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NFL Week 1: Brady out for the season

Is the Patriots' season done? The Colts, Chargers and Jaguars all lay eggs.

How Cyd and Jim saw Week 1 in the NFL:

By Cyd Zeigler jr.
E-mail Cyd

Even with some fear that I may be overstating things, I truly believe that EVERYTHING changed in the NFL this week. Everything you thought a sure thing is not. Everything you thought impossible no longer is. We have been inching toward this moment for many seasons, but this this weekend will be looked back at as the time when it all changed.

To be honest, it all really changed last February when the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, when the unbeaten team was beaten; the AFC topped by the NFC. We are seeing a powershift in the NFL right now, and even from the perspective of a Patriots fan, it is quite exciting!!

Was it a dirty hit that knocked Brady out for the season? I don’t know. I think Randy Moss’ comments that it was were the reaction of a sad and disappointed player. Look, you get in the game, you’re trying to make a play against last year’s 16-0 team, you scrape along however you can. Was it a low hit? Sure. Did it look awkward? Yeah. Was it “dirty”? Eh. The guy did lunge directly at Brady’s knee; it certainly seems a little shady. But I won’t put intent behind the hit; and even if I tried to, I just don’t think it was done with malice beyond wanting to sack last year’s league MVP.

By Jim Buzinski
E-mail Jim

Devastating: “All I heard was him scream and yell. When I heard him scream and yell, I knew something was wrong."

--Kansas City defender Bernard Pollard, after his hit injured New England quarterback Tom Brady.

By now, you all have heard that Brady is out for the rest of the season after being hurt in the first period of the season opener.

As much as I root against the Pats, I am not at all happy that Brady is hurt. I have been hurt playing sports and it sucks and don’t wish it on anyone.

Also, Brady’s absence makes watching the Pats a lot less compelling, unless backup Matt Cassell becomes the second coming of Brady (a backup who came on early in the 2001 season after Drew Bledsoe was hurt and led New England to the Super Bowl title). I imagine the networks, which built a lot of their schedule around Brady, need a stiff drink as does every Patriots fan.

Two rookie quarterbacks got their NFL debuts on Sunday. One of them went to Delaware. Both of them won. As crazy as the upsets were, this little tidbit – that rookie QBs were 2-0 on opening weekend – may be the craziest.

It totally sucks to have Tom Brady out for the season. One of my friends said that fans of other teams are probably cheering; I don’t think so. I think most people want the league’s best players playing the whole season so, when they beat them, there are no excuses; They get the best product the league has to offer, and they get the satisfaction of beating them. I think the league lost something in seeing Brady knocked out for the season.

The Patriots go from “Super Bowl favorites” to “potential playoff team.” They’re 1-0 and still have a favorable schedule. Brady is great, but what makes him great is mostly his decision-making. If the Patriots coaching staff can instill that in Matt Cassel or one of their other backups, a 10-6 record is possible. If not, then they’ll be angling for a good draft pick.

BTW, am I the only one who thinks Daunte Culpepper could be a good solution for the Patriots? He put up great numbers with Randy Moss once before. I have to think the Patriots are talking about the same thing right now.

When was the last weekend you saw three starting quarterbacks sidelined for at least a couple weeks? Brady, the Chiefs’ Brody Croyle and the Titans’ Vince Young are all out for at least a couple weeks. Weird.

Brett Favre was what I thought he was. He threw a long bomb for a touchdown and threw another desperation lob for a touchdown. He checked down a number of times, but I didn’t exactly see him out there managing the game. It was enough to beat the Dolphins. And it may be enough to beat a Brady-less Patriots team next weekend. But will it be enough to make it to the top of the AFC East, especially when that arm starts to get tired in late November and December? I doubt it.

For the last eight years or so, Jim and I have had a fantasy football league with a bunch of other friends. My fantasy team consists of Donovan McNabb (300+ passing yard, 3 TDs), Michael Turner (220 rushing yards, 2 TDs), and the Titans defense (3 turnovers, 7 sacks). And that’s not even counting Reggie Wayne and Terrell Owens. Plus, while I don’t put much stock in it, Jim and I faced off for the only time this season today and I won, 137-74 (which means he’ll be in the final and I won’t make the playoffs). But I’m smiling today!

Did it seem odd to anyone else that there seemed to be more Bears fans at the Colts’ new stadium than Colts fans? Maybe it’s just the acoustics of the new place, but a couple times I found myself thinking the Colts had done something well when the crowd erupted; but it was the Bears fans drowning out their hosts. Odd.

As I said, I’m wondering if this week represents a shift in power in the NFL. The Patriots have lost their most important player, the Chargers lost to a team that many called an also-ran, the Browns were destroyed by the Cowboys, and the Colts got totally dominated by a team that was supposed to be one of the worst in the NFC. Did the Giants start something in the Super Bowl, and is the NFC headed toward a new reign of power after about 10 years of playing second fiddle? It’s only week 1, but I think the answer may be yes.

