1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002
Tunnel Vision - Week 1
By David M. Dorey
September 8, 2003

Week One Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

A bit rougher than week one of last year, particularly for Packer receivers.

Kurt Warner (STL) - Concussion, brought to hospital
Tiki Barber (NYG) - Dislocated finger, returned to game
Karsten Bailey (GB) - Pulled hamstring
Donald Driver (GB) - Severe neck strain
Robert Ferguson (GB) - Tore ligaments in ankle - out indefinitely
Brian Finneran (ATL) - Broken left hand
Larry Foster (ARZ) - Sprained ankle

Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Jeff Blake 385 3
Tommy Maddox 260 3
Joey Harrington 195 4
Running Backs Rush TD
Shaun Alexander 124 2
Clinton Portis 159 2
Priest Holmes 183 2
Wide Receivers Catch TD
Anquan Boldin 217 2
Randy Moss 150 1
Chris Chambers 118 2
Tight Ends Catch TD
Alge Crumpler 94 1
Josh Norman 64 1
Freddie Jones 65 1
Placekickers XP FG
Jeff Chandler 4 5
Kris Brown 0 5
Jason Elam 3 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Detroit 2 1 1
New York Giants 1 6 4
San Francisco 1 5 6

Oh for yesteryear

Last year, the NFL started out with a bang like all years do. 2002 saw the average game score of 49.6 points and an unbelievable 13 of 15 games that ended over the line. Of course it did not last, but it's always something to look forward to in week one - get the new fantasy team and your first week out of the blocks is a point bonanza. So what happened? Who invited defenses this time? This weekend saw an average total points per game of only 41.8 points and that was greatly aided by Detroit/Arizona (66), MIN/GB (55) and CHI/SF (56).

Take away those three games and the average game only produced a total of 37.6 points. Take away 49 field goals and half a dozen defensive or special teams scores and it was a far lower weekend than normal. There were only four running backs with over 100 yards rushing while there were eight during week one last year.

Why did we draft those running backs in such a frenzy again?

The Boldin Beautiful

Maybe next year when you reach the 20th round of your draft and you are looking for a longshot receiver, we now know to look for a rookie receiver that plays for a very bad team with a marginal, at best, passing game and who is not even officially a starter in the sense of flanker or split end. Look for someone who is stuck in as a slot receiver in multiple receiver sets. That way you can be delighted when your receiver - let's call him Anquan Boldin for the heck of it - goes off to the tune of 10 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns. The two starting Arizona receivers of Bryan Gilmore and Larry Foster combined for 24 yards and no score (thereby meeting expectations). I mean you should be able to count on setting an all-time record for a rookie receiver in his first game, right?

Oh yes, almost forgot. When you find that rookie slot guy on a bad team next year, he not only should be drafted that year, but he canoot even be the first receiver drafted by the team. This might be hard to find but is evidently worth the search.

It's a fine gun - wish I could keep it. Just gonna hunt buffalo with it, right?

The Patriots made the last minute decision to cut Lawyer Milloy in order to save money and lose a player that did not meet expectations anymore. In retrospect, this was along the lines of trading a Winchester to the Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn. "We got the horse, you got the gun - we're cool, right?"

In the ambush that the Patriots walked into, Lawyer Milloy barely had time to cut the tags off his uniform before going out and recording two tackles, three assists and a sack. His replacement only managed two tackles, one assist and no sacks even though safeties for the Patriots clearly had more opportunity to make tackles than their counterparts for the Bills.

Tom Brady got to play the part of Custer, complete with a 48% completion rate and only 123 yards passing. It was actually higher if you count the four times the Buffalo defense caught the ball. This from a team that spent their last trip to Little Big H... Buffalo defeating the Bills by a score of 38-7 when Brady had over twice the yardage and three touchdowns while Antowain Smith rushed for 111 yards instead of just seven yards.

"Tell you what - you guys bring some chowder next time and maybe we'll let you score."

Hmmm. You know, that whole rookie thing seems to work for Arizona...

Chicago retooled their offense this spring by acquiring Kordell Stewart in the hopes that he could not only bring veteran leadership to the team, but also the chance to use his ability to run the ball as well. Kordell jumped at the chance to become a starting quarterback again and once he wore his uniform for the first time, he kept asking trainers "do I look good in this? I do, don't I?"

While his GQ rating is still undetermined, he is evidently now easier to find by defenses. Kordell's first game for the Bears entailed six rushes for 21 yards and five sacks by a defense that was considered below average. Kordell's attempt to gain yardage with his legs resembled a commuter trying to merge into 5 o'clock traffic. Stewart ended the inauspicious first game with only 14 completions on 34 attempts for 95 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Fortunately the Bears meet another bad defense next week to turn the team around. You know - that terrible team that cannot stop anyone in Minneapolis.

