JEROME BETTIS Blog: Coughlin was right, Schiano wrong
By JEROME BETTIS
There were lots of great confrontations on the field on Sunday but the most interesting one came after the end of the Giants-Buccaneers game, when Tom Coughlin started yelling at Tampa Bay's new coach, Greg Schiano. What set off Coughlin was that Tampa Bay put on an all-out rush on the final play of the game, when Eli Manning was taking a knee as the clock ran out.
Schiano said he coaches his guys to play until the final second has ticked off, but he's wrong on this one. I think you have to back off there. In the NFL, that is always a courtesy from the losing team. The winning team is saying we're not going to try to add insult to injury, we're going to be gracious in victory and kneel down, as opposed to trying to put up another TD on you.
I understand that Schiano is trying to get his team going in his first year on the job, but he also has to understand this is the NFL, and he needs to learn the climate. He was using it as a teaching moment, but at the same time you've got to temper your drive at that moment. Otherwise you could very easily be on the other side of that and get drilled by some team that decides to keep piling on, and puts 50 points on the board against you. Then they can say, "Hey, you were the one who said we're going to play it to the last second."
GIVE THE 49ers' DEFENSE SOME PRAISE, TOO
Last week I said San Francisco is my favorite to win home-field advantage in the NFC and go to the Super Bowl. Nothing happened in their impressive victory against Detroit to change my mind. Alex Smith is getting a lot of credit for coming of age let's also recognize that the 49ers' defense has taken on two of the most high-powered offenses back-to-back and really shut them down. Offensively, San Francisco has been able to do whatever it wants, running or throwing. Adding Randy Moss has been a big factor, because opposing defenses have to respect him, and now Vernon Davis gets a lot more single coverage and becomes more dangerous. Davis is absolutely impossible to cover with one guy.
MY BIGGEST SURPRISES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS
Two teams that came out of Week 1 looking really tough had big letdowns and now look vulnerable -- New England and Dallas. I'll say that New England was the worst of those two, losing to an Arizona team that had to travel cross-country. When you lose your home opener, that's significant. You have all that energy and your fans' enthusiasm is at a high. Still, this was one of those games where you really couldn't put your finger on what happened. Was it the Cardinals playing great, or did New England just fall apart? I don't think anyone can say for certain yet. I think it's one of those stay-tuned situations, and that New England's game against Baltimore next week will tell the story.
The team that has surprised me the most so far is San Diego. I thought the Chargers we're going to be so-so, but it looks like they're a really good team. The two teams they've beaten -- Oakland and Tennessee -- probably aren't the toughest teams, but I still think those two victories show San Diego is a team on the rise.
As for the most disappointing team so far, the easy answer would be the Saints. But their 0-2 record isn't all that surprising considering what they've had to go through, including losing their head coach for the season. You could anticipate they'd be under the gun, struggling at least a little bit. So I'll take the Raiders as my biggest disappointment. After they finished solidly last year I thought the Raiders would respond a lot better and play a lot tougher this season. They had two games they could have won, especially at Miami, where they should have been able to cause more problems for a rookie quarterback.
MY STEELERS EXPOSED THE JETS
I know most people thought the Jets would bring all their Week 1 momentum to Pittsburgh and give the Steelers a close game, but I think it was a case of false identity. The Jets simply aren't as good as everyone thought. I think they're still developing and have a long way to go to before they'll be considered a great team. But I'm also not going to over-hype my Steelers. They're a good football team, but they're still growing. Their offensive line is starting to come together, they were able to run more, and Ben Roethlisberger looked really good. With James Harrison and Troy Polamalu out with injuries the defense understandably was soft early, but they got in gear and tightened it up. This was a tale of two very different teams that I think they are headed in two different directions.
TWO C.J.'S HAVE THE RUSHING SITUATION UPSIDE DOWN
Who would have thought that C.J. Spiller would be leading the NFL in rushing yards after two weeks? Give him credit for stepping up after Buffalo lost Fred Jackson and seizing his opportunity. And who would have thought that Tennessee's C.J. -- Chris Johnson -- wouldn't even be among the league's top 50 rushers after two weeks? And Darren McFadden isn't doing too much better, ranking 43rd in the league, with 54 yards. It does seem upside down, but when fans look at running backs they need to remember to look at the offensive lines, too. For example, look at Frank Gore. He's running great, but that 49ers offensive line is really impressive, too. The 49ers have made a concerted effort to get their offensive line together, and that's the strength of their offense, opening up the running game and providing the protection that's giving receivers time to get open. When you let your offensive line go, you pay for it. Look at Oakland, and the offensive linemen they've drafted in recent years. Those guys aren't playing there any more, and that's not a key to success. You have to keep your players, and build.
JOSHUA MORGAN CAN'T LOSE HIS COOL
It's sad to see the outcome of a game decided by a foolish penalty. And that's pretty much what happened to Washington when Joshua Morgan threw a ball at Cortland Finnegan in the final minute, causing the penalty that took the Redskins out of field-goal range. It's one of those moments where, as a head coach, you scratch your head and ask what does it take to make a player realize that sometimes he just has to walk away after getting shoved? I faced those situations all the time as a player. There's always someone who's trying to get you to retaliate or just get you out of your comfort zone. When that happens it can take you out of the game mentally, but it also can take you out of the game with the referees. We rarely had that problem at Pittsburgh. The coaches always explained and emphasized what was at stake, and the importance of keeping your composure.
That's it for this week, and don't forget to let me know what you think in the comments section, or follow me on Twitter at @JeromeBettis36.
The NFL's No. 6 rusher all-time reviews each week's action with his "Around the League with Jerome Bettis" blog. Bettis retired after his Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL in 2006 and The Bus is expected to be a strong candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January's voting. Bettis was a six-time Pro Bowler and since 1996 his The Bus Stops Here foundation has worked to help underprivileged children in inner cities.