I’m also wondering if this week isn’t the beginning of the end of the Colts-Patriots dynasty. They have been the two best teams for the last seven seasons. Injuries have left the two teams in big, big trouble. Sure, they could come back and face off in the AFC Championship next season. But after just one week, this season seems lost for both.

To that effect, I’m changing up my top-five, big-time.

My Top Five

1) Philadelphia. You can say that they beat up on a bad Rams team all you want. But McNabb is back, the defense is playing great, and they’ve found a star in DeSean Jackson.

2) Carolina. Their win in San Diego was the biggest shocker of the week to most, but I gave them a 40% chance of winning. The fashion they won in makes me wonder if they could be this season’s team of destiny.

3) Dallas. They’ve got the talent. And they got a big, big win on the road against an AFC team. Tough not to put them near the very top of the NFL.

4) Buffalo. I really like what I see from this team. Marshawn Lynch played well and Trent Edwards just might end up being a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. Plus, if their defense keeps playing like that, a Super Bowl run is very, very possible.

5) Chicago. I had them winning their division because I think Kyle Orton is a big improvement over Rex Grossman. I had no idea Matt Forte and the offensive line would play so well.
We are entering uncharted territory with New England. They still have loads of talent and great coaching but Brady made them special and I expect them to become ordinary. Fortunately, they are in a relatively weak division, but just making the playoffs would take a monumental effort. Winning the Super Bowl without Brady would rank as the greatest team achievement in league history.

And despite what Randy Moss said after, the hit on Brady by Pollard was not dirty. It simply showed how a player’s season can end in seconds.

Young and restless: Brady was not the only QB that went down. Tennessee’s Vince Young is expected to be out two-four weeks, but most Titan fans won’t bemoan his loss given how lousy he played in a win against Jacksonville. The Titans seem to move the ball better with backup Kerry Collins and Young is looking more and more like a bust. He seems to have lost his confidence and a report from the Nashville Tennessean says Young tried to take himself of the game earlier after throwing his second interception.

Power outage: Heading into the season, New England, Indianapolis, San Diego and Jacksonville were considered the four best teams in the AFC. But in Week 1, we saw …

… The Pats lose Brady for the season ad with him any serious shot at a title.
… Indianapolis look like crap in a 29-13 home whipping by the Bears.
… San Diego lose at home on the last play to Carolina.
… and Jacksonville looking less than impressive in a 17-10 loss at Tennessee.

Colts look flat:
The Colts, my team, looked like a group whose quarterback had not played in the preseason and was missing its center. Peyton Manning played OK, but his timing was off on several deep balls and it was obvious he did not trust his rebuilt line, missing three starters, including center Jeff Saturday. They couldn’t run (53 yards) and Manning did not have a lot of time to throw. The Bears rushed for 183 yards and converted 62% of their first downs; the Colts, the best third-down team in recent years, made only 5 of 11 attempts.

The Colts had won their previous 21 games played in September and October. With next week’s game at Minnesota (another team that can run the ball), 0-2 is a distinct possibility.

Shocker: San Diego suffered a crushing loss when the Panthers drove 68 yards in 11 plays and scored on the final play – a 14-yard pass from Jake Delhomme to Dante Rosario – for a 26-24 win.

Chargers superstar linebacker Shawne Merriman, who, against medical advice, is playing with a serious knee injury, was a non-factor. He had one tackle and one assist. If this is what Merriman will give the Chargers’ defense, they are better off having him get surgery and sit out the season.

What do we know?: It’s tempting after Week 1 to try and draw conclusions, and it’s always premature; predicting the season after one NFL game would be like calling baseball’s division races after10 games. The single-biggest thing that happened in Week 1 was not any team winning or losing, but the injury to Brady; injuries to starters are the hardest thing for a team to overcome.

Toothless: Two cat teams looked like kittens in losing to team with rookie coaches and rookie quarterbacks. The Lions rolled over to the Falcons (4-12 in 2007) and rookie QB Matt Ryan, while the Bengals were outplayed by the Ravens (5-11 a year ago) and their rookie QB Joe Flacco. Meow.

Play of the Day: Best play I saw all day was by Buffalo punt returner Roscoe Parrish, who had a brilliant, weaving 63-yard return for a touchdown. I am not sure I have seen a more athletic return.

Runnerup: Second best was Buffalo catching the Seattle special teams napping on a field goal try. The Bills sent defensive lineman Ryan Denney split wide on the line and the Seahawks left him alone. Bills holder Brian Moorman took the snap, stood up and hit a wide-open Denney for a touchdown.

Bring in Brady: I think it’s time for Cleveland to bench QB Derek Anderson and start Brady Quinn. Anderson was brilliant in the first two-thirds of 2007, then badly trailed of in the final third after teams figured him out. Sunday, in a 28-10 home drubbing by Dallas, Anderson was an anemic 11 for 24. Let the Quinn Era begin and hotness reign.

Finally: Gee, I got through a whole column without mentioning Brett Favre.