- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

POINT-COUNTERPOINT

Each Friday, columnist Dan Daly and Redskins beat writer Ryan O’Halloran debate a football issue. This week’s topic: Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme has 12 interceptions in his past four regular-season/playoff games, and the Panthers are 0-3. Should Carolina make a change?

Ryan O’Halloran: Delhomme hasn’t provided much reason for optimism since his Arizona meltdown, but the only thing I can come up with for coach John Fox deciding to stick with Delhomme (even though the Panthers are off this weekend) is the next three games: home against the Redskins (1-2), at Tampa Bay (0-3), home against Buffalo (1-2). Not exactly a terrific trio. I’m guessing Fox is thinking/hoping/wishing the Panthers can rebound with three straight wins to stay within reach of New Orleans in the NFC South.

Dan Daly: Nobody was more surprised than I was when the Panthers gave him a five-year extension during the offseason with $20 million guaranteed. To me, he has been an average quarterback for a while now - pretty much since he threw three interceptions in the NFC title game against the Seahawks four seasons ago. That’s what people seem to have forgotten. The Arizona fiasco was his second meltdown in the playoffs - second in a row, in fact. Sometimes, I think, teams get trapped by the thinking, “Hey, we’re close. We tied for the best record in the conference last season. Do we really want to change quarterbacks and risk taking a step back at first?” But to me it was a huge gamble to try to wring one more good year out of Delhomme - as we’re seeing.

RO: It would have been interesting to see Fox’s decision-making process had backup Josh McCown not suffered knee and foot injuries while mopping up Delhomme’s wreckage in the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia. But they do have A.J. Feeley on the roster, and he has proved serviceable in the past. Even with all the big-name coaches out there, does this mean Fox thinks he’s safe regardless of whether he sticks with Delhomme?

DD: Heck, Mike Shanahan wasn’t safe in Denver, and he won two Super Bowls. I can’t imagine why Fox would think he’s safe with Carolina. Before last season, when the Panthers regrouped, he was dangling by a thread - OK, maybe two threads. Loyalty plays such a big role in these coach-quarterback relationships. Here in Washington, Joe Gibbs wouldn’t bench Joe Theismann in 1985 even though he was playing miserably. It took a broken leg to get Theismann out of the lineup. Of course, maybe Coach Joe figured: If I yank him, he’ll just go into television sooner, and nobody wants that.

WEEKEND PICKS

REDSKINS THIS WEEK

BUCCANEERS (0-3) at REDSKINS (1-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 5, 45

Line: Redskins by 7

Outlook: It’s gut-check time for the maligned Redskins defense. Tampa Bay didn’t reach 100 yards last week, and quarterback Josh Johnson is making his first career start. The Redskins should take advantage by blitzing and disguising to confuse Johnson. Offensively, longer possessions and an early lead would allow Jim Zorn a chance to get the running game more involved.

The pick: Redskins 20-16

GAME OF THE WEEK

PACKERS (2-1) at VIKINGS (3-0)

Monday, 8:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Line: Vikings by 3 1/2

Outlook: Brett Favre’s return to Green Bay next month will be one of the regular season’s biggest games. But this one is close. Favre, who engineered a game-winning drive last week, is looking more and more comfortable with his receivers, and the Minnesota defense will put pressure on a struggling Green Bay offensive line.

The pick: Vikings 41-35

UPSET WATCH

RAIDERS (1-2) at TEXANS (1-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Line: Texans by 9

Outlook: Houston is having one of its typical seasons. Lay an egg at home. Win on the road. Lay an egg at home. The Texans have never been able to handle prosperity, and losing to Jacksonville after winning at Tennessee was the latest example. Even though the Raiders are 31st in yards, they’ll do just enough to make Gary Kubiak’s seat a little hotter.

The pick: Raiders 9-3

INSIDE THE AFC

*The last time Baltimore and New England played, the Ravens almost stunned the Patriots. Perhaps the most memorable moment from the Patriots’ victory was Ravens linebacker Bart Scott stomping on a flag and throwing it in the stands. If not for Brett Favre’s first game against Green Bay, Ravens-Patriots would be the game of the week. Both teams’ offenses and defenses rank in the top 10 in yards gained and fewest yards allowed.

*The 0-3 Browns have looked hopeless offensively, so Eric Mangini goes with Derek Anderson at quarterback this week against Cincinnati. Anderson and receiver Braylon Edwards connected for 16 touchdowns in 2007. “To be honest, we can’t do any worse,” Edwards said. “I don’t think we can go out there and [have] another 34-3 game [like last week’s loss to Baltimore]. I just don’t see it happening. It’s what I’m hanging my hopes on.”

*A eruption by Terrell Owens (five catches this year) has to be in the near future if he continues to be a nonfactor in the Buffalo passing game. But Mount T.O. hasn’t fired shots at playcaller Alex Van Pelt or quarterback Trent Edwards yet. “My thing is they brought me here to give the team a lift and create some opportunities,” Owens said. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m just going to try to stay positive, keep working hard and hope for the best.”

*Tennessee is 0-3 but is pointing back to 2002, when the Titans started 1-4 but finished 11-5 and reached the AFC title game. Since 1990, 51 teams with a losing record after three games have made the playoffs.

INSIDE THE NFC

*Dallas leads the league in rushing, posting 251 and 212 yards the past two games - the first time the Cowboys have eclipsed 200 yards in consecutive games since 1979. But they’ve paid a price. Marion Barber (quadriceps) missed the Carolina game and is questionable this week, and Felix Jones is out with a strained posterior cruciate ligament. If Barber can’t go, Tashard Choice will get the start.

*Seattle was ravaged by injuries last year, and the Seahawks’ luck hasn’t changed. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (rib) and left tackle Walter Jones (knee) aren’t expected to play at Indianapolis. The Seahawks (1-2) would be three games off the NFC West lead if they lose and San Francisco wins at St. Louis.

*Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler has rebounded from his four-interception debut. He has five touchdowns and one interception in the past two games (both victories) and leads the league with a 73.8 percent completion rate during that time. “[The receivers] have done a great job of breaking tackles, making people miss, but they know when to go down,” Cutler said.

*Several problems have developed for Arizona during its 1-2 start, and a big one is pass protection. Kurt Warner was sacked only 26 times in nearly 600 drop-backs last year but has been sacked seven times in 140 this year. “You’ve got to look at who we played,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Do we play another team like Indianapolis that has two outside rushers like that? When you combine that with being down three touchdowns and having to throw the ball to come back, it’s very difficult.”

BY THE NUMBERS

39:34 Into the game before Tampa Bay got its initial first down last week against the Giants.

LEGEND VS. FORMER TEAM

When Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre faces Green Bay for the first time, it won’t be the first instance of a Hall of Fame player facing the team he spent the bulk of his career with. Here are five examples:

Player, new teamResultComment

Joe Montana, K.C.Def. SF 24-1719-for-31 for 203 yards, 2 TDs

Warren Moon, Sea.Def. Tenn. 16-1327-for-40 for 260 yards, 0 TDs

Marcus Allen, K.C.Def. Raiders 24-917 rushes for 24 yards, 1 TD

Bruce Smith, Was.Lost to Buffalo 24-71 assisted tackle, 0 sacks

Mike Ditka, Phi.Lost to Chicago 29-164 catches for 28 yards, 1 TD

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