There are so many ways to start this column off after the first week of NFL football.
Shall I start with the unexpected performance of Cam Newton as he almost leads the Carolina Panthers to victory? Maybe the fantastic comeback win of the Jets, with the usual Tony Romo implosion and a textbook blocked punt? How about the Bills drubbing of the Chiefs? Stafford's great game? The fantastic Packers-Saints shoot out?
Where do you start?
Probably with the performance that everyone is talking about this morning.
Tom Brady Should Be Illegal
As someone who grew up in New York and followed the Jets, I should be contractually obligated to hate the Patriots. How can you be anything but impressed with the way this team plays though?
Brady's 517 yard, 4 touchdown performance was ridiculous and only a perfectionist like Brady could get more caught up in the interception he threw than the 500 yards.
This is why the Patriots are who they are. It starts with Brady and Belichick, and the perfectionism drips down to the rest. They aren't satisfied with the win or the yards and given that they coughed up 24 points to the Dolphins and 416 yards to Chad Henne I'd be less than fully satisfied with the win as well.
If you're letting Henne drop 416 on you, you're doing something wrong.
Of course, in the end, what you did right was pretty impressive.
Brady's yardage total puts him fifth on the list of 500 yard passers behind Norman Van Brocklin (554), Warren Moon (527), Boomer Esiason (522) and Dan Marino (521).
Cam Newton Might Not Be Sham Newton
Across the board I was less than enthusiastic about the quarterbacks in the most recent NFL Draft, Cam Newton among them. It's not that I thought he was completely awful—I just expected a long process of development.
When the Carolina Panthers decided to throw him into the deep end with no water wings right away, I wasn't shocked, but I did think it would be a bad idea.
The jury is still out, but Newton's 422 yards and pair of touchdowns with just one interception was pretty impressive.
Of course, it was against a suspect Arizona Cardinals defense but regardless it was as good a performance as you could ask for out of a rookie.
Newton may still have a ways to go to fully convince me he's an NFL quarterback, but looked the part Sunday.
I wouldn't even put the failed last minute drive on Newton. On the final play of the game, Newton got his pass to running back Mike Goodson, but Goodson ran his route too short and didn't get the first down.
That's on Goodson, not Newton.
So far, so good for Newton.
By the way—I'd much rather embed a video of the Newton play here but NFL.com doesn't seem to allow me to do that. So, unless someone can lead me to a video of that which is embeddable, it's all about the links.
Defense Looks Behind Offense
Not surprisingly, most games had a decidedly offensive look. Eighteen teams allowed more than 250 yards passing, eight of those more than 300 yards. Those eight included the Packers, Jets and Patriots—all supposedly good defenses, two of which stout against the pass.
Thirteen teams allowed more than 100 yards rushing and the Panthers and Patriots were very close to joining the group. Eight teams allowed more than 150 yards and the Rams' rush defense was lit up to the tune of 236 yds. The Denver Broncos were right behind them with 190 yds allowed.
In the Rams' defense they got run on by Mike Vick for almost 100 yds. Still, poor showing.
All in all, a rough weekend for defense.
I talked about this on the last Hard Count, but the Manning neck thing is brutal for the Colts and only got worse post show when it was revealed to be a long term injury. Colts Owner Jim Isray, who I think drinks when he tweets, shot out a series of grim sounding tweets last week.
The long and short of it is, it's not good. Mind you, I don't blame replacement Kerry Collins for the meltdown Sunday. I mean, he was bad but the defense was horrid as well. It's hard to generate offense when you're down by 34 points in a half.
However—and this was my point last week—long term the Colts still have no plan. There never was an answer to the question 'what happens when Manning retires?'. They handed Manning a $90 million contract at the start of Training Camp and didn't use the cash on defensive moves. So the defense is problematic and there is nobody to replace Manning either short or long term.
I'm sure this will be a constant topic around here but you have to imagine that if they can get him, Stanford's Andrew Luck is on their agenda. They may not have to try very hard if they keep playing like they are now.
If I were them, I'd trade up with everything to get him.
Whether Manning is happy about it or not.
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