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SPF's Week Seven Pre-Pregame Show

Posted: Oct 20, 2007

Getting on the same page.  Coaches and players that have the same sense of urgency signify teams that are winning.  The NFL is a business, and like all business deals - interests must align.

This is the reason that ownership, the front office, and the coaching staff must be on the same page.  If players sense that the coach is being hung out to dry, they will mutiny.

Talent is not the only separator.  The Bucs and the Panthers probably have less talent then the Bengals and the Rams, but they are one with their coach.

Our SPF teams have been largely disappointing outside of Indy this season.  The worst problem has been rudderless teams that face serious questions in the off season.  What happens over the last ten weeks will determine the futures of several teams and the five year horizons.

That what will make today's slate interesting.


Atlanta (1-5, 0-3 away)
New Orleans (1-4, 0-2 home)

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Coach Payton makes a great point.  The Saints have to start winning at home.  Much like the idle Panthers, the Saints haven't protected their home field well of late.  Today's game against a woeful Atlanta team should be an easy one for New Orleans.for the Falcons.  Considering that Saints and their stadium issues are still a political hot potato in Louisiana in general, this team needs to be good at home.

Watching this Scott Fujita interview show the overall confusion surrounding this team.  Fujita confirms his own lack of understanding about the Saints 0-4 start.  He puts it squarely on the players having to step up.  Basically, it sounds like the Saints spent too much of the off season reading their press clippings.  That makes them a dangerous team if they can find the magic of last season again. 

In Atlanta, Byron Leftwich has finally been named the starter.  Watching that interview, you get the sense of his intangibles.  Leftwich must know that Atlanta might be his last chance to show that he can be an effective starter in the NFL.  QBs only get so many opportunities.

This will be an interesting game to watch.  This week's theme about the connection between coaches and players applies well here.  Are the Saints finally playing like Payton wants them to play?  Will Leftwich's own desperation to make it as a starter match Petrino's desperation to make it as an NFL coach?

We shall see.

Tennessee (3-2, 2-1 away)
Houston (3-3, 2-1 home)

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All the evidence shows that Vince Young is a natural leader.  Watching this interview shows his confidence as he dismisses the Houston factor as media hype.  The Titans are extremely well coached and have already shown that they can still execute an effective offense with Kerry Collins at QB.

The Texans are at a crossroads.  If this team has truly turned a corner, they should win this game easily.  Playoff teams must win division games at home.  Somehow though, the Texans have regressed.  Watching Kubiak on last week's loss to the Jags, his frustration is evident. 

So, will the Texans demonstrate that Kubiak and Schaub are leaders that have their locker room behind them.  We shall see.

New England (6-0, 3-0 away)
Miami (0-6, 0-2 home)

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This might be one of the most lopsided matchups in the last decade.  Not only is Miami just plain bad this year.  They also have had a great record against the Patriots in the past.  Unfortunately for them, this may only serve to focus the dominate Pats when otherwise they might take it easy.

Trent Green ight be the face of the Dolphins franchise - bruised, battered, not in reality.  He wants to play again but Cameron can't let him.  Cameron's experiment of having Green QB the team has ended just as poorly as Nick Saban's plan to have Daunte Culpepper QB the team last year when he was still gimpy from knee surgery.

The big news of the week was owner Wayne Huizenga calling for team analysis.  Don't make us laugh.  SPF has been saying all season that this Dolphins team was a joke perpetrated by Huizenga to sell his newly refurbished stadium.  Nonetheless  Greg Cote gives him his opinion about what needs to be done.

It is all a waste because at least the rebuilding has begun.  Jason Taylor may be frustrated by Chris Chambers trade, but he is merely posturing to get himself traded to a contender next year.  This also shows why the Dolphins were at the top of the list for bottoming out based on this week's SPF theme - too many vets that have nothing invested in their coaching staff.

Listening to Cameron just ramble on about the Pats shows why he lost this team right out of the gate.  SPF guesses he was the only guy out there willing to play the role of coach on this sham of a team.  The biggest question that remains for the rest of the Dolphins season is  how much the moves made before this season in both the draft and free agency have hurt the future of the team.

At least Dolphins fans know that the rebuilding has begun.  It is likely also that Cameron and Mueller are gone based on Wayne's "analysis".  Expect Cowher or Parcells or Schottenheimer running this team next year.  This is a good thing.

Tampa Bay (4-2, 1-2 away)
Detroit (3-2, 2-0 home)

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No team better exemplifies the importance of the connection to their coach than the Bucs.  It is strange that Gruden came into Tampa having to take over from the beloved Tony Dungy.  Although he led them to a Super Bowl win, Gruden never really was accepted by some of Dungy's guys.  This is why Gruden has spent the last few years weeding them out.

