NFL Power Rankings
So, this is week three and it's time to look into, "what have you done for
us lately" since you were a free agent or worth trading for?
We'll also see who should be looking for their baseball cap for some time on
Finally, who is winning the battle of the Eastern Illinois University coach's
competition? There are three eligible from this new cradle of coaches: Mike
Shanahan, Brad Childress and Sean Payton, each spent formative days in
Charleston, Illinois at EIU.
What have you done for me lately since you were worth trading for or picking
up as a free agent?
#1 Javon Walker (Wide Receiver, 6-3 209, Denver Broncos, acquired in a trade
with the Green Bay Packers for a 2nd round draft choice in the 2006 draft)
Walker was the big play guy this week against the Patriots on two huge plays.
This was Walker's coming out as a Bronco, and it showed why the coaches made him
a priority in the off season.
He's a big receiver with good speed, and he uses his hands and body well to
get open to make plays. He didn't show any signs of his old knee injury as he
out ran the Pats defensive backs to the end zone. If he becomes consistent as a
route runner, blocker and receiver, he should return to the Pro Bowl level of
play he showed in 2004.
#2 Jeff Faine (Center, 6-3 291, New Orleans Saints, acquired in a trade with
the Cleveland Browns for a 2nd round pick in the 2006 draft)
Being strong up the middle isn't just a baseball axiom. Faine gives the
Saints a very good center to go with Brees at QB and McAllister and Bush at
Faine is obviously the so called "quarterback" of the offensive line,
and when I watch him play there's no doubt. He is a leader and communicates to
his line well, which with this new group is vital.
He did a great job getting to the 2nd level to block the linebackers versus
the Falcons and showed his excellent feet. His ability to play fast and quick
helped the Saints slow down a pretty good defense. Jeff does a nice job of using
his hands and toughness to win the street fight in the trenches. The consistent
play of this future Pro Bowler bodes well for the future of the organization.
#3 Junior Seau (Inside Linebacker, 6-3 250, New England Patriots, signed as a
free agent from the Miami Dolphins)
His motor and instincts are as great as ever. He can still scrape and plug
with the best of them, giving the team another force in the middle along with
Bruschi. What's fun to watch when Junior plays is his ability to read the play
and knowing what's coming-often beating the ball to the hole.
Where he may have lost a step in his pass drops he makes up for with such
great effort and hustle. Seau is still a "sideline to sideline" player
but is really good between the tackles at the end of his career. The New England
fans are fortunate to be able to watch this great player before he retires
#4 Daunte Culpepper (Quarterback, 6-4 264, Miami Dolphins, acquired in a
trade with the Minnesota Vikings for a 2nd round draft pick in 2006)
Culpepper has the experience and play making ability that the Dolphins needed to
go along with a potentially good running game. He also brings some baggage. The
knee injury from last year may be a double edge sword; initially he may not be
as mobile as he has been in the past, but on the other hand he may try to get rid
of the ball sooner to protect himself. We'll see.
In their game against the Titans, Culpepper was a mixed bag. He didn't have
any interceptions, which is good for him; on the other hand he was sacked 5 more
times and fumbled once. However a win is a win!
The problem he still has is his ability to read coverages. In Minnesota, he
had Randy Moss and faced cover 2 defenses. Teams had to bracket Moss so they
didn't have the flexibility to mix up their defense. In Miami, he is without
Moss which puts the pressure back on him to make good decisions and get rid of
the ball on time.
Culpepper still has a big arm and is a terrific athlete. He's one of the games
top players and is a threat to take over any game.
#5 Wayne Gandy (Left Tackle, 6-4 315, Atlanta Falcons, acquired through a
trade with the New Orleans Saints for safety Bryan Scott and an unconditional
The resurgence of the offense prior to the Saints game was because the O-Line
was able to maintain their blocks and move the line of scrimmage. On Monday
night, New Orleans won the battle in the trenches.
In my opinion, the Falcons were in a no-win situation, and the emotion of the
game overcame them. I'm expecting the Falcons to rebound and make a run to the
playoffs. Gandy will help be a big part of this.
Wayne is the crafty old veteran and uses his huge tree trunk arms to
neutralize most ends he faces. He was doing a lot of reaching and grabbing the
other night doing hand to hand combat. He doesn't have the same quickness that
he used to so, the grabbing will come in handy. What he can do is lock on to the
defender, and this allows the athletes behind him to find the hole.
Who should be looking for their baseball cap?
#1 Jeremy Shockey (Tight End, 6-5 253, New York Giants)
What a baby… he needs a spanking or a time out! When a player's attitude
and temper becomes an issue there's a problem.
Shockey is a talented guy and a great competitor. On this, I'm sure we all
agree however, his continued outbursts take away from the team's chemistry. It
makes the head coach and his position coach have to appease him…then everyone
has to answer all the questions about the situation. It's a waste of time better
spent preparing for the next game.
#1A Plaxico Burress (Wide Receiver, 6-5 226, New York Giants)
His pouting on the sideline Sunday, in addition to his lack of concentration on the
field, directly contributed to the Giants getting in a huge hole that they never
got out of. Is it too much to ask a player to forget about himself and focus on
helping the team in other ways when he's having an off day catching the ball.
#3 Kurt Warner (Quarterback, 6-2 200, Arizona Cardinals)
As an old center, it's important to point out that there's no doubt where the
blame lies for a bad center/quarterback exchange. As a veteran however, how do
you not get the snap from center with the game on the line? He also had 3 picks,
which we always blame the QB for. So, all in all, it was a bad day for Kurt.
#4 Kerry Collins (Quarterback, 6-5 245, Tennessee Titans)
This is not Collins' fault … he's on a team in a rebuilding mode. They're
now 0-3 and not going anywhere this season. What about next year? Vince can do
Battle of the Eastern Illinois University (the new cradle of NFL coaches)
#1 Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints:
It must be great to be a Saint! They are making all the right calls and plays,
and they handled the emotion and distractions of their return to the Superdome. Coach
Payton is the reason for all of this as he sets the tone and attitude of the
team. He's established himself as an up and coming star in the coaching ranks.
#2 Mike Shanahan, Denver Broncos:
The system is back … I told you it would be. Their win in New England was vintage
Shanahan. He doesn't panic; he trusts his players and his staff. The Broncos
will be a playoff team and might make a run again at the Super Bowl.
#3 Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings:
Childress did another great job of preparing his team for the Bears' game and almost
came away with a win. This is a good football team and Coach Childress will give
them a chance to win every game.
See you after week four.
Randy Taylor is Director of NFL Experts for Scout.com
NFL Power Rankings