Monday Morning Hangover: Quite a weekend
Posted on 10/22/2007 7:00:00 AM
By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts man about town
It's an easy assumption.
When Team A loses Star Player A to an
injury, it's not hard to figure that Team A is in trouble.
But what you forget is that while Star Player A may be truly a wonderful player, Generic
Player B can sometimes do the job quite nicely.
The fortunes of several NFL teams this season have turned on just such a
replacement, some soldiering right on through without Star Player A, some
struggling mightily with Generic Player B.
When the Rams lost Orlando Pace in Week 1, it was a big loss
– but one that most thought that St.
Louis would overcome.
Not even close.
The Rams withstood the loss of Pace for eight games in 2006 –
in fact, they thrived, going 2-6 with 21.4 PPG in Pace's eight starts, 6-2 with
24.5 PPG in the eight games he missed.
But they are just awful without him in 2007, with the
various shufflings of the line leading to mayhem and a league-low 11.3 points a
Overall, since Pace became a full-time starter in 1998, the
Rams are 75-57 with Pace in the lineup (56.4% win), 8-12 without him (40% win).
They've had better luck replacing Steven Jackson with rookie
Brian Leonard, only because both have been equally ineffective. Leonard is
averaging 3.9 yards a carry to Jackson's
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Dallas
Cowboys. Starting wideout Terry Glenn, a 1,000-yard receiver in 2006, has
missed all seven games. So has NT Jason Ferguson, injured early in Week 1.
But their replacements have
been just fine, as evidenced by the 6-1 record.
WR Patrick Crayton is on pace for 914 yards and nine TDs, and NT Jay Ratliff has helped
front to a No. 3 ranking in run defense through six weeks (3.41 per carry).
Some other notable replacements:
New England, DE Jarvis Green for Richard
Seymour. Obviously, the Patriots haven't been in any kind of trouble this year –
even without Seymour,
considered the best defensive player of the Patriots' dynasty. Green doesn't
have the versatility of Seymour,
but he has collected three sacks in seven games, and the Patriots' Defensive
Hogs were ranked third after six weeks.
Chicago, S Adam Archuleta for Mike Brown.
This has been a
nightmare, causing the Bears to move their secondary all around searching for
answers when Brown went down in Week 1. Heading into Week 7, the Bears had a defensive passer rating of 94.6
in 2007 – a far cry from the 66.5 of a year ago. Making matters worse, they
traded S Chris Harris to Carolina,
where he's forced four fumbles and generally been a welcome surprise.
DT Ed Johnson for Anthony McFarland . It should surprise no one that the
Colts found a way to seamlessly replace someone that seemed fairly
irreplaceable when he went down in August. But Johnson has been just fine, with 13 tackles in five games
for a Colts' DL that has an improved run defense (4.22 per carry against) in
Houston, WR Andre Davis
for Andre Johnson.
The Texans' passing game figured to be finished when Johnson
went down, but it's continued to be strong even as the Texans have lost four of
five. Davis has
20 catches for 384 yards and two TDs in his five starts, numbers that would pan
out to 64 catches, 1,228 yards and six TDs over a full 16-game season.
The Eagles did exactly what everyone has been telling the
rest of the league to do on Sunday, and that's kick away from Devin Hester.
It worked – Hester didn't touch the ball once on a return –
and although the Bears had the last laugh on a shocking cardiac drive by Brian Griese, the
strategy will certainly be used again.
However, the impact of Hester was still felt.
On four Philly kickoffs, the Bears started on average at the 35
yard line – approximately 10 yards better than the league average. And Philly's
net punting average was 27.0 yards on four kicks, again around 10 yards worse than the NFL average.
So, just the threat of Hester gave the Bears an average of
10 extra starting yards on each of the eight possessions that started off an
Not bad, just out of sheer fear from the other sideline.
LAVERANUES COLES: UNDERRATED
We suspect that Laveranues Coles, like T.J. Houshmandzadeh,
doesn't get the credit he deserves mostly because his name is difficult to
But Coles, who had two TDs in vain Sunday as the Jets lost
has been as consistent as any receiver in the league since cracking the
starting lineup in 2000. In his 106 starts, he's averaged 5 catches and 64.1 yards,
and his average season as a starter is 80 catches for 1,025 yards and 5.5 TDs.
Over the last five full seasons (two in Washington), he's been between 73-91 catches
and 845-1,264 yards.
Coles has never missed a game in his eight-year career, and
has lost exactly one fumble.
That's Laveranues, L-A-V-E-R ...
REGGIE BUSH: OVERRATED
On the NFL Network postgame show, Jim Mora mentioned how
well Reggie Bush has played in the Saints' two wins, then showed clips of him
at a press conference.
Here are two questions: what is Jim Mora smoking, and why is
Reggie Bush giving a press conference?
As usual, Bush did nearly nothing to advance the cause of a New Orleans win.
Against a defense that was 23rd in run defense, allowing 4.27
yards a carry, Bush had 17 carries for 54 yards – a 3.2-yard average right on
par with his 3.5 season average and 3.6 career average. Ah, but he added a
four-yard TD catch and ensuing two-point conversion to give NO the lead with
For this, he was awarded NFL.com's "Game Ball." Did we
mention that his longest gain of the day on 22 touches was nine yards?
NFL.com could have awarded the "Game Ball" to Charles Grant,
who had five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and helped keep Atlanta to 75 yards
rushing on 24 carries, but that would have been too hard.
Might as well give it to Reggie, who looks awfully nice in
ads but not so hot on the actual football field.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MORTEN ANDERSEN
While Rob Bironas (8 FGs) and Jason Elam (walk-off 48-yarder
to beat Pittsburgh)
were your most memorable kickers from Week 7, it's Mr. Morten Andersen that
continues to amaze the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
Andersen went 3-for-3 for Atlanta Sunday, leaving him 12-for-15 on the
season. At his current pace, he'll finish the season with 120 points – which would
be only two less than his career-high of 122 set with Atlanta in 1995. He also had 121 points in
1987, which for the mathematically challenged was 20 years ago.
Lykønskningen, Morty! (That's congratulations, on the off
chance the faithful reader doesn't speak Danish).
FIVE AMAZING SUNDAY DEVELOPMENTS
1. The Cardinals going for two points to tie at the end of
the game in Washington
... and making WR Anquan Boldin the quarterback. That's Cardinals football if we've
ever seen it.
still using Chester Taylor on key third downs and in key fourth-quarter
situations. Note to coach Brad Childress: rookie Adrian Peterson is averaging 7.2
yards every time he touches the ball on a run or pass.
3. Baltimore actually scoring
touchdowns, not field goals in Buffalo.
Matt Stover had kicked more FGs than XPs in five straight games.
blowing a 32-7 fourth-quarter lead then winning it on their kicker's eighth
field goal of the day. If only Vince Young had played, we could have given him
all the credit.
5. The Kansas City Chiefs
winning a road game over Oakland
to go to 4-3 and take the AFC West lead. The "Hard Knocks" jokes can now end,
as the Chiefs are in first place in October for the first time since their 9-0
start in 2003.
There were no interconference games played in Week 7,
leaving the AFC's lead at a slim 14-12. And the NFC holds a 15-11 lead in
Some very interesting interconference games are on tap for
Week 8: Indy at Carolina, Washington
at New England and Jacksonville at Tampa Bay
– all games between Quality Teams. It's capped off Monday night with Green Bay at Denver.
Less intriguing: Giants-Dolphins in London
and Browns at Rams.
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