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.
Disconnected Thoughts From Derek Anderson's And The Cards' Rush Defense's Seriously Bad Performance
- From a purely cynical media hack standpoint, Derek Anderson's postgame rant couldn't have been more of a boon following a game that had no buzz and was a plodding one-sided affair from beginning to end. It's one of those situations that inspires equal amount of ridicule for the player and enmity for the media. As much as Anderson has a right to rail about a stupid and barely relevant matter being raised after a loss, it's also something he could have defused rather easily. Why he felt the need to deny he was ever laughing only turns something that would have largely ignored into an episode that will probably linger for the rest of the season.
- Here's the segment from the broadcast that inspired the question from Arizona Republic's Kent Somers at the press conference. I'm sure there are plenty who would take issue with Somers for asking about Anderson's sideline demeanor, but the fault for the attention lies with the MNF crew, especially Jon Gruden, who takes a minute during the broadcast to lambaste the quarterback for showing a moment of levity of the sideline as his team was getting trashed in the fourth quarter of a primetime game.
The frustration by Anderson is more than understandable, as who knows the context of the moment when the camera catches him talking with guard Deuce Lutui. They could simply be sharing a joke to relieve some of the pressure of what had been a horrible game to that point.
- Of course, Gruden's sanctimony would be more resonant if he wasn't dismissing the importance of this game before it even started. Granted, no one is going to mistake the significance of this game with the Jets-Patriots game next week, on which ESPN spent about 80 percent of its pregame show last night heaping additional hype, but you can't joke in one breath about how pointless and boring the game is then adopt a scolding tone because one of the team's quarterbacks showed a momentary departure from icy intensity.
- Lost in postgame meltdown madness was the impressive return by Brian Westbrook. One obvious sign that he's no longer in an Andy Reid offense: though last night was the 19th 100-yard rushing performance of his career, it's the first of those that didn't include a single pass reception. Arizona's run defense was manifestly terrible last night, Westbrook was moving with a spring unseen in his game since sometime in 2008. With such a middling passing game, it couldn't hurt to work him out of the backfield to give the defense one more thing to think about.
- As for the NFC West race, which was ostensibly what all this was about: the Niners' road doesn't get much easier from here. San Francisco, trailing by a game, still has two difficult road matchups at Green Bay and San Diego, in addition to one contest each against each division foe, with the game against division-leading St. Louis on the road.
It's difficult to gauge whether the 49ers were really playing inspired last night or if Arizona is just truly defeated. Given what's happened throughout the rest of the season, I'm inclined to believe the former for now. The Seahawks seem to have the easiest final stretch of the three teams in contention for that division. Their two toughest remaining games are against the Falcons and Buccaneers, but Seattle at least gets Atlanta at home. It seems pretty likely that we're going to get either the third 8-8 division winner ever, with an outside but still existent shot at the first 7-9 winner ever.
NFL Player Tweet Of The Night
@StevieJohnson13 I asked same thing when released in STL & benched 3 times, But then God did his thing... Be ready! Enjoy watching you play!
Kurt Warner leaping to God's defense? Who could have seen that coming? In all Derek Anderson-like seriousness, Warner could have ripped an obviously frustrated Stevie Johnson for his Twitter tirade with Tony Dungy's style of self-righteousness, but instead choose to empathize with the young receiver. So that's pretty cool.
A Delicious Bundle Of Gripes
- Rex Ryan came out to a presser yesterday and said, like Tom Brady, he too is dating supermodel and proved it by jokingly flashing a magazine spread of his wife. More good antics from Rex, but no match for his donning a wig to mock his brother, Rob. Better he just whip out the wig again and say he's the model.
- Speaking of Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback is hilariously adding UGG boots to his staple of endorsements. Just one step closer to his own line of vajazzling products. And no, I'm not suggesting Tom is a woman. He just wants to spread prettiness across the world, even its nether regions.
- More Jets-Pats hype you won't get elsewhere: of the 17 regular season games that have featured two teams with 9-2 records or better this late in the season, 10 featured the eventual Super Bowl champion. So at least ESPN has a better than 50 percent chance of salivating over one of these teams for months to come.