What Have You Done for Us Lately?

The NFL is a league that doesn't let anyone rest on their laurels for long... or at all. Randy Taylor takes a look at who's producing now, and who should take a seat on the bench.

What have you done for us lately…

…or the phrase coined by the former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Jerry Glanville, who said and I'm paraphrasing here: the NFL stands for "Not For Long." This clearly describes the patience of the owners and fans of the National Football League.

I'm not saying it's a bad philosophy or saying it in a derogatory way because the players, coaches and GMs get paid to succeed. If they don't they'll be asked by us, "what have you done for us lately."

So each week I'll look into, "what have you done for us lately" since you were a high draft pick, were worth trading for or picking up as a free agent?

I'm also going to suggest who should start looking for their baseball cap to wear while sitting on the bench.

Finally, I'll look at who's winning the battle of the Eastern Illinois University coaching competition (EIU is the new cradle of NFL head coaches). The three coaches in contention are Mike Shanahan, Brad Childress and Sean Payton. Week one results come later.

What have you done for us lately since you were a high draft pick?

#1     Is it a surprise that Reggie Bush (Running Back, New Orleans Saints, 5-11 200, 1st round pick, #2 overall) is proving his worth? No! Reggie carried the ball 14 times for 61 yards caught 8 passes for 58 yards and returned 3 punts for 22 yards. That's a total of 141 all purpose yards, the best back in the NFL: LaDainian Tomlinson had 149 all purpose yards. The leading rusher for Houston had 32 yards on 11 carries, but the QB had 25 yards on 4 carries, so they've got that going for them.

This is a good time to say that Mario Williams (Defensive End, Houston Texans, 6-7 294, 1st round pick, #1 overall) will be a very good player in the NFL. He's very talented and has a great DLine coach in Bob Karmelowicz. In fact, in time his value in this past draft could be greater than that of Reggie Bush, but in the "what have you done for us lately" times we live in there's an argument to be made for taking Reggie as the first pick.

#2     I love Laurence Maroney! (Running Back, New England Patriots, 6-0 216, 1st round pick, #21 overall). He can run, is explosive and will make you miss. He should be a top back in the league soon. In his first game he carried the ball 17 times for 86 yards and returned 3 kicks for 59 yards. He's a very good compliment to the veteran Corey Dillon. Maroney has the ability to make big plays from the tailback position that Dillon and Faulk used to make but are aging so Laurence will get his chances.

#3     Nick Mangold (Center, NY Jets, 6-4 299, 1st round pick, #29 overall) and D'Brickashaw Ferguson (Left Tackle, NY Jets, 6-6 313, 1st round pick, #4 overall) helped the Jets win their opener over the Titans, 23-16. Chad Pennington threw the ball 33 times for 319 yards with only 2 sacks. I'd say that these two rookies at the most important positions on the offensive line have done well lately.

#4     Jerious Norwood (Running Back, Atlanta Falcons, 6-0 203, 3rd round pick, #79 overall) is what Atlanta needed to go along with Warrick Dunn who's a smaller back. Jerious is a good replacement for TJ Duckett now with the Redskins, who was one dimensional. Norwood brings both power and speed to the backfield. He ran for 66 yards on 10 carries which is a 6.6 yard average for all you math majors out there. This kid made his money in his first week.

#5     Mike Bell (Running Back, Denver Broncos, 6-0 222, Undrafted rookie) is not a high draft pick or even a draft pick at all, but he had the most value for his team considering what the Broncos had to do to get him. Mike carried the ball 10 times for 58 yards, caught 4 passes for 30 yards and returned 2 kick offs for 40 yards. That's 128 all purpose yards giving Denver the most bang for their buck. I wonder if the system in the Mile High City has anything to do with this.

What have you done for me lately since you were worth trading for or picking up as a free agent?

#1     John Abraham (Defensive End, 6-4 256, Atlanta Falcons, acquired through free agency, played for the NY Jets in 2005) is a difference maker. In his first game as a Falcon he was only able to make 5 tackles, get 2 sacks, force 2 fumbles and deflect one pass, that's a career for some. The plays on the field tell only part of the story. Abraham brings an attitude with him and he makes the opponent game plan to stop him, which obviously helps the whole defense get better. Apparently John's groin injury isn't too bad and he should be able to play in week 2 against Tampa Bay. This is more bad news for the Buccaneers.

#2     Steve McNair (Quarterback, 6-2 230, Baltimore Ravens, acquired for a 4th round draft pick in 2007 in a trade with the Tennessee Titans) was 17 of 27 for 181 yards, a touchdown and only one sack and may be the piece of the puzzle to return the Ravens to a Super Bowl run. Steve gives Baltimore a quarterback who can make all the throws understands the game and is a leader. The formula for getting to and winning the Super Bowl is to have a good running game and dominating defense. It also helps to have a quarterback who can make plays when needed and not get you beat. Check, check and check, oh yea, stay healthy.

