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Week Four Monday 10-pack

It’s Monday morning, the time when we look back at Sunday’s game with a series of 10 takes.

It’s also the time when you’re easing back into the work week, and this is part of our public service to boost worker morale.

Even if it means reducing their productivity.

Either way, read the 10-pack. Then get to work. Unless you want to check out some more of the stuff you missed when you weren’t checking the site over the weekend, because you weren’t working.

1. Titans give the NFL a collective middle finger.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher, the current holder of the longest tenure with the same team, is a widely-respected member of the influential Competition Committee.

The team he runs enjoys no such reputation.

A backlash quietly is building in league circles against the Titans, who entered the weekend with the most personal foul/unnecessary roughness penalties in the league -- and who led all teams with fines in the amount of $47,500. Thanks to defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, that number will climb even higher this week.

Cecil’s blatant middle finger, directed to the officials in plain view of the CBS cameras, surely will draw a huge fine. Given that Jets coach Rex Ryan paid $50,000 for the privilege of showing a middle finger to fans at an offseason MMA event in South Florida, Cecil will be facing a much bigger penalty.

Then, after Sunday’s game, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton sounded off regarding the “cheap” Titans, pointing a non-middle finger at cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who has claimed that he wants to be known as the dirtiest player in the league.

Some league insiders believe the time has come for Fisher to take control of the situation. Said one high-level source with another team, “We have to sit and listen to Fisher pontificate at league meetings every year, and his guys are as dirty as anyone.”

Maybe, at some point, franchises should be held accountable for fostering an atmosphere in which so much unruly behavior occurs. At a certain point, it no longer can be called a coincidence.

2. Ken Whisenhunt is mad for Max Hall.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt says that he won’t be naming a starting quarterback for the Week Five game against the Saints until he reviews the tape of Sunday’s blowout loss to the Chargers. Whisenhunt claims he doesn’t want to make an emotional decision.

Surely, the emotional decision would be to park Derek Anderson and give the ball to undrafted rookie Max Hall.

Anderson was yanked from Sunday’s game for Hall, who completed eight of 14 passes for 82 yards. The bigger problem could be the offensive line; the Cardinals surrendered nine sacks to the Chargers.

Still, Whisenhunt really likes Hall. Indeed, as Peter King reported before the season began, it was Whisenhunt’s faith in Hall that contributed to the decision to part ways with former first-rounder Matt Leinart.

All that said, the Cardinals should have gotten someone more accomplished and capable than Derek Anderson to back up Leinart. Though Hall still could have been the quarterback of the future, the Cardinals would have had someone better prepared to get the job done in the present.

3. Josh McDaniels is following nicely in Mike Shanahan’s footsteps.

Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who essentially ran the show in Denver, had a reputation for being a bad evaluator of personnel -- and in turn for being a very good coach, given his ability to cook a digestible meal despite making an array of blunders while pushing a cart with that one messed up wheel through the aisles of the market. His successor, Josh McDaniels, already has shown similar tendencies.

McDaniels gave up one of the first-round picks from the Jay Cutler trade to obtain a second-round pick that became cornerback Alphonso Smith, who inexplicably was sent a year later to Detroit for tight end Dan Gronkowski, a seventh-round pick in the same draft.

McDaniels also sent running back Peyton Hillis, who now has two straight 100-yard rushing games, to Cleveland for Brady Quinn. McDaniels surrendered along with Hillis a sixth-round draft pick, and McDaniels obtained in return a guy who will be mired at No. 3 on the depth chart for most of the year.

Then, McDaniels traded for failed first-round running back Laurence Maroney, who had 11 carries for five yards today. That’s an average of 0.45 yards per carry.

The biggest gamble, of course, came when the Broncos traded back into round one to get quarterback Tim Tebow. If Tebow doesn’t become a competent starter, McDaniels may not be in Denver for very long.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have found a way to beat the Titans in Tennessee, proving that McDaniels, like Shanahan, can coach through his mistakes So maybe McDaniels, whose 6-0 turned 3-10 team overcame an 0-6 turned 10-3 team, has what it takes to be a coach.

The sooner he admits that he may not be the best evaluator of personnel, the better he’ll do in his primary job.

4. Jets are becoming what Rex Ryan said they would be.

Through four weeks of the NFL season, only one team is undefeated -- the 3-0 Chiefs. No team exhibits the aura of the proverbial “team of destiny.”

Except for, perhaps, the Jets.

Stymied by the Ravens in the season opener at the New Meadowlands Stadium, many assumed the Jets were on their way to mediocrity. They responded by handling the Patriots, beating a tough Dolphins team in their own house, and completely dismantling the Bills.

Next up, they welcome one-year Jets quarterback Brett Favre back to town, and they’ll have receiver Santonio Holmes and possibly linebacker Calvin Pace and cornerback Darrelle Revis in hand when facing Minnesota. Given that the Vikings’ corps of receivers consists of Percy Harvin and a collection of no-names, the Jets can afford to give Revis another week to heal.

