- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts From 30,000 Feet (en route back from the Redskins-Raiders throwdown):

*Every NFL season is memorable for something, but this season might be memorable for several somethings. In fact, it could turn out to be the most memorable year of the Free Agency Era, which takes in a fair amount of territory. Consider:

With three weeks left, not one but two teams are still unbeaten - Peyton Manning’s Colts and Drew Brees’ Saints. That’s happened only once before in the history of the league - in 1934, when the Bears and Lions were both 10-0 with three games to go. The Bears wound up 13-0 (and then lost the title game to the Giants), and the Lions finished 10-3 (dropping two close ones to Chicago and another to the Packers).

Unlike the Bears and Lions, the Colts and Saints don’t have to play each other. That increases the chance that either or both will finish undefeated. A Super Bowl with two perfect records on the line? Unfathomable.

• A 40-year-old quarterback is the NFL’s second-leading passer and is having one of the greatest seasons of his career. That’s like Barry Bonds swatting all those homers in his late 30s… and not testing positive for flaxseed oil. Brett Favre never ceases to amaze.

• Chris Johnson, the Titans’ blur of a back, is on pace to rush for 2,001 yards. He’s also on pace to gain 2,482 yards from scrimmage, which would break Marshall Faulk’s mark, set a decade ago, by 53. Johnson’s last seven games - in which he has totaled 239, 160, 232, 151, 186, 141 and 186 yards from scrimmage (for an average of 185) - have been scary, arguably the best seven weeks a running back has ever had.

• Some things never change. Late in his third year with the Patriots, Randy Moss is accused of dogging it by members of the Carolina secondary. Frankly, given Moss’ track record, it’s surprising it took this long.

And when does his acting up take place? This part’s all too predictable: When the Pats, for the first time since he’s been with them, start backsliding. Talent aside - and his is considerable - the guy is a Hall of Fame front-runner.

• I’ve never been a big fan of regular-season winning streaks. Yes, the Colts have won 22 in a row, but in the middle of that 22 in a row is a 23-17 playoff loss to the Chargers last season. To me, a winning streak is a winning streak. It doesn’t go into hibernation during the postseason and then magically reappear like Punxsutawney Phil the following year.

To me, the longest winning streak in NFL history is still 21 games by the 2003-04 Patriots (who won their last 15 in ‘03, including three postseason games, and their first six in ‘04). But keep trying, Indy. Maybe you’ll get there.

• Speaking of winning streaks, Norv Turner’s Chargers have reeled off eight straight victories.

Hey, don’t act so shocked. In 1996 - how quickly we forget - his Redskins won seven straight. And then it all unraveled.

• Back in training camp, Brandon Marshall said he wasn’t happy in Denver and wanted to be traded. The Broncos even suspended him for two preseason games for conduct detrimental to the team (aka Acting Like a Jerk). Sunday against the Colts, he caught 21 passes to set a single-game record. It would have been nice if he used the occasion to apologize.

• Ask yourself: How come some teams are able to get the ball to their top receiver 21 times in a game - and yet a lot of weeks you’d hardly know Santana Moss was on the field for the Redskins?

• The Jay Cutler Interception Count is now at 22, and he projects to throw 27 (assuming Bears coach Lovie Smith doesn’t bench him). That would be the third-highest pick total in the last 20 years. The only quarterbacks who have thrown more than 27 are Favre with the Packers in 2005 (29) and Manning as a rookie with the Colts in 1998 (28). (Drew Bledsoe also threw 27 with the Patriots in 1994.)

• The Redskins’ recent signs of life would be more meaningful if you had the sense Dan Snyder was willing to stay the course. But are they really building anything in Ashburn if there’s likely to be a new coach next season - a coach who figures to take a wrecking ball to the roster and do things His Way?

• Memo to Dan the Man: Who’s your most exciting player right now? Answer: Brian Orakpo, the quarterback-eating rookie. What does that tell you? Answer: Youth captures the imagination. Promise is the opium of the people (or of Redskins Nation, at least).

My advice: Put away the checkbook, park the jet in a hangar and grab a stopwatch and a pair of binoculars. The franchise’s future can be found at the scouting combine next year… and the year after that… and the year after that.

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