Cleveland QB Colt McCoy — I haven't seen too many rookies who have handled an NFL pass rush like he has thus far, the headiness of him back there, like Yeah, yeah, I know you're coming, now pipe down and let me get to work here. It well exceeds his age and experience.
In his first start, Oct. 17 against Pittsburgh, the Steelers sent their maniac rushers at him in gangs and you waited for McCoy to go to pieces — fumbles, swatted throws, the usual chaos rookies endure on their first day. But when it was over, a 23-for-33 McCoy performance went in the books, and his 281 throwing yards against a revved-up and healthy Steelers defense prompted some positive postgame words from the Pittsburgh head coach.
"He shows composure," Mike Tomlin said. "He put the ball where it was supposed to go. At times we rushed three, he didn't rush the ball. He showed some innate things that are quarterback things. … It wasn't too big for him. Really, we didn't expect it to be. This guy has been in some big games over there in that Big 12, at Texas."
Innate things that are quarterback things — that's a Tomlin way of saying the kid may be on the rise, and since then McCoy has peeled off wins over the reigning champ Saints and the tricky Patriots, and the way the kid has maneuvered himself so far makes me think of an old Alfred Hitchcock line, about designing his movies and the things he put in them that could scare the hell out of you.
"There is no fear in the bang," he said, "only in the anticipation of it."
For McCoy, the bangs, the anticipation, will keep coming. So far he has answered with a sneer.
More Steelers — this time in Cincy for the Monday tilt. Ben Roethlisberger throws and Roy Williams intercepts, then Steelers RB Isaac Redman turns defender and goes helmet-to-shoulder on Williams trying to make a stop, and we're very sincere in hoping the league won't be too touchy and fine Ike for knocking himself cold on the play.
College football — the only prime sport that morphs its rules for overtime, and as a result points come cheap and some of these things carry on forever, and you end up soiling the record book with bloaters like last Saturday's Illinois-Michigan (67-65, three OTs) and 2003's Arkansas over Kentucky (71-63, seven OTs) and Arkansas-Ole Miss in '01 (58-56, seven OTs).
Quickie solution — no PATs in the extra periods. Line 'em up and go for two every time — the muscleball approach. Bear and Woody and Amos Alonzo — are ya hearin' me?
CBS College Sports broadcaster Aaron Taylor does a great job of saying "does a great job" in his description of anything positive that occurs during the action. In Taylor's assignment game last weekend, we watched as TCU did a great job of hacking Utah to death, and Taylor made sure that every great job [and quite a few just-OK jobs] on the field was duly and emphatically noted.
There was a time when booth analysts were required to blend a firm knowledge of the game with a smooth, descriptive control of the English language — at least that was the plan. I mean, John Madden was no wordsmith, and Monday Night's Don Meredith would hit you with way too many "Awww yeah — there he goes!" during a big sparkle play, but at least they didn't recycle words and repeat themselves like cage parrots, and what I want to know is what the hell goes on in those TV analyst job interviews now?
The naturals, like Kirk Herbstreit and Todd Blackledge and, years back, Mike Gottfried, just loosen the tie and let it flow and the football thoughts flow out and it's an afternoon of easy listening, while the amateurs in the biz remain vocally unsure and hammer you each weekend with their verbal crutches.
"Does a great job" is Taylor's crutch, and another collegiate voice with a crutch word is ESPN's Jesse Palmer, who astonishingly finds a way to jam the word "football" into nearly every branch of his commentary. On and on it goes, and the network speech therapists (assuming they even exist) have done nothing to coach them any other way.
Aaron "Does a Great Job" Taylor vs. Jesse "The Football" Palmer? Sounds like a headliner on one of those 1980s Wrestlemania bills. Combined, the two do a great job with the football. On air, Lord, how they wrestle with the words.
Back to the NFL, and a hearty vote for the midseason MVP — that would be San Diego's Philip Rivers. A shoulder thrower who's ringing up 65.3 percent of his throws for 13.7 yards per catch, doing it all with that offbeat cast of tumblers around him. A circus master who raises his whip and the pachyderms whirl in circles and dogs walk on front legs and the human cannonball soars through the rafters. It's November again, circus time, Philip Rivers' big-top time, which means the Chargers have picked up their winning ways.
Tom Danyluk is an award-winning freelance writer based in Chicago. His book on pro football, "The Super '70s," is available at Amazon.com. You can contact Tom at Danyluk1@yahoo.com.