Sunday, September 18, 2005


Will Laveranues catch more balls now?

1. This weekend is the NFL's Hurricane Relief Weekend. I've been informed that windy players like Terrell Owens will not be in uniform. *ducks tomato*

2. A story broke in today's New York Times (New Trust Lets Coles Share Secret, 9/18/05) about Laveranues Coles' past. As a Washington Redskins fan, I was thrilled when Laveranues signed with the team two years ago. He was very fearless on the field and truly made a difference in the Redskins' passing attack -- if there was one. He was always counted on to catch a pass down the middle, even if it meant getting his slight, small frame drilled by a linebacker or safety. Every time he couldn't hold on to the ball (in most cases due to bad passes by Ramsey or Brunell), I stood up and applauded his every effort because he knew he was exposing himself to injury even going after an uncatchable ball.

I always believed he really worked for the team, and never let his ego get in his way. I was shocked and disappointed when Laveranues bellyached about his lack of involvement in Joe Gibbs' offense, and demanded to be traded, even if it meant a huge salary cap hit for the Redskins and, ultimately, putting his own teammates' futures with the Redskins at risk. He really subsumed his ego to contribute to the Redskins, and two years later, his ego showed in his whining about his role on the team. I wrote him off as a classless hypocrite and privately hoped he would find more disappointment in his return to the Jets -- and get roasted by the eternally touchy New York media.

Today's story in the New York Times has upended my perceptions of a player who gave the Redskins so much promise with his speed and hands, and much grief with his exit and major salary cap hit. It is very brave of him to come forward with a dark chapter in his past. That would explain his contradictory actions -- he commits to a team and gives 110%, and at other times he drops everything and jumps ship. Joe Gibbs demands loyalty, and he expects every one of his players to really contribute, even if it means forgoing a central role in the Redskins' efforts to make the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. He was very disappointed in Laveranues Coles' actions, because he bent over backwards to include him as a speedy decoy that would help set up Clinton Portis' running attack.

Laveranues becomes very prickly when he perceives that he is not getting the support he believes he deserves from a team. He was so upset with Florida State's lack of emotional support when he was caught shoplifting with Peter Warrick, so much so that prior to every Monday Night Football game when each player introduces himself, his position, and his college, Laveranues makes a point of introducing his high school, not FSU. Gibbs could have seen that one coming when he emphasized his power running game which places less emphasis on wide receivers.

Here is hoping that Laveranues' disclosure today, and the Jets' support of him, translates into a truly productive Laveranues Coles on and off the field. Because if Chad Pennington is going to continue to be the player he was against the Chiefs last week, Laveranues will have a lot of work cut out for him, and he will need to maintain his patience in his quarterback and support the Jets in the process. I'm really looking forward to watching today's Jets-Dolphins game.

3. Kyle Boller won't get his starting job back. His ability to throw 65 yards downfield on one knee -- which he demonstrated as a Cal Berkeley senior in the runup to the 2002 NFL draft -- attracted a few suckers who were desperate for a quarterback with a strong arm. When Brian Billick couldn't get Byron Leftwich (during what was my favorite NFL draft moment when the Vikings dropped 3 picks without realizing it), he traded up to get Boller. Today, Leftwich is gradually becoming a very productive quarterback in this league, while Boller hasn't shown us a lot. Oh yeah, he could heave the deep ball, but...

Guys, how often must you realize that powerful QB arms won't do anything in the NFL unless they are accurate?

4. Will this be the year NOT to start a Denver RB in fantasy football? Mike Anderson is playing hurt, Tatum "Taco" Bell isn't showing a lot of burrito (and is oft-injured too), Quentin Griffin is too short and barely a year removed from his ACL injury to be truly effective, and Ron Dayne.....*giggle*. This is the perfect time for Crazy Coach Shanahan to roll out his annual low-round draft pick and run him to football glory. Except that, this year, he turned this low-round draft pick into a third-round pick and used it on Maurice Clarett! Marion Barber, Brandon Jacobs, and Ciatrick Fason were still available and ripe for the picking. Brandon Jacobs ran like a man possessed last week, smoke steaming from his nostrils, and looking like he would explode in a manic celebration every time he gained yards or scored a TD. He truly "played angry." Now imagine Jacobs in the Denver backfield. I can hear Skeevie Stevie crying in his surgical mask.

Brandon Jacobs will take over the mantle of "The Bus" when Jerome Bettis retires.

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