The Monday Afternoon Backup Fullback


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The Monday Afternoon Backup Fullback

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress is Tommy Rider's "Boner of the Week."

A lot of people have columns called "Monday Morning Quarterback." I was trying to come up with something different and decided to settle on the position I dominated in high school: Backup fullback. No one could block a guy two times a game like the powerful (but painfully slow-footed) Tommy Rider. So now that the NFL season is in full swing, here is the debut of the "Monday Afternoon Backup Fullback." I hope you enjoy my inane observations.

Week 2 of the NFL offered up some great games and tremendous individual performances. You'll be hard pressed to find a better game than San Diego/Denver the rest of the year. However, I also saw a lot of coaching decisions that made me scratch my head. As Bill Belichick and the Patriots showed us, a well-coached team always has a chance to win in the NFL. The problem is, "well-coached team" only applies to about a third of the league. Here are some of the things that are on my mind following another interesting Sunday in the NFL.

Best Coaching Decision of the Week - Mike Shanahan going for a two-point conversion. I'm not saying this just because it worked but the five coaches I consider the best in the NFL always understand the situation they are in. Here's the deal. Shanahan knew his defense had no chance of stopping the Chargers. None. So overtime basically boiled down to the team who wins the coin toss wins the game. Shanahan's thinking was why put the game in fate's hands when we are only 2-yards away from victory? It's knowing the situation and the kind of game you are involved in. If the score was 10-10, I would say Shanahan made a terrible decision but with the way his defense was playing, he couldn't allow the Chargers to have a shot at getting the ball. If they did, the Broncos lose. Kudos to a coach with guts.

Worst Coaching Decision of the Week - There were a lot of candidates for this honor but in the end, Romeo Crennel gets the nod. I explained how Shanahan understood the situation he was in. Crennel did the exact opposite. Down 10-3 and facing a fourth-and-7 inside the 30-yard line, Crennel opted for a field goal to make it 10-6. In other words, he still needs a touchdown in a defensive struggle. So here is what Romeo needs to happen. He has to kick off to Pittsburgh. He has to hope they go three and out. He then has to hope the Browns get the ball back and his offense does something in the final two minutes it hadn't done all game: score a touchdown. Crennel opted to hope all of those things happened instead of trying to gain 7-yards, which would have put the Browns 18 yards from a tying touchdown. Crennel is the nicest guy you will ever want to meet but Browns fans really got unlucky when he pulled that 10-6 year out of his hat last season to get his contract extension. The only people that field goal helped were the ones who were on Cleveland +6.

I Own You and I Always Will - Bill Belichick over Eric Mangini. It was all there for the Jets. No Tom Brady and the Patriots on their home turf and they blew it. Why? Because Belichick once again toyed with Mangini. The Patriots wanted to slow that game down and instead of forcing the issue, Mangini fell right into Belichick's trap. The moment I knew this game was over is when the Jets had first and goal from the two and tried to run it in three straight times. I don't know how many times teams are going to try this against New England. They DARE you to throw the ball down there, yet the Jets ran right into the Pats strength; the middle of their defensive line. Later in the game, Brett Favre threw on first down from inside the five and his receiver was wide open but by then it was too late. I will have more about Mangini in this week's NFL Whispers but I'm told his job is in serious jeopardy at the end of the year after his coaching performance this Sunday.

Leader of the Pack - It looks like Aaron Rodgers might be OK after all, doesn't it? After an impressive performance in Week 1 against the Vikings, Rodgers ripped the Lions defense apart in his first-ever road start to the tune of 328 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers looks extremely comfortable in Mike McCarthy's West Coast offense after two games and if he leads the Packers to a win over Dallas next week, fans in Green Bay may start asking the question, "Brett who?" The Pack are now 2-0 SU and ATS with Rodgers at the helm.

