NFL News, Notes and Rumors

NFL Draft Dog

By Bill Smith

 

25 January 2011

News:

While the Ravens are saying there was plenty of time to get the ball snapped on their failed FG try, there is a lot of talk about the miss when the team had a time out left. The championship window on this team is nearly closed. This was their best shot at the Super Bowl. If the ownership decides that it was missed due to a failure to call a time out there could be repercussions.

The Raiders have named Bronco DC Dennis Allen as head coach. It is not a great choice. Allen has been DC for one year and although the D played much better than in 2010, it had more to do with the change back the 4-3 than Allen’s coaching.

Packer OC Joe Philbin has been named the new HC of the Dolphins. Look for the Fish to be the primary bidder to get Packer backup QB Matt Flynn. If he is tagged, the Dolphins will be the most willing to give the Pack a nice package. If he is not he will want to go and play for his former OC.

The Internet radio version of NNR will have reports directly from the Super Bowl next week. Tony Williams, Giants beat writer for the Metro New York paper will be reporting from Indy.

The Buccaneers were disappointed that Oregon HC Chip Kelly declined their offer. It looks like the choice for HC is between Panther OC and Rob Chudzinski and former Green Bay coach Mike Sherman.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has signed a contract extension through the 2018 season.

Notes:

Former Titan HC Jeff Fisher took the Rams job over the Miami offer because he wanted more influence in roster decisions and had the 2nd overall pick plus a franchise QB. Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was not willing to give up any power to the new HC. Look for the Rams to be a lot better in 2012.

Former Bucs HC Raheem Morris has been named secondary coach for the Redskins. He took the job to learn more about the 3-4 D. He was not ready to be HC but is a good football coach who will be able to do that job with a little more experience.

The Colts have interviewed San Francisco 49ers special teams coach Brad Seely and Marc Trestman, head coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. Trestman has led the Alouettes to two Grey Cup championships in four seasons.

The Colts have told former OSU HC Jim Tressel he is no longer under consideration for the top job there. Tressel could not co-exist with QB Payton Manning. Although it is far from clear if Payton will be able to play, Tressel wants much more control over play calling than would be possible with Manning under center.

Rumors:

The Ravens O has sluggish at best in critical games. The lack of consistency in the O in games against lesser teams has been blamed on OC Cam Cameron’s forgetting about RB Ray Rice. The Ravens have not decided if he will be back in 2012. Look for a new OC in Baltimore.

The Ravens will try hard to get a new deal for RB Rice. He is the top FA at the position and a franchise tag would cost around 8 mil. The team needs to sign him so they can franchise G Ben Grubbs. The tag price of OGs is much less expensive.

All pro QB Drew Brees is a free agent but don’t look for him to change teams. He has ignited the Saints O since he arrived and there is no way the team will let him walk.

Look for big changes in Raider land. The new administration is looking to get more RB friendly in their offense. The former high 1st round pick Darren McFadden is too fragile to be a franchise RB. The team will likely franchise tag RB Michael Bush and make him their primary back.

Rumors have the Redskins in the hunt for Packer QB Flynn. But look for them to be the primary bidder for the 2nd overall pick to take Robert Griffin III. The Rams will be very happy to move down 4 picks and pick up more picks.

Look for the Dolphins to get an OC as their new HC. Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland is not willing to give much power up to a veteran HC to make roster decisions.

A major contributor to the fall of the Eagles in 2012 was the slow start the D got under first year DC and former OL coach Juan Castillo. He will likely be replaced. The team tried to get Steve Spagnuolo for that spot but he signed with the Saints.

If you enjoyed this, join us for the Internet version of News, Notes and Rumors on http://mooheadradio.com/2.0/ Monday –Thursday 6-7:30 PM EST.

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17 January 2011

News:

Ryan Grigson from the Eagles is the new GM of the Colts. He replaced Bill Polian and his son Chris who had allowed the roster to deteriorate to the point that it won only 2 games with Payton Manning not at QB. Grigson faces some major challenges right off the bat. He will have to decide what to do with Payton and the 1st overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

Jackson HC of the Raiders is out of the job for good reason. He tried to fill the vacuum when long time managing partner Al Davis passed. Too much was given for Palmer and the new management is not happy about the decision or the results of the season. Look for more changes in Raider land.

Mike Mularkey was selected as the new HC of the Jags. He helped build the offense of the Falcons as OC. He is an offensive mind that should improve that side of the ball. The new owner of the Jags, Shahid Khan, has said he would spend whatever it took to make the team competitive.

After their playoff run including a great win over the Steelers, the Broncos have told QB Tim Tebow he will be the starter going into training camp next year. If they plan on keeping Tebow as the starter, they will need to draft or pick up a backup that can operate the same offense.

