Vince Lombardi

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THE CHALKBOARD

QC's Week 2 Thoughts

It's early but the Coach of the 1/8 Year is Carolina's Ron Rivera. After the Panthers suffered losses at wide receiver and on the offensive line in the off-season, most so-called experts pegged Rivera's team as one of the two most likely to "regress," which is a fancy word for not win as many games as the year before. But beat Tampa on the road without QB and leader Cam Newton in Week 1 and came home to roll Detroit, 24-7. In each games, Carolina was as at least 5.5% better designed than its opponent and +3 turnovers. There's not going to be any regression if the Panthers can maintain half those numbers over the course of the season.

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There may be some hope for Chicago's defense and DC Mel Tucker after all. A week after getting steamrolled at home, the Bears fell trailed San Francisco 20-7 in the fourth quarter. Everyone knew the script here: The 49ers would run the ball against Chicago's weak run defense and salt away the victory. Except it did not happen. In stead, the Bears bowed up sufficiently to force San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick to throw and DB Kyle Fuller intercepted him twice to spark a 28-20 comeback victory. In Week 1, the Bills generated 46.67% of their first downs from rushing. But the 49ers, who are well-known for their affinity for smash-mouth football, could only muster 26.32% of their first downs on the ground. It might just be an isolated peak in what will be a season long valley. But any hope for improvement is more hope than Chicago fans had after the opener.

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There is not much hope in Oakland, where after the Raiders absorbed a -4 turnover, 30-14, pounding from Houston, the only question is will head coach Dennis Allen last long enough to go into the inevitable late season death spiral. QC has never been an Allen fan and blasted Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie when he fired Hue Jackson and hired Dennis Allen (scroll down). While Allen's days are numbered, QB Andy Dalton and the rest of the Cincinnati offense that Jackson is now coordinating has looked fantastic the first two weeks everywhere but the red zone. Although the Bengals will be without star WR A.J. Green for awhile, its likely that success will continue. If it does, it's past time for the NFL to give Hue Jackson another chance to be a head coach.

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San Diego's 30-21 upset of defending Super Bowl champion Seattle is better viewed as more evidence that the Chargers are rock solid than as evidence the Seahawks have slipped. While Mike McCoy's team was .8% better designed than Pete Carroll's troops--a small advantage, but not a small achievement--Seattle was still 1.10 points more productive than San Diego. The Chargers prevailed primarily because the only giveaway came from the Seahawks and it was a killer, a Percy Harvin fumble on kickoff return that led to one of Phil Rivers' 3 TD passes to TE Antonio Gates. About 2 or 3 times a year, a better designed team is less productive than its opponent, usually because the more productive team has a couple explosive plays in the ground game as Seattle got from Harvin and Robert Turbin. It happens. This does not diminish San Diego's performance in any way. But it was simply something that occasionally happens in the NFL and you shouldn't read any long-term significance into the outcome of the game under these circumstances.

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