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Thursday, September 14, 2006
An honest look at NFL QBs

By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2


You know you hate Texas. You've been messin' with Texas for years. Why don't you admit you picked us to beat Ohio State just to fire up the Buckeyes?

Coach Mack

Here are my 10 NFL Truths for Week 2:

10. Cornerback Shawn Springs' abdominal injury crippled the Redskins' defense against the Minnesota Vikings.

While much of the talk in Washington this week was about Al Saunders' offense, I blame Gregg Williams' defense for Washington's season-opening 19-16 home loss to the Vikings.

Troy Williamson
If Troy Williamson burned up the 'Skins, we can definitely look forward to some T.O. antics.
If Minnesota receiver Troy Williamson had hung on to a few simple passes, the Vikings could've easily scored 28 points. Williamson flew past Washington corners Kenny Wright and Carlos Rogers all night.

Dallas receivers Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens probably can't sleep this week fantasizing about getting a piece of Wright and Rogers. Based on what I saw against the Vikings, Gregg Williams will not have the freedom to play man-to-man at anytime against Glenn and Owens. Washington's safeties will need to hang back, which should open up running lanes for Dallas' ground attack.

Washington headhunter Sean Taylor isn't the most disciplined safety in the league. If Dallas gets its play-action passing game going, the Cowboys might score 30 points. And we already know Saunders' sideways-throwing offense is having trouble scoring points.

Springs is out for a couple more weeks after having surgery in August for an abdominal injury. And the Redskins can't afford to get off to a terrible start in the super-competitive NFC East.

9. Peyton Manning's poise in the pocket blew me away in the Colts-Giants game.

Peyton is obviously tired of his critics talking about his happy feet, because he lent his dancing feet to Emmitt Smith over the weekend. Facing Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, Manning stood in the pocket and sidestepped the rush like he was Tom Brady or Phil Simms.

Now, the Giants dropped several would-be Manning interceptions, but the bad throws were not byproducts of Manning melting in the pocket. Manning was cool all evening. You can tell he's made it a point to handle the rush in a more Manningly fashion.

If he keeps this up, it's difficult for me to imagine the Colts getting eliminated in the playoffs.

8. Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh should turn in his playbook and return to preparing continental breakfasts for folks in Idaho.

Honestly, in all my years of watching football, I've seen nothing like the strategic meltdown Walsh endured during the Monday nightcap. You think it was obvious the man hadn't called an NFL play since 1994?

Yes, San Diego has one of the league's best front sevens, but the Raiders' lack of adjustments was completely embarrassing. Walsh let quarterback Aaron Brooks drop back seven yards time after time and serve as a sitting duck for Shawne Merriman.

Merriman versus Robert Gallery was a total mismatch before Walsh's game plan made Brooks an easy target. I kept begging the Raiders to chip Merriman with a running back, to spread the field with three or four receivers and force the Chargers to put extra defensive backs on the field and empty the box of seven defenders, to go to three-step-drop passing.

The whole game I was wondering what Art Shell, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle, was writing on his little clipboard:

A. Damn, I wish that loudmouth Jerry Porter was playing QB tonight.

B. Hmm. Guess hosting Madden tournaments all those years didn't keep Walsh's mind in the game.

C. Good thing I took the under on when Al would fire my ass.

D. All of the above.

7. Because of Walsh's ineptness, there's virtually nothing to be learned about the Chargers from their victory over the Raiders.

Phillip Rivers
The jury's still out on Phillip Rivers. He played against a minor league team.
It's much too early to sing the praises of the Chargers, Phillip Rivers or Marty Schottenheimer. Beating a one-armed man in a fistfight isn't all that impressive. Even though LaDainian Tomlinson posted big rushing numbers (131 yards), I left the game concerned about San Diego's offensive line.

Oakland's Terdell Sands, a backup defensive tackle, looked like the second coming of Mean Joe Greene. Sands absolutely terrorized the interior of San Diego's line, recording eight tackles. Not since Warren Sapp was in his prime in Tampa have I seen a defensive tackle cause as many problems as Sands caused the Chargers.

Sands doesn't quite have Sapp's résumé. In his five previous years, Sands flopped around the Oakland and Kansas City rosters while coaches desperately waited on his production to match his incredible size (6-7, 335). Before Monday's game, Sands had recorded 36 tackles in five years.

