Taking It to the House NFL Podcast – Week 17 Preview

In the Taking It to the House NFL Week 17 Preview Podcast With the 2010 NFL Playoffs on the horizon, most teams in the league are either looking toward the playoffs or packing. However there are still some meaningful games left to be played.  This Week’s biggest game probably will be in Seattle as the Seahawks and Rams face-off in a battle for the NFC West title (QB Thadeus Lewis pictured)

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast – Week 17 Preview

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance and Host Mark Gray give you their “Pick 6″ for Week 17 including teams looking to punch their tickets for the “Big Dance” as the National Football League’s 91st season prepares for the playoffs. The biggest game probably will be in Seattle as the Seahawks will take-on the upstart St. Louis Rams to see who will win the pathetic NFC West.


2010 NFL Draft Order is set

The draft order for the 2010 NFL Draft is all set and right now Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh seems the logical choice for the first overall pick

Today at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis all coin flips to break ties for draft position were completed.  So now the draft order for the 2010 NFL Draft is set….of course that is until all of the wheeling and dealing starts before April 22nd

Currently the St. Louis Rams (1-15) own the first overall pick for the 2010 NFL Draft and I am fairly certain their prize will be dominating Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.  However as is the norm this time of year, there are many rumors circulating that the Rams could trade the first overall pick and move down in the draft to select a quarterback like Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford or Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen.  But if the Rams have done their homework, this one is a no-brainer.

Suh had one of the best years of any college defensive tackle in NCAA history as he produced 85 tackles, a NCAA leading 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. The decorated award-winner (Lombardi, Bednarik, Willis, and first team All American) also had 10 passes defensed, 28 QB hurries, 1 INT and three blocked kicks.  The cat-quick and strong defensive lineman possibly played his best game in Nebraska’s near upset of the Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, finishing with 4.5 sacks.

Other Top 10 prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft include: Tennessee safety Eric Berry, Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy, Florida CB Joe Haden, Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung, Bradford, and Clausen.

2010 NFL Draft Order as of February 26

1) St. Louis Rams (1-15)

2) Detroit Lions (2-14)

3) Tampa Bay Bucs (3-13)

4) Washington Redskins (4-12)

5) Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

6) Seattle Seahawks (5-11)

7)  Cleveland Browns (5-11)

8) Oakland Raiders (5-11)

9) Buffalo Bills (6-10)

10) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9)

11) Denver Broncos (from Chicago -their record was 7-9)

12) Miami Dolphins (7-9)

13) San Francisco 49ers (8-8)

14) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver – their record was 8-8)

15) New York Giants (8-8)

16) Tennessee Titans (8-8)

17) San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina – their record was 8-8)

18) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)

19) Atlanta Falcons (9-7)

20) Houston Texans (9-7)

21) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

22) New England Patriots (10-6)

23) Green Bay Packers (11-5)

24) Philadelphia Eagles (11-5)

25) Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

26) Arizona Cardinals (10-6)

27) Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

28) San Diego Chargers (13-3)

29) New York Jets (9-7)

30) Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

31) Indianapolis Colts (14-2)

32) New Orleans Saints (13-3)

  • Teams currently without a first round selection:  Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears
  • Teams currently having two first round picks: Seattle Seahawks (6, 14) and San Francisco 49ers (13, 17)


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Draft Order

The St. Louis Rams may look to select Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh with the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft

By virtue of the St. Louis Rams’ 28-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17, the Rams (1-15) were assured of having the first overall pick for the 2010 NFL Draft.  It will be the third year in a row that the Rams have picked either 1st or 2nd in the draft (OT Jason Smith – second overall in 2009 and DE Chris Long – second overall in 2008), but this time they will be the first ones on the clock. 

I am sure their prize will be dominating Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who some are comparing to former Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl player Eric Swann in his prime – think of his All-Pro years in 1995 and 1996.  Suh had one of the best years of any college defensive tackle in NCAA history as he produced 85 tackles, a NCAA leading 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.

The decorated award-winner (Lombardi, Bednarik, Willis, and first team All American) also had 10 passes defensed, 28 QB hurries, 1 INT and three blocked kicks.  The cat-quick and strong defensive lineman possibly played his best game in Nebraska’s near upset of the Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, finishing with 4.5 sacks.

