NFL teams already in panic mode

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

It's three weeks into the season and NFL teams can't find the panic button quick enough.

One day after Armageddon weekend and the football landscape is littered with scapegoats.

In the move that had the biggest wow-factor, the Buffalo Bills released quarterback Trent Edwards. Of course it is the Bills, who name lots of No. 1 quarterbacks-- but then change their mind more often than Peyton Manning walking up to a line of scrimmage.

In a competition with Ryan Fitzpatrick, it took Chan Gailey and Friends five months to pick Edwards as their starter. Three weeks later they decide he's not even good enough to be on the team. Go figure.

Fitzpatrick got the offence rolling against New England Sunday after Edwards was ineffective the first two weeks. But the entire process indicates again that this is a team without any direction -- other than maybe one day calling Toronto home. Considering the rest of the professional losers around here, they'd fit in perfectly. Maybe that's being too cynical. But it is the fifth time in six years Buffalo has replaced its starting quarterback in mid-season.

If it's any consolation, and it likely isn't, they weren't the only ones having second thoughts. Nobody's job is safe at Panic Central -- NFL Division. In San Francisco, offensive co-ordinator Jimmy Raye took the fall for the 49ers' 0-3 start. A chic pick to win the NFC West, they were routed by Kansas City Sunday, scoring just 10 points.

The 49ers are 20th in total offence, but their 12.7 points-per-game average is 31st in the NFL -- better than only the Panthers. The seismic upheaval extends to the defensive side where inside linebacker Takeo Spikes and safety Michael Lewis have been benched.

Week 3 separates the pretenders from the potential contenders and history isn't on the side of the 49ers. Since 1990, 102 teams have started 0-3; three have made the playoffs.

There are another half-dozen teams now filled with angst and desperation.

In Jacksonville, David Garrard's been so inept even the team's website referred to his 13-for-30, 105-yard effort this weekend as the "worst performance" since he took over as the starter in 2007. And team website writers aren't exactly encouraged to be critical.

The only thing that's saved him so far is that the Jaguars invested huge money in Garrard in 2008 (six years, $60 million US) and they haven't developed any young players behind him. The team is looking at former St. Louis quarterback Keith Null this week but that hardly jumps out as a solution. Garrard is coach Jack Del Rio's golden boy, for better or worse. At least for 13 more games.

"This is definitely a tough pill to swallow. That was really embarrassing out there," said Garrard, whose other saving grace is that there is no healthy backup--although some people are thinking Luke McCown on one leg couldn't be any worse.

Speaking of guys who look like they're playing without a leg to stand on ... in Minnesota, Brett Favre won a game but not a lot of confidence. His best play is handing the ball to Adrian Peterson. The passing game is a mess, much like Favre's wonky ankle. In the 24-10 win against the Lions, Favre's lone downfield pass was a 25-yard touchdown to Percy Harvin against busted coverage. He has six interceptions in three games after throwing only seven all of last season.

On the upside, it gives Edwards at least two potentiallanding spots (Arizona is also a potential destination) after getting pipped at the QB post by Fitzpatrick, who was 20-of-28 in a 38-30 loss to the Patriots.

Even the Super Bowl champions aren't immune from the hair-pulling. Garrett Hartley won NFL specialteam player of the week on Sept. 22 for his game-winning winning field goal against the 49ers. But after missing a 29-yarder Sunday in a loss to Atlanta, the Saints are bringing in two potential replacements. ESPN reports the Saints are working out John Carney and Matt Stover.

QUICK HITS

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates scored the 63rd touchdown down of his career, tied for second-best all-time among tight ends ... Browns receiver Josh Cribbs has flfluid on his ankle and has been wearing a walking cast ...The Rams have renewed interest in free agent Larry Johnson after RB Steven ven Jackson tweaked a groin that has been preliminarily diagnosed as a pull, not a tear ... Steelers backup nose tackle Chris Hoke sprained his right MCL during Sunday's win. Bad news with starter Casey Hampton already out with a hamstring problem ... Lions' Javid Best is day to day with a sore big toe.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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