The Rams won the Jeff Fisher lottery. The first hire of the new HC was long time respected DC Greg Williams. There were 3 reasons Fisher went to the Rams. He has more impact on the draft and final roster than he would have had in Miami. He has a franchise QB. And he has the 2nd overall pick which should bring a ton of draft picks if he decides to trade down. The decisions of both QBs Matt Barkley (USC) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma) to stay in school makes the #2 pick very important. Look for both Miami and Washington to be interested in trading up to get it.

The Miami Herald is reporting that “The Dolphins plan to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy early this week, according to a league source.” They will need a running game like the Broncos if they don’t get a QB. That is the only way they will be able to move the ball.

Notes:

The NFL has been meeting to find a way to prevent a coach from going to a 2nd team in a single year. This is a result of the Pats signing former Bronco HC Josh McDaniels as an offensive assistant. Here is the issue. If a team fires a coach, they should have no control over where that coach goes to get a job. If the hire is during the playoffs, too bad. The NFL needs to think about this. It is not only unfair it may be counter to employment law.

The Pats are hot and will be a tough out in the playoffs. They had not won a playoff game since their Super Bowl loss to the Giants and they are hungry for a Super Bowl. Look for the low ranked defense to play well again. In the last few games the Pat’s D has been better against scoring.

Baltimore looks good but beware of the QB. A game like Flacco had against the Texans will not beat the Pats.

Titan HC Mike Munchak has admitted what we all saw in 2011. RB Charles Johnson has lost a step of speed. When you are a one trick pony, you had better keep practicing that trick. Johnson is a little slower after years of hard hits and may not get the full 8 mil he is owned next year.

Dez Bryant, Cowboy wideout, was detained by police after an altercation outside a Miami night club. No arrest has been reported.

Rumors:

Look for Colt HC Caldwell to be gone. While he had a number of injuries, unless QB Manning gets the MVP for being a one man team, Caldwell failed to get the team to a point where it was competitive.

The rumor is that the Browns will take QB Robert Griffin III (Baylor) if he falls to them at 4. My thought is that they would trade the pick for a group of picks. The Holmgren group does not have drafting a QB with a 1st round pick in their DNA. But as I said above, I think RG3 will be the 2nd player taken.

Unless QB Joe Flacco takes the Ravens to the SB, don’t look for the team to give him a long extension. There is a lot of talk around HQ that Flacco is not a franchise QB.

The leaks from the Jets’ locker room would float an air craft carrier. But HC Rex Ryan has no one to blame but himself. He has been shooting his mouth off for years and now it has come back to bit him in the backside. Those of you that have read my stuff for a couple of years know I was not a Sanchez fan. He had one good year but could not beat out John Booty at USC. THAT should have been a HUGE red flag.

The Packer loss to the Giants was due to compliancy. The team was too taken by its own press clippings. It was not the rust; it was the lack of hunger that caused the loss.

The 49ers are playing well and very glad they don’t have to face the Pack in GB. However, the Giants are hot and will test the passing game of 49ers QB Alex Smith. He has looked better this year but is far from a proven player.

Look for changes in the Eagles’ nest. While there will be a new DC, the OC is more under fire. HC Reid will stay for at least one more year but he will be forced to make changes in his staff.

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11 October 2011

News:

The quarter pole is a good place to evaluate where teams are and how they might do this year.

What have we learned so far?

The Gold

The Lions are for real. The D has been built with solid drafts and the O is outstanding as long as QB Bradford is healthy. The O is a true college spread scheme and the rest of the NFL is struggling to deal with it. Some are still doubting the Lions but this team is good and getting better every week.

The Pack is back. They are still undefeated and are the class of the NFC. The Pack is for real as well but I have real questions about their D. Rodgers is making a group of below average WRs look like all pros.

The Pats are OK but not great. They will struggle on D because the team has gotten old and the draft has not replaced the key pieces. Their pass D lacks a rush and struggles to cover. They really lack the deep speed at WR to catch up quickly and have a sporadic running game. But with Brady and the O, they will be a dangerous team for the playoffs.

Good, but…

Age is starting to catch up to the Steelers. The D that started the Super Bowl last year was more than a year older on average then the Redskin “over the hill gang.” Their recent drafts have not been as productive as they needed to be to keep the D and O line working well. The O line is a mess and the running game is anemic.

The Ravens are not aging gracefully. The key players on D are as fragile as fine china. QB Flacco is inconsistent and the O line seems to be a work in progress every year. If they stay healthy they can compete but a key injury or 2 will end their season. They are 3-1 but need to stay healthy to get deep in the playoffs.

