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Football Fragments: A collection of thoughts from football’s 2nd weekend

Published 12:11am Tuesday, September 21, 2010

-An interesting thing happened in the Buffalo/Green Bay game on Sunday: instead of using highly touted starting rookie C.J. Spiller, or the more experienced and versatile number 2 guy, Fred Jackson, the Bills gave problematic former star Marshawn Lynch 17 carries. Spiller and Jackson only had 10 carries combined. Now why would the Bills do this? They were trying to showcase Lynch for the Packers in the most blatant way possible. With the loss of Ryan Grant for the season, Green Bay very obviously needs another running back. On Sunday they had to play the diminutive Brandon Jackson (who had an ineffective 2.9 yards per carry) and John Kuhn, who is clearly a fullback. Both teams over the course of the game were making the same case: Green Bay should trade any of their many defensive assets for Lynch. I actually think Lynch is better than Grant, and if both teams react to what happened Sunday and pull the trigger, the Packers will be even better than they were before Grant’s injury. But knowing the Bills, they’ll try to put backup quarterback Brian Brohm at running back, because it would make absolutely no sense, and that seems to be how they operate.

-Speaking of the Bills, they will be one of many teams in the middle of a quarterback conundrum in week 3. Former Harvard Quarterback and 2009 retread Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start on Sunday because…why not I guess? Another retread, Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski relieved Jason Campbell in a win against the Rams and will probably start next week. The Panthers will start rookie Jimmy Clausen. Max Hall will probably start for the Cardinals and Kerry Collins could be in the mix for the Titans. The Steelers might start Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich but who cares because they are the same and won’t play when Big Ben is forcing (ahem) his way back into the lineup. Two of these moves I get. Clausen is an unknown quantity, has promising talent, and could be better than Matt Moore. The same sort of case can be made for Max Hall in AZ. But when you have a guy you know is bad backing up a guy who isn’t playing well, why make the switch? The Raiders are pretty much the same team with Gradkowski, and its not like he’s suddenly going to be Peyton Manning in his 3rd go round as a starting QB. Same with Collins and Fitzpatrick. Those guys are known entities, why not stick with your starter and let him take some lumps? He had enough promise to start in the first place, give it a few games, ya know? (Another stupid Bills thing: Brian Brohm had a lot of promise in college, why not see what he’s got? Again, you know what you have in Fitzpatrick, which is to say, an Ivy league educated poop taco).

-A sort of continuation on that thought: watch out for Clausen. He’s not afraid of the pressure and played with some guts in the preseason, stepping up into the pocket and taking hits. He could spark what is right now a terrible offense into being something alright. Especially when monster right tackle Jeff Otah comes back from injury in week 6.

-Andre Johnson is the best wide receiver in football and showed it on Sunday when he routinely did superhuman things like hold a defender off with one arm and make a one handed catch or simply outrun the defender strategically. But Miles Austin is the second best. Even with a disjointed Cowboys offense, Austin has been super productive (20 catches, 288 yards, 1 TD) and makes huge catches on third down, even when Tony Romo whips it too high toward the sideline or leads Austin into traffic. If the Cowboys offense ever gets on track, which it should, he could finish the season as the best statistical wide receiver.

-Every Vikings fan should be cautiously suicidal right now because Favre looks horrendous. (Obviously) he threw 4 picks on Sunday to a mediocre Phins D and looked like he’s never regretted coming back more. (Slightly less obviously) he’s struggling to find a rhythm on offense without the occasional bomb to Sid Rice or the field stretching of a consistent Percy Harvin. He also looks shaken and upset with a seemingly uninterested Bernard Berrian. But I wonder if one thing could get him going again, and that’s trading for Vincent Jackson. Jackson is a huge target who makes any quarterback’s job easier, would stretch the field vertically and play with a chip on his shoulder. He’s also a good run blocker. If he could get Favre going for 6 more weeks until Rice comes back, Favre could be energized by the idea of a tall, fast, strong receiving core like he’s never had.

-Check back in a couple of days for a ‘Things I was totally wrong about and some things I got kind of right but we won’t know for while’ type column where I owe up to my obviously bad predictions about the season. Also, if you want shorter, more sporadic sports thoughts, check out my new twitter account, 4thandaMile.