It's Sunday morning and what do we know?
-- The winners of the week 17 games won both rematches yesterday, rather emphatically. That's a good omen for the Green Bay Packers.
-- It's a Buddy Ryan world right now. The Parcells and Belichick coaching trees get the big ink, but the '10 NFL playoffs are the Buddy Ryan Invitational at the moment. Consider:
- Buddy's son Rex's Jets won
- Buddy's former DC Wade Phillips' Cowboys won
- Buddy's former Bears DB Leslie Frazier DCs the Vikings, whom Wade's Cowboys play next week. He may also have the Buffalo head coaching job by then.
- Buddy's former Bears LB Ron RIvera DCs the 2nd AFC seed Chargers.
- Gregg Williams DCs the top NFC seed Saints. He learned the 46 defense from Buddy in Houston and first DCed for Buddy's former Bears S Jeff Fisher in Tennessee.
FIve of the eight teams playing next week will have Buddy Ryan disciples running their defenses.
The Tampa 2 is dead. Long live the Tampa-2!
And Now a Nod of Appreciation for Terence Newman
Terence had a lousy September. He gave up big plays in the opener at Tampa. The following week the Giants made him their target and beat him repeatedly.
Mr. Newman may be getting the last laugh. He just finished his third game where he went one-on-one with DeSean Jackson, arguably the best deep threat in the conference.
Jackson finished with 90 yards. No, that's not yesterday's total. That's 'the Stinger's" combined production.
There's No Copyright in the NFL
Jason Garrett told me two years ago that there is no distinct offense in the NFL. "Everybody takes from everybody else," was his reply.
Some people take more than others. If you watched the Jets-Bengals game yesterday, you may have noticed that New York's offense is the closest thing to a Dallas clone you'll find. Lots of two tight end sets; overloads with the tight ends to one side; unbalanced lines; lots of the 22 formation, with two TEs, two RBs and one WR. The clincher came in the second quarter where the Jets called a naked pitch for Shonn Greene on a short-yardage play and he romped 39 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
This is the same play Dallas ran for Felix Jones last week against the Eagles. The Jets blocked it a little differently up front, but the effect was the same -- fake a counter, suckers the opposing linebackers, and spring your speedy back to the opposition's flank.
Thank You, Philadelphia, and Let's Do it Again
Anthony Spencer's emergence has caused a review of the draft day '07 trade between the Cowboys and Eagles, which brought him to Dallas. The Cowboys, if you'll recall, owned the 22nd overall pick. Their objective was to get a defensive back. The odds looked good; the draft featured a strong crop of cover guys in the 12-25 range, namely CBs Darrelle Revis, Leon Hall and Aaron Ross and Ss Michael Griffin and Reggie Nelson.
Revis went to the Jets at 14, but the Cowboys looked good when the Bengals came on the clock at 18. The other four top rated DBs were still on the board and only four picks stood between Dallas and its pick.
Then, the draft equivalent of a bad dream: Hall went to Cincy at 18, Griffin to Tennessee at 19, Ross to the Giants at 20 and Nelson to the Jaguars at 21. The Cowboys had a choice to make. There were still players they liked on the board -- Dwayne Bowe, Robert Meachem, Brandon Meriweather and Anthony Spencer. They could stay at 22 and take one.
They could also accept Cleveland's offer of the 36th pick and its '08 number one. The Browns were desperate to get Brady Quinn, who had dropped unexpectedly. Jerry Jones, ever the gambler, took Cleveland's offer, dropped to 36 and immediately got trader's remorse. Dallas wanted to get one of that last group, which was dwindling after Kansas City took Bowe at 23 and New England Meriweather with the 24th pick.
The Cowboys found an unlikely trade partner in the Eagles, who wanted to bail from the 26th spot. Dallas traded the 36 it got from Cleveland, its 3rd and a 5th rounder, then took Spencer.
In draft value points, the Eagles got the better of the deal. They flipped a pick worth 700 points for three worth 723 on the charts. But points don't play on Sundays, players do. The Eagles got a pretty good return on their picks. They took quarterback in waiting Kevin Kolb at 36, MLB Stewart Bradley with the 3rd rounder and C.J. Gaddis with the 5th rounder.
In player terms, Dallas is looking better every day. Bradley turned into a solid player, and his knee injury last summer hurt the Eagles badly. That said, it has been fun to watch the blossoming Spencer chase Donovan McNabb around Cowboys stadium. It was just as sweet to scan the Eagles boards and read their partisans' complaints that a top priority for offseason '10, maybe the top priority, is finding an edge rusher to pair with Trent Cole.
The Eagles had such a player available to them three drafts ago. Thanks, Philly, from the bottom of our Cowboys-lovin' hearts, for sending him our way.