Sunday Scene: Three Kings
By Andy Behrens
September 23, 2007
Breaking news from the office of Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of football operations: cheerleaders can be visually distracting.
Especially when they're preparing for an afternoon of vigorous, coordinated cheering. And the league's pervier players need to be protected from their displays.
CBS' Charley Casserly reported on Sunday that a memo dealing with pre-game cheerleader activities was circulated to NFL teams this week. Apparently, certain squads tend to warm up in close proximity to the visiting team's bench. Warming up a cheerleader would presumably involve some amount of stretching. And it's not like they're wearing muumuus and giant floral-print housecoats, so you can imagine how a gaggle of bending cheerleaders might, in fact, be distracting to an NFL player.
Fred Kirsch of Patriots Football Weekly discussed Anderson's memo during a "PFW In Progress" broadcast on Friday. Kirsch summarized the NFL's message thusly:
Indeed. Monitoring cheerleader behavior requires vigilance. They cannot be trained with kindness, either. Whatever else you think about the NFL, know that they will not allow team-affiliated cheerleaders to put on distracting displays, nor will the league allow these girls to be objectified or commodified. Heck no. Not by players, not by anyone. End of story. Distracting people is just not what NFL cheerleading is all about.
Frankly, it's nice to see that the league is cracking down. Rogue cheerleaders have used unsavory methods to decide the outcome of NFL games for too long. Today, at last, the league freed itself from their wicked influence.
Other notes from a day of game-watching …
• Let's consolidate the biggest injury news in one awful bullet point. It was a brutal day, full of injuries that have all kinds of fantasy relevance.
After carrying 13 times for -3 yards in the first half against Seattle, Rudi Johnson hurt his hamstring; Kenny Watson replaced him and poached 60 rushing yards and a touchdown … Jake Delhomme injured his throwing elbow on a play where he wasn't touched; David Carr took over for Carolina, going 3-for-4 for 56 yards … Calvin Johnson apparently injured his back on a 39-yard reception in the second quarter against the Eagles … Ahman Green left with a bruised knee in the second quarter of the Texans' hard-fought, undermanned loss to the Colts; the combination of Samkon Gado and Jameel Cook replaced him, doing nothing noteworthy … J.P. Losman sprained his left knee early in the first quarter against New England; Trent Edwards replaced him and led Buffalo to the expected loss … After accumulating 221 yards and three touchdowns – that's how it's done, Rudi – Brian Westbrook went for x-rays on his ribs; they're reportedly just bruised … Steve McNair aggravated his delicate groin in the fourth quarter of the Ravens near-loss to Arizona; Kyle Boller went 8-for-10 with 83 passing yards.
Phew! Really an ugly day in which tens of thousands of fantasy teams were devastated by injuries of as-yet-unknown severity.
• A few of my teams were devastated by the decision to bench DeShaun Foster. He had 20 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown, and also caught a 13-yard TD on a pass from Delhomme. He's healthy, running powerfully and, at least today, was clearly the dominant member of the committee.
• Joey Harrington threw for an un-Harringtonian 361 yards and two TDs against the Panthers. Carolina gave up 227 yards and two TDs to Matt Schaub last week. This is officially a secondary that fantasy owners might consider picking on. They'll face Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Arizona before their bye in Week 7.
• On their first drive of the game, Green Bay went for it on fourth-and-two from the San Diego 39. Drayton Florence basically pulled Donald Driver to the ground. No call. First down, Chargers. Later in the first quarter, Marlon McCree leveled Driver on an incompletion with one of the cheaper shots you'll ever see, planting his helmet in Driver's chin. (Stay classy, San Diego).
Driver apparently doesn't know that receivers are supposed to respond to cheap hits by jawing with the DB, gesturing wildly and possibly retaliating. Instead, he merely had another quiet, brilliant game: six receptions, 126 yards, one TD.
• Career touchdown No. 418 for Brett Favre was a five-yard completion to Driver.
• At the 9:07 mark in the first quarter of the Philadelphia-Detroit game, Tatum Bell's fantasy value took a significant hit. That's when the 24.6 percent-owned Kevin Jones scored a two-yard touchdown, tying the Lions-Eagles game at seven.
The game was not tied long.
• It appeared that Kevin Curtis had wrapped up the Viagra High Scorer of the Week by 1:10 p.m. CT. He already had eight receptions, 187 yards, and three TD with over 11 minutes remaining in the first half. Curtis finished with 221 yards and scored an astonishing 40 points in a Yahoo! default league – and that only gets him a tie as the week's high fantasy scorer. For the Eagles.
