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Tunnel Vision - Week 2
David M. Dorey
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Daunte Culpepper 267 5
Donovan McNabb 342 4
Tom Brady 336 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Shaun Alexander 166 3
Quentin Griffin 157 3
Priest Holmes 149 3
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Terrell Owens 68 3
Isaac Bruce 112 1
Cedrick Wilson 94 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Eric Johnson 86 1
Alge Crumpler 82 1
Randy McMichael 79 1
Placekickers XP FG
John Hall 1 3
Jeff Wilkins 0 3
Jason Elam 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Detroit 1 3 4
Tennessee 1 3 3
Pittsburgh 0 3 4

Week 2 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Shaun Alexander (SEA) - Sprained knee
Chris Brown (TEN) - Sprained ankle
Joey Galloway (TB) - Strained groin
Travis Henry (BUF) - Cramps
Tim Rattay (SF) - Concussion
Charles Rogers (DET) - Broken collarbone

This isn't your father's automobile

After 24 failed attempts to actually win a game on the road that stretched back into the 2000 season, the Detroit Lions return to the Motor City with a 20-16 win over the Chicago Bears. Whatever happens the rest of the season doesn't really matter. All that matters is that there is one dead monkey-off-the-back in the road from Chicago to Detroit.

So it was just Sound and Fury...

The new strict enforcement on the secondary to keep their hands to themselves was seen for the first time this weekend. It was to be the year of the receiver, finally free from the grabby hands, hip bumps and elbow-to-the-ribs. The results?

Well, there is still one more game tonight, but through Sunday's games let's compare 2004 to what happened last year when scores were considered too low and the NFL wanted to see more points.

Wide Receivers 2003 2004 Tight Ends 2003 2004 Quarterbacks 2003 2004
100 Yard Games 10 6 50+ Yard Games 5 9 Passing Yards 6943 6581
WR's With TD's 28 21 TE's with TD's 6 7 Passing TD's 46 37

Hmmm.... This was supposed to increase scoring and make passing better? Appears that passing yardage will likely end up the same and unless the Panthers and Packers can combine for at least nine passing scores (unlikely), this year will actually be LESS scoring and passing. It looks like all it did was shift a little inconsequential yardage to a few tight ends at most. Receivers were actually down in numbers. Outside of Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, none scored more than one and Owens and Moss combined only had 95 yards.

Actually, comparing week one of 2003 to 2004, it was the running backs that profited. They RUSHED for 3343 yards against only 2726 last season (and this without the MNF game with Ahman Green and Stephen Davis) and the rushing touchdowns went UP from 16 to 25 this year.

For those of you who drafted at the end of the first round and figured Holt and Harrison would be a great way to start the draft, that may not be working out considering the running backs you likely have. Maybe the NFL should do something to increase the rushing yards so the receivers can do better?

Less is More

Jerome Bettis only needed one game to match the touchdown total from his first ten games of 2003. He only had five carries but scored three one-yard touchdowns against the Raiders. He only had four yards rushing in the game. At current rate, he'll need another 225 games to match his yardage from 2003 but so long as he plays as the ultimate touchdown hawk, I think the Steelers are okay with the level of production.

This may not be entirely good news for Duce Staley owners. Particularly since next week the Steelers have to hit the road to Baltimore where they'll likely be in a reality show based on the movie "The Birds".

Before you freak out so soon

Week one is not entirely indicative of how a season will go, certainly no more than any individual week would be. Thinking back to last season and all the players who were studs and duds, take a gander at the top tens after week one, 2003. I included one notable player at the bottom of each position and where he ranked considering fantasy points.

