Archive for March, 2012

This offseason…and for several off seasons now, the St. Louis Rams are under fire for their lack of offensive fire power, but I don’t think this unit is as devoid of talent as the numbers would have you believe. The problem the Rams have is keeping healthy receivers on the field. Danny Amendola seemed poised for a big year as Sam Bradford favorite target, but he was lost to the IR before he really got a chance to get going. Second year receiver Danario Alexander, the 6’5 second year man from Missouri was taking strides towards becoming a legitimate deep threat before Sam Bradford went down. Greg Salas stepped up as rookie who saw a lot of targets and made the most of them.

Don’t get me wrong, the Rams still need a playmaker and true number 1 on the outside, but don’t make the mistake of thinking there’s no talent there. Just ask Laurent Robinson, who got cut from Rams after he couldn’t stay on the field and ended up having a break out year with the Cowboys.

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As we start to close in on the draft Cleveland and Miami fans have started to panic…well Miami fans are protesting while Cleveland fans are working on their disappointed sighs. Neither team made a splashy signing or big move at QB despite the talks and meager attempts at Griffin, Manning and Flynn, but that’s fine. These teams are beyond the piece meal help of big name free agents. Neither team is “a player away” from dominance. They’re both is tough divisions, with mostly young teams. They’ve also both stock piled draft picks. Come the end of April it will be their time to shine.

With two first round picks I think the Browns have set them up nicely. And I’ve said this before in my RG3 rundown, but I think the #4 selection needs to go to Morris Claiborne. The move would lock down the corner spots for years to come with Claiborne opposite Haden the Browns will have two guys capable of taking the long ball away from the divisions big arm QBs like Flacco and Roethlisberger. I’m not against Blackmon or Richardson being taken with the pick because both have excellent skill sets and they could use the weaponry, I just think grabbing a WR at no. 22 isn’t a bad idea, especially if Michael Floyd drops to the spot. Floyd is currently being targeted by the Bears in most mocks, but with Brandon Marshall to be a true number one and Earl Bennet and Johnny Knox capable 2/3 receivers I think the bears have to address the offensive line if they want Cutler standing long enough to connect on the deep routes. Then maybe wait until the second, even third round and target some one like Oregon’s LeMichael James to pair with Montario Hardesty, who ran well in limited action last season.

I mentioned the Dolphins in that RG3 piece as well, but now seeing how the chips have fallen I have to believe that #8 pick is going to Ryan Tannehill. The new offensive coordinator has already spoken highly of Tannehill, who he coached at Texas A&M and with Matt Moore in place to take pressure off the young QB and let him learn the NFL at his own pace I think it’s a near perfect fit for the team. Then they use a second round pick and/or one of their third rounders to pick up the best available wide out from what is shaping up to be a talented class. Grab a corner to replace the departed Will Allen and at the very least it should let the fans put away the picket signs knowing their is a plan in place for the future.

Update: Tim Tebow is officially a New York Jet, but how long can we expect Tebow to stay in New York? The Jets have been adamant about Tim’s status as a back-up and wildcat QB and insist that they’re dedicated to Mark Sanchez, but how long can the two be expected to co-exist? Tebow and Sanchez are both young guys who see long careers ahead of the in the NFL…as starters. Tebow has already said he wants to push for the starter spot, and he should. The Jets brought him in because they needed someone to push Sanchez. The problem with Tebow is just how hard he might push because, quite frankly, he could send Sanchez over the edge on his way to taking over the starter’s spot. I’m not trying to take anything away from Mark Sanchez, he’s a talented young QB who’s game is improving each year…but so is Tebow. And the gap between Tebow and Sanchez is much smaller than between most starters and back-ups. Most back-ups are guys who proved over years of trial and error that they couldn’t quite cut it as a full season starter, or guys who never really get a proper shot to prove themselves on the big stage. Tim Tebow on the other hand lead his team to a playoff victory and had a streak of 6 consecutive wins after taking over what was looking like a very dismal season for the Broncos. (Yes, he got a huge boost from the defense, special teams, and running game, but the team looked miserable before he took the reigns)

The bottom line is even if everything goes according to plan in New York and Sanchez stays healthy and plays well and Tebow does a good job running the wild cat all it will mean is further improvement for Tebow. Even if we’re assuming that Sanchez is able to fend off Tebow with both guys improving at a similar rate, at some point in the not too distant future Tebow will exceed the back up role and he or Sanchez will need to leave New York for greener pastures (with a less green color scheme)

It’s possible that the fallout for the Saints might not be over. While I would consider it highly unlikely that Drew Brees would do that to his teammates it’s an interesting question given the circumstances. Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis are both suspended for the season, Brees was adamant that he didn’t know about the bounty program and now that the punishment has been doled out, does it make Brees see the organization in a different light? Again, Drew loves the fans and the city of New Orleans, holding out for an entire season has slim to none chances, but in an NFL where Peyton Manning can spend a year getting neck surgery and then sign a 96 million dollar contract* you have to wonder if Drew Brees isn’t reassessing his own value and what he could be worth, even after a year away.

*for the record I think the Broncos are overpaying big time and I’m kind of hoping the deal bites them in the ass, even if that just means solid, but not exceptional play by Manning and no playoff wins to show for it.

