Week-1 RoundUp

The top-5, the best of the rest, and some quickie comments from week-1 of the NFL season.

Week 1 Roundup

 

Top 5 Notes

 

What was viewed in the Cardinals week one loss to the Lions may be the norm throughout the 2003 season in Arizona. Quarterback Jeff Blake has the type of arm and experience to move a team that utilizes a wide-open offense, as evidenced by the masterful performance of he and rookie wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The Cardinals will not be very good because of a questionable defense, but as long as the Cardinals can keep Blake healthy, they could be interesting offensively. Let's not forget that they played defensive team in the Detroit Lions that is only now getting its wheels turning defensively.

 

Which one of these tandems will be the best of the youth movement in Houston and Detroit. Joey Harrington to Charles Rogers in Detroit or David Carr to Andre Johnson in Houston, both have tremendous upside, but there is no denying that Detroit Lions head coach Steve Mariucci runs a disciplined and explosive offensive attack, one that fits the talents of his young signal-caller. The Lions, expected to struggle rushing the football will have no option but air it out, so we should see plenty Harrington to Rogers highlights in 2003.

 

How did the Houston Texans defeat the Miami Dolphins in Miami, Sunday? They were very consistent on both sides of the ball and played within themselves. In maximizing their pass protection, the Dolphins were unable to pressure quarterback David Carr and the Texans took advantage of a Miami defense that looked like it has lost a step. Linebacker Junior Seau was not impressive, the banged-up Miami offensive line was unable to run-block for Ricky Williams and quarterback Jay Fiedler is not the type of quarterback that will carry a team.

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be very tough in the 2003 season. As we noted throughout training camp, the Steelers offense is only going to be better and build upon its 2002 accomplishments. Quarterback Tommy Maddox may not be the chosen one in the Steel City, but as long as the offensive line can protect him for 3-4 seconds, he will light up any secondary with exceptional targets in the mold of Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward creating havoc. If the Steelers can play any resemblance of defense, which means they will have to generate pressure with their front-seven to be successful, they will be standing in late January. Before we hype-up the Steelers any further, we must remember that they suited up against a rookie quarterback (Kyle Boller) in Baltimore. Defensively, the Ravens did not come out of the gate as expected, generating little pressure on Maddox and were very average in the secondary.

 

It wasn't the Lawyer Milloy factor that made the Buffalo Bills destroy the New England Patriots 31-0, Sunday. Watching these Bills in 2002, head coach Gregg Williams had them on the right path defensively, but was without the right compliment of players to run his pressure, aggressive defense. The additions of Takeo Spikes, Sam Adams, and Milloy have provided the Bills with veteran leadership, quality play, and an aggressive nature that fits into the Buffalo scheme. With the offense in the capable hands of quarterback Drew Bledsoe, the Bills are going to be tough in the 2003 season. With New England, what can you say? Bill Belichick has some serious work to do if this Patriots team is going to content for the AFC east crown (we don't see that happening). Without a legitimate threat at the running back position and a new cast of characters in the defensive backfield, the Pats are in trouble.  Trying to fill team captain and leader Lawyer Milloy's safety position, the Patriots often appeared confused and a step slow in reacting to the well-prepared Bills offense. Offensively, Tom Brady was terrible Sunday.

 

Best of the Rest

 

If the Minnesota Vikings can continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball (starting safety Corey Chavous sprained knee) and show the threat of a rushing game, they will be tough to handle this season. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper has a firm grasp of Scott Lineham's explosive offense. The Vikings handled the packers, much more convincingly than the final score (30-25) would indicate.

 

Speaking of Green Bay, the Packers are in trouble. Starting wide receivers, Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson were injured against the Vikings and No. 4 receiver Karsten Bailey has been hampered with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Brett Favre is one of the best the game has ever seen, but the state of the Packers wide receiver position will make veteran get old quick. As of late Monday night, the Packers are in discussions with former Green Bay wide receiver Antonio Freeman.

 

Looking around the league, there has to be a home for a very good, serviceable veteran quarterback. Mark Brunell of the Jacksonville Jaguars showed against a very good Carolina defense that he can still play this game at its highest level. With a corps of receivers that are as non-descript as any in the league, Brunell was outstanding in the team's 24-23 loss. Paging Brian Billick, if you want to make a run at the AFC North division title, call Mr. James Harris in Jacksonville.

 

 

Quickies

 

Kelly Holcomb sure looked like embattled Cleveland Browns backup quarterback Tim Couch, Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Holcomb was named the Browns starting quarterback midway through the preseason, but did not look like the same player that was awarded the starting role.

 

The Oakland Raiders look old, that may because they are. Without a threat at wide receiver (Jerry Porter was out) that can stretch the field, look for more teams to bring their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage and force the Raiders to beat them over the top. While I don't expect it to happen, this Raiders team could be one that falls off the map this season as the season progresses.

 

If the Kansas City Chiefs can become a respectable defensive football team, they will seriously contend for the AFC West crown. With an explosive offense led by quarterback Trent Green and running back Priest Holmes, they have enough offensive weapons to keep them in every game.

 

If the Rams defeat the explosive San Francisco 49ers this weekend with backup Marc Bulger at quarterback replacing the injured Kurt Warner (concussion), will the controversy regain its momentum in St. Louis?

 

Minus starting middle linebacker Shelton Quarles (Nate Webster stepped in), with a second-year player (Ryan Nece) making his first start at outside linebacker, and with a converted cornerback (Dwight Smith) now starting at safety, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers steam-rolled the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia, Monday night. Much like they did in the 2002 season, Tampa Bay was efficient and opportunistic offensively and manhandled the Philadelphia defensively.


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