Sunday, October 15, 2006

NFL Week 6 Fanalysis:
Panthers are Back!
Plus: "Big Bruce" for R.O.Y.

My weekly ritual of shallow, half-baked thoughts from Sunday's NFL results:

Panthers: NFL's 2nd-Best Team? In the ever-changing search for the next nominee for "Who's No. 2?" in the NFL (behind the Bears, of course), might I nominate the hard-charging Panthers?

After an 0-2 start to the season, Carolina notched its 4th win in a row -- and its biggest yet -- over the 4-1 Ravens, which included a career day from Jake Delhomme (365 yards, 2 TDs), 189 yards from star Steve Smith and 3 FGs from John Kasay, all while the D held the Ravens to 80 yards rushing, the fourth straight game they've held an opponent to under 100 yards on the ground. Classic Panthers. Sure looks like a team with No. 2 Mo to me.

(Meawhile, who had "Week 7" in the office pool for "When will an injury to Steve McNair ruin his surprisingly good start for the Ravens?")

Ugh: I can't believe T.O. caught 3 TDs.

That would be the most depressing result of the day if it wasn't for the fact that Torry Holt beat out T.O. for best (read: Fantasy) WR of the day (even if the Rams lost to the Seahawks).

How can you NOT feel good for the Saints, losing a 17-3 lead to the Eagles to fall behind early in the 4th, then rallying with a TD, holding the Eagles offense off and giving themselves a chance to win in the final seconds on a John Carney FG? What a story this team is.

(And they did it all without a big game from Reggie Bush, who isn't even the best rookie in his own division, let alone NFL Rookie of the Year.)

Wait, are you looking for the REAL Rookie of the Year? Here you go:

Bruce Gradkowski is the new Ben Roethlisberger, the MAC alumni QB making a huge splash as a rookie, the latest a 2-TD effort today that included a last-minute, game-winning TD pass.

But, after just two games, I'd say what Gradkowski has done is even more impressive than what Big Ben did after two games as a starter.

(In fact, I'm calling it now: "Big Bruce" as a nickname, though I've read "Bruce Almighty" being thrown around. Now THAT's bold.)

I even looked up the numbers to back up my argument (shocking, I know):

In Big Ben's first two games starting for the Steelers as a rookie, he was 24-42 for 339 yards, with 3 TDs and 3 INTs. The Steelers went 1-1.

In Big Bruce's first two games starting for the Bucs as a rookie, he was 45-75 for 409 yards, with 4 TDs and 0 INTs. The Bucs went 1-1.

(I suck, but I'm humbled by the collective abilities of the Commenters. I leave up my sorry-ass analysis up here as penance. You all rule. See? THIS is why I never deal in numbers.)

But it comes down to this: Gradkowski is doing it with one of the worst five teams in the NFL; R'berger did it with one of the best top five teams. Who's job is easier -- thus, whose success is more impressive?

Speaking of Big Ben, it looks like he's back. At the very least, the Chiefs were the perfect antidote for what up until now has been a completely forgettable season for R'berger.

Joining the Bucs in the "Winless No More" column are the Titans, who shocked the suddenly reeling Redskins behind rookie Vince Young's first NFL win. (The Lions did it, too, leaving only the sorry Raiders.)

It's hard to proclaim the Falcons the NFL's top running team when they're out-gained on the ground by the Giants in a loss. (Tiki Barber had one of those frustrating days for a fantasy owner where you wonder how he could rush for 185 yards and still not score any TDs.)

Chargers blow out 49ers: Philip Rivers is looking like so much more than a mere Big Ben-style "game manager": He looks like an aggressive, accurate star-in-the-making.

I can't believe Joey Harrington almost led the Dolphins to a 17-point 4th-quarter comeback on the Jets. How are the Jets 3-3?

There's "Winless No More" and then there's the Raiders: Oakland might as well pack it in and make their goal to secure the No. 1 overall pick in next spring's NFL Draft. How good would Dwayne Jarrett look in a Raiders uniform?

MNF: Tonight is going to be ugly, but it's the chance for the Bears to prove to the whole country that they deserve to be considered the overwhelming Super Bowl favorite at this point.

-- D.S.

40 comments:

jhawkjjm said...

Maybe its just me, but I was laughing out loud when Holmes tackled him by the hair. It was an absolute BS penalty though. If you're going to penalize that, then why doesn't everyone grow out their hair so that people will be too afraid to tackle someone from behind for fear of pulling the guys hair. I hate the long hair look and i've been waiting for someone get yanked down by the hair.

bab78 said...

