Browns lucked out with a golden parachute

I don’t get why so many seem to think the Colts acquisition of Trent Richardson suddenly adds a couple wins to their schedule and puts them in the Super Bowl mix. Richardson is not a special player. The Browns made a mistake by drafting him third overall last year, they know it, and the Colts just gave them an golden parachute.

Of the 64 running backs who had at least 60 carries last season, Richardson ranked 57th in yards per attempt. His yards per attempt have actually gone down to 3.4 so far this season

"That's because he plays behind a terrible offensive line," says Mr. NFL expert. "Behind the Colts line he has the makings of a star."

That’s interesting, because one of the 56 running backs ahead of him last year was then-Browns backup Montario Hardesty, who averaged 0.6 yards per carry more than Richardson behind the same exact O’line.

I could understand the trade if the Colts needed a guy who can get you two yards and a cloud of dust on third and one. But the Colts have been in the top 10 in the League in the last 18 games in converting on third down. How do they rank in fourth down conversions? No. 1.

Now the Browns will probably be sitting in the first round with a top-five pick – maybe even No. 2 – and a pick IMHO around No. 10 from the Colts. CBS Sports has a model that projects the former Colts pick to be No. 6!

Trade grades:
Browns: A
Colts: D

Peyton Manning following the same adjustment pattern as last year (and every year before that)

One of the most interesting pieces of Peyton Manning’s game to me has always been his and his offense’s ability to adjust. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, he doesn’t have the quickest feet, but the most important piece for a quarterback – like no other position in football – is his mind.

This season, the Broncos have gotten outscored, 24-26, in the first half of their games. In the second half, they’ve outscored their opponents, 66-24.

Last season after two weeks, the Broncos had been outscored in the first half of their games, 14-30. In the second half they beat their opponents, 38-16.

The Eagles haven't landed, they never got off the ground. But the Broncos could a good matchup for them

I wrote last week about the overhype of the Philadelphia Eagles offense. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I keep hearing adjectives like “high-octane” to describe what’s going on in Philadelphia.

Chip Kelly thought he could come into the NFL and establish an identity for the Eagles like the one he created for the Oregon Ducks. The problems with that are, 1) the defensive players are faster and 2) the opposing coaches are smarter. Not to mention that Michael Vick doesn’t have the wheels he used to. Did you see him get caught by half the Chiefs‘ defense last night?

After the hoopla of the first half of the first game against the Redskins, the Eagles have run fewer plays than both the Chargers and Chiefs in each of their games. The Chiefs ran a brilliant game plan that is the blueprint for beating up on the Eagles: Pounding the ball and throwing it underneath (to Jamaal Charles last night), running the ball with Alex Smith against man defense.

What now looms for the Eagles? The dreaded three-game road trip. At the Broncos, at the Giants, at the Bucs. While Philip Rivers and Alex Smith can move around and gain yards with their feet, neither of the Mannings are particularly great at that. Winning at either of those places is a tough feat, but the Eagles – on 10 days rest before their next game – could be up to the task even a mile high, especially if the Broncos again get off to a slow start and the Eagles can jump out like they did against Washington.

Bad Boy Brady is back

While I’m a huge New England Patriots fan, I’ve never been a big fan of Tom Brady. Don’t get me wrong, I think the guy is one of the best to ever play the game in large part because he has what Manning has: Smarts.

I saw the worst of Tom Brady last Thursday night against the Jets. After a few early years of great success in the League, Brady became a yeller. He yelled at his teammates, he yelled at the officials. When Randy Moss and Wes Welker came to Foxboro, he quieted down.

Bad Boy Brady was back last week. It wasn't just the yelling at his own players – some of them rookies – that was the worst of it. To me, it was the game management. It was clear that virtually his entire group of receivers were having trouble catching the ball. Did Brady change up what he was doing? Throw into the bread basket? Nope. He started throwing passes that were even harder to catch: Jump balls to blanketed receivers, bullets to the fingertips of outstretched arms.

That's not what a leader does. A leader identifies problem areas and works to resolve or minimize them, not showcase those shortcomings for the entire country to see.

After the game, Brady said all the right things. He always does. But during that game, he reminded me why other Patriots like Vince Wilfork, Rob Gronkowski and even Randy Moss have been higher on my list.

Can the Jacksonville Jaguars go 0-16?

The Jaguars are the worst NFL team we've seen in a long time. If the Chiefs were a two-win team last season, this Jaguars team should be "negative" in the win column.

Of their remaining 14 games, eight of them are not remotely winnable. No chance. Two more – at home to the Colts and Titans – are really tough matchups, but given how closely these two teams play their games, the Jags getting a home win is possible.

But their shot at joining the Detroit Lions as the only teams to go winless in a season likely hinges on four other key games on their schedule:

Oct. 20, San Diego Chargers – I’m only putting this one here because it’s a 1pmET game, and it’s conceivable that the Chargers could come into a game against an 0-6 team unfocused.

Nov. 17, Arizona Cardinals – Another 1pmET game for a West Coast team. I could see a scenario in which the Cardinals get some wrong bounces, it’s 7-6 at halftime, and they’re sweating it out.

Dec. 1, at Cleveland Browns – It’s hard to believe this team could win any game on the road, but depending how deep the Browns go in “rebuilding” this season, they could pull this one out.

Dec. 15, Buffalo Bills – The Bills are a better team, but we’ve only seen them and EJ Manuel at home; On the road could be different, though this one will be played not too far from Manuel’s Florida State. The Bills could have more fans in the stands than the hometown Jags.

Peaking too early

What was the last NFL team to look like the League's best team in Week 2 that went on to win the Super Bowl?

The 2009 New Orleans Saints? The 2006 Indianapolis Colts? The 2004 New England Patriots? They all looked good after two weeks, but of those probably only the Saints were getting the buzz that the Seattle Seahawks have around them right now (and it’s just going to get louder when they crush the Jaguars by 30).

As a disclaimer, I picked the Seahawks to be sitting on their couches in January, so I just don’t “buy” that this team is that good. I mean, they needed a red zone turnover to beat the lowly Panthers, who lost to the Bills.

The point here is, don’t over-react to the first two weeks of play. Some trends are developing, but a team just now finding its identity could upend any of the anointed powerhouses like the Seahawks, Broncos and Texans at any time.