From the stands…
To the field…
We go…So follow me, as I will be your tour guide, leading you en route a wild, entertaining ride which travels through an illustrious road of Week 1 thoughts and observations on the conference where the defending Super Bowl champions reside. The conference where defense was strongly represented Week 1 from the Big Easy to the Windy City, all the way to the Nation’s Capital over to the City which never sleeps. Whether it was featured in the Big Apple or where the 12th man reigns supreme, the defense home to the pirate’s ship, defense stole the show in a league that’s supposed to be all about offense, big plays, and fancy aerial shows. Without a doubt, the main attraction and theme for Week 1 was dominate defensive play.
Old head coaches like Gregg Williams, Jim Haslett, and Rod Marinelli all dialed up impressive game plans that worked to perfection, whereas on the opposite end of the spectrum, new guys like Perry Fewell and Bill Davis were all smiles, while young blood Raheem Morris couldn’t be more pleased with his troops effort and execution Sunday. Defense was on display, and at a premium, and performances around the NFC were showcased from city to city, coordinator to coordinator.
New Orleans Saints: I don’t think they will miss a beat without Darren Sharper. Rangy Malcolm Jenkins covers more ground. Former Buckeye’s smooth transition from cornerback to free safety doesn’t surprise me. They actually might be better than last year’s unit. Jonathan Vilma is the heart and soul of the defense, he leads by example. May not make Pro Bowl or receive hype via flash plays, however, he provides just what they need, rock-solid consistency.
Run game showed in the 2nd half it has its own identity. Very effective, impressive. They controlled the game. Pierre Thomas is so instinctive. Hits hole sharp precision. Showed unbelievable patience, vision, and quickness. Zig-zagged his way in and out, through and around for tough inside yards. Offensive line is so good, they make Minnesota’s front four, arguably the best in the biz, look silly. Did you hear anything about Jared Allen or Williams Wall during Thursday night’s contest? Other than introductions, did their names even get mentioned?
This is a team that’s not hungover, serious repeat possibility. Camaraderie is excellent, second-to-none. Brees is just a remarkable player, commands with his presence and intensity. Do we really know how well he and his teammates truly gel? Sean Payton-Drew Brees dynamo is best HC-QB connection since Bill Walsh-Joe Montana. They are always on same page. This team is all in, all together. Warning to rest of NFC.
Minnesota Vikings: As lackluster as their offense was, their defense was just the exact opposite. You could say there were just as impressive as the offense was unimpressive. They gave up two scoring drives. That’s it. On the road, they conquered Drew Brees and his passing wizardry. They defended Payton-Brees’ offensive tricks as successful as you could imagine. Secondary did really well considering its been ripped apart, shredded to pieces by critics. I forget they still have Chad Greenway. He’s a football player. Always on the field, always in place.
Adrian Peterson needs to touch the ball at least 25-28 times a game. 30-35 would be a good idea. He will not get worn down. And if he does, you limit his attempts against lesser opponents. Visanthe Shiancoe and Greg Camarillo are sure-handed and reliable. They should get the majority of #4’s passes until Percy Harvin gets in rhythm.
Washington Redskins: LaRon Landry. 17 tackles, 13 solo. First time I saw the player I loved to watch at LSU. Ever since Sean Taylor, this team has been missing an enforcer back in centerfield. He was all over the field, very aggressive. If he keeps this up, this unit will be one of the best five in the game. Brian Orakpo is in the mold of a James Harrison, he’s that good off the edge. So tough to contain. London Fletcher. Speechless. Talk about someone you can always count on.
Though I like what Chris Cooley brings to the table, I still feel Donovan will have to find a #3 target to locate when things are going tough. Santana Moss and Cooley are injury-prone. They need to find someone else to step if running game is barely average.
Dallas Cowboys: Name me another defensive player you’d like to have instead of DeMarcus Ware. You’ll be hard pressed in your tiresome search. This has the makings of a scary good defense. The lack of playmakers at the safety position doesn’t matter. I really like Mike Jenkins. He’s making the Pro Bowl this season.
Just like Minnesota, they need to feature the run more. Felix and Marion both looked fresh. They had a spring to their step. Dez Bryant is tough. Can’t wait to see both sides of the ball mesh once they reach mid-season form. Once they arrive at the same time, best team in conference?
Green Bay Packers: Clay Matthews is a weapon. Kid can flat out get to the QB. I don’t even mind that Mike Vick speedily did damage, going for over 100 yards on 11 tries. I am still amazed by Charles Woodson. Where was DeSean Jackson? Did he make him disappear?
Losing Ryan Grant shouldn’t hurt, actually, it won’t hurt at all. Brandon Jackson is more than capable. Plus, if Aaron Rodgers gets time like he did in Philly, this offense doesn’t need anything else, they’re set. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Toughest pair of receivers I have seen in a long time. They don’t drop passes nor miss plays. Both of them make the difficult grab look rather routine.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nice to see rookie Nate Allen get on the board with an easy pick. Overall, the defense did its job for the most part, especially considering the fact that the offense did not help them out until late in the game. A full game with Mike Vick and more support, different story. I still like this unit a lot.
Vick should be the starter. Clearly, Kolb is not ready. Looks raw, still needs time to develop, whereas Vick is prepared, he is game right now. DeSean Jackson can be locked down. He was a non-factor. LeSean McCoy looked really good. Made defenders miss relatively easily.
