View Full Version : For some NFL teams, being young bodes well for the future

09-27-2009, 09:08 AM
For some NFL teams, being young bodes well for the future
05:00 PM CDT on Saturday, September 26, 2009

By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News

The Houston Texans looked very young in a stunning 24-7 opening-day home loss to the New York Jets. Then they looked very talented in an equally stunning 34-31 road upset of the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.

Turns out, the Texans are both young and talented. And that gives them a terrific-looking future.

Houston isn't the youngest team in the NFL Green Bay holds that distinction but the Texans have the youngest starting lineup. The average age of the Houston roster is 26.47 years, making the Texans the 15th-youngest team in the league.
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But based on the NFL's opening-day lineups, the average age of Houston's 22 starters is 26.04 years. The Texans only have three players over the age of 30 in the starting lineup SS Nick Ferguson (34), WR Andre Davis (30) and G Chester Pitts (30), who is out for the season.

The Packers have the youngest roster in the NFL for the fourth consecutive year at 25.7 years. But Green Bay hasn't made the same commitment to putting that youth on the field as Houston. With an average age of 27.81 in their lineup, the Packers have the 10th-oldest set of starters in the league.

The Philadelphia Eagles, surprisingly, have the second-youngest lineup at 26.50 years of age. But the Eagles shed a pair of 30-something offensive tackles (Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan) this season to whittle the average age down from 27.0 a year ago.

The Tennessee Titans have the oldest lineup at an average age of 29.09 years also the oldest in the league since the 2005 Kansas City Chiefs (29.22 years). The Titans have eight starters over the age of 30.

The Washington Redskins (28.59) and Cowboys (28.36) rank among the five-oldest starting lineups in the NFL. Dallas has eight starters in their 30s, including all five blockers along the offensive line.

The Denver Broncos have a league-high 11 starters in their 30s, and Buffalo and Tampa Bay share the league-low along with Houston at three. The Minnesota Vikings have the NFL's oldest starter in 39-year-old QB Brett Favre and the Detroit Lions have the youngest in 21-year-old QB Matthew Stafford.


Here's the roll call of NFL starting lineups, listing the average age and the number of starters over the age of 30:

Teams Age 30s
Houston 26.04 3
Philadelphia 26.50 4
Jacksonville 26.54 6
Kansas City 26.63 4
Buffalo 26.68 3
Oakland 26.81 5
Detroit 26.95 6
San Diego 26.95 5
St. Louis 26.95 4
Cincinnati 27.04 4
Atlanta 27.09 5
NY Giants 27.13 6
Tampa Bay 27.13 3
Indianapolis 27.18 6
New Orleans 27.22 5
Baltimore 27.40 6
Chicago 27.45 7
Seattle 27.45 5
San Francisco 27.54 4
Arizona 27.68 5
Carolina 27.72 7
Miami 27.77 7
Green Bay 27.81 4
NY Jets 27.81 8
Cleveland 27.90 10
Pittsburgh 28.18 7
Denver 28.22 11
Minnesota 28.27 7
Dallas 28.36 8
Washington 28.59 9
New England 28.95 10
Tennessee 29.09 8


Pass happy

New Orleans QB Drew Brees has four 300-yard passing games in a row dating back to December. He'll attempt to extend his streak to five today against the NFL's 31st-ranked pass defense the Buffalo Bills. Peyton Manning is the only other NFL quarterback to post back-to-back 300-yard games to open this season.

Hard feelings

Cleveland fans loathe Art Modell for moving the Browns to Baltimore in 1996, where they became the Ravens. Their passion was inflamed when the Ravens won a Super Bowl in 2000. The Browns are one of only five franchises that have never been to the Super Bowl. Modell no longer owns the Ravens, but there's lingering bitterness in Cleveland with the Baltimore franchise. The Ravens annually stoke that bitterness, winning 13 of the 20 games the two teams have played. Baltimore is a double-digit favorite to beat the Browns at home today.

Pats rule over NFC

The New England Patriots have won 15 of their last 16 games against NFC opponents. The only loss was that stunning 17-14 Super Bowl upset to the New York Giants in 2008. The last time the Patriots lost to an NFC team in the regular season was to the Panthers in Carolina in September 2005. The Patriots host the Atlanta Falcons today. Patriots QB Tom Brady is 27-5 against the NFC.


The Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers all opened the 2008 season 0-2 but all went on to capture division titles. The 2007 New York Giants started 0-2 and won the Super Bowl. So there is still hope for Carolina, Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Tennessee, who all take 0-2 records into the third week of the season.The Detroit Lions gave their fans reason for holiday cheer with a 25-23 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 23, 2007. But it's been 19 lumps of coal since then. That's the extent of Detroit's franchise-record losing streak. But it ends Sunday. The 0-2 Lions, with their rookie head coach (Jim Schwartz) and rookie quarterback (Matthew Stafford), host the Washington Redskins. The Redskins failed to score a touchdown at home last week but still squeaked by the St. Louis Rams, 9-7. On paper, the Lions are better than the Rams. Detroit is a 61/2-point underdog. Go with the Lions.

09-27-2009, 09:08 AM


■ Kevin Kolb will continue to start for the Philadelphia Eagles at quarterback in place of the injured Donovan McNabb. He earned that right after his 391-yard passing performance against New Orleans last week. But looming in the background is Michael Vick, who comes off NFL suspension and is eligible to play today against Kansas City. "He's in pretty good shape," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I'm not sure exactly how we will use him or if he'll play or how much he'll play. He put on a couple of pounds when he was out of football, but he's back down now. It looks like he's moving around pretty good."

■ The New York Giants will see an old friend in Tampa – RB Derrick Ward, who wears one of their Super Bowl rings from 2007. Ward was the No. 2 back in New York's three-back rotation the last two years along with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. But he bolted for the Buccaneers in free agency last off-season. He now splits the carries with Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham. "I miss my old teammates and coaches," Ward said. "When you play somewhere for five years, you are always going to have mutual respect for them. I thank the Giants for giving me my start in the NFL and continuing to believe in me throughout those years. But I'm in a perfect situation here in Tampa."

■ The Washington Redskins are 1-1 and look like a tight football team. The Giants handled the Redskins quite handily in the opener, then Washington struggled for a 9-7 victory last week over hapless St. Louis. Another hapless team is on tap today – the Detroit Lions, who have not won a game since 2007. QB Jason Campbell is waiting to see the Washington team that expected to contend for a playoff spot. "What I want to see is us come and fight hard, play competitive, play with attitude and play like you really want it," Campbell said. "Play like you want to get to the next step, not just go out there running plays or just doing things for the sake of doing them and hope that someone [else] makes a play. Everyone needs to have the mentality that anyone can make a play at any given time."

■ The NFC's top two rushers square off in Minnesota today when Frank Gore (237 yards) and the San Francisco 49ers visit Adrian Peterson (272) and the Vikings. "It's a tremendous opportunity for us defensively to see where we are," 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. "He's a guy you have to contain every play. We've got our hands full."


■ The Tennessee Titans (formerly Houston Oilers) visit the New York Jets today in a game between two original AFL franchises. In 1965, the Oilers held the draft rights to Joe Namath. But when Oilers/Titans owner Bud Adams spoke with Namath, the Alabama quarterback said, "I'm a New York man. I want to play in New York where the lights are big and fast and everything. I don't know too much about Houston." In the best interests of the league, Adams traded Namath's rights to the Jets – and the rest is history. "I always said to myself I made the right decision because it gave us [AFL] the first victory over the NFL in Super Bowl III," Adams said.

■ The NFL schedule-maker did the Miami Dolphins no favors, giving them a September slate that included consecutive games against 2008 playoff teams Atlanta, Indianapolis and San Diego. The defending AFC East champion Dolphins are already 0-2 heading into San Diego today. "Oh-and-2 is 0-2," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "It stinks whenever you have it. Honestly, 0-2 last year coming off 1-15 smelled the same way 0-2 smells right now. It's not a good taste in your mouth. I don't love it, nobody in that locker room loves it. But we're beyond that. If we think about 0-2 too long, if we don't watch it we could be 0-3. We're not interested in that"

■ Matt Ryan returns to Boston today as quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. He played his college ball at Boston College and broke Doug Flutie's season record for touchdown passes in 2007. The Falcons drafted Ryan with the third overall choice of the 2008 draft. "We saw him and we talked about him a lot," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "But when he came out, he wasn't really a factor for us in the draft, given where he was going and where we were picking." Ryan took the surprising Falcons to a wild-card playoff berth as a rookie and has them on a 2-0 start in 2009.

■ The Baltimore Ravens are 2-0 and atop the AFC North, one game ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Baltimore bandwagon is getting crowded. "That's the NFL," Ravens WR Derrick Mason said. "One week you're winning and everyone loves you. The next week you're losing and everyone hates you. One week Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever live. Now they're questioning whether he can lead the Patriots to victory. People's opinions change like the wind."