As we all know Hindsight is 20/20. This weekly column is devoted
to learning from common mistakes and serves as FFToday’s “Fantasy
A lot of career days this weekend. I was fortunate to catch
one of them on my FFTOC lineup. I could have used all of them,
but couldn’t we all.
||I expected a shootout, and nearly got
||The Raiders are figuring out handing
it to Jordan takes pressure off everyone else.
||Acceptable, but really thought he’d
take it to Houston’s defense.
||Best game of the year for Smith and
the type of game I needed from a WR.
||Pretty good, but Gates got all the scores.
||I need to do a better job with my choices
||Two weeks in a row I have a kicker with
||A shocker…Simeon Rice deactivated before
the game and bye week 49ers go mistake free.
||Dipped back to earth after last week.
Jimmy Smith and the Bucs disappoint.
This isn’t disastrous, but it’s about 20-25 points fewer
than I was counting for this period of time. Hopefully, it all averages
out to the necessary totals.
Now for the week eight files of 20/20 Hindsight.
Jerry Porter Would Finally Have A Good
Thanks to CB Adam Jones, Jerry Porter finally out-produced #3
WR, Doug Gabriel. Both touchdowns were the result of Jones taking
poor angles on his tackle attempts. Otherwise, Porter would have
had a typical 5 or 6-reception, 50 to 70-yard contest. I know
some of you abhor the idea of discounting big plays from the total.
In many cases, I understand but we’re talking about a veteran
receiver matched up against a rookie that has yet to demonstrate
anything the Titans hoped for when they drafted him:
- Gets into a media war with Tennessee’s most-respected
member of the defense unit, pro bowl LB Keith Bulluck.
- Spends more time this summer extricating himself from poor
choices on his social time rather than learning the pro game.
- Forgets how to wrap up when he tackles people. The CBS commentator
was completely right: a peewee league coach would have even
lost his mind after seeing that kind of performance.
To top it off, Jones appeared as if he were waiving off his teammates
as they lit into him for his lack of effort. The best thing that
could have happened to Jones Sunday would have been to jump into
the goal post spread-eagled just a bit harder. Maybe his early
exit before the half (any coincidence?) a few minutes after that
play might have needed more recovery time. That in itself could
have saved the game for Tennessee.
Lesson Learned: Thank Pac Man
for Porter’s day. In other words, don’t get ready
to start Porter with confidence just yet.
Corey Dillon Would Start The Game On The
Bench, But Wind Up In The End Zone Twice
As I mentioned last week, the Buffalo Bills are having a tough
time stopping the run. I have to admit I was disappointed when
I saw Patrick Pass starting the game. When Dillon somehow managed
to get into the game due to the fact he was the only back New
England had that could at least break into a trot without grabbing
his leg, I still wasn’t encouraged with the way he seemed
to treat his leg like a delicate piece of crystal after every
But Dillon got better as the game went along. The Patriots starter
got warmed up after coming off the bench and by the third quarter,
Dillon was nimbly avoiding defenders and finishing runs with power.
Next thing I know, Dillon has two scores in the span of five minutes
and his performance was a big reason the Patriots won the game.
Lesson Learned: It’s
tough enough to guess the health status of any Patriot. So it
was initially surprising that Dillon wasn’t starting. But
it was even more of a surprise the Dillon played so well, given
the situation. Tough players can never be counted out—look
at Hines Ward’s game against San Diego on Monday night.
He had no business playing on that hamstring, but the Steelers
receiver wound up a big part of the winning game plan. Corey Dillon
has been waiting for several years to be a part of a good team
in a big game—and this division match up was a big game.
Started Marion Barber
Barber’s performance versus Seattle was all the ammunition
Bill Parcells needed to challenge Julius Jones. After Barber’s
2-TD game against Arizona, where the rookie showed a nose for
the end zone, anyone else thinking Parcells may decide to limit
the use of his sports car in favor of something less flashy, but
more capable of handling tougher terrain?
Something few people remember is that Julius Jones as a surprise,
2nd round selection. The Cowboys traded down and by-passed Stephen
Jackson, Kevin Jones, and Chris Perry in the first round for a
prospect that just started showing something in his last collegiate
season. Although the selection left many doubting the choice,
Parcells sure looked smart at the end of 2004.