Forget about their loss to the Bengals last week, Buffalo is good but not great. Just like the Ravens loss to the Titans after beating the Steelers, the Bills were caught in a let-down between their win over the Pats and their game against the Eagles this week. It pays to have a smart QB. While the Birds are not as good as we thought, it was a “prove it” game for the Bills. They did prove it with the win.

The Chargers look good but I still don’t trust them. They are in a weak AFC West and always choke in the playoffs.

Fool’s Gold

The Texans are what we thought they were. The loss to the Raiders proved they are not ready to take the next step and become a top team. The coaching is suspect and the level of talent went down with the season ending injury to OLB Williams.

The Titans are not bad but just not the power that some thought after a nice win over the Ravens. They have a couple of good wins but this team is very fragile. RB Johnson has to get going and the O line has to keep the 80 year old QB Hasselbeck healthy. The D will play just well enough to keep the team interesting. They had a “prove it” game against the Steelers and failed the exam.

The 49ers had a really nice win at home against the Bucs but the QB is still Smith. That is not a formula for long term success.

The Falcons are not as good as most expected. They have issues on the O line and the running game has vanished. RB Turner looks old and slow. QB Ryan has not producing as well as he has in the past.

The Redskins are doing better than anyone projected but they have journeyman Grossman at QB. They are 22nd in scoring and 19th in passing yards. Don’t bet the house on this club.

The OK

The Raiders are in this category. They will win some games they should not but lose to less talented teams.

The Cowboys are OK. The NFC East is a shadow of what it has been in recent years so the weakness makes the Boys look better. I still don’t trust QB Romo or the coaching staff. As long as owner Jones is the GM this team will never get back to the top of the NFL.

The Giants are right here with the Boys. If QB Manning’s last name was Gasvasitch, he would have been a 3rd round pick. This team plays better on the road than at home. It is not a playoff threat.

The Bears are good on D but the combination of OC Martz and QB Cutler is a recipe for mediocrity. Martz has gotten guys hurt in 4 NFL cities and will not learn how to protect a QB.

The Jets were picked by some to take the next step but so far seem to have lost their way. When my brother in law said he needed direction, I got him a street map. QB Sanchez has not developed as quickly as most thought. As those of you that follow my draft information know I was not high on him coming out of USC because I don’t trust 1 year wonders.

The Bad

The Bengals are bad. They stole a game from the Browns and have an easy schedule so far to get to 3-2. The O line is bad and their RB is hiding to prevent suspension but a rookie QB and WR give the fans a reason to show up.

The Browns are not good but the team is better than last year. The lack of a normal off season really hurt them. Any time you change systems on both sides of the ball, it will take time to get the current players to learn the system and to get the right guys in it. A big question is will QB McCoy be a long term answer.

The Seahawks are bad as well. They will get lucky and win some games like the upset of the Giants but they do not have a QB and very little talent on the roster.

The UGLY

The Eagles D had been admissible. DC Castillo said he’s asked Asomugha to do too much too soon. But that is not the problem. The wide 9 D formation cannot stop the run. The opponents are ending up with way too short 3 down opportunities. Without the ability to stop the run, the team is a sucker for the play action. Add that to the total lack of a running game except for Vick and you have a formula for a bad start to the season. Half of his picks Sunday were the fault of the O line and balls bouncing off the hands of receivers.

The Dolphins are the leader in the QB Luck hunt. This is one time that an 0-4 record overstates their talent. The team has no coach, no QB, and a questionable GM that spent big bucks on RB Bush that did not fit their system.

Payton Manning should win the MVP because it is clear that he is not only the O of the team but the brains as well. This team has been killed by a lack of quality drafts. The question is if they get the top pick will they use it on Luck? I doubt it because that would put nearly 30% of the salary cap in one position. They cannot possibly trade Payton could they?

The Jags cut their starting QB 3 days before the start of the season. The D has lost quality players to free agency every year and the city is dying. Other than that things are good in Jacksonville.

The Vikes are also in the hunt for Luck but they drafted one with the 10th pick. They needed a QB because McNabb is done and it doesn’t look like rookie QB Ponder is ready. If they win the #1 pick they will trade Ponder and take Luck.

The Panther have cast their lot with QB Newton. I doubt he will ever be the top QB they thought but we will see. The D is decent.

The Cards are not getting the O they thought when they traded for Kolb. The D has lost too many good players to stay good.

The Rams are better on D but their O line cannot protect the QB or generate holes for RB Jackson.

The Broncos are starting QB Tebow. It really doesn’t make much difference because they lack offensive weapons. Tebow’s running might move the ball a little.

