The Designed Rush column covers all NFL action through Sunday each week. Of course, with the exception of Week 17 and the postseason, there's this pesky thing called Monday Night Football. Which means there are possibly significant developments and story lines left uncovered. Solution: The Designed Rush Redux, which will gather up the most interesting tidbits from Monday's action, as well as the continued fallout from Sunday.
- Philip Rivers had a phenomenal game Monday night. A standout performance in what might end up being an MVP season. Perhaps sensing his continued emergence into the absolute top tier of quarterbacks in the NFL, the ESPN crew was riding his jock especially hard, ascribing to Rivers the kind of kid-like enthusiasm usually only used to describe Brett Favre in better days.
To complete the effect, producers even dug up a clip of him awkwardly galloping through his front yard as a wee anklebiter. Considering his younger brother just committed to play quarterback for LSU, there's an outside chance that at some point in the future we could have a third quarterback brother tandem in the NFL, with the Riverses joining the Mannings and the Palmers. Tag team battle royale!
- Speaking of ESPN, there was some quality pregame entertainment with Matt Millen angrily dressing down Steve Young for questioning whether Vikings coaches feel pressured to start Brett Favre even if the Ol' Gunslinger no longer provides the team the best chance at victory. That's some palpable tension, fellas. Even the studio talking heads were goofing on the exchange minutes later. With some of the heat Millen took for his on-air encomium for former employee Rod Marinelli during the Bears-Dolphins game last Thursday, one might think the much-despised and disgraced former president of the Lions might be rapidly losing favor as a broadcaster. Then again, if there's one incontrovertible rule of the NFL, it's that Matt Millen never truly goes away.
- If it wasn't already apparent before, Ryan Mathews needs to be bumped down to a relief role behind Mike Tolbert, even when the first-round pick returns from injury. Mathews might end up being a pretty good player, but his inconsistencies, injuries and ball control issues make favoring him over Tolbert a liability if San Diego is going to complete another rebound and make it to the postseason. The Chargers losing Patrick Crayton might be temporarily offset by Vincent Jackson's return next week against the Colts, but even the more physically talented Jackson can't be counted on to instantly replicate the hot streak that Crayton has been on the past few weeks.
- It should be interesting to see whether pressure on the Broncos to fire Josh McDaniels ramps up even further after this loss. At least from the outside looking in, there does seem to be that much momentum to the second-year coach being dismissed. He and the Broncos front office continues to take a lot of flak for the Peyton Hillis trade in the offseason. It certainly hurts for a team that ranks last in the NFL running the ball. Brandon Lloyd's breakout year makes the Brandon Marshall trade look almost smart, however. Still, even with the montages of star players cast off during McDaniels' brief tenure, I would say getting rid of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan remains the worst blunder the two has made. Denver's early success in 2009 was owed almost entirely to the success of the defense. Even if Denver had held onto Marshall, Hillis and others, it still wouldn't be enough to compensate for a struggling offense and make the Broncos a viable playoff team.
- And the award for hair design that most closely resembles a face tattoo goes to Chargers nose tackle Antonio Garay. You must be very proud of the hedge maze on the side of your head.
NFL Player Tweet Of The Night
So now your fined by the fine scale for a punch. What happen to the fine scale for hits? They had a scale for that too. Right, changed it!
Steelers defenders are understandably upset about last night's news that Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour received a $25,000 fine and no suspension for hitting Ben Roethlisberger in the face on Sunday. With the league levying extravagant fines against James Harrison in its knee-jerk gesture to diffuse the public pressure on helmet-to-helmet hits, the players can't be blamed for thinking that there's a different standard being set for what type of infraction and being committed and who it is committed against.
Several Steelers have said they don't plan on changing their style of play, fines be damned. While I don't think the league is going out of its way to punish the Steelers, players making the story a weekly headline probably does them no favors. The more the Steelers are associated with rough play and penalties, the more the media scrutinizes their style of play and borderline hits they make. More than anything else, media pressure drives the league's heavy handed actions. The best the Steelers could do with this is let it privately motivate them and not make a huge deal of it in the press.
While criticism of Roger Goodell isn't entirely verboten, you don't usually see it as pitched as the comments made by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher to the NFL Network after last Thursday's game. I'm surprised how little attention the remarks received, considering Urlacher basically comes out and calls Goodell a dictator in no uncertain terms.
A Delicious Bundle Of Gripes
- Here's a welcome reasoned piece from Darren Rovell on why the media needs to disregard the rampant predictions of an NFL and NBA lockout. Every week or so, there seems to be some player or executive cited for saying there's some high percentage likelihood of a lockout.
-What strikes fear into the heart of Eli Manning, other than everything? Well, it looks like casseroles of any type are an anathema to Elisha. Nota bene for any folks planning on hosting him for dinner.
- Joe Namath had to chide Jets fans on his YouTube account for leaving early during the team's late game scare against the Texans. I'm sure that will receive as much attention as Tom Brady saying Jets fans were passionate and loyal than Patriots fans earlier this season.
- All it takes is a pair of Chargers fans getting caught on camera wearing Avatar costumes for me to long for the omnipresent scourge that is Greenman. Did they mistake Qualcomm for Comic-Con?