Special to Page 2
A quick check of my e-mails -- I got a lot of 'em after my column earlier this week -- before we get to my 10 NFL truths for this week:
You know damn well that every year, two or three NFL teams dump their head coaches at midseason and pursue unproven college head coaches like Charlie. My phone was ringing non-stop with NFL owners ready to offer Charlie millions. Come on, we're Notre Dame. We'd never exaggerate and manipulate the media. We live up to our word. Just ask Ty.
-- ND adminstrator
Can you get me in touch with Charlie's agent? I'm dropping Drew. Charlie's people know how to really work the media and get things done. Charlie punked ND out of millions and he ain't won (spit). Holla at me, JW.
Regis is so hot with you! He was calling you all sorts of names before the show. What did you write about Notre Dame? I wanted to tell him to shut up so bad. But I know you don't want anybody to know about us right now. Love you,
OK we're halfway through the NFL season, so it's time for 10 NFL half-truths:
Edgerrin James: OK, I need to eat some crow when it comes to The Edge. I was down on him early in the year, questioning his running style. Well, The Edge is leading the league in rushing, the first tackler almost never brings him down, he's averaging 4.9 yards per carry and he has scored eight TDs.
Trevor Pryce: If you think all Pryce has contributed is one sack and 13 tackles, then you haven't watched the league's best down lineman play defense. Pryce has been nearly unblockable. Pryce lines up anywhere across the line of scrimmage and is rarely blocked by one man. Denver's O is getting a great deal of the credit for the Broncos' fast start, but I contend that Denver's D is the reason the Broncos are the second-best team in the NFL behind the Colts.
Carson Palmer: Leads the league in passing yards and passing TDs, and trails only Big Ben in passer rating. Palmer has played poorly in just one game this year -- Cincy's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers -- throwing two interceptions and no TDs. If not for the Pittsburgh performance, he'd be No. 1 on this list.
Steve Smith: His numbers are sick (50 receptions, 797 yards and eight TDs), especially when you consider he's Carolina's only receiving option. He's having a Randy Moss-type season, and the Panthers have won four straight and are quietly creating the impression that they're a Super Bowl threat.
Dwight Freeney: He doesn't lead the Colts in sacks. Teammate Robert Mathis has two more than he does. But if you've watched Freeney force fumbles (four) and create one-on-one blocks for his teammates, you know Dwight's play hasn't slipped and he still might end up leading the league in sacks.
9. Super Bowl contenders
Colts: There's virtually no debate that Indy is the best team in football this year. The only knock on the Colts is that they've dominated weak competition so far. That complaint will disappear Monday night when Indy meets the New England Patriots. I expect an Indy blowout victory, and for Madden and Michaels to raise the possibility of the Colts running the table.
Broncos: Went three-and-out and failed to run out the clock against the New York Giants. That's the only real blemish on Denver's 6-2 record. The season-opening 24-point loss to the Dolphins was a fluke. But it's still fair to question Jake Plummer.
Giants: Beat the Broncos and destroyed the Washington Redskins in the last two weeks. Everyone wants to knock the NFC, but Peyton's little brother is leading the third-best team in football. We could easily have a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl. The Giants can score with anybody, and they've had just one bad defensive performance all year.
Steelers: I was really high on these guys, until I watched the Baltimore offensive line manhandle Pittsburgh's front seven this past Monday night. The Steelers tried everything, but couldn't muster any kind of pass rush on Anthony Wright. Let's hope Cowher's Curtain just took the Ray Lewis- and Ed Reed-less Ravens for granted.
Seahawks: Much like the Colts, the Seahawks have been beating up weak competition. You've never heard of Bryce Fisher and Rocky Bernard, the two Seattle defensive linemen with 9½ sacks between them, but that doesn't mean they can't play. The Seahawks will face the Giants, Eagles and Colts the last six weeks of the season.
8. Super Bowl pretenders
Patriots: They've lost every other game this season, which is a sign of a lack of consistency, which is a sign that you just can't replace all of the players and coaches the Patriots have lost. Their schedule gets much easier after they face the Colts, so they'll reach the playoffs on a "hot streak." But Brady will suffer his first playoff defeat.
Bengals: If you can't stop the run, you can't win in the playoffs. The Bengals are a year away from being a real contender.
