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THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE ONLINE
Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
From quarterback controversies to running back rivalries. In these days of platooned backfields, of thunder–and–lightning combinations, or third–down specialists, running backs know they are fighting for a share of the load rather than a single job. Being the main back is probably worth a better contract someday, but there are niche roles to be had.
Pittsburgh would probably tell you Willie Parker is still their no.1 back — his 1316 yards were fourth best in the league last season — but if rookie Rashard Mendenhall causes debate amongst Steelers fans, his bosses won't complain. Parker broke the plain of the endzone only twice last season, and looking for more smash to go with Parker's dash, first–round steal Mendenhall may be the answer. The two backs combined for 54 yards on 10 carries Friday night. The speed with which the Steelers rested Mendenhall suggests they saw enough to know it was going well.
Their opponents, Philadelphia, did not field their own top–5 RB, Brian Westbrook, but may have been equally happy with the day. Westbrook signed a new 3 year deal, and backup Correll Buckhalter looked very comfortable filling the Westbrook role, in equal parts runner and receiver.
A more urgent competition was to be found when Seattle faced Minnesota, the Seahawks starting life without former franchise back and 2005 league rushing champion Shaun Alexander. Back–up Maurice Morris has always looked like a featured back, suffering a background role in Seattle not unlike that of Michael Turner to LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego, and with all the talk about Julius Jones' arrival from Dallas, Morris had 62 yards from just 6 carries, while Jones managed 15 yards from 4 carries. It was a timely reminder from Morris. Still, there's clearly one more name in the mix here, as former Cal RB Justin Forsett added 58 yards from 13 carries. This could turn into an interesting one.
Against San Francisco, Oakland first rounder Darren McFadden rushed 12 times for a respectable 48 yards in his first outing. Forgotten man Michael Bush, on injured reserve all of last season also got into some action for the first time with 27 yards from 8 carries. My draft–day criticism of taking McFadden is still valid even if they do get the yards out of him — his arrival signaled the departure of LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes, and will still make either Bush or Justin Fargas redundant. That's a lot of wasted contracts. But with Bush snagging two passes for 29 yards, I'll admit I'm still excited about what the Raiders backfield may do this season.
By the way, why was Andrew Walter the busy quarterback on Friday? Surely Oakland should be getting JaMarcus Russell game–ready after a season of doing not–much. My suspicion: this was just a showcase for Al Davis to show off this year's first–rounder, not last year's.
The Domino Effect
Okay, Favre bumped Chad, so now let's watch the Pennington part of the story. Chad didn't take long to land in Miami, where the Dolphins seem eager to muddy their quarterbacking waters. Now on the roster:
32–year old veteran Chad Pennington.
29–year old veteran Josh McCown.
27–year old 2nd–year player John Beck.
23–year old rookie Chad Henne.
Now, who's going to go? The classic QB depth chart includes the starter at the height of his career, a wily old veteran who can play the mentor role, and the look–see kid who might turn into something. This collection doesn't remotely resemble that. The wily old passer will be the default starter — Chad Pennington. His TD–to–interceptions ratio is not radically dissimilar to the man who replaced him in New York, Brett Favre, and the knock on his career has been the injury rate, a brittleness that stopped him from ever cementing his role as the Jets' franchise passer.
Problem is, if (WHEN!) Chad gets injured, who's going in? Beck seemed experienced at 27, but he's had more experience as a missionary than as an NFL quarterback. Henne has no pro experience, but is almost certainly in a duel with Beck to be the QB of the future for Miami.
Chad Pennington could be the mentor once Henne is considered ready, in a couple of seasons. By that time, Beck will be 29 and past consideration as the apprentice in the shadows. He might play the 'good soldier' though, and settle into clipboard duty, knowing that with Pennington on the depth chart, the distance from 3 to 1 is never that far. Beck might even replace Pennington as the old clipboard holder one day; quarterbacks of similar ages can support each other — think Gary Kubiak to John Elway.
And Josh McCown? Just the next domino to fall.