Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 4:
a. Brian Hoyer. Outplayed Andy Dalton. Nothing fluky about the 17-6 Cleveland win. That job is Hoyer’s until further notice, maybe until draft day.
b. Patrick Peterson, with two fourth-quarter interceptions to lift Arizona to a win.
c. The unpredictability of football: The Super Bowl MVP quarterback goes to Buffalo to play a run-of-the-mill team with both starting cornerbacks out injured. And Joe Flacco throws five interceptions, and the Bills win.
d. The brute strength of Ndamukong Suh. He’s a marvel.
e. The Kansas City defense, which has allowed 41 points in four games. It doesn’t let you breathe. The Giants ran zero plays inside the KC red zone Sunday.
f. As a means of comparison, the Philadelphia defense allowed 42 points in three quarters Sunday.
g. Pat Haden’s decisiveness.
h. Aaron Williams’ acrobatic interception of Joe Flacco in Buffalo.
i. This fun number: AFC East is 11-4, and the NFC East is 4-12.
j. The insight of Austen Lane. In his writing for The MMQB, did you notice his difference in being cut by the Jags and being cut by the Chiefs? in Jacksonville, the coach and GM met with him, then the coach met with him individually. In Kansas City, the pro personnel guy met with him. That’s it.
k. Larry Fitzgerald beating Darrelle Revis for a touchdown in a battle of titans.
l. Good job by Giants rookie right tackle Justin Pugh, holding Justin Houston without a sack or heavy pressure at Arrowhead.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 4:
a. The games at Wembley have this one TV problem: Not enough lights in the stadium. Every one of those games looks dark.
b. Jacksonville, outscored by an average of 24.5 points in its four losses.
c. Left wondering what happened to one of the best legs in the game, Billy Cundiff. He missed two more field goals Sunday, and it won’t surprise me to see the Browns have a kicking competition this week.
d. Giants, too, with Josh Brown in trouble after shanking a 44-yarder?
e. Terrible coverage by Chris Houston, allowing Alshon Jeffery of the Bears to get behind him up the right sideline in the closing seconds of the first half. Handed the Bears a Robbie Gould field goal as time expired at the half.
f. I’ve never seen a hole in a Dick LeBeau defense the size of which Adrian Peterson ran through for his second touchdown of the game.
g. Mike Adams, Steelers left tackle, is awful.
h. Jason Pierre-Paul wrenched his knee, and no one noticed. That’s how invisible he’s been in four games returning from back surgery.
i. When Geno Smith is bad, he’s really bad. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Rex Ryan consider playing Matt Simms.
j. Re the Rashad Johnson lost-fingertip coverage: He lost half an inch of a fingertip. Nobody wants to lose a centimeter of a body part, obviously. But the coverage was a bit over the top. Excessive.
k. I’m not saying Tampa Bay is good. But I am saying the Bucs have lost three games in the most ridiculous manner, including blowing a late 10-0 lead to Arizona Sunday.
l. Matt Flynn’s first start for the Raiders: Meh.
3. I think you might be surprised to know that Bill Belichick tied Chuck Noll on the all-time wins list last night. They’ve got 209 apiece, including playoffs, Belichick in 19 seasons as a head coach and Noll in 23.
4. I think if I’m Roger Goodell, I’m walking down the hall at NFL headquarters sometime very soon to the new-owner-vetting office and asking, “Uh, did we know anything about the looming jillion-dollar judgment against the Wilf family? Or anything about Jimmy Haslam?’’ Read the stuff this week about the Wilfs, who own the Vikings and are in business with the state of Minnesota to build a new stadium, and a real-estate deal partnership gone bad … and a judge accusing them of racketeering and ordering them to pay $84.5 million to two aggrieved former partners.
5. I think the Bucs need to cut Josh Freeman. Today.
6. I think these things are always tricky. You don’t want to be giving in to players who are trying to shoot their way out of your franchise. But the Bucs are in a delicate time. They’re in a poisonous relationship with Freeman. They owe him $6.4 million, guaranteed, for the final three months of a lost season, and every day he spends on campus with the team is an ugly one. It’d be one thing if there were a team out there dying to trade for him. I was in touch with the Jags and Browns on Sunday about their prospective interest. Each has more than $17 million in salary cap money to spend now if they choose, and could afford to take on a new Freeman contract. (It’s assumed he’d try to go somewhere and get a new contract, because he’s due to be a free agent after the season, and it seems stupid to trade something of substance for Freeman just as a three-month rental if he’d hit the market after the season.) Each team told me the same thing: No interest. The Bucs should give Greg Schiano a chance to save his job and save the 2013 season, and the only way to do that is to cut Freeman loose now.