Today, the bond between coach and players is evident.  Listen to Gruden on the Lions game and this Jeff Garcia interview, it is clear why these two operate so well together.  Michael Bennett is happy to be in Tampa, and he is just the kind of reclamation project that Gruden has had success with in the past.

The Lions are coming off of a bye week.  They also have a coaching staff filled with ex-Dungy assistants who also coached under Gruden.  They will know how to attack the Bucs defense.

The Bucs hold on the NFC South is tenuous.  They need to win games like this to stay out in front of the Saints and the Panthers.

Arizona (3-3, 1-2 away)
Washington (3-2, 2-1 home)

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Joe Gibbs has called this week's matchup against the Cardinals a must win game.  Campbell and Gibbs appear ready.  For a young QB, Jason Campbell shows a great deal of poise.

Defends Moss for poor game.  Althought the O-line issues are numerous, Mike Wise puts the spotlight on OC Al Saunders.  Saunders and Gibbs have never meshed mainly because their philosophies are so different.  The offense has weapons, but its inconsistency has cost the Redskins both of their losses.  Let's see if they can finally get something going again.  A battered Cardinals team may be just the tonic.


New York Jets (1-5, 0-3 away)
Cincinnati (1-4, 1-1 home)

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Marvin Lewis is unhappy with the play of the team. Chad Johnson is struggling.  SPF is just plain mad at this team.  They should be an elite team, but they have completely lost their mojo.

Again, this is an issue of the players not listening to their coach.  Lewis already called them out a couple of games back.  Much like the Saints, the Bengals have been reading their press clippings too much.  Unfortunately for Cincy, they are in a much better division than the Saints.  Their playoff chances are done.

The only question that remains is what kind of changes must be made in the off season so that Carson Palmer's career won't be wasted on this group of "me, me, me" players.

Minnesota (2-3, 1-2 away)
Dallas (5-1, 2-1 home)

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Trap game alert!!  SPF warned that Wade Phillips would be most tested when the Cowboys faced some adversity.  The loss to the Patriots was an ugly reminder that the Cowboys are not quite as good as they thought.

TO has fired his first shot of the season vaguely criticizing the offensive play calling and saying that he wants the ball (no surprise).  Randy Galloway explains how stopping Jason Witten pretty much shuts down the Cowboys offense.

Hearing Phillips speak on the Vikings and Adrian Peterson , one can begin to hear a few signs of defensiveness.  Also, Tank Johnson might have seemed like a good idea a couple of weeks ago, but now he seems like a distraction the Cowboys might not be able to afford. 

This is a crucial game for the Cowboys.  A loss here is totally possible.  The NFL is all about doing one thing consistently well.  The Viking can win a lot of games by just giving the ball to Peterson.

The Cowboys are a weird one.  Jerry Jones and his players have the relationship.  The coach only serves at his discretion.  This is the week where we find out whether Wade is Jerry's Joe Torre or another Chan Gailey.

St. Louis (0-6, 0-3 away)
Seattle (3-3, 2-1 home)

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The Rams, like the Dolphins and Falcons, are a team filled with a lot of disinterested vets.  Coach Scott Linehan keeps trying to sound positive on getting guys back and starting Bulger.  Watching Torry Holt as he talks about the state of the Rams, he sounds like he's going through the motions. 

Jeff Gordon wrote this week that Linehan is finally getting angry at the players which is long overdue.  They haven't helped him much.   Gordon also wrote about the Rams drafts which have been much better than advertised.  It is looking more and more like the Rams made a horribly bad move in staying with management over Mike Martz who gave the personality and a sense of urgency.

The Rams, like a few other teams, sit wondering whether to pull the plug on their coaches or rebuild their roster.  The Dolphins have already seemingly decided to rebuild.  The Rams, the Falcons, and the Bengals look like they are auditioning next year's roster.  This usually a process that is frought with disaster.


Indianapolis (5-0, 2-0 away)
Jacksonville (4-1, 2-1 home)

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Listen to Dungy and Manning on the Jags or Del Rio on last week's win or this interview with Maurice Jones-Drew.  Everyone knows this is the game.  The Colts can shut the door on Jax, and the Jags can move to another level with a win.

In both cases, these teams have great rapport between coach and players.  The only difference, which matter to us here at SPF, is that the fans in Jacksonville haven't warmed up to Del Rio and his coaching philosophy - boring, vanilla offense mixed with strong defense.  If Del Rio's methods lead to a Monday Night win against the Colts, this could change.

This might be one of the most important games in the history of this franchise.

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