The New Orleans Saints are scoring 11 less points per game than last season, but they have stayed in the playoff hunt. Getting Reggie Bush back in the second half of the season should add the fire power back into their offense. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Moss waived, unpredictable games, Saints regain their magic, McNabb benched, and Raiders and Rams reach .500
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
If you’re trying to figure out the NFL, forget it. This has to be one of the most unpredictable and drama filled seasons in recent memories. Through the halfway point there aren’t any teams that have separated themselves from the pack, there seems to be a new story out of left field every week, and most of them are coming out of Minnesota.
Vikings stay in the headlines for wrong reasons
Last season the Minnesota Vikings were in the news for all of the right reasons. They were winning games, quarterback Brett Favre was having his best statistical season ever and the Vikings looked like they were on a collision course with the New Orleans Saints for the NFC Championship Game.
The Vikings were pretty much one play away from the Super Bowl last year.
But this season, yeah, not so good, and most of the news is happening during the week instead of on Sundays.
After all the drama with Favre and head coach Brad Childress, the Vikings have stolen all of the headlines by waiving wide receiver Randy Moss after only four games.
For a third round pick, which they sent to the New England Patriots for Moss, the Vikings got 13 receptions, 174 yards, and two touchdowns. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will be having a good laugh in next year’s draft when he is picking up another solid player while the Vikings ended up getting a whole lot of nothing.
The Vikings are 2-5 and their season is pretty much over. The fingers are being pointed all over the place, but when it comes down to it, the head coach is running the team, and Childress seems like he is in way over his head.
He has battled with Favre through the media, calling out his quarterback in interviews, and pretty much throwing Favre under the bus. Coaches are supposed to point out a player’s mistakes… in team meetings.
Childress tried to show that he had control of this team by sitting an injured Favre, but obviously Childress does not have the backing of the organization, because Favre was under center for their loss to the Patriots this past Sunday.
After it was clear that Moss was not producing, and after Moss praised the Patriots as a great organization and said that Belichick was the greatest coach ever, Childress decided that he had enough and it seemed like he needed to send a message when he decided to waive Moss.
Moss did not help his case by under performing and saying how much he missed the Patriots, but Childress needed to understand that the team gave up a very good draft pick for the guy, and the attention that he draws makes it easier for other receivers to get open.
Childress has to know that as head coach he has to deal with egos, and he has failed in that department. His job is to get the most out of his talent to win games, but instead he is trying to fight his star players and he is losing his team.
Do not be surprised to see Childress on his way out after this season. For the amount that they are paying Favre and for the high draft pick that they gave up for Moss, the coach has to make that work.
Don’t blame Favre for this. He was hanging out on his ranch in his Wrangler jeans when he was begged to come back. Don’t blame Moss, because you know what you’re going to get with him. Blame the coach.
NFL is a bad bet
This would not be a great time to bet on the NFL. Not because they are rolling out a bad product, but because it is nearly impossible to figure out who is going to win any game.
The top AFC teams appeared to be the class of the NFL, and the NFC seemed to be a bunch of teams who were competing to see who would lose in the Super Bowl.
But this past week the Green Bay Packers went on the road and shutout the New York Jets 13-0, and the Saints found their magic from last season and knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers, who looked like the best team in the league, 20-10. This was a week after the Saints were blown out at home by the Cleveland Browns. Yeah, go figure.
The Saints are not lighting up the scoreboard like they did a year ago, when they averaged 31.9 points per game. This year they are only scoring 20.9 points per game. The Saints biggest issue is the lack of a running game because of injuries to running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.
Even with those issues, the Saints have been able to stay afloat. At 5-3 they are still in position to win their division or make the playoffs as a wild card. Bush and Thomas will be back for the second half of the season, so the Saints could make a run at the title again.
In the NFL this season, being 5-3 is not a bad thing. It’s not like last year, when both the Saints and the Colts were 8-0 and were clearly the best two teams in the NFL. It seems like every week there is a new “best team” in the league. This week it is the Patriots, who just figure out how to win games, as usual.
McNabb may be on his way out of Washington
Many people are shocked by Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan benching quarterback Donavan McNabb in the closing minutes of their loss to the Detroit Lions. But it may not have been a rash decision by Shanahan.
It appears that this has been brewing for a while, maybe as early as training camp. Word is that Shanahan and his staff have not been happy with McNabb’s practice habits or how he fits into the offense. Reports are that they tried to get him to change, to conform to what they do, but he just didn’t, so it all came to a head with the game on the line this past Sunday.
Shanahan made a statement, but that certainly was not the time to make it, and he may have lost his team by doing it. Players like McNabb. He’s a great leader and his teammates follow him. He has played poorly at times this season, but that’s your quarterback. If Shanahan wanted to go in a different direction then he needed to do it after the season, not with the game on the line. If Shanahan loses this team, benching McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman, who fumbled as soon as he went into the game, will be what did the Redskins in.
Former first overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell has visited the Redskins for a workout. No word if he worked out as a quarterback or offensive tackle.
Raiders and Rams looking good… sort of
Well Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams fans should be feeling good right about now. At mid season both teams are 4-4.
Now those are not good records by any stretch, but seeing that neither team has been at .500 at this point of the season in years, maybe they’ll get a pass for doing a little celebrating.
The Raiders have outscored their last two opponents 89-17. Are the Raiders 89-17 good? Ah, no. Don’t expect them to blow out their rest of the opponents. But they are certainly better than they have been in years, and it looks like they will end their seven-year streak of losing 11 games or more in a season, which is an NFL record.
As for the Rams, rookie quarterback Sam Bradford is looking better than most rookie quarterbacks who are thrown into the fire their first season.
Bradford has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions, so he is not getting in the way of this team’s ability to win games.
Will the Rams make the playoffs? Probably not. But 8-8 might be able to get a team in the playoffs in the NFC, and it might be enough to win the NFC West, which is the worst division in football.
The AFC West isn’t much better. The Kansas City Chiefs are in first place, but that team probably isn’t the real deal. If the Raiders can get to 9-7 they might be able to sneak in the playoffs.
The AFC and NFC West divisions are so bad that their worst teams, the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, were deported to England to play their game, and it really did not matter who won. It may be in the NFL’s best interest if neither team came back. The British probably weren’t too happy to get stuck with those two bottom feeders.