Rocking the cradle of QBs
Vick's revival, Roethlisberger's anticipated return prime focus on Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has become home to some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, along with the most compelling quarterback storylines of this season.Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was the September MVP, playing as well as or better than any other player in the league. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was exiled, pending the four-game suspension that will be completed after this Sunday.
Speaking of turnover-free football, there's Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Prone to fumbling in his NFL career, Peterson has had 83 touches in his first three games and has not fumbled once. This comes after a 2009 season in which he had six fumbles, losing five. In 2008, he had nine fumbles, losing four. Peterson appears to be holding the football higher and tighter, much like Tiki Barber did when he overcame his fumbling problems. Many backs, including Walter Payton, experienced fumbling problems early in their careers before correcting them. Peterson could be the next one.
Special teams have become a more significant factor than in any other recent season. Just ask the San Diego Chargers. In Week 1, the Kansas City Chiefs' return game almost singlehandedly beat San Diego. Then in Week 3, San Diego allowed Seattle's Leon Washington to return two kicks for touchdowns during another loss that fell largely on its special teams. But it's not all that unusual this season. Through three weeks, there already have been six kickoff returns for touchdowns, the most at this point in any season since 1970. New England's Brandon Tate did it versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown did it versus the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, Buffalo's C.J. Spiller did it against the New England Patriots in Week 3, the Arizona Cardinals' LaRod Stephens-Howling did it against the Oakland Raiders in Week 3 and Washington did it against the Chargers twice.
It was only fitting that during the week in which the great George Blanda passed away, the New Orleans Saints signed the 46-year-old John Carney. The only three players in NFL history who played at an age older than Carney, who is expected to kick Sunday for the Saints against the Carolina Panthers, are former Columbus Panhandles offensive lineman John Nesser, who played his last game in December 1921 at the age of 46 years and 223 days; former Falcons kicker Morten Anderson, who played his last game in December 2007 at the age of 47 years and 133 days; and Blanda, who played his last game in December 1975 at the age of 48 years and 95 days. Now Carney, who is nearly twice the age of Saints 24-year-old kicker Garrett Hartley, is about to make some history of his own.
Coachspeak provides the public a glimpse of just how quickly events and minds change. Two weeks ago, Eagles coach Andy Reid insisted on a Monday that Kevin Kolb was his starting quarterback, only to name Michael Vick the starter on Tuesday. Then this past Sunday, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary said offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's job was safe for the season, only to turn around and fire him Monday morning. Even Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh predicted Wednesday that defensive end Trevor Pryce would return to Baltimore -- "He'll be back with us, " Harbaugh said -- only to see Pryce sign with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets on Thursday. Ultimately, what might be true one day isn't necessarily true the next. It's enough to cost coaches, and reporters, some of their credibility. But as we listen to these news conferences and the answers that come from them, it is worth remembering that life and decisions change.
The Schef's Specialties
Game of the week: Baltimore at Pittsburgh: Nobody could have imagined that the Steelers would be gunning for 4-0 without Ben Roethlisberger.
Upset of the week: St. Louis over Seattle: A win here could give the Rams a share of -- gasp -- first place.
Player of the week: Eagles S Nate Allen: The player the Eagles drafted with the second-round pick they got for Donovan McNabb already was named the defensive rookie of the month for September.
Adam Schefter is an ESPN NFL Insider.
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