Other Top 10 prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft include: Tennessee safety Eric Berry, Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy, Florida CB Joe Haden, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, and Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen.

2010 NFL Draft Order as of 1/4/10 

1) St. Louis Rams (1-15)

2) Detroit Lions (2-14)

3) Tampa Bay Bucs (3-13)

4) Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

5) Washington Redskins (4-12)

6) Seattle Seahawks (5-11)

7)  Cleveland Browns (5-11)

8) Oakland Raiders (5-11)

9) Buffalo Bills (6-10)

10) Denver Broncos (from Chicago -their record was 7-9) — Coin Flip

10) Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9)   — Coin Flip

12) Miami Dolphins (7-9)

13) San Francisco 49ers (8-8)

14) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver – their record was 8-8)

15) New York Giants (8-8)

16) Tennessee Titans (8-8)

17) San Francisco 49ers (from Carolina – their was 8-8)

18) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)

19) Atlanta Falcons (9-7)   — Coin Flip

19) Houston Texans (9-7) — Coin Flip

21) New York Jets (9-7) — Depends on the playoffs

22) Baltimore Ravens (9-7)  — Depends on the playoffs

23) Arizona Cardinals (10-6)  — Depends on the playoffs

24) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) — Depends on the playoffs

25) New England Patriots (10-6) — Depends on the playoffs

26) Green Bay Packers (11-5)  — Depends on the playoffs

27) Philadelphia  Eagles (11-5) — Depends on the playoffs

28) Dallas  Cowboys (11-5) — Depends on the playoffs

29 Minnesota Vikings (12-4)  — Depends on the playoffs

30) San Diego Chargers (13-3) — Depends on the playoffs

31) New Orleans  Saints (13-3)  — Depends on the playoffs

32) Indianapolis  Colts (14-2)  — Depends on the playoffs

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


The NFL Trade Deadline passes with only two minor trades


There were only two trades at the NFL’s trading deadline and one involved young receiver Brandon Gibson going from the Eagles to the Rams for veteran LB Will Witherspoon

The 2009 NFL trade deadline came and went on October 20th at 4:00 PM EST with the same amount of fanfare accorded to the league’s annual Supplemental Draft (i.e. “Snooze Fest”) each July.  While names like San Diego Chargers LB Shawne Merriman, Cleveland Browns QB Brady Quinn, Kansas City Chiefs DT Glenn Dorsey, Philadelphia Eagles WR’s Kevin Curtis & Reggie Brown, Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe, Buffalo Bill WR Terrell Owens, Cleveland Browns WR/KR, Josh Cribbs, Houston Texans CB Dunta Robinson and others were bantered around by the media there were only two minor trades with none involving the aforementioned set of high-profile players.  Remember unlike major league baseball GM’s, football personnel men don’t like to part with “their” players.  Most football GM types always fear injuries and lack of depth over a grueling 17-week regular season, so they usually keep players around, usually on their team’s inactive list, until the offseason even if they have no intention of really playing them – See  Eagles WR Reggie Brown and Bucs QB Byron Leftwich.

In looking for their third option in replacing injured MLB Stewart Bradley, the Philadelphia Eagles traded for former St. Louis Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon.  In return the Eagles shipped promising 2009 6th round pick WR Brandon Gibson and a 2010 5th round selection to the Rams.  Witherspoon should step-in right away to help combat a foot injury suffered by LB Omar Gaither and poor play in coverage by newly-signed veteran LB Jeremiah Trotter.  Witherspoon (29) has played 8 seasons in the NFL at both the weakside and middle linebacker positions with the Rams and Panthers, this season he had 33 tackles for the Rams. 

The Eagles thought that young receiver Gibson was expendable as he was buried on the team’s depth chart behind DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, Jeremy Maclin, and Reggie Brown.  Gibson had emerged in training camp and the preseason as a good target, but the team never found a role for him — inactive for all 5 regular season games – even though he was never placed on their practice squad due to fears that another team would grab him. “I think [Gibson] is going to have a great career in the NFL,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said after the trade. Gibson now joins fellow former Eagles WR Danny Amendola in a depleted Rams receiving corps – starters Donnie Avery (hip) and Laurent Robinson (ACL –season) are both out.

