Unabated to the QB, Week 2: From Beast to Least

“A man is always a prey to his truths.”

–Albert Camus

NFC BEAST. That’s what we called it. The Redskins and Cowboys, Giants and Eagles. The SEC of the NFL. It wasn’t always the best division, but it was always in the conversation.

Year after year, all talk about teams from the NFC East had to be framed with the qualifier, “but in that division.” Sure, the Redskins are better, but in that division…. The Cowboys might be the best team in the NFC, but can they grab the top seed in that division? Every team in that division is just going to beat up on each other. It was, in short, the football equivalent of “in this economy.”

But this year? Through two weeks, the NFC East is looking more Least than Beast. The Eagles, Giants, and Redskins are 1-1; the Cowboys are 0-2. Their three combined wins are over the Lions, Panthers, and, well, the Cowboys. They have lost to the Texans and Bears and Packers at home and been embarrassed by the Colts on the road.

Now, I’m not saying it’s the worst division in football — the NFC West’s crown is secure; it’s just that the NFC East is not even close to being football’s best. The AFC East, North, and South are all better, the last of them proving it in non-conference matchups. The NFC North is better (two head-to-head wins already) and the South might be.

The Cowboys aren’t as good as the ignorant mainstream media expected, what with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett looking just as shaky as his offensive line and the secondary problems from last season re-emerging. The Eagles have made a strange, win-now decision to start Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb, negating everything they did in the past off-season. The Giants aren’t as good as some extrapolated from a not-that-impressive win over the not-at-all-impressive Panthers. And the Redskins are a holding call away from blowing two home games to start the season.

The four teams will continue to beat up on each other this year, but it won’t be because they’re all good.

I found the idea (perpetuated by the MSM) that the Giants would run all over Indianapolis flawed from the start. The Giants didn’t run the ball very well against Carolina; in fact, they didn’t run the ball at all in the first half against the Panthers. Over the last season-plus, Big Blue has changed from a team that runs the ball to one that throws the ball. The shift was caused by a number of things, ranging from Eli Manning’s progress to Brandon Jacobs’ regress and including Kevin Gilbride’s frequently curious play-calling. So to see the Giants come out throwing against the Colts wasn’t surprising at all; it’s what they do.

This isn’t to say it would not have been smarter to run the ball, as we learned.

Here’s my biggest problem with the play-calling: I think it was 14-0 Colts when, on the first play of their subsequent drive, Eli Manning went deep for Steve Smith, with the ball being intercepted. Now, the best-case scenario for that play is, obviously, that Smith makes the catch in stride and scores a touchdown. But even if that happens, then you’re running out a defense that has been picked apart by Peyton Manning and is now tired. And that’s the best-case scenario. We’ve said it time and again: To beat the Colts, you have to limit possessions. That’s why you run the ball, that’s why you let them run the ball, that’s why you don’t necessarily want big plays.

That’s also why I’m still onboard with the ostensibly ludicrous decision to play six DBs all night. Did the Colts run through the Giants all night? Yeah. That’s not the problem. The problems are that New York still couldn’t stop the passing game at all (like, at all) and that its offense didn’t fulfill its half of the equation.

Let’s play a game I call “What quarterback couldn’t win on the Steelers?” I name a quarterback, and I tell you if he can win with the Steelers based on the fact that Charlie Batch just won with them.

Byron Leftwich? A guy who has won with the Steelers? Yes.

Trent Edwards? A guy who went 4-0 one year? Yes.

Sam Bradford? No. 1 pick? Yes.

Former New York Giant and Duke Blue Devil Dave Brown? A man who went 9-7 and holds several Duke quarterbacking records? Yes.

Current Raider back-up Bruce Gradkowski? He beat the Steelers last year! Yes.

Current Ram third-stringer and former Duke Blue Devil Thaddeus Lewis? A guy who broke some Dave Brown records? Yes.

One-time Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta? He had that comeback in that game he once played in. Yes.

Former XFL MVP Tommy Maddox? Been there, done that. Yes.

Reigning UFL MVP Brooks Bollinger? He’s the reigning UFL MVP. Of course.*

*A previous version of this story thought J.P. Losman was the reigning NFL MVP. We had the wrong former AFC East quarterback. Apologies.

Former No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell? No. JaMarcus Russell cannot win with any team.

The Eagles’ decision to shift from Kevin Kolb to Michael Vick at quarterback does have me feeling better about Philadelphia long-term. Remember, Future Kolb scared me. But Present Vick scares me a lot more than Present Kolb. It’s a move designed for now, which of course begs the “Why trade Donovan?” question. If Vick continues to play well — and let’s be clear that’s a strong “if” — the Eagles are a playoff contender in that weak NFC East. If he doesn’t, they’ll be back at Step 1 in 2011.

I ain’t buying the Texans. I think they’re good. I think that division is better. Indy and Tennessee are making the playoffs, Houston isn’t.

And nobody is buying the Bucs, certifiably the worst 2-0 team in NFL history.

Overlooked uniform issue: The Colts changed the way their uniforms fit many of their players (basically everyone except the QB and the linemen), with the stripes now pushed up on the shoulders to where they’re not surrounding the numbers. This, quite obviously, looks terrible. This alone drops the Colts from a top 10 look in the league to bottom 10.

Jets Bash of the Week: We’ve been here before. Stop considering “Repeating 2009 achievements” a 2010 achievement.

And remember, I don’t take you seriously until you beat the Dolphins, which you can’t.

Chiefs Plug of the Week: This team just knows how to win. AFC West Champs, 2010!

If Adrian Peterson were still a great running back, wouldn’t he get that yard?

If you lose at home to the Bucs, who can you beat Carolina?

Losing Kevin Faulk for the year is a substantial blow for the Patriots. Who runs those routes out of the backfield now? BenJarvus Green-Ellis?

The Titans are fine. They committed seven turnovers and had a chance to tie the game late. Vince Young will demolish the Giants defense on Sunday. That’s what Vince Young does.

AFC Rankings:

16. Buffalo

15. Cleveland

14. Jacksonville

13. Oakland

12. Denver

11. Cincinnati

10. San Diego

9. Kansas City

8. Houston

7. New York

6. New England

5. Pittsburgh

4. Tennessee

3. Miami

2. Baltimore

1. Indianapolis

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John S on September 23, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    If you gave me 1,000 guesses, I don’t think I would have come up with J.P. Losman as the reigning U.F.L. MVP….

    Reply

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