NFL Week 8: When robots rule the world

When I was a kid, and before it was remade into a “cool” movie series, I watched the Transformers cartoon on TV. Yeah, maybe it was more of a “boy” cartoon, but really, how can you top cars morphing into giant talking robots? You can’t! Anyway, in the cartoon, the Transformers were split into good guys (Autobots) and bad guys (Decepticons). The leader of the Autobots was Optimus Prime, who morphed into a large, semi-truck cab, which served as your all-American, apple-pie-eating, baby-kissing good guy symbolizm. The leader of the Decepticons was Megatron, who morphed into this freakishly fast, ultra-modern jet. Megatron was SCARY. He had these beady red robot eyes that would pierce your soul. I would not want to run into Megatron in a dark alley. But thankfully, Optimus Prime wasn’t scared, and every episode ended with him defeating the big meanie Megatron, sometimes sending him off into the outer depths of space or somewhere else that likely meant there was NO WAY he would survive – until next week!

Guess what? Megatron is ALIVE! And playing for the Detroit Lions! While I’ve always found Calvin Johnson’s nickname of Megatron somewhat confusing, I’m starting to see now that it makes sense. When the Lions wear those steel blue jerseys and gray pants, at 6-5 and 236, Johnson does look like a large robot. Top that off with his silver helmet complete with dark visor covering his face, and I swear you can see red beady eyes. And, like Megatron the Decepticon, Megatron the Detroit Lion CAN’T BE STOPPED. Oh, you can try, but he always comes back.

Although, I’m not really sure the Cowboys actually TRIED to stop Johnson. He finished with 329 yards receiving – the second most in NFL history – and a touchdown. The next leading receiver on the Lions had 54 yards receiving. Hello, Dallas? Double team the guy! Triple team him! Make Stafford throw to someone other than Johnson. Most of the highlights I saw, Johnson had one defender on him. ONE! If a large semi-truck cab can’t stop Megatron, one measly defender sure won’t!

After the Cowboys self-destructed and lost the game on a Matthew Stafford fake spike quarterback sneak play, Dallas receiver Dez Bryant went all Steve Smith on his teammates, tearing into Tony Romo and then Jason Witten until teammate DeMarcus Ware broke things up. It’s pretty sad that more people are talking about Bryant’s sideline childish tantrum instead of focusing on his on-field production, as he scored two touchdowns. He was animated because he also wanted to be a cartoon character! (Insert cymbal crash, uncomfortable laughter here.)

Speaking of uncomfortable exchanges, Aaron Rodgers came face to face (and cheek to cheek) with his former teammate Greg Jennings during Sunday’s post-game. Jennings, a longtime Packer who now plays for the Vikings, got a few cheap shots in on his former quarterback last week, claiming Rodgers was self-centered and thought he was “perfect.” Rodgers and Jennings are shown on the field embracing, with Jennings talking so long that he appears to be reciting the collective works of Shakespeare. Rodgers appears uncomfortable, and when he tries to discount double check his way out of it, Jennings won’t let him go! I think after that up close and personal exchange, Jennings should at least treat Rodgers to dinner … or buy him a diamond ring.

Also this weekend:

— Does defense really win championships, or are they just playing inept offenses?

On Sunday, Kansas City did just barely enough offensively and then asked their defense to do the dirty work to preserve their win over the Browns. You may recall last week the Chiefs held on by their fingernails to beat the Texans by one. On Monday, the Seahawks sealed their victory with a goal line stand against the Rams. The Rams drove down the field from their own 3-yard-line, so it’s hard to say the Seahawks “stuffed” the Rams with stifling defense since they just kind of let them drive down the field at will. And the Rams are the only team in the league to not score a rushing touchdown, so the Seahawks had to know that the Rams weren’t going to try to run it in from the 1 on 4th and goal. In fact, they were so confident St. Louis would throw that they didn’t even put an extra defender in the box! Kellen Clemens could have run it in himself if he’d been a bit more savvy. So this begs the question – good defense, or just the right plays against bad offenses? Don’t forget, when the Ravens won their first Super Bowl in 2000, their offense was so inept they didn’t score an offensive touchdown for 5 weeks and STILL managed to win those games. Maybe there is something to be said about a good defense?

— Despite what Huey Lewis and the News say, we are NOT “happy to be stuck with you.”

Big bully Greg Schiano, head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, told his team that they were “stuck with him.” Not only does it sound like the team can’t stand him (there have been plenty of grumblings), but it also sounds like the feeling is mutual. The fans in Tampa want Schiano out, although the Glazer family met with Schiano, who then met with his team and relayed that wonderfully spirited, confident message. How does Schiano still have a job in the big leagues? He was a mediocre coach at best in college, and he’s terrible in the pros. Bowing out gracefully would be the best thing he can do, although something tells me he’s going to go out with a lot of kicking and screaming and loud fanfare. Right now, he’s near the top of my NFL head coach villains list for single-handedly ruining a talented franchise. The top spot is held by former Falcon’s head coach Bobby Petrino, who – in mid-season – told his team he was quitting by leaving them a note. A note! Like it was high school! Spineless. The Falcons were shocked by Petrino’s departure. On the other hand, if Schiano were to leave or be fired, the Bucs would have a parade.

— What’s in a name?

Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder will meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding his team’s nickname. The name “Redskins” has drawn much ire lately, particularly from representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation who claim the nickname is offensive. There’s been enough clamor lately that Snyder has agreed to meet with the NFL about it, although nothing indicates that the owner is giving any thought to actually changing the name. He thinks the name stands for the tradition of the franchise and is not an insult but instead a “badge of honor,” or so he said in an open letter to season ticket holders earlier this month. While I don’t really feel strongly about the issue either way, I think Snyder, who has always been money-minded, is missing a grand opportunity here to make MORE money. Think about how much Washington (and the NFL) would cash in on new logos, new uniforms, new looks – everyone would have to buy the new gear with the new team name and logo. On the other hand, it sure would be bizarre to see Washington’s team in any colors besides red and gold and be called anything but the Redskins.

Coming up this weekend, the best game, hands down, is the Monday Night match up between the Bears and Packers. Who doesn’t love NFC North action in Green Bay on a cold November night? The rest of the weekend slate gets a big “Meh,” from me. There may be more action for the teams on the bye this week – the Jags and 49ers will be catching up on their sleep while dreaming about how to use all those frequent flier miles, the Cardinals and Lions will relish their big wins last week, and the Broncos and Giants are off at the same time so we all know that means Archie Manning is having the boys over for dinner! Meanwhile, my Sunday dinner will probably be pizza, and quite possibly adult beverages if I’m subjected to watching the Browns.

Until next week, enjoy the games, my friends!