QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK…
“My life has been very private. And this was one of those things I felt like, after experiencing it, this was the thing that I need to step out for.” — Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder, discussing her role as national spokeswoman for the NFL’s breast cancer awareness campaign, “A Crucial Catch”
“The NFL, its clubs and players are proud to support the fight against breast cancer. Our campaign, ‘A Crucial Catch,’ in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is focused on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are over the age of 40. Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel to raise awareness for the campaign, as well as on-field pink ribbon stencils and special K-balls and pink coins. All apparel worn at games by players and coaches and special K-balls and pink coins will be auctioned off at NFL Auction (www.NFLAuction.NFL.com), with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society and team charities. This is an issue that has directly touched the lives of so many in the NFL family, and we are committed to helping make a difference in breast-cancer prevention.”
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” — Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
AROUND THE NFL…
“You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.” — Author Unknown
1. I was chatting with an NFL executive last week, and we were discussing the Carolina Panthers’ biggest issues. While the product on the field will draw the most criticism, the thing we discussed was the trade they made with the 49ers prior to the 2009 draft. The Panthers gave San Francisco their 2010 first-round pick in exchange for a second and a fourth in 2009. That 2010 pick might be a top-10 pick. It’s hard to deal with a horrible season and not have a first-rounder.
2. Texans owner Bob McNair came out this week and offered support to his coach, Gary Kubiak, saying he would not be making any changes during the season. What else can he do? Changing coaches in the NFL in midseason never seems to work — especially with only a quarter of the season gone. Today is almost a must-win for the Texans. They have not won a home game all season, and they normally struggle on the road.
3. From Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post: “Whatever you think of (Redskins coach Jim) Zorn, he is Snyder’s own selection. It was Snyder who told Joe Gibbs, ‘He would make a great head coach.’ He is personally responsible for naming Vinny Cerrato, a proven failure, executive vice president of football operations, for the Redskins’ lack of core strength, for their inability to power the ball in the red zone, which is thanks to his decade of neglect of the interior lines in favor of big free-agent signings.”
Everyone I talk to in the NFL seems to think Snyder can’t hire a high-profile coach in place of Zorn without rearranging the front office. And that decision is one that may prevent him from making the move.
4. Everyone has an opinion of JaMarcus Russell’s ability to be a starting quarterback. Here is Jeff Garcia’s: “And I’m not saying JaMarcus can never be that guy. It’s just right now he’s still young, he has a lot of growth that needs to take place within himself from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint. Yeah, the guy’s extremely talented. …When you put him on the field in a one-on-one workout session he’ll make every throw for you, but when it comes down to making things happen in the heat of the battle and rallying the troops around you and making a case for the team, that’s where maybe things aren’t where they need to be.”
Why is it that everyone who comes in contact with the Hotel ends up saying the same thing? Russell is supposed to be the leader of the team, but he’s gained weight and comes across as if he doesn’t care. He may care, but his work habits tell another story.
MY VIEW OF THE GAMES, PLUS NOTES AND WEATHER…
0-3 TEAMS TO REACH THE PLAYOFFS
Final W-L Playoff W-L
’98 Bills 10-6 0-1
’95 Lions 10-6 0-1
’92 Chargers* 11-5 1-1
*Only team since 1970 to reach playoffs after 0-4 start
Since 1990, 74 of the 98 teams that started 3-0 reached the playoffs (75.5 percent).
Since 1990, there have been 51 teams with losing records through the first three games that reached the playoffs.
Currently, there are seven 3-0 teams and seven 0-3 teams. Three of the current 3-0 teams were not in the playoffs last year (Jets, Broncos, Saints). And three of the current 0-3 teams reached the playoffs last season (Dolphins, Titans, Panthers).
The seven 3-0 teams are the most in the NFL since 2002, when seven teams also started 3-0 teams. In fact, 1998 was the last time more than seven teams began the year 3-0.
“There are two kinds of people in the world, Notre Dame lovers and Notre Dame haters. And, quite frankly, they’re both a pain in the ass.” — Dan Devine, former Notre Dame football coach
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Partly cloudy, high of 60 degrees, with 9 mph winds.
The Lions have lost 13 consecutive road games. Their last road win, however, was at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007, when they won 16-7.
Expect the Bears to try to pressure Lions QB Matthew Stafford early in the game. They want to get him worrying about the pressure. The Bears are the best team in the NFL on first-down passing defense.