Falcons: Wide receiver Michael Vick will never "quarterback" a team to the Super Bowl. Never.
Panthers: Steve Smith has 50 receptions. Carolina's second-leading receiver -- backup running back DeShaun Foster -- has 13. Stephen Davis is averaging 3.0 yards per carry. The Panthers have two ways to move the football -- Smith or their special teams. That won't get it done in the playoffs.
Eagles: Donovan McNabb will suffer a season-ending injury soon, as long as Andy Reid insists on throwing the ball on every down.
Dennis Green: No one expected the Cardinals to contend for the Super Bowl, or even really for the playoffs. But I did expect Denny's boys to match last year's six-win season. I can't for the life of me figure out how Denny opened the season with Kurt Warner as his starting quarterback -- or why he's going back to Warner this coming Sunday.
Michael Vick: Atlanta's No. 1 receiver still can't throw the football.
Brett Favre: The national media refuses to blame Favre for Green Bay's 1-6 start. All we keep hearing from Favre apologists is how bad Favre's teammates are. Look, USC could win the NFC North. If Favre played with a little common sense, the Packers could win games within their division.
Daunte Culpepper: Daunte always looked like a fullback, and without Randy Moss to bail him out he played like a fullback until he got hurt.
Ray Lewis: I like Ray Ray. But when your team plays its best game of the season with Ray Ray in street clothes, you have to wonder if it's not time to shut down the Ray Ray pregame "Soul Train" dance line.
6. Best coach of the half-season
Lovie Smith: Someone who cares about Lovie might want to drop him a note and tell him to tank the second half of the season. Making the playoffs this year will take two to three years off Lovie's Chicago coaching tenure. Chicago is a 4-12 team that is on pace to win eight or nine games and make the playoffs. Next year, when the NFC North improves and the Bears miss the playoffs, Jay Mariotti will be leading the Fire Lovie bandwagon because the team has taken a step backward. Lovie is making a mistake by raising expectations and creating the myth that the Bears are a decent club.
5. Worst coach of the half-season
Marty Schottenheimer: OK, the Chargers have played a very, very difficult schedule. But when a team loses every close game it plays -- Dallas 28-24, Denver 20-17, Pittsburgh 24-22, Philly 20-17 -- you have to point a finger at coaching. Marty has the pieces in place to make a Super Bowl run, but you know he's going to settle for a field goal at some point and bow out of contention.
4. Head coaches need to leave the sidelines and coach from the press box.
You ever wonder why football coaches -- college and pro -- consistently mismanage the clock and play calling? It's because things are much too chaotic along the sideline for them to make sound decisions.
A head coach would make better game-day decisions if he watched the game and communicated with his coordinators while seated in a soundproof room with several TV monitors. When you're seated in the press box, it's easy to see that San Diego nearly let the Chiefs back into the game because LaDainian Tomlinson carried the ball once in the third quarter. Head coaches get confused standing on the sideline and lose track of the flow of the game.
3. In the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, the clock should stop for 10 seconds after each first down.
This small change would add excitement to the end of NFL games, without extending the games too much. There's nothing worse than watching a team without timeouts try to rally late in an NFL contest. The clock burns too fast. The endings are boring and way too chaotic.
2. A friend asked me an interesting question: What's the difference between Vince Young and Matt Jones, the Arkansas quarterback-turned-NFL receiver?
The difference is, Young might be a better NFL receiver than Jones. Now I happen to think Vince could be a Randall Cunningham-type of quarterback in the NFL. But some team is going to have to be very patient with him. He could have an immediate impact as a receiver.
1. According to my sources, there are rumors that there will be rumors that NFL teams will make a strong bid to acquire the services of University of Florida coach Urban Meyer, who has led the Gators to a red-hot 5-2 start.
Based on these rumors of rumors, and in order to prevent potential recruits from worrying about these rumors of rumors, and because Meyer is clearly a better coach than the coach Florida fired for incompetence, it only makes sense for Florida to extend Meyer's contract immediately, months before there are any NFL coaching vacancies and before these rumors of rumors become rumors.
According to my sources, it is rumored that Meyer is willing to accept a new contract and millions of dollars because he is deeply committed and loyal to the University of Florida.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.