The other trade on deadline day involved the Kansas City Chiefs continuing to clean house of the Carl Peterson/Herman Edwards regime.  The Chiefs sent underachieving DT Tank Tyler, who was a former third-round pick and an ill-fit for their new scheme, to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth-round pick in 2010.  Tyler had gotten some attention when the Chiefs were featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks during the 2007 preseason, but he never lived up to his hype as a quality “Space Eater”.  Tyler had started just two games for the Chiefs this season and now the Panthers will be looking for him to help replace NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu (out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon).

The only personnel moves left now for teams are 1) Claiming Players off Waivers, 2) Raiding other teams Practice Squads (players taken must be on their new team’s 53-man roster for a minimum of 3 weeks) or 3) Signing street free agents (higher profile players still available include WR Joey Galloway, WR Marvin Harrison, LB Derrick Brooks, and WR Matt Jones).


2009 NFL Season – Week 6 Review



Oakland Raiders DL Richard Seymour was a Game Ball winner in Week 6 for his dominating play in an upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles

After a couple weeks of too many games that lacked viewer interest, Week 6 of the 2009 NFL Season once again proved why the National Football League is the best sports league in the world.  There were two overtime thrillers (Bill over Jets and Jags over Rams), undefeated teams rolling on (Broncos, Saints and Vikings), upsets galore (Raiders over Eagles, Chiefs over Redskins, Texans over Bengals, and the aforementioned Bills’ win), potential playoff contender heavyweight match-ups that lived up to the hype (Vikings over Ravens, Falcons over Bears and Saints over Giants) and a historic blowout (Patriots dismantling the winless Titans by a score of 59-0). 

I will start by looking at Week 6’s marquee match-up.  In a game that a lot of people were touting as a potential 2009 NFC Championship preview, the New Orleans Saints (5-0) remained undefeated by dominating the previous undefeated NY Giants (5-1) with the final lopsided score 48-27.  The Saints hammered the NFL’s former top-ranked defense and No. 1 pass defense to the tune of 493 total yards, 28 first downs, and a season-high 48 points.  The Saints offense mixed in play-action and great protection (no sacks allowed) to keep a Giants defense, who had fattened up on the NFL’s underbelly, always on their heels.  Of course the Saints O-line, especially dominating OT Jermon Bushrod, did their yeoman work producing a power running game and a “clean” pocket, but we all know quarterback Drew Brees (see Game Balls) will get most of the glory.   After not throwing a touchdown for two straight week, Brees coming off a bye was on fire as he produced a 369-yard, four-touchdown performance.  The Saints fueled by a strong home crowd that truly believes this could finally be the year for their team, put up 34 points at the half — the Giants’ last three opponents before Sunday had scored a combined 23 points. 

The Saints and play-calling head coach Sean Payton also had balance in their offensive scheme as they rushed the ball 39 times producing 133 yards as RB’s Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell kept the Giants guessing.  On defense, the Saints were stifling as they held Giants starter Eli Manning to only 178 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.  Manning never had time in the pocket and clearly was off rhythm as rushers DE Charles Grant, DE Bobby McCray and DE Will Smith constantly were in his face.  The win was an eye-opener for those, including this so-called NFL expert that thought the Saints could not match-up with a tough East Coast team.  Former Patriot and New Orleans Saints FB Heath Evans said of the win, “These guys are getting a taste of (non-stop) winning. Dave (Thomas, a backup tight end and former Patriot) and I had it when we were on that ’07 team, and you start racking them up.”  But to Saints fans already booking their hotel rooms in Miami for the Super Bowl, I must throw out a word of caution.  There are still 11 more games to be played and the Saints still must finish the job.  The Saints have started 5-0 two other times in their history and both times the season ended short of the NFL’s ultimate goal – 1991, finished 11-5 and lost in wildcard round and 1993, finished 8-8 and didn’t make the playoffs.  Evans added, “These games don’t count until November and December”.  And I totally agree Heath.

