Wednesday, September 24, 2008


A lot of fans are making preparations for the Super Bowl while others are making alternative plans for each weekend until next year (although it's all premature in September). There is one legion of fans that are rejoicing as if the Treasury Department is giving them the $700 billion bailout. Detroit can finally have a moment of joy in regards to the Lions.

Yes, Matt Millen was finally relieved of his duties as Lions president and General Manager after six-plus years of failed draft picks, sullied free agent signings and 84 losses. While those who reside in the Lions' den are reveling in this, the folks who are even happier are the writers, talkies and sportscasters who have lambasted the higher-ups - mostly owner William Clay Ford, Sr. - for retaining Millen for so long. This gives credence to the blame they dished onto Millen for the team's poor play and losing culture. Some have even (maybe jokingly) said that Bill Ford, the owner's son, should have a statue erected in his honor for spurring the firing with his comments on Monday.

Yet, it's far too easy and a bit unfair to give props to the younger Ford or the rest of Lions management for making this long-desired move. Far too easy because... well, this is the internet, where instant gratification is a nanosecond away. Enough scribes and/or bloggers have done that within the last few hours. A bit unfair because no matter how much one disapproves of the performance by a sports executive, this is still sports. To proverbially throw a parade for his firing or anyone else's (ask Knicks fans) is an instance of one's unfocused energy.

This is not to say that Millen did not deserve to be canned or even to say that he should have seen it through at least the rest of the season. However, if you're going to celebrate someone's dismissal, celebrate that of someone who did something against you personally. Such as a egotistical, yet incompetent supervisor, a terribly lazy landlord or a horrendous teacher who was working solely to gain tenure.

Besides, Detroit has other fish to fry.

Now, I'll get off the soapbox and come back to what this is all about; giving credit to some NFLers for Week 3.

Kickoff: Thomas Jones, New York Jets - Look, I cover the Giants, talk to these guys and I walk out of the locker room reminded of my lack of... well, lack of athletic talent, physique and cash flow. Yet, when ESPN showed a vignette on the nine-year running back, I could not help but to cry. This photo from the team's website should tell you why. Look at those guns!

He says he just works harder than anyone else (which may very well be true), but he shouldn't have to work another day in his life. Just put folks in a headlock, Thomas, and you'll get whatever you want in life, okay?

1st Quarter: The Miami Dolphins - Let's get some more fish, shall we? 'Wildcat' is the buzzword this week in the NFL afte the Fins used it against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Yet, using this play set, which is essentially a single-wing formation still doesn't work without some standout work up front. Three of the offensive linemen - Justin Smiley, Samson Satale and Vernon Carey - were a part of the same group that went 1-15 last season and couldn't protect their quarterbacks in any game. The two rookies, left tackle Jake Long (last April's top overall draft pick) and right guard Donald Thomas helped the line push forward en route to Ronnie Brown's brillant performance. Brown may have had success with last year's holdovers before his season-ending injury, but a healthy and focused Ricky Williams and a capable quarterback in Chad Pennington were the reasons why 'Wildcat' was a play worth running with some of these spare parts.
Credit due to the defensive line as well. No defensive player, whether it be Ed Reed, Champ Bailey, Patrick Willis or even Dick Butkus, can make the plays on a quarterback without some organized chaos up front. Joey Porter may have backed up his talk, but Kendall Langford, Jason Ferguson and Vonnie Holliday gave the Patriots' offensive line absolute fits as the massive men needed to be doubled up, allowing Porter and the other three linebackers on the field to keep New England off balance. Yes, Matt Cassel is under center for the Pats, yet if the defensive line keeps its offensive counterpart on its heels all day, there's little way that he succeed.

2nd Quarter: Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans - The NFL has essentially handcuffed cornerbacks over the past few years, but having four interceptions in the first three games of the season is impressive. The 2006 seventh-rounder from Samson was an up-and-coming player last season, collecting 165 tackles and twenty passes defensed in his first two seasons. Being that he only had one pick in those two years, each interception is a career high.
Interceptions are a stat that shows how aggressive a corner is, but the ones that accumulate decent totals throught a season tend to also deflect a good share of passes in his direction. Six deflections and four INTs in three games is a pretty good sign of what Finnegan can do, especially considering that he defended Chad Ocho Cinco (yes, I'll call him that here) and Andre' Johnson to start the season.

Halftime: Tirico Suave - Something today made me think of 1993's great sports epic - ;) - The Program. Beyond the excellence of fictional linebacker Alvin Mack, running into this made me laugh and cry at the same time. It's old (pre-draft) and snarky sports isn't exactly my cup of tea these days, but for Tirico Suave, respect is most certainly due for this piece of 'net brilliance.

3rd Quarter: Anyone who just joined the San Francisco 49ers this year - There were 2-1 to start last season as well, but that was because the defense at the time was a well-oiled machine and the offense was at least efficient. Then, of course, the Niners just fell apart at the seams when they had the ball, leaving a talented, but young defense on the field too long. Right now, with Mike Martz calling the shots on offense, he had J.T. O'Sullivan, Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce looking like Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens... at least for a week. Defensive end Justin Smith helped a revamped defensive line frustrate an already frustrated Detroit team, giving the linebackers and secondary the time and space to shut down Calvin Johnson, Mike Furrey and Roy Williams.

4th Quarter: Tampa Bay's offensive line - Yes, a lot of love for the linemen today, but when your quarterback (Brian Griese) throws the ball SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES and does not get sacked AT ALL, you've done something remarkable as a unit. Granted, the Bucs bailed on their run game against the Chicago Bears. Also, head coach Jon Gruden isn't a fan of Jeff Garcia and may have been somewhat validated by Griese's performance (38-for-67, 407 yards, two TDs, three INTs). However, Griese doesn't have that kind of play without Donald Penn, Arron Sears, Jeff Faine, Jeremy Zuttah and Jeremy 'my last name is equally as cool as Clinkscales' Trueblood.

As a heads up, you may or may not see much on Scribe for the next couple of days. The alma mater calls. In the meantime, peep the poll, don't get too hammered and check the WNBA conference finals (I'm dead serious about that).

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