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Howard Balzer, USA Today Sports

Oct 18, 2006|

Howard spoke to Dale and Michael about the happennings in the NFL. The surprising Bears, the chaos in Arizona, coach firings and it's not even mid-season.

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Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Take a look at the National Football League. From a little more -- league wide perspective then we normally look at around here a little more parochial late. Joining us on the line is one of the best known national columnists for the National Football League senior editor of Monday's pro football magazine columnist for USA today's sports weekly also a regular contributor to ESP NR Walters with -- Howard it's Dylan Michael how are you. Until a great have a few yes. -- -- wonderfully all right better than offensive coordinators in the -- Eloquently right now. They talk about scapegoats. Well what did you think of that especially let let's start with -- Baltimore I've always thought that Brian billick was able to escape he got the job based on his offensive production in Minnesota and he hasn't. -- done anything near Baltimore I mean do you blame Jim fossil or orders Brian billick need to look in the manner. Why yeah I I I think always been echoed that the that the look at the -- -- Albania normally and that's you know there's a history of you know normally when you as a head coach make a coordinator makes someone else escape -- Many times you're the first one headed out the door pretty soon after that now obviously we don't know what's going to happen for the rest of these -- with the ravens but. You know but when it comes down to play calling all that I just always been in and I know how we in the media arts sometimes generally it stands at any time weather team loses and that doesn't play very well -- says about the play call. As if anybody in those sometimes the plays that -- Calder and no one knows which should have been called -- you could actually heated they could have done this or -- -- done that but there's no guarantee that would have worked either. Pan and it's it's just try to give comical -- be and so billick I guess what billick is basically doing is bigger wall probably go down. I wanted to go down would be called plays. Rather that someone else but it was a not that that hasn't done much for years has -- with very few pointed out they -- -- quarterback almost every year it's seems for the what have they got to the superbowl and Trent Dilfer. Today they decide what we be -- -- better and they still haven't found anybody better all the years since then and so it is kind of a weird situation. Dennis green took the exact same -- now Arizona -- cash hearing his offensive coordinator how did you view about and yet desperate times brink desperate measures and remember this is a head coach Dennis green who to -- In his first year with the cardinals fired -- -- line coach about three or four games into the season they've had a different offensive line coach every year that he has been there and yet. They don't have the opposite -- in terms of players. And help but only do what think they cut Pete Kendall in a balata -- what are your best players at a leader in the -- locker room and you cut him on the eve of training camp last year. And they still -- blocking -- -- and that you go to the -- against the bears arguably the best defense of the National Football League. With a quarterback making his second start. And you're able to move the ball with a game plan that I thought was it was pretty solid you know quick short passes don't ask them to do too much they ran the ball lot couldn't get eight yards to the camp block anybody -- -- that was an astounding statistic 36 rather run treachery gains -- only 55 yards. But they control the clock. They controlled the game. And they had to horrible turnovers and and that was what made the difference in what terrorism when one of their new -- of -- Oliver Ross just basically decided not to block stretch the defense event. And the other one James's that the -- that in the past but all the sudden that becomes the problem of the offensive coordinator. I think that has -- desperate he sees all this stuff happened around nervously -- let me try this maybe this'll work but historically stuff like this doesn't really make much of the difference still comes down the players doing the job of executing. Well Howard there's one thing to Arizona Cardinals did do well -- it had nothing to do with Monday night it goes back to April when they interactive mat liners. And Howard you know that you've covered this league for a long time we've seen paralysis by analysis and the constant NFL draft is that would happen when so many teams I think 19 passed on Matt liner before you want -- in Arizona. Well and I keep the past -- -- -- -- -- -- passed on that Roethlisberger tell us something to look at aren't look at for quarterbacks in the draft so that's -- example look at just because the player you know -- not being attacked. I beat the look at the teams and what they're picking in the players at those teams you know are picking out a lot of people thought that may be Oakland anticipate the picket line and need to certainly take -- pace of that. But you know out liner plate and gave Italy he what you did Monday night he did well. But if that's all he can do well and the one thing everyone says about it as well that the heavy armed make the out past -- -- the -- to throw the deep ball. And yet -- still prove that he can do those things because you're not going to be able to do every game what. That what he did in this particular game just -- little seven and ten yard patterns. And you know quick stop because at some point you've got to do those other things otherwise otherwise defenses will find a way to stop -- so I'm not suggesting he won't be quality quarterback because he might prove that he can do those things but. To date it is not a career make -- Bill Parcells always says. Went one of those guys have a good gave rook you'll have a good game -- all that's about what they want you know what he's still a long way from camp and that's you know that's the bottom line and so but you know they've got a guy is smart obviously can run an offensive all those things they've they've got a pretty good quarterback on the other hand like I think that it proved he -- do those other things -- be elevated beyond just pretty good quarter. Yeah I guess I've made him a little higher on them that you are -- Herbert has just said that he's all right but you know he's not ready for Kansas Parcells said but. I'm looking at the jets I know the logic is if you -- impact left tackle he's got a guy you can protect your quarterback -- -- but the jets could have