NFL notes week 8

Rumors of the Steelers’ demise were greatly exaggerated. I stated recently the common misconception that the Steelers defense is old and slow, but they proved me wrong on Sunday. The Patriots pass-rush made the Steelers offensive line look good, and that’s no easy task. The defense is a serious problem, and the questions greatly outnumber the answers. Why do we trade all our good corners? Why aren’t we finding pass-rushers? Why does Bill Belichick get so much credit when Tom Brady essentially runs the offense and commands the defense? The defense hasn’t been good for years — what is he contributing other than his presence?



Tom Brady can win with anyone playing the receiver position, but it would be a lot easier if the Patriots invested in a deep threat. Brady can throw short and intermediate timing patterns with the best of them, but a downfield threat would really give the Patriots offense a better balance. Chad Ochocinco is a shell of himself, Welker and Branch aren’t ideal deep threats, and the tight end position doesn’t lend itself to that role. I miss watching Brady dip his back shoulder and uncork a sky-scraping bomb to Randy Moss. The offense isn’t good enough to mask the Patriots’ atrocious defense against elite teams. Does anyone have Terrell Owens’ number?



Mike Wallace exemplifies what a deep threat can do for an offense. As a rookie his only job was to go deep, but he’s able to do much more now. He has a ridiculous skill set, but more importantly, he’s capitalizing on it. Why can’t other speedsters grasp the receiver position as well as Wallace has? Desean Jackson’s hands are still as soft as a two-by-four, and Devin Hester’s routes are about as precise as a drunk wielding a shotgun. Excluding Calvin Johnson, I’d take Wallace over any receiver in the NFL for the next 10 years.



Sunday night’s game is exactly why I’m terrified of the Eagles. They will win if their offense gets ahead early and you’re forced to throw at that talented secondary and dodge their impressive front four. The way LeSean McCoy runs makes me feel weird things so it’s hard to complain about watching him run. But why is Andy Reid handing him the ball 30 times? Why’d you sign Ronnie Brown if you won’t use him to run out the clock in a 34-7 blowout? I wouldn’t be surprised if McCoy is a little sluggish next week.



Tim Tebow looks a little less impressive when he isn’t playing the Dolphins, huh? He went 18 for 39 with two turnovers and seven sacks on Sunday. People talk about Tebow much more than he deserves, and I’m certainly not helping the problem. He’s as comfortable in the pocket as I would be watching “Black Swan” with my grandmother. I’ll concede that as a Lions fan I feared the Broncos more with Tebow than I did Orton; he makes a bad team better because of who he is. He’d also make a good team worse because he’s so unconventional. Any time spent on him is time wasted if your goal is to be anything more than a respectably bad team.



Down 24-0 with 40 seconds left before half and nearing midfield, the Cowboys chose to let the clock run down and punt on a fourth and two. Why is Jason Garrett playing to lose by as little as possible? In the next year or two Rob Ryan will be hailed as the coach-in-waiting for Dallas. I don’t know how much I blame Garrett for his struggles because I don’t see many coaches succeeding with Tony Romo calling the shots.