2003 Top Tens from Week One
# Quarterback Pts # Running Back Pts # Wide Receiver Pts # Tight End Pts
1 Blake,Jeff 28 1 Holmes,Priest 29 1 Boldin,Anquan 33 1 Crumpler,Alge 15
2 Garcia,Jeff 26 2 Portis,Clinton 27 2 Chambers,Chris 24 2 Norman,Josh 12
3 Culpepper,Daunte 23 3 Henry,Travis 23 3 Moss,Randy 21 3 Jones,Freddie 12
4 Johnson,Doug 23 4 Alexander,Shaun 23 4 Ward,Hines 21 4 Schobel,Matt 9
5 Maddox,Tommy 22 5 Green,Ahman 23 5 Galloway,Joey 19 5 Riemersma,Jay 8
6 Harrington,Joey 21 6 Hearst,Garrison 21 6 Holt,Torry 17 6 Clark,Desmond 6
7 Mcnair,Steve 20 7 Garner,Charlie 19 7 Rogers,Charles 16 7 Moore,Dave 6
8 Fiedler,Jay 20 8 Williams,Ricky L. 18 8 Lewis,Jermaine 15 8 Heap,Todd 5
9 Warner,Kurt 20 9 Cason,Aveion 15 9 Johnson,Chad 15 9 Ricks,Mikhael 4
10 Gannon,Rich 19 10 Barber,Tiki 15 10 Jurevicius,Joe 15 10 Kinney,Erron 4
26 Manning,Peyton 10 33 Tomlinson,Lad. 5 53 Harrison,Marvin 4 34 Gonzalez,Tony 1

About half of the week one stars never panned out last season, so don't count on already having the league wrapped up if you had a big week. Then again, it may only matter where you end up, but you gotta start sometime and week one is a nice time to do just that.

Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Vinny Testaverde 355 1 QB Steve McNair 84 1
RB Onterrio Smith 139 1 RB Jamal Lewis 54 0
RB Jerome Bettis 1 3 RB Fred Taylor 61 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 94 1 WR Charles Rogers 0 0
WR David Patten 86 1 WR Chris Chambers 35 0
WR Doug Gabriel 81 1 WR Lavernues Coles 27 0
PK John Hall 3 FG, 1 XP PK John Carney

1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 130

Huddle Fantasy Points = 27

It's Deja Vu all over again

Only days before the season started, Joe Nedney blew out his knee - again. He missed all of 2003 with the same injury. Then yesterday, back when we all marveled at all the weapons of the Lions still, Charles Rogers broke his collar bone - again. He'll likely miss most the season but be enticing enough that someone will hang on to him all year hoping against what is now reason. On the plus side, Rogers has not hurt his knee. On the negative side, when has he not been hurt?

Turn out the lights, the party's on hold

With 5:07 left on the game clock, the Houston-San Diego game was delayed for ten minutes due to a power outage. An NFL official in the press box ordered the game to continue despite low light through the translucent retractable roof, which eventually opened. Not exactly the sort of advertising that Reliant Energy was looking for when they bought the naming rights to Reliant Stadium. "Don't put me on hold, I said it's YOUR stadium!"

Sunday's Couch Commentary

IND 24, NE 27 The Patriots started out much better than last year when they lost to the Bills 31-0, but they don't exactly look like the team that beat Buffalo 31-0 in the final game of the season. Brady throwing like crazy while Edgerrin James found open sailing in the middle of the NE defense. They got the three point homefield advantage and they needed it. Vanderjagt finally missed one, but he might have wanted it more than the 42 consecutive successful ones before it.
TEN 17, MIA 7 We almost forgot that MIA has a good defense in the midst of so much offensive woes this summer. Their defense was much better than we figured and the offense may actually be worse than we feared. The expected flip-flop on starting QB's did not take a full game while Lamar Gordon on a bad offense was actually worse than he was on a great offense - go figure. The Titans take one in MIA thanks largely to Eddie Brown... Chris George... that guy with 100 yards at the half.
SD 27, HOU 20

Okay, so where's Plan B? David Carr has refused to cut his hair until the Texans manage back-to-back wins and just lost to the Chargers in Houston. Judging by their schedule this season, Carr may need to make the choice between one braid or just pigtails. While Domanick Davis posted nice numbers, the four turnovers by he and Carr made even the Chargers unbeatable. Hey Drew - you played great. But no one is changing their mind about Rivers.

