The Good, Bad, And The Ugly Of The NFL

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: September 11, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA — The NFL kicked off another season last week and what a week it was. From the Super Bowl Champion Giants taking care of business against the Washington “Dead-Skins” Thursday night to the Aaron Rodgers era beginning in “CHEESE LAND”. There were a lot of exciting games, plays, news and notes and here are my observations on the good, bad and ugly and a few other items.

The good:

Packers: Some of you may or may not know that I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. But if I had another team in I would cheer for in the league it would be the Green bay Packers because of Aaron Rodgers. Throughout the Brett Favre Saga, Rodgers showed class, patience and professionalism in the midst of criticism from the Packer fans and media. He then goes out in week one and plays well and leads his team to victory to the joy of Packer fans all over the world. Rodgers showed his patience, poise, professionalism and talent as a quarterback in leading the Pack to an opening day victory filled with promise. I know this was one game and legends are not made in one day, but like someone once said, one day at a time and one game at a time and Rodgers is living by that philosophy in the hope and promise of success with Rodgers.

Panthers: I don’t think many people expected Carolina to travel to the west coast and beat the San Diego Chargers without their best player WR Steve Smith and with a quarterback coming off surgery after missing most of last season. But they did. Thanks to a solid offensive line and game plan, the Panthers ran the ball well and protected quarterback Jake Delhomme the entire game and defensively, the Panthers made big plays against LaDanian Tomlinson and the Chargers offense. Before the season the Panthers were looking at a possible 0-2 start after suspending Smith but with a big victory last weekend and a home opener against a surprising Chicago Bears team, they have a legitimate shot at starting 2-0 with Smith returning week three.

Bears: Talk about upsets! The Chicago Bears go in to Indianapolis with (in my opinion) a shaky quarterback situation, no real play makers on offense and a defense that had some questions from last season and man-handle the Colts. I know Peyton Manning missed all of the pre-season and guys like Harrison, Freeney and Dallas Clark have injuries, but even if they were healthy I still think they would have won going away. Defensively, they punched Indy in the mouth and came up with some big plays including a touchdown and offensively they took what the Colts defense gave them and took advantage of turnovers and field position there defense gave them the entire game. I know it’s only one game but the Bears look good and since no one is talking about them winning the NFC North, they could sneak and creep up on a lot of teams this season. Next test, another tough road game at Carolina.

The Steelers offensive line: Once again it’s only one game, but the Steelers offensive line was solid against the Texans. They gave “Big Ben” good pass protection and open up the waters for “Fast Willie” Parker to rush for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Parker only had three rushing touchdowns all of last season. I know it was the Texans but this is a Houston team that has some studs up front who can get after the quarterback led by Mario Williams. The Steelers look to keep the winning going next week when they travel to Cleveland to face a Browns team that was embarrassed by Dallas at home last week.

The bad:

Patriots: A tough loss for the defending AFC Champions in losing Tom Brady and coupled with what I think is an overrated and old defense. To add insult to injury, Bill Bellicheck decides to go with Matt Cassell as the starting quarterback because he knows the system (I guess) instead of bringing in a guy like Dante Culpepper who threw many passes and touchdowns to Randy Moss when they played together in Minnesota. Let’s see if the “genius coach” can work the kind of magic the Patriots had back when Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback, was injured during the season and a young Tom Brady took over the starting position successfully. The first big test comes this week with the Brett Favre-led New York Jets.

Chargers: Taking nothing away from the excellent performance by the Carolina Panthers, but the Chargers lost theiropener because of two words: Norv Turner. Coming off a season where the Chargers got off to a slow start and became the best team in the second half of the season only to narrowly lose to the Patriots in the playoffs, you would think the team would come out more focused yet they were flat and outplayed by the Panthers. If this game was played in Carolina, the Panthers would have won the game easily. How do you come out and play the way they did with countless mistakes and lack of focus in your home opener. Norv Turner lacks the ability to motivate his players and put them in positions to make plays and if he can’t do that with this team, they will not win a lot of games and could miss the playoffs. Some guys are good coordinators but bad coaches and Turner is a perfect example of that. They better be focused next week because they have to travel to Denver who looked good last week at Oakland.

Browns: Did we proclaim the Cleveland Browns a legitimate team and playoff contender too soon? Maybe. We know the talented players the Browns have on offense, it’s the defense that continues to be a major problem. Even with new additions on the “D”, Dallas racked up big yards on offense and did whatever they wanted to do offensively on the way to a 28-10 win. There offense didn’t exactly like up the scoreboard and look slow and confused which in fairness faced a very fast and athletic defense of the Cowboys. The team looked lethargic and lacked focus the entire game but shouldn’t have a problem being motivated this weekend as the hated divisional rival Steelers come to town trying to continue there dominance of the Browns.

Vikings: Another team with so much hype and promise looked bad on Monday night. Defensively, the Vikings played pretty well for the most part but still have problems defending the pass especially the deep pass. Offensively, Adrian Peterson is a stud and played that way rushing for 100 yards and could have had more if the Vikings didn’t fall behind early. As for Tavaris Jackson……Well, let’s move on.

The Ugly:

Rams: I know some experts think the Eagles will have a good year and make the playoffs but what is up with the ST Louis Rams? This team won the Super Bowl in 1999 and made it back to the big game the following season but you couldn’t tell with the poor play they’ve showed over the last half decade. The offensive line can’t keep Marc Bulger upright, the defense gives up too many big plays and Steven Jackson, who signed a new deal, is running like Michael Jackson these days. The days of being mediocre and winning the division are far gone so the organization better get a football guy in there to turn the franchise around and do it soon but for this season, look for them to battle San Francisco for last place in the NFC West division.

