Monday, September 11, 2006

NFL Week 1: No Gloating Here

Hail to the Redskins . . . Hail Victor-oops

I kid because I love. The Eagles sit today alone in their rightful place atop the NFC East. They have a real chance to start the season 5-1. And to finish the season 1-9. If you've never been to Philly in the middle of a 9-loss, three-month period, then you haven't lived, really.

Galley Brother B.J. sends in this week one post-mortem:

The Eagles avoided their typical “crisis mode season opener." The offense looked pretty solid and Stallworth looks to be a great pickup. The Eagles run defense was fairly fantastic and they got a lot of pressure on the QB.

But, it wasn’t all scantily clad Tricia Helfer. The Eagles continued last year’s trend of getting off to a slow start by giving up a really nice touchdown drive on the Texans first possession. despite a few chances to stop the drive early. And the secondary was underwhelming. Granted the Eagles only gave up 10 points and got better as the game progressed, but they’ve got to stop spotting other teams 7 to 14 points in the first quarter. Also, they were playing the Houston Texans who are known for having no offensive line which, mitigates the defense’s accomplishments against the run and pressuring the QB.

Thoughts on other teams:

Houston – I can’t tell you how unhappy I’d be if I was a Texans fan right now. Their passing game looked solid, but it doesn’t look like they have any running game. Passing on Bush looks like its going to haunt this franchise for years.

Indianapolis – Things look bad. Peyton’s accuracy wasn’t the best (the Giants dropped 3 interceptions inside the 5. But, on the plus side the lack of an effective running game gives Peyton his scapegoat when the Colts lose in the playoffs.

Patriots – After the Pats vs. Bills game, a Buffalo fan was talking about how the Bills had exposed the Patties' inability to pass block and given teams a blue-print on how to beat them. I agreed. The Patriots need to prove they can keep Brady vertical and letting Branch go looks like a mistake: Who will Brady throw to?

Cowboys – Exact opposite of Eagles. Got out to a fantastic start going up 10 and it looked like they were going to win by at least 17. They didn’t score again until they were down by 14 very late in the 4th quarter. Who else is smiling?

And how about ESPN's new MNF broadcast? They've clearly pulled out all the stops in trying to make it their own. I'm not sure how well some of it works. The large, bottom-center score board looks like it was designed for bar patrons, not home viewers. When we see highlights from this season five years from now, it's going to look dated.

Mike Tirico is fantastic. He's always been a huge talent and it's good to see him in a high-profile gig. He deserves it. Theisman and Kornheiser may have actually subtracted value from the telecast. Maybe they'll improve.

But maybe not, actually. The team running MNF is in the perfect position because everything they do will look like success--MNF will be the highest rated program in the history of ESPN, no matter what. And there is no way to measure failure: Because this is a first-of-its-kind moment for cable, there's no measuring stick for it. MNF will do a much smaller number than it did on ABC and no one can reasonably blame the staff. And it will do a much bigger number than World Championship Dominos, for which the staff must get credit. It's a no-lose situation for all involved.

Except, potentially, for viewers. Even if the broadcast team doesn't improve, it's hard to see why management would have any incentive to change it.

Bonus: If you don't want to spend the $$$ on an NFL package, this site will help you figure out what games you'll get on broadcast.

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