taken of the raiders could have taken -- other team's quarterback in problems in -- wondering. Now how Matlock -- just fell to the Arizona Cardinals the guy who had a pretty distinguished college -- Well you know I think you know yet -- spectator and other he'd taken -- -- but you know people get into a mode and that it in in the draft especially where they know what they're going to have to pay young quarterback -- going to be growing pains of a figure they were going to go what the better. And you know the cancer I think a pretty surprising three of three which -- -- can play as a pretty good quarterback and so you know I know the a lot of people were down on Chad Pennington but. You know I think he certainly is good is yeah I don't know but you know -- -- that you'll be entitled ideas -- -- -- -- policy -- wider ever being. Tremendously better -- -- panic at the raiders certainly you know -- visited -- could have made a case -- I I don't like Aaron brooks I think that was. You know real good choice but again eight you know the raiders 13 about David always like that type robot out appeal that is still question what about wider you can do it the other showdown yet. And so that pedestal aspect of his game that you have to do it has sleek beauty has the ability to throw the ball down the field. To have really elevate yourself from beyond like I said just being pretty record. This is going to sound like Jamaican smart -- comment for the sake of a radio show and I don't intend it that way you mentioned the Oakland Raiders and the difficulties that they're having. And I think somebody at some point has to ask if al Davis is competent to continue to run this football team. On I think that's a legitimate question absolutely you know this -- team that. They're record counting the Super Bowl that they lost at camp today at the end of though is that the 2000 was that 2000. -- -- -- that is back -- the county that game right now the raiders are 13 and 41. Pan it's it's it's almost laughable and you know I -- out David spade like you said basically taking the decisions after this football team pan. And they and they every don't here's the thing about -- they've never been an organization that is run and operated like in Normal and I felt pretty and what I mean by that is. They they don't a product out. You know they don't have a real structured organization in -- as a director of player personnel on and all that in a -- -- go to their immediate got to go to web site look at their organizational structure. And you don't even know what people do -- -- they have a guy named Michael Lombardi is considered a senior administrator whatever he's involvement in -- But obviously he doesn't have the final say and I think he can be a pretty good about the value later but in the attic of the data would al Davis wants and I think sometimes unfair to say well we did is passable by but. It's it's not a good situation there and you know they they talk about commitment to excellence that's -- he talks about a whole lot but but obviously over the last year's that is not in the case and that would you change your coach in up all the time at some point you have to hold accountable the person -- -- those coaches. Beat because obviously thought the guy can -- were tired of ethnic -- the coach doesn't work out obviously there was there was a mistake and in in in the initial hiring. And yet all rapidly all throughout sports the people who do I arrogantly think is very rarely are held accountable what they -- -- fire as somebody that they. Howard a lot of folks in the -- here are rooting against the Seattle Seahawks because the patriots only their first round pick up the Deion Branch street. Well we saw a very interesting game between the Seahawks and the rampant under the -- got off to a great start 117 Seahawks haven't come back and waited at the end how close are the rams two being taken seriously as a contender and really knock him off the field. I think the next four games and will show a lot about the rounds because they've got off to a nice start they play the Seahawks very tough. Most they're -- they're better gains have been at home. And yet they they they got a little bit lucky that the peak reached base in Arizona on the road they've lost to San Francisco on the road now after the buy this week they have a stretch. Where they have three games on the road in four weeks against San Diego Carolina. And Seattle again and that of course who will be on the -- so they've got to show that they go to those places against good teams. And not only just be competitive play well would take those plays in the fourth quarter. That awaited game and if they can win one or two of those three then you'll take this -- he would be depicted -- -- seriously have a down the stretch if they lose all three of those road -- but it could be one of those things okay they're better they're proving. But they're still not obviously quite there yet. What do you think the major differences are between Scotland hand in my marks. Well -- the biggest the biggest the biggest differences well there's two major differences one -- philosophy of how they play activists say that Mike Martz is way is wrong because it was very successful. But his -- -- blocked philosophical approach what became the offense was. High risk high reward he would say the quarterback to throw the ball -- the -- we get a turn over fein will get them back the next time and that was if that was the way he played. And that was the way the team played and it was very successful for a lot of time with a hand is much more close to the vast. Much more protect the football don't turn it over and we'll take our shots. But don't do it too often in make sure your abilities at the right time and that's what a big reason perhaps have five turnovers in the first six games of the season but the other major difference at least so far. Is that. Let the letting him about a drop -- Mike -- if everyone without the -- of everyone in the organization you know every little thing he micromanage not only the football team but pictures on the walls in this and that every little decision -- the organization. He wanted to be apart of -- it's just I think distracted -- at times and made it very paranoid and it whatever and whatever anyone would disagree with them he thought they were out to get and so. Would have much calmer you know -- -- just seems to be -- much more -- even -- but it the extreme highs and lows but -- would have -- I think that we you have to be as a football coach because there's a tough business stop that we gave to the NFL. You have to up losses yes sometimes you have what he went we ticket to higher after -- too low after losses otherwise people reflect that. Nick Saban is coaching a football team that's basically already