Raiders: How long will Raider fans, former players and the NFL continue to let Al Davis destroy this franchise. The puzzling part is like the Rams, the Raiders were in the Super Bowl a few years ago and now they struggle to win regular season games let alone playoff games and Super Bowls. Every year they get talent in free agency like Randy Moss, Dante Culpepper, talent in the draft like DeMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and even new coaches and nothing changes. Denver’s offense ran over and through the Raiders defense which was suppose to be the strength of the team while the Raiders offense looked confused and pathetic. Until a changed is made at the top(Al Davis), results on the field won’t(more losses).

Redskins: I know everyone wants to blame Jason Campbell for his poor play as the reason the “Dead-skins” look so pathetic against the Super Bowl Champs, but consider a few factors. One, Jim Zorn’s version of the west coast offense is not a fit for Campbell. Campbell has a big arm and wants to throw the ball down the field like he did at Auburn and the west coast offense is more short passes, slants and passes in the flat. The reads are quicker and the drop back for the quarterback is shorter. Two, this is the eighth offensive coordinator Campbell has had in his brief NFL career. Three, I don’t think the offensive line did a good job in pass protection and opening holes for Clinton Portis to run through and Portis didn’t run hard in the game. Four, the Giants pass rush even without two key players, can make a lot of offensive lines and quarterbacks look bad. Just ask the Patriots. Five, the front seven of the Redskins defense played soft allowing Brandon Jacobs to run through them. How many times did you see a player in the Redskins secondary making a tackle. Campbell deserves blame but after he accepts his, he should pass the blame plate around because there are many of his teammates that can take some.

Titans: I know Vince Young need to be more of a stand up guy and develop a thicker skin when it comes to criticism from the media and fans, but the idea from some that Kerry Collins would be better for there offense to me is “offensive”. Kerry Collins is a middle of the road quarterback with some ability left but he doesn’t bring the type of skills Young has to the offense and never will. Blame Vince has been going on since draft day but it’s been VY who has taken his team to the playoffs and had some success unlike Matt Linhart who can’t even beat out old man Kurt Warner for the starting position in Arizona. Do Titan fans want Linhart instead? I think not. What makes me angry is that the media and fans label Young as selfish, lazy and too sensitive and that’s why he struggles sometimes but his white counterpart Linehart reasons for struggling is because he is not focused. How about this: GIVE HIM SOME WEAPONS ON OFFENSE TITAN MANAGEMENT! If he had some legitimate receivers, he wouldn’t have to scramble and run so much. So let’s wait until the Titans open up the checkbook and go out and get some stud free agents via free agency or draft a big time receiver and then judge Vince Young, until then shut up and let him play. Besides he hasn’t done bad so far without help. Either way whether Titan fans want him or not, he is out for at least a month due to injuries so Kerry Collins it is.

Extra point: I think Roger Goodell showed everyone who he is voting for in the Presidential Election after moving the Thursday night game between the Redskins and Giants up to 7 p.m. ET to almost ensure the game will be over in time for all the country and world to hear the Republican Nomination speech from John McCain. I’m sure Mr. Goodell will say he would have made the same concession for the Democrats if they were in the same predicament. Yeah ok.

Games to watch Week 2:

Philadelphia at Dallas: Both teams will put themselves in a good position with a victory. Philly trying to show the world that they are a true playoff contender while the boys are trying to take another step towards the goal they felt short of last year….the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh at Cleveland:This game is always wild and crazy but lately in the end, the Steelers have come out on top. The Browns can’t afford to lose two at home because the schedule gets tougher for them especially on the road. Meantime, the Steelers want to remind the Browns and the NFL, that they are the best team in there division and win a very important road game inside there division.

New Orleans at Washington: It’s early, but this is a must win for the Redskins. They were embarrassed on the national stage last week so look for them to come out with passion and energy in their home opener. They will need it against Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Jeremy Shockey and the rest of that high powered Saints offense minus there star receiver Vernon Colston.

Patriots at Jets: I know Tom terrific will not be playing but this is always a great game between these two divisional rivals. Add in Brett Favre into the mix and should be another exciting game. The Patriots will unveil there new leader at quarterback and try to prove the doubters wrong in winning without Brady, while the new look Jets try to win in there first true test with Favre and a bunch of new cast of characters in Gotham City.

Bears at Panthers– This is a battle of two teams that upset both there opponents from last week. After week 1, the Bears come in with a mistake free offense and defense that was dominating against the Super Bowl contending Colts. Meanwhile, the Panthers were impressive as well on both sides of the ball with good balance on offense and big plays on defense led by Jake Delhomme who didn’t look rusty at all at quarterback and Julius Peppers who looks even more dominant now that he switched from left to right tackle. This should be a hard fought low scoring and exciting game with the last team with the ball getting the victory(in my opinion).

My top 15 teams after week 1:

1.Giants 2. Bears 3. Steelers 4. Cowboys 5. Patriots 6. Eagles 7. Panthers 8. Packers 9. Saints 10. Broncos 11. Titans 12. Bills 13. Chargers 14. Jets 15. Cardinals

Until next week, enjoy the games and may your team win!