As a subscriber to Directv's Sunday Ticket package, I've had the chance to watch a lot of games today. The only ones I didn't watch any of were Buffalo-Seattle and San Francisco-Arizona. Observations on the other games follow.
1. Jacksonville can't pass protect, and that's going to be a huge problem if they think they're going to the Super Bowl.
2. Vince Young looked the same as last season, and that's a bad sign for Tenneseee, despite their win today.
3. I'm very impressed with little things I see from Matt Ryan. With the lead, and about 11 minutes to go in the game and the clock running, he was confused on a play call. He calmly waited until the play clock went all the way down to 1 before calling timeout. Just a heads-up, veteran thing to do from a guy making his first start.
4. The Michael Turner-Jerious Norwood combination is formidable, but the real story was the domination of the Atlanta O-line, against a pathetic looking Lions front seven.
5. St. Louis is pitiful, and their players and coaches looked like they fully knew it.
6. Jeff Garcia is fool's gold, a la Jake Plummer. There are a lot of good things about him, but the flaws are pronounced enough that you're probably kidding yourself if you think you can win a championship with him.
7. New Orleans needs to run the ball better between the tackles if they want to have a real chance of winning a championship.
8. Carson Palmer's knee injury from the 2005 playoffs has rendered him a shell of his former self, and nobody really talks about that. He is completely unable to move to even avoid trouble, and he's noticeably slow in his dropbacks, which may be worse.
9. Another guy who could have similar problems is Tom Brady, if his injury is serious. He lasted until the 6th round in 1999 for a good reason. Scouts thought he was one of the slowest-footed QBs they'd ever seen. He worked hard to develop superior technique, to make up for his limited natural mobility. Any decrease in his mobility could be catastrophic to him though. The situation bears watching.
10. The Alex Gibbs era in Houston is off to a really rough start. The O-Linemen looked like they didn't know what they were doing, and I think they need to bring in 2-3 more good players to play it. Houston doesn't look ready for prime-time.
11. Brett Favre looked pretty good for the Jets, but the team as a whole underachieved, as the Dolphins simultaneously overachieved. It's a small sample size, but they both looked like .500 teams to me. Don't be surprised if both end up in the 7-9 to 9-7 range.
12. Larry Johnson still looks used-up, and the Chiefs look like they'll be lucky to win 4 games this year.
13. Cleveland is not very good. Their secondary is particularly weak, as expected, but I think that the "punditry" (and I mean that in a derogatory way, as usual) underestimates what a challenge the Browns will have to even finish .500 against that schedule, and with such a pronounced inability to defend the pass.
14. Carolina is a good football team, which has returned to its run/stop the run program. I am very impressed with what I saw from them today, win or lose. What a great victory.
15. San Diego underachieved its talent, particularly in terms of run defense. The bright spot for them was Phyllis, who looked better than i have maybe ever seen him at the NFL level.
16. Shawne Merriman looked better than might have been expected, but was still not himself.
17. On Jake Delhomme, his velocity looked same-as-it-ever-was coming off of Tommy John surgery. They have to be very pleased with that.