The Nickel: Week 4

(Editor's note: Some of us ignored an epic Ryder Cup and a bunch of drama on HBO and Showtime to overdose on football all day. Now's the time where we digest what we consumed. We poached Vinnie Goodwill, Nubyjas Wilborn, Brandon Scott, J.R. Gamble and D.K. Wilson from the TSL roster for this week's Nickel.)

QUESTION No. 1: Cam Newton played a splendid game – two touchdowns, no interceptions and 215 yards passing. Plus, he dropped in another touchdown and about 90 yards on the ground. He's leading his squad down the field, milking the clock on what the Panthers hoped was the game’s final possession and then, on third and short, as he was lunging for the first down, he fumbled. Falcons get the ball at their one yard line and – blam! – they’re in field goal range. Cam walks of the field dejected, under his Gatorade towel. Should the city of Charlotte be heartened by the performance or should the Observer's cartoonist start drawing up another gem?

BRANDON: Not another cartoon unless it mocks Haruki Nakamura getting beat with a deep ball toward the end of the game, or that arm tackle he tried earlier on Michael Turner that wouldn’t have brought homie down even if he was staggering off a Monday Night Football victory celebration at Magic City.

D.K.: Cam played well Sunday, well enough to walk away with a "W" and the good people of Charlotte should be enthused. But, safety Haruki Nakamura, cornerback Josh Norman, and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott should all be very worried about their futures with the Panthers…very worried (click on, "Ryan's Game-Winning Drive").

VINNIE: When he scores, he's too exuberant. When he loses, he's too dejected. Should we find a happy medium? Yes, and so should he. Cam should be pissed about the fumble; but about that defense, Mr. Rivera? Giving up a 60-yard pass with Atlanta backed up in their own end zone? I’m calling the Observer since they like callin’ folks to the carpet.

NUBYJAS: Cam had an impressive game and is an incredible athlete. However, he has yet to show he can have consistent clutch performances in the NFL. When his team needed him most, he dropped the ball – both in the game and the post-game media session. Too soon for another cartoon, but he needs to grow up fast. 

J.R.: There’s no clowning Cam. The rookie records he shredded last season show his pedigree. The Charlotte Observer can scribble another funky sketch, but it won’t dampen Cam’s future. It’s obvious that he handles failure badly like Lebron James did before he matured into a champion. Cam may need to check his public displays of dejection, but Ray Charles can see his team is sus’. Even Superman needed the Wonder Twins to activate every now and then.


QUESTION NO. 2: RG3 was cool as a cold cucumber, wasn't he? It was just his fourth game and he zips the Skins down the field, giving Billy Cundliff the chance to kick his game-winning, 41-yard field goal. The young boy also went for 323 yards passing and a rushing touchdown. Premature overreactions are provocative, but, really, in all seriousness…is Indy feeling a little remorse about their Andrew Luck pick?

D.K.: RGIII Down 22-21 with 1:42 remaining in the game, Robert Griffin III led the Washington Redskins on a drive (click on "RG3's Game Winning Drive") that had to remind Mike Shanahan of John Elway. RG3 has that unquantifiable "it" factor, but I still don't think anyone in Indy rues picking Andrew Luck Number 1. The former Stanford Cardinal, and the Colts, will be just fine.

J.R.: The Colts drafted the right “fit” at QB to begin the post Peyton Manning Era. The bearded, pocket-passing Luck, symbolizes their humble, hard working middle-American image. The flashy RG3 is tailor made for the Capitol Hill matrix. He morphed into the 4th-quarter Eli Manning, but calling it The Drive is a stretch D.K.

VINNIE: Remorse about drafting Luck over RG3? No, but remorse about the circumstances in which they were placed in, having to replace a legend, being forced to take a consensus No. 1 pick? If given the chance to properly evaluate both QBs, maybe RG3 isn’t in Chocolate City. But let’s not act like Luck is Ryan Leaf, though.

NUBYJAS: Andrew Luck is averaging over 266 passing yards per game, which is 12th in the NFL. This isn’t taking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan or Darko Milic over Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Luck won’t be as dynamic as RG3 but in the long run he will be just as effective. 

BRANDON: Not this early, but it almost reminds me of when Blaine Gabbert was supposed to be a better QB prospect than Cam Newton. Remember that? To be fair to the Colts, Luck is closer stylistically to the guy they had before. We should still wonder WHY Luck was the consensus “sure thing” and not RG3.


QUESTION NO. 3: Tom Brady: 340 yards and three TDs. Drew Brees: 446 yards and three TDs. Aaron Rodgers: 319 yards and four TDs. Let's say you gave these three cats the same weapons, O-Line and schemes – who do you want under center and why?

