The NFL just finished week two and the season is already a slurry:
Three teams ran for over 200 yards this past weekend and lost. The Cowboys rumbled for 251 against the Giants; the Titans hit the Texans for 240 and the Dolphins possessed the ball for over 45 minutes and ground out 239 yards on the Colts tonight.
All donned the L. When is the last time you saw that?
The Cowboys have lots of company in that soup of teams still trying to figure out who they are. Look at the favorites, in both conferences. The Patriots are a late Leodis McKelvin fumble from being 0-2. The Chargers are 1-1 and beaten up. The Colts are 2-0 but their run defense is a sieve.
The Titans played a mirror image of the Cowboys loss. Their offense raced to an early lead. They destroyed Houston on the ground. But they lost the turnover battle 0-2 and their ballyhooed secondary was ripped to pieces by Andre Johnson and his friends. Consequently, Tennessee lost its home opener 31-34. (Sound familiar?) Jeff Fisher enters the day still looking for his first victory, but at the very least nobody will call him a cupcake.
Within the NFL East, every team has concerns. The Redskins can't score. They travel to Detroit this weekend and I'll bet the Lions feel they can win, after the Rams held Washington to 9 points in the 'Skins home opener. Jason Campbell has led one TD drive this year and that came in garbage time of week one's loss, when New York was playing prevent.
The Eagles has taken ill after an attack by the injury bug. The reason I picked them to win the division was their impressively rebuilt offensive line. Impressively rebuilt on paper, anyway. It appeared Andy Reid was finally going to run some powerball and balance out his potent passing attack.
It's September 22nd and that plan is already in disarray. RT Shawn Andrews is done for the season. Projected RG Stacey Andrews has already been benched. On Sunday, Reid ran a third of his running plays from the wildcat, and Michael VIck has yet to be activated. Kevin Kolb's start had something to do with the gimmickry but Jimmy Johnson wondered on the Fox halftime show if the Eagles are going to stay with the flim-flammery when Donovan McNabb returns?
Reid has gone through recent seasons where his pass/run balance was deeply skewed to the pass. He may be tilting that way again. It's not clear if he believes in his running attack, and it's only week three. Gimmicks can win a game, but Ihave yet to see a gimmick offense win over the course of a season. In this already crazy year, anything may be possible.
The Giants spent a fortune to shore up their defensive line and watched Marion Barber and Felix Jones tear them apart. Their youngster receivers are performing on cue but the defensive problems which killed them last December were still there Sunday night.
The NFC has five 2-0 teams. None of them look unstoppable. The strongest teams, on balance, have been the Falcons and the 49ers. (Yes, I'm impressed with the Saints offense, but that defense has to show me a lot more. I'm also not convinced Brett Favre can pilot the Vikings offense for sixteen games. )
I don't know where Dallas fits in this narrative but I am pretty sure that we're still several plot twists from learning who the real villains and real heroes of this season will be. The deeper we go into the salary cap era, the less past trends mean.