Notes:

The Jets are going back to what HC Ryan called his 'Ground and Pound' offense. The problem is that the team has not run the ball effectively. While the NFL average yards per attempt is just over 4, RB Green is at 3.1 and Tomlinson gets off his wheelchair to average 3.0. The Jets O has averaged just 71 yards rushing a game. With the issues that the Jet D has, they will have to go to the pass only O to keep up with the scoring that the Pats will do this week.

The UFA signed by the Chargers, S Bob Sanders, is injured again. This time it was a knee and he has been put in IR.

The Dolphins have lost QB Henne for the season. He is getting season ending surgery on his left shoulder and ex-Panther QB Moore will fill in. They also signed Sage Rosenfels after both Gerhard and Delhomme turned down their offer.

Rumors:

Other people are now talking about the rumor that I reported here months ago. A Philly paper had an article last Sunday about Eagle HC Reid being on the hot seat. The reasons for his situation are detailed in my editorial on fryingpansports.com.

Browns and RB Hillis are not making progress with a new contract. The rumor is that the Browns are not willing to pay him big money because they think RB Hardesty is a better fit for the West Coast O. That is not the case. Hardesty is an injury waiting to happen. This is the same management that thought that FB Vickers should be let go.

Dolphin owner Ross said he will keep HC Sparano past the bye week. That is a surprise but don’t expect the later to keep the job for long. This team is bad and has gotten worse this season. Ross tried to get Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh this past off season. But coach decided to go to the 49ers instead. He chose wisely.

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4 October 2011

News:

Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger's foot may have a crack in it. The initial MRI indicated the possible fracture but the team is waiting for the swelling to go down before another MRI can be taken.

Dallas RB Jones is hurt AGAIN. JERRY Do you miss RB Barber yet?

Titan WR Britt is on IR ending his season They are trying out every WR they can find a replacement.

The Pats signed UFA DT Warren in an attempt to improve their pass rush which has made issues in the back 7 even worse.

Bengal RB Benson had his hearing last week and he should hear next week about the results.

The Commish has stuck to his decision to support the NCAA suspensions by rejecting the request by the Raiders to reduce the suspension of QB Prior. The NFL is going to rue the day that it tied its credibility to the pinheads in Indianapolis.

Notes:

Chief HC Haley threw OC Muir under the bus by insisting Muir was responsible for 37 yards in the first half in week 3. Haley is on the hot seat for the failure of his offense to move the ball this year. He will be gone before the 2012 season kickoff.

Dolphin HC Sparano might be deaf. He said he has not heard the talk about him losing his job. He will likely be hearing from the ownership during the team’s bye week this week. The GM should follow the coach out the door. The team spent big money getting UFA RB Bush but he doesn’t fit their O at all. He is an outside runner and the team cannot pull their guards to get outside. Now QB Henne is hurt and might not start after the bye.

WA HC Shanahan nearly benched RB Hightower in week 3. He did use RB Torain much more in last week’s game.

Steeler LB James Farrior has been fined $15,000 for a hit on Indianapolis Colts QB Kerry Collins in Week 3.

49er WR Edwards tweeted he expects to play the game after the bye against his old team the Browns following the team’s bye week.

Dolphin SS Yeremiah Bell has been fined $15,000 for hitting Cleveland Browns QB Colt McCoy in the head and neck areas in Week 3.

Suspended Packers DL Johnny Jolly has been arrested and charged with drug possession and tampering with evidence. Expect his suspension to be extended indeffinately.

Rumors:

Dallas Morning News is reporting that there may be some animosity brewing between Cowboys QB Tony Romo and his owner Jerry Jones. A video clip from late in Sunday's game shows it could be a possibility.

The Jets are pressing QB Sanchez to be more accurate. He has been the issue with the team’s O struggling. He is pressing trying to do better and that is making things worse.

The loss by the Bills to the Bengals after beating the Pats is being viewed by most experts as an indication that the team is not up to a playoff push. That would be a mischaracterization. The loss was no different that the loss to the Titans by the Ravens after beating the Steelers. The fact is no team can get up for every game to the same level. There is a natural letdown after beating your key rival. That is what contributed to both those losses.

The Vikes are getting pushed to move to LA by the stalled negotiations about a new facility in Minnesota. The problem is that the days of government providing a major portion of financing for new stadiums is over. Neither states nor cities are able to pay anything for private companies when they are making major cuts in services just to balance their budgets. The politicians are not likely to help a billionaire team owner and yet cut police or fire services.

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26 September 2011

News:

Injuries have devastated a lot of NFL teams.

Jets QB Sanchez has an arm injury. He will play vs. Oakland but will struggle.

The Pats put C Koppan & DL Pryor on IR.

Chiefs RB Charles is out for the year with an ACL injury.

Eagle QB Vick suffered a head/tong injury and left the game in the 3th quarter but is expected to start this week.

