Week 9 – 3 UP 3 DOWN
1. Phillip Rivers – The San Diego Chargers QB is really staking his claim as the MVP of the league. Even though the Chargers have an overall record of 4-5, they are still alive in the hunt for the AFC West division title. Last weeks performance lands Rivers on the UP list because he got the win with none of his starting offensive weapons. Rivers was without top receiving threat TE Antonio Gates, and without both starting WRs Malcolm Floyd and Legadu Naneee. Starting RB Ryan Matthews even went down during the game with an injury. No matter who is placed in the lineup to catch passes, Rivers makes them look great. Making the win more impressive is how Rivers outperformed last years leading passer and receiver, QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson. The Chargers continue to lead the league in passing and Phillip Rivers is the only consistent factor for this.
2. Jacoby Ford – The rookie WR for the Oakland Raiders had himself a sensational game against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was able to rack up 6 catches for 148 yards, as well as a 94 yard kickoff return for a TD in the Raiders OT win against their division rivals. Ford’s stat line is not the only reason he is of mention on the UP list. Watching his highlight reel from that game cements his impact even more. Each big play of the Raiders had the rookie Ford involved, especially during critical parts of the game. Down 10 – 0 starting the 2nd half, Ford ran back the half opening kickoff back to bring the Raiders back within 1 score. His run-back breathed enough life back into the Raiders to allow them to play at a level to stick around until the closing seconds of the game, with a chance to tie with a field goal. This is when Ford caught a 29 yard pass, which he ripped out of the hands of Chiefs Brandon Flowers, to set up the game tying field goal. Then in overtime, Ford caught a 47 yard pass after he burned past Brandon Flowers’ single coverage, to set up the game winning FG. This youngster not only showed the speed that made him a Raiders draft pick, but now added his killer instinct to make tough plays in traffic.
3. Mike Vick – He is back! The Eagles QB not only returned from injury, but he returned to his prime. Facing poster boy QB Peyton Manning, and his Indianapolis Colts, Vick easily stole the spotlight. Vicks play has consistently got better each week he played, but this week his throws looked as accurate as Manning’s. On Vicks 1st TD pass, the Colts safety was sitting in the end zone watching Vick’s eyes. Vick stared down WR DeSean Jackson most of the play and was still able to throw a pinpoint bullet TD pass passed him, so fast that the safety did not even have time to react. On another play, Vick hit Jason Avant at least 30 yards down the field in stride. These types of throws and his stats of 17-29 for 218 yards and a TD are what lands Vick on this weeks list. To think, his stats are that impressive, even without having to mention his 10 rushes for 74 yards in a TD.
1. Wade Phillips – The 45 – 7 whooping the Dallas Cowboys received from the Green Bay Packers got the Cowboys head coach off the hot seat, and into the unemployment line. Each week the Dallas Cowboys played less and less inspired, and that ultimately led to the mid-season firing of Phillips. Jerry Jones tried for weeks to find a reason to keep from cutting Wade, but was unable to get one. True, the Dallas Cowboys were without starting QB Tony Romo last game against the Packers, but what is the defensive-minded coach’s excuse about giving up 45 points? There are no glaring injuries on defense, and they should at least be more competitive on that side of the ball.
2. Raheem Morris – Given a prime opportunity to prove his Tampa Bay Bucs are the best team in the NFC, Head Coach Raheem Morris did not put them in the best position to prove this. Playing against division leaders Atlanta Falcons, the Buccaneers were able to get inside of the redzone late in the 4th quarter, only down six points. With less then three minutes remaining, and the chance to take the lead with a touchdown, the Buccs ran the ball four straight times. The result was RB LeGarrette Blount being stopped on a 4th and 1 and the Falcons 2 yard line. Morris did not put the Bucs in the best possible position to win because not one of those plays put the ball in his young QB Josh Freeman’s hands. Freeman has led the Bucs to four different 4th quarter comeback drives this year. To give the Buccs the best chance to succeed, Morris should have allowed Freeman at least one shot at supplying the TD to take the lead.
3. Matthew Stafford – Up until the last five minutes of the 4th quarter of the game between the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets, Stafford was on the UP list. By this time, Stafford already threw for 240 yards, 2 TDs, and ran for another TD. The Lions were also winning by 10 points against the Super Bowl hopeful Jets. Then, injury struck again for Stafford. While scrambling away from a defender, he was brought down from behind, landing on his right throwing shoulder. This resulted in the second dislocation of this shoulder while being a Detroit Lion. After already missing time this year due to that shoulder injury, he is in danger of being done for the season. Only two years into the league, and Stafford is already starting to see the label of “injury prone” tossed towards him. Not being able to overcome this will cause turmoil not only for Staffords career, but set the Detroit Lions franchise back a number of years as well.