BAL 3, CLE 20 Please take no offense, but I only reiterate what was spoken all over the country when I ask - "what the hell was that?" Sure, Jamal Lewis plowed for 295 yards at home against CLE last year but when the Browns were prepared 13 weeks later he still gained 205 yards against them. He had five touchdowns in those two games. Evidently the Browns only needed nine months to prepare this time because Lewis only gained 57 yards on 20 carries. He had that by the second quarter last year. The feared Raven defense was "upgraded" with Primetime and they still allowed the Browns to win 20-3 and only had 2 sacks with no turnovers? This is one of those games that needs week two to show if CLE is nearly that good or BAL is really that bad. Since the Browns came back to Cleveland, it's the first time the Dawg Pound has been able to lift a leg in joy over the Ravens. This is NOT a week you want to accidentally back into Ray Lewis' car.
DET 20, CHI 16 Short of an unknown relative willing you a fortune or getting stranded on an island with a Victoria's Secrets model convention, there is nothing that evokes the joy of finally winning a road game after a record 24 attempts. The last time the Lions won on the road the Patriots had never won a Super Bowl. Sure, Charles Rogers is hurt again. And Kevin Jones is not exactly rookie of the year so far. But no rock concert has evoked so many glass-eyed smiles as Detroit winning on the road. The Bears end up as the "It" team and Thomas Jones continues to look as good as the passing game looks bad. Game ball to the guy smiling the biggest - DET DC Dick Jauron (AKA ex-HC of the Bears)
JAX 13, BUF 10 This could actually qualify as the game of the week if it actually contained more than two touchdowns. Byron Leftwich looks more like a Sophomore Slumper than year #2 of the franchise. Fred Taylor stayed healthy which is about the only positive for the Jaguars. Leftwich was only 11 of 23 for 75 yards before the final drive and on the last play of the game on fourth down, Leftwich tossed a jump ball to Ernest Willford that he wrested away from three defenders. That's 58 minutes of boredom and 2 minutes of "what took so long". The Bills start their year similar to how they ended 2003, only this time Moulds is healthy and McGahee comes in when Henry gets hurt.
TB 10, WAS 16 Oh yeah, 2004 will bring more scoring to the NFL. The Redskins unveiled their new offense and it mostly looks like Portis running until he pops the occasional long run while Brunell ignores Laveranues Coles or fumbles the ball. Both teams have decent defenses while the Buccaneers offense is actually worse than last year. They gained 30 yards on 15 carries and the only pleasant surprise was that Michael Clayton looked pretty good. That will be needed now that Galloway has again injured his groin. Yawn - click.
ARZ 10, STL 17 Oh yeah, The Greatest Show on Turf vs. Denny Green and the seven dwarves. What a mismatch. The Cardinals only manage 181 yards passing and Emmitt Smith is their only working weapon and yet the Rams still need to make a fourth quarter comeback to win. At home. Bulger, Faulk, Holt and Bruce all gained good yardage but never scored an actual touchdown until the fourth quarter. And only one touchdown at that. Facing perhaps the tastiest defensive matchup of the year, the Rams netted only two sacks and no turnovers. Yet another set of teams that week two needs to show what they really are this season.
OAK 21, PIT 24 This was a great game if you could divorce expectations of them. The Raiders new offense under Norv Turner was a return to smashmouth football with Wheatley reborn as a full time back. He got 24 yards on 11 carries. Gone is the short game of last year with fewer passes and more bombs. Doug Gabriel did catch one, but he was one of eleven players with receptions. How is this different? The Steelers also were returning to run-heavy stylings after abandoning the passing game of 2003. That means let Duce work the ball down the field to the one-yard line and then put in Bettis to fall forward over the goal line three times. If Burress is trying to get a new contract with his one catch for 13 yards, it'll be written on a McDonald's napkin next year while he tries on his new "Assistant Fryer" hat.
CIN 24, NYJ 31 Finally - some points and another contender for the game of the week. The death of Curtis Martin has been greatly exaggerated along with the value of Lamont Jordan (no carries, one catch for five yards). Pennington looked sharp and Martin looked five years younger. Playing the Bengals has that effect. Rudi Johnson had one nice touchdown run but ended with only 70 yards on 24 carries which will not make Chris Perry a guaranteed backup all year. Carson Palmer was very sharp for his first start and knew enough to lock on to Chad Johnson. Since so many other low scoring games were going on at the same time, this game that defenses forgot was a definite treat. The Jets face San Diego next week so the fun continues. Probably.
SEA 21, NO 7 McAllister opened last year in week one against these same Seahawks in Seattle and gained 135 yards. This year? 57 on 16 carries and someone in your league is not happy. Brooks failed to complete 50% of his passes and the only positive was that he threw one interception but never fumbled the ball. Small consolation. Seattle mainly went to exclusive use of Shaun Alexander the entire game, letting him score twice on the ground and once on a pass. Outside of Alexander, it was a sloppy game that fizzled when the point spread suggested it would burn bright. The important factor here - the Seahawks won on the road. Not exactly a strong suit last year.
NYG 17, PHI 31 Finally - a game you could see coming and that played out just like the script called. Westbrook only had 17 carries but gained 119 yards plus 42 more on three receptions. Donovan McNabb showed he has plenty of arm now that he has Terrell Owens to catch the ball and threw four touchdowns - three to Owens. Once the game was horribly lost (early in second half), the Giants yanked Warner so that Eli Manning could receive his first official NFL sandwich job. Dayne did play and still elicits - "so what?". Barber ran pretty well with a 72 yard score late in the game but now curls in the fetal position whenever a defender draws near from fear he'll fumble the ball. Shockey played and had three catches and has not been further injured. Yet. The Giants already appear to be in mid-season form. That's mid-season, 2003.
DAL 17, MIN 35 The Cowboys hold on that "best pass defense" thing will take a while to regain now that Culpepper threw for 242 yards and five touchdowns. The Cowboys tried shifting their entire secondary towards Moss which allowed Burleson, Campbell and Robinson to have good games and when they neared the endzone, Moss still caught two scores. The Vikings offense looked very sharp and almost like they were not trying that hard. This will have to change next week in Philly. Dallas scratched Julius Jones due to bruised ribs but George looked so bad he was yanked at halftime. Vinny threw a ton of yards but not enough scores to matter in a game they trailed in for the last three quarters. After the game, Parcells was heard calling the office and saying something about "meet me at the airport and bring the whip".


