I, for one, am sick of talking about the replacement officials. I will herby provide my overall thoughts on Week 3 in the National Football League, and I will try very hard not to mention the word “referee”.
-The New York Giants’ offense was impressive in putting up 36 points Thursday night without Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, or David Diehl. However, let’s not lose sight of how atrocious the Carolina Panthers’ defense is. They generate no pass-rush, can’t cover downfield, and do a terrible job tackling overall. So much for Ryan Kalil’s Super Bowl prediction. Isn’t Ron Rivera supposed to be a defensive coach?
-I know the New England Patriots are 1-2 now, but I’m going to have to watch them struggle a lot more before I start to envision anyone else winning the AFC East. Come on, can any of you really see the New York Jets without Darrelle Revis, Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill hosting a playoff game in January over Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? Me neither.
-Sunday’s ugly win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the first time in as long as I can remember that the Dallas Cowboys had a winning record and weren’t being hyped up as Super Bowl contenders. And until they get their offensive line fixed, that’s the way it should be.
-The New Orleans Saints have given anyone who thinks that as long as you have two good coordinators and a talented roster you can survive with an unqualified head coach a seminar. (That’s the first time someone’s used “unqualified” in a discussion about the NFL without including “replacement refs” this season. Oops, sorry.)
-It is amazing how much the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense suffers when Troy Polamalu is not on the field. Pittsburgh’s D is essentially built around Polamalu’s unpredictable aggressiveness and when he’s out of the game, they have just another defense.
-I love the way Matt Ryan has played this year. The only shame is that the Atlanta Falcons’ running game has dropped off from where it was in years past. If the Dirty Birds had the ground game of a couple years ago with this high-flying passing game and opportunistic defense, they’d be truly scary. Instead, they’re just very good.
-Ken Whisenhunt is one of the top five head coaches in the NFL and his defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, will get a head coaching job in the next year or two. For the Arizona Cardinals to be 3-0 after having played three quality opponents, with the modest quarterback play they’ve gotten is truly remarkable.
-They might only have a 1-2 record to show for it but the competitiveness and fire that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have rediscovered under Greg Schiano has been unmistakable.