Scores of offensive problems

NFL week

November 20, 2005|By KEN MURRAY | KEN MURRAY,SUN REPORTER

The Houston Texans have made eight changes to their starting offensive line in just nine games. The San Francisco 49ers already have started four different quarterbacks. The New York Jets have started three different passers and played four.

Not surprisingly, these three teams rank among the four lowest-scoring teams in the NFL.

Then there are the Ravens, the lowest-scoring team in the league. Until today, they have started the same five offensive linemen and just two quarterbacks.

For some teams, the lack of touchdowns and scoring is easily traceable. For others, it's more murky.

In a league that caters to offense and scoring, a team has to have serious deficiencies not to be able to get into the end zone on a semi-regular basis. After nine weeks, 10 teams are averaging less than two touchdowns a game, but only one - Baltimore - is averaging less than one touchdown per game.

Let's consider each of the aforementioned cases of inept offense.

Texans (1-8): They have scored 12 offensive touchdowns and 124 points. They haven't scored more than two touchdowns in 19 of their past 20 games, a case of severe anemia.

Their problem stems from a bad offensive line that has been further depleted by injury, and a quarterback, David Carr, who is either shell-shocked or a first-pick bust. The eight line changes tie the New Orleans Saints for most in the league this season.

The result is that coach Dom Capers almost certainly will lose his job at the end of the season.

49ers (2-7): They have eight offensive touchdowns and 126 points, using a quarterback carousel behind a seriously overmatched line. The hope was that No. 1 pick Alex Smith could step in and play right away, but Smith (0-2) couldn't make up for the team's many shortcomings, and then he got hurt.

Tim Rattay (1-3), Ken Dorsey (1-0) and Cody Pickett (0-2) also have started. Rattay was traded, and it's Dorsey's turn today against the Seattle Seahawks. He'll have a rookie, Adam Snyder, at left tackle, the team's third left tackle this season.

Without any continuity at quarterback, the 49ers have not scored a touchdown in six of their nine games, and have none in the past three. First-year coach Mike Nolan has a long way to go.

Jets (2-7): They have 13 offensive touchdowns and 121 points in a crisis situation that started even before Chad Pennington went down in Week 3. Things got so bad so quickly they brought back Vinny Testaverde, 42, who had nothing left. Brooks Bollinger started last week and threw four interceptions in a 30-3 loss.

The team faces a total rebuilding job, perhaps even into the front office. Herman Edwards spent the week denying he'll go to Kansas City to coach the Chiefs next year.

Ravens (2-7): With seven offensive touchdowns and 100 points, the Ravens are last in the league in both categories. A team that relies heavily on the running game has just one rushing touchdown, tied with the Arizona Cardinals for fewest in the league.

Still, Brian Rimpf, who replaces Keydrick Vincent at right guard today, represents the first change in the starting line. Tony Pashos is expected to replace right tackle Orlando Brown. In Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright, the Ravens have two quarterbacks who lock in on their receivers and don't respond well to pressure. It's not a situation that will correct itself.

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