The other big story of this week had to be the New England Patriots 59-0 shellacking of the poor Tennessee Titans in snowy Foxborough, Massachusetts.  In a game that reminded me of hall of famer Warren Moon in his CFL prime with the Edmonton Eskimos, Patriots Tom Brady was loving the cold elements as he threw for six touchdowns including 5 TDs in the second quarter alone — the most TD passes in one quarter by a QB since 1950.  But the story of the game was not the Patriots’ NFL-record 45-0 lead at halftime.  Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in a manner that only he can do, kept his foot on the throttle the rest of the game and thoroughly embarrassed the winless Titans.  The Patriots sent Brady back on the field in the second half and the Pats added two more TDs including one thrown by Tom Terrific.  The move definitely was a slap in the face of the Titans and beleaguered head coach Jeff Fisher.   Though some say Fisher’s team “quit” trying after awhile and the Patriots were just executing better, there was no need to continue throwing the ball over and over against a secondary that has too many injuries – missing Pro Bowl CB Courtland Finnegan and others.  Titans LB Keith Bulluck jokingly said of the Patriots effort, “I guess they were trying to raise their ranking in the BCS”.   New England coach Bill Belichick said of the lopsided game, “We went into the game with a game plan and I know the score got out of hand, but we were just trying to run our offense”. 

NBC’s Football Night in America analyst and former Super Bowl winning head coach Tony Dungy said in support of Belichick, “I don’t think he was running up the score. If you’re Tennessee, you’ve got to stop them.”  But you have to wonder if the “karma” Gods were watching.  Remember back in ’07 the Patriots were running the score up on everyone including an embarrassing 52-7 win over the Redskins and Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs.  For sure around the NFL there were probably few tears for the big bad Patriots when the Giants shockingly beat them 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.

Here are some Lloyd’s Leftovers for this week before we go to the awards.

NFL in no “Rush” to add Limbaugh — Rush Limbaugh won’t be buying a piece of the St. Louis Rams in the end.  With criticism mounting from the NFLPA, current players, NFL owners like the Colts’ Jim Irsay, and it seemed the entire NFL viewing populace.  Dave Checketts, the businessman leading a group vying for the National Football League franchise, dumped Limbaugh as a potential minority owner of the team.  “Rush was to be a limited partner–as such, he would have had no say in the direction of the club or in any decisions regarding personnel or operations,” Mr. Checketts said. “This was a role he enthusiastically embraced. However, it has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions…endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis. As such, we have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion.”  I applaud Checketts, not only because I am not a Limbaugh fan, but the main reason being that the NFL is the ‘Golden Goose’ of sports and the league does not need a gigantic divisive force coming into their midst.  Especially with a myriad of important league issues surrounding the NFL’s upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations including the splitting of equity between the owners and players, an uncapped year in 2010, a potential lockout in 2011, a rookie salary cap, retired players, player discipline, and much more.

The J-E-T-S find out the NFL is hard work — Of all of the upsets this week, I thought the NY Jets loss to the Buffalo Bills was the most damning.  Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago after the NY Jets defeated the Patriots that everyone was touting the talkative Jets as the next bully on the AFC’s block.  Well you can put away all of the Jets, head coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez are so great talk.  The J-E-T-S went down to their third straight defeat at the hands of the Bills, losing 16-13 in overtime. Bills kicker Rian Lindell — had missed a 46 yarder at the end of regulation — nailed a 47-yard field goal in overtime to halt Buffalo’s three-game skid. The Bills’ overtime win also snapped an 8-game losing streak against their AFC East foes.  Throughout the game you could sense that the Jets did not respect the lowly Bills and they thought eventually their “mystique” would win the game.  But in the NFL victories are won on the field and not at the microphone. The Jets were flagged 14 times for 96 yards — including five times in overtime — and turned the ball over six times in the overtime loss.  The Bills, who seemed a loss away from firing head coach Dick Jauron, rose to the occasion by overcoming injuries (QB Trent Edwards – concussion and everywhere on defense) and an intimidating Jets running game (318 yards).  To the surprise of many, Bills WR Terrell “T.O” Owens wasn’t even really a factor in the game as he only produced 3 catches for 13 yards and 1 run for 9 yards while dropping a few more.  However as little as T.O contributed to the Bills’ win, Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez (See Lloyd’s Lackey) did more than his share.  All the sudden everyone’s automatic Rookie of Year is finding he hard it is to play week-in and week-out in the NFL.

