Sports Outside the Beltway

On the NFL Season So Far

Steve Bainbridge has some interesting thoughts on yesterday’s games, which provides me a launching point for a broader discussion of a season that, 13 games into a 16 game regular season, is still hard to get a handle on.

Apropos the Saint’s whuppin’ on my Dallas Cowboys last night, in Dallas, Steve offers:

* The Saints are for real. Very real.
* Is Drew Brees having a once in a lifetime year or will he sustain this level of production for at least a few more years? My guess is the latter.


* Some people were in way too much of a hurry to annoint the Cowpunks and Tony Romo.

I think he’s right on Brees and the Saints and premature on the Cowboys and Romo. Even good teams have horribly bad games on occasion. For reasons I can’t fully explain, the wheels came off the Cowboys last night and getting behind early took them out of their game plan. There defense got exposed last night by a great offense but I am confident that Parcells and Zimmer will address it.

The Saints had the advantage of a head coach, defensive coordinator, and several players who were with the Cowboys the last three seasons; a few of the players were among Dallas’ final cuts this year. That gave them far more insights into the team’s weaknesses than you’d get from a couple days’ film study.

* UCLA alum/Jaguar rookie Maurice Jones-Drew has gained more yards, is averaging more yards per carry, has scored more TDs, is averaging more yards per reception, and has committed fewer fumbles than USC alum/Hesiman winner/Saints rookie Reggie Bush. Jones-Drew’s DPAR rank of 23rd also looks mighty good compared to Bush’s rank of 50th. In short, Bruins rule.

The Jags would trade Jones-Drew for Bush right now, no questions asked. Bush has gotten off to a slow start but has exploded the last two weeks.

* I’m not convinced by Eli Manning, Matt Leinart, or Vince Young, all of whom strike me as candidates for the Tim Couch Award, no matter what the Football Outsiders’ PFP claims. Ditto FO’s projections for Jason Campbell, whose 51% completion rate and DPAR score of -2.1 are stunningly unimpressive.

Manning is already much better than Couch ever was, although he is burdened with the expectations that come from being a Manning. Leinart and Young have looked pretty doggone good, frankly. I was in attendance at Young’s first start, a drubbing at the hands of my Cowboys in Nashville, but he’s come along quite nicely of late, having led his team to three straight wins.

It’s too early to say on Campbell, who is a rookie on what appears to be an incredibly inept offensive unit. Similarly, I understand a fan’s frustration here:

* If the Redskins can’t beat the Eagles with Jeff Garcia at the latter’s QB position, we might as well turn out the lights at Fed Ex Field.

But Garcia is a well-above-average NFL quarterback. He was a Pro Bowler with the 49ers until the team got caught in salary cap hell and has played journeyman from one bad team to the next.

* There’s no way the Colts make the Super Bowl with their rush defense. I just hope they make it to the AFC championship game so we can watch what LaDainian Tomlinson does to them in his house. But if they catch Jacksonville or New England in the playoff opener, they probably won’t even get that far.

* The Bears must secure home field advantage. I wouldn’t like their chances against the Saints in the Superdome. Conversely, I don’t see the Saints winning in Chicago, even with Rex Grossman playing QB for the Bears, unless global warming speeds up right now.

I predicted the Colts would go to the Super Bowl and had the Chargers backing into the playoffs as a Wild Card. Philip Rivers, though, has been the Real Deal.

Rex Grossman ain’t. I’m not sure Griese is better but he’s a least a veteran who can serve as a Parcells-style bus driver. Grossman’s license should be revoked.

I still have no real sense about a lot of teams on the playoff bubble:


All of these guys have the potential to win or lose on any given Sunday. Whether it’s parity or mediocrity, I can’t say. I’m not sure there’s a difference.

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Yeah, but what did you think of the recipe?

Posted by Steve Bainbridge | December 11, 2006 | 01:54 pm | Permalink

Haven’t tried it. It may be a little ambitious for my steak and potatoes palate.

Posted by James Joyner | December 11, 2006 | 05:16 pm | Permalink

I know it is a long shot, especially with the injuries (that and personalities I believe are the only problems with Eli, IMHO) but one loss by your Cowboys and a sweep by the GMen of thier last 3 gives them the division.

Posted by Fersboo | December 12, 2006 | 11:56 am | Permalink

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