Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday FourCast: Week 1

Welcome to the latest feature of PHSports, the Tuesday FourCast. Each Tuesday morning during the NFL season, one member of the PHSports staff will give his list of four things to take away from the weekend’s slate of games. Since we will be switching off, you can get a taste of each contributor’s thoughts and style.

#1: Special Teams Players Deserve Mad Props

Very few football fans understand the amount of sacrifice that goes into a standard special teams play, such as a kickoff. The fans, particularly casual fans, do not realize that on any given kickoff about half of the kicking team and half of the receiving team charge at each other at full speed. This isn’t like your typical trench battle at the line of scrimmage. This is two 18-wheelers driving towards each other at 100 mph. Fortunately, the injuries that come from this sacrifice are usually limited to really painful bumps and bruises. Unfortunately, this past weekend, a life was drastically altered from this thankless job.

Kevin Everett, a backup tight-end on the Buffalo Bills, smacked into a member of the Denver Broncos on kickoff coverage and instantly crumpled to the ground. Normally, an injury draws concerns such as “how long will he be out?” This time, the football questions stop, and we are left to wonder if Everett will survive the “catastrophic injury” (as doctors called it), and if so, how he will adapt to his likely partial paralysis. So while we praise the likes of LT, Peyton Manning and Steve Smith, let’s not forget the unsung heroes who risk far more life and limb as nameless special teamers. I hope we all remember Kevin Everett and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

#2: The NFC is Still the Second Best Conference (Maybe Even Third)

Sure, many football fans and analysts will argue that Week 1 doesn’t mean all that much, if anything, in the grand scheme of the NFL season. I really won’t argue that point since it holds a fair amount of water, but since it’s all we have so far I’ve got to use it. And based off Week 1’s performances, the NFC sucks. About the only notable victory for the NFC over the AFC was Detroit beating Oakland, and since I doubt either team will be in the Super Bowl this year, that isn’t saying much.

The Saints were owned and slapped around by Indianapolis; the Bears should have lost 21-3 instead of 14-3, but the refs (per usual) missed an obvious call; and the Redskins barely survived what should have been an overmatched Dolphins squad led by a geezer QB. No NFC team looked superb this past week, whereas at least three (and arguably four, if you count the Bengals impressive win over Baltimore) AFC teams ran on all cylinders (see: Indianapolis, New England, and Pittsburgh). This is starting to feel like the AL/NL relationship in baseball’s All-Star game.

#3: Byron Leftwich Won’t Be Jobless Much Longer

At this point, it is easier to name the teams that are not interested in signing free agent quarterback Byron Leftwich now that Week 1 is done. By my count, nine teams suffered from below mediocre play from their starting quarterbacks. Leading that list are the Browns, Chiefs, and Falcons. Let’s also not forget the Giants who appear to be without Eli Manning for at least a month according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Teams can now sign Leftwich without guaranteeing him an entire year’s salary. The question is, which team wants to add an unfamiliar signal caller at this point? I’d cross out the Browns who should tough it out with Frye and Anderson until their bye-week before handing the reigns to QB of the future Brady Quinn. The most likely destinations appear to be the Falcons, Chiefs, Vikings or the Giants, depending on the severity of Eli Manning’s shoulder injury. But hey … Jon Gruden does love having as many quarterbacks on his roster as possible, and Daniel Snyder does love to make big splashes that make zero sense, and hell, Roger Goodell could always use a referee with better eyesight on his payroll. Regardless, Leftwich should be signed by somebody within the next 5 – 10 days.

#4: Can We Send John Madden to Outer Space? Without a Spacesuit?

You know, I love John Madden. The video game series that bears his name has given me countless hours of entertainment. If it wasn’t for him, I’m certain that I would have had a much higher GPA in High School, College, and Law School. But the man is past his prime as a color commentator. I’m pretty confident in stating that I feel he and George W. Bush share a brain at this point in time. The most recent line that I heard to prove this point was offered in Thursday night’s season opener. To paraphrase, Madden analyzed an illegal formation penalty in roughly the following language: “Ya see, when you start the play in a legal formation, and then move illegally, that's an illegal formation.” Thanks for the education in obviousness, John. Go find Brett Favre.


Ron Franscell said...

I've been on a few playing fields in my life and maybe you have, too. Great athletes -- whether Pop Warner League or the NFL -- don't think about getting hurt while they're on the field. Most fear being embarrassed far more than they fear getting hurt. Worrying about injuries is a bus ticket back home to Port Arthur or some other dismal place where you'll forver be known as the guy who had a shot at the Big Time but got hurt. Massive, muscled bodies are thrashing around out there like unaimed cannon shells, and stepping two inches to your left can make the difference between a touchdown and a career-ending ACL tear. You think about the touchdown ... not the ACL.

Keep Kevin Everett and every other young dreamer in your prayers.

I blogged about this incident more fully at Under The News.

Armin said...

I don't like listening to Madden commentate a game. The only way I would enjoy it is if Madden and Frank Caliendo (in full Madden gear) were to commentate a game together.

Armin said...

And...can EA sports, or some video game manufacturer make "Frank Caliendo Football". There's so much potential there!

Brad Slepetz said...

I think I've heard Ron Frascell on NPR.