Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Buffalo Bills hold the 8th overall selection in this years draft, but despite the high pick Buffalo could find all 3 top LT prospects off the board by the time they get their chance at the podium. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher may be gone in the 1st two picks. The Eagles (4) and Lions (5) could also target a LT if either of the top two fall and it seems almost assured that the Cardinals will use their 7th overall pick on a LT expected to be Lane Johnson.

Now, LT may not be the biggest need for the Bills, but it would certainly be a nice boost to add a strong blindside protector, allowing last year’s second round pick Cordy Glenn to slide to the right side. This not only allows the team to bolster a line that lost a key player in guard Andy Levitre to free agency, but also frees up the team’s first round pick to be used on the QB of their choice.

I know, Bills fans are reluctant to go after a QB in the first, but if after going through work outs with the top prospects, there is a clear winner then it is worth the pick. While many have questioned the talent available in this year’s draft the popular theory seems to be that QB needy teams will pounce early in the 2nd round. In the second the Bills will be picking behind the Jaguars, Cardinals, and Jets who are all be looking to add a signal caller, but are unlikely to spend a first round selection on one.

Now it’s true the Bills could just trade back up into the bottom of the first to grab a QB, but this is a class with some depth, so being able to get your first choice for a franchise QB and add a solid young LT with the first two picks while maintaining a hold on later picks to add depth to the roster could turn what has been a rough offseason into Buffalo into a positive step forward for the franchise’s future.

Don’t let anyone tell you the Chiefs should have waited for the 49ers released Alex Smith, or until the cost of a trade came down, because neither option was on the horizon. If anything Alex Smith’s stock was on the rise. It’s no coincidence that this deal is announced to be all but complete just days after this year’s rookie QB’s worked out at the combine in Indianapolis. Tyler Bray of Tennessee was about the lone story of a QB who threw significantly better than expected, and the major knock against Bray was never his arm. What the combine largely proved for the QB class was, what you saw is what you were getting.

New head coach of the QB needy Cardinals, Bruce Arians, said the group lacked a ‘wow’ factor. That could only be good news for Smith as while the draft seemed to lack significant first round talent it was believed most of the teams looking to draft their franchise signal caller this year would do so in the 2nd round. This likely became the baseline.

Remember, even though we only heard reports out of Kansas City and Arizona that their was a high level of interest in Smith, a lack luster QB combine could have spiked interest, particularly in Cleveland where Alex Smith’s old OC Norv Turner currently resides with a head coach who’s fond of mobile QB’s (Smith may not be Cam Newton, but he’s leagues ahead of Weeden.) I also think Buffalo could have come calling. They’ve already got a bit of money tied up in Fitzpatrick and Jackson, but if they weren’t wowed by their interviews with the rookie prospects it would be a worthwhile investment (especially since Smith was likely to restructure his deal with a new team anyway.) The Cardinals, I expect were willing to part with a second rounder, that otherwise was expected to go to Matt Barkley. Smith would provide all the football intelligence of the USC product, plus a stronger arm and NFL experience.

So, no, the Chiefs should not have simply waited. Alex Smith wasn’t going to be released and while the second round pick is a particularly high one, and finding out that there is a second conditional pick headed to San Fran next year may sting this is the price that must be paid to lock in a starting QB. And those of you who were hoping for Nick Foles (Andy Reid may well be amongst this group) he was reportedly unavailable, and based on the reports out of Philly is unlikely to come available anytime before training camp, which just leaves too much uncertainty. No, the Chiefs paid what they had to to secure Smith’s services and lock in a starter at QB, which essentially takes them from rebuilding project to contender’s in the AFC West (the Broncos will be tough to overcome, but the Raiders and Chargers…not so much.)

Let’s start with the obvious. The Browns and the Jaguars both need help at QB. Neither Weeden nor Henne provide a long term solution, but I can’t help but look at both players and think they benefit from trading places. The new Browns regime is clearly not pleased with Weeden, but have little other option at QB putting everyone in an awkward spot. A move to Jacksonville would be a fresh start for Weeden and a chance to reunite with Justin Blackmon. The Jaguars have recommitted to Gabbert, but adding Weeden brings fresh competition and if Gabbert falters Weeden should be a solid fill in (and his cap number for 2013 is under $1 million)

On the Browns end they get something back for Weeden and in a worst case scenario I think Henne makes for an effective short term answer. Henne has the arm strength to air it out in a Norv Turner offense and has interestingly played his best games against top defenses (he regularly beat up on the Jets secondary when he was with Miami and put in a 350 yard 4 TD 0 INT performance against the Texans with Jacksonville last year.) In a league that features some stout defensive talent, Henne’s ability to play up to his better competition could be invaluable. Henne also has a low cap number (around $2 million) and is entering the 2nd year of a 2 year deal which means the Browns will not be prohibited from adding another QB through the draft or free agency.

