The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

Jumping to conclusions

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Whoa! Stop the talk of mediocrity. We're less than a third of the way through the NFL season.

I'm tired of the 15-minute news cycle that turns instant results each week into a season-long snapshot of the NFL, especially when something bad happens to the Cowboys. We're watching too much ESPN (or the NFL Network), listening too much to ex-players babble about a future they can't predict and watching too many cameras focusing on Jerry Jones moping in his pleasure palace.

If the Cowboys are 1-3 does that make everyone else mediocre? If they were 4-0 would we all be jumping for joy?

Fear not, there are good teams around. They're just winning the old fashioned way.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh, for example, are boring because it's hard to highlight defense and 1-yard touchdown runs. So they get 30 seconds on the "worldwide leader in sports'' because there are no 70-yard pass plays or 100-yard kick returns. Yet running and defense are how football games have always been won.

Here at The League, we do it too -- a couple of weeks ago, we were writing about how the NFC East has sunk into mediocrity.

Well, on Sunday, I watched the Giants play what may be the most complete game since early last season, a 34-10 dismantling in Houston of the Texans, who were supposed to be an up-and-coming power. Take away a couple of silly interceptions thrown by Eli Manning and New York, given up for dead by its media and by Tiki Barber two weeks ago, looked as good as it did in 2007 when it won a championship by knocking off one of those unbeaten "power'' teams we seem to covet. Back to basics: the Giants' defense is statistically the best in the league -- so good that ESPN actually DID show a few of the 10 sacks they had against the Bears a week ago.

I also watched the Redskins outlast Green Bay, one of the preseason Super Bowl favorites. Granted the Packers finished the game with only about half their players healthy, but maybe that was Washington's doing. Then I watched Philadelphia beat San Francisco with Kevin Kolb as this week's interchangeable quarterback. I don't think the Eagles are a Super Bowl team, but with Andy Reid, you never know. He may be reviled by know-nothings in Philly, but his career coaching record is 121-77-1.

"There's an expectation level that we get accustomed to when we perform at a high level,'' Sean Payton said Monday about his so-so Saints and so-so quarterback. "That's the bar and the bar he sets for himself and it's the bar that I would say that I set for myself. ... So when you don't meet those expectations, certainly there's disappointment.''

Remember this.

New Orleans was 8-8 in 2008 before it went unbeaten for 13 games last season and won the title. The Giants started 0-2 in 2007 and won a championship. Either team might do it again. So might the Ravens, Steelers, Jets, Colts or maybe a dozen other teams, even Dallas.

Right now, we're making snap judgments every week. And we're listening to the shouting from Bristol and on the NFL's own network that concentrates on one dysfunctional team and lets it drag down the 31 others.

Hey, parity can be fun. They're exulting in Detroit right now after their third win in three seasons over a St. Louis team that already has doubled its win total from 2009.

No, neither the Lions nor Rams are winning any titles. But it's fun giving their fans a few wins to celebrate.

By Dave Goldberg  |  October 12, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , Dave Goldberg , Detriot Lions , New Orleans Saints , New York Giants , Philadelphia Eagles , St. Louis Rams , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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