Runnin’ Up The Gut: NFL Week 1 & 2 Analysis

So…with the start of the NFL season underway, I thought it might be a good idea to write a weekly column addressing the state of the NFL each week…just a spur of the moment thing, so…readers and staff…after this column, I ask, good idea or bad idea? This column will cover the first two weeks of action, since I got caught up last week with work and couldn’t finish. So, without further delay…the debut column of “Runnin’ Up The Gut”.

First off, I want to say…who would have thought the beginning week of the 2010 NFL season would have turned out the way it did? The upset of the week had to have been the Colts being beaten by the Texans. No one could have expected that, as the Texans apparently had only one win over the Colts in their past sixteen games. A lot of fans saw that game as an afterthought, and thought it could become a field day for Peyton Manning.

They had it half right, at least.

And it’s all because of a player who spent most of last season on the practice squad, and a player who wasn’t even DRAFTED. His name? Unknown until this past weekend, when he lit up the Colts for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns. Of course, I’m talking about Arian Foster. If you’re a fantasy football player (like me), you probably cried this week because you didn’t start him (LIKE ME…CRAP…), or you bull-rushed the free agent pool to grab him. From a reality standpoint, it represented a new threat for opposing coaches to look at. This brings me to the first major point of this week’s column, a question to ponder, as well as my personal response:

Are the Texans now a contender for the Super Bowl?

This question came up during SportsCenter the other day, and I felt it needed to be addressed. First off, that also begs the question, is Arian Foster for real? I mean, it’s true, he shredded the Colts’ defense, but let’s be frank: Indianapolis isn’t known for their defense. My answer is the same for both of these questions: it’s too early to tell. It’s only week one. No one saw Arian Foster coming this week, and who can say that other teams won’t have a response for him in coming weeks? As far as the Super Bowl goes, let’s look at the top two running backs in the NFL going into this season…Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Both are phenomenal talents, but they share one common fact: neither one has even made it to a Super Bowl. My point is, one player does not make a contender. Can the Texans build around Foster, and rally from this HUGE win? Time will tell…

One of the controversies of Week 1 lies in the Detroit/Chicago game, with the touchdown being taken away from Calvin Johnson. I won’t lie, as a Detroit fan, that made me extremely angry, but I feel like the question needs to be addressed:

Should the Lions have been awarded the touchdown??

The Lions fan in me, of course, says yes. Now that we have that out of the way, time to look at it from an unbiased point of view. Quite simply, it’s a moot point after the fact. The game is over, the score is final. I think a more important question lies within the NFL rulebook. Upon watching ESPN earlier in the week, I found that the wording in the NFL rulebook is ambiguous at best. Do I think the touchdown should have been awarded? At the time, yes. Now? Again, a moot point…but I do think it should be addressed in the offseason (God willing we don’t have the lockout to look forward to…)

Now, on to Week 2’s happenings…

It’s been a VERY unpredictable last two weeks, hasn’t it, people? If you had told me that the Cowboys would be 0-2, as well as the Vikings, I would have called you crazy. Now, here we are looking at Week 3, and both records are just that: 0-2. At the same time, there are also a few teams that not many would have expected to be 2-0 after this week. One of those teams, in my eyes, is the Chicago Bears. One of the questions I wanted to discuss for this week regards the Bears:

Do the Bears look like they have what it takes to become contenders again?

No, I don’t think so. Not yet, anyway. Sure, they have a decent defense, but the problem is, as was proven last season, they all need one another to be effective. One injury can disrupt the entire design, as was proven recently with Brian Urlacher. That problem is only half of the reason I don’t think they’re quite contenders yet. The other? I believe they place too much trust in Jay Cutler. Sure, Cutler has a cannon for an arm, but he’s not quite accurate enough with said cannon to try to throw as many long bombs as he likes to throw. He should be trying to improve on simply moving the chains rather than going for the huge play, and that might help the team more, as opposed to simply trying to increase yardage and TD totals in as few throws as possible. All that philosophy will do is increase your INT totals, and no quarterback wants that. Well, maybe not unless your name is JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf, but that’s beside the point. The point is, unless he does this, he cannot meet the standards that Chicago fans and coaches have placed on him. Both of these reasons, when combined, lead to one word: inconsistency.  With injuries and a streaky offense (yes, that is me saying Matt Forte’s Week 1 performance was a fluke, and I am perfectly willing to discuss why), Chicago is a crapshoot to be even a wildcard spot.

One of the most impressive performances of this last week came from Matt Schaub, who threw for nearly 500 yards and 3 touchdowns. This came right off the heels of Arian Foster’s performance the week before. I said that it was too early to consider them contenders, but after this past week, it would seem that this indeed IS the case. If they continue to perform the way they are (especially when you consider that they currently lead the ENTIRE NFL in offensive production), it’s not a stretch to call them championship contenders. However, another impressive performance came this week from a man who, at the beginning of the season, appeared to be nothing more than a backup. After his performance last week against the Lions, the question is:

Should Michael Vick be starting over Kevin Kolb in Philadelphia?
I was discussing this over the summer, and I’ve been saying the answer to this one since day one: Yes. His performance notwithstanding, I have believed that Andy Reid was a fool for not starting Vick. Granted, he had a good game against the Lions. Yes, I said it, and I’m a Lions fan…and as much as it pains me to say it…the Lions are NOT even CLOSE to the best team in the NFL. Anyway, I have thought Michael Vick should start because quite frankly, he deserved a chance to prove whether or not he could still be the player he once was. Remember, this was the man who anchored a potent Falcons offense a few years ago, and when he was arrested on dogfighting charges, many thought he was done, myself included. Also, he has more experience under pressure than Kolb, and he knows how to adapt to a system probably better than Kolb. Granted, Kolb likely knows the Philadelphia system inside and out, but here’s the problem that many people don’t realize: smart coaches base their system based on their players’ abilities. The switch from Kolb to McNabb is tremendous, just as the switch from Kolb to Vick would be as well. However, Vick could adapt better than Kolb, because Vick has been there before. As a starter in Atlanta, he knew what was required to adapt to a new system, one in which you as a quarterback are expected to anchor. That main reason, the experience factor, is why I believe Vick should KEEP the starting job.

That will wrap up this way-too-long installment of “Runnin’ Up The Gut”. Feel free to comment, or even leave me mail suggesting questions to address for discussion for the next week. I look forward to hearing your comments, feedback, and questions…I also look forward to the next week of the season. IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON, BABY!!!!

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