Tough Injury Loss for the Bengals — Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom (28) ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon in the Bengals’ loss to the Houston Texans.   Odom, the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in September, was having a breakout season (8 sacks), but unfortunately he will miss the remainder of the season. Other key injuries around the NFL were Seahawks MLB Lofa Tatupu (torn pectoral muscle – season), Bills QB Trent Edwards (concussion), Giants OL Kareem McKenzie (groin), Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha (eye), Ravens WR Kelley Washington (concussion), Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (ankle), Eagles OT Jason Peters (left knee), Vikings WR Percy Harvin (shoulder), Rams WR Donnie Avery (hip), Jets NT Kris Jenkins (ACL – season), Falcons CB Brian Williams (ACL – season) and Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin (high ankle)

Bittersweet win — Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith was not too happy after his team’s 28-21 win over the winless Tampa Bay Bucs.  The four-time Pro Bowler only had 1 catch for 4 yards and 0 TDs in the game and he clearly was frustrated afterwards.  Smith told reporters that Sunday’s win over Tampa was “bittersweet”.  Smith said, “We get the win, but I have a limited role.  So, obviously, I see this game as showing I’m no longer an asset to this team.”  Asked later about his comments, Smith declined to answer then added, “That’s all I got, My name’s Steve Smith and I stand by that.”  You know it has to be tough on Smith as his team has looked to pound the rock more than passing – threw one pass and ran the ball 14 times in a 15-play, 8 minute game sealing drive against the Bucs.  But Panthers won their second consecutive game to reach 2-3 for the season and RB’s DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are starting to look like there 2008 form .  Smith has only caught 21 passes thus far including three games of  fewer than five catches, but I am sure more passes are coming his way.

Take a seat Adalius – Former big-ticket free agent linebacker Adalius Thomas was inactive in the Patriots blowout win over the Titans.  Thomas, 32, has not live-up to his 2007 contract and even though some say he has an elbow injury, you have to expect more. The Patriots started Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton, Pierre Woods and Derrick Burgess with newly-signed 40-year old veteran Junior Seau as the first person off the bench. Thomas only has 15 tackles and one sack this season.

Game Balls

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady – He’s BACK!!! The storied career of NFL superstar quarterback Tom Brady added another chapter this week.  Playing in snowy Gillette Stadium, Brady was the driving force as the New England Patriots (wore their old Boston Patriots uniforms) destroyed the Tennessee Titans (wore their old AFL Houston Oilers gear) by a score of 59-0.  Brady threw a career high and franchise record six touchdown passes including 5 TDs in the second quarter alone (most in NFL history since 1950).  Brady answered a ton of criticism after he looked tentative and missed throws the week before in a loss to the Denver Broncos.  Tom Terrific finished his “quick”, but impressive day (left in 3rd quarter) by throwing for numbers 29-of-34 for 380 yards and 6 TDs.

Honorable Mention

Denver Broncos WR/KR Eddie Royal — Eddie Royal didn’t have any receptions, but he became the first player in Broncos history to return a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the same game.  The former Virginia Tech star was the key player as the undefeated Broncos (6-0) seized control of the AFC West division in to a thrilling 34-23 win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night. Royal looked like he was shot out of a cannon on both his 93-yard kickoff return in the first quarter and 71-yard punt return in the second quarter. 

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees – I still believe Brady’s effort, even though against a depleted Titans secondary, was just a little bit better and historic.  Brees however looked like a Pro Bowl quarterback and possible MVP candidate while leading the Saints over the formerly undefeated Giants.  The former Purdue star completed 23-of-30 for 369 yards, 4 TDs and O INTs while not being sacked against a defense that came into the game ranked #1.

Oakland Raiders rookie WR Louis Murphy – The former Florida star did not catch a pass in the Raiders surprising win over the Eagles, but stats didn’t tell the whole story.  Murphy was the key player in the Raiders’ only touchdown of the game as he two downfield blocks in springing TE Zach Miller on an 86-yard touchdown catch-and-run.  Teammates all along the Raiders’ sideline congratulated Murphy after the big score.  Murphy said after the game, “I didn’t have a catch today, but we won, and that’s all that matters.”

