The NFL is in full swing! NFL Kickoff weekend is like the first day of school. New coaches, new players, new stadiums lead fans to get new TVs, grills, NFL game packages and of course gear. This is all necessary to start the school year. Ask any kid; you can’t go back to school without new supplies and new gear!
The two things that always made me anxious about the first day of school were the unknown and a new beginning. I did not know what to expect from my new teacher. Older students may have told me about the teacher, but I had not experienced his or her class myself. Week 1 in the NFL is the same way. It is the only week that teams prepare for without regular season game tapes of their opponents. Sure they read about training camp and watch some preseason games, but teams will not truly know what the other teams are made of until the first game of the regular season.
So how was the first day of school? Let’s take a look.
Welcome Back Carroll - Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, enthusiastically returned to a NFL sideline after coaching the University of Southern California Trojans for 9 seasons. He was welcomed back with smiles and the smiles got bigger after Seattle trampled on the 49ers 31 – 6.
Unfair Detention – The Detroit Lions loss to the Chicago Bears 19 – 14 at home. Many blame this on Calvin Johnson’s “touchdown” being ruled incomplete. For the record, according to NFL Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 it was incomplete. The rule states:
Going to the ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.
The rule may need to be changed, but as Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz said, “He didn’t finish with the football.” I really respect Coach Schwartz not blaming this loss on one call or one play. Four quarters of football were played and the loss does not simply rest on a play that happened in the last 31 seconds of the game. Going forward, the problem for the Lions is that their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, suffered a shoulder injury and may be out 4 – 6 weeks. Just when I had them winning 4 games this year.
Needed more summer school – The Redskins beat rival, Dallas Cowboys at home 13 – 7, but it was not because they did anything great. Redskins quarterback, Donovan McNabb, showed hints that he can still compete at an elite level with nice completions to Santana Moss and one run of 17 yards. However, the offensive line did not protect well and the defense was lackluster. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys offense just couldn’t connect and the defense seemed confused. Both teams need some work. It was a disappointing matchup that was supposed to be a battle between archenemies.
Bullies not so scary after all – With thousands of microphones around to catch every word that Cincinnati wide receivers, Ochocinco and T.O. say; I was expecting the dynamic duo to be a threat and… catch a lot more balls. Despite both receivers reaching milestones, Ochocinco surpassed 10,000 passing yards and T.O. topped 15,000, the offense did not live up to the hype.
Teachers Pet – Over the weekend, Tom Brady, became the highest paid player in the NFL. The $72 million contract makes the two-time Super Bowl MVP a Patriot for four more years. New England Head Coach Bill Belichick summed up his feelings on the contract extension by saying, “There’s no other quarterback I’d rather have.” Yesterday, Brady displayed why. He had 258 yards, completed over 71% of his passes, did not throw an interception and led the Patriots to a 38 - 24 win over Cincinnati.
After school – Tonight Monday Night Football (MNF) starts the regular season with a double header. The Baltimore Ravens head to the New Meadowlands Stadium to face the New York Jets at 7 p.m. EST and the Kansas City Chiefs will open its doors to the San Diego Chargers at 10:15 p.m. EST. My thoughts? The Jets and Ravens both have strong defenses and new additions to their offense, but I’m giving the edge to the Jets. As for Kansas and San Diego, there is no competition. Even without LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers will win in Arrowhead Stadium.
College men - The ACC had a bad weekend because their four ranked teams (Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and last season’s conference champ, Georgia Tech) lost to nonconference opponents. Miami is the only school that remains in the ranking at #17. The Big 10 is shining. Penn State #22 loss to Alabama, but the conferences other three ranked teams (Ohio State #2, Iowa #9 and Wisconsin #12) all pulled out victories. Michigan entered the top 25 at #20 (AP) and #22 (USA Today) after beating Notre Dame.
Heels & Helmets