Dan-You say you checked the numbers... Yet Big Ben was 2-0 in his first two starts. Pitt lost the first game he played in, but Tommy Maddox was injured and knocked out of that game and Ben game in to finish it. His true stats for his first two games was 29-47 337 yards and 2td vs 1 int. Nice try though

Tyler said...

Ugh, I'm disgusted by the way my Redskins are playing. If it were up to me, they'd sit (or cut) Brunell and just let Jason Campbell take his lumps for the rest of the season. That way, they'll get a good look at him and see if they need to use a high draft pick this offseason on a quarterback.

Plus, how about that "roughing the passer" penalty against the Bengals that basically gave the Bucs a chance to win that game? Gradkowski was sacked cleanly and fumbled, the Bengals recovered, the game seemed over, and this BS penalty gets called and the Bucs have a new lease on life. WTF?

Isiah Thomas said...

how's Reggie Bush Lite Wali Lundy doing ace?

Troy (Gainesville, FL) said...

Are we sure Big Ben didn't go undefeated till the AFC Championship game? Oh right, he did. Dan, Dan, Dan... as bab pointed out, nice try.

Adam said...

Get it straight Dan. Ben didn't lose a start until the AFC-CG against the Pats.

oasiserfede said...

jhawkjim, it's just you.....I guess LJ needed to vent some frustrations after Antrel Rolle's absolutely disgusting tackle (which should have gotten him AT LEAST 2 days suspension instead of a lousy fine), but that was the wrong way to do it.......

rafael said...

Well...we'll see how Big Bruce looks after his first 13 games.

Polamalu's hair (along with other Samoans in the league) is cultural. He doesn't grow it out to be a punk or jerk. Polamalu has said in the past, getting tackled by the hair is a risk he's willing to take for his culture.

If you can't horsecollar someone, you can't tackle by the hair...seems to make sense to me.

Kurt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kurt said...

Dan you did pretty well this week:

Panthers over Ravens: Right
Falcons over Giants: WRONG
Cowboys over Texans: Right
Bills over Lions: WRONG
Rams over Seahawks: WRONG
Eagles over Saints: WRONG
Bengals over Bucs: WRONG
Redskins over Titans: WRONG
Dolphins over Jets: WRONG
Steelers over Chiefs: Right
Chargers over 49ers: Right
Broncos over Raiders: In Progress

This week: 4-7

Eric in High Point,NC said...

Seriously, as a Panthers fan it amazes me that when we play the best defenses , (ie Ravens today, Bears in Playoffs last year, Pats in Superbowl 38) Jake Delhomme turns into Dan Marino and Steve Smith becomes unstoppable. Note to NFL coaches...nobody can cover Steve Smith 1-on-1...Nobody.

WuzUpG said...

I'm going to put it out there now, Steve Smith for MVP. With Smith sitting out for the first two games, the Panthers didn't perform to expectations (a playoff-bound team.) Now, with Smith, they haven't lost. Moreover, he had a huge day (189 yds, TD).

Terry said...

Just a quick comment here. You're wrong about Big Ben. He didn't go 1-1 in his first two starts. He won his first 15 or so (including the playoffs). He came in for an injured Tommy Maddox and lost to the Ravens and then won his first start in a hurricane against the Dolphins. His first loss came in the AFC championship game to New England.

Terry said...

Yeah I just noticed how many people already commented about Roesthlisberger. No, we Steeler fans don't obsess about our team at all . . .

Gary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gary said...

You said that Reggie Bush isn't the best rookie in his division, he isn't even the best rookie on his own offense...that Marques Colston character has had an unbelievable year...over 400 yards recieving, 4 TDs and is 11th in recieving yards in the league...those stats stand up better than Reggie Bush, and Bruce Gradkowski

Nick Bell said...

Maybe its just me, but I was laughing out loud when Holmes tackled him by the hair. It was an absolute BS penalty though

Just to clear this up, it was Larry Johnson that made the tackle, not Priest Holmes. And the penalty was not for pulling on Polamalu's hair. It was for taunting him afterwards.

Mikepcfl said...

The hair tackle was legal. The NFL once issued a ruling on this several years ago. I think it was Shockey who caused the ruling when he first came into the league. If a player has his hair hanging out of the helmet it is legal to tackle him that way. I still dont see what the penalty was for.

Hisjazziness said...

Maybe the penalty was for, in Johnson's own words, "smacking Taylor in the face twice".

