December 28, 2009
I watched a bunch of football games on Sunday, let's empty out the notebook.
• It's hard to watch the Panthers over the last month and not wonder where they might be today had Matt Moore(notes) taken over for Jake Delhomme(notes) earlier in the season. After all, Delhomme was nothing more than a walking turnover machine through the first three months, while Moore has been excellent in three of his last four starts (for December he's got a 106.8 rating, 8.0 YPA, 7 TDs, 1 pick). But the Carolina error really came in the offseason, when it decided to give Delhomme a monster extension without any major competition coming in (recall how dreadful he was against Arizona in the playoffs). Once you make that sort of emphatic commitment to a quarterback, it's not something you can change willy-nilly. The Panthers were basically married to Delhomme for most of the 2009 season, like it or not.
I'm not convinced that Moore is a major solution down the road but at least he's got some mobility and the ability to throw a catchable deep ball (albeit most of those long passes to Steve Smith succeeded because of No. 89's ability and adjustments, not really because of Moore). The Panthers have to at least give Moore a chance to compete for the job next year, and if I were a player on this offense, I'd push for an open audition.
• Philip Rivers(notes) should be no worse than No. 2 on the current MVP watch list, and the Chargers offense is a nightmare for any playoff-bound defense. Antonio Gates(notes), matchup nightmare. Vincent Jackson(notes), matchup nightmare. Darren Sproles(notes), matchup nightmare. Malcom Floyd(notes), a darn good fourth option in the passing game. It's a joke that you always see LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) featured when networks promote a San Diego game, because this is obviously the Philip Rivers show. I'll be surprised if the Colts and Chargers don't meet in the AFC Championship Game, and I'll be a little disappointed too.
• Darrelle Revis(notes) should be the Defensive Player of the Year and it shouldn't be close. He's been asked to single-cover a host of elite receivers over four months and he's essentially beaten everyone, including Andre Johnson(notes), Randy Moss(notes) and Steve Smith. Sunday's match with Reggie Wayne(notes) was closer than the stats show – obviously Wayne didn't play a full game and he should have scored on a first-half pass in the end zone – but at the end of it all, fantasy owners who steered away from Revis Island were glad that they did.
• The Patriots rolled over a Jaguars team that they match up perfectly against, but I'll be surprised if New England goes deep in the playoffs. What can the Pats really hang their hats on? Bill Belichick, Tom Brady(notes) throwing to two elite receivers, a mediocre running game, a defense that won't stop any good offense in the playoffs. How many 35-31 games can you win in a row? Don't overreact to what the Pats did against a Jacksonville team that's essentially a perfect matchup for them.
• I don't know anyone who saw this Carnell Williams(notes) comeback coming, and that includes the Bucs (remember they spend a lot of cash to bring in Derrick Ward(notes)). A tip of the cap to you, Caddy. I thought you were deader than disco.
• Here's the beauty of the Jerome Harrison(notes) story – the better he looks, the more foolish Eric Mangini looks. Everybody wins. I'm still not sold on Harrison being a heavy-use back over a four-month season, but his burial in the first half of the year – behind a hobbling Jamal Lewis(notes) – was a travesty. I'm not saying this conveniently after the fact either; in a few leagues I went out of my way to stash Harrison, then played the waiting game. Unfortunately my patience had long run out by the time Week 15 rolled around.
• Washington's offensive line has been a joke for the balance of the year, but that doesn't excuse Jason Campbell(notes) from blame. I've watched just about every Campbell snap for the last two seasons and I'm convinced his absolute ceiling as a pro is "adequate quarterback" – and that's if he gets all the right pieces around him. Sure, he's got the size and the arm strength and he's the type of guy who looks great in a 7-on-7 drill, but he's never developed a shred of awareness in the pocket and that's a critical skill for any competent NFL quarterback. Campbell's also very poor at reading defenses and picking up on pre-snap blitz indicators; while his offensive line might set him up to fail, he's making the situation look as bad as it possibly can look.
• Forget Darren McFadden(notes) ever being a traditional tailback, someone you can hand the ball to 15-20 times a game. He's a handy receiver and a useful satellite player, that's the upside here. He'll never be a franchise guy.
• The Cowboys probably wouldn't be in the playoffs today had Roy Williams not gotten injured at Denver in Week 4. That paved the way for the Miles Austin(notes) explosion the next week and the rest is history. Of course the Pokes should have been hip to Austin a lot sooner; the team mentions that Austin was nicked up over the summer, but this also looks like a case of a team misjudging its personnel.
• You can have power and the jumbo package at the goal line. I'll take the spread offense, more weapons, and a quick, decisive back.
• Congratulations on your three touchdowns, Brandon Jackson(notes). Step to the podium and accept your Jerome Harrison Award for this week's most outstanding performance that helped no one's fantasy team.
• I concede that it's crazy to have a Week 17 title game in fantasy if you play in the head-to-head format. But if you're in a total-points league, by all means you need to use all the games. Figuring out the madness is what separates the winners and losers in this make-believe game.
I hope you won your playoff games (and championships), amigos. If you want to follow me on Twitter, head over here.