Cowboy QB Romo suffered a broken rib and a punctured lung but returned to lead his team to a win. He is listed as questionable but is expected to start as well.

Texan RB Foster re-injured his hamstring and will be used sparingly this week.

Cowboy RB Jones has a separated shoulder. He will be limited for a couple of weeks.

Raven DT Cody suffered a concussion.

Bills WR Parrish will be out for several weeks after suffering an ankle injury.

Bear 1st round pick OT Camiri suffered a knee injury.

Bear WR Bennett suffered a chest injury.

Bengal WR Shipley hurt his knee and did not return. He is probable for week 3.

Panther LB Davis is out for the year.

Cowboy WR Austin re-injured a hamstring against the 49ers. He will be out for a week or 2.

Bronco WR Royal suffered a groin injury.

Packer SS Collins suffered a head and neck injury and stayed in Charlotte hospital against the Panthers.

Colt OG Diem and DT Moala suffered ankle injuries.

Dolphin CB Davis suffered a hamstring injury. He is doubtful for this weeks game.

Dolphin LB Dansby suffered a groin injury and is questionable against Cleveland.

Jets C Mangold suffered a high ankle sprain and will not play this week.

Charger WR Floyd suffered a groin injury.

Seahawk WR Rice did not have a torn labrum but the injury kept him out for the first 2 weeks of the season. He is expected to start this week.

49er WR Edwards suffered a knee injury. He had “minor” surgery and may miss a game or 2.

Notes:

Saint DE Smith and Vikings DT Williams have been reinstated by the league for week 3.

The NFL will investigate the hit by Falcon DB Robinson on Eagle WR Macklin. Robinson was fined for a hit last year on Eagle WR Jackson.

Bills are working on an extension with QB Fitzgerald.

With Charles out look for Chief RB Thomas and RB/WR McCluster to be the more productive backs.

Rumors:

There have been rumors of several coaches being on the hot seat already in 2011. Some changes in coaches were not made after the 2010 season because of the lockout. Now that the season has started, the heat is on again around the league.

Miami – The Fish are 0-2 and now face the Browns at Cleveland and then go to face the Chargers. The rumor is that if the team is 0-4 at their bye in week 5, the current staff will be fired.

Chiefs – This might be the worst team in the league right now. They are also 0-2 and have been a shadow of the powerful offense they showed last year. HC Haley forced OC Weis out of town and management is about to do to the same to him.

Jags – HC Del Rio is used to being on the hot seat. Some think he would have been gone now had the lockout not prevented his firing. The decision to cut starting QB Garard was made by the owner not HC. That could have saved Del Rio from being fired but he is super glued to the hot seat.

Here are some teams that no one else is talking about:

Colts – The problem here is a lack of talent on the field and the bench. HC Caldwell has been protected by the offense intelligence of QB Manning. Without him, the Colts have a 3 or 4 win team. Not only should Caldwell go but the GM should be fired as well.

Redskins – The owner and HC are not on the same page. There is a good chance that if HC Shanahan can not get the team into the playoffs, he may be gone. The Skins are 2-0 but are not that good. His team’s fast start will work against the coach.

Texans – The Texans have been the popular pick of experts to make the playoffs for the last couple of years. Now there is no Payton led Colts to block their road and they had better win the division or the entire coaching staff will be gone.

The number of serious injuries this year has been staggering. While no one in the NFL will admit it, the reason is the lack of OTA (Organized Team Activities). While working individually or in a group can get a player in good physical shape nothing but contact prepares a player to be in football shape.

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15 September 2011

News:

As I said last week teams with retread QBs are in trouble. The Vikes QB McNabb was 7-15 39 yards 1 td and 1 int. The Titans QB Hasselbeck threw for 231 yards but the team lost to the Jags with McCown at QB!

Injuries devastate the league:

Rams QB Bradford has nerve damage in his passing hand

Jags DE Kampman hurt his knee

Bengal QB Dalton hurt his wrist

Giants have seemed to have lost 47 DBs and lost to the Redskins with Grossman at QB.

Panther LB Benson is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury

Chargers K Kading is out for the year

Ram RB Jackson is out for 4 up to weeks (fantasy: RB Williams is a must have)

Ram WR Amendola is out for a while with a dislocated elbow

Chief SS Berry is out for the year

Eagle DE Tapp is out for the year

Saint WR Colson is out for year with a broken collar bone

Steeler OT Colon is out again for the year with an arm injury

49er WR Crabtree reinjured foot will suffer with it all year

Pat C Koppen is out for probably several weeks with an ankle

Dolphin RB Thomas is out for several weeks with an injury.

Notes:

The natural reaction is to over-react to week 1 results. First, this is 1/16 of the season. Here are some headlines for anyone ready to jump off a bridge after the games this weekend.