What happens when you take a humble soft spoken QB with an unconventional playing style and put him on a team with an arrogant and out-spoken head coach? The 2012 Jets are about to find out. I’ll be honest, I had a feeling Tebow was going to end up in the AFC East, but the Jets seemed to have the least to gain. Miami was running down every QB available and Tebow’s Florida roots would mean an instant spike in revenue. The Patriots already have a crowd of 3 QBs but with the McDaniels back in New England adding Tebow as a goal line threat and trading Ryan Mallet or Brian Hoyer (who both would likely garner a few offers.) The Bills saw a huge fall off in production from Ryan Fitzpatrick as the year went on and they lack a solid back-up, but the Jets? The Jets had just extended Mark Sanchez’ contract and  signed Drew Stanton as a back up and get back second year player Greg McElroy who was putting in an impressive preseason before suffering a season ending injury.

Bringing in a personality like Tebow’s is dangerous. He chased Kyle Orton out of Denver by simply being a good teammate and accepting his role as a developing back up to a talented veteran on a team that despite evident talent was struggling to win games. Meanwhile fans called for Tebow under center with billboards until finally the organization seemed to give up. They traded their best receiver benched Orton and braced themselves for a downward spiral. Only to have Tebow scramble and play fake his way into the playoffs and past the Steelers before finally losing to the eventual AFC Champions. And all this happened in Denver. Now Tebow is in New York, the city that eats small market athletes alive. If he thought he was under a microscope before, just wait until he takes his first snap for Gang Green. Every fumble, every interception is the turnover that loses the game and writes your ticket out of town. Every goal line touchdown is 100 more votes for the Tebow day parade.

New York is never an easy place to play and Tebow has allied himself with the wrong side for understanding. The Giants, and Yankees fans tend to coincide. Their teams are winners, they have pride, and are built on tradition. The Mets and the Jets fans are the ones who lurk in the shadows, singing the praises of every new headline acquisition that fills us with hope, that this is the guy. This is the year. And when those hopes are faded to a glimmer by mid season the boos become deafening as those once praised as saviors are shouted down as hacks.

Now that Matt Flynn has signed with Seattle all hope for the Miami is lost. At least, that’s what popular opinion might lead you to believe, but I think the Dolphins came into this off season with a plan and for better or worse they are sticking to it. After finishing 6-10 last season the decision was made somewhere in the organization to enter rebuilding mode. For all of their interest in Manning the team made no real effort to put themselves ahead of the competition. Denver offered John Elway, a talented young receiving, a stout defense, and solid running game.  The Titans offered much the same, but replaced Elway with promises of a lifetime contract and a pro bowl guard. The 49ers even as a late entrant offered the second best team in the NFC last season without Manning and the Dolphins…traded their best Wide Receiver for a pair of third round picks. Not exactly making it a tough call for Peyton.

Much the same can be said for Matt Flynn. Offering him a team that lost it’s best Receiver and failed to sign a replacement likely paled in comparison to  a Seahawks roster featuring talented second year WR Doug Baldwin, as well as Sidney Rice, Mike Williams and Zach Miller. Even before courting Flynn though there was a statement by Coach Philbin saying that his familiarity with the ex-Packer didn’t necessarily mean they would sign him and the familiarity wasn’t an advantage…in other words he wouldn’t mind having Flynn, but he wasn’t willing to stake his head coaching career on the guy. And now he won’t have to.

Instead it will likely be Matt Moore in competition with Ryan Tannehill come spring training, bringing a pair of rookie wide receivers along with him (at least one of them coming from the picks received for Marshall.) It’s certainly not the worst case scenario some analysts seem to think it is. Moore rejuvenated the offense and the Daniel Thomas/Reggie Bush Tandem is solid. I’ll be honest I have no idea what the defense looks like, but I imagine it’s decent and the holes will be addressed in the draft or with lower level free agents. The Dolphins claimed they wanted to make a splash, but when everyone else shelled out to get their guy the Dolphins shyed off. So it’s a lesser splash, but if they can build on the success they had the second half of last season by adding some rookie talent from a deep WR class they should be good enough to finish around 8-8…then again they could stumble out of the blocks and end up 4-12

18 million dollars in cap penalties certainly hasn’t slowed down the Redskins on the first day of free agency. Washington has been busy the past few days, and I have to say I like what I’m seeing so far. Going out to get Griffin was huge. It’s a risk worth taking for a team in desperate need of a franchise guy in a year with limited options available. Griffin is an athletic guy with a lot of talent and a big arm, he’s everything you could want out of a QB and he should succeed in Washington. He certainly won’t be short of weapons with the early signings of Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. I mentioned both wide outs earlier today as potential fits for Jacksonville, but these are guys who should fit in Washington just as well. Garcon has been showing some immense talent and is still young. Morgan is a high character guy, only 26 years old and was on the verge of a break out season with the 49ers last year before he went to the IR in week 5.

The Redskins are doing exactly what they said they would when they brought in Mike Shannhan, they are laying off of expensive older veterans and guys with off field issues and focusing on young guys with tons of potential in hopes of catching them all in their primes a few years from now without sacrificing being competitive in the short term…okay so that second goal may have faded out after the 3-0 start last season, but the free agents guys they brought in on defense were the bright spots in a bleak season.