Yeah, maybe that was it.

ChrTh said...

If the Raiders make it their goal to get the #1 pick, they'll roll off 3 wins in the next 5 games. They're that inept.

Although how lousy is Denver to only win by 10 at home?

nyc-steelers fan said...

So I noticed a lot of people already corrected you about roethlisberger being 2-0 (13-0) after two games, but really, you're even more wrong. Bruce Gradkowski is quarterbacking a team that was in the playoffs last year. Big Ben tok over a team that came off their worst year in years, finishing badly enough to warrant a top 7 pick, as tommy maddox had come crashing back to earth in '03...

So, the only reason Big Ben was coming in to quarterback a team that went 15-1 in route to the playoffs was because, oh, that's right, BIG BEN! It kills me when people say he was just lucky to be the quarterback of a good team, any QB could have done it. Maddox couldn't have done it. And trust me, there isn't a chance in hell Bruce Gradkowski could have gone 13-0 and replicated Ben's success. So do us all a favor, shanoff, shut the hell up about Big Ben, and pass around a little of what you've been smoking...

Anonymous said...

How did we lose to the Lions? How did we lose to the Lions? How did we lose to the Lions?

Why didn't we draft Lienart or Walter (the Oak QB looked awesome last night, only I think all the Broncos got drunk before the game).

H said...

The penalty to LJ was NOT because he tackled by the hair, it was because he pulled Ploamalu up by the hair after they had gone down out of bounds. You can do that in pro wrestling, but not in football. I'm not a Steelers fan, but the penalty was warranted. Thos of you who don't understand it, watch the replay again. and again. and again. If you still don't get it, I don't know what to tell you.

marcomarco said...

Fastest.Bandwagon.Hop.Ever

Carolina #2?

Did the bye week make you forget about Indy? Did you miss San Diego's score? Did you miss New Orleans solid win over Philly?

You hopped on Carolina's wagon about as fast as you hopped off Jacksonville's.

Dan Shanoff said...

I'm no Big Ben fan, so here goes: I wonder how many QBs -- as long as they played within themselves -- could have done what Big Ben did as a rookie. I suspect quite a few.

Dan Shanoff said...

By the way, I recognize my stat manipulation with Big Ben. Boo on me.

Dan Shanoff said...

Kurt, thanks for pointing out my bad picks this week. But look at the games I got wrong: Tell me -- do you know anyone who actually got them right?

thirdstringjd said...

Just to be clear - this week Dan you're pushing for the Dwayne Jarret as the #1 pick? This is a huge moment for everyone here as it seems you've finally moved off the Brady Quinn as the #1 pick no matter who gets the top spot in the draft.

Matt said...

The Raiders might not have won this week, but they did cover the spread for the first time this year. I'm very proud of Art Shell and his boys.

Granted, they were 2 TD underdogs against a team not even averaging 14 points per game this season...

And watching the Raiders, it occurs to me that if they had a rebuilt offensive line, and a decent veteran QB, even with Shell coaching they could be an 8-8 team. That's how crazy NFL parity is... the worst team of the decade is only a few decent players away from mediocrity.

nyc-steelers fan said...

So back in '04, when maddox went down in week 2 and was out indefinitely, people's expectations for the steelers were VERY low. A rookie QB, noone expected Ben to perform very well, myself included. Now, I never pick against the steelers, but I couldn't argue with anyone expecting them to lose to Miami in his first game. Seriously, go back and look at what he did that year, against defenses throwing the kitchen sink at him. He had a comeback win against dallas and a Parcells defense that everyone was saying would NOT let some punk rookie QB beat them, breaking tackles and making throws. Against the Eagles (undefeated, top defense), they were blitzing him EVERY play, and the steelers killed them for it, either running, or Ben throwing a quickie completion. And against Belichek, undefeated Pats, genius defensive coordinator, he stayed calm and composed and annhilated the Patsies.

Granted, he went into a slump in the playoffs, and the steelers lost. But you're wrong, man, if you think any QB could have done what Big Ben did that year. You really have to go back and look at the games that year, the challenges he rose and thwarted (granted, some of the games were against the browns of the league), challenges that rookies are not expected to overcome. He struggled less as a rookie QB than anyone in the history of the league, (unless you count Otto Graham as a rookie when the Browns switched over from the old AAFL), and you're deluding yourself to think that others could have done it so seamlessly. So he had a bad superbowl and started off this season pretty rough. Even Montana had his bad stretches.

