed four starters on Sunday. We all know about LT. But the interior losses on the offensive line are as big. Plus, the Chargers placed Jamal Williams on IR. I think he's irreplaceable.

Randy Thomas is done for the season, a blow that the already paper-thin Washington line cannot afford.

Atlanta first-round run-stuffer Peria Jerry is out for the year. That's a killer.

Matt Hasselbeck broke a rib. Seattle won't beat Chicago at home with Seneca Wallace.

6. This week's hot seat

Willie Parker hasn't done a thing yet this season. And I don't hear anyone calling him "fast" anymore. Has he lost a step? Is he still the primary back? Does Mike Tomlin still have confidence in him?

My answers are yes, sort of and not as much as he used to.

Cincy's defense played great against Green Bay, and that's not a fluke. Mike Zimmer is a great coordinator, and the Bengals have talent.

This is a big week for Parker against the Steelers in Cincy. I'm not convinced he and the Steelers rushing attack are up for the challenge.

7. My guys

Matt Schaub

The Texans quarterback bounced back from a horrible Week 1 to toss four touchdowns on the road in Tennessee.


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