Oakland Raiders DE Richard Seymour –Now this is the guy the Raiders traded for at the beginning of the season.  Seymour spearheaded an inspired Raiders defense in their 13-9 upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles.  The former Patriots Super Bowl winner produced a pair of sacks and a forced fumble and was at times unblockable.

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew – As MJD goes, so go the Jaguars.  A week after complaining about his touches in an embarrassing loss to the Seahawks, Jones-Drew responded in the Jag’s overtime win over the Rams.  MJD ran for 133 yards on 33 carries and scored all three of the Jags’ touchdowns.  Overall you have to think “Pocket Hercules” was happy with his 38 touches in the Jag’s win.

Baltimore Ravens rookie OT Michael Oher – The solid rookie O-lineman slid over from right tackle to left tackle in subbing for starter Jared Gaither.  Oher, despite two false start penalties, was up to the challenge of facing Vikings Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen.  The big rookie from the University of Mississippi held Allen to only one sack and felt pretty good about it.  Oher said after the game, “I think he found out I’m an OK player, that guy (Allen) makes like $100 million. I think I did all right.”

Other Honorees: Jets RB Thomas Jones (rushed for a franchise record 210 yards and 1 TD in the Jets overtime loss to the Bills); Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (passed for 417 yards –the third-most in franchise history – in the Steelers dominating win over the Browns); Raiders punter Shane Lechler (averaged 51.1 yards on seven punts and pinned the Eagles in deep over and over); Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (Ran for 143 yards and 1 TD against the usually tough Ravens defense); Cleveland Browns WR/KR/QB Josh Cribbs (Seem like the only Browns player that looked interested as he returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and looked good running the Wildcat).

Lloyd’s Lackey

Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn — On a day where the Philadelphia Eagles surprisingly left their heads in Philadelphia before an embarrassing loss to the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans “quit” in a 59-0 bludgeoning at the hands of the New Patriots, the NFL got a real view of what “Rock Bottom” is in Washington DC.  The Redskins (2-4) continued to be the laughingstock of the NFL, despite the presence of winless teams like the Rams, Titans, and Buccaneers, in a putrid 14-6 home loss to the formerly winless Kansas City Chiefs (1-5).  The Redskins or “The Deadskins”, if you prefer, managed just 265 yards of total offense and gained only 7 first downs while turning the ball over 2 times, committing 7 penalties resulting in 63 yards, and going only 2 for 14 on third-down conversions.   Zorn in his infinite wisdom decided to pin the Redskins woes on his starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, who he replaced at halftime.  Zorn in explaining why he benched Campbell said, “He was a little late in hitting some things and inaccurate.”   Hey Zorn…I wonder if you have a mirror?  The Redskins’ offense now is averaging only 13.2 points per game this season and hasn’t scored more than 17 in any game despite playing facing six consecutive winless opponents (first team in NFL history).  They have are now 4-10 in their last 14 games and the team told Zorn after the game that he had too many responsibilities, so someone else (insert name: “Sherman Lewis”) should run the offense during games.   “It’s going to be a very hard week,” Zorn said. “Last week, I thought that was as hard as it can get. It just got harder.”  Stay tuned as something stinky needs to be cleaned up in the Nation’s Capital and it has nothing to do with politics.

Dishonorable Mention

The Philadelphia Eagles – All I can say is thank goodness that the Philadelphia Phillies are doing so well in the baseball playoffs.  My hometown Eagles annoyed every fan in the Delaware Valley by forgetting they had to play a game in Oakland against the “supposed” hapless Raiders.  The Eagles never could put touchdown drive together in a game – settled for 3 FGs — where they clearly were overconfident and a little arrogant in their approach to the Raiders.  Eagles head coach Andy Reid threw balance out the wind as his team ran the ball just 14 times and passed 46 times against a Raiders team that came into the game routinely giving up 200 yards rushing.  The Eagles offensive line – don’t give me Jason Peters was hurt —allowed the Raiders to produce 6 sacks and gave little time for quarterback Donovan McNabb.  Speaking of McNabb, the Birds passer was inaccurate and missed on a ton of throws finishing with numbers 22-46 for 269 yards, 0TDs, and an almost interception that would have been a touchdown if not for a bogus penalty against the Raiders.  Did I also mention kicker David Akers was 3 for 5 on field goal attempts, the Eagles failed to capitalize on JaMarcus Russell’s 2 INTs and that they were just 2 of 16 on 3rd down conversions. Alright enough already about the Eagles, at least the Phillies outscored the Birds 11 to 9 on their way to winning their game 11-0 against the LA Dodgers on Sunday.