Similarly, the Lions are all about first down. Through Week 3, they are eighth in the NFL in first-down yardage gained, at over four yards.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz must be careful how he attacks Jay Cutler. Schwartz has one of the worst defenses in the NFL in defending the pass when it blitzes, ranking 30th.
Detroit must find a way to make big plays against Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense. Right now, the Lions are struggling to get the ball down the field. They have just 27 plays of 10 yards or more, ranking 31st.
The Bears have 12 pass plays of 20-plus yards this season (tied for fourth in NFL). Chicago’s opponents have outscored the Bears 17-0 in the first quarter this season.
Also, the Bears are ninth in the NFL in dropped passes, which will improve as they get more comfortable with Jay Cutler.
Chicago’s defense is tied for fourth in NFL with nine sacks. Tommie Harris has five sacks in his past four games against the Lions
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Partly cloudy, high of 58 degrees, winds of 18 mph.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is 8-4 in his career against the Browns. Dating to last year, the Bengals have won five of their last six games. The only loss during that stretch is Brandon Stokley’s “immaculate deflection” touchdown in Week 1.
Since Week 16 of last year, Bengals RB Cedric Benson leads the NFL with 575 rushing yards. Benson had 38 rushes for 171 yards in his last game against the Browns (both career highs).
Browns quarterbacks have been sacked 11 times this year, three times each on first and second down and five on third down.
The key for Derek Anderson lies in his ability to connect on the seam pass. He must make big plays down the field. Right now, the Browns’ offense just cannot make consistent plays. Cleveland’s longest play this season on offense is a 26-yard pass, ranking last in the NFL.
The Browns have had the ball for 36 possessions, and 26 have resulted in one first down or less.
On the bright side, Eric Mangini’s Browns have the best punt-return team in the NFL. They must continue to make plays in this area.
Cleveland has lost nine in a row — two games shy of its franchise record set in 1974-75. The Browns are 1-8 in their last nine home games — including losing six straight — after setting a franchise record with a seven home wins in 2007.
Since beating the undefeated Tennessee Titans in November 2008, Mangini is 1-7 as a head coach — 0-3 with Browns and 1-4 down the stretch with the Jets.
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
Indoor game. Outside, partly cloudy, highs in the mid-60s, with a 20 percent chance of rain.
The Seahawks are 1-10 in non-divisional games since 2008, and QB Seneca Wallace is 5-8 career as starter, including 2-5 on the road.
Sean Locklear, the starting left tackle for Seattle, will get a huge break — Colts DE Dwight Freeney will be out for this game. Freeney has four of the Colts’ seven sacks this season.
Seattle starting QB Matt Hasselbeck, who won’t play against the Colts because of a fractured rib, has missed 10 of his last 19 games. Given his injury history, you have to wonder why the Seahawks didn’t draft Mark Sanchez.
Seattle must win this game up front and pressure Peyton Manning. He’s on a roll, but Seattle must be able to make him throw more quickly. Seattle is fourth in the NFL in sacks. Patrick Kerney must win the battle against Charlie Johnson.
Similarly, the Colts are the best blitzing team in the NFL. Their opponents’ quarterback rating is 42.0 every time they blitz.
Indy passes the ball 62 percent of the time in the first half. There are only four NFL teams that run more than pass in the first half — Miami, Cleveland, Detroit and the New York Giants.
Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne leads the NFL with 325 reception yards this season; Dallas Clark is fourth with 284 yards. Seattle must stop both players and force the ball to the other Colts. With Manning at the helm, Indy is the best team in the NFL in 20-yard completions.
New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs
Partly cloudy, high of 64 degrees, with winds at 10 mph.
The Chiefs convert only 19 percent of their third downs — the worst mark in the NFL. They have only two 10-play drives all season.
Giants Wide Receivers
Through three games, last two seasons
Receptions 31 40
Yards 402 540
Yds. per Rec. 13.0 13.5
TDs 2 4
<p>The Giants’ wideouts, however, are fourth in the NFL in dropped passes and 24th in yards after the catch.
Kansas City has lost 13 of its last 14 home games, including seven in a row. The Chiefs have not started 0-4 since 1980 under head coach Marv Levy.
RB Larry Johnson is averaging just 2.5 yards per rush and has not scored a TD. He has only two touchdowns in the last 11 games. The Chiefs have very few offensive strengths.
