A number of players and teams stepped up this week to redeem themselves, showing that they aren’t holding on to the past.
After all, experts say that to survive in the NFL players must have a short memory.
“Hey Vince Young, forget about how the Titans pulled you to start a quarterback who is old enough to remember going to the premiere of Gone with the Wind,” they might say.
Young moved his career record to 19-11 in a win over San Francisco. The 49ers were starting a quarterback of their own who was seeking some redemption.
Alex Smith didn’t quite get it done in the clutch as the Titans held on after he threw a pick six while trying to drive down for the tying score. Still, I think Smith earned the job for at least another week. That late-game interception wasn’t really his fault as it came off a strange deflection straight up into the air.
But the story of the game was Young’s performance.
Kerry Collins was supposed to be the game manager — yet Young went 12 of 19 for 172 yards with no turnovers. He added a rushing touchdown, which is one of the things people thought he might do well when drafted.
Still, Young has a long way to go before his predictions of winning a Super Bowl and going to the hall of fame come true.
Battle of the Bay
The Buccaneers are a team that came into Sunday’s game against Green Bay looking for some redemption. Hell, I’m sure they were just looking to find any redeeming qualities the team might possess.
I defy you to name more than five players on Tampa Bay (aside from quarterbacks, since they always seem to have 10-15 on the roster). You can’t do it, can you? I don’t even think new head coach Raheem Morris can name more than a couple of his players. I’m sure he just calls them by number.
Tampa Bay was even wearing those hideous orange cream uniforms. When I heard earlier last week that they were going to wear them I thought they were just channeling the ghost of the infamous Yuccaneer past. If you’re going to be bad, look hideous doing it as well I guess.
Making his first NFL start, Josh Freeman threw three touchdown passes and the previously winless Buccaneers put a fourth quarter beatdown on Green Bay.
While Freeman completed less than half his passes, he was playing against a Green Bay defense that forced Jay Cutler into four interceptions on opening day. Freeman made the smart plays, avoiding the pressure and throwing the ball away.
Five years in the making
I’ve never been accused of being a Chargers fan, but I was pretty peeved when Eli Manning and his father threw a hissy fit to avoid having to go to San Diego on draft day five years ago.
It was John Elway-esque. Elway refused to play for the then-Baltimore Colts, saying he would go play baseball instead. He forced the Colts to trade him to Denver, and the rest is history.
The selfishness of many professional athletes boggles me, including Manning. To me, that’s the defining moment in his career thus far, not the Super Bowl win. (The defining moment of that Super Bowl will always be David Tyree’s insane catch.)
Obviously no one wants to play for a losing team. But you man up and accept it, especially when you’re playing for a half million dollar check every Sunday.
So when Manning and Phillip Rivers met again five years later, I found myself hoping Eli got his comeuppance.
It looked bleak for San Diego, as LaDainian Tomlinson had just 22 yards rushing to lead the team. But Rivers led a dramatic late drive to give the Chargers a one-point win.
Score one for the good guys. But something tells me Manning wouldn’t give it all up to go back and take his selfishness back. He’s probably laughing his way to the bank in the back of a limousine while polishing his championship ring right now.
Wild no more
If there is a team in the NFL that doesn’t need any redeeming, it’s the Patriots. They win an average of what seems like 14 games a season.
But they let some games get away last year; particularly a game against Miami where the newly-coined Wildcat offense went berserk for 38 points and Bill Belichick’s head exploded like in the movie “Scanners.”
And although New England would win the rematch, the Wildcat again would pose problems.
I’m sure Belichick spent the majority of the offseason figuring out how to stop the Wildcat. He didn’t need to work at all on his offense with Tom Brady coming back and with two of the best receivers in the league, he was left to ponder the crazy offense.
While the Dolphins threw in a wrinkle this year with rookie quarterback Pat White often times leading it — the Patriots didn’t really let it get off the ground this time.
With the exception of a 16-play, 11-minute drive in the third quarter, the Wildcat sputtered most times in a 10-point loss.
But you know who I feel sorry for in this equation? Chad Henne. He runs on and off the field five or six times per drive. He’s probably out of stamina by the time the first third down of a drive rolls around. And then half the time he gets on the field, he sprints out to a wide receiver position where he is promptly ignored by the defensive back who is already cheating away from Henne towards the line of scrimmage.
Just once I want to see them throw a wide receiver screen to Henne, or have him run a route.
Ronnie Brown can actually throw the ball, and Pat White was a quarterback, so why not give it a shot?