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News » Schein's Nine: Blank deserves credit

Schein's Nine: Blank deserves credit

Schein's Nine: Blank deserves credit
1. Arthur Blank deserves all the credit for what has happened in Atlanta post-Bob Petrino and Mike Vick.

Vick disgraced himself, the franchise, and the league. Petrino is a snake who lied to everyone and quit like a coward. Blank rightly took a lot of heat for both disasters.

NFL Week 6

Week 6 action

    Falcons 22, Bears 20 -- Recap | Box
    Texans 29, Dolphins 28 -- Recap | Box
    Colts 31, Ravens 3 -- Recap | Box
    Vikings 12, Lions 10 -- Recap | Box
    Saints 34, Raiders 3 -- Recap | Box
    Jets 26, Bengals 14 -- Recap | Box
    Bucs 27, Panthers 3 -- Recap | Box
    Rams 19, Redskins 17 -- Recap | Box
    Jaguars 24, Broncos 17 -- Recap | Box
    Cards 30, Cowboys 24 -- Recap | Box
    Eagles 40, 49ers 26 -- Recap | Box
    Packers 27, Seahawks 17 -- Recap | Box
    Chargers 30, Patriots 10 -- Recap | Box
    Browns 35, Giants 14 -- Recap | Box


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However, Blank was smart enough to hire a true football guy in Tom Dimitroff, who went through the process and found Mike Smith, a longtime assistant and brilliant football mind. Smith has been a great defensive coordinator in the league for a long time. He immediately walked in to Atlanta, changed the culture, and demanded hard work and accountability. Dimitroff paid Michael Turner exactly what he was worth. He was savvy enough to project Turner's greatness as the ultimate blend of power and speed.

But it all changed when the club picked Matt Ryan, a pick Blank pushed for.

The rookie has been so cool under fire guiding these Falcons to a stunning 4-2 record. I thought the Falcons didn't have a chance to win the game against Chicago after Kyle Orton tossed a late touchdown. But then Robbie Gould inexplicably squibbed a kick and "Matty ice" stepped up, just like he did the week before at Lambeau Field. Ryan had time to make one play and threw a strike to Michael Jenkins to give Jason Elam a chance to nail the game-winner.

Ryan is making plays in the fourth quarter. He's establishing Roddy White and Jenkins. These are things Vick didn't do.

Smith and Ryan have changed everything in Atlanta. I still don't think this is playoff team. I still think they are a last-place team. But they are amazing to watch, playing with a ton of confidence and that will pay off next year. Heck, being already ahead of schedule makes this the greatest team story of the year through six weeks.

2. The Saints are still the team to beat in the NFC South. Drew Brees is the best player in the NFL right now. And he's the best quarterback in the league, hands down.

Brees was perfect against the Raiders. And before you say it is the Raiders, Brees was 26-of-30 playing without Jeremy Shockey and Marques Colston.

The real story is the New Orleans defense playing lights out for the second straight week. Jon Vilma is back to his Pro Bowl form. Bobby McCray was incredible on Sunday. That's the big key for the Saints being legit. We know what the offense will do.

I think New Orleans can beat Carolina this weekend in a huge showdown between the 3-3 Saints and 4-2 Panthers.

Carolina was humbled by Tampa. Jermaine Phillips' pick of Jake Delhomme in the end zone at the end of the second quarter typified the domination of the Bucs.

Tampa should have no problem beating spiraling Seattle on Sunday night.

But the upside of the Saints is too large to ignore, especially with the defense rounding into shape.

3. The Cardinals are who we thought they were.

Yes, I had to channel my inner Denny Green.

We thought they would win nine games this season. Arizona won't fold -- the team is too good. And they'll take advantage of the fact that the Seahawks are lost. But most especially, the Cardinals are too mentally and physically tough. Arizona was tougher than Dallas on Sunday.