The Giants, on the other hand, play mistake-free football. They have not allowed a sack in their last two games, but they also have zero sacks on defense during that span. New York is third in the NFL with a plus-five turnover differential and has committed no turnovers in the last two games.
The Chiefs must find ways to create extra possessions for their offense by causing turnovers.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Showers possible (40-percent chance of rain), high of 70 degrees, with winds at 11 mph.
The 2009 Baltimore Ravens are a passing team — especially on first down when they are 53 percent pass.
Ray Rice is catch-first, run-second; Willis McGahee is run-first, catch-second. Rice has one of the hardest frames to tackle in the NFL.
To beat the Ravens, you must defeat their corners. These corners are not nearly as good as when the Ravens had Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle. New England will attack Domonique Foxworth on the outside. For the Ravens to win, their secondary must play well against Tom Brady.
Baltimore has won five straight games, scoring 30-plus points in three straight games for the first time since 2003. They have never had four straight games with 30 or more points.
The Patriots must be able to protect. If they protect, they will throw the ball very well.
The Ravens like to make their big plays on first down. WR Derrick Mason is Mr. First Down.
TE Todd Heap is healthy once again and finally back to his old self as the team’s red-zone playmaker.
Who is going to be better in the red zone today? The Patriots have moved the ball well until they get to the red zone. New England has only four TDs and nine FGs in 13 red zone trips, sitting at 28th in NFL in red zone TD percentage (31 percent).
The Ravens, however, have been a very good red-zone team this year.
The Patriots are second in the NFL with an average time of possession of 35:56 and have run 225 plays from scrimmage, compared to just 148 plays for their opponents. But ball control doesn’t matter if you can’t score.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Redskins
Sunny, with highs in the low-70s and negligible wind.
The Buccaneers have allowed 200-plus rushing yards in three of their last seven games, including the last two weeks. This marks the first time since 1986 that Tampa Bay has given up 200-plus yards on the ground in consecutive weeks.
The Redskins are last in the NFL in third-down defense (22 for 43, 51 percent). Jim Zorn’s squad allowed the Lions to convert 10 of 18 third downs last week (Detroit was 8 for 27 on third downs in its first two games). The ‘Skins high-priced corners are not playing well.
The Redskins have been held to 20 or fewer points in 10 of their last 11 games.
Tampa does match up with the ‘Skins. The Bucs’ corners, however, can handle Washington’s wideouts. They must make the ‘Skins drive the ball and be consistent for 10 plays, which Washington struggles to do.
Tampa’s first-time starting quarterback, Josh Johnson, can move and make plays with his feet. The Redskins play a lot of man coverage. They better make sure they account for Johnson’s running ability.
The Redskins’ offense has just three TDs this season (punter Hunter Smith had their other TD on a fake FG run — and it’s the Redskins’ only rushing TD this season).
The Bucs offensive line is not bad; it can definitely block Washington’s defensive front. I expect them to move the ball on the ‘Skins, depending on Johnson’s ability to make throws.
The ‘Skins will never be any good on offense until they fix their aging offensive line. Corey Rinehart started at right guard last week and really struggled.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Mostly cloudy, high in the mid-80s. There will be a touch of humidity, at 65 percent, and light winds at 8 mph.
A couple of reasons the Titans have struggled this year:
They have eight turnovers this season — third most in the NFL. Tennessee committed 17 turnovers all of last season. The Titans have to protect the ball because they have to play a certain style to win.
QB Kerry Collins has been sacked five times on 105 pass attempts — one sack for every 21 pass attempts. Collins was sacked eight times on 415 pass attempts last season — one sack every 52 pass attempts. The Titans, however, have played two very good pressure teams, the Jets and Steelers.
The Titans’ three losses this season have been by a combined 13 points. They’re losing close games, something that didn’t happen last year.
The Titans are the best run defense in the NFL, but they’ve struggled to defend the pass. Tennessee has allowed seven pass TDs this season — tied for second most in the NFL — and is 29th in pass defense (274.4 YPG). It must control the pass with its defensive front. When the Titans get pressure, they’re a better pass defense.
Are these the comeback Jags? They’ve outscored their opponents 20-0 in the fourth quarter this season. They’re the only team that has not allowed a point in the fourth quarter. They have also been outscored by their opponents 52-26 in the first half. It’s hard to be a great run team when you have to play from behind.
