By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Listen, I told you last week that the NFL information and insight I pass along to you in this column needs to remain a secret between us.

Some of you blabbed last week about the 10 kernels of NFL truth I shared in this space. Clayton, Mortensen, Salisbury and Jaworski all complained to the bosses at ESPN, claiming it's unfair that I release this information to you before I inform them.

Thanks to me, you weren't at all surprised when Drew Bledsoe and the Cowboys couldn't put away the impotent Redskins at Texas Stadium. You knew in advance that Aaron Brooks wouldn't make an important play against the Giants. And I'm sure you got a good chuckle out of watching Brian Billick's Baltimore offense throw away another game.

I told you the truth about Week 1. And now, if you agree to keep your mouths shut, I'll tell you the 10 things that struck me about Week 2.

Joey Harrington
AP
Joey Harrington is struggling, but it's not all his fault.

10. Detroit's wide receivers -- Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams -- played like lazy dogs last week.

Lions quarterback Joey Harrington, who threw five interceptions, is taking most of the heat for Detroit's embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears.

Harrington might be a bust, but he's getting screwed over by half-hearted efforts from Detroit's choking triplets. Williams, Rogers and Williams couldn't spell "professional effort" if you spotted them the Jerry and the Rice. At least two of Harrington's picks were direct results of Detroit's lazy dogs loafing.

9. Not one football fan in Cleveland or Kansas City is shocked that Marty Schottenheimer's San Diego Chargers are off to an 0-2 start.

Marty is the king of elevating the expectations and hopes of football fans, and then disappointing them. In 1998, Marty had Chiefs fans believing they were on the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance, and the team finished 7-9.

Schottenheimer, Chuck Knox's evil twin football coach, is clueless on how to use the game's most talented offensive player, LaDainian Tomlinson, in a way that wins games in crunch time.

8. Speaking of misuse, Al Davis should've come out of his McAfee Stadium suite and slapped Raiders coach Norv Turner for ignoring Randy Moss late in Oakland's loss to the Chiefs.

How do you reach the red zone in the game's final minutes and never throw the ball to Moss? Did Kansas City corner Dexter "The Human Highlight Film" McCleon bribe Turner and quarterback Kerry Collins?

McCleon's most productive move Sunday night was talking a game official into flagging Moss for a nonexistent pass interference call on a TD catch.

7. The value of NFL wide receivers has never been higher than it is right now.

Next offseason, Terrell Owens and Drew Rosenhaus will argue that receivers are just as valuable as running backs. They might be right, especially given the rules that basically allow receivers to run down the field unencumbered.

Mike Tice might lose his job next week because of Moss' Minnesota departure, and Daunte Culpepper might lose his status as a Pro Bowler for the same reason. It has become a lot harder to call plays and read a defense in Minnesota when coverages aren't rolled to one side of the field to contain Moss.

The Vikings are 0-2 and Culpepper has thrown eight picks and zero TD passes without Moss.

6. Neither Mark Brunell nor Joe Gibbs proved anything in Washington's come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys.

The 'Boys aren't any good. And, I'm sorry, but for 55 minutes, Gibbs looked like the worst coach in America and Brunell looked old and inept. Hitting Santana Moss on a couple of fly patterns late doesn't cover up the incompetence that kept the Redskins out of the end zone for seven quarters.

Patrick Ramsey should be Washington's starting quarterback.

Michael Strahan
AP
The Giants have had to overcome the loss of Michael Strahan.

5. The popular choice for NFL defensive player of the year is undersized Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney, but the league's top defender early in the season is Michael Strahan, another undersized defensive end.

Strahan is playing at 255 pounds this season, down 20 pounds from his normal playing weight. Strahan could "legitimately" break the NFL sack record this season. He has 2½ sacks already, and looks absolutely unstoppable.

Playing in New York, Strahan will get lots of love. But if the Colts' D continues to shine, Strahan might get overshadowed by Freeney, another 255-pounder. Still, Strahan is more dominant than Freeney.

4. Colts fans think I hate my hometown because I believe Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning.

I don't hate Indianapolis. I love Indy, the city that brought you the Indianapolis 500, the Indiana Pacers, Zebs Barbecue, the Masterpiece Lounge, the Black Expo and Janice Toth, the most beautiful woman Stonybrook Junior High ever produced.

I like Peyton Manning. He's a tremendous football player and a solid citizen. Heck, Peyton was the guest speaker when I was inducted into the Warren Central High hall of fame. I have no problem with Peyton. Saying he's a notch below the best QB in the NFL isn't an insult.

Now, truthfully, I do hate the Colts.

3. It's way too early to jump on the 2-0 Bengals' bandwagon.

We're talking about the Cincinnati Bengals. Anybody foolish enough to believe right now that what we're seeing from Carson Palmer is the real thing deserves to have his/her heart broken.

I'm not predicting doom for Palmer. I'm just saying it's much too early to be predicting success. Do not reach any conclusions about the Bengals until Week 10.

2. The graduation of quarterback Jason White isn't the reason the Oklahoma Sooners are in the toilet.

I know this is a column about the NFL, but I have to drop a little college science from time to time. The Sooners are in the toilet because their offensive line is stinking the joint up. If the line was playing at the level it played in previous years, Oklahoma would be able to get away with handing the ball to Adrian Peterson 30 times a game and using its play-action passing game on second-and-4.

1. Bill Cowher, without a Super Bowl title, is the second-best coach in the league.

If I have to tell you who No. 1 is, you're not qualified to read this column. I'd take Cowher ahead of Billick, Bill Parcells, Dick Vermeil and Mike Holmgren, all coaches with titles.

When you hire a football coach, you hope that he has a couple of coaching qualities that are constants. Bill Cowher-coached teams are going to run the football and play defense. If a team has those two elements, it will win games and contend for titles on a regular basis.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com.



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