View Full Version : If Misery Loves Company...

09-11-2006, 10:05 AM
There is plenty to go around today. If you are like me and enjoy wallowing in other team's misery as a way to soothe your own misery... here is your chance!

A smattering of newspaper columnists from across the country:



Plummer's pratfall only fuels the calls for Cutler
By Mark Kiszla
Denver Post Staff Columnist

St. Louis - Cue the calliope music. Let the circus begin.

On a surreal opening Sunday of the NFL season, when the Broncos could not stand up for falling down, committing five clownish turnovers and taking an 18-10 pratfall against the St. Louis Rams, know what was the most surreal scene of all?

In the losing locker room, as TV cameras and reporters engulfed Denver rookie Jay Cutler, a quarterback yet to play a down that counts in the league, veteran Jake Plummer slipped on a sport coat, took his three lousy interceptions against the Rams and quietly walked away.

The problem with being Plummer is he cannot win. No way. No how. This prognosis for his demise has absolutely nothing to do with Denver's 0-1 record.

Plummer can never beat the inevitability of losing his job to Cutler, selected No. 11 in the opening round of the 2006 draft.

The controversy will not stop until Cutler pushes him out of the picture. Plummer knows how fickle fans are.

"They've been calling for him since he got drafted," Plummer said. "Three interceptions? I'm sure they're going to want him to start. But they don't make the calls, (coach) Mike Shanahan does."

After Plummer looked dazed and confused as the Rams shook, rattled and rolled him, Shanahan did not throw his beleaguered veteran quarterback any bouquets.

Will angry Broncomaniacs want to dump Plummer?

"I'm sure they will. It's the nature of this profession. If you can't take it, you won't last very long," Shanahan said. "Probably have people calling for a new head coach."

The thorniest issue is not whether Plummer deserves to be benched after a performance sorrier than his turnover- marred conclusion to last season, when the Broncos were run out of their own town by Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game.

Plummer was at his happy-feet, lazy-arm, scatter-brained worst in St. Louis, as if he forgot all the lessons self-discipline taught him a year ago, when the snake in Jake was exterminated and the only thing wild about him was his hair.

The formula for the way the NFL quantifies a quarterback's efficiency is a bigger secret than that white-haired Kentucky colonel's recipe for chicken. But you do not have to be a math genius to understand when Plummer produces a QB rating (26.3) lower than his team's punting average (42.5), Denver is going nowhere on offense.

After the Broncos fell in love with a younger quarterback, Plummer never once freaked out. Not once. Until now. He buzzed his locks. Plummer left work Sunday dressed more like Tony Blair than Tony Hawk.

But, with Cutler watching from the sideline in a game that mattered, Plummer fell to pieces. One fumble. Three picks. A meager 138 yards on 26 throws. No good.

"I'm going to support him," said Cutler, a gentleman and a diplomat. "It was a tough game plan. I don't know if I would have been ready to come in here and run the game plan."

Older and wiser heads than mine will tell you no NFL coach would dare turn over a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations to a callow rookie quarterback. The theory, however, is full of holes.

Cutler, as anybody who has seen him fling a pass, is no ordinary rookie. At this stage in his development, Cutler evokes far more thoughts of a young man of steel named Ben Roethlisberger than little, lost Alex Smith of San Francisco.

And the Broncos coach I know never plays scared. If Shanahan was willing to go for it on fourth down against the Rams, with the football resting on his own 30-yard line and a brand new season less than two quarters old, the coach will not hesitate to put Cutler in the game if the rookie gives Denver its best chance to win.

The argument that Cutler's inexperience might cost the Broncos victories is valid. But there's only one way to make him game-savvy.

By definition, Broncomania makes second-guessing the business of everybody in Colorado.

Until Cutler is named the starter, whenever something goes wrong for the Broncos, he will be a locker room and statewide distraction rather than the people's choice as solution.

"The circus is for the fans, the media and everybody on the outside to worry about," Denver linebacker Al Wilson said. "We, as players, we rally behind our quarterback."

