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Tuesday Tastings (Week 3): We're Dolphin-safe now, but the Goat, er Ram, is Smoked

Posted: Sep 23, 2008

After getting a full-sized Sunday helping of SPF games, some things have improved while others took a turn for the worse.

"Finger Lickin' Good"

Yum, yum.  These teams served it up on Sunday leaving their fans hungry for next week.

Dallas Cowboys - Now 3-0, the Cowboys have beaten a pre-season darling (Cleveland), a division rival (Philly), and an iconic franchise on a field where they have never won (Green Bay @ Lambeau).  Forbes also named the Cowboys the NFL's most valuable franchise in large part because of the way they maximize their market and the branding potential.

Jerry Jones is even getting kudos for his football decisions from tough critics like Randy Galloway.  Considering the way Jones' beginnings as Cowboys owner, it's almost as though Jones has fully absorbed the footbal intelligence of his former coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells.

Washington Redskins - Like Jerry and his Cowboys, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder represents the new NFL owner.  He's hands on, but he also has learned.  Both Snyder and Jones have gone back and forth between outwardly running the show and letting big names do it for them.

This season marks a time when both have seemed to find the right balance where meddling becomes thoughtful input and delegating goes to men that don't mind owner involvement.

Jim Zorn, like the Cowboys Wade Phillips, is happy to be where he is and doesn't bristle at his owner's need for involvement.  Both men were considered top assistant/coordinators that might be a step below as head coaches.  However, both are proving the critics wrong.

The Redskins lost to the Giants in the season's first game, but they have improved each week.  Most importantly, the balance between coach, QB, team, and wins has come together seamlessly.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Like the Redskins, Jon Gruden's Bucs used a first week loss to catapult themselves into a better season.  Gruden benched Jeff Garcia in favor of Brian Griese, and that move has paid off.

Gruden's version of the WCO is all about adjustments.  In their win against the Bears, the Bucs couldn't run the ball.  Gruden decided to turn to the pass.  In the process, Griese threw 67 times for over 400 yards.

If the Bucs offense can show this kind of flexibility, they will be hard to beat.  Their defense always turns in good performances - week in, week out.

They may not have the flash of the Cowboys, but this season's Bucs might be the best team Gruden has had since his Super Bowl winning squad.

Miami Dolphins - SPF doesn't believe that this year's Dolphins are in the class of the other FLG teams.  However, this may be our only chance this season to honor what appears to be evidence of a better tomorrow for Dolphin fans.

The New England Patriots regular season wining streak is now bookended by two Dolphins losses allowing Fin fans to clear their palette of the horrid Cam Cameron era.

Yes, the Dolphins won with gimmick plays, but that can't hide the fact that their new coaching staff out-coached a staff considered to be the NFL's best.

Tennessee Titans - This 3-0 team remains quietly excellent. Jeff Fisher and his Titans stand on the brink of franchise history.   No team (Titan or Oiler) has started 4-0

The Titans will face a team very much in their image in Minnesota.  Let's see if the Titans' version of smash mouth is better than the our next team who lost to the Vikes on Sunday.


"Tastes Kinda Off"

Something's missing... a touch of blocking, a little tackling, maybe some talent...

Carolina Panthers - The Panthers became a little less appetizing in just a half of football.  Unlike thier NFC South brethren in Tampa, the Panthers could not seal the deal up in NFC North country dropping a road game to the Vikings.

Whether it was penalties or poor offensive play after a critical game-tying fumble return, the Panthers lost a game they led 10-0.  The worst part is that the Viking beat them at their own game - stifling defense and a great running attack.

It's week to week in the John Fox watch.  Bill Cowher continues to loom.

Jacksonville Jaguars - No team fits the TKO bill quite like the Jags.  Is their coach one of the NFL's bright young minds or is he constantly outcoached?  Is David Garrard the perfect game manager or is he really an above-average backup?

