Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Week 6 wrap up

Forget the Madden's Curse. If I'm a NFL player I'm staying away from any commercial where technological wizardry makes me appear better than I am. Michael Vick hasn't been able to hit the broad side of a Home Depot ever since those Powerade ads faking him throwing the football out of the stadium aired. Now Arizona Cardinal place kicker Neil Rackers, who treated the uprights like a pool table in spots for fantasy football this summer, is the latest to incur the wrath of the football gods.

If Rackers makes the two straight game winning kicks he's missed, Matt Leinart starts his career with two straight final-drive come-from behind victories.

The second would have been against a team many were saying has one of the greatest defenses in NFL history and others were predicting for 16-0.

It would also be one of the more non-traditional come-from-behind wins you're ever going to see because Leinart's team -- through no fault of his own -- had just
blown a twenty point lead in less than a quarter without giving up an offensive touchdown to the Chicago Bears.

With five minutes to go and Arizona up 13 with ball, Tony Kornheiser suggested the the Cardinals cease operations forever if they end up losing. After an Edgerrin James -- who may have played the worst statistical game for a running back in NFL history -- fumble and a punt return TD not only had the Cardinals blown the lead, but they had done it so quickly their rookie QB had plenty of time to bring them back.

As he did twice in the first quarter, Leinart carved the Bears D apart while moving his team down the field. Cardinal coach Dennis Green decided to stop passing once they got to the 23, which proved a fatal error as Rackers missed the 41 yard game winner.

Leinart wasn't as sharp in the middle of the game as he was at the end and the beginning, but he survived it mistake free -- which is a lot better than any other quarterback who's faced Chicago this year has fared.

The one thing I didn't see Leinart do was throw the long ball -- the knock against him coming out of USC. But his short and medium passes couldn't have been more accurate. He also showed almost-perfect pocket poise against a vaunted blitz and called audibles at the line like he was Peyton Manning. His first TD pass was a result of one of these audibles.

Much was made about the Titan's decision to take Vince Young at number three and Leinart's slip to ten. I've seen Vince Young play the last two weeks, and while he is slightly better at passing than I thought he'd be, it doesn't seem like he will be anywhere near the runner in the NFL that he was in college. Making him a quarterback with terrible mechanics who can only throw to the receiver the play is called for and who fumbles or gets hurt half the time he tries to run the ball. For now at least.

For now Matt Leinart looks like at least a solid veteran quarterback -- probably better. There was a school of thought that slipping to Arizona, with its great receivers and passing minded coach, was a blessing in disguise for Leinart. That might be true, but even with their new golden boy exceeding all expectations the Cardinals -- who play in a stadium named for an on-line university -- still can't shake the stink of being the worst franchise in all of professional sports.

Picks: I can take solace in that they were better than Edgerrin James. But 4 and 9 calls into question the "thin slicing" technique I have been using. Either I know nothing about football or Malcolm Gladwell is a big liar. 32-36-3 for the season.


Anonymous said...

Maybe you need embrace Gladwell’s new bag: the neural network. It will give you an excuse to call yourself Mr. Blond as well as stretch your prognostication skills to popular music and modern cinema.

Gone to the blogs said...

I've always had a soft spot for the Da Bearss. Half-watching last night's game, I became so incensed with the Cardinal players' elaborate celebrations on even fairly mundane defensive plays that I started wishing for a late game miracle. I still can't believe the outcome.