Yank Plummer and put in the kid? No. Not yet.

But there's no quelling the controversy now.

The bye week for the Broncos arrives early this year, after only three games. Next on the schedule are Kansas City and a tough trip to New England.

If Denver enters the bye with a 1-2 record, you can bet Broncomaniacs will be screaming at Shanahan, demanding Plummer go bye-bye.

No disrespect or discredit to Plummer, but there is no argument which quarterback on the Denver roster possesses the most talent.

All Cutler lacks is the chance to prove it.



Delhomme has to do better
The Charlotte Observer

The play was over and Jake Delhomme still had the ball in his hand. He raised it aloft and spiked it into the grass with one of his typical surges of emotion.

Unfortunately for Delhomme, he wasn't in the end zone. The Atlanta defense had just sacked him -- again. The spike was one of rage and frustration from a quarterback who couldn't get his team inside the Atlanta 25 all afternoon.

Atlanta's 20-6 whipping of the Panthers in the season opener Sunday was thorough, powerful and eye-opening. It exposed a Carolina offense that, despite the offseason tweaks, still has serious problems doing anything when Steve Smith doesn't have the ball.

"We were awful," Delhomme said.

A buffet of blame can be laid out everywhere at Bank of America Stadium today for Sunday's offensive performance. The third-down conversion rate (2-for-12) was terrible. The offensive line was mediocre to start with and got worse when left tackle Travelle Wharton went out with an injury.

DeShaun Foster never broke a big play and rookie DeAngelo Williams never really got a chance. The wide receivers were average without Smith, who was inactive with a hamstring injury.

But the quarterback is in charge out there, and Delhomme must be better for Carolina to win.

Delhomme rarely has had two bad games in a row as the Panthers quarterback. Now he has, albeit with almost a nine-month separation between them.

He threw three interceptions against Seattle in the NFC Championship Game. Sunday, although there was only one interception against the Falcons, there was hardly anything positive, either.

"It's opening day," Delhomme said. "It's on the calendar. Been there for a long time. You can't wait for it to come. And to come and lay an egg is not good."

An egg it was. As bad as Carolina's defense was -- and it was horrid against the run -- it ultimately allowed 20 points. Carolina scored 24 and 44 points in its wins against Atlanta last season.

This time, it took two long John Kasay field goals to avoid the shutout.

Delhomme, like the rest of the offense, couldn't do anything right. (You wouldn't have wanted your kids to read his lips when he was coming off the field, either).

Once, when he tried to throw the ball away and out of bounds, it got intercepted.

"I got bumped from behind and the ball took a left turn," Delhomme explained.

With the makeshift offensive line caused by Wharton's departure, the Panthers never could block Atlanta defensive end John Abraham. Delhomme was reduced to three-step drops and 7-yard passes for much of the second half, and the Panthers don't have anyone who's going to take a 7-yarder 70 yards besides No. 89.

So what about Smith? He's missed the whole preseason and now the first game of the regular season, and I think he's no better than 50-50 to play Sunday at Minnesota.

The Panthers have to learn to live without him, because there's no guarantee they will have him.

Everyone must be better -- but no one more so than Delhomme.



It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World
Skip directly to the full story.
By JOE HENDERSON, Columnist The Tampa Tribune

Published: Sep 11, 2006

TAMPA - We could try to come up with a lot of clever ways to communicate how completely dreary Sunday's 27-0 loss to Baltimore was, but why bother? It is better in cases like this to give the microphone and center stage to a man with an up-close-and-personal view of the carnage.

Ladies and gentlemen, Simeon Rice.

"You can only put so much on this one," the Bucs defensive end/philosopher king said. "If we had won this one, does it mean we'd have won the Super Bowl? You can't make too much out of this one except that it was a bad, bad, bad, bad showing."

The man has a point.

Actually, a couple of them.

The sky is always falling in the National Football League, of course, but this travesty will be forgotten if the Bucs win Sunday in Atlanta. But you'll also forgive us for not getting that victory vibe right now because, like Simeon said, wow, was that awful.

