My Two Cents
The 49ers and the Browns will win three games each this season
and pick 1-2 in next April's draft, with the Niners praying that
Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick comes out early.... Matt
Millen and Steve Mariucci will be a general manager-coach
combination somewhere in the NFL in 2002.... The Bears have two
young running backs, James Allen and Marlon Barnes, who are
better than starter Curtis Enis. How long will Chicago stick
with the plodding Enis?...Is there any question after Week 1
that the three best defenses, in order, belong to the Bucs, the
Bills and the Ravens?...Unsung hero on opening Sunday: Redskins
center Mark Fischer, who, filling in for the injured Cory
Raymer, helped stymie Carolina's vaunted defensive line.
An NFC scout sizes up Eagles running back Duce Staley, who
shredded the Cowboys for 201 rushing yards
"He might be the most versatile back in the game. The Eagles can
run him outside, they can run him in a pile behind huge tackle
Jon Runyan, and they even split him wide and throw him the ball.
Tough to bring down with one hit. A pile driver almost like
Jerome Bettis. What frustrates the defense is his incredible
burst. Philly helps him by running a crack toss, in which the
receiver comes in motion toward the line, then joins the tackle
and tight end to mash one side of the defensive front. Then
Staley picks his hole."
Homesick. Entering last season the Steelers had won 74% of their
games at Three Rivers Stadium, but they're only 2-7 there since
then, including Sunday's 16-0 loss to the Ravens. The Packers,
winners of 33 of 34 at Lambeau Field through the first six weeks
of last season, have won two of their last six games there. "You
want to dominate at home," said Green Bay executive vice
president and general manager Ron Wolf after a 20-16 loss to the
Jets. "We don't do that anymore."
Doomsday in Big D. Quarterback Troy Aikman's concussion wasn't
the Cowboys' only headache in a 41-14 loss to the Eagles. Last
February, Dallas dealt a pair of first-round picks to the
Seahawks for wideout Joey Galloway. Now he's out for the season
after tearing the ACL in his left knee late in Sunday's blowout.
Buffaloed. Even with four new starters, the Bills' defense,
top-ranked a year ago, didn't miss a beat in a 16-13 win over the
Titans. Buffalo held Tennessee to 172 total yards. Maybe the
Bills won't miss Bruce Smith after all.
The license plate of ...
a. 49ers wideout Terrell Owens
b. Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown
c. Chargers linebacker Junior Seau
Answer: a. Owens
What first-year Packers coach Mike Sherman did in an attempt to
improve team chemistry
1. Canceled a minicamp practice to take his players bowling.
2. Staged a game of Jeopardy! in which players were tested on
their teammates' personal history.
3. Pushed back training camp curfew an hour one night, making
good on a bet after one of the linemen made a field goal at the
end of a practice.
4. Beefed up a players' lounge with more food, a big-screen TV
wired to a satellite dish and computers with, among other things,
stock-trading access, all in hopes of enticing players to stick
around long after practice ended.
COLOR PHOTO: JEFF MITCHELL/REUTERS
The Last Word
"Quarterback was never the crying imperialistic flaw on this club."
Former Bears defensive end Dan Hampton, a sportscaster and
graduate of the Yogi Berra School of Mangled Pronouncements, on
Chicago's quarterback situation entering the season