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SPF's Week Twelve Pre-Pregame Show

Posted: Nov 25, 2007

Leadership.  Is it there?  The leader(s) of each SPF team define that team to their fans.  Already, Thanksgiving solidified a sense of leadership between coach and QB with both the Colts and their Manning/Dungy duo and the Cowboys with their Wade/Romo combination coming up winners.

Atlanta's Bobby Petrino has not found his QB yet.  It shows in the Falcons' inability to score points on any consistent basis.

Let's take a look at the coach/QB relationships around the SPF Footprint as Sunday's games loom.


Washington at Tampa Bay
(NFL Films Preview)

Few games are as critical as this one for both teams.  The Bucs must keep their improbable season alive by keeping their home field advantage going.  The Redskins are triyng to stay in the playoff hunt.  The NFC Wildcard is wide open for both teams as well which means the winner will hold a tie breaker over the loser.

The Bucs are where they are because of the strong relationship between Jon Gruden and Jeff Garcia.  Gruden trusts Garcia implicitly.  The question for Bucs' fans is where is this headed with "wrong side of 35" Garcia likely only a two year stop gap at best.

The Redskins would like to think that they are far better than their record shows right now.  Jason Campbell did have a breakout game in a road loss to the Cowboys.  Somehow though, it just doesn't seem like Campbell and Joe Gibbs are on the same page.  Gibbs would much rather have Campbell handing the ball off to Clinton Portis than throwing it downfield.

As we said last week, Gibbs is no longer the biggest asset of the Redskins.  Campbell is.

New Orleans at Carolina
(NFL Films Preview)

These are two 4-6 teams with tons of issues.  One thing they share is crisis of confidence in their coaches.  John Fox seems like he is already gone in Carolina.  Sean Payton will be around next season, but Saints' fans and ownership have to be wondering how all of their offensive talent has been squandered.

John Fox and Jake Delhomme have been connected since Jake arrived as the Panthers' unproven starter.  Jake took the Panthers to a Super Bowl and an NFC title game.  Delhomme's injury has put Fox under the microscope since they haven't been able to do much since he went down.

Fairness says that Fox should get another shot next year with a healthy Delhomme under center.  Unfortunately for him, that might not happen.  Fox deserves blame for not having a capable backup.  David Carr was their big off season signing and he has been a total bust. 

The Saints are teetering as well.  The fact is that the NFC South was the Saints for the taking until they lost two unforgivable games to St Louis and Houston.  Neither of these teams have as much to play for since neither will be going to the playoffs.  The fact that the Saints did have the playoffs in their sight and still lost is troubling.

Drew Brees has more credentials as a starting NFL QB than Sean Payton does as an NFL head coach.  The Saints offense struggled early in the season, and the defense was never good.  They had a nice 4-0 run to complement their 0-4 start, but now it is back to mediocrity.

Payton and Fox are under the glare of substandard seasons.  They need to show something and soon.

This game will be won by the team that still has heart to show.  The loser should be worried about the leadership on their team.

Houston at Cleveland
(NFL Films Preview)

Houston has bounced back to .500 and needs to stay there.  Cleveland seems to still be a year away from real playoff contention.  Houston is in the supposed best division in football.  That means they should win this road game.

The Texans need this game badly.  They prove something to their fans with each win.  The team needs a sense of confidence to continue to grow around coach Gary Kubiak and QB Matt Schaub.  Texan fans need to see that these two can bring the moribund Texans to the next level.

If Schaub can't outperform Cleveland's Derek Anderson with Andre Johnson now healthy, it will raise questions.

Tennessee at Cincinnati
(NFL Films Preview)

Although Jeff Fisher is a defensive coach, he has been incredibly good at developing a strong relationships with his starting QBs.  Vince Young had a breakout game statistically against Denver although it was a loss which was a positive development.

Despite their early season success, it looks like the Titans might be a year away.  As long as Young keeps developing, the Titans should be in good hands for years to come.

Across the field, one has to wonder about the Carson Palmer/Marvin Lewis relationship.  Lewis hand selected Palmer so there should be a bond between them.  However, Palmer has had too much on his shoulders over the last two years.  The defense is terrible, and his offensive complements are either warring with Lewis (Chad Johnson) or getting arrested (Chris Henry).  Additionally, the Bengals haven't been able to develop their running game.

The rest of this season needs to be about Palmer and Lewis.  Palmer is a huge asset for this franchise.  He needs a coach who protects him and allows him to shine.  Palmer should be follwing in Peyton Manning's foot steps, but he seems to be falling into a pattern of Dan Marino right before his retirement and Brett Favre until this year (too many questionable throws leading to INTs).

Seattle at St. Louis
(NFL Films Preview)

Marc Bulger started this season with a huge contract extension.  He quickly went into the tank.  However, there is more there than meets the eye.  Bulger was playing the early part of the season with broken ribs.  He kept going out there which shows his mettle.

Coach Scott Linehan seemed to finally regain the confidence of Bulger in the bye week.  Since then, the Rams have won two in a row.  Winning against Seattle is a must going into next season.  The Rams are a veteran squad who still have another run left in them.

If Linehan can't lead this team to a strong finish, he probably doesn't deserve to return.

Buffalo at Jacksonville
(NFL Films Preview)

Jack Del Rio went all in on his little regarded QB David Garrard.  Garrard rewarded Del Rio with the mistake free play that his coach desires.

This duo must take Jacksonville to the next level this season.  So far the formula is great defense plus no mistakes on offense.  If that is enough to win the AFC South, then Del Rio and Garrard are heroes.  Anything less, and the Jags should consider a new direction next season.

Unless their goal is to be a perpetual wild card team, owner Wayne Weaver should expect more from what is a very talented roster.  On paper, the Jags should be able to match the offensive firepower of the Colts, but they don't.  Garrard might play mistake-free, but he usually also is big play-free.

SPF just doesn't think that approach will get the Jags to the promised land.


Miami at Pittsburgh
(NFL Films Preview)

John Beck and Cam Cameron.  No wonder the Dolphins are 0-10.  Neither man has the kind of record that exudes confidence.

These two may become a passable duo, but the Dolphins must ask themselves with all the strong QBs waiting to make the jump to the pros in the 2008 NFL Draft whether they stay stand pat with these two at the helm.

SPF thinks not.  Beck will probably be a capable career backup (think Dolphins legend Don Strock), but not much more.  Get a coach, get a first round QB, and start rebuilding this team the right way, Mr. Huizenga.

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