#3     Donte' Stallworth (Wide Receiver, 6-0 196, Philadelphia Eagles, acquired in a trade for linebacker Mark Simoneau and a conditional 4th round draft pick in 2007) is a good addition to the Eagles. They needed a play maker and Donte' can do that and has since his high school days back in Sacramento. He's fast, quick and runs good routes. The key for this deal to work out is how long Stallworth will keep his motor in high gear. He has disappeared in the past. This past week against Houston he had a big game, catching 6 balls for 141 yards and a touchdown; just what Donovan McNabb and the Eagles needed.

#4     Steve Hutchinson (Left Guard, 6-5 313, Minnesota Vikings, signed as a restricted free agent from the Seattle Seahawks) lines up next to Bryant "Mount" McKinnie to give the Vikes an all star left side. The center, Birk is a Pro Bowler and the ride side is athletic and young. Hutchinson brings an attitude and work ethic to the unit and could make this group as good as any as they develop together.

#5     Deion Branch (Wide Receiver, 5-9 193, Seattle Seahawks, acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots for a 1st round draft pick in 2007) hasn't played a down yet in Seattle but this gives the quarterback and the rest of the team a sense that the organization wants to win it all now. Hasselback was 25 for 30 but just for 210 yards against Detroit in an ugly game. Branch will help the yardage numbers, make the other receivers better and take pressure off of Alexander because he's another weapon. What the front office has done lately for the team is send the message that the future is now.

Who should be looking for their baseball cap?

#1     Aaron Brooks (Quarterback, 6-4 220, Oakland Raiders, acquired as a free agent from the New Orleans Saints) is a big reason the offensive line is listed as #2 in this category. Aaron…get rid of the ball, make a decision, use your great athleticism and arm strength to make plays. He was 6 for 14 for 68 yards and was sacked 7 times. You know when they talk about a quarterback needing to be mobile, well, Aaron Brooks is, so what's the problem…get rid of the ball! Make a decision! Blah blah blah. The really big problem is the back up, Walters has little experience and the same offensive line.

Oh wait, I forgot to talk about Jerry Porter not playing... never mind.

#2     The Oakland Raiders offensive line. They gave up 9 sacks (with the help of the QB, see above) and only 129 total yards on offense. Let's be fair for just a second, they are a young group. Four of the five linemen have only four years of experience and of those four, only Gallery has been a regular starter during his career. I will say this, it is an athletic bunch for the most part, but they better grow up fast and more importantly play to their potential. The one positive is that when they did run the ball they averaged 4.4 yards per carry which isn't bad, but they only had 20 rushing attempts.

The best weapon for the Raiders was the kick off return; they had 6 returns for 144 yards, not bad. They should try to have more of those!

#3     Jake Plummer (Quarterback, 6-2 212, Denver Broncos) threw 3 interceptions, was sacked 4 times and fumbled once. Not a great day. I'm sure Bronco fans aren't panicking as last year started much the same way with 5 turnovers in their opener. By the way, I think Jake has been great for the Broncos, has accomplished a lot and will continue to lead his team to the playoffs and maybe to the championship game.

However, I look forward to Jay Cutler playing as soon as possible because he could be special. Everything I know and hear about him is that he has the football smarts, the arm strength, toughness and mobility to be good early. He also has Coach Shanahan's system which is made for a quarterback to succeed. He doesn't have to win the game every time out, he just has to play within himself and not make bad decisions which put the team in difficult situations.

#4     Drew Bledsoe (Quarterback, 6-5 238, Dallas Cowboys) a lot like Plummer, 3 interceptions, a couple sacks and only 16 for 33. Unlike Plummer, the back up is an unappreciated Tony Romo who doesn't have the physical abilities Bledsoe has or his knowledge of the game. So it looks like Drew is the guy for this year unless things get drastic. The one thing a guy like Romo could have going for him is that he has receivers that can run after catching the ball so he won't have to make the more difficult throws. The Cowboys and the Raiders may have to battle over a quarterback in next year's draft.

#5     Chris Simms (Quarterback, 6-4 220, Tampa Bay Bucaneers) like Bledsoe and Plummer had a horrible opening game, throwing 3 interceptions, getting sacked twice and struggling with his decision making. The difference is that Chris is still young and learning so there will be bumps in the road so there might not be the urgency to throw a back up in the game. Now this would be fine in a parallel world where coaches don't get fired at the drop of a hat, but it's not, so Coach Gruden I'm sure is thinking…what have you done for us lately?

Battle of the Eastern Illinois University (the new cradle of NFL coaches) coaching competition:

#1     Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings:

He stuck with a veteran QB who is surprising some that he's still able to stand upright let alone be productive at this level.  A good kicker and a team that played hard and beat the Washington Redskins on the road in his first game as a head coach in the NFL. Pretty impressive!

#2     Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints:

Coach Payton has Reggie Bush and used him very well while getting Deuce McAllister enough touches as well. Also, winning on the road is huge regardless of who you play and in your first ever game as head coach in the NFL.

#3     Mike Shanahan, Denver Broncos:

Losing the first game hurt, but I'm predicting he'll make a comeback soon. I love his system and the organization, mental toughness and thoughtfulness he approaches the game with. He's also a good guy; it must be his Midwest upbringing.

We did it. We got through the first week and learned a lot watching some good football. So, I'll be back next week to see who's been doing what for us lately.

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