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As Bradford proves worth, other QBs in jeopardy of losing jobs

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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A quarter of the way through the season for most teams and we're down to just one unbeaten. The 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs.

With that in mind, there was plenty to take away from a Sunday that saw one rookie excel and a happy homecoming for a veteran looking for redemption. Here are six observations from Week 4:

1. Give Devaney his due

St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney was widely criticized for his decision to take quarterback Sam Bradford with the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. There was talk of first-round busts at quarterback, the amount of money the first pick costs and that the supporting cast in St. Louis wasn't ready to protect and play with a high-priced kid with an injury history.

Thank goodness for Rams fans that Devaney didn't listen to anyone who objected to taking Bradford. Months before the draft, Devaney told me he was headed right to Bradford and it wasn't even a hard decision to make. Man, was Devaney right about his young, emerging star. I had a good talk with middle linebacker James Laurinaitis late last week and he said that the entire team already sees Bradford as the quiet leader of the team.

Beyond the players, coach Steve Spagnuolo and I talk every week and he continues to say how cool and calm Bradford is under pressure. Bradford has his team on a two-game winning streak. There really isn't a No. 1 receiver on the team right now, but Bradford is averaging 41.5 pass plays per game and is pace for 3,800 yards passing to go with 24 touchdowns. Right now, no one seems to care what it cost to sign him or even who else the Rams should have drafted.

2. More quarterbacks under fire

A few weeks ago, the Panthers, Bills and Raiders changed quarterbacks in hopes of turning losing teams into winners or at least provide a spark. All three teams have yet to win a game since making the change. That might not stop a few more teams from making a quarterback change in the next few weeks.

Arizona benched Derek Anderson, but undrafted rookie Max Hall was sacked six times of the 20 times he dropped back to pass and might not last under that kind of pressure. At this point, it looks like Anderson will be out. I wonder how loud the cry will be for Matt Leinart.

Cleveland got a win over division rival Cincinnati with Seneca Wallace and that sets up a controversy when Jake Delhomme is healthy enough to return.

I have to wonder if San Francisco and Seattle are thinking about a change at QB. I don't think there is a realistic answer on either roster, but 49ers QB Alex Smith has just three touchdowns with seven interceptions and eight sacks. And, oh yeah, the 49ers are 0-4. For Matt Hasselbeck, he's thrown eight touchdowns, but he has been picked off 16 times and sacked 19 times in his last eight starts as the Seahawks are just 2-6 during that stretch.

I was glad to see David Garrard lead the Jaguars to a win, but he always seems to be on thin ice.

3. It's always classy in Philadelphia

I speak with many Eagles fans on my Sirius radio show and there was a mixed sentiment about what would happen when Donovan McNabb entered Lincoln Financial Field. I was so glad to see the Eagles fans stand and applaud McNabb for all he did. Then they were reminded of what a veteran leader can do in managing a game. It's not measured in stats, but it's just as important as any number. McNabb keeps his teammates relaxed and his poise is what separates him from average quarterbacks.

As the game ended, I couldn't help but remember DeSean Jackson saying, "It was time for a change" after the trade. During a May interview with The Sporting News, Jackson added, "I'm very confident in what we (Eagles) have here now, with Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. Basically, I was just very happy with the decision that was made."

In truth, I doubt the Eagles would have lost the game if McNabb was still with the team. By the way, did you notice the Redskins are 2-0 in the division?

4. What's up with the Saints and the Colts?

New Orleans and Indianapolis are still very good teams, but they are finding out that defending the top of the hill might be harder to do than it the first time. Both teams are dealing with injuries and that seems to be an issue every year for squads that play all the way into February and make the quick turnaround for the next season.

Each team played Week 4 with five different starters from their Super Bowl rosters, which isn't alarming, but still an issue. The Colts now have two division losses and the Saints' offense just isn't scoring like it did last year. Neither team can afford many more injuries and still have to line up every week against foes that bring their "A game" against them.

The Saints had a 29-to-50 run-pass ratio in a tight win over the Panthers, while the Colts had a 19-to-47 run-pass ratio in a loss to the Jags. Both teams probably need to get more balance offensively if they want to return to the big game in February.

5. 3-1 and getting stronger

The Steelers lost Sunday, but Ben Roethlisberger returns to lead a team that went 3-1 in his absence. The running game, which had been missing since the Willie Parker/Jerome Bettis era, has been rebuilt while Roethlisberger was gone. For the first four games of the season, the first-down calls on offense told the story -- 61 runs to 24 passes. Teams knew the Steelers would run the ball a lot on first down without Roethlisberger, and they did 72 percent of the time and still managed 5.1 yards per rush. The average will be even better with the threat of Roethlisberger and the passing game.

The Texans get their best defensive player, Brian Cushing, back. His team went 3-1 while he was gone, but the Texans need him as they continue to give up more than 300 yards passing and 25 points per game.

The Jets have been impressive winning three in a row and opening up the offense. Now Santonio Holmes returns and will quickly become the team's best receiver. Mark Sanchez has yet to throw an interception this year and Holmes will create more windows to throw into.

6. Kudos to three game-planners

This is the only chance I get to recognize a few coordinators who got great performances on their side of the ball in Week 4.


Relive every game this season online and on-demand with enhanced viewing features, including the "All-22" coaches film. Get NFL Game Rewind.

Perry Fewell, defensive coordinator, Giants: Fewell had an awesome plan for the Chicago Bears. He was missing starters Mathias Kiwanuka and Keith Bulluck, but still dominated the Bears. Fewell is still teaching a new package to his players and it looked like they finally mastered the defense against the Bears. Ten sacks, two interceptions, three fumbles and 0 for 13 on third down finished off one of the most dominating defensive efforts in a long time.

Brian Daboll, offensive coordinator, Browns: Daboll had a good plan to beat the Bengals, putting 23 points on the board with backup QB Seneca Wallace at the helm.

Jim Haslett, defensive coordinator, Redskins: Washington came into Philadelphia with the 32nd ranked defense but held the Eagles to 12 points in a big division win. The Redskins have given up 19 points to Dallas and Philadelphia combined.

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