A weekly NFL column that heads in the opposite direction of your average pro football analysis.
PHILADELPHIA -- Thoughts from a half-empty press box at the Eagles-Bucs game ...
1. When the Patriots got the ball back with 2:27 left in regulation, did anyone really have faith that Tom Brady was going to lead them to victory? The Broncos, who beat New England 20-17 Sunday in overtime, followed the Jets' formula of getting in Brady's face, just like the Giants did in the Super Bowl. Brady may never get back to his 2007 form - not because of his health, but because of defensive adjustments. That being said, if the Pats played Denver in Foxborough, Mass., they would have won by two touchdowns.
2. The NFL appears to have gotten a jump on plans to reconfigure the preseason by adding a week of exhibition games in the middle of the season. That's the only explanation for the lack of real competition in New York, Philly, Seattle and San Francisco and the Division I-AA battle in Buffalo. Lots of bad, bad teams this season. The league should try to not put too many good teams on a bye at once.
3. The NFL information men are hot on the trail of finding out where former Super Bowl-winning coaches like Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren and Bill Cowher will end up. But shouldn't we be asking ourselves if those coaches are the right hires for franchises like Washington, Dallas and Carolina? A retread coach with a ring is still just a retread. Duplicating that kind of success is still a longshot in the NFL. Some of the organization problems within those teams would cause just as big a headache for a proven winner.
4. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb put it best after Philly beat the Bucs 33-14 to improve to 3-1: "I've been in this game for a while where you've seen a lot of teams come out hot, and everybody's saying they're the best team in the league, and all of sudden they don't make the playoffs and things don't really don't work out well for them."
The Eagles and the rest of the NFC East are way past their skis right because the schedule-makers put all their AFC West and NFC South contests early in the season.
5. The Giants are probably feeling great after beating the Raiders 44-7. They should throw out the film from that game and work on getting some depth at quarterback. David Carr won't get it done if Eli Manning goes down. They at least need to bring in a veteran third-string quarterback like Jeff Garcia.
6. The Eagles' Michael Vick again implied he expects to be a starting quarterback some time in the future after his lackluster performance against the Bucs. If you have any doubt that's going to happen, peruse the QB stat lines around the NFL. Vick could start for one-third of the league today, and even more teams as he gets his legs underneath him. Vick almost connected with Jeremy Maclin on a bomb that would have been his first big highlight since his return.
7. Tony Romo has always gotten too much credit for the Cowboys' success and too much blame for their struggles. Dallas has lots of real problems. Romo is sometimes one of them. That's it. This whole thing should never come down on his head.
8. Five undefeated teams remain. One will lose or tie next week for sure since the Giants play the Saints. The Broncos visit the Chargers and the Vikings host the Ravens. Indy should make the longest run undefeated since it has an easy ride until Week 10, when it faces the Patriots. But if the Colts win that game, they could fall the following week against the Ravens.
9. Quarterbacks have to stop trying to block. With spread offenses and coaches trying to get the ball in the hands of their speedy playmakers, QBs seem to be getting out ahead of running plays more often. And they're trying to "man up" like Brett Favre and hit a defender. It never works. At best, they'll be thrown to the ground like a rag doll like Denver's Kyle Orton. At worst, the quarterback or the defender will get hurt.
10. Weird, where did all the Favre-bashers from August go?