NUBYJAS:  Brady has lost his last two Super Bowl appearances and wears UGGS. But when he’s in cleats, he’s this generation's Joe Montana. He’s only had one elite receiver and that was an aging Randy Moss. Name another QB who has done more with less…I’ll wait.

D.K. Brady, Brees, Rodgers. You can't go wrong with any of them, but give me the guy who began his college career seventh on Michigan's QB depth chart and ended that career as one of the storied Wolverines team leaders. Give me the guy with three Lombardis. No one's ever complained about Brady's leadership abilities (Rodgers) and Brady has won more with far less overall team talent that Brees or Rodgers.

BRANDON: Process of elimination-type situation, right here. It’d take nitpicking all three to land on a decision. Can I get two, in case one gets hurt? Rodgers and Brady would go one and two, with Rodgers ahead, because he’s younger and extends plays with his legs. Brees drops because he’s short. #nitpicking.

J.R.: Who’s the greatest MC, Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas? We’re really splitting cannibus seeds here. Give me Tom “Show Me The Money” Brady, and his three chips. Then give me Brees, football’s version of July 4th at the South Street Seaport. Rogers is last. The Discount Double Check is lame.

VINNIE: Rodgers has the skills to become the GOAT and, barring injury, I'd be surprised if he doesn’t end up with that title. He doesn't have the Belichick system and doesn't turn it over like Brees, but he’s more accurate than both. Jared Allen: "The dude is throwing balls where most people don't throw 'em." And Allen got two sacks off him, last year. That's like somebody doing this to M.J.

QUESTION NO. 4: Let's keep this one simple: Is LeSean McCoy (23 rushes for 123 yards) the Eagles best player?

NUBYJAS: Suggesting McCoy as the best player for the Eagles is akin to saying George Harrison is the star Beatle. Harrison may have written some of the coldest tracks, just like McCoy will have some big games. But we all know the band belongs to John Lennon and Paul McCartney aka Mike Vick and DeSean Jackson.

VINNIE: Best player? No. But, because he can't throw picks, he's the one with the most reward and least risk — and if Andy Reid keeps him locked in the closet like Chucky, then Vick won't be upright and DeSean Jackson (a.k.a Paul McCartney, according to Nubyjas), won't be happy. It's one thing to have to depend on MV7 to get the rock (Jackson). It's another to depend on Reid. Back to the closet you go, McCoy, nice seeing you.

BRANDON: LeSean McCoy may not be the Eagles' "best player," but his value to the team's success is much more nuanced than that. The more McCoy is involved in the offense, the more the Eagles extend their time with Michael Vick as their quarterback. It takes pressure off him physically. That’s worth more than a label.

D.K.: Mike Vick is not only a transcendent athlete, but he's the team leader and the Eagles best player. McCoy came to the Eagles to replace Brian Westbrook. Westbrook ran, caught passes and above all, kept oncoming blitzers and pass rushers away from Donovan McNabb. When Vick isn't picking himself up off the ground after McCoy has missed yet another block, when Shady learns how to pick up a blitz and does it for years, then I'll consider him as an apt replacement for Westbrook – but that's all.

J.R.: Mick Vick is the Lil Wayne of the Eagles’ Cash Money Team. He goes up North for a stretch, comes home and doesn’t miss a beat. Shady McCoy is a dangerous weapon, but he’ll always be Sammy The Bull to Vick’s John Gotti, especially when – as D.K. said –he’s missing blocks that lead to Vick getting flat-lined.  Vick gets the edge by a paw.


QUESTION NO. 5: Atlanta, Houston and Arizona are all undefeated. San Francisco, Baltimore, San Diego and New England are putting in work. Which squad is the league's best?

D.K. Atlanta is poised to make a playoff run this season, but they disappointed in the past. Under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cards have never reacted well to adversity. The Niners must be more explosive offensively to take the heat off of their defense. San Diego is still a team in search of itself. That leaves the Ravens and Houston. And of those two, I'll take the team that just won three of four games in 18 days – Baltimore.

VINNIE: Right now the most complete team is Houston. You trust a team led by Kevin Kolb? You’re fault, I’ll beat you. Atlanta needed a miracle to win at home against a 1-3 team. Style points count with me. Houston rocks the AFC’s best scoring offense and defense. And the Texans got their requisite heartbreak out the way last January. But…Baltimore and Ray are on a mission.

NUBYJAS:  Vinnie gave the Falcons a demerit for how they won the Carolina game, but I see it as a positive. It showed that the Falcons can win a game when they aren't at their best.  If nothing else, it proves this team has enough heart to score more than two points in a playoff game.

BRANDON: Vinnie's right. A Kevin Kolb-led team in this discussion can only mean it's too early to have the discussion in the first place. But, this is what we do, right? Think about Houston having a Pro-Bowl caliber player at about every position that matters, and it explains how complete the team is. Slow, loud and bangin' in H-Town, man.


Back to top