I'm pacing myself

There were four big name receivers that changed teams in the offseason. They were acquired by teams hungry for a difference making pass catcher that could really open up the offense and keep the chains moving. These receivers just came off their first game with their new team so what happened?

Lavernues Coles - (5-106 yards) Great first half, nothing in the second
Peerless Price - (2 -30 yards) But one very nice catch
David Boston - (2 - 20 yards) Not only no good catches but SD trailed for the final 57 minutes
Curtis Conway - (2 - 28 yards) But was the second best receiver

Evidently the teams would have been better served by just drafting two receivers and then throwing away the first one.

Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jeff Blake 363 3 QB Peyton Manning 211 0
RB Aveion Cason 106 1 RB Curtis Martin 41 0
RB Marc Edwards 9 1 RB Corey Dillon 41 0
WR Anquan Boldin 217 2 WR David Boston 20 0
WR Jermaine Lewis 90 1 WR Donald Driver 27 0
WR Matthew Hatchette 60 1 WR Peerless Price 30 0
PK Aaron Elling 3 FG, 3 XP PK Adam Vinatieri


Huddle Fantasy Points = 129

Huddle Fantasy Points = 26

And he can sing the national anthem too if that is needed

Little did you know that 24 kickers yesterday would be beaten by someone that did not know himself that he was a kicker until the second quarter in the Tennessee - Oakland game last night. When Joe Nedney played an impromptu version of Twister during a kickoff and sprained his knee, the Titans turned to their punter Craig Hentrich because he certainly the closest thing to a kicker on the roster.

Hentrich not only played well, he went three for three with field goals of 49, 34 and 33 yards. In a game won by five points, his interesting yet successful attempts provided the margin of victory for the home team. Now if he can just learn to talk smack like Mike Vanderjagt...

I Love Idiot Kickers

The next time Peyton Manning fires up the Manning-mobile, he may be sporting a new bumpersticker. Seems that Mike Vanderjagt not only gets "liqoured up" in the offseason when he has to appear on Canadian talk shows, he sobers up during the season and can kick three field goals in a game. In fact, the only points in the entire game. In fact, the only points in a game that they won without any touchdowns.

Now both of you hug and start scoring double digits in games again.

Watercooler Cheatsheet

In case you missed the games, here is a handy cheatsheet for reference when you talk football with your coworkers today.

Are they really that good?

Washington - not really
Denver - Ummm... cough, cough, Portis, cough, cough
Buffalo - Whoo Boy! Man! (shrug)
Pittsburgh - Sure
Indianapolis - This is a trick question, right?
Carolina - Yes, but barely and only in the second half.
New York Giants - Tiki. Tiki, Tiki, Tiki. Mitchell.
Houston - Yes, but only in week one. Then it is back to the "carriage is a pumpkin" thing.
Kansas City - (Just look pensive, like you are putting the words "defense" and "Chiefs" together)
Minnesota - Probably not THAT good
Detroit - (spit out coffee on the floor, avoid your shirt)
Seattle - I think so. I still do. I said so before. Probably. I think.
San Francisco - Who knows? They haven't played yet.
Atlanta - Yes, in spite of poor press
Tennessee - Sheesh - a punter. Go figure.

Are they really that bad?

New York Jets - You know - first Coles, then Chad, then... yes.
Cleveland - Uh - boy. Probably not, Jim. (look at ceiling) Probably not.
Cincinnati - Compared to what?
Jacksonville - Evidently not.
New England - Evidently so.
Baltimore - Yes, for a bit longer anyway.
St. Louis - So far, so bad.
Miami - They better hope not in this job market
San Diego - Yes, but they have really, really nice weather and a zoo too.
Green Bay - No though losing the two best receivers in one play may make it so.
Arizona - Bigger yes than flashing a C-note at a hooker
New Orleans - No, they just mixed up December with September
Chicago - Hey - you're just avoiding work now
Dallas - Yes but enrolled in the "Scared Straight" program
Oakland - No, not as long as Gannon continues to get back up