The Titans’ defensive line will be a challenge for the Jags’ young offensive line. Tennessee will win the contest if it can control the game up front. Being a zone team, the Titans make you work it down the field. That only works when the defensive line is dominating.
QB David Garrard has lost his last four starts against the Titans with three TDs, six INTs and 18 sacks. It’s the Titans’ defensive line that makes this happen.
The Jags played a three-man line last week. Was this because of the Texans or was this a way to get some pressure on the passer?
The Titans’ wideouts must make plays and eliminate the drops. They left a ton of yardage on the field against Jets.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans
The Reliant Stadium roof should be closed as scattered thunderstorms are expected.
Matt Bowen’s boys better stop the run because all the Raiders can do is run the ball. Michael Bush is the best back on the Raiders team right now. Darren McFadden has huge ball security issues.
The Raiders have just 33 completions this season (16 fewer than any other team in the NFL). The key to the Raiders’ success in the past was their ability to generate a passing game. So far, they don’t have one.
Both teams are zone run teams, so this should allow the defense to have a handle on how to stop the run game. Big run gains will come as a result of missed tackles, not by design.
The Texans are one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. They consistently lose their gap control and look more and more like the 2008 Broncos.
Oakland must put Texans QB Matt Schaub on his back early in the game. They must power the offensive line of the Texans.
Houston lost two home games the last in two years combined and has already lost two this year.
New York Jets at New Orleans Saints
Indoor game. Outside, scattered thunderstorms are expected in the area, with highs in the low-80s.
Crowd noise has to help the Saints today. They need to make it hard for the Jets’ offense to communicate.
Tennessee did a good job scheme protecting against the Jets last week. They failed to finish the throws, but they had a great game plan. I expect the Saints to do the same.
The Saints will mix formations and personnel groups to keep the Jets off balance while also trying to prevent New York’s overload pressures from getting set. New Orleans is the best team in the NFL at making big plays.
The Jets are a very good game plan team and will have a very effective opening drive. They play best when they get the early lead.
The Saints must take away tight end Dustin Keller from Mark Sanchez. He looks to Keller when he needs to make a play.
New York has 104 rush attempts this season (second most in NFL), and its 83 pass attempts are tied for third fewest in the league. They have run the ball on 54 percent of their plays this season — highest in the NFL. By doing this, Rex Ryan is trying to protect Sanchez.
The Jets do a great job of scheme protections and will be ready for the Saints’ blitz package.
Drew Brees does a very good job sliding in the pocket and finding lanes to throw the ball. With the Jets missing Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, it might be hard for them to engage into a man-to-man game.
Jets DT Kris Jenkins is still a load inside. He’s playing a very high level and impossible for one man to block.
The Saints have scored on 19 of their 39 possessions this season (14 TD, 5 FG) and punted only 10 times. They execute better than any other offensive team.
Drew Brees: Last nine home games
Comp pct. 68.3
Pass YPG 332.4
Passer rating 119.4
300-yard games 8
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Isolated thunderstorms, with a 30-percent chance of rain. Highs in the upper-80s and winds at 8 mph.
The Dolphins are the No. 1 run-calling team in the NFL. Expect this to continue with Chad Henne now at quarterback.
A year after leading the NFL with a plus-17 turnover differential, Miami is sitting at minus-six (30th in NFL).
The Dolphins have 22 wildcat plays for 153 yards and a TD this season (7.0 yards per play compared to 4.4 yards per play for non-wildcat plays).
They have outrushed their opponents 484-198 this season but are last in the NFL with 8.3 yards per receptions and 30th in pass offense (155.7 YPG). Running the ball gives you a chance for field goals. You must throw to win in the NFL.
The Bills can’t play Cover 2 in this game and hold up in the run game. If the Fins make this a Cover 3 game, they’ll get their passing game back on track.
Buffalo is taking a beating in the injury department, and the Fins are very physical football team on defense. With young tackles, this will be a challenge to move the ball. It’s very hard to win on the road in the NFL when your offensive line is young and lacking experience.
Thirty-eight of the Bills’ 72 points allowed this year have been in the fourth quarter. Is this because they’re small and wear down on defense? I think so.
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Sunny, high in the mid-50s, with winds expected at 15 mph.