Seattle Seahawks: Kudos on the defense’s performance. Job well done. When you hold both Frank Gore and Vernon Davis to under 100 yards, that’s a successful day. When you hold them both out of the end zone, wow. I don’t care if its Alex Smith or not, they made him look like a college QB.
Hasselbeck, when healthy, is a solid QB that will keep you in games. I guess Mike Williams is officially back. I guess? Deon Butler is a player that will make waves as a slot guy. Interested to see how Leon Washington gets acclimated into the swing of things as the season progresses.
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary said it best: “Tell Pete Carroll thank you very much for kicking our tails, it was good medicine, and we’re going to take it.” That’s all you can say really. Love this guy as a head coach! Until next week…awaiting for you are none other than the defending Super Bowl champs, at home, on the biggest stage of the game under the spotlight Monday night. You can’t go 0-2, can you? Oh, and by the way, Brees-Payton have 10 full days to prepare. It can’t get any worse, can it? Time to wake up 49ers.
New York Giants: Mathias Kiwanuka is starting to play like the player I thought he was on Saturdays at Boston College. Good to see that, he’s been marred with injuries. This looks like a revitalized unit that’s ready to make some noise in the NFC East. Playmakers all over the field. Red zone defense was spectacular. They stopped Carolina four out the five times they entered inside the 20. That’s a winning football team.
Hakeem Nicks is the “next” big thing. Three touchdowns, was he playing West Virginia at the Meineke Car Care Bowl Sunday? Eli looked very poised and under control despite three picks. Ahmad Bradshaw is going to go over 1,000 yards easily. Little guy’s doing big things in 2010.
Carolina Panthers: Defense just couldn’t stop Hakeem Nicks, but other than that, I thought they played exceptionally well. Quite solid despite giving up 31 points. Were up 16-14 at half. Just had no aid whatsoever from the offense. Jon Beason will have his squad ready for Tampa next week. Dan Connor looked very aggressive, reminded me of Dan Morgan, actually thought it was Morgan at first wearing #55. Matt Moore should be fine, just had a rough game. Jimmy Clausen will have to wait, isn’t time for him just yet.
Chicago Bears: Read my recap on Bears Gab
Detroit Lions: Read my regards concerning Motor City And if you didn’t get the privilege to see Kyle Vanden Bosch during his post-game interview on NFL Network following a gutsy, bloody performance -you missed out! What a warrior! What a competitor! What a man! Rambo!
Arizona Cardinals: Adrian Wilson. Couldn’t name me two safeties playing in the game today that you would rather have over this physical specimen. Two momentum-changing picks, profound impact, leader on defense. Love this guy. Can’t say enough about him. It’s what I’ve come to expect from this All-Pro. Nice to see Daryl Washington get in the mix. I believe he’s going to be a special player for many years to come, manning the middle for this vaunted Arizona defense. Good to see Kerry Rhodes put behind his New York days and make a big play return on a key interception. Despite losses of Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby to free agency, this defense has a chance to be really good. 7-8 wins could be within range.
Steve Breaston is a revelation. Very inconsistent big-play threat at Michigan, underachieves, gets drafted late as strictly a return specialist. Comes to NFL, gets an opportunity to make noise, and now he’s going under the radar as a consistent, reliable #2 receiver that just makes play after play, catch after catch. Whenever he’s called upon, he gets the job done. Remarkable. They are not going to miss Anquan Boldin as much as people think. Tim Hightower can be an NFL starting RB. You can’t wait on Chris Wells, he’s too iffy, unreliable.
St. Louis Rams: Defense played bend but don’t break. I like how they performed with everyone against them. Atogwe is a player, glad they kept him. Sam Bradford passed it 55 times! This kid looks the part, now I believe he’s up to the task to play the part. Thrown into the fire right away, has responded extremely well under immense pressure for a team that’s not expected to do so hot. He’s wowed me with his ability to play well under intense, rough circumstances. And keep in mind he went up against a solid defense. However, as good as he played in his first career NFL start, team still needs to give Steven Jackson the rock more. It’s too easy, they have to, unless they want Bradford hurt. Mark Clayton was an excellent acquisition.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Raheem Morris has done wonders for this defense. Old man Ronde Barber still make game-changing plays at corner. His pick lead to huge six points right before halftime. If he doesn’t make that play, they may end up losing. Youthful front four collapsed pocket on a consistent basis. Like what I saw from this unit. Josh Freeman did just enough. He was solid, and so was Cadillac. What a story he is. Mike Williams is the real deal. What a catch he made in the back of the end zone off of a tipped pass! How did he manage to keep both feet in bounds? What presence of mind, focus, and shear concentration! One of the better plays I saw all weekend long. I’m excited to see the Freeman-Williams connection go to work and progress throughout the year.
Atlanta Falcons: Curtis Lofton is Hawaii-bound. Worthy ‘backer that is rapidly becoming one of the best at his position in the conference. Kroy Biermann is a force to be reckoned with. A ton for any offensive tackle to handle. Non-stop motor, high intensity guy you love to have on your team. Erik Coleman looks old. Showed his age, looking really slow in pursuit during Rashard Mendenhall’s game-winning 50-yard touchdown run in overtime. Run game couldn’t get anything going. Imagine if Ryan could find a #3 receiver to go along with Roddy and Tony.