Sunday's Couch Commentary

NYJ 13, WAS 26 Coles got his revenge, Spurrier got his quarterback, Snyder got his win and Jets continue to lose things.
IND 9, CLE 6 This was more like the World Cup of soccer than the Superbowl except the hooligans were wearing dog masks and mostly just burping in disgust.
DEN 30, CIN 10 It is notable that Plummer hands off very well. It's not like the Bengals were starting out with high expectations anyway.
JAX 23, CAR 24 Delhomme threw three touchdowns in the second half to win the game for the Panthers. Carolina offense = good. Carolina defense = not great. Jacksonville offense = good. Now stop reading this before your brain explodes.
NE 0, BUF 31 Evidently the Bills are like that one guy in tenth grade that came back from the summer break with a deep voice and a beard. And a car that the chicks all dig.
BAL 15, PIT 34 It's not exactly like Boller doesn't still look good compared to previous Ravens.
STL 13, NYG 23 Maybe the Rams still cannot score, but at least Warner is over 300 yards passing again. I mean - find the silver lining here, dude. Holt and Bruce went over 100. Work with me on this.
SD 14, KC 27 The only ones that watched the second half were optimistic Charger fans and angry Priest Holmes owners. Richardson! Blaylock? HUH?!?!?
MIN 30, GB 25 Vikings appreciated the new place much more than the Packer fans. Driver and Ferguson injuries much harder to bear than the game.
ARZ 24, DET 42 I told you both teams would look much better than they really are. I just did not know it was going to be the rookie receiver showcase.
NO 10, SEA 27 You know, this was supposed to be the light part of the Saint's schedule too.
CHI 7, SF 49 Trust me, Mr. Erickson, it will not always be like this. Okay - maybe for Chicago but not for your 49ers.
ATL 27, DAL 13 How important are you when your boss pushes your wheel chair down to the field? Evidently not so important that they actually need you in Dallas.
OAK 20, TEN 25 What a great game. After suffering through the Jets-Redskins game on Thursday, this was one that makes you say "Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!"


Winner: Houston 21, Miami 20

It's deja vu all over again.

So far the Texans have provided two critical features to the NFL.

1. They have been a weekly trainer for defenses perfecting the art of sacking the quarterback.
2. They have managed to decimate NFL survivor pools after only one week the last two years.

The Dolphins led only 14-6 at the half but in the "hard to get up for the game" mentality that these sort of matchups inspire, the expectation was that the Dolphins would rise up in the second half and mightily smite David (Carr) using Ricky Williams and a defense that is even better at home. They evidently failed to get that memo over to the visitors lockerroom.

I was all innocent enough. The Dolphins took the opening kickoff at their 12 yard line and then in 13 plays reached midfield before incompletions forced a punt. The Texans went three and out and punted back to the Dolphins who did the same. 'Yawn'.

With only four and a half minutes left in the third quarter, the Texans started out on their own 22 yard line and in one play, David Carr hits Corey Bradford for a 78 yard touchdown. All of a sudden this is a 14-12 game (they missed the two point conversion run by Mack). Then the Dolphins get the ball back and go three and out. Huh?

The Texans get the ball back around midfield since Jay Fielder was sacked and lost yardage and the Texans march down to the Miami five yard line in only seven plays before settling for a field goal. This makes the Texans lead 15-14. Miami notices. Miami does what we all expect and marches eighty yards for a touchdown to retake the lead 20-15. They missed on the two point conversion pass. They go for the two points since it would make them up by seven points instead of six points. In retrospect, this is where those little conversion cards fall short.

The Texans get the kickoff and chew up seven minutes to kick a field goal at the five minute mark in the fourth quarter. With a lead of 2 points now, 20-18, all they have to do is run Ricky, chew up the clock, take the win and breathe an embarrassing sigh of relief.

First and ten from their 31-yard line, they get a false start. On first and fifteen, Fiedler hits Williams for eight yards. On second and seven from the Miami 34-yard line, another false start - sloppy play - puts it back to second and 12 yards to go. And then it happens. On second down and 12, Fiedler throws the ball which is intercepted on the sideline by Marcus Coleman at the Miami 36-yard line.

The Texans then drive to the Miami 17-yard line using - get this - Stacey Mack running the ball in Miami to set up Kris Brown with 30 seconds left from the Miami 17-yard line. Brown nails the 35 yarder because as we all now know - even punters can chip those in. The Texans take the lead 21-20.

With only 18 seconds left, Fiedler is throws two incompletions and a final heave-ho that is, appropriately, intercepted by Coleman again.

Texans win. The only franchise in the history of the NFL with a perfect record for opening day. Houston has only won five games in their history and yet have never started their season out with a losing record. Once again - we must wait for week three for that to happen. The greatest part of this game was the report from Jabbar Gaffney that before the game a Miami player said to him "see you after practice".

In the end, it was the Texans that were able to say "Oh yeah, I got your practice right here."

Football is back and the fun and exciting finishes have not gone away. Hope you had a great offseason, a great fantasy draft and are looking forward to an even better season than last year. May we all feel like the Houston Texans in week one. This is your year - I can feel it. Bet you can too.

Now get back to work...