Without a doubt...

Kansas City 24, Denver 34

What's not to like about a game that has 58 points and 773 yards of offense?

The two runners both gained over 150 yards on the ground and both scored three touchdowns. The notion that the KC run defense will be better is wrong. The idea that the Denver rush defense has improved is also flawed. The only difference really is that now Champ Bailey is lowering passing yardage on one side of the field and that really doesn't matter much when they give up 167 total rushing yards.

Quentin Griffin - that guy so many fantasy leaguers took a shot on delivered the goods big time with 157 yards and one touchdown. Clinton who?

The game drew to a tie in the third quarter 24-24 after Priest Holmes ripped off a 33-yard touchdown run.

With five minutes remaining, Denver took over on their own 34-yard line and on first down, Plummer finds Ashley Lelie on a 58 yard pass to the Kansas City 8-yard line. You remember Lelie? The Chiefs didn't. On the very next play Quentin Griffin runs up the middle only to fumble away the ball. Just like Portis! The Chiefs dodge a bullet and go three and out before punting to the Denver 36-yard line.

After a pass to Lelie for four yards, Plummer hits Rod Smith for 13 more and a first down on the KC 48-yard line. After two incompletions, he finds Lelie again for 22 yards and a first down on the KC 27-yard line. Lelie now has four catches in the game for 88 yards exactly as expected (last year).

The drive stalls and Elam takes the field goal for a three point lead with 13 minutes left to play.

Starting at their own 20 yard-line, the Chiefs reach midfield before the drive stalls. Their punt locks the Broncos on the DEN 13-yard line with 9:22 to play. Plenty of time to stop them and then the Chiefs can take the winning drive. The Broncos are not willing participants now that Quiet Quentin is letting his actions speak on the field.

Over the next seven minutes, Griffin, Tatum Bell and Jake Plummer take turns running over the next 12 plays and march the team down to the KC goal line where Griffin is stopped for a loss. On second down, Plummer fakes the handoff to Griffin and lobs a pass the Patrick Hape for the insurance points. After a dozen runs, even I missed the fake handoff at first. While the Chiefs get the ball 10 points behind with two minutes left, four consecutive pass incompletions seal their fate. The Broncos take the home win and the era of Griffin has been established. He may have to prove his durability, but there's no questions left about his productivity. The history of the Denver backfield now reads like Genesis... Davis begat Gary who begat Anderson who begat Portis who begat Griffin who spanked the Chiefs.

It was a great opening weekend and sort of strange at the same time. Six games failed to produce over 30 total points and nine teams are still waiting to score their second touchdown of the season. All this in a year that the NFL was trying to promote more scoring. Some teams got the memo but too many appear already mired in mediocrity. The Lions finally won on the road and yet the Ravens were downed by the one team that normally is their only guaranteed win. We've already witnessed big injury scares from Chris Brown and Shaun Alexander and seen Charles Rogers exit stage right in just the first week. More will be coming and an always wacky week one is just a lighting of the fuse for 16 more weeks of smiles, records, big wins and more than a few "what the hell" games.

Welcome back to the NFL.

Now get back to work...