I would argue that him looking mortal this year, and the steeler' losing because of it, is an even better argument for just how dazzling and superb that first year in the league was (and a bar has never, ever, ever been set higher for a QB, given what he accomplished his first year, and when he slumps a bit, it is scrutinized more so than when Brett Favre slumps). Give Ben Credit for his successes, at least.

Dan Shanoff said...

Aha! You picked up on my "Jarrett for No. 1" thing. I'm thrilled about that.

There's a couple of things:

(1) Oakland will almost assuredly have the No. 1 overall pick. Do they need a QB like Quinn? I'm not sure Walter isn't good enough to pass on Quinn. Do they need an RB like Peterson? I'm not sure they would want to give up on Jordan. O-line? Defense? Well, there doesn't seem to be an O-line prospect worth the No. 1 overall pick and, after using last year's Top 10 pick on Huff, can you see the Raiders holding back their urge to make a splashy, offense-first pick?

Meanwhile, the Raiders will likely need WR help. Not just because Porter is all but done with the organization -- but because Moss is, too.

Who better to replace him than a player, Jarrett, who is not just the best WR in college football this season, but is arguably one of the Top 3 WR in college football in the last decade? (The only one I'd put up with him is Larry Fitzgerald and Moss himself.)

Let's see: A big-play WR and a team desperate for big-play contributions (assuming they drop Moss...or even if they don't). Seems like a good fit to me.

Brian in Oxford said...

Not taking Quinn would be STUPID, if you're the Raiders. That's like the Jets not taking Leinart. Do we really think even 3 years down the road that they'll have anything close to competent at quarterback?

Sheesh....if you're not going to take a difference maker at #1, you might as well take a defensive end and...um....hope for the best. (After firing your GM)

big.aaron said...

ChrTh said...
If the Raiders make it their goal to get the #1 pick, they'll roll off 3 wins in the next 5 games. They're that inept.

Although how lousy is Denver to only win by 10 at home?


Hey douche bag. You do what you gotta do to win. Our defense is insane no question. Our offense will catch up.

Kurt said...

"Kurt, thanks for pointing out my bad picks this week. But look at the games I got wrong: Tell me -- do you know anyone who actually got them right?" - Dan Shanoff

Dan, stop underestimating the Giants and you wouldn't have gotten that game wrong, and I'm sure a lot of people picked the Seahawks over the Rams. Those two picks alone would of made you 7-6 on the week.

ChrTh said...

Something tells me big.aaron bet too much money giving the points last night.

Sean (Pittsburgh) said...

If so many QBs could so easily do what Ben did and "play within themselves", why don't more rookie QBs...hell...ANY QBs have a winning percentage and a couple of years like his first two? Give the man some credit already.

And, the Holmes tackle on Polamalu was completely legal. Trying to pick him back UP by his hair was were the line was drawn. Great call.

Curtis (Indy) said...

Ok I just want to say that the "roughing the passer" penalty in the Bengals/Tampa game was probably the worst call I've seen in 20+ years of watching football. There has been many bad calls and crucial calls. But in terms of how easy of a call it was and how close it was to the offical. There is absolutely no reason to miss that call. I hate to call conspiracy here, but I for the life of me cannot figure out any reason why or how that call could be made. I fully expect now to see a roughing the passer penalty anytime the QB is sacked. So you want to talk about Gradkowski being so great, well I'll just say this he's 1-1 and was given the game on Sunday, absolutely given the game by that official. Doesn't sound all that great to me.

On a side note. Palmer is not 100% I don't care what people say. He cannot throw off his back leg. All his passes in that scenario came up 4 yards short.

jhawkjjm said...

My bad on the Holmes call. I thought they were calling it for the tackle and didn't see him pulling Polamalu up by the hair after. Did the ref mention it was a dead-ball penalty? If he did I just must have missed it.

As for Big Ben, he's good but I don't think he's "top 5" good. I'd say that's he above average and that's about it. Yes he had a phenomal rookie year, but he really wasn't expected to win games for the Steelers, just expected not to lose it for them. But with their solid running game and good defense, I don't think there was much pressure on him. At the same time I don't think he's as bad as his SB performance either.

Brian in Oxford said...

Hey, has Shockey come out this week praising his coaches for outcoaching Atlanta?

Generik said...

Hey Dan.. I just looked at your picks posted last week for the NFL games.. I notice you didn't mention your record.. it isn't pretty this week. Damn near every game turned out opposite your prediction.