They arguably can give him the Broncos game off, too, which then will carry the Jets into the bye week. Coming out of the bye they face the high-flying Packers; assuming Revis will be back to 100 percent by then, they’ll get good use out of him that night.

Still, with or without Revis, the Jets have become, for now, the best team in the league.

Whether they stay there for long remains to be seen.

5. 49ers are still very much alive.

In 1992, the Chargers lost the first four games of the season and somehow made it to the playoffs. The 49ers can do the same thing, for one major reason.

They play in the NFC West.

Even now, the 0-4 Niners are only two games behind the three-way logjam at 2-2, and they can pull themselves back toward contention with a win next Sunday night against the Eagles.

The Seahawks are great at home and dreadful on the road. The Cardinals likely will soon be putting their fate in the hands of undrafted rookie Max Hall. And the Rams surely can’t continue to hover near .500, can they? (No, really. Can they?)

The Niners remain very much alive. They’ve still got five games to play in the division, and they can take some solace in near misses against the 3-1 Saints and the 3-1 Falcons. If they can cut through the distractions and focus on winning one big game on a national stage, they can at a minimum make things interesting.

6. NFC East is jumbled, too.

The presence of three 2-2 teams atop the NFC West surprises no one. A similar cluster in the NFC East is an eye-opener.

But there it is. Giants, 2-2. Eagles, 2-2. Redskins, 2-2.

The Cowboys surely are thrilled to be only one-half game behind the pack, riding high through their bye on the road win they secured in Houston.

The bigger challenge for the eventual champion of the NFC East will be earning a bye in the playoffs. As it stands,

the champions of the NFC North and NFC South again will be in line for the week off, forcing the Cowboys or whoever wins this wide-open division to play an extra postseason game -- and if they win it to then go on the road.

7. L.T. could be in danger of wearing down.

In our weekly video segment, two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison of Football Night in America and I talked about a former MVP who’s trying to get his first ring.

LaDainian Tomlinson is enjoying a rebirth with the Jets, rushing for 341 yards in only four games -- nearly half of his full-season total for 2009. Though he was expected to keep Shonn Greene from becoming the next L.T., chewing into his touches, taking away touchdowns, and in turn keeping Greene from becoming bigger than the team, Tomlinson has become the lead dog.

Along the way, he has passed Tony Dorsett for seventh on the all-time rushing list, and Tomlinson could still pick off Eric Dickerson and Jerome Bettis before the season is over.

But with 68 touches through 25 percent of the season (he’s on pace for 272), a question that has nagged Tomlinson even longer than questions about his age surely will surface.

Can he stay healthy over the long haul?

In this regard, here’s another angle to keep in mind. In San Diego, L.T. often didn’t play at all in the preseason. This year, he added another 25 touches during exhibition play.

Thus, he could be closing in on 300 total touches before the postseason begins. That’s probably twice the touches anyone reasonably thought he’d get -- and it could be more than any 31-year-old running back ever should get in the modern NFL.

8. Philly fans earn redemption.

Eagles fans are as smart as they are passionate. And they apparently were smart enough to realize that, by giving former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb a proper welcome, they could go a long way toward exorcising the demons of a snowball-pelted Santa Claus and a Cowboys receiver whose career-ending injury was cheered.

How else can we explain their decision to embrace a man about whom they were for so many years openly ambivalent? Though they possibly don’t like McNabb, they possibly like even less the national perception that they routinely behave like soccer hooligans with a raging case of hemorrhoids.

So, for at least a day, Philly fans were regarded by the masses as classy. (Frankly, we think it wouldn’t have been non-classy to boo McNabb.) And it could be that their treatment of McNabb will alter the manner in which they’re perceived.

Still, we’re not quite sure whether the effort justified blowing a golden opportunity to rattle McNabb only minutes before one of the biggest games of his career. And, yes, it would have rattled him.

9. Lions continue to struggle.

The good news for the Lions is that they could have won three of their four games. The bad news is that they’ve won none of them.

Along the way, coach Jim Schwartz has racked up a dubious distinction. He’s the only coach in franchise history to win only two of his first 20 games.

Though some may now wonder whether Schwartz will be fired during or after the season, the Lions are moving in the right direction. They just need to win a game, and then another win may come. One of these years, they may win more than five or six.

It can’t come soon enough for a franchise whose fans have had nothing about which to feel good since Barry Sanders retired.

10. Something’s wrong with the Saints.

In the only statistical category that matters, the Saints are 3-1. But each win has featured a narrow margin -- as did their only defeat.

So where’s the killer instinct? Where’s the magic that made last year’s Saints games into track meets?

Some would say that the absence of running back Reggie Bush has tightened up the team’s options on offense, but the Saints struggled even before he was hurt.

Whatever the reason, the Saints need to find some of that 2009 mojo that carried them to the division crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Otherwise, they’ll face much stiffer challenges than the one that nearly derailed their Super Bowl run in the NFC title game.