North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

NFL Notebook, week two

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Week two of the NFL’s season gave me more then a few reasons and moments to vastly overreact, opportunities I gladly took advantage of.

If one were to follow me on Twitter, they would have seen me lay out a series of angry tweets about the Houston Texans and their head coach, Gary Kubiak, where I exclaimed he didn’t understand basic concepts in football, had given the win to the Redskins twice and made a pretty stupid joke about canned peaches.

All of which were eventually for naught when the Texans, thanks to a sneaky coaching move by Kubiak, won the game in overtime.

What does that sequence of events say about me as a sports fan? That I dive into things irrationally and without any regard? Yeah, probably. What does it say about me as some kind of sports journalism person? Probably something about a lack of restraint.

I think on the whole, though, it’s basically something about me as a Toronto sports fan. As something of a Leafs fan, I’m basically expected to vastly overact about everything. I’ve already had arguments about how the 2010 Maple Leafs will both make the playoffs and end up giving Boston the first overall pick in the draft.

Hell, I cheer for the Raptors. Of course I have wild mood swings.

So this all translates to the NFL, too. If any proof be needed, look at my picks for week two: there’s a bunch of what I’ll look back as overreaction and what seemed like perfectly reasonable observations at the time*. Of course the Bengals aren’t collapsing; Seattle probably isn’t a great team. Whatever, though.

So, what did I really get out of week two – with a mind towards not exploding all over little things?

1. Houston is a decent team.

The Texans did make some bizarre moves in the late stages of their win over the Redskins – not calling a timeout right away as the fourth ended, or even going into a punt formation – but that shouldn’t overshadow a gutsy second half comeback. The Texans roared back into the game largely thanks to Matt Schaub’s passing; their run-heavy approach didn’t net them a lot earlier in the game.

To me, that move says a lot more about the win then passing comeback does: Houston is a team with good enough offense – and a good enough O-line – that they can shift approaches in a game. That their line can go from pushing outward and creating holes to keeping pressure off of Schaub. I like that.

I do think they’re lucky as hell to be 2-0 right now, but these things have a way of leveling out over time. There’s no way they’ll win the division, I’m sure, but I don’t think they’ll finish out of the playoffs.

2. The Colts are who they always were

The idea that Indianapolis was going to have an off year is another big overreaction I saw in a few places. They lost to the Texans in week one, but that loss is the kind of one that happens every so often: some dropped passes here and there killed drives and eventually cost them the game. It wasn’t from a complete team collapse.

And what do ya know: they looked great on Sunday night, defeating the Giants 38-14. The Colts are a good team.

3. What happens when the Steelers get Ben back?

Two wins into the Steelers season has got me wondering about Big Ben, he of the alleged crimes and the motorcycle accidents. I figured without his presence, the Steelers offence would have a tough time moving the ball and scoring. And to some extent, they are.

But I didn’t really consider their defence. Thanks to the return of Troy Polamalu, their defence is absolutely phenomenal. I’ll always look to his injury last season as the reason why the Steelers didn’t do anything much, and with him back they look great.

After all, I’m describing a guy who figured out a snap count and jumped over Tennessee’s offensive live and got a sack. That has to be one of the greatest defensive plays I’ve seen maybe ever.

So what happens when Ben comes back?  Are we talking about a real contender? I don’t know if it’s an overreaction; it seems like Ben would put an already very good team – in a weak division – over the top.

But then, how much of a difference would it make? The bulk of the Steelers wins have been at the hands of the defence, which is forcing turnovers (seven on Sunday), making great plays (the aforementioned leaping tackle) and generally shutting down other teams (for example: opponents are only converting one-third of the time on third downs). Ben will not make a difference one way or the other with this.

Hell, if anything, the spotlight that will follow him throughout the season, as people decide to make a social stand (and not against somebody who deserves one, like Drew Brees) may only prove to be a distraction on the team, painting an even bigger target on the team; if they weren’t one you want to beat before, they are now!

Is that what will happen? Or will Ben be welcomed back with open arms. I have no idea. Alls I know is it’s going to be an interesting year.

*: Of course, I could say this about anything I’ve ever written.


Written by M.

September 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Posted in NFL Notebook

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