Woodson, Sproles sizzle; Eagles fizzle
It was a wild week in the NFL. On this first December “Football Friday,” we pay tribute to the best and the worst.
When I wrote my midseason awards column on FOXSports.com, I listed the Jets’ Darrelle Revis as the frontrunner for defensive player of the year, by a hair over Charles Woodson of the Packers and Justin Smith of the 49ers. After a few weeks — and a few more game-changing plays — Woodson has pulled in front.
Woodson is a special player with an incredible, Hall of Fame résumé. He has an uncanny knack for creating turnovers. Unlike earlier in his career in Oakland when he relied solely on his athletic gifts, Woodson has become a leader and a true student of the game. It’s what helps separate Woodson from the pack.
Talking to Woodson this week on the SiriusXM Blitz, the cornerback was oozing confidence. The Packers have a great opportunity to go undefeated, as I predicted after the first three weeks. As Woodson told us, “We are undefeated now. We can’t shy away. It’s a fact. I’m not thinking about the undefeated season. We are undefeated and we are trying to win the next game. There are no excuses.”
Woodson took the time to rave about the “legendary” season Aaron Rodgers is having. Woodson praised the coaching of Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Woodson explained, “Dom is aggressive. He is creative when it comes to getting to the quarterback. He comes up with new calls. And on the back end, we’ve just continued to take away the ball.”
Woodson says the way his game has gone to an entirely different level is his “play recall” in which he “sees a play earlier in the game and in my mind, I know I am going to react when I see it again.” McCarthy went into further detail on what makes Woodson great when we talked to the coach on Thursday. “He’s the quarterback of our defense,” McCarthy said. “It’s a similar conversation to the one we were having about Aaron (Rodgers). His physical (presence) is special. That’s obvious. But it is the way he (Woodson) studies the film. People try to counter with double moves off of base concepts. You can’t do it. On the pick on Thanksgiving, they ran that play earlier in the game. They ran it again and he took the ball away.”
I asked Woodson if he feels he’s a Hall of Famer. His telling response: “Tell me what more I would need to do.” I totally agree. With another Defensive Player of the Year award and another Super Bowl championship and maybe an undefeated season, you can take Woodson off the bubble and get his Hall of Fame bust ready.
Perhaps lost in the shuffle of Drew Brees’ sheer domination and genius is the incredible season Darren Sproles is having as a runner, receiver and returner for the juggernaut Saints. Sproles is averaging 6.8 yards per carry on 59 rushing attempts. He has 62 catches. He’s an elite return specialist. Even GM Mickey Loomis, who smartly plucked the free agent this summer, is pleasantly surprised with the sheer domination. “He has done even better than we expected. And we expected a lot,” Loomis said. “He’s a better runner than we expected. He’s so good at everything. Darren had that immediate trust with Drew and that has shown.”
I took the time to do a video rant on Cosmic SCHEIN this week on FOXSports.com to explain why the Eagles shouldn’t fire Reid. And then his team travels cross country and loses to the Seattle Seahawks. Actually, they didn’t lose. They got manhandled for three quarters by a relative bunch of clowns. Forget the 31-14 score. The effort and execution were pathetic all game.
In order to save his job, Reid needs a major house-cleaning. DeSean Jackson and his selfish act should go. Juan Castillo must be relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator. And Reid must relinquish some control of the team. The choices in personnel haven’t been great in recent years.
And let’s be honest here. My case for keeping Reid is getting thin after games like that. The Eagles don’t look particularly interested. That’s a problem.
If he thinks he is helping himself get more money elsewhere by being a selfish, unreliable diva and bad teammate who cares only about his money and not winning, Jackson is sadly mistaken.
The Colts canned their defensive coordinator. Folks, this has nothing to do with Peyton Manning. Coyer did a terrible job this year. And it goes noted that he was Jim Caldwell’s hand-picked choice when Caldwell took over, jettisoning Tony Dungy’s guy Ron Meeks. It will set up for Caldwell to rightly get canned after the season, as we’ve been saying for quite some time. The Colts are going 0-16. The entire staff needs a makeover.
The Colts finally benched Curtis Painter. The backup, because the team had horrendous planning, is Orlovsky, who was part of the only 0-16 team in league history, the Detroit Lions. Here’s a prediction for the Colts-Patriots game this weekend. New England backup Brian Hoyer will throw for more touchdowns in a 63-3 blowout than Orlovsky. Remember when this used to be the most hyped and most special game of the year?