Thursday, November 17, 2005
Updated: January 11, 10:38 AM ET
LaVar's leap -- and other truths
By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2
Let's do a quick check of the e-mail bag before getting to this week's NFL Truths.
I thought you said I was going to have a bad game against the Broncos. I threw for 300 yards and two TDs. The three interceptions, one fumble and game-deciding pick-six weren't my fault. The Broncos got lucky.
-- Kerry "Clipboard" Collins
Thanks for speaking with my team at halftime. Tom Brady said the adjustments you suggested really helped turn things around offensively. Saban was clueless when we went empty backfield with two tight ends. Let me know your thoughts on the New Orleans game plan as soon as possible.
Longtime reader of your column. Loved the advice you gave Kobe about dealing with his wife. Anyway, we're thinking about making a coaching change here. Brian can't get this offense turned around. You've turned us down in the past, but we're willing to sweeten the offer this time. You can bring in Jeff George as your quarterback. Let's schedule an interview sometime in the next two weeks.
You must be in love. I haven't heard from you in over a month. I miss my boy toy. Call me.
Here are the 10 NFL Truths for Week 10.
10. The Dick Vermeil-Mike Martz-Al Saunders "Greatest Show On Turf and Grass" offense is dying the same death as the Run-'n'-Shoot.
Defensive coordinators figured out a couple of years ago the best way to diffuse the offense is to relentlessly hit the quarterback. Kurt Warner and Trent Green -- aka David Klingler and Andre Ware -- were never awesome talents. They were programmed to run the plays called from the sideline and throw to a spot on the field. They rarely improvised.
The Greatest Show works wonderfully when the QB has perfect pass protection and can throw in rhythm to a predetermined spot on the field. Now that putting the quarterback on the ground has been demonstrated to be the best way to defend it, the Greatest Show has been short-circuited. The Show will at some point break down in critical situations and the battered and bruised QB will make a gigantic mistake.
Green, an intelligent veteran, has been frustrated in KC with his inability to audible at the line of scrimmage the way Peyton Manning and Tom Brady often do.
9. Giants coach Tom Coughlin has read too many of his own and Eli Manning's press clippings.
It looks like Coughlin wants to shake the rap that he's just another Marty Schottenheimer, an offensively conservative head coach. Coughlin is determined to prove that he's an "offensive guru" who developed the younger Manning into the next Peyton Manning.
Playing the Minnesota Vikings inside Giants Stadium, there's absolutely no reason to throw the ball 48 times in a game in which your team never trailed by more than eight points. When you consider that the Giants' offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and Tiki Barber was red hot, it's even more inexcusable that Coughlin let Manning throw the game away with four interceptions.
We've all fallen in love with Eli too quickly. He's completing just 51 percent of his passes.
8. Bill Parcells is an all-time great coach, but what makes Bill Belichick a cut above Parcells is Belichick's ability to adjust inside a game.
Parcells and the Cowboys beat the Eagles on "Monday Night Football" primarily because of Parcells' stubbornness. He stood on the Dallas sideline for three hours and just waited for Andy Reid and the Eagles to do something stupid. Reid and Donovan McNabb eventually put a smile on Parcells' face.
However, until McNabb's gift pick-six, Parcells looked clueless. Jeremiah Trotter and the Eagles totally shut down Dallas' running game, and Parcells had no Plan B for attacking Philly's D. The Cowboys called the same running plays over and over again. Dallas beat Philly with three offensive plays -- a 58-yard bomb to Peerless Price, a 26-yard run by Marion Barber and a 20-yard TD pass to Terry Glenn. The Cowboys never sustained anything all night and never adjusted their offensive attack.
Stubbornness is what makes Parcells great. It's also what separates him from the best coach of the modern era.
7. There's nothing worse than a player's lying on the field with an injury after making a mistake that cost his team the game.
I have a great deal of respect for Donovan McNabb. Love the way he's handled the way the T.O. controversy. Believe he's one of the three best quarterbacks in the game. And I would never question McNabb's toughness.
But I wish McNabb had gutted it out and walked off the field after throwing that late interception. You see, McNabb's groin didn't stop him from moonwalking in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. But when Roy Williams scored late, McNabb had to limp to the sideline after kneeling on the field for several seconds. Disappointing.
FYI: Mike McMahon will do fine filling in for McNabb. McMahon is a good athlete and is better than at least seven or eight starting quarterbacks in the league named Frerotte, Orton, Boller, Johnson (Brad), Bollinger, Dilfer, Carr and Pickett.
6. The Carolina Panthers are beginning to look like the team Sports Illustrated predicted to win the Super Bowl. Defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac deserves a lot credit for the turnaround.
Trgo, a nose tackle at Michigan in the late '70s and early '80s, is the Alex Gibbs of defensive linemen. The Panthers' resurgence is a product of Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker, Brentson Buckner and Jordan Carstens' dominating the line of scrimmage. Carstens has been the surprise element. He replaced all-world tackle Kris Jenkins, who suffered a season-ending injury early.
Carstens is starting to play like a Pro Bowler in the middle, which has made Peppers and Rucker better on the outside. Trgo is the guru of defensive-line play and should start getting some head-coaching attention this offseason.
5. Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams' problem with LaVar Arrington could best be seen on Mike Alstott's alleged one-yard, two-point conversion plunge.
Arrington, Washington's first-down linebacker, tried for a SportsCenter moment rather than a basic tackle on Alstott's run. Arrington left his feet, dived at Alstott and totally whiffed. Had Arrington simply stepped into the gap, lowered his shoulder, dropped his hips and exploded, the Redskins would've won the game.
4. Even though I hate the way the NFL has outlawed physical play between corners and receivers, the new emphasis on freeing receivers has brought the undersized, shifty and very exciting receiver back into the game.
Santana Moss, Steve Smith, Terry Glenn, Hines Ward and Deion Branch are all enjoying Marvin Harrison-type years thanks to the renewed emphasis on calling illegal contact. Plus, small receivers don't seem to be as unlikable as Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Keyshawn Johnson (although I do find the Bill Parcells-Dallas Cowboys version of Me-shawn far more tolerable than the younger Me-shawn).
3. Jack Del Rio's immaturity might get in the way of the Jaguars' taking advantage of an easy schedule and getting into the playoffs.
Football teams truly are a reflection of their head coach. Del Rio has yet to learn how to carry himself like a true professional. He's embroiled himself in a silly feud with a Jacksonville sports writer, Vito Stellino, who has shown the audacity to avoid kissing Del Rio's pinky ring. Besides turning Stellino into a local star, Del Rio has all but guaranteed that his collection of young, talented players will worry more about what is written about them in the newspaper than focusing on taking care of business on the field.
Coaches make huge mistakes when they allow members of the media to rent space inside their head. Vito Stellino will be rearranging furniture inside Del Rio's noggin for the rest of the season.
2. Bill Snyder, as good a college coach as there has ever been, would've been an even better NFL head coach.
Snyder had the perfect temperament for a professional coach. He was Tom Landry, a quiet genius who knew how to instill toughness in a football team. The national media spent too much time bashing Snyder over his soft scheduling tactics rather than celebrating his loyalty to Kansas State and coaching brilliance.
1. Brian Urlacher deserves Defensive Player of the Year. Lovie Smith deserves Coach of the Year. But let's keep in mind that the Bears' five-game winning streak has featured victories over the just-off-the-Love Boat Vikings, the Ravens, the Lions, the Saints and the 49ers. Wake me when the Bears beat USC in the Rose Bowl.
Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.