The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enjoyed a weekend off, which for many players probably meant a lot of downtime and a break from the game of football. For our author, it meant an opportunity to soak in the NFL as a whole, as opposed to focusing solely on the Buccaneers’ game. There was a lot to see. Here are 15 observations from a day spent watching the NFL in action:
15. The Bears actually fell for the old fourth-and-short gambit in which the offense lines up like it’s going to go for it but is really just trying to draw the defense offsides. Lance Briggs, a fantastic linebacker, was the man who got duped. I know Drew Brees is a crafty fella, but when was the last time you saw this play work? It gives me hope that the fake-to-third-throw-to-first move is going to be pulled off successfully one day in Major League Baseball.
14. So we’re in the Breast Cancer Awareness portion of the NFL schedule, which means cool pink uniform accents all over the place. Honestly, the pink towels and gloves almost look like a natural part of the get-up for the Dolphins, and I mean that in a good way. On the other hand, they really don’t work with the Broncos’ orange and blue. Not so great with Jason Garrett’s hair, either.
13. Winless Jacksonville goes up early, 7-0, on the Rams in St. Louis. Nobody on the St. Louis sideline panics. Everybody who took St. Louis in their NFL survivor pools instantly panics.
12. I like Marv Albert, but at some point did he consciously decide that any pass that comes within five yards of a receiver but is not caught is a “drop?” I think at one point in the fourth quarter Sunday the Dolphins receivers “dropped” three straight passes. We’re going to need some sub-categories for those stats, though, such as the “ball was thrown a foot behind him” drop; the “defender actually batted the ball away” drop; and the “pass-catcher was being cut in half by a tackle from behind as the ball arrived” drop.
11. Since I’m a) a human being and, b) currently alive, I loved Breaking Bad as much as the rest of you. That said…Vince Gilligan goofin’ on the “Fox NFL Sunday” crew? Yeah, that’s why I don’t watch pregame shows.
10. Speaking of much-loved pop culture touchstones…those Ron Burgundy Durango commercials, on the heels of some underwhelming on-line previews, make me worry that the Anchorman sequel is going to be more Caddyshack II than Christmas Vacation.
9. Let’s play Which Former Buccaneer Is Now Drew Brees’ Backup? Bruce Gradkowski? Rudy Carpenter? Josh Johnson? Byron Leftwich? Nope, it’s Luke McCown. McCown is a very nice guy and, by virtue of the fact that he’s in the NFL, clearly one of the best 40 or 50 QBs out there. But Drew Brees’ backup? That’s a nice gig on Sundays. The guy hawking virgin Hurricanes at the Superdome is more likely to get some action.
8. I know the NFL doesn’t want choreographed celebrations, but man, the flip side can be just as bad. Some of these D-Linemen who get their first sack in a while apparently have a bunch of moves they want to use but no real forethought as to how to put them together. Denver’s Malik Jackson got a second-quarter sack of Dallas QB Tony Romo and his dance looked like a mix of Victor Cruz’s salsa, a game of peekaboo with an infant and, for a few weird moments, deep-sea fishing.
7. Love the naked bootleg. Love the naked bootleg. Love the naked bootleg. I hope that doesn’t make me sound weird, but damn, that play needs to be used more often at the goal line. It always works. Olympic sprinter Peyton Manning pulled it off during the late games on Sunday.
6. People – well, fantasy football people – talk about Michael Bush stealing TDs from Matt Forte and Matt Schaub murdering Andre Johnson’s value. But what Peyton Manning is doing to Matt Prater owners is far more criminal. Not every drive has to end in a touchdown, you know. (Epilogue: Matt Prater comes on to kick a 50-yard field goal in a critical situation, and my fantasy football analysis is as indispensible as ever.)
5. Can we just agree that H. Jon Benjamin gets to narrate everything, and be done with it?
4. Speaking of fantasy football, New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan recovered a fumble early in the Saints’ win over Dallas. For a moment, it looked like Jordan was going to get one of those exciting 300-pound-guy touchdowns. If he had, he would have outscored Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron, who had just three fantasy points on Thursday. Three. No, I’m not bitter.
3. Here’s CBS’s Phil Simms, after saying that Dallas holding Denver to a field goal after a strong drive in the third quarter was a huge lift for the Cowboys: “That’s not even…that’s just the truth.” Thanks. I wasn’t sure just how pithy of a point that was until Simms gave himself a ringing self-endorsement.
2. Peyton Manning threw an interception. I know you will doubt me, but I saw it happen. It’s all downhill from here for the Broncos.
1. Michael Vick pulled up lame for the Eagles and Nick Foles finished off a 36-21 win over the Giants in relief. Next up for the Eagles: at Tampa Bay next Sunday. Is there some rule that only Nick Foles can quarterback the Eagles in Raymond James Stadium?