Arguably, it was the worst home opener in Bucs history.

Purists might recall the 23-0 loss to San Diego in the first home game the Bucs ever played (circa: 1976), but that was an expansion team en route to folklore. This team is a defending division champion coming off a playoff season.

Teams like that aren't supposed to dredge up memories of 1983, when Detroit beat them 11-0. Or 1996, when Green Bay whooped 'em 34-3 in Tony Dungy's debut. Or 1999, when Trent Dilfer had the worst game of his life in a 17-13 loss to the Giants.

That's obviously not the kind of company any team with high ambition wants to keep.

Total Dominance
Yet, there it was.

Pretty much across-the-board butt whippage.

The optimist says it's just one game, but the realist says there could be other days like this. Too many.

The offensive line is a patchwork mess right now. Chris Simms didn't have much time to pass, and when he did have time he didn't pass very well.

Cadillac Williams was essentially invisible - eight carries, 22 yards - and the defense surrendered a 14-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a Baltimore touchdown on the opening drive of the season. Have we forgotten anyone?

Jon Gruden raised his hand at this point, as he should have.

"I am not going to point fingers at anybody but myself and say that I'm very disappointed," the head coach said.

Let's stop listening to what they said for a moment and focus more on how they looked afterward as wave after wave of "what happened?" questions came flying at them.

Their mouths vowed to pick up and carry on but their eyes betrayed doubt in some cases. Many were dazed. Many just shook their heads. Others shrugged their shoulders. Still others did all of the above.

"[Sunday] will be a rough night. I'm going to be playing this game back in my mind a bunch of times," Simms said. "[This] morning won't be great either because we'll have to look at the tape and live it all over again."

Central Question
A loss in the opening game doesn't count any more than a loss in Week 13, or so they say.

"It's a loss," Rice said. "Nothing more, nothing less."

It's not necessarily catastrophic to lose the home opener. Twice in recent years - 1999, in that horrible game against the Giants, and Gruden's debut in 2002 against the Saints - the Bucs overcame home-opening setbacks and went on to pretty good seasons.

Indeed, some will recall how they advanced to the NFC title game in '99 and, of course, shook off that loss to New Orleans in '02 and went on to win the Super Bowl.

And if you really want a stretch, New England opened the 2003 season with a 31-0 loss at Buffalo - and won the Super Bowl.

But there are big questions about this team now, questions unlikely to be quelled by soothing talk and pleas for calm. While lots of teams come back from 0-1 starts, it gets tougher when you start 0-2. And the Bucs are at Atlanta on Sunday.

The same Atlanta that won a road game Sunday at Carolina.

At times like this, you start thinking about how the Bucs basically stood pat in the offseason while everyone else in the division improved. You think about how Simms essentially has half a season of starting experience. You remember all the talks around the water cooler about how the defense will one day get old.

It's just one game, yeah.

But it was a bad game.

Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Until it gets better, that's all we have to talk about.

The question is, when will it get better?

Milwaukee/Green Bay:


Favre grabs attention, Packers don't
Columnist Bob Wolfley
Posted: Sept. 10, 2006

The Green Bay Packers don't have the kind of team or the kind of players who command attention any more from the National Football League's television partners.

Fox Sports, which telecast the Packers' season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, assigned its No. 4 broadcast team to the game.

It's not that Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan did a bad job. They didn't. Ryan is an especially energetic and crisp observer with an easy kind of authority.

But it's one measure of the falling regard there is for Green Bay, even on a day when they were playing the NFC North Division's defending champion.

The power center in the division and in the National Football Conference is no longer located in Green Bay.


What television does is sell sizzle: star players, sexy matchups, revenge games and star coaches. The Packers don't have much sizzle in stock, other than Brett Favre, who has been the face of the league for a lot of years.

On pregame shows, Favre forever has been a focus. Sunday was no exception.

ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" crew took up topics related to his return.

Chris Mortensen provided his own translation of what Favre meant when he said recently that he would consider ending his career with a team other than the Packers.

