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Scott Pianowski

Monday Brunch: Checking those uncoordinated offenses

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A day's worth of football, a day's worth of observations. Here's what I have on the notebook.

The three teams that changed offensive coordinators right before the season are a collective 1-11, and they'd probably be winless had the Bills and Bucs not played each other in Week 2. The Bucs are using a starting quarterback who hardly got any meaningful snaps over the summer (Byron Leftwich(notes), Luke McCown(notes) and Josh Freeman(notes) were in front of Josh Johnson(notes)). Todd Haley seems to have alienated a decent chunk of his locker room in just a few months. Buffalo's passing game is a total mess and Trent Edwards(notes) doesn‘t have a shred of confidence left. I'm not really suggesting the old schemes would have dramatically different results, but when you try to overhaul the engine of the offense right before the bell rings, you're asking for trouble.

The schedule at least cuts Buffalo a break over the next four weeks: Browns (friendly), Jets (ouch), Panthers (workable) and Texans (thank you, God). Tampa probably will get destroyed in Philly next week. The Chiefs have an interesting three games approaching, up against opponents who look less imposing today than they did a month ago (Cowboys, Redskins, and those tackle-allergic Chargers).

You can also add Raheeem Morris to the list of head coaches that don't understand the point equity tied to different field positions. The Bucs had a legitimate winning chance at Washington but Morris's endgame didn't help the cause.

Derek Anderson(notes) didn't set the world on fire in Cleveland but he at least gives you a chance. He can move in the pocket, extend plays, run more of the book. Sometimes he'll trust his arm more than he should but the Browns are crazy if they don't give him an extended chance with this offense.

It wasn't a big surprise to see Anderson working so well with Mohamed Massaquoi(notes); they've run plenty of reps together on the second-team offense. And the way Braylon Edwards(notes) is playing these days, why wouldn't you throw the ball to someone else?

Praise Chicago's special teams all you want (Johnny Knox(notes) had me at hello), but Detroit's kick coverage was lousy for three hours Sunday.

Matthew Stafford(notes) doesn't always do the right thing physically but his decision-making is far past what you'd expect from a four-week starter. It's a shame if his knee injury turns out to be anything significant because he's made tremendous strides in just a month.

Here's why I'll be organizing about 3-4 mid-season drafts in the next few weeks: I'm sick of watching Steve Smith go off every Sunday and getting nothing out of it. Is Smith a Top 10 receiver for the rest of the year? Higher than that? I'll give my official answer on Wednesday when Shuffle Up and Deal debuts, but feel free to give your opinions in the meantime.

If I ran the Titans, I'd have a Vince Young(notes) package ready to go for the Colts next week. And at some point this month you might as well hand the offense over to Young; this season is clearly shot and you might as well see if he's someone you can win with in the future.

If you're going to buy a hockey sweater, the ones with the string in front are always cooler.

I fully believe that if Mark Clayton(notes) doesn't drop that fourth-down pass the Ravens would have defeated the Patriots. Joe Flacco(notes) makes you believe.

You probably saw Josh Morgan's(notes) touchdown and the other one that got away (he dropped a perfectly-thrown Shaun Hill(notes) bomb), but there's a less prominent Morgan moment that I can't seem to forget. Vernon Davis(notes) scored a second-half TD for the Niners, a spectacular catch, and on the play you can see Morgan in the foreground, stopping his route and showing no emotion as his teammate scores and the officials make the signal. Maybe body language tends to be overrated, but that's not the kind of guy I want in my huddle.

On the flip side for the Niners is Patrick Willis(notes), who plays like a man possessed for three hours and then spends all of his interview time crediting his teammates. I have no stake in this team but guys like Hill and Willis make me want to root for them (Mike Singletary, too).

All of baseball said "finally" when J.P. Ricciardi got the axe, but we've found our Ricciardi Apologist – Peter King.

Mike Tomlin against Norv Turner, that's just not a fair fight.

Tom Brady(notes) 2009 is Peyton Manning(notes) 2008. The first month shouldn't even count. Brady will be humming like a sewing machine in the second half. As for New England's pass blocking, while it was better against Baltimore, it was stunning to me that the Ravens didn't blitz all that often. Sure, blitzing Brady in the middle of the decade was just about the stupidest thing you can do, but until Brady proves that his timing and pocket movement are all the way back, I'd be more aggressive going after him.

Josh McDaniels is the man getting most of the props but to me the Denver story is all about defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who somehow has taken arguably the worst unit in the league and turned it into an excellent group. The Broncos had 26 sacks and six interceptions all of last year; in 2009, they're at 15 sacks and six picks.

I'd call Darren McFadden(notes) a dog but I don't want to unfairly slight my own pooch. Straight-line speed doesn't always translate to the football field. McFadden knows you don't have to go down at first contact, right? He's not wearing flags on his uniform, right?

Rich Rodriguez doesn't ask my advice but I think it's time for Tate Forcier to play every snap on offense. Michigan's game-tying drive in East Lansing was my favorite 10-minute segment of the weekend.

So much for all that Tony Romo(notes) praise I offered after his Week 1 dismantling of the Bucs. Fast forward three weeks and we see a more-developed picture: Romo's having trouble with his pocket awareness and his accuracy while the Bucs might have the worst secondary in the league (discount any production that comes against these guys). And speaking of bad body language, Roy Williams should be a keynote speaker at the offseason banquet. Quit pouting when you don't get the ball, No. 11, just run back to the huddle.

Reggie Bush(notes) has a Heisman Trophy on his mantle. Pierre Thomas(notes) wasn't even drafted. Thomas plays better than Bush just about every week. You gotta love the NFL.

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