The Steelers are not as bad as they looked and the Ravens are not as good. This game was a MUST WIN for the Birds and they knew it. But the O line of the Steelers is a mess and it got worse with the injury to T Colon.

Indy is as bad as it looked. The team has not drafted well for years. The Cards found out last year how many serious flaws a super smart QB with a quick release can cover up. Without QB Manning they are a 4 win team.

The Falcons have to find a running game. Their unbalanced O will be a problem. They need to get back to running the ball. Perhaps 5th round pick RB Rodgers can provide the speed the team needs.

Bills ARE NOT THAT GOOD! But I warned you over a year ago about the Chiefs’ coaching issues. In April of 2010 I told my radio audience about the strains between OC Weis and HC Haley. Weis left the team after last season to take the OC job at Florida. Without him as OC Haley will be on the spot to produce as much O as the team generated last year. He will not and will be on the hot seat going into 2012.

Steeler SS Polamalu was given a 3 year contract extension. The team was already the oldest D in the history of the Super Bowl and will be old for a while because they have not found a replacement. The team was famous for finding players that can just fill in. That is no longer the case. They will begin descend this year.

Rumors:

The injury to Manning has a lot of old QBs thinking about how long they will survive. Pat QB Brady is also 34 and he realizes that his window to the Super Bowl is closing.

The Browns missed out on free agents including DE Edwards (MN) who tweeted that he would like to play in Cleveland. According to sources with the team, the Browns never even contacted his agent. Now the D is struggling and the injury to LG Steinbach has weakened the O line and threatened the health of QB McCoy. The team is better this year than last but with a couple of key signings could have had a much better season in 2011. Check out my Browns column right here on http://nfldraftdog.com/nfl-team-columns/cleveland-browns.html.

Former Bengal QB Palmer is staying ready in case Pres. Brown gets passed his pride and makes a trade. There would be several teams that would love to have Palmer under center.

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9 September 2011

NEWS:

The Colts will not have QB Manning for game 1. My guess is that they will not have him for a while. The news was that his nerves in the neck were healing but progress seems to have slowed or stopped. In addition the O line will have only C Saturday in the same spot as last year. The risk for him long term will be too great for him to come back unless he is 100% healthy. Look for the Colts to have a very tough season without him.

An unnamed source in the NFL has said that if less than 60% of the kickoffs are returned this year the league will consider dropping the new rule to kick from the 35. The one part of the change that will not be dropped is the 5 yard run by the kickoff team. That has worked well and will be kept no matter where the kick off point is placed. During the preseason about 43 percent of kicks were returned. My guess is the regular season will see far fewer returns and the spot will be back to the 30 in 2012.

Most “experts” are blaming HC Del Rio for cutting starting QB Garrard but that is not what happened. The QB was scheduled to make nearly 9 million this year and his performance did not warrant that much. The team is committed to starting rookie Gabbert by the end of the season and it made no sense to pay a lame duck that much. The owner made the call and it likely means Del Rio will get one more year to get the team into the playoffs.

Several other teams have critical injuries going into the season. The Browns will be without 2 vets on the OL. The Texans will play the Colts without RB Foster. Perhaps the biggest issue beside Manning will be Chief QB Cassel. He suffered an injury against the Steelers in week 4 of preseason and is questionable for week 1 of the regular season.

Bengal RB Benson has returned to the team after a 5 night stay as the guest of the County for an assault charge. The suspension happy Commish has not indicated he will suspend the RB despite several run ins with the police both in Cincy, Texas and Chicago.

Two key games week 1 will go a long way in determining the playoff teams in the AFC. The Colts Texan game will be played without the two top stars. The passing game of the Texans will carry the Texans to the win. The Steelers v Ravens will also be critical. While the Ravens are a very good team, the Steelers have their number and will win this game and the division.

NOTES:

Several teams will enter the season with retread QBs and most of them will not do well. Minnesota (McNabb) will be a little better off than Tennessee (Hasselbeck). Neither of those teams will make the playoffs.

RUMORS:

Last year Cowboy owner Jones thought he would host his team in the Super Bowl. As usual, the boys never came close. Now there is pressure on QB Romo to get the team over the hump and into the SB. It will not happen and it will not be Romo’s fault alone. The team is not talented enough to get past the Pack and other top teams in the NFC. Romo could well be gone by 2012.

LATEST FAVRE RUMMOR: The Bucs may be interested if the Vikes pass. HE IS DONE. Let him retire in peace.

There is a significant chance that Colt QB Manning will be out the entire season. The injury may be career ending. The Colts have never drafted very well and Manning’s ability to lead the team to wins has covered up the flaws in the O and D from bad draft picks. IF Manning is unable to play this team will crash and burn. They might well be in the running for the 1st overall pick QB Luck.