6. Through three quarters of play, I was totally impressed with the play of Miami quarterback Daunte Culpepper.

He made the right reads, stood firm in the pocket and delivered the ball with touch and accuracy. But in the fourth quarter, Daunte demonstrated why I have major doubts about him as a starting quarterback.

There's a reason college players raise four fingers at the start of the fourth. The last quarter of a tight football game is a totally different animal from the previous three. Players get tired and frustrated and begin to succumb to the pressure.

Once the Steelers went up 21-17 early in the fourth quarter, Daunte panicked and began forcing the football, which led to two critical interceptions. Culpepper doesn't handle pressure situations well. When all the pressure in Minnesota focused on him rather than Randy Moss, Culpepper turned into a mediocre quarterback.

5. Cincinnati defensive end Robert Geathers should've been flagged and fined for the hit that knocked Trent Green from the game. Having said that, there was no reason for Chiefs president Carl Peterson to go whining to the league about it.

Geathers' hit on Green wasn't dirty or intentional. It was a mistake, an error the league should've punished. But there was no reason for Peterson to turn it into a federal case. The NFL wants to do the right thing and protect its quarterbacks. The league doesn't need to be pressured on this issue.

Peterson is whining because Chiefs fans are sick of his 18-years-running five-year Super Bowl plan. The longest-tenured general manager in football hasn't won a playoff game since 1993, Joe Montana's second-to-last season.

Peterson wants to tell Lamar Hunt that mean old Robert Geathers ruined KC football -- not Peterson's poor drafting record.

4. Broadcasters are treating Michael Vick like he's Trent Dilfer rather than as one of the league's highest-paid players.

Let me clear something up. Vick completed less than half of his passes and threw for just 140 yards in Atlanta's victory over Carolina. But you might not know this the way TV broadcasters gushed over Vick's performance.

I guess Vick is the one NFL superstar quarterback we're supposed to judge on wins and losses alone. Sorry, I'm not going to do it. Vick is not Trent Dilfer. Vick is supposed to be a better version of Randall Cunningham.

Dilfer won a Super Bowl and received his walking papers. Vick rides the Warrick Dunn bandwagon to a few regular-season victories and gets a $100 million contract. That ain't right.

3. If broadcasters want to champion the cause of a misunderstood black quarterback, they should jump to the defense of Byron Leftwich, a true warrior with all sorts of intangibles that help the Jaguars win.

Byron Leftwich
Byron Leftwich certainly should get more credit for Jacksonville's success.
Let me tell you how bad things are for Leftwich in Jacksonville. It's my opinion that coach Jack Del Rio intentionally keeps three black quarterbacks (David Garrard and Quinn Gray) just to keep some of the pressure off Leftwich, who isn't embraced by Dirty South football fans.

Jacksonville fans are enamored with the idea of Garrard's replacing Leftwich. But to get a true sense of the dilemma facing Leftwich in Jacksonville, here's what you need to know:

Last year Del Rio ran a trick play in which former college quarterback-turned-NFL receiver Matt Jones ran the huddle and lined up at quarterback. When Jones, who is white, broke the huddle as QB, the crowd at Alltel Stadium rose to its feet and gave Jones a thunderous ovation. Wow.

2. Ohio football fans, I have nothing against the Bengals or the Buckeyes.

I was wrong about Texas whipping the Buckeyes by two touchdowns. I put my foot in my mouth on "PTI" when I stated I was 99.9 percent sure the Longhorns would beat Ohio State. So I dropped West Virginia to No. 2 in my AP football poll vote and elevated Ohio State to No. 1 based on the Buckeyes' impressive victory.

As for the Bengals, I'm still not sold that they're a playoff team. But I have to admit, Marvin Lewis and his staff did a marvelous job of coaching against the Chiefs. Cincy's no-huddle offense baffled the Chiefs.

The Bengals are in the toughest division in football. The Ravens and the Steelers are serious Super Bowl threats. We'll know if the Bengals are too after they play the Steelers and the Patriots in Weeks 3 and 4.

1. I'm nervous about everyone jumping on the Baltimore Ravens' bandwagon that I kick-started before training camp.

With the Raiders and the Browns on Baltimore's schedule the next two weeks, the Ravens' Super Bowl bandwagon is likely to gain momentum. I liked it better when I was the lone voice loving Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Steve McNair and Brian Billick.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. He can be reached by e-mail at Sound off to Page 2 here.