Here are some random quick thoughts and observations from Sunday’s action in Week 7:
· I think it’s time that we start talking about Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White as one of the elite players at his position. He’s come a long way since his rookie season in 2005. The Falcons’ first-round pick that season hasn’t had fewer than 83 receptions in each of his last three seasons. He’s off to a career-best start this season with 54 receptions through his first seven games. White has become a much better route runner and has improved his hands significantly over the years.
· Despite the lucky break for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they still made plays when they had to against the Miami Dolphins. The unlucky break was the potential season-ending injury to starting DE Aaron Smith (triceps tear). Don’t underestimate his loss to their defense. Keep in mind he missed 11 games last season due to a serious shoulder injury. And with their other starting defensive end, Brett Keisel, possibly out another game with a calf injury, the Pittsburgh defense is starting to look much less fearsome.
· While he won’t make anyone forget about Jim Kelly, Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play fairly well. His 11 touchdown passes this season are a career high. But while the Bills offense continues to improve, their defense continues to falter. You can seriously question if the personnel they have on defense fits the 3-4 scheme.
· It was good to see the Baltimore Ravens get starting FS Ed Reed back on the field, but the Bills exposed their secondary, which many had said wasn’t as good as their numbers would suggest. It will be interesting if the upcoming opponents will try to attack the back end of Baltimore’s defense going forward.
· Say what you want about the Kansas City Chiefs, but the big reason why they are 4-2 is because they aren’t turning over the ball. Starting QB Matt Cassel only has three turnovers this season. When they run for 236 yards (Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combined for 196) like they did today against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chiefs won’t lose many games. They have to be the odds on favorite now to win the AFC West.
· I’ve been saying for many weeks that something has been missing from the New Orleans Saints on both sides of the ball. I don’t think what we saw against the visiting Cleveland Browns was any different. Something is off a bit with Drew Brees. The veteran quarterback already has 10 interceptions, just one fewer than all of last season. Part of the struggles for the New Orleans offense could be attributed to the ongoing absence of RB Reggie Bush, who can be a tough matchup for opposing defenses. But could just one player be the reason for the Saints’ struggles? The defense isn’t playing anywhere close to the level of last season, either.
· Let’s give the Cleveland Browns credit for their amazing victory at New Orleans. Despite not having great talent on defense, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan deserves a lot of credit for the game plan he devised. Ryan’s scheme seemed to confuse and befuddle the New Orleans offense the entire game.
· Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler probably won’t get benched, but he has thrown just one touchdown in his past three games while throwing five interceptions. But worst of all, he has been sacked 19 times over that span to go along with five fumbles. It seemed not too long ago that the Cutler-Martz connection was off to a good start, but that has dissipated in a big way.
· The St. Louis Rams have to feel that they gave a game away to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it’s very clear that until they get major help at the wide receiver position, they’ll be just an average team at best. Losing WRs Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery to knee injuries has really limited what the Rams can do downfield. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, might have stumbled onto something with powerful rookie RB LeGarrette Blount.
· It will be interesting to see how the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback situation develops the rest of the season. Michael Vick will take over again after the Eagles’ Week eight bye, but will head coach Andy Reid stick with him? The one area where Vick really has looked better than Kolb is in the red zone area.
· The Mike Williams story continues to turn another page. I’m still stunned that he’s doing as well as he is for the Seattle Seahawks. He stands almost 6-feet-5 inches, and is very difficult to cover because he knows how to use his large frame. He has 22 receptions over his last two games and a career-high 32 for the season.