7. I think it’s too late now, but Freeman should have stood his ground, worked his way back to the job and showed future employers he can fight back from adversity. What he looks like now, to the other 31 teams in the league, is a guy who had trouble with a coaching staff, played poorly, overslept for the team photo (if that’s a true story) and started whining when he got yanked. What team is going to pay good money for a 53 percent passer (since the start of 2012) who goes renegade on a team when times are tough?
8. I think the Vince Wilfork injury from Sunday night—reported to be a torn Achilles tendon, which would be a season-ender—comes at a spot where the Patriots have precious little depth. How many more good players can New England lose and still be New England?
9. I think Rob Gronkowski is healthier than most injured players working their way back to playing shape, and he’s not playing. This is a strange story, folks. The Patriots might be able to sweep it under the rug for now, and it might even be a good idea for Gronkowski to sit for two or three more weeks, because he might be at the stage of his career that cries out for the conservative physical approach—he might have only a limited number of snaps in him before he breaks down again. Who knows? But there’s something odd about a story when a guy practicing like Rob Gronkowski says he’s not ready to be Rob Gronkowski in a game.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Was that the Minnesota Twins on the field in the last couple of weeks, or the New Britain Rock Cats?
b. What if Henderson Alvarez threw a no-hitter and nobody noticed?
c. Loved The Lyman Bostock Story, about the Angels outfielder shot to death while in the wrong place at the wrong time in Gary, Ind., late in the 1978 season. Congrats on a job well done, Bruce Cornblatt.
d. Kudos, too, to Rory Karpf, for his revealing Book of Manning documentary. Most of us never knew about the tortured life of Archie Manning’s dad, and it was a story artfully told.
e. When you finish third instead of second in your rotisserie league because Washington pitcher Tanner Roark left the last game of the year, a totally meaningless game in Arizona Sunday to everyone in America but me, with a 2-1 lead after seven innings and had the bullpen blow it and thus not get a win you needed, and when the guy you’re chasing gets one meaningless (but not to us) final strikeout from Kenley Jansen, allowing him to move up one slot in strikeouts … well, you’re probably in rotisserie baseball a little too deep.
f. Sorry. I can’t demonize the retiring Andy Pettitte forever for his one detour into PEDs. I can castigate him for it, and I can always think of it when I think of him. (If it was more than that, I will stand corrected.) But I don’t think of him as a consistent PED user. And so I rather enjoyed watching the last inning of the last game of his life, his first complete game after 167 incomplete ones, Saturday night in Houston. “It’s a shame we gotta get old,’’ he said afterward.
g. Coffeenerdness: Nobody likes a coffee nerd, and so when I started to tell the barista at Starbucks the other day that she was making the macchiato wrong (espresso on the bottom of the cup, with milk on top, which it shouldn’t be), I caught myself and shut up.
h. Beernerdness: Happiness is having six Flower Power IPAs in the refrigerator for use sometime in the next week or so.
i. Really interested in seeing the Julia Louis-Dreyfus/James Gandolfini movie. Got any others for me that are must-sees?
j. My World Series guess: Oakland over St. Louis in seven.
Who I Like Tonight
New Orleans 24, Miami 12. Honest comment from Sean Payton Saturday, asked if he has to counteract all the positive attention his defense has gotten this month. The Saints, 32nd and last in team defense last year, are fourth this season in their 3-0 start. “Honestly you’re always kind of paying attention to [it],’’ Payton said. “You guys [reporters] have a difficult job. What sells in your industry is something to either extreme, but the 85 percent in the middle is typically what we deal with on a weekly basis. Bill [Parcells] was really good at this. When it’s all [favorable], you’re making sure [to tell players] we have a lot that we have to improve on, and you show them the tape and emphasize that. I think just eliminating the outside distractions and eliminating what we call ‘the noise’ is more difficult today than it ever has been because of the amount of coverage and the amount of exposure to the game.’’ But facts are facts: The Saints are 3-0 largely because of the giant steps they’ve made on the less-famous side of the ball. The Saints are 144 yards stingier per game on D than they were a year ago, when they allowed more yards than any team in history. Expect blitzes from everywhere tonight, Ryan Tannehill.
The Adieu Haiku
Chip’s balloon has burst.
What a difference a month makes.
DeSean: Play DeD.