Friday, September 26, 2008

NFL Week 3 And Other Things

Okay, so I'm a little late this week; it's nearly Week 4 as I write this. So sue me.

Bloody Hell: Considering the amount of time Tony Romo's been given in the pocket so far this season -- he's practically had time to take a seat, read the newspaper and drink a cup of coffee before finally throwing the ball -- Washington getting a decent pass rush this weekend against the Cowboys was already going to be a difficult exercise. And now that Jason Taylor is out -- difficult probably just got upgraded to impossible.

Taylor will miss this weekend's game -- and likely at least a few more weeks -- after getting kicked in the shin last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, you read that right ... he got kicked in the shin. In all seriousness, the injury caused blood to pool just below the skin, resulting in something called comparmental disease, which could eventually lead to such things as nerve damage, paralysis and even death.

Long and short, Taylor needed the procedure, and he needed it about an hour before he actually got it. The problem is, the Redskins go up this weekend against the NFL's most explosive offense (the Cowboys are averaging a league-best 440 yards a game), and one way to derail an explosive offense is to stuff the quarterback into the turf repeatedly.

Just ask the Patriots.

Without a pass rush -- and if the first three weeks are any indication, Dallas has a brick wall for an offensive line -- Washington will be able to do very little against that offense. And it's not like Washington can blitz every other play, because Dallas' running game -- the two-headed monster of Felix Jones and Marion Barber III -- will take advantage. The best the Redskins can hope for is to contain the running game and get to Romo before he can find the likes of Terrell Owens, Jason Witten and Austin Miles.

But let's face it, that's easier said than done. Washington's offense better crack the 30 mark if it hopes to win this game.

In Limbo: You have to feel for Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin. Sure, he's partly to blame for taking that job in the first place, but the way owner Al Davis is treating him, letting him twist in the wind like a chime during a tropical storm, is doing nothing but drag the hapless Raiders even farther into the abyss.

In the offseason, Davis wanted Kiffin to resign. Kiffin refused, knowing that if he was fired, he'd at least be entitled to a huge payday. After a Week 2 win, Davis hinted he might want to fire Kiffin. Then, when Oakland came from ahead to lose to Buffalo this past Sunday, Kiffin's pink slip seemed a virtual certainty.

But he's still Oakland's head coach. Forhow long, though? And if he does get the axe before the season's out, who will take his place? Who would want to?

My guess is, the only job worse than the Raiders right now might be the Kansas City Chiefs, simply because they have two bad quarterbacks and little else in that city. Herm Edwards isn't so much playing to win the game anymore, but playing just to keep his job. Though if one thinks about it, winning games is the best way to keep your job in the NFL.

Kiffin hasn't done much winning in Oakland ... then again, no one has since the Raiders were last in the Super Bowl in 2002. I can't help but think if this situation will help Kiffin land another NFL job down the road. He's a young, bright guy -- once the offensive coordinator for collegiate powerhouse USC -- and a lot of teams might look at the situation in Oakland and say he got a raw deal.

It might not be another head coaching gig yet, but if Kiffin finally does get the axe from Davis, I can see a good NFL team letting him be a coordinator. And what better way to resurrect a coaching career than to run a successful offense for a few seasons?

Dallas might be in the market for an offensive coordinator at the end of the season, if Jason Garrett gets that expected promotion.

Just Saying: For the first time in 13 years, Joe Torre was not the manager of the New York Yankees.

For the first time in 13 years, the Yankees won't be in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Torre's new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have clinched their first NL West title since 2004.

Coincidence? I think not.

New head man Hank Steinbrenner gave manager Joe Girardi a pass for the season, saying the injuries the team suffered left his hands tied. Basically, Mini-George said the team's failures weren't Girardi's fault.

Now, I like Girardi -- he did wonders for a young Florida Marlins team with literally no payroll -- but how can he get a free pass for failing where Torre succeeded? Torre had injuries and other obstacles during his tenure; hell, each of his last three seasons, the Yankees were out of the playoffs in June, only to rally and make it. Then again, Torre hadn't won a World Series ring since 2000, so he was washed up.

By that logic, Girardi will never amount to anything, because he's never led a team to the playoffs, let alone a World Series title. I'm glad Torre has found redemption with the Dodgers, just as I'm sure he thanks Manny Ramirez for helping out. And though Torre will never rub the Yankees' faces in it, I'll take the liberty of doing so for him.

New York made a mistake letting Torre go; sure, he hadn't won a World Series in seven years, but he still put his ball club in a position to win every year. It wasn't his fault Alex Rodriguez forgot his bat come October, nor was it his fault the pitching spent more time in the hospital than the entire cast of Scrubs.

Very good show, by the way. I've been missing out.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of the Yankees, ESPN the Magazine's Buster Olney has a really good piece over on the website about the Yankees' slow demise over the years. It basically boils down to the draft. Read it here.

Here We Go Again: After USC's 27-21 loss to Oregon State Thursday night, everyone and their grandmother wants to know: with one loss, will the Trojans still play for the BCS National Championship?

Chances are, if there are two teams at the end of the season that are undefeated, the answer will be no. At this point, USC's best hope is we end the season with no more than one undefeated team and the Trojans win out.

Which again illustrated how flawed the BCS system is.

I know the pro-BCS honks are going to tell me this is the beauty of the system, that it makes every regular-season game mean something. Lose a game in September and you'll be crying come bowl season. But see, for me, that's exactly the problem.

Are we really gonna punish a really good USC team for losing a conference game? On the road?! Anyone who knows anything about college sports (football and basketball in particular) knows how hard winning a conference game on the road can be, and lest we forget that USC has lost three of the last four times it has traveled to Oregon State.

Oddly enough, each time the Trojans bounce back, win out and still find themselves in a prestigious bowl, so is losing on the road to Oregon State really that bad? Seriously? C'mon, it's not nearly as bad as last year, when USC lost at home to Stanford.

Now that was a punishable offense.

Under a playoff system, USC's title hopes would not be automatically dashed. And at a school where it's national title or bust (I don't buy for one second the whole "Oh, at least we have the Rose Bowl" thing), the BCS system is particularly problematic. If you lose early in the season and are knocked out of national title consideration, what's left to play for the rest of the season?

Sure, there's a possible Heisman bid for someone and some guys will be looking to improve their stock before the 2009 NFL Draft, but at the end of the day, don't we play for championships? To be out of the title hunt in the first month of the season is just stupid and wrong on so many levels ... the BCS needs to go.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see what Division I-AA games are going on this weekend.

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