By Brian Murphy
After a painfully slow offseason (well, once you get past dog fighting scandals, steroid-using sluggers and crooked basketball officials), the NFL is back in the spotlight. With the preseason underway, it’s time for the fourth annual “Why your team won’t win the Super Bowl” column. So head to Las Vegas and put money on it – this is why your favorite football franchise won’t get it done one this year.
Arizona Cardinals – The running joke since I started this column has always been to automatically rule out whatever team Brenda Warner is associated with on principle. But with Matt Leinart firmly entrenched as the starter, we don’t have to worry about Brenda as much these days. Fortunately for us though, Leinart used to date Paris Hilton and it’s nearly impossible to throw touchdown passes when you have a burning sensation in your pants.
Atlanta Falcons – It seems like only yesterday that the Falcons biggest problem was that their team was built around a $130-million quarterback who couldn’t pass and liked to flick off the home crowd when he wasn’t busy getting in trouble for having shady water bottles in a Miami airport. Things look even worse for the Falcons with Ron Mexico unlikely to play this season because he let the dogs out. At least Atlanta still has highly-touted back-up Matt Schaub.
Baltimore Ravens – On days like this, I wish Orlando Brown was still a member of the Baltimore Ravens offensive. Then they’d have a one-eyed lineman, a one-legged running back (Willis McGahee), one legitimate receiving option (Todd Heap) and a quarterback one concussion away from living in a retirement community (Steve McNair).
Buffalo Bills – The Buffalo Bills didn’t want to spend money to keep stud running back Willis McGahee, but they were willing to give the Redskins fifth-best offensive lineman, guard Derrick Dockery, a $49-million contract. Does this sound like a team that has a clue?
Carolina Panthers – The folks in Carolina don’t think Jake Delhomme is the answer at quarterback, so they brought in David Carr as the back-up, ready to step in at the first sign of trouble. You know, because when you think proven playoff winner, you think of Carr.
Chicago Bears – Rex Grossman might have an 18-5 record as a starting quarterback, but he can’t get it done when it counts. Don’t believe me? Just ask any of the 92.3 million people who watched his two interceptions and two fumbles cost the Bears any shot of winning Super Bowl XLI.
Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals have finished a season with a winning record just once since 1991. Let’s start with baby steps, like finishing a season with more wins than players arrested before we start dreaming of Super Bowls.
Cleveland Browns – While Jamal Lewis has made a career out of killing the Browns, he doesn’t do much against anyone else at this point. So I guess he’ll fit in with teammates Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, who also fail to produce.
Dallas Cowboys – With Emmitt Smith, Keyshawn Johnson and Bill Parcells on the payroll, as well as Ed Werder living at Valley Ranch and a camera firmly planted on Terrell Owens 24/7, if you want to hear about the Dallas Cowboys, you can turn to ESPN. I just don’t give a shit about watching the son of a “Bum” (Wade Phillips) fail yet again.
Denver Broncos – Jay Cutler might be good, but the Broncos are just one hit away from resting their playoff hopes on Patrick Ramsey. Good luck with that.
Detroit Lions – Jon Kitna predicted at least 10 wins for Detroit in 2007. Either he’s talking about the Pistons or Kitna is under the impression that last season’s win total and the preseason carry over. Even then the Lions still might not have 10 wins.
Green Bay Packers – Retired quarterback Brett Favre never would have let the Packers get this shitty. Wait … he’s still there? Wow. Talk about awkward …
Houston Texans – Led by Reggie Bush, the Texans could be headed toward their best season in franchise history. Oops. Let me try again. Led by Vince Young, the Texans could be in line for the team’s first-ever playoff appearance. Dammit, I did it again.
Indianapolis Colts – The Colts finally won the big game, and even managed to defeat their arch-rival, the New England Patriots, in the process. So all is well with the Colts, right? Well, rumors are flying out of Indy that Peyton Manning is so desperate to one-up Tom Brady yet again that he’s offered to adopt Bridget Moynihan’s baby.