NY Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez – Some may try to pin the reason for this week’s Lackey award on the tricky Meadowlands’ winds (arm strength), but “Sanchize” won this one all on his own.  Sanchez probably played worse than his stat line (10/29, 119 yards, 0 TDs, and 5 INTs plus a fumble that his team recovered) in the Jets overtime loss, if that is possible.  It still puzzles me how Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer kept throwing the ball when the Jets produced over 300 yards rushing.  The 2009 NFL Draft’s 5th overall pick made bad decisions, locked-in on receivers, forced passes into new favorite receiver Braylon Edwards, and overall was too tentative in the pocket.  Sanchez now leads the NFL in interceptions (10) and hasn’t topped 172 yards in a game since Week 1.

Carolina Panthers safety Dante Wesley – The high-energy Panthers hitter was rightfully ejected after he launched himself into the head of Buccaneers punt returner Clifton Smith.  Smith had clearly signaled for a fair catch and Wesley’s actions caused a spirited pushing and shoving match after the play.  Wesley was also notified by the NFL that he was suspended for 1 game and I am sure a heavy fine is coming too.

Baltimore Ravens kicker Steven Hauschka – Somehow, you knew it was going to happen…especially after former Ravens veteran kicker Matt Stover signed with the Indianapolis Colts this week.  Hauschka, a strong-legged young kicker, missed a potential game-winning last-minute 44-yard field goal in the Ravens’ 33-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.  The 2nd year kicker from NC State finished will have other opportunities, but like I always say “Just a kicker being a kicker”. Ironically Hauschka had been cut by the Vikings earlier in his career.

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte – The Bears Pro Bowl running back was held to just 23 yards on 15 carries in his team’s 21-14 Sunday Night Football loss to the Atlanta Falcons.  Forte also had two fumbles in the redzone with the second one being recovered by the Falcons inside the 5-yard line.

The St. Louis Rams – Their 23-20 overtime loss to the Jaguars marked the one year anniversary of the last regular season game that they won.  The Rams or is it the “Lambs” extended the NFL’s longest current losing streak to 16 games.

NFL Week 6

SUN, OCT 18 

Houston Texans (3-3), Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) 28-17

Green Bay Packers (3-2), Detroit Lions (1-5) 26-0

Minnesota Vikings (6-0), Baltimore Ravens (3-3) 33-31

New Orleans Saints (5-0), NY Giants (5-1) 48-27

Carolina Panthers (2-3), Tampa Bay Bucs (0-6) 28-21

Kansas City Chiefs (1-5), Washington Redskins (2-4) 14-9

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3), St. Louis Rams (0-6) 23-20 in OT

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2), Cleveland Browns (1-5) 27-14

Arizona Cardinals (3-2), Seattle Seahawks (2-4) 27-3

Oakland Raiders (2-4), Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) 13-9

Buffalo Bills (2-4), NY Jets (3-3) 16-13 in OT

New England Patriots (4-2), Tennessee Titans (0-6) 59-0

Atlanta Falcons (4-1), Chicago Bears (3-2) 21-14

MON, OCT 19 

Denver Broncos (6-0), San Diego Chargers (2-3) 34-23

Bye: Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, San Francisco 



Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Training Camp Questions – NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Can the Cardinals avoid the Super Bowl loser hangover that has happened consistently this decade? (7 of 8 teams that lost the Super Bowl missed the playoffs the year, except the 2006 Seahawks)

Now that Edgerrin James has left town, will rookie Beanie Wells or 2nd-year player Tim Hightower be the Cardinals featured running back and how many carries a game will they get?

How will new coordinators Russ Grim and Bill Davis do at leading their respective units after both former coordinators left town for Kansas City Chiefs after the Super Bowl?

Will Bill Davis’ defensive unit, particularly his secondary, improve on the 426 points that they allowed in 2008?

After receiving his 2-year, $24 Million contract, does quarterback Kurt Warner have another big season in him at almost age 40?

