Archive for May, 2012

The Miami Dolphins made some waves with the selection of OT Jonathan Martin from Stanford in the second round of this years draft. Martin spent his years protecting Andrew Luck’s blindside…which in many people’s opinion seems to guarantee him a long and successful career in the NFL on the left side. I don’t necessarily agree with this and find it completely logical that the Dolphins want him playing on the right for the foreseeable future with Jake Long continuing to hold down the left side.

But, Long is in the last year of his rookie contract set to make just over $11 million this year. Martin is much cheaper and has been touted as an ideal fit for Philbin’s offense. Still the Dolphins would have to be crazy to let Long hit the open market after all the success he’s had for a mostly unsuccessful team. Of course there is the distinct possibility long will want to go somewhere else…and he should have his pick of suitors so maybe Miami drafted Martin knowing they would be unlikely to resign Long.

Or maybe, the team is very quietly shopping Long to suitors with some extra cap space who want to get in on the sweepstakes early. Let’s be honest. Everything Miami has done this offseason is with eyes on the future. Manning and Flynn were passed up in favor of Tannehill and Brandon Marshall was traded for draft picks. And Ireland did say when asked about Long adapting Philbin’s scheme that he was confident the LT could adapt to any scheme as well as any team in the NFL. Yes it’s very possible it was an innocuous overstatement from a GM trying to win back his fans, but it could also be a very subtle hint that the team will entertain offers for the former number 1 overall draft pick if it means additional pieces for that future team Ireland hopes to have reclaim the AFC East.

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If you think Alex Smith was making any sort of personal attack against Cam Newton when he made a statement about yards per game being an overrated stat. Newton set all kinds of records his rookie year, he’s an immense talent, but guess what? The Panthers finished 6-10. Newton was in a new pass oriented offense and playing from behind most of the year. I’m not trying to take anything from Cam Newton, neither was Alex Smith. His point was simple. I’d rather have the 29th ranked offense and play in the NFC championship game than set record and go 6-10. Guess what? I bet if you ask Cam if he’d rather have a deep playoff run or the Rookie record for passing yards, he’d pick the latter.

Maybe this is premature, but this could just be the Bucs year. Tampa Bay made a big splash and big improvement by adding WR Vincent Jackson, OG Carl Nicks, and underrated CB Eric Wright. Nicks will help protect young QB Josh Freeman, who though he has a new playbook to learn, should be hitting hitting his stride as a pro, and Jackson gives him a big bodied target to throw to in endzone, or hit in stride on deep routes.

The Bucs only got better in the draft adding S Mark Barron who can not only be an outstanding player, but a leader in the middle for a predominantly young defense in need of direction. RB Doug Martin gives balance to a running game that relied, perhaps too heavily, on the bruiser LeGarrette Blount last season. Linebackers Lavonte David and Najee Goode will provide additional help in the middle fo the field and CB Keith Tandy, RB Michael Smith and TE Drake Dunsmore provide needed depth.

But all that just seems to point to a bright future for the Bucs, making it seem like this year even is too soon. Maybe, but look around the NFC South:

The Saints are reeling in the wake of “bountygate” and of course they’re still the Saints, but you’re lying to me and yourself if you think this team is just as good as last year.

The Panthers also seem to be setting themselves up for a bright future on the shoulders of Cam Newton, but I can’t shake the feeling that Newton will have trouble living up to the expectations of his rookie season (don’t get me wrong I still think he’ll be good, but he shocked the league last season, with a year of tape and no real new weapons on offense I think teams can prepare for him better)

The Falcons, well they actually give me no reason to think they can’t put it together except for the fact that they are, well, the Falcons and somehow that seems reason enough.

I’m expecting a lot out of the NFC South this year (and football in general) I won’t be surprised to see who wins the division, I just think this is a particularly Golden opportunity for a young Bucs team to make a statement that they are more akin to the 10-6 Bucs from two years ago than the mess that took the field last year.

If you haven’t heard by now, Wes Welker is in full holdout mode after the Patriots decided to slap the franchise tag on him this offseason. Welker feels he’s earned a long term deal (can’t say I disagree) and is refusing to sign the tag, proclaiming that he is willing to wait all the way through the team’s first mandatory workout in June, and likely beyond if it reaches that point.

This of course goes against the Patriot way. In New England it’s all for the team, and former Pats have already called for Wes to end the act and get back to playing football. Wes’ contentious stance on receiving the franchise tag for a second straight year raises the question, do the Patriots really need him?

The notion that they might not seems crazy. He’s coming off a huge year and has been Tom Brady’s favorite target, but the team isn’t exactly lacking in offensive weapons. Gronkowski and Hernandez consistently create mismatches at Tight End and the additions of Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Anthony Gonzalez along with the resigning of Deion Branch and restructuring of Chad Ochocinco’s contract the team is far from desperate at the position.

Lloyd blossomed under Pats OC Josh McDaniels in both Denver and St. Louis; Gaffney is coming off one of his best statistical seasons; Gonzalez used to catch balls in the slot from Peyton Manning; and Ochocinco…well he certainly can’t do any worse than last season.

Bottom Line: Patriots hold all the cards in this one, so it’s up to Welker, either he signs the tag, plays out the year and keep working on that new deal, stick to the hold out and miss the year, or ask for a trade.