So Bobby Petrino, are you still telling me you have no regrets?
No one could blame you when you sat at a summer news conference, surrounded by your Atlanta Falcons bosses Arthur Blank and Rich McKay, and stated, "I have absolutely no regrets about taking this job. I'm very motivated and energetic toward the challenge." Realistically, who would stand up in a moment of weakness after officially learning Joey Harrington is the starting quarterback instead of Michael Vick and say, "I want out?" But there's no way coach Petrino doesn't look at what his old team, the Louisville Cardinals, did on Thursday night or what former Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub did in his debut for the Houston Texans against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday and not wonder "what if."
As the suspended Vick was likely enjoying what's left of his freedom Sunday afternoon, Harrington & Co. did what was anticipated – they struggled against the Minnesota Vikings. OK, enough with the pleasantries – they stunk up the Dome. Only consolation: It was the Metrodome and not the Georgia Dome, a place where many boo birds will be heard if the Vickless Falcons are regularly limited to a single field goal.
Meanwhile, Schaub showed he's more than a preseason darling. The one-time Falcon, traded shortly before the NFL Draft, helped continue the horrific year for Falcons fans. Schaub connected on a long touchdown pass to Andre Johnson and finished with 225 passing yards as Houston trounced the Kansas City Chiefs, 20-3.
But that's OK, Bobby. Maybe this "challenge" will lead to the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, where you can select Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm.
Here are some other observations gleaned while channel surfing NFL Sunday Ticket during Week 1:
Biggest winners: The three franchises that realized or re-established that they have clutch kickers. Jason Elam continued to prove he's one of the best kickers of all time when he calmly hit a 42-yarder with no time left as the Denver Broncos beat the Buffalo Bills, 15-14. Conversely, the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins turned to young kickers Mason Crosby and Shaun Suisham to notch victories in the waning moments and in overtime.
Biggest losers: I could easily go with a predictable choice here: the Cleveland Browns, Rex Grossman, Harrington or J.P. Losman. Instead, I'm going to pick on a couple of guys from the "Show Me Nothing" state. So much for the Chiefs' whole Damon Huard-Brodie Croyle debate. A couple more outings like this (168 passing yards, three sacks, two interceptions) and Huard will find himself holding the clipboard. Meanwhile, the "next big thing" in fantasy football, Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams, was a Week 1 bust: 61 total yards, no touchdowns and two fumbles.
Biggest "flip flop" of the day: I was all set to bash the Oakland Raiders for starting Josh McCown over Daunte Culpepper, but then the Raiders rallied for a 21-20 lead over the Detroit Lions so I figured I would give them the benefit of the doubt for another week. After their implosion, though, I'm back to my initial thought: It's bad enough that No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell was somewhere other than suited up at RaiderNation. But Culpepper, by all accounts, performed the best among the active quarterbacks and you start McCown? Maybe, just maybe, there's a reason why the Raiders are 15-50 since getting spanked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Wishful thinking: As I watched Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio stroll the sideline wearing a suit and tie, I thought: It would be cool to see Bill Belichick ditch the hoody (or in the case of Sunday, the league-issued polo shirt) for just one week and go all Armani on folks. I know it's too much to ask, but I reserve the right to hold out hope.
Most impressive rookie debut: It's unfortunate that starter Chester Taylor had to leave the game early with a hip injury, but raise your hand if you're surprised that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has already made his presence felt. Clearly, Peterson's health is a question mark, but if he stays on the field, don't be surprised to see him put up numbers closely resembling Sunday's: 103 rushing yards, 60 receiving yards, one touchdown.
Most impressive moment: New England Patriots coaches had to be thinking "no, no" when Ellis Hobbs fielded a kickoff eight yards deep in the end zone and ran it out … until he broke a tackle near their 22-yard line and took it to the house for the longest kickoff return in NFL history.
Most impressive catch: Tennessee Titans tight end Bo Scaife's twisting catch between Rashean Mathis and Gerald Sensabaugh on the sideline in the first quarter against the Jaguars should hold up as one of the top 10 catches of the season.
Go ahead and say "I told you so": All offseason, I vehemently explained why the Patriots are not the team to beat, suggesting they would struggle establishing chemistry at wide receiver; Adalius Thomas was not a cure-all to their issues at linebacker; and injuries (Richard Seymour) and such (Rodney Harrison's suspension) will put plenty of chinks in the armor. Great debut by Randy Moss, but even after beating down the Jets, I'm sticking to my stance.
Decisions that need to be re-thought: Following the Packers' first punt, new returner Greg Lewis muffed the kickoff after briefly taking his eyes off the ball. Green Bay recovered the fumble in the end zone for the game's first touchdown. In the fourth quarter, as the ball bounced with five Packers in the vicinity, Lewis decided to field the ball in an attempt to save a couple of yards. The risky move prompted an announcer to say: "Greg Lewis is doing a good job of letting everyone know he has never returned punts before." Eagles coach Andy Reid was probably thinking the same thing.
The other "Mr. Clutch": I know Adam Vinatieri is regarded as the best kicker of this era, so much so that people are already suggesting he should be the second kicker (behind Jan Stenerud) inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Given his credentials (the "Tuck Rule" game, Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII), I won't dispute that, but let's not overlook Elam's accomplishments. With his frantic kick with no time remaining against the Bills on Sunday, he has delivered yet another game-winner for the Broncos. Almost as impressive, his make against the Bills kept alive his streak of never having missed three field-goal attempts in one game.
Annoying useless fact: During the Eagles-Packers game, one of the announcers made this remark regarding Green Bay rookie Mason Crosby: "He also holds the record for the longest field goal (58 yards) above sea level without a tee in NCAA history." Two words: Who cares?
Impressive yet underrated offseason signing: If the opener is any indication, the Titans made an incredibly smart move with the relatively cheap (one year, $1.8 million) re-signing of running back Chris Brown. All he did was finish with 175 yards on 19 carries while the rather thick – and far from swift – LenDale White (eight carries, 66 yards) looked like he was more interested in finding some munchies than the hole.
First bad feeling of the season: I try very hard not to overreact to anything we see in the first two weeks of a new campaign. However, with a couple more horrendous efforts from the Cleveland Browns, coach Romeo Crennel will be getting his "Butch Davis on" and be unemployed before the season ends.
- Bobby Petrino
- Kansas City Chiefs