It was at one time thought that Alex Smith would be the most attractive free agent QB on the market this offseason. At this time it was believed as fact that the 49ers would grant the former No. 1 overall pick his release and he would be free to seek out a new contract and a new team. But with a weak QB draft class and a QB needy division rival in Arizona the 49ers decided to hold on to Smith, at least for now, to explore trade possibilities.

But, I’ve gotten the feeling recently that Smith’s once high trade value is dropping quickly, with QB needy teams looking in other directions. The Buffalo Bills who had shown some interest in Smith, have since resigned Tavaris Jackson and made a statement that both Jackson and current started Ryan Fitzpatrick will stay with the team, likely to provide competition for a rookie QB.

The Chiefs, who I had pegged as a good landing spot for Alex have inquired about Nick Foles, who obviously worked with new Chiefs coach Andy Reid last year. Many analysts also believe the Chiefs could take Geno Smith with the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft on the assumption that starting LT Brandon Albert will be resigned.

The Jaguars new GM David Caldwell released a statement that he was interested in building around former first round pick Blaine Gabbert. With the team still rebuilding in a tough AFC South the team would likely rather keep it’s draft picks. Should Alex Smith get released, I would look for the Jags to reevaluate the situation. (With MJD in the final year of his contract and the emergence of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon improved QB play could go a long way towards helping the struggling Jags.)

The Eagles, who also at one point showed some interest in Smith, have since resigned Michael Vick removing the need for Smith, and added QB Dennis Dixon, which at least opens the door to the possibility of trading current back-up Nick Foles.

The Browns emerge as a strong candidate, stuck with a QB they don’t want and one of Alex Smith’s many former coordinators Norv Turner calling the plays. But the Browns have plenty of holes to fill and may be reluctant to surrender any draft picks. The Browns are in line to have plenty of cap space and if they fill holes quickly through free agency, may pull the trigger, but I doubt they’ll be in any hurry, as they’d probably win a bidding war if they truly believe Smith could be their guy.

Then there’s the Jets, who I just don’t see being able to commit to Alex Smith. The Jets want competition for Sanchez, Smith wants to start…it’s not really a perfect fit. The Jets are also one of the few teams for whom Alex Smith’s current cap number could create a problem. The team is already pressed tight under the cap and paying $8 million to Mark Sanchez with lots of holes to fill. Spending another $7 million on Smith just wouldn’t seem right.

The Vikings have also come up as a landing spot, but unless Percy Harvin makes an (unlikely) push to bring Alex Smith to Minnesota, I just can’t see it. Christian Ponder showed growth towards the end of last season and I think he needs to be allowed to build off of that. Yes, Adrian Peterson put the team on his back (especially once Harvin went down) but Ponder made some big throws against Green Bay to help clinch that playoff spot and Ponder should be much more confident coming into the 2013 season coming off that playoff berth, than he was coming into this season (fresh off a less than impressive rookie campaign that netted the team the third pick in last year’d draft.) 

Percy Harvin has one year left on his rookie deal. He’s made demands for a huge extension, a trade and I’m sure he’d like both. The Vikings have recently come out as willing to consider Harvin’s trade request, but I don’t think they should be in any hurry. Harvin is an explosive playmaker and he unquestionably makes the team better. Unless someone is willing to offer a worthy bounty , I think Minnesota needs to suck it up and take a stand against the troubled Wide Receiver.

Harvin claims he will hold out of team activities if he doesn’t get a new contract. Let him. He’s under contract, and if he thinks a hold out is going to make any other team willing to throw money at him, he’s in for a harsh wake up call.

Let me be clear. Harvin is a talented player, and completely deserving of a lucrative contract, but it has to be within reason. The latest report is that he’s looking for Calvin Johnson an Larry Fitzgerald money and he’s just not at that level. What he needs is something a bit more modest, with significant performance incentives. After all the main issue with Harvin isn’t his talent it’s his injuries. This way if he does miss significant time the Vikings save some money and if not his performance dictates how much he makes.

The much anticipated follow-up to part 1. I will throw in here for anyone who missed my sum up of the first few games that what I’m about to say is more or less useless at this point. The first preseason game is a pretty poor indicator for the season, it’s just fun to look at while we wait for September.

