Well, except for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Folks, if you thought an uninterested Tennessee Titans team in the Foxborough snow storm was brutal, just wait till you and 80,000 of your British friends get a glimpse of Tampa Bay.
These aren’t Jon Gruden’s Bucs. Hell, I’m not sure they’re even Jeff Garcia’s Bucs.
In fact, taking a closer look at their 0-6 start, they might not even be Vinny Testeverde’s Bucs.
They may be worse. Seriously.
When a journeyman wide receiver like Antonio Bryant is complaining about his role (or perceived lack thereof) in the offense, you know you’re not exactly headed for big things. Somewhere, deposed offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski has to be thinking getting canned was the better option.
After a 9-3 start last year, Tampa Bay has now lost 10 straight games. They purged their aging roster and are now paying for it.
At quarterback, Byron Leftwich has given way to Josh Johnson. Toss a coin to determine who’s been worse. It’s high time to find out what they’ve got in rookie Josh Freeman, other than a loud-mouthed first round draft pick who’s not against hyping himself.
First year head coach Raheem Morris didn’t exactly sound encouraging this week when asked to handicap this matchup with the Patriots.
“You’re going to play a team that just scored 59 points,” Morris glumly pointed out. “Bill Belichick is not going to take it easy on us,” Morris added. “He just played an 0-and-whatever team, and the score was 59-0. Now he’s going to play another one. I’m sure Bill Belichick is licking his chops. And, he should be.”
Oh boy. I smell a bloody good blowout for the Patriots.
Four Downs: Patriots at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. at Wembley Stadium, London
First: Start from Scratch
It’s likely Adalius Thomas returns to the lineup this week. The veteran linebacker was just a tad teed off about his healthy scratch against the Titans last Sunday.
It might be pride. And it also might’ve had something to do with the fact that he heard it from his position coach and not Belichick, which is entirely understandable. In fact, Thomas hinted that if he’s not playing up to par, he hasn’t heard a peep about it from the head coach. I’m thinking the healthy scratch was tantamount to sending the message. We’ll see if the underperforming Thomas gets it.
Second: Maroney on the Move
After running confidently for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Titans, Laurence Maroney gets to face another porous run defense, with the exception of middle linebacker Barrett Ruud. With injuries hitting the Pats’ backfield, there’s no reason Maroney shouldn’t get enough carries this week to roll up another 100-yard day.
Third: Brady to Moss
If you weren’t sure that Tom Brady and Randy Moss have finally found the same page of the playbook, the Titans’ defense could easily answer that for you. The only question this week is with Julian Edelman out, who jumps into the third receiver spot?
Fourth: Patriots Roll
Take it to Vegas (just for fun, of course).
Steelers: Granted, wins over the beleaguered Browns are all but automatic for the Steelers (12 straight over their “rivals” now) but the defending champs look so much stronger with Troy Polamalu back. Plus, five and a half football fields’ worth of offense (543 yards!) sure doesn’t hurt either.
Aaron Rodgers: Can’t believe I heard someone actually say they’re not sure of the Packers quarterback going into last Sunday’s game. He’s in the top five in quarterback rating (104.1) and while he could use to find the end zone a few more times (8 TD), he takes care of the football (2 INT) and makes smart decisions. Put it this way, short of the Colts and Patriots, there are very few teams who wouldn’t be satisfied with Rodgers.
Thomas Jones:Poor guy, sets a Jets single-game rushing record by gaining 210 yards against the Bills, only to watch his quarterback throw away five picks. And the game. Speaking of which …
Down & Out
Mark Sanchez: On second thought, might want to hold off on printing those “Sanchize” shirts after the Jets rookie quarterback more or less threw away a winnable home game to the Bills (five, count ‘em five interceptions!).
Derek Anderson: The Browns’ quarterback of the hour ranks dead last in quarterback rating (41.7) and completion percentage (44.4) behind even the Raiders’ JaMarcus Russell. I understand that Browns wideouts drop balls like their gloves are coated in Vaseline, but man, Brady Quinn must really be brutal for Anderson to be the better option.
Jim Zorn: What a mess, those Washington Redskins. Their soon-to-be-fired head coach is stripped of his play-calling duties, in favor of previously retired Sherm Lewis, who had been with the ‘Skins as a consultant for all of two weeks. He still needs help finding his way around the training facility. How’s he going to find a way to guide a lost Redskins offense?
In Tennessee, Jeff Fisher has to be coaching on borrowed time after this, right? The Titans’ longtime head coach (incidentally, the most actively tenured in the NFL) donned a Peyton Manning jersey at a recent speaking engagement. His reason? He just wanted to feel like a winner. I’d reason that it probably didn’t go over well in the Titans’ locker room, but then judging by their blatant indifference to playing the Patriots last Sunday, they could probably give two you-know-what’s.
This week, I’m taking “Fantasy Fix” quite literally. Team More Cowbell is broken and in desperate need of a quick fix. Good thing for me, it looks like Frank Gore is finally healthy for the 49ers. He’s a definite starter. But Kellen Winslow against the Patriots this Sunday will be riding some pine.
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