Ken Whisenhunt preached dominant special teams plays all week. J.J. Arrington had a return for a touchdown. And Sean Morey's majestic punt block in overtime to win the game was all about effort, something the Cardinals had more of than the Cowboys on Sunday.

Whisenhunt is talking playoffs. Good. That should be the benchmark for determining whether or not this is a successful season. Morey played for Whisenhunt in Pittsburgh and followed him to Arizona two years ago. In talking to Morey on Monday, he gave the credit to Whisenhunt for changing the culture. And Morey gave the Cardinals fans credit for being amazing and loud on Sunday and drowning out the bevy of Cowboys fans that always flock to the desert.

4. Dallas has problems. Tony Romo is out for 4 to 5 weeks with a broken pinkie. The NFL has suspended Pacman Jones. It was a disgrace he played on Sunday. Jones violated his zero-tolerance policy. The Cowboys were distracted.

On Romo, this is gigantic. Dallas is losing one of the best quarterbacks in the league. But the schedule helps them with a trip to the Rams this weekend and a bye week sprinkled in during the weeks Romo will miss. But that St. Louis game is not a lock. Not without Romo and with the way Dallas has played the last three weeks. The Cowboys will lose against the Giants. The swing game during this stretch will be in two weeks when the Cowboys host Tampa, Brad Johnson's old team.

Players are yelling at each other. The defensive backfield is lost. There are injuries across the board. Patrick Crayton is suddenly craving a coach with more discipline. Dallas is a mess right now.

Dallas got a huge break with the Skins and Giants both losing to inferior teams. It's a legit four-team race in the NFC East.

5. I was dead wrong. Norv Turner coached a brilliant game against the Patriots. But this team is not out of the woods yet.

Right from the beginning, Turner attacked the soft spot of the Patriots, the defensive backfield. Phil Rivers was amazing. Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd made some gigantic plays in the passing attack. The defensive stand in the second half, stoning New England on four straight plays, sealed the game. And give Turner credit for immediately going back to the air right after the stand.

I picked the Chargers to go to the Super Bowl. But I am not convinced they can win the games on this brutal road trip to Buffalo and then London against the Saints.

6. Laurence Maroney better find it physically and mentally.

Matt Cassel needs balance. Maroney wasn't active for the Patriots debacle against the Chargers. Something is off with him physically and mentally. He should be a great player. He's not. In theory, New England has an excellent match-up running the ball against the Denver run defense. Again, that's in theory.

7. The Colts are a playoff team. The Peyton Manning-Marvin Harrison combo will continue to explode like old times.

Tony Dungy couldn't stop raving about the Colts' energy, especially on defense, when we talked Monday after the Colts dominated the Ravens. Even Dungy confessed he was surprised his club rolled up over 30 points on the Ravens defense. And Dungy was completely miffed that television commentators were writing the epitaph on Harrison. According to Dungy, Harrison was behind the defense 12 times in the first five weeks. Indy was just missing on the plays.

But Indy has a tough spot in Green Bay this week.

8. Green Bay remains the team to beat in the NFC North. Yes, the Vikings have won two straight. As Derrick Coleman once said, "Whoop-dee-damn-do."

You win games. You get credit. But let's be honest for a second. The Saints shot themselves in the foot. Ed Hochuli couldn't get calls right. So, the Vikings won in Week 5. Dan Orlovsky forgot that he couldn't run out of bounds. The Vikings won in Week 6. They won't beat Chicago this weekend.

9. The Jets will be 5-2 heading into an early November showdown with the Bills.

You cannot stress the negative on the Jets win against Cincy. Sure Brett Favre hurt the cause with two picks and the game lacked aesthetic quality, but just like the Giants and the Cowboys, the Jets survived the Bengals and won. The Jets in the past would've lost this game.

The Jets run defense has been remarkable, now ranked third in the NFL. Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace, and Dwight Lowery have been difference-making pickups by Mike Tannenbaum. The Jets have a top 10 defense that is getting better.

There is no way New York falls against the pathetic Raiders or hapless Chiefs.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 14, 2008

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