I'm not going to spend much time discussing what happened in Seattle on Monday night, but the class displayed by Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy shouldn't go unnoticed. Coaches' postgame news conferences have provided some pretty intense (and often hilarious) sound bites over the years, from Dennis Green's famous "They are who we thought they were!" moment to my very own tirade about the replay system in 2003.
Darlington: For fans' sake...
As the NFL and referees continue to negotiate, Jeff Darlington writes fans should hope labor peace results. **More ...**
After his team lost to the Seattle Seahawks on a controversial final play, McCarthy easily could have let emotion take over, leading him to join our illustrious group. But he stayed composed and collected, just like one would expect from someone in a class-act organization. My hat goes off to McCarthy, along with Packers general manager Ted Thompson and president Mark Murphy.
On the flip side, you can't really blame Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for his reaction, either. Carroll was obviously excited to get a win, which are tough to come by in the NFL. Winning one regular-season matchup can be as exhilarating as winning five in a row in the NBA and 10 straight in baseball.
So, sure, Carroll's thrilled to be 2-1 instead of 1-2, and we can't blame him for that. His defense was phenomenal in the first half, and his offense fought hard to keep up in the second. There is no doubt that his players gave their best effort all the way to the final whistle, and Carroll should be proud of that. What else would you expect from him?
Now on to some other observations as we head into Week 4.
» Stafford must step up. I was at the front of the line ready to sign off on the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford as an elite NFL quarterback. Well, he's far from being that right now. Stafford has more interceptions (four) than he does touchdown passes (three); Calvin Johnson's lone touchdown reception in a 44-41 loss to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday was thrown by backup Shaun Hill. Stafford and Johnson combined for 16 scores last year, an average of one per game, but after three games this season, they have none. Stafford is going to have to be a lot better if the Lions are to make a playoff run.
» Saints in trouble after sorry start. Speaking of playoffs, only three teams have ever made the postseason after starting with an 0-3 record. That gives the New Orleans Saints a 2.8 percent chance of participating in the 2012 playoffs. We coaches might not be as important as we tend to think we are, but we do make a difference; the Saints' struggles without the suspended Sean Payton is a perfect example of that. Even in a league that is increasingly dominated by coordinators, the head coach is integral when it comes to providing a vision for the team. And the Saints aren't getting that in Payton's absence.
» Dolphins' Bush a new man? Reggie Bush has transformed himself into an every-down back for the Miami Dolphins. He's actually running people over with a physical, down-hill style that he hadn't shown in years past. In Week 3, Bush ran right through the chest of the New York Jets' defense, a unit that prides itself on being the most physical in the NFL. It will be interesting to see if Bush can stay healthy while running this hard; he did leave the Jets game early with a banged-up knee.
» Clock is up on Tebow time. Even though the New York Jets haven't used their two-quarterback system very much, it isn't working for them. Against the Dolphins, the Jets would finally develop some momentum, but then they'd insert Tim Tebow to run the Wildcat, and he'd proceed to lose yards, kill New York's mojo and stall the drive. Early in the third quarter, the Jets lost five yards on a Tebow run; on the very next play, starter Mark Sanchez threw a red-zone interception. The two-quarterback strategy sounds good in theory, but has been awful in practice.
» Vikings' boldness pays off. The Minnesota Vikings' coaching staff deserves a ton of credit for its aggressive play-calling early in an eventual win over the San Francisco 49ers. On their very first possession, the Vikings had the ball on the 49ers' 7-yard line. Minnesota handed it off to Adrian Peterson three times, then scored on quarterback Christian Ponder's fourth-down roll-out pass to Kyle Rudolph. That first drive set the tone for the rest of the game, and the Vikings never looked back.
» How about a little variety for RG3? The Cincinnati Bengals had two weeks of game film on Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and played his read-option almost perfectly in a 38-31 win. The 'Skins have to build some misdirection or play-action off that same look, not only to keep defenders honest, but to keep RG3 from getting killed. The read-option just isn't enough on its own in the NFL.
» Redskins' defense lets one get away. On the first play of that game, the Bengals lined up in the Wildcat formation, with quarterback Andy Dalton wide as a receiver, A.J. Green inside of him as the slot and receiver Mohamed Sanu as the QB. Why in the heck was DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins' best cover corner, lined up over Dalton while a safety was manned up against Green? Even if that had been a brand new look from the Bengals, Washington should have shown better defensive discipline. Green ran right past the safety and caught a deep pass for a touchdown. A terrible display by the Redskins.