San Francisco 49ers

Who will the Niners starting quarterback be (Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, or Damon Huard) and are any of them capable of leading the team to the playoffs?

Was last year’s season-ending 5-2 push led by new head coach Mike Singletary proof that the Niners have turned the corner back to respectability?

Given the tough demeanor of head coach Mike Singletary, do you think that his message will sink-in with young players like tight end Vernon Davis, WR Michael Crabtree, and others?

When will WR Michael Crabtree sign with the Niners and will the heralded rookie from Texas Tech have a Marques Colston type rookie year (led team in receptions and had over 1,000 yards receiving)?

Will the addition of players like veteran DB Dre Bly and three new defensive rookies from the draft help defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s unit improve upon their sack (30 in ’08) and points allowed (381) numbers?

Seattle Seahawks

How healthy is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (back) and will he be able to return to his 2005 Super Bowl form?

What will be the overall impact of new head coach Jim Mora Jr and his staff taking over from Mike Holmgren?

Are the Seahawks really going to spread carries between TJ Duckett, Julius Jones, and Justin Forsett or will one of the backs emerge as the featured ball carrier?

How healthy is DE Patrick Kerney and can the Mora and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley breathe new life into the Seahawks defense?

What will the addition of former Bengals receiver TJ Houshmanzadeh mean to the Seahawks receiving core and are holdovers Nate Burrelson and Deion Branch healthy?

St. Louis Rams

How will the hiring of former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo change the culture of a Rams team that has not had a winning season since 2003?

After not playing to expectations from a huge contract, does quarterback Marc Bulger still have enough to be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL?

After barely gaining 1,000 yards in 2008 is running back Steven Jackson ready for a comeback season?

With receiver Torry Holt moving on to the Jaguars which receiver out of veteran Ronald Curry and youngsters Donald Avery and Laurent will become the Rams featured receiver?

What is going on with the Rams ownership group and is it possible that current owner Chip Rosenbloom will sell and/or relocate the team?


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Rams fire coach Scott Linehan

Unfortunately an “I told you so” moment occurred on Monday morning as it was learned around the NFL that the winless St. Louis Rams’ owner Chip Rosenbloom had fired coach Scott Linehan – lost badly at home to the Bills 31-14 falling to an ugly (0-4) record. The beleaguered coach, who was my pick as the first coach to be relieved of his duties going back to my season-opening preview was finally let go after the Rams had a fourth straight lopsided loss to start the ’08 season.  Linehan had tried to pull out all the stops on Sunday as desperate move after desperate didn’t work including benching former Pro Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger for brittle veteran Trent Green – BTW:  The surprising move to bench Bulger for little reason was the last straw with the veteran team.

Linehan will now go down in NFL history with other failed coaches David Shula, Rich Brooks, and Al Groh as someone, who never was able to get a winning tradition going from the start of his tenure.  At age 45 and having some success working in the Vikings regime in the past may get Linehan another chance as a coordinator down the line.  But he clearly was overmatched had lost the Rams lockerroom amongst whispers that the team had quit on him after only four games into his third season.  Driving home the point of “how” bad this team was, they have been outscored 147-43 this season, and have allowed at least 30 points in seven straight games dating back to last year.

Linehan had taken over from successful, but volatile head coach Mike Martz and was expected to bring discipline to a talented, but underachieving aging group that had been left around from Super Bowl teams in 1999 and 2006.  Linehan’s best season was in his first season as the team compiled an 8-8 record.  However that high water record mark was tainted as the team missed the playoffs after a 4-1 start.  Since that great start, Linehan’s Rams compiled a 7-24 record in their last 31 games as the disappointing coach finished with an 11-25 record.

The Rams have scheduled a news conference for later today to announce the firing and to also announce that defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was hired as the interim head coach for the rest of the year.  Luckily for the new coach, the Rams have a bye this week before playing at the NY Giants in week six.  Only time will tell if Haslett is the right man for the job – was fired by New Orleans after the 2005 season, finishing with a 45-65 record and a 1-1 record in the playoffs – or if the team needs to find a new guru from the outside.  My vote is for the Rams to find a new tough respected coach that will light a fire under this below par team (ex. SF 49ers Assistant Head Coach / LB Coach Mike Singletary).