Player You Need To Know This Weekend
Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay (No. 8). It’s way too early to play Glennon. Greg Schiano knows that, but Schiano just couldn’t bear to watch Josh Freeman anymore. Freeman’s completed 53 percent of his passes since Schiano was hired, his game has plummeted this year, and there was the matter of him oversleeping for the team picture, missing it and then not being voted team captain. A mess. A big, hot mess. I don’t blame Schiano for starting Glennon now and not waiting until the Bucs’ bye week. Do you want to play a home game with the most unpopular athlete in Tampa leading your team out on the field, trying to salvage your season? Glennon will surely be asked to pilot a safe gameplan against Arizona, and he’d better: The Cardinals’ D, according to The MMQB’s pass-pressure rankings, have 58 sacks/pressures/knockdowns of quarterbacks through three weeks.
Sound Bite of the Week
“No, but if you want to be on TV, hang around him.”
—Arizona coach Bruce Arians, asked this week if there was anything new to report on the playing status of safety Rashad Johnson, who had the tip of his left middle finger severed Sunday against the Saints. Johnson’s playing status for Sunday at Tampa Bay is questionable. But he’s sure getting a lot of media attention.
Ten Things I’ll Be Watching For This Weekend
1. The battle for the NFC North lead. And it doesn’t include Green Bay. Detroit (2-1) hosts 3-0 Chicago, while Green Bay has an easy game against The Bye. (I’d hate the Week 4 bye if I were a coach. Too early.) Man to watch for the Bears: Defensive tackle Nate Collins replaces Henry Melton (knee; out for the season), and he’ll need to give the Bears 30 good interior snaps against a team with a revived running game. But just because this is Collins’ first start doesn’t mean he hasn’t played—he’s been in nearly 50 percent of the plays this year as a fireman on the line.
2. Going Long. The Bears drafted inexperienced Oregon guard Kyle Long in the first round last spring for Sundays like this one: to face off against Detroit tackle Ndamukong Suh. Long’s been playing well for Chicago, solidifying a position of great need. Suh’s been intimidating and great for Detroit. This is the most compelling matchup of the weekend, mano a mano.
3. The return of Matt Cassel … in a very strange place. I bet Matt Cassel never thought his career would get resurrected in London. But with Christian Ponder out with a broken rib, Ponder gets the start against the Steelers at Wembley Stadium.
4. America’s Team against America’s Story. Looks like after not playing in a game since Aug. 8 San Diego inside linebacker Manti Te’o (foot) will make his NFL debut against Dallas.
5. Sit, Terrelle. Sit. Washington, defensively challenged through three weeks, will likely face pocket passer Matt Flynn instead of Terrelle Pryor (concussion). Flynn’s lost his job without playing two seasons in a row in two different NFL cities. And he’s not likely to push Pryor to the bench no matter how well he plays Sunday at home.
6. The trade market for the rock-bottom Josh Freeman. Is there one? And why trade for him now when you can sign him as a free agent after the season without compensation? Any team that signs Freeman would have to invest time in a now-marginal prospect mid-season, teaching him a new offense and trying to revive his career. Not the best time for that—unless it’s in a place like Jacksonville, for a conditional late-round pick.
7. We’ll have to wait until Monday night for the game of the weekend. Miami (3-0) at similarly 3-0 New Orleans, and the Dolphins are crossing their fins that ace pass rusher Cameron Wake (knee) will be able to play. He’ll be vital, because the Dolphins can’t afford to make it a scoreathon Monday.
8. The Giants trying to salvage the wreckage. As former Giant Carl Banks said in the wake of the 38-0 embarrassment at Carolina, the depressing thing about the performance was the offensive line showed no fighting spirit. This just in: The Kansas City pass rush is tougher to block, and the game Sunday will be at rabid Arrowhead Stadium.
9. The Ohio Bowl. Cincinnati at Cleveland, with Clevelander Brian Hoyer, suddenly dangerous, angling for the upset.
10. Peyton continuing to be pretty good. No quarterback’s ever been this sharp in a three-game stretch to start a season. Quarterback rating: 134.7. Quarterback ratings of Manning’s seasons in his 30s: 101.0, 98.0, 95.0, 99.9, 91.9, 105.8. In other words, he’s playing well. The Eagles fly to Denver to try to derail Manning. I don’t like their chances.