Bionic music and rookie pivots
Sep 11, 2012 / 5:00 am
Yes, it’s true that the NFL season began this year on a Wednesday – to prevent conflict with the President’s Democratic Nomination acceptance speech – and yes, it’s true that Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys began the season as Eli Manning and the New York Giants tend to end it… but for the sake of argument let’s say this past Sunday was truly the kick-off of 2012. After all, I can’t buy in to a scheduled Hump Day start with all of Mariah Carey’s personalities and a re-invented No Doubt offering us up a glimpse of the mid-90’s when musically we might have cared. Instead, cue the Steve Austin intro music (Lee Majors not Stone Cold) and let’s head to the Mile High City where, in this year of the Rookie Quarterback, an old dog was attempting to learn new tricks. Even ESPN’s resident Head Bobble-head and Tim Tebow fluffer Skip Bayless will most likely be forced to admit that Peyton Manning’s attempt to replace a Legend in Denver was more than slightly successful as the Broncos, on the strength of 19-26, 253 yards and 2 TDs from The Bionic Neck dispatched the Pittsburgh Steelers. The velocity on the passes was down about 2 mp/h but the decision making was Peytonesque and his control and evaluation at the line of scrimmage was as clinical as always. Here’s hoping the 5 Rookies, whose games were already in the books, had a chance to watch him work…
Week 1 Monday mornings very rarely find Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder with a smile on his face… generally he has already locked himself in a rubber room and begun to mutter Rex Grossman limericks in the mirror while eating razor-blade Jello. Not so in 2012, because Robert Griffin III appears to be worth the three 1st and one 2nd Round picks that Washington paid the Rams for the privilege of drafting the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor – and yes the Skins are 1-0 with a road win in New Orleans! The numbers were impressive by any standards – 19-26, 320 yards, 2 TDs and 42 yards rushing – but with the spotlight glaring and Ryan Leafian analogies waiting in the wings, RGIII stood tall in the face of expectation. True, the Saints defense looks incapable of functioning without cash on the table but Redskin Nation should take heart that for the first time in the Mike Shanahan era, the season hasn’t looked like its over after the coin flip.
There is no doubt that NFL schedulers have a rather cynical sense of humour – Peyton gets to open the window on his season against the Steel Curtain, RGIII leads a mutiny in the home of the Bounty and Andrew Luck had the extreme misfortune of testing his mettle at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Colts have very little to offer the Stanford standout in the way of support but WR Reggie Wayne and rookie TE Coby Fleener (also a Stanford Cardinal) should keep Luck grounded through the season and although he threw 3 picks while going 23-45, 309 yards, 1 TD, he showed a pocket presence that leads one to believe there will a lot of good games to come. If Tweetaholic owner Jim Irsay ever finds a way to make good on his ‘big deal’ promises and snags a RB better than Donald Brown, Indy might find a way to surpass the 3-13 record their last promising QB had in his rookie season in 1998.
From Chicago, we fly south to the desert and find the Seattle Seahawks and their Fans, who desperately enjoy the fair weather and have anointed Russell Wilson the savior-du-jour – at least for now. After Wilson’s 18-34, 153 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT performance, Pete Carroll came out in strong support of his QB stating that “… he hung in there, came back, and did a very nice job getting back into the game in the 2nd half.” Here’s the thing – I trust Pete Carroll about as much as I trust a Seattle meteorologist named Sunny – but in this case he’s right. Despite their own QB carousel, the Arizona Cardinals are… wait for it Seahawk Fans… a better team right now – if for no other reason than they have WR Larry Fitzgerald and the Seahawks have WR Sidney Rice. But give it time. This team will grow into its wetsuit over the course of the season although it may not be the playoff team that Fans wanted to believe after Wilson’s pre-season heroics.
And then there were 2. Ryan Tannehill used his vast collegiate knowledge of the state of Texas to actually find his way to the game against Houston which may or may not have been a relief for Miami Fans. While the clown car that is the modern Dolphin franchise always seems to have room for one more in the driver’s seat, the jury is still out on Tannehill after Sunday’s performance. Yes, there were 3 INTs in a 20-36, 219 yards, 0 TD outing but it was against one of the better defenses in the NFL and like Luck in Indy there is little other nose-honking talent surrounding the Miami pivot. If he ever finds his way back to South Beach, you just never know… he might be the next Chad Henne…
Browns Fans officially got karmic retribution this weekend for almost universally cheering the passing of Art Modell and although CLASS has never been a word widely associated with Cleveland, having to watch Brandon Weeden impersonate an NFL quarterback may just have been too stiff a penalty. In a game that featured 8 INTs – 4 each by Weeden and Eagles QB Michael Vick – this was a performance truly worthy of the Dawg Pound… 12-35, 118 yards, 0 TDs. For some reason known only to Browns’ brass, unlike in Seattle, there was no open competition for this QB job. It was directly given to Weeden and despite all the pre-season signs that he was being out-performed by Colt McCoy – digest that little tidbit if you will – President Mike Holmgren felt it best to proceed steadfastly onwards without pile-driving himself into the turf. I’d rather watch a Hot In Cleveland marathon than another debacle like that!
Until next time Kelowna, stand tall in the pocket…
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