|09-13-2006, 07:20 AM||#1|
Angling in the Deep
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Texas Riviera, Southern Mountains
Opening Weekend Left Us Longing For Offense
Boy, doesn't my fantasy team know this!!!
Opening weekend left us longing for offense
By Mark Kreidler
Special to ESPN.com
A special note for those scoring at home: Congrats. You're doing better than the NFL.
I don't want to say Brett Favre speaks for the league, but even Favre himself may not have realized the extent of the implication behind his words the other night, when, in a post-shutout funk after getting skunked 26-0 by the Bears, he blurted, "Maybe we just ain't very good."
"We" meaning the point-less Packers? Don't stop there, big boy. Carry it through to the punchless NFL itself, which is off to its most uninspired start in nearly two decades.
Can you do Power Rankings without the power? Doesn't anybody know how to get to the goal line anymore?
Tampa Bay: shut out at home.
Green Bay: shut out at home.
Oakland: ... Oh, you get the drill.
Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel
Will Brett Favre and the Packers score before Lambeau freezes over?
Week 1 in the NFL is officially the biggest bust since "Gigli," at least from an offensive perspective. The last year that fewer points were scored in a season-opening weekend was 1977, when some lame writer was probably using "Orca" or "Airport '77" for purposes of bust comparison. (Wait: That was me.)
And it's a smell spread all over, just now. Cast a finger -- any finger -- in the general direction of injuries, or porous offensive lines, or rock 'em-sock 'em-robot defenses, or lousy game plans. It's all the same in the end: Tha League is producing neither points nor promise.
We all love defense, as long as it doesn't muck up a decent scorefest. But look: New England beat Buffalo on a safety. Seattle -- that's the defending NFC champ -- beat Detroit 9-to-flipping-6. Mariners-Tigers, sure, but Seahawks-Lions? That's just not right.
It's always shocking in a league like the NFL when things get heavily toploaded on either side of the ball, and right now it's all about the defense -- that, or a whole host of offenses truly stink. In Week 1, almost a third of the teams in action scored 10 or fewer points, and that doesn't even take into account San Francisco, an offense that was expected to struggle but produced 27 points in a loss to Arizona.
The Cardinals racked up 34 points in that game, making them the offensive juggernaut of the league. Clone Denny Green!
There is seldom a single reason why these things happen. Favre may be right about the Packers; they're working with an inexperienced offensive line and are so desperate for help at wide receiver that on Monday they signed Koren Robinson, a talented wideout with a history of alcohol-related problems who was released by Minnesota a few weeks ago.
The Raiders are transitioning into the Art Shell Era II, and doing so with an offensive coordinator, Tom Walsh, who was out of the game for years before this assignment. On the larger scale, their offensive line was a gateway for the Chargers on Monday night, and Jerry Porter is looking more and more like Oakland's own very special version of Deion Branch.
If you went looking around the league for a group answer, though, that answer might just be cowardice. From top to bottom, the NFL appears full of play-callers who either don't want to take a downfield chance or don't believe in their personnel enough to go ahead and take that chance. QB protection is an issue seemingly just about everywhere, but for the love of Randall Cunningham, give it a shot once in a while. That drowsy fan up in Section $$$98 will thank you.
On the bright side, one result of all this offensive mediocrity is the apparent dilution of home-field advantage. Week 1 produced 11 wins by the visitors, which I suppose can be argued as a good thing ("You never know what'll happen in this crazy league!"). Then again, those 11 home-team losers combined to score 99 points ("But you sure know what won't happen: offense.").
Perhaps there's a Shawne Merriman in every pot this year, and defenses really are this wonderful around the NFL. That's putting some bright red lipstick on the pig, at least.
Otherwise, we're left to grapple with another possibility, which is that Brett Favre, an offensive mind by profession, has it right. Maybe, one week into the rest of the NFL's life, all those offenses just ain't that good. Come home, Don Coryell. All is forgiven.
Mark Kreidler of the Sacramento Bee can be reached at email@example.com. His book "Four Days to Glory: Wrestling With the Soul of the American Heartland," is available from HarperCollins in January 2007.
|09-13-2006, 11:00 AM||#2|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Topeka, KS