"He caught some people off-guard when he let it slip that maybe he could finish his career somewhere other than Green Bay," Mortensen said. "What he really meant was that at the end of this season, if he still feels fresh and wants to play the game and the Packers want to move on with Aaron Rodgers, then he would consider it. If maybe a playoff team came after him and wanted to give him that chance. But for the most part he thinks he's going to finish a Packer. I don't think Green Bay is going to kick him out of town. Certainly not."

Michael Irvin said Favre was going to face the same pressure to make plays this season as he did last season, which means trouble.

"Brett Favre last season threw 29 interceptions, 23 when his team was behind," Irvin said. "Now he will have a lot of that behind thing happening again this year. And, of course, he will again be trying to will his team again this year. So he will be throwing a lot of balls to the wrong people trying to make it happen. So he could have a worse year, actually."

Tom Jackson said Favre's place in the history of the game was set no matter what happens the rest of his career.

"I don't think this is going to get better for him," Jackson said. "He's got two rookies in the offensive line. I think it's going to be struggle for them. I'm going to enjoy watching him play, whether he throws 29 interceptions or whether he throws nine interceptions. It's Brett Favre. His legacy is set in stone. There's this sense that he could screw this up by playing too long, by playing for the wrong team. I don't think any of those things can happen. Brett's legacy is set."

Mike Ditka said last year for the Packers was irrelevant.

"He made the right decision coming back," Ditka said, referring to Favre. "Let me say something. Forget about all the stuff about last year. That's over with. If they win today, if they beat the Bears today, it's a whole different era."

You knew a new era wasn't in the offing when Ryan offered this assessment of the game in the third quarter, when Chicago was up by 19 points: "This game shouldn't even be this close. Give the Green Bay Packers' defense credit in one area, in the red zone. With their backs against the wall, they have played pretty well."

Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, in his eighth career start, commanded more attention from the analysts than Favre.

"They like Rex Grossman," Fox studio analyst Howie Long said. "The Chicago Bears players like him. The organization likes him. The coaches like him. He needs time on the football field (but) he's the guy they want to be in that position."

If any of the analysts happen to think the Bears cannot make it to the Super Bowl with Grossman, they chose not to say so on Sunday.

"What you want out of the quarterback is poise and leadership," Fox's Terry Bradshaw said, referring to Grossman. "And he has that."

One Packers defensive player who drew criticism was safety Marquand Manuel, who appeared to blow a coverage on Bears receiver Bernard Berrian, who scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Grossman.

"Marquand Manuel got caught looking in the backfield," Ryan said on the replay of the touchdown. "That's what a great running team will do to you. Play-action will kill you every time."

Over on the Bears broadcast on radio, game analyst Tom Thayer was more blunt.

"Marquand Manuel is being exposed a little bit," Thayer said. "He came in with the reputation of being an average safety and that's what he's showing so far today."

Ryan did locate some light in all the darkness of the Packers' shutout performance.

"If anybody has played well today defensively for Green Bay it has been (left defensive end) Aaron Kampman," Ryan said. "He's had opportunities and he has done a good job. He's had one-on-one opportunities against the offensive tackle Fred Miller over there and he's made the most of it."

Ryan also praised running back Ahman Green, the player he identified as the key player in whatever success Green Bay might enjoy this season.

"He's back," Ryan said.

Former Packers receiver Sterling Sharpe, an analyst of NBC-TV's "Football Night in America" show, said he played in the last game the Packers were shut out by the Bears.

"We were atrocious," Sharpe said. Sharpe added that the Packers, in order to "start to turn the corner," will start someone other than Favre before long.

09-11-2006, 10:08 AM
9 road teams won yesterday.

09-11-2006, 10:12 AM
Ya the upsets on the road killed me in my picks. I think I may end up with 9 or 10 right if I get them both tonight. Not a great week for me.

09-11-2006, 10:16 AM
9 road teams won yesterday.

How many home teams that wore road jerseys won though?:hmmm: