The season is winding down and the significant games for this week are in the books. Tonite, the San Francisco 49ers play the Arizona Cardinals. The game may well prove to be very entertaining (Remember last year’s tilt in San Francisco?), but both of these outfits have proven unfit for the rigors of this season. Big winners this week: the New England Patriots who have found a way to get deep without deep speed; the San Diego Chargers who are serving notice that they are a team to be reckoned with — until the playoffs start; the Chicago Bears who provided a template for beating the high-flying Eagles; the Atlanta Falcons who showed that in the Dirty South, they have just enough to take all comers; and the “Survivors” — Pittsburgh and Baltimore — who were probably peeking around their Week 12 opponents, and thinking about health insurance for Week 13.
A few random thoughts:
- As great as Peyton Manning has been in his career, he cannot like living THE LIFE OF MCNABB right now. Without Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, and Ryan Lilja, Manning is experiencing life on the other side. He still has Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and others, but this is his first taste in years of getting hammered — with no hope of relief. Manning, unlike McNabb is not able to make plays with his feet — and it shows. He’s giving up interceptions for touchdowns. He isn’t choosing to throw the ball at the feet of his receivers to avoid turnovers. He’s taking big risks and losing. Fortunately for Manning and the Colts, they’ve lost 2 games in a row, but moved ahead of Jacksonville in the playoff hunt.
- In 5 of his last 7 games, Manning has averaged less than 6 yards per pass attempt. That’s awful. You cannot win in today’s NFL doing that. During that span, the Colts are 4-3, with one of those wins coming by 6 points over the Bengals who were “fueled” by Carson Palmer’s 3 INTs. Manning has thrown 10 picks over the frame — and had two games with no touchdown passes.
- The national media is articulate, understanding, and acutely accusatory in their analysis of Peyton Manning’s present condition. Commentators are able to identify injured players at skill positions and along the offensive line. Many have become Maddenesque with their ability to break down offensive line play (Exhibit A: former wide receiver Cris Collinsworth; Exhibit B: Yahoo.com’s Shut Down Corner column). THE LIFE OF MCNABB, however, is not about making excuses. It’s about making plays…even when playing with guys like James Thrash, Todd Pinkston, Hank Baskett, and Freddie Mitchell. It’s about figuring a way to move the ball on the ground even when your running backs all weigh 180 pounds soaking wet and the last tackle they broke was made by a toddler on the living room floor. The Colts may make the playoffs, but I suspect Peyton Manning may need what Jay Cutler needed last year if he is to right this ship, right now.