My notebook is stuffed from the NFL’s Week 1. Here is a fly-by on various news, notes and general rumors around the league, including my thought on a possible Ravens-Texans site/day change.
* Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco threw just two long-pass attempts against the Bengals. He didn’t have to win the Cincinnati with his arm, and hopefully, he won’t have to this week against Houston.
* The Baltimore defense was so strong against Cincinnati that Bengals QB Carson Palmer only attempted three long passes against the Ravens. The Baltimore “D” kept the pressure on, and the group can do the same to the Texans’ Matt Schaub, who got off only two long attempts vs. Pittsburgh.
* Remember the complaints about how hard training camp was? The extra work showed when the Ravens controlled the clock in the fourth quarter and did not look like a tired club at the end.
* Yes, I know Tom Brady got hurt (let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin by fantasy owners who took him in the first round). But, the biggest QB story not to get as much play in the national media was the return of QB Jake Delhomme from injury in Carolina to lead the Panthers to a big win at San Diego. If he is available in your fantasy league, take a good look since he gets Steve Smith back after this coming week.
* Looking for a team to keep an eye on in the AFC if New England stumbles with Matt Cassel at QB? How about Pittsburgh or Denver? Jay Cutler looked real good against a very bad Oakland squad on Monday night while Pittsburgh played a solid all-around game against a supposedly improved Houston team.
* Indianapolis has some issues but will be better than they showed on Sunday night. I’d be a little worried, however, if you are a Chargers’ fan. They got pushed around by Carolina late at home.
* The Giants looked real good in the Thursday beat-down of the Redskins. New York did not get enough credit for what they accomplished last season and I think they will win the NFC East over Dallas.
* For the record, on the Rob Long Show, I said the division winners would be in the AFC: New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and San Diego, and in the NFC: New York, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Seattle. Let the record show that those teams were a combined 3-5 in Week 1. I have Dallas (as a Wild Card) playing Indy in the Super Bowl.
* If you have DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket at home and purchased the Superfan HD package, make sure you check out their online Supercast feature, where you can watch every game on your laptop, even if you are away from home. The video is crisp and you get stats and highlights while the games are in progress.
* I don’t know what to make of the Vince Young situation in Tennessee. The Titans are doing all they can to protect their player (which they should do). But, it’s never good when your quarterback comes to the team facility with the police to meet with the head coach at 11:30 at night. Much has been discussed about a sideline confrontation between Young and head coach Jeff Fisher when it appeared that Young did not want to re-enter the game before his injury (although the team says otherwise). I’ve seen players who adjusted to the NFL life very well and some who had trouble in different areas and flamed out because they didn’t listen to the tremendous amount of help offered to players from the moment they enter the league. Hopefully, Young — the person — will be OK.
* Two things to keep in mind about Week 2: Most teams’ starters barely play in the final week of the preseason to avoid injury, so it’s about two weeks between meaningful playing time in the preseason’s third week and Week 1. So because the starters are back in a regular-season rhythm, the biggest one-week improvement for any team in the league comes between Weeks 1 and 2.
* With Hurricane Ike bearing down on Texas late this week, there is a possibility — depending on the track and timing of the storm — that the Ravens at Houston game could move. We went through it when I was with the Saints after Katrina when our “home” opener was moved to New York. There was a lot of private grumbling about the Giants getting an extra home game from other teams in the NFC, but everyone understood the reason for the change. In my opinion, since that experience, the league won’t move the Ravens game back to Baltimore, since it is not a division game that can be “flipped” with a later game against the same team.
If the game has to move, it will either go to a different day (think Monday) or different NFL stadium close to Houston (think New Orleans or Atlanta — both away from home this weekend) that is not affected by the storm track or a stream of evacuees that need city/state resources (police/hotel rooms, etc.). The league will wait as long as possible to make a call, but I think we’ll know by no later than noon Thursday, based on state and local information in the Houston area. There are hundreds of people involved in putting on a single NFL game from stadium workers, game/NFL officials and TV personnel, and alternate travel/hotel plans will take some time to iron out.