I was all set to write a post about how disappointing the current NFL season has been about two weeks ago, but upon further reflection I realized that there are a few great storylines and just the general disappointment about the lack of consistent and quality team performances. Let’s start with the poor consistency afflicting the NFL.
As I see it, there are only two teams that really have it together—the Chargers and Colts—and all the rest are either hot and cold or just plain bad. Even these two have their faults. The Colts have a sieve for a defense and the Chargers defense has been poor of late and the team only seems to play well after falling in a hole. Every other team has even worse problems.
The Bears and Rex Grossman, after a great start, have shown themselves to be quite inconsistent on offense. New England is winning but it hasn’t been pretty. Same with Baltimore. Last year’s Super Bowl participants have been anything but championship worthy. Seattle is barely leading a division with San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis in it and Pittsburgh is 4-7. Although the injury bug as hurt both teams, especially Ben Roethlisberger whose run-in with a car windshield and appendectomy seem to have sapped him of his winning ways. Not to mention the maddeningly inconsistent Panthers, Bengals, Cowboys, Jaguars and woeful Giants. And don’t forget the now forgettable Eagles.
After this superficial examination, I found that there are several great stories this season. At the head of the class is Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson. This season the new LT is a man among boys collecting TDs like they were Beanie Babies in the late 90s. He has 25 touchdowns with five games to go; he is the third leading rusher in the NFL; and, he has thrown for a couple scores as well. Bar none, LT is the best player in the NFL right now and by the end of his career will be one of the all-time greatests. Unfortunately, LT’s season is overshadowing a pretty good season for Larry Johnson, the leading NFL rusher, who has led a resurgent Chiefs team to playoff contention.
A former Charger is having a great season as well. Drew Brees signed with the Saints after suffering an injury in his final game of last season and San Diego decided to go with Philip Rivers as the QB of the future. Brees is leading the league in passing yards and is leading the Saints towards the playoffs. Moreover, Brees is throwing to 7th Round Rookie-wonder Marques Colston who is having a ROY-type season. This is certainly proof that Brees wasn’t a fluke for San Diego the past two seasons and is great for the New Orleans franchise which hasn’t had much good luck recently. (And don’t look now but Joey Harrington is starting to redeem himself in Miami right now.)
Finally, after several seasons of two, three and four wins, the San Francisco 49ers appear to be turning the corner. The Niners are only 5-6 but this is far greater than anybody expected and the team is theoretically in contention for a wild card spot. This rebirth has been fueled by RB Frank Gore, who had two knee major injuries at Miami and ended up behind Willis McGahee on the depth chart. Gore is the second leading rusher in the league and hopefully, for this Niner fan, will help turn the team into a playoff team.
It just goes to show how great the NFL is that even with a down season overall in quality, the league can still deliver compelling stories.