The youth movement is underway in Tennessee. Second year QB Jake Locker (7/13 for 80 yards) and rookie WR Kendall Wright (3 catches on 3 targets for 47 yards) looked sharp in the Titans preseason opener and I expect both guys to be staring week 1 (Locker should win his battle, and I’m still expecting Kenny Britt to miss at least 2 weeks on suspension.) Meanwhile, Chris Johnson looked awful. There were a few dropped screen passes and he just couldn’t find any running room. To CJ’s credit the Seahawks defense is better than most people realize, and it was the first game, still not the kind of performance you wanted to see from a guy who’s suposed to be gearing up for a big comeback year.

On the other side of the ball in the same game Russell Wilson scored a pair of touchdowns (one throwing, one rushing…also had an INT) and looked good in his NFL debut. It was against the 2nd and 3rd string of a Titans defense who’s starters aren’t even scaring anyone, but hey it shows promise for a guy a lot of people had doubts about. Fellow rookie, RB Robert Turbin had a mixed night running with the first team in place of Marshawn Lynch. He ended with 10 carries for 24 yards, but he ran hard and was able to catch all three balls that came his way out of the back field. Leon Washington did well on limited work (5 carries 26 yards) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue to get regular touches as a change of pace back.

It was a disappointing game for each team’s superstar in the Texans/Panthers game. Arian Foster was stripped for a lost fumble by rookie Luke Kuechly on his only carry of the game, and Cam Newton managed to complete only 2 of his 6 attempted passes for a meager 17 yards, but was able to gain add another 16 yards to his total on two carries. Cam didn’t look bad (and at least a pair of those incompletion probably should have been caught) but still I imagine neither player is satisfied their stat line, even if it is only preseason.

The 49ers running game seems as good as advertised. 6 different players managed to break runs over 10 yards, highlighted by a 23 yard scamper from big man Brandon Jacobs and a 78 yard TD run by back up QB Colin Kaepernick (who lead the team with 92 rushing yards on 3 carries to go along with a 5/9 passing effort for 40 yards.) And now is when I remind you that this was the preseason…against the Vikings. Just in case you were wondering who the other four guys running the ball were it was Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon and Rock Cartwright.

On the other side of the ball Toby Gerhart averaged 6.2 yards per carry on 5 carries against a tough 49ers defense. Adrian Peterson just got reactivated from the PUP, so Gerhart may not get the early season shot at starting we thought, but still gotta give him credit for what he did in AP’s absence. Rookie TE Kyle Rudolf (2 catches 22 yards) looks like he could develop into a nice target for Christian Ponder…not much else going on in that passing game.

If you’re wondering about Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez, well….they looked like Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. Tebow completed 50% of his passes, had as many rushes as completions (4) and threw a pick. Sanchez was 4/6 for 21yds no TD no INT. Shonn Greene was bad (22yds 11 carries) Joe McKnight was good (32yds 7 carries, 34yds on 3 catches.) Fairly typical Jets stuff. Rookie Watch: Stephen Hill had a pair of catches on three targets for 17 yards.

Not much to report from the Bengals end. Disappointing outing for AJ Green who didn’t come up with a catch on a pair of targets (Revis Island is not the place to build a summer home.) BenJarvus Green-Ellis put up 22 yards on 7 carries for a solid debut as a Bengal.

Even though the Browns won their matchup with the Lions, the game probably did not go quite the way Cleveland hoped. After impressive debuts from RG3, Ryan Tannehill (and earlier today Andrew Luck) it was Weeden’s turn to show his stuff. That stuff ended up being 3 completions on 9 attempts for 62 yards and an interception. The rag tag receiving group in Cleveland likely didn’t help matters with Greg Little missing his only target and rookie Josh Gordon unable to come down with any of the 3 balls thrown his way (for the record I have no idea when Gordon was playing so it may not have even been Weeden throwing to him.) Obviously there’s no need to panic, the team was without top pick Trent Richardson, and it was Gordon’s first game action since Baylor suspended him in 2010. The Browns need work, but that’s what the preseason is for.

It was a bad game for rookie QB’s on the other side of the football as well. Undrafted rookie Kellen Moore saw his first game action but finished 4/14 for 40 yards with an INT. Not the kind of debt you want to see from a guy with the kind of questions around his ability Moore has, but he should get plenty of opportunities to redeem himself in the next few weeks.

*Just a quick disclaimer reminder; I get all my stats and info from either ESPN.com or NFL.com unless otherwise noted with a hyperlink.

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.