When Marvin Lewis
became the Bengals' coach in 2003, the former defensive coordinator had in mind
the ideal middle linebacker for Cincinnati: a defensive quarterback who looked
and played a lot like Ray Lewis, the Ravens' 6'1", 250-pound
sideline-to-sideline playmaker. He's tried six players at the position over
four seasons and still hasn't found a guy who fits that profile. But while
6'3", 220 pound Caleb Miller doesn't measure up to Ray Lewis physically,
he's playing like his Baltimore counterpart. Since being inserted into the
starting lineup after the Bengals gave up 49 points to the Chargers on Nov. 12,
the rangy Miller (above) has keyed a three-game Cincy winning streak in which
the Bengals (7--5) held the Saints, Browns and Ravens to a combined 23 points;
Miller had 30 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery in those games.
"There's more than one way to play middle linebacker," said Miller
after last Thursday's 13--7 win over Baltimore. "At my weight, I've got to
be quick to the hole and play with perfect technique."
In the Packers'
four wins, Brett Favre has thrown eight touchdown passes and no interceptions.
In the team's eight losses, he has seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
"I did have a
lot of doubts in the off-season," Bills coach Dick Jauron said last week of
mistake-prone quarterback J.P. Losman, "but every game this year he has
taken a step forward. He's going to be a really good player." Losman (left)
has completed 63.0% of his passes, up from 49.6% in 2005, and he impressed
Jauron with the way he directed last-minute, game-winning drives against the
Texans and the Jaguars in consecutive late-November games. Such performances
have mostly answered questions about Losman's long-term viability, and Jauron
says Buffalo will not be in the market for a quarterback to compete for the
starter's job next year.
1 The big
question on early NFL draft boards: Where does Ohio State quarterback and
Heisman Trophy lock Troy Smith fall? Some teams have him in the top 15, others
in the second round. Considering that Smith is an inch taller than Mike Vick,
nearly as athletic and a more accurate college passer, why isn't he certain to
go in the top three or four?
2 Lions president
and CEO Matt Millen may be overseeing the NFL's biggest disaster, but he won't
resign unless his patron, owner William Clay Ford, asks him. Ford isn't
3 It's crazy that
coaches are so afraid to make a quarterback change. Lovie Smith should give Rex
Grossman one more week to get on track. Smith can't afford to drag the Bears
down by sticking with his ill-performing passer any longer than that.