Where Have You Gone Carson Palmer? - Remember when Palmer was being mentioned in the same breath with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks? How the mighty have fallen. Through two weeks, Palmer has thrown for just 225 yards and three interceptions, while sporting a Ryan Leaf-like quarterback rating of 37.1. Something isn't right with this guy. I noticed it last year when the Patriots played the Bengals and his throws were constantly off the mark. You can blame the offensive line and things like that but Palmer needs to shoulder much of the blame here. He has never regained his pre-injury form and this offseason Palmer lobbied hard for Marvin Lewis to return and we all see how that is working out. The bottom line is this team is a sinking ship and its star is leading the way. The oddsmakers have opened up the Bengals as a 13.5-point underdog for their game at the Giants this Sunday.

Player of the Week - Matt Cassel. He didn't put up great numbers but he did exactly what the team asked him to do. Cassel was efficient and didn't make any mistakes and if you are a Patriots fan, that's all you can ask for. Hey, the guy hasn't started a game since 1999 and he's replacing the best quarterback in the game, yet he led his team to victory and played better than Brett Favre. That's a solid day's work.

Quote of the Week - "Even you guys would agree that for three quarters, maybe 3.5 quarters, we were right there." - Rams Head Coach Scott Linehan on his teams performance against the Giants. Apparently someone forgot to tell Linehan that they play four quarters in the NFL. I heard this week Linehan's goal is to be tied with the Seahawks at halftime.

Boner of the Week - The dreaded boner of the week goes to our good buddy Brad Childress. I have seen enough of Childress to say with a great deal of certainty that he isn't a very good head coach. Whether it's playing his base 4-3 defense when teams like the Patriots and Cardinals spread the Vikings out or being way too conservative like he was against the Colts. The Vikings had no right losing that game. They dominated the Colts for three quarters, ran the ball down their throats and came away with just 15 points. Childress' offense consists of hand-offs, quarterback runs and bombs. That's fine if you are playing in the MAC but the NFL is a little more complex. People can sit there and blame Tarvaris Jackson all they want but it's hard for any young quarterback to get into a rhythm when he's only asked to throw the ball on third and long. When you play the Colts, you need to do more than kick field goals. Anyone who doesn't know that is a boner in my book.

  • Hey Casale, you were mostly right about Cassel, he only made two throws to his second or third read.  Mangini continued to defend Moss deep into the 4th quarter when Cassel barely ever looked down the field.  Maybe he'll improve, but I see a good defensive team eating him alive.  How'd you like Lamont Jordan grinding the clock in the 4th?

  • That was one hell of a Monday night game.  Good win by your 'Boys Tom.  

  • By the way, DeSean Jackson is lucky the Cowboys didn't pounce on that fumble or we would have had to give out a second "Boner of the Week." lol

  • I'll trade Rex Grossman, Devin Hester and Brian Urlacher for Chad Johnson and Carson Palmer LOL

  • I don't disagree with that assessment at all Matt. I'm saying he's not the same player right now but I wouldn't close the book on him. He does need to shoulder some of the blame for lobbying to keep Marvin Lewis. I think Palmer could rebound in Cincy with a new coach. The biggest misconception about the Bengals is "they have talent." Really? Where? And the few talented guys they do have like Housh and crazy Chad Johnson are the problem. A new coach needs to come in and take out the trash. Housh, see ya. Ocho whatever, good bye. Trust me, I've stood in that locker room. Those two cancers need to go.

  • Tom I think I disagree a little with the assessment of Carson Palmer.  The Bengals situation is like the fall of Saigon and Palmer is on the roof of the US embassy waiting to be evacuated.  If you can just get him to a decent team I still think he can be very productive.  Not counting the Raiders I don't think I've seen a more dysfunctional team in years.

  • Yeah Dave, there was fierce competition for Boner of the Week and I'm sure that will be the case in the future. And don't think Childress can't be a two-time winner. He should be in the running virtually every week.

    Altham, if the teams in the AFC East can't unseat the Pats this year, they might as well give up football. Seriously, what's the point?

  • Does anyone else think Brett Favre is all done and the Jets are way over rated?

  • "Boner of the Week"... I love it TR

  • Good stuff Tommy - I think Packers fans already know they are better off with Rodgers at QB this year.

  • You are right Tommy. Childress is a boner. A big fat one.