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1 September 2011

News:

There is little doubt that the loss of OTAs has contributed to the injuries around the league. There are 10 players with ruptured Achilles tendons. In addition the list of the walking wounded is growing.

There were a lot of complaints about the number of penalties called during the preseason. Again blame the lack of practices and OTAs for the sloppy play. The teams that had player run practices do not seem to be any better off than the teams that did not.

So far so good with the Cards trading for Kolb. He is getting his timing with WR Fitzgerald but the running game is still a question mark.

There is still an issue with the management of the retired player fund. The NFLPA has been running it and the retired players believe it is run badly. Hall of Fame Packer Herb Adderly was on our show and told us that the NFL must take the management of the fund away from the PA and give it to the NFL Alumni Association. We will keep you up to date on this issue.

Notes:

It is always dangerous to make any generalizations from preseason games. However, a couple of things have jumped out at me that deserve to be mentioned.

5. The Bengals and Panthers are in trouble. Palmer is not coming back and the team has intentionally refused to get a quality backup ready to replace him. This is a bad team with even worse management.
The Panthers are all in with Newton and that will cost them wins.

4. The Colts are in serious trouble without Manning. While House Painter looked OK in game 3 this is a team that can go 5-11 without their leader. In addition, the team has gotten old in the front line even though they have used high draft picks to rebuild it. The D is totally dependent on a pass rush because the back 7 are adequate at best.

3. The Browns and the Lions are going to be better. The Browns have improved with the new O and coaching staff. Check out my detailed analysis of the team on our team pages here on nfldraftdog.com.
The Lions have a D that will now match the ability of their potent O. Both teams are dependent on their young QBs staying healthy.

2. The teams depending on old replacement QBs will be in trouble as well. The Titans are trusting their passing game to ex-Seahawk Hasselbeck. They will have trouble protecting him and unless they get a deal with RB Johnson will really struggle to move the ball with less than average WRs.
The Vikes will use ex-Eagle ex-Redskin QB McNabb. They have their RB and should be a little better off than the Titans. However they will not be as good as people think. They have lost their best WR.

1. The top teams in the AFC look like the Pats, Steelers, Chargers and Colts IF they have Manning. In the NFC the Packers, Eagles, Saints and Falcons seem to be the top teams.

Rumors:

There are several coaches on the hot seat. Clearly Del Rio (Jags) is one but Reid is also under the gun. The Eagles have gone all in to get to the Super Bowl. If he doesn’t at least get there he could be gone.

A coach that no one is talking about the Skins HC Shanahan. He and the owner are not on the same page and if the season falls apart look for him to be fired.

There are still a couple of teams that will need to get concessions from vet players or cut them. The Seahawks have reached agreement with CB Trufant on a significant reduction in pay. The Cowboys cut vet C Guroude. There will be some more name brand players released in the final cut. That is more about the lower salary cap than it is a statement of faith in the younger players on the team.

Several teams are implementing lockout protocol including staff reductions, pay reductions and unpaid leave or layoffs for team employees. The Jets have already made cuts. Now the Cards are announcing similar actions.

A week ago it looked like the Vikes were going to get a new stadium. Now things have become much more unclear. The state and the city are struggling to come up with their share of the money. The Minnesota Legislature will end their work this year soon. They have to pass a bill to allow the state to raise the money to support the deal. The NFL has committed to help but right now the odds on a deal are not good.

The team and the Colts' offensive coordinator Tom Moore have parted ways. No comment was issued from either side but it will impact the team’s offense. Moore is one of the most respected OCs in the NFL.

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26 May 2011

Notes:
One possible impact of a new CBA or season under revised 2010 rules would be the status of veteran free agents. In 2010, 6th year players were UFA with those with less were restricted free agents. Even if those in their 5th year were allowed UFA status, it would not impact many quality FAs.

Free agency will happen no matter what else does. Both the players and the teams need a free agent period. However like the rest of the off season the FA period will be highly compressed. Teams will need to be ready to sign the guys they need as soon as the period starts. The money for the top FAs will be very good. Desperation and time constraints will drive up prices.

Many of the first level FAs will be going to teams with legitimate playoff hopes. Teams lower on the food chain will have to settle for second and third level guys.
Many pendants have the Packers challenging for a championship for years to come but like all Champs, the team faces potential defections. The key for the Pack will come in 2012 when a group of key players’ contracts will expire. The new CBA salary cap and their success in 2011 will determine how many of those players will be retained.