Because Jones couldn’t stay healthy, Barber’s selection
in 2005 was an insurance policy for the team. The tricky thing
about the whole insurance policy strategy is the back up can wind
up the better option than the starter. So the question is Barber
III the better back?
I think he’s the better fit for Parcell’s
Cowboys, but he won’t remain the starter in Dallas this
season unless three things happen:
- Jones re-injures himself.
- Barber has some monster games against quality defenses, which
will “force” Parcells to stick with the hot hand.
- Jones does something foolish either in his personal life
or reacting to Parcells’ comments.
So I think Jones eventually returns as the starter, and Parcells
“rewards” Barber with more carries, bordering on splitting
time with Jones. It’s justifiable to Parcells, because he’s
coming to the conclusion that Jones can’t stay healthy over
the long haul.
Why do I think Barber III is the better back for the system?
He’s a tougher runner than Jones. He’s a second and
third effort guy with burst and vision. Jones is capable of playing
a physical game. One of the first things the Jones did to impress
me was at the 2004 Senior Bowl where he displayed the willingness
to lower the shoulder and attack defenders first. Nonetheless,
Jones relies more on elusiveness and bursting through the hole
into open daylight.
Dallas’ offensive system is based on running to give Bledsoe
time to throw the ball deep. Certainly Julius Jones poses a threat
to break the long run, and he must be accounted for in the opposing
defense’s game plan. Obviously, Jones was a big reason Bledsoe’s
production has been good. But Jones naturally isn’t the
kind of runner that will get you the short yardage or pound the
ball and control the clock.
Barber’s style lends more to this type of attack, which
lulls opposing defenses into forgetting about the play action.
While I don’t have statistical proof that shows this with
Barber more than Jones, it’s just an observation of the
two backs’ styles.
Lesson Learned: Barber made
a nice bye week pick up for the last couple of weeks. Monitor
stories on Jones during the Cowboys week off to determine whether
the rookie gets a third week in the starting lineup.
Nagging Feelings—Week 8
Keep an eye on Roydell Williams,
Tennessee’s third rookie WR. He’ll get more time with
Tyrone Calico straining his calf. Williams didn’t have a
lot of production against the Raiders, but his route running was
impressive. Especially the double move he put on the nickel back
that almost resulted in a long completion inside the 5-yard line.
This is the same rookie that worked extensively with pro bowl
S, Corey Chavous. With Brandon Jones still nursing a knee problem—Roby
and Williams might be decent pick-ups if you are short on receivers
for a week or two.
Both Matt Jones and Ernest
Wilford are stepping up in the Jaguars passing game. Meanwhile,
Reggie Williams looks like it
could end up being another “wait til next year,” story.
Wilford is like a faster Oronde Gadsden, and Jones keeps getting
better every week as he learns the position. The Jaguars have
a favorable schedule against the pass and if the offensive line
can somehow figure out how to pass protect, there could be some
big days in store.
Hines Ward should be a first-ballot
Hall of Fame receiver when his career is over. I know this is
premature, but can you name another player in football today that
seems to do something extra special on just about every play?
I’m not talking about Ladainian Tomlinson kind of stuff,
I’m talking about the little plays. It could be a 4-yard
reception like this evening, where he scooped up the ball while
falling forward and made a first down that most receivers would
have dropped. Or it could be the first down reception where he
had to play tip-drill with an all-pro corner back before getting
nailed in the chin by a safety after winning the ball. Of course,
it’s also the blocks that force his opponents feet from
their cleats and the runs after the catch where he wills himself
down field regardless of the hit, the angles, or the pull hamstring.
Hines Ward could never reach a Super Bowl or significant statistical
plateau within his position, but nearly every play he makes epitomizes
what is great about football. You may not be a Steelers fan, but
if you don’t appreciate how Ward plays the game then you
need to watch more (and get a football tutor, while you’re
at it). If you don’t agree, I don’t care—you
just don’t get it. And if it turns out I don’t get
it, then I don’t want to figure it out.