When sighs of relief abound after a last second must win, it almost seems like the Jaguars are asking themselves these same questions. 

Indianapolis Colts - We've been saying it here all season - the Colts feel like a team in decline.  The hunger isn't there across the board.  Some of the veterans need to be put out to pasture (hello, Marvin Harrison!).  The coach should have moved on last year (just what is Tony Dungy proving by coming back besides getting a big paycheck?).

Only Peyton seems to care.  Since he is the best player on this team and perhaps the entire league, that will be enough to keep them in playoff contention.

Dungy might want to talk about staying the course, but this team is clearly in transition.

New Orleans Saints - This team needs a defense and a consistent running game.  They might set the world on fire offensively, but they can't hold leads or close out games.  (Remember - the Bucs were a Jeff Garcia interception away from winning opening weekend which would put the Saints at 0-3.)

Is the answer Deuce McAllister as John DeShazier thinks?  It doesn't seem like it is Jeremy Shockey whose injury-plagued career continues.

Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons remain TKO with a bullet.  The AJC's duo of Mark Bradley and Terence Moore show how much things have changed for the Falcons in their home market.  Moore isn't giddy, but he respects what the Falcons have done.  While Bradley is ready to say that the Falcons are downright "promising".

For a team that bottomed out last year, the Falcons and their entire organization deserve kudos.


"Startin' To Turn"

Hogs, dogs, rodents alike all turn up their noses...

Houston Texans - We at SPF are pleased that we gave the Texans a week out of our Tastings cellar during their Ike-forced bye week.  However, it only held off the inevitable.

The Texans under Gary Kubiak remain a disaster.  The latest problem appears to be under center as Matt Schaub's struggles become more and more apparent.  Richard Justice writes that a QB switch might be taking place soon.

The Texans are one of the NFL's jokes along with the Raiders, the Lions, and the rest of the teams below.  Ike served to distract their fans, but this franchise remains rudderless.

Put them on the Bill Cowher watch as well.

Cincinnati Bengals - Their overtime loss to the Giants showed signs of life so we won't be overly critical.  The problem with the Bengals is that they actually have a very talented roster that doesn't seem to care.

Most teams would kill to have Carson Palmer leading their offense.  Sooner or later, he will play well. 

The Bengals remind SPF of the Barry Switzer-era Cowboys.  The talent is there, but they have bad attitudes and poor coaching oversight which often leads to horrific play.

The equally stinky Browns are coming to town.  Last season's first matchup of these Ohio rivals launched the Browns on their unlikely 10 win season.  Maybe a Bengals win can save Marvin Lewis' job.

St Louis Rams - Those years? Those great years? That was light-years ago, man. Light-years.  Orlando Pace, the Rams #1 draft pick that laid the foundation for two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl win.

This franchise might be the saddest team in the NFL. 

The Oakland Raiders are bad, but they won multiple Super Bowls.  Like FSU and Penn St know with their respective old coaches, you're stuck when your captain is old but won't let go.  You at least have some past glory to reflect upon.

The Detroit Lions have never been good since William Clay Ford bought them in 1964.  They have won one playoff game since that point.

The Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans are recent expansion teams that can't get it right, but hope still remains.

The Rams were an elite NFL team who allowed political infighting to destroy an organization from within squandering coaching careers (Mike Martz) and playing careers (Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Marc Bulger) alike.

Now, they have pulled Bulger in favor of the uber-concussed Trent Green - Cam Cameron's personal choice to lead last season's 1-15 Dolphin embarrassment.

Bryan Burwell's latest column tries to tell the Rams short term owner how bad it has become, but he doesn't even bother to see for himself.  Bernie Miklasz rates this year's team to be the worst NFL team in St Louis history, including the horrific Cardinal organization that has a Lion-like history.

At this point, things don't get worse.  Fans just become numb. 

California here we come....

related tags

Mercenary Territory,
Southern Pro Football,
New Orleans,
North Carolina,

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