Steuber Says...

Chris Steuber shares his observations on the Patriots' pairing of Tom Brady and Randy Moss, the impact of Orlando Pace's injury on the Rams offense, and a young, talented defense in Houston.

Brady Breaking Out

Despite the speculation of the Patriots stealing the Jets' signals on Sunday, it appears the love fest between Tom Brady and Randy Moss is real. Not since the Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens pairing has there been such an odd couple in the NFL.

Brady finally has a big-play receiving threat that will allow him to show off his true talents. But wait, he already has three rings.  Haven't we seen what he's capable of?

Brady hasn't even scratched the surface of showing off his abilities.

Before this season, the Patriots quarterback hadn't been surrounded by anything that mirrors a No. 1 receiver. Granted, Deion Branch and Troy Brown were admirable, but they're nowhere near the talent level of Moss.

In the Patriots rout over the Jets, Brady completed 22-of-26 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns. Moss was on the receiving end of 186 of those yards, catching nine passes and a touchdown.

Anytime you have a volatile personality mixed with a rational person there's a possibility of a flare up. But I don't see that happening with Brady. He's the best leader in the NFL, and I think he handles himself well on the field. Brady commands respect on and off the field and is one of those guys you know will get the job done. Moss has to understand that if he ever wants to win a Super Bowl and resurrect his promising talent.  Being with the Patriots is the best thing for him and his career.

If this past weekend's game against the Jets was any measure of things to come between Brady and Moss, it's about to get really scary.


Slowed Pace in St. Louis

The Rams suffered a major blow to their offensive line this past weekend when they lost Orlando Pace for the season. Pace tore his labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder, which now puts his playing career in jeopardy.

This was Pace's second season-ending injury in as many years.  He tore his left tricep last November.


Orlando Pace
Elsa/Getty Images

What does Pace's injury mean for the Rams? It really hurts them on the offensive line. Anytime you lose a perennial Pro Bowler, you lose one of the best players in the league at a position. The Rams will start veteran Adam Goldberg in his place, but will probably shift Alex Barron from right tackle to left tackle and start Goldberg on the right side.

The reason for moving Barron to the left side is to give Marc Bulger a more versatile player to protect his blindside. Bulger, who's coming off a disappointing season opener where he only compled 22-for-42 passes for 167 yards and an interception, spent most of the day on his back. While the Rams offensive line surrendered just one sack, Bulger was under pressure all day long and took some hard hits.

Another player that should be concerned with Pace's recent injury is starting running back Steven Jackson. He had a tough day rushing against an aggressive Carolina defense. Jackson only managed 58 yards on 18 carries and fumbled twice.

With Pace out for the season, things will get even worse if the Rams can't protect their offensive weapons.


Big D in Texas

NFL teams better watch out, because the Houston Texans have the best young defense in the league. The Texans entered the NFL in 2002 and have been a major building project, but through some tough decisions and excellent scouting, Houston has built an outstanding defense.

After passing up Reggie Bush and Vince Young for Mario Williams with the first pick in the 2006 draft, Texans management received all kinds of harsh criticism. But they knew that if they were going to compete in a division that features the Colts and Peyton Manning, a solid offense in Jacksonville, and now a tough Tennessee team with Young, they needed to build a championship-level defense.

In the last four drafts, including the Williams draft, Houston has addressed defense in the first round. The Texans used two first-round picks in 2004 on cornerback Dunta Robinson (10th overall) and Jason Babin (27th overall), who's no longer with the team. In 2005 they selected defensive tackle Travis Johnson (16th overall), and in this past draft they selected defensive tackle Amobi Okoye (10th overall).

Houston got off to a great start this past weekend when they held the Kansas City Chiefs to three points. The secondary held quarterback Damon Huard to 168 yards passing and intercepted two passes, while the defensive front provided pressure all day long, capturing three sacks (two recorded by Williams).

Five years from now when you look back at the 2006 draft, everyone will say that was the birth of the Texans defense. To come out of that draft with Williams, who's destined to be a great sack artist, along with one of the most underrated middle linebackers in the game -- second-round selection DeMeco Ryans -- was a work of art by Texans general manager Rick Smith.


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

 


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