Notes at Midweek
The Steelers are a strange team indeed this year, but they fit in to what has been a strange year in the NFL so far. Just a few notes:
The Cinci bengals are statistically a better running team than the Steelers are, as are the Vikings, Raiders, Saints and Giants. But the Steelers are the best if you consider how each team arrives at their current yards per game. The Bengals � almost 400 yards in one game! � Don�t compare to the Steelers this year. The Vikings and Raiders owe a decent chunk of their yardage to their QBs. This isn�t an indicator of a good running game or a bad one, but one of having a mobile QB � Graham is club-footed. The Saints, Giants and again the Raiders have had some long runs for lofty amounts of yardage � the Steelers really have not had any such runs. The Steelers also had an abysmal first week against Baltimore, but have rebounded in dramatic fashion to lead the league in rushing from the third week on. Impressive.
Having said that, the Steelers must face the best run-defense in the league once again. If Kordell were to start in place of Graham, this might alleviate some pressure on the running game by allowing Kordell to take advantage of an overaggressive defense. This is the only way the Steelers will be successful against the Ravens front-seven.
Graham is a loser. The look on this guys face most of the time is one of futility � yet he seems very accustomed with this emotion. This is malaise will never lead Graham anywhere and will certainly not lead this team anywhere near the playoffs. It�s almost as if someone cloned Tomzack.
The Vikings are presently the NFLs "best" team. I wonder how well Cullpepper will play next year and every year there after provided he lasts that long. Too many media "experts" pre-judge players and have them in the Hall of Fame four weeks into their careers. Where are the likes of Jay Schroeder, Kordell Stewart, Tony Banks, Scott Mitchell, David Woodley and others who showed flashes of brilliance early but never developed into anything much. The only QB in recent memory who started hot like a flash and continued on to dominate the league was Dan Marino.
Cullpepper was taught the position last year even though he didn�t play � an A+ to Dennis Green and his staff, but will this be enough. The position of Quarterback must be developed over time - There are no exceptions.
The AFC is looking much better than the NFC again this year. The reason? Defense. There are 8 or 9 very good defenses in the AFC this year. There are perhaps three or four in the NFC, a conference that once prided itself on tough physical football. It seems, though, that the NFC went out and copied successful teams like the 49ers and Packers. These teams seemed more successful than they were in 90�s because of the style of football they played.
Who was more successful than 49ers with Young(QB) and the Packers with Favre(QB)? The Cowboys with E. Smith(RB). This is the difference in the philosophy and approach to winning that these teams took. All successful to a point, but the Cowboys made their mark much more so than others did in the 90s.
The Rams cannot possible win the Super Bowl giving up so many points week in and week out. In fact, the Rams are very reminiscent of the 49ers of about 4 years ago. That year, San Fran played like 7 of their division games during the first 8 games � they looked invincible. They went 8-0 naturally, but failed to make it to the Super Bowl that year. Why � they did not play enough quality competition. The Rams may fall into the same category this year and ironically enough, after playing their first quality team, they go play the enfeebled 49ers.
Having said that � the Rams are a pretty awesome team, but not nearly as awesome as one might think. It is the same thing that is wrong with college football and indeed sports in general. The Rams are all flash and no substance. The Rams look so superior because they try to score on every play. Well, some teams are not designed that way � that doesn�t mean they aren�t as good, it just means that their philosophy on how to best win football games is different.
The problem is that everyone is so awed by the speed and scoring, even though it may come at the expense of some very meager opponents. This same disease inflicts the new BCS College polling system. In fact, towards the end of the season, many a sportscaster will say, "Well, Virginia Tech should beat Miami by 24 according to the computer ranking system." I heard the same kind of comments last year when V-Tech played Boston College in their final game. This is absolutely ridiculous!!! This gives no consideration as to how teams play football or with what type of philosophy they approach offense and defense. It also does not give any consideration as to how the game unfolds � some games just turn out to be higher scoring than others are.
Just remember Steeler fans � We have the best running game in the NFL right now. It�s not flashy, it�s not high scoring, but it is working to the tune of 4 straight victories. I can�t absolutely agree with field-goal Bills philosophy, but it is a good approach considering the talent level at QB.