The Rams have lost 11 of their last 12 road games, including seven straight. St. Louis is last in the NFL in scoring offense with 24 points. The Rams have just three TDs this season.
QB Marc Bulger is 4-16 in his last 20 starts. Kyle Boller will start today, but can he help this Rams offense? Boller is 5-15 career on the road as starter and has lost his last 10 road starts. In fact, his last road win as starter was Nov. 14, 2004, against Jets.
The Rams’ offensive line is going to struggle to handle the power of the 49ers’ front. St. Louis must be able to run the ball to have any success. I don’t see it.
Can the 49ers still be competitive without getting a conversion on third down? They have turned the ball over only twice all year.
QB Shaun Hill has been sacked nine times (tied for fourth most in NFL). Hill is 9-4 career as starter (6-0 career at home as starter with nine TDs, three INTs). Hill has either zero or one interception in 11 of his 13 career starts. He might not make plays, but he doesn’t give them away.
Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos
Partly cloudy, with temperatures in the mid-60s. The wind could be a factor; it’s expected to be at 14 mph.
This is the best offensive team the Broncos have faced so far this year. We’ll learn more about its defense after this game.
RB Marion Barber will go today, but I doubt he has enough endurance to play the whole game. It will mostly be Tashard Choice in the backfield for the Cowboys.
DeMarcus Ware has zero sacks in his last four games, his longest streak without a sack since his 2005 rookie season. Is this because he’s not happy with the progress on a new deal?
The Broncos’ wideouts are a bad matchup for the Cowboys’ corners. If the Broncos get protection, they’ll throw the ball effectively.
The Cowboys will have to tackle very well in their secondary, as the Broncos have very effective receivers with the ball in their hands. Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal are hard to get to the ground.
Expect Denver to change and shift formations and personnel groups as the Cowboys struggle to get lined up at times on defense. The Broncos’ offense is very effective creating confusion.
Denver QB Kyle Orton will need to play well in the passing game for the Broncos to win the game. He can’t allow the Cowboys to play on a short field because of an interception.
Alert: Expect the Broncos to go after the Cowboys safeties down the field. Denver is one of the best new game-plan teams. Each week, they attack the weakness of their opponents very well.
San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Mostly cloudy, with a high of 57 degrees, and winds at 10 mph.
The Chargers are 31st in the NFL in rush offense (66.3 YPG), and along with the Browns, they are the only team without a player with 100-plus rush yards this season. San Diego is tied with Bears for last in NFL with 2.8 yards per rush.
But Norv Turner’s team can throw it up the field very well, and today it will need to continue that trend. Running the ball doesn’t beat the Steelers.
Whichever team protects the passer the best will win. The Chargers’ offensive line has been very inconsistent, in part due to injuries.
The Steelers have zero takeaways in their last two games without Troy Polamalu (knee). It’s the first time they’ve had no takeaways in consecutive games since December 2005. They win by creating mistakes.
In the last two weeks, the Steelers have missed field goals in both losses. Those are really like turnovers, and they can’t have any of those today.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK…
“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” — Doug Larson
BOOK OF THE WEEK…
“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” — James Bryce
“Mavericks At Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win,” by William C. Taylor & Polly G. Labarre
From Publishers Weekly
A collection of case studies featuring the same formulaic ebullience endemic to business books since blurber Tom Peters’ seminal work In Search of Excellence, this reader from Fast Company magazine cofounder Taylor and influential business writer LaBarre profiles some of the more interesting companies doing business today: Cirque de Soleil, Commerce Bank, Pixar, Anthropologie, Southwest Airlines, Jones Soda, Apple Computer and Craigslist among them.
Such companies may have disparate cultures, but what unites them is originality, self-knowledge and passion. Whether by remaining small, recruiting zealously, or functioning like a kind of cult, such businesses succeed by imbuing the corporate rank and file with an entrepreneur’s vision, avoiding the twin vices of mediocrity and complacency. Conversational but rigorous, Taylor and Labarre’s chipper exploration of imagination at work holds value for novice and journeyman business leaders.
LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA…
The 10 Questions Every Change Agent Must Answer
Posted by Bill Taylor author of “Mavericks at Work”
1. Do you see opportunities the competition doesn’t see? IDEO’s Tom Kelly likes to quote French novelist Marcel Proust, who famously said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” The most successful companies don’t just out-compete their rivals. They redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world of me-too thinking.
2. Do you have new ideas about where to look for ne