Westbrook's 110 rushing yards, 111 receiving yards, and three touchdowns were good for another 40. These things happen when your team scores 56 total points.
• Westbrook and Curtis were joined at 40 by Ronnie Brown.
Take a second to wrap your head around that.
Ronnie Brown, who epitomizes "much maligned," rushed for 112 yards on 23 carries, caught six passes for 99 yards, scored three touchdowns, and ran for a two-point conversion. This was the versatility and explosiveness I'd been thinking about way back during the first Draft Day Dilemma. It's what we look for in a Cam Cameron running back.
• Antonio Gates hurt his right hand or wrist on an eight-yard catch in the first quarter, then spent several moments grimacing on the sideline while repeatedly gripping a trainer's hand. He returned, though, finishing with 113 yards on 11 receptions.
• Kurt Warner replaced Matt Leinart for Arizona, after the Cardinals' starter opened the game looking freaked and ineffective against Baltimore (9-for-20, 53 yards). "Matt is still our starting quarterback," Ken Whisenhunt said after the game. And Anquan Boldin sobbed.
• Derrick Mason entered Week 3 as one of the most-targeted NFL wide receivers. He had another eight catches and 79 yards with a touchdown on Sunday.
• Career touchdown No. 419 for Favre was a five-yard pass over the middle to Bubba Franks. Nifty pump-fake to help Franks get open, too.
• The Patriots scored five unanswered TDs against Buffalo. The first four of them were all shorter than 10 yards. And Laurence Maroney had none of them. None. Zero. Nil. The empty set. Zilch. Benjamin Watson had one. So did Randy Moss, who later added a 45-yarder. Sammy Morris? Don't even (expletive) ask. Of course he did. Even Tom Brady tried to score a TD, but he fumbled. Maroney had the most disappointing 100-yard rushing effort of the day.
• … unless you're a Steven Jackson owner. Jackson had 115 yards on 30 carries, yet he didn't find the end zone. Like every other Ram. The Buccaneers defense was awesome again, and Barrett Ruud had another great IDP day: eight tackles, three assists, one interception. Earnest Graham rushed for a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns in relief of Carnell Williams, who may have tweaked those bruised ribs. Graham isn't really a long-term option, though.
• Philip Rivers' first incompletion on Sunday was a smart throw-away with 0:48 left in the first half. He'd been 15-for-15. Rivers' next pass was a nine-yard touchdown to Buster/Craig Davis.
• Career touchdown No. 420 for Favre was a 57-yard strike to Greg Jennings. It gave the Packers a 23-21 lead with 2:03 remaining against the Chargers. As a Bears fan, I'm not so fond of Favre. It would be fair to say that I'm often repulsed by Favre, in fact. But his incredible talent and immense likeability are not lost on anyone. You have to love his post-game reaction to touchdown No. 420: "I could care less about that record today."
The Packers' offensive line was great on Sunday. Favre was sacked twice, but on most pass attempts he had … well, he had about 10 seconds more per throw than Rex Grossman had against San Diego in Week 1.
• Last week, Jeremy Shockey's drops ruined what might have been a great fantasy day for Eli Manning. On Sunday, at least in the first half, it was Plaxico Burress' drops. But Burress, who dealt with an ankle injury all week, scored the final touchdown in a 24-17 win over the Redskins. Reuben Droughns had a pair of one-yard touchdowns for New York. He becomes the third add-able Giants running back. Derrick Ward had another useful game, rushing for 94 yards and adding six receptions. London Fletcher had a sack, a fumble recovery, and an interception in an excellent IDP effort.
• Yet another big fantasy day for LaMont Jordan: 28 rushes, 117 yards, 32 yards receiving, one TD. He doesn't so much make you miss as make you wish you'd missed, but the numbers are piling up.
• Here's the Week 3 Jacksonville Jaguars RBBC workload distribution: Fred Taylor, 14 carries for 79 yards; Maurice Jones-Drew, 11 carries for 24 yards and a fumble. No touchdowns for either RB. The Jaguars have a bye next week.
Thanks for playing, Jones-Drew drafters.
• If it's possible to chant "Griese" with enthusiasm while referring to Brian, Bears fans did it on Sunday night. Chicago was shellacked by the Cowboys 34-10, and Rex Grossman is, at this point, a civic embarrassment. Three sacks, three interceptions, zero hope. The Bears are at Detroit next Sunday. Brian Griese is a decent speculative fantasy add right now, at least for Week 4.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Sunday, Sep 23, 2007 11:32 pm, EDT