Manly House of Football: Quick hits on third-and-long

I don't know about your high school football coach, but mine used to call the old quick-kick on third down when you were getting shellacked by a cross-town vocational high school featuring numerous seventh-year seniors. Infuriating? You bet, but desperate times call for desperate measures and it's time to apply the same logic to some of the lamer moments surrounding Week 5 in the NFL.

Here, now, some random thoughts gathered while watching the Saints hold Adrian Peterson to a mere 32 yards rushing Monday night and still find a way to lose the game…

» Speaking of Monday night, did you happen to notice Jeremy Shockey on the sideline, running out on to the field in his civvies and fist-bumping his teammates after every remotely positive play? Think he got the memo after he laid low during the Giants' Super Bowl run? The only thing Shockey missed out on was doing one of those old-school Tom Benson umbrella dances. Question: Is he doing it during games that aren't on in prime time?

» Now that the Jets waited for our economy to start eating its own tail before offering sideline access to the highest bidders for 2,000 seats in the "Jets Coaches Club," it might be time to remind NYC's mega-rich that when it comes to anything resembling a viable playoff team, the Jets haven't been relevant since 1969. This is like writing an open check to make sure you have a table any time you want at the Beefsteak Charlie's that's down the street from Nobu.

» Memo to Ed Hochuli: No doubt you are suffering some unfair backlash that can only be chalked up to massive guns envy, but perhaps it's time to walk away from the Bowflex and pick up a Lasik brochure.

» Aaron Rodgers and Big Ben, take a bow, then quickly find your way to the nearest bottle of Canadian Tylenol with codeine (can you tell I grew up in a border town?).

» Remember when Jerry Glanville used to to leave tickets at Will Call for Elvis? Maybe he needs to leave tickets for these guys: Roy Williams, Ryan Grant, and Chad Ocho "I have yet to catch cinco balls in a single game" Johnson.

» Word is Tony Mandarich is writing a book in which he admits to using steroids. Okay, so it's 10 years past the point of relevance, but hey, if Jason Peter can pen a tell-all, then why not? I actually met Mandarich in Las Vegas a couple of years ago during the NFL's kickoff weekend. After speaking at the World Championship of Fantasy Football event, I got off an elevator in search of fun, only to find myself staring at a large and long arm with a familiar barbed-wire bicep tattoo. I followed the arm up to a face, and recognized Mandarich. I introduced myself, and asked what he was doing in town, assuming he was there for some football-related appearance.

Wrong.

He was there for the annual Photoshop convention. He gave me a card -- turns out he has successful photography studios in Scottsdale and Toronto. He does it all, including pretty substantial "boudoir photography" work. (Note to self: Talk the wife into a weekend trip to Toronto) Say what you will about the Incredible Bulk -- who is now quite lean and mean, though still imposing -- but I have to doff my cap. We were all young, we all screwed up, and the fact is it's incredibly hard to write second chapters after you flame out in public life. I found it interesting that Mandarich was in town for the biggest weekend of the football season with an entirely new purpose.

» If you're looking for a team in each conference that may not be getting the press it is due, but has a viable shot at shocking the world in the playoffs, look no further than the Carolina Panthers and the Tennessee Titans.

» In-season trades in the NFL are incredibly rare, but that doesn't stop us from salivating at the rumors and prospects of what certain players on woeful teams might add to a bona fide contender. Two for consideration:

Tony Gonzalez: K.C. is deep into the rebuilding stage, and Gonzalez is just what a bevy of teams could use to turn up the octane on their merely solid offenses like the ones in Buffalo, Tennessee and Tampa Bay.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh: He is nearing the end of his contract playing for a notoriously cheap organization that appears to be heading into a total eclipse. Jerry Jones can deny it all he wants, but think about it -- the oft-rumored Roy Williams looks lost, whereas Houshmandzadeh is elite. Perhaps even more relevant, he has co-existed with Ocho Ego forever, so we know he can thrive playing opposite an unbridled narcissist. Can you imagine T.J. lining up opposite T.O. and Witten, with Romo spraying the ball all over the field? Dallas would score so many points, they could put safety Roy Williams back in coverage.

» I have long professed my fondness for Travis Henry the football player -- lots of talent and remarkable toughness. But if this fall from grace isn't a cautionary tale worthy of telling at the annual NFL Rookie Symposium, then nothing is. Busted for trafficking drugs two years removed from signing a $25 million contract, this is a story that should have an entire seminar devoted to it. I can see the push-letters on the easel board outside the meeting room now: "What else are you gonna do with nine child-support payments owed to nine different women and no NFL gig?"

I don't mean to be to cavalier here, but when your support payments are based on a seven-figure annual salary, and you get cut and lose your paycheck, do you really think you're going to hop onto Monster.com and find a gig that will cover your monthly nut? No, you can deal cocaine or try your hand at pirating off the coast of Somalia.

» Norv Turner is at it again, leading a team to a terrible start in a wide-open division. The Chargers entered the season looking like one of the AFC's elite teams. With all due respect to the Broncos, I'm starting to feel like whoever wins the AFC West is going to rob a playoff spot from a deserving team in another division.

» On the flip side: While you were sleeping, the Falcons have found a way to go to 3-2 with a rookie QB, winning on the road in Green Bay, plowing their way through the colossal ash heap of Mike Vick and Bobby Petrino. While we lament the press conference meltdowns of Rod Marinelli and the deposed Scott Linehan, how about a little love for Mike Smith? Come what may, he is working nothing short of a miracle down in Georgia.

Lightning-round speculation

Is Eli the new Peyton?

Is Coughlin the new Parcells?

Are the Giants the new Patriots?

Are the Redskins the new Giants?

Now that we have all written them off, is it time to fear the New England Patriots?

Are the Titans the new 2001 Ravens?

Is Kyle Orton the new Jim McMahon?

Is the Cowboys defense the new Colts defense?

Are Brian Westbrook's ribs the new Terrell Owens' fractured fibula?

Is Al Davis the new Red Auerbach (the later years)?

Am I crazy for speculating on all of this a mere five weeks into the season?

Probably.

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