done and we haven't -- Halloween yet he's got a quarterback controversy and today he activates Marcus -- off the practice squad. What exactly is he doing there. I don't know what do people stayed in -- what victor let us. He had no saberhagen. You know. I really thought the Miami had a had a chance to pick up from where they left off last year but obviously the two major book three major things that happened with them. Is losing Ricky Williams that was big because he was a big part of there you know kind of hybrid there at the other two -- rushing attack last year they'd both be at Ronnie brown successful. So that about having Ricky Williams hurt as Ronnie brown has shown himself Padilla a real every down back Adeline had questions last year is still has has questions plots. They can't be offensive system. And anytime he'd do that especially when you only have a system to if there's always different ways but we have one system they just started getting used to it last year at the end of year actually start playing well. That'll become it was -- -- again. And so. On top of that they're played quarterback that clearly in retrospect and Daunte Culpepper wasn't ready to play every down NFL game and they probably -- -- I can understand why you work. Because you're looking at a guy a that -- that the franchise type quarterback in the NFL but he -- he couldn't he couldn't escape the rushing dissect what -- picked -- 41 times and indicated that he started. And so they just couldn't get anything developed on in on offense for those combined reasons so right now there's a narrative very difficult position although they can get it back and finished this year the way they did last year certainly they could if they're comfortable with the system but I think all those things combined. Have put them where they are and that elusive tough games and that's the way the NFL is -- it was a tough close games get a shot but also you're looking at your record. And delicate baseball -- 34 games under 500 if you get a little hot you can you can take that up a week well if football your four games under 500 -- dark moment. The win every game just to get the 500 that's that's always apostle -- Howard because of the Monday night game we talked a lot about the cardinals -- the collapse haven't focused much on the bears they are six -- -- and they've dominated their opponents for the most part but do you think they have done enough. To correct some of the problems that bounced them out of the playoffs last year in the first place namely having someone who could cover Steve Smith. While you know that put the -- he's been inordinately covered Steve Smith glanced so they you know that's the one thing about it and while they got certainly the focus -- that is that playoff game because they weren't able to get it done there -- a lot of guys in the league couldn't cover last year most of the time it's coming down the path because I think we're. Where we're almost out of the that shut down quarter boat that I don't think shut down quarters exist any more to a degree because of the rules oh look at that these illegal contact at all that. That you're you're just out there you're just hope. And what you get a piece that you get one of the top receivers they're going to get open the quarterback has time they're going to find the and so that's that's the key with the bears getting that Castro takes go back at a 4060 cents that the -- had an 85 they but he gave their quarterback. I believe was Mike Richardson I think the other what might have been Leslie Frazier but they had a great pastor and it has put pressure on -- -- leads and so they're able to get that pressure man and all the sudden. That you know that -- you're -- defensive backs with -- have a guard guys for as long so that will be a question you know for for the bears I think their secondary solid if not great but so was pretty darn good player. But the but what that that they may survive it may excel. On the path stressed I think I think to get the get the bears -- what they need to get the bears are up let's remember that playoff game played here they did nothing offensively. And and they obviously did not think offensively on Monday night. That's that's what they have to do to get themselves over the hump but the question is -- teams learn anything from Arizona on Monday night. That will now help in defending that bears offense where Grossman was on fire for the first five weeks of the season and Monday night even as bad as any quarter any quarterback I've never -- so. That's that'll be the -- for the pairs they get that off that's backing don't again. It is so funny you ask the question about 85 bears a thicket of a safety of the Dave dorsett -- -- of Gary forensic I didn't even at the corners -- -- across from mine at the really good point but what what what we're being political here Howard we talk a lot about Steve Smith. Talk a lot of not to -- Marvin Harrison Randy moss. But Torry Holt did have a pretty cool thing last week going over 10000 yards very quickly just the tip Torry -- into into perspective -- and what are receiver he has. Well you know I -- every game is played out here based in saint Louis pan. It's -- a lot of people here at saint Louis not that you know the guys like -- and Randy Boston Chad Johnson who basically call attention to themselves what a lot of stuff this football related. Are the ones dimension you know the F yet had a poll at the end of last year. The first protest vote for their top receiver -- -- by -- -- -- what story it'll he's not listed them in a top spot is mine bought it all the guys don't like -- city got a 10000 yards Baptist any receiver history. He has six consecutive seasons with 13 hundred or more yards no no receiver has ever done that. And and yet hardly anybody talks about when they're talking about the best receivers that they gave because he just goes out very gets the job the other call attention to himself. He he's quiet he doesn't call out his teammate political topic go to the there's a game where only -- two -- three balls they lose. He he's a pro. Pure pure and simple and a bucket they -- the best of everyone is a lot of good ones and Marvin Harrison a similar to attend the Pentagon has done it for a long time longer than ever right now who doesn't draw attention to himself as quiet those -- private that I want -- but the Republican senatorial the best of those as a lot of good ones but. You can't have a conversation about the best receiver without including into the discussion. -- that I agree. Our it's fun talking football with do we really appreciate stick in the time. My pleasure early -- got. -- how accurate. Howard balls are joining us USA sports weekly ESP and knows this stuff

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