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Column: N(ine) F(acts) L(earned)

NFL Columnist

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 23:09

Raise your hand if, three weeks into the NFL season, you predicted that the Chiefs and Dolphins would still be undefeated. Now, keep that paw held high if you foresaw the Giants having the second-worst point differential in the league, behind only Jacksonville. Really, someone seriously still has their arm up? Either they’re a Kansas City native who spends the weekends clubbing in Miami in order to forget a past fling from the Big Apple, or they’re lying. But hold on a moment Jacoby Jones, is there not one more possible alternative that could explain this conundrum? Ah, yes, maybe a certain female who goes by “Sweet Pea” is behind this, hopefully not with a glass bottle in her possession, though. Too soon, you say? I don’t think so.

Whether or not you have been exposed to the bizarre story featuring an altercation between Jones and the entertainer “Sweet Pea”—one that could best be described as “from Dancing with the Stars to seeing stars”—understand that there is still much to be rehashed concerning Week 3. How about Ahmad Bradshaw, stealing the show for the Colts after Indianapolis dealt a first-round pick to land Trent Richardson, a move that would surely bury Bradshaw on the depth chart? Speaking of that seismic deal, did you catch the leftover gang of misfits in Cleveland beat the Vikings on the shoulders of Brian Hoyer? Plus, there is a mildly exciting team to watch in New York (er, technically Jersey), and it’s not the Giants.

1. Andy Reid and Alex Smith are having a blast on “The Redemption Tour.”

Although “The Redemption Tour” may sound like the perfect name to get Beliebers (I can’t believe I just wrote that word in a column) or Drizzy Drake devotees all fired up, it’s actually the labeling I have derived for the Chiefs’ head coach-quarterback duo. The Eagles lent a helping hand to Michael Vick back when he was abusing animals, only to later throw Reid to the wolves after 14 seasons, six division titles, and five appearances in the NFC Championship. How do you repay a franchise that turned their back on you? For now, beating them 26-16 on their home turf will suffice. The Chiefs defense had five takeaways, Jamaal Charles did whatever he wanted, and Kansas City improved to 3-0 for the year. By the way, it isn’t just the Eagles that Reid is getting revenge on, it’s the entire NFC East. KC will be going for their third win over an NFC East opponent in as many weeks, as they host the Giants in Week 4. Meanwhile, Alex Smith, who already has an enormous chip on his shoulder after getting fleeced by the 49ers, threw 3 interceptions last season against those same Giants in a blowout loss. It’s a toss-up between Reid and Smith as to which cares for New York less, but this much we know: the Chiefs aren’t a fluke, and The Redemption Tour is just getting started.

2. Professor Jim Harbaugh is getting schooled by his pupils.

When 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was at Stanford, he had some mighty fine players that, with his teaching, blossomed into current NFL stars. Nowadays, it’s Harbaugh who’s being educated. In Week 2, San Francisco was smacked by Seattle, a squad comprised of former Stanford Cardinal Richard Sherman, the best cornerback in America, as well as receiver Doug Baldwin. On Sunday, it was quarterback Andrew Luck that brought his college coach back to the good old days in Palo Alto. Luck didn’t throw a ton in the Colts’ 27-7 victory, but he didn’t need to—Indy inflicted enough pain on San Fran’s D via the running attack. Luck, Bradshaw and Richardson collected a rushing touchdown each, and the way Bradshaw was moving you’d have thought he was a Stanford grad too. As for the 49ers, the problems lie far deeper than Sherman, Baldwin, and Luck. Colin Kaepernick has had two straight brutal outings, the wide receiving core is very bland without Vernon Davis, and their best defensive presence, Aldon Smith, has entered rehab and may be inactive until November.

3. The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for Packers RB’s.

Known as a definitive pass-first offense, it should open some eyes that Green Bay is tied for second in the NFL with a 5.3 yards per carry average. If you’ve actually watched the Packers at all these first three Sundays, you’d know that anyone who comes out of that backfield has been licking their chops. Still, many questions remain about that running back trio, enough questions, perhaps, that the extra week of rest has been perfectly timed. Eddie Lacy, the rookie and former Alabama bruiser, has been sidelined with a concussion after totaling 72 total yards and a TD in his professional debut. James Starks was next up, and he was handling the rock beautifully (132 rushing yards and a score versus Washington) before bowing out of the recent Bengals game with a knee injury. Enter Johnathan Franklin, another rookie who shined bright upon seeing action for the first time until he received his “Welcome to the NFL moment” in a way that no youngin’ ever should. With four minutes remaining and Green Bay up three in Cincinnati territory, they elected to go for it on 4th and 1 in an attempt to further run clock and seal the win. Franklin, who impressed with elite quickness and good cut skills, would be the last person I’d ever want in a grind-it-out, potential game-changing, short-yardage situation. He didn’t just get stuffed, he fumbled, and the Bengals picked it up and ran it back for the decisive touchdown. Franklin will continue to get his reps down the road, but it’s time that Lacy returns and wears out defenses a la Marshawn Lynch. The upcoming bye week could be crucial for Lacy and Starks to return to decent health.

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