What exactly have we learned one month into the NFL's 93rd season?
for one thing, it's quite obvious that just because a team was dominant
last season, it doesn't automatically carry over and guarantee that
they will be bullies the following year.
ask the New Orleans Saints, scarred by the bounty scandal and seeming
like a band lost in the wilderness without group leader Sean Payton.
think about Green Bay. Sure, the Packers should really be 3-1 rather
than an asterisk-bearing 2-2*. But until Sunday, it seemed as though
there were a bunch of impostors playing key roles on Mike McCarthy's
New England? The Patriots lost consecutive games for the
first time since the Truman administration (or something like that),
before evening their record at 2-2 Sunday.
We also learned that ...
-- Bill Belichick has a breaking point. Inconsistent calls -- by scabs, nonetheless -- drive him nuts.
Rob Ryan, heading into Monday night with the NFL's No. 1-ranked
defense, will have a better season than his twin brother, Rex.
Matt Ryan, the NFL's top-rated passer, is frontrunner for MVP honors --
and if you can't have Joe Montana or John Elway in their prime, Ryan is
the now-quarterback you'd want leading your team on a last-minute,
game-winning drive when you're in your own dome.
-- When Adrian Peterson says it, he means it. What an inspiring -- and fast -- comeback from reconstructive knee surgery.
-- Cam Newton, fighting the spirits of a sophomore slump, takes losing really hard.
The games cannot go on with a shred of credibility without real
officials in charge who know the rules and how to maintain order.
-- Roger Goodell should have heavy security with him if he decides to take a stroll in the French Quarter.
Terrell "T-Sizzle" Suggs, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year
and wrecking ball of a pass rusher, was much more of a force defending
the run than advertised. Without him, Baltimore ranks 23rd on defense
(13th against the run).
-- Tim Tebow hasn't happened yet for the Jets.
-- Jerry Jones is jealous of the New York Giants.
Peyton Manning's offense will run a lot more efficiently as the season
progresses and it gets the cumulative reps. Even if the deep passes
aren't as potent as in the past, P-Money still has it.
-- RGIII is
the real deal and so fun to watch as he leads the pack for rookie of
the year honors. Now, for the sake of longevity, lets hope the kid takes
a lot fewer hits.
-- Jim Harbaugh is so sneaky. Duping a
replacement zebra for a couple of extra timeouts and replay challenges?
Good one, Harbs. It's also apparent that the 49ers' rise last season
under their edgy coach was no fluke.
-- Tom Coughlin and Greg Schiano should probably have a beer summit.
Even without self-promoters Chad Ochocinco (or Chad Johnson) and
Terrell Owens, the NFL is still capable of drawing record TV ratings.
-- All that rumbling on Capitol Hill amounted to nothing but hot air. There's still no HGH testing in the NFL.
The Bengals are again an under-the-radar playoff contender. Their primo
receiver, A.J. Green, is a legit candidate for honors as MBP -- Most
-- Norv Turner's teams don't always get off to
slow starts. The Chargers missed the playoffs the past two years but now
lead the AFC West with a 3-1 record. Of course they missed postseason
after a 4-1 start in 2011.
-- Jerry Jones is jealous of the New York Giants. (In classic Jerry style, this is repeated).
Wherever Mike Nolan goes, he puts out an outstanding defense. Now he's
coordinating Atlanta's D -- which suddenly has teeth and leads the NFL
with 12 takeaways.
-- The next great NFL defensive coordinator is
Ray Horton, in his second year with the gig on the Cardinals staff after
years of grooming from Dick LeBeau. Horton is one of the unsung heroes
behind Arizona's 4-0 start.
-- Christian Ponder has figured a few
things out, a key reason why the Vikings are the NFL's biggest surprise
team -- even more stunning than the Cards -- while leading the tough NFC
-- The Chiefs will be in the market for one of the hot
young college quarterbacks to ultimately replace the turnover machine
that is Matt Cassel.
-- Buffalo spent way too much money on a
defense that has allowed the second-most points in the NFL. The same can
be said about the investment in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, so at
least there's some symmetry.
-- The Texans, leading a weak AFC
South, might officially wrap up the division title by Thanksgiving --
and unofficially by Election Day.
-- Maurice Jones-Drew really didn't need training camp. Blaine Gabbert really needed training camp.
-- The Giants are right on schedule to be in the thick of the Super Bowl mix. They are 2-2 ... and lucky not to be 1-3.
-- The Seahawks have an exciting, emerging defense ... but should really be 1-3, rather than 2-2.
-- James Harrison's passion and relentless pursuit of quarterbacks has been missed by the Steelers' defense.
-- Megatron might survive the threat of a Madden
Curse, but Calvin Johnson's team could be doomed. After starting 5-0 in
2011, the Lions are 1-3 and 6-10 in their past 16 games. It's tougher
going from good to great than from lousy to decent. One week it's the
secondary, another two weeks the special teams break down. And so on.
And here's something else we've known all along:
After just 30 days in the wild and crazy NFL, it's way too early to jump
to conclusions. There's a lot of football left.
After all, things change.