Jacksonville Jaguars – I know fantasy football participants like Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor-Groin, but there are too many questions concerning the Jags head coach and quarterback position to consider them legitimate contenders.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs have no real offensive line or wide receivers to speak of. Oh, and their best player, Larry Johnson, is threatening to sit out the entire season. That means, armed with only one offensive weapon, aging tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Chiefs are asking one of two nobody quarterbacks, either Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle, to perform nothing short of a miracle by finishing with even an 8-8 record.
Miami Dolphins – People wonder why Miami hasn’t had stability at the quarterback position since Dan Marino retired. Maybe it’s because the team’s front office continues to make boneheaded moves like passing over Drew Brees for has-beens like Daunte Culpepper and the artist-formerly-known-as Trent Green. I’m just sayin’.
Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota has the worst starting quarterback in the NFL in Tarvaris Jackson. If that’s not bad enough, their receiving corps is just as bad, if not worse. And with the departure of former defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, who is now the head coach in Pittsburgh, one of the few strengths the Vikings had a year ago is in serious doubt. At least Minnesota still has Kevin Garnett.
New England Patriots – Randy Moss.
New Orleans Saints – Led by Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, the Saints score more points than most NBA teams, which is good. But their defense can’t stop anybody, which is not so good.
New York Giants – Let me get this straight, you lose your best running back in franchise history (Tiki Barber) because he’d rather hang out with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, but you still have a young, bruising back named Brandon Jacobs waiting in the wings. All you need is a shifty, change-of-pace runner to help share the load and you’re good to go. So naturally you sign Reuben Droughns, an older and slower version of Jacobs. Real smart, fellas.
New York Jets – It’s never good when the biggest headline a team makes during the offseason is “our coach made a cameo on a TV show.” Sure, seeing Eric Mangini on The Sopranos was cool for Jets fans, but wouldn’t it have been better for the team if he stayed home and found a quarterback who didn’t throw the ball underhanded?
Oakland Raiders – After half a dozen or so people said “no thanks” to the Raiders high-maintenance owner Al Davis, he settled for 32-year-old Lane Kiffin as the new head coach. Kiffin couldn’t win a national championship in his two years as offensive coordinator of a stacked USC team, so why would things be any different with a pathetic Raiders squad?
Philadelphia Eagles – When your team is lead by Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, you can count on one thing – having more talent on the injured list than anyone else in the league.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are breaking in a new head coach for only the second time since 1969, so try not to expect the sun and the moon from first-year coach Mike Tomlin as he learns to win with a moron at quarterback.
San Diego Chargers – The Chargers couldn’t win with former Redskins head coach Marty Schottenheimer calling the shots, so now they’re giving another former Redskin, Norv Turner, a turn at the wheel. Whose next? Steve Spurrier?
San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers are the general public’s trendy pick this year. So I ask you, when has the general public ever gotten it right? Frank Gore already has a broken hand, Ashley Lelie is as soft as a rainbow and Darrell Jackson could end up with more seizures than touchdowns this season.
Seattle Seahawks – My, how times have changed. After his sister-in-law Elizabeth’s running feud with Rosie O’Donnell on The View, Matt isn’t even the most well-known Hasselbeck anymore.
St. Louis Rams – Running back Steven Jackson is the real deal, but the Rams defense is so pitiful that it makes the Saints defense look like the Steel Curtain.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – It’s time for the training wheels to come off of the Cadillac now that Mike Alstott has retired. Considering Carnell Williams rushed for nearly 400 yards less last year than in his rookie season that might be easier said than done. At least Chris Simms still has his spleen.
Tennessee Titans – I keep hearing what a great leader Vince Young is … well, when he’s not throwing punches at teammates with his throwing hand or being suspended from preseason games for disobeying team rules. And I haven’t even mentioned that Young, the Titans’ most important player, is on the cover of Madden this year and will therefore suffer a catastrophic injury within the first month of the season. Other than that, things are great in Tennessee.
Washington Redskins – Sorry ‘Skins fans – it isn’t 1992. A gallon of gasoline isn’t $1.13, a gallon of milk isn’t $2.78 and Joe Gibbs isn’t leading Washington to another Super Bowl victory.
Brian Murphy is the 2005 Defense Department’s sportswriter of the year. And he still doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.