HBO is having trouble finding a team willing to star in this year’s version of Hard Knocks. The Bucs were the first choice of HBO but they have declined. There are 3 teams still in the running for the show including the Raiders, Panthers and Seahawks. If the Raiders are selected, the show should be subtitled “Days of the living dead” in honor of Managing Partner Davis.

Rumors:
Even the NFLPA has admitted that the decision of the 8th District Court of Appeals’ decision to maintain the lockout stay until at least the June 3rd hearing is a major defeat. The ex-union seems to be surprised that the case has been influenced by political factors. DAH! It introduced the law suit in one of the more liberal courts in the country in Minnesota. That kind of politics is fine. It is just when the politics of the judge goes against their position that they decry the influence.

Several reports have Eagle QB Kolb going to the Cards. I reported that months ago. According to a report from Phoenix, the deal was 90% done before the lockout happened. As soon as it is off the deal will be completed. Look for the Cards to give a 1st and 2nd for Kolb.

Meanwhile in the QB wars Redskin HC Shannahan has indicated that former 2nd round pick of the Dolphins Beck is the starting QB for the team “as of now.” In response, QB Rex Grossman said he was the starter. Not so much Rex. I’ll trust the opinion of the coach.

Some rumors are better (and more accurate) than others. One inaccurate rumor would have Redskin QB McNabb going to the Ravens as a backup to Flacco. Forget it. So many teams need vet QBs that McNabb will land a starting job even if it is temporary until the drafted QB in 2011 is ready to start.
Some have ex-USC QB Leinart going to his college coach Carroll’s Seahawks. I don’t expect that. Leinart is not accurate enough to run a west coast style offense. If Carroll doesn’t want him, he will have a lot of problems finding work as a starter.

Editorial: Who should be blamed for the lockout?
As I have written here and on my sight FryingpanSports.com the owners have made a lot of mistakes in the issue of the CBA. The biggest one is clear. They never should have signed the 2006 deal. It was a late Sunday night offer by the players that the league approved with only 2 no votes—the Bengals and Bills.

The key problem was that the league got 1 billion dollars off the top to run the league. That was when the total income was 5 billion. They should have demanded 20% rather than a fixed amount. When the total revenue grew to 7 billion in 2008 the league realized it had made a mistake. The players who were getting just under 60% of the rest of the revenue were getting a lot higher percentage overall than the owners had expected.

If the owners had gotten 20% rather than a fixed 1 Billion, we would not have had them opt out and we would be enjoying football today.

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7 May 2011

News:
49er rookie QB Kaepernick has gone to Stanford—not to enroll but to learn from QB Luck the version of the west coast O that new HC John Harbaugh will implement. This is a great move given the no contact between players and coaches due to the lockout and indicates I may be right about him becoming the best QB out of this class.

The Browns announced that they will “try to manage RB Hillis’ touches.” If they don’t find someone to share the rushing game, he could be done by the end of the year. His upright running style and heavy work load will cut his career very short.

Notes:
The Vikes and the Bengals will start their rookie QBs very early. The Vikes have said they would like to see QB Ponder start game 1. The Bengals have no choice but to start QB Dalton. There is no other arm on the roster except Carson’s little brother. And he was only signed to placate Carson and try to get the Vet QB to resign with the team. The Bengals say they would like to sign a vet but you can bet it will be a CHEAP one.

IF Fisher was still HC of the Titans, they wouldn’t have taken QB Locker with the 8th pick. He would have insisted on a vet QB. Now that the organization has made the decision to move QB Young, the choices are the 88 year old Collins or the rookie.

Ex Lion GM Millen and Ex Redskin QB Theismann have been replaced on the NFL Channel Thursday night game coverage. Great move by the NFL. Having Millen comment on the draft is like signing Pat Paulsen to do Presidential Election coverage. Millen is easily the worst GM in the recent history of the league.

Rumors:
The news coming out of the Panthers camp is that there is no pressure to start QB Newton soon. Forget that. The one thing that has bothered QB Clausen the most is pressure. He has never had as much pressure to perform as he does this coming season with Newton looking over his shoulder.

According to my sources, there is real tension in the Panther front office. GM Hurley was reportedly against the pick of Newton. That would make his decision to pick Clausen with the first choice (second round) in the 2010 draft a joke. But the Clausen pick was not the only blunder Hurley has made. He has a history of trading up to pick busts and giving away future high picks. The heat is on him and he will be gone soon.

Every indication seems to prove that the NFL players and owners are moving further away rather than getting closer to a new deal. NFLPA Ex. Dir. Smith’s comments to ESPN about the district court judge Nelson’s decision “proving that the NFL owners broke the law” is just one example. Multiple player comments about Comm. Goodell being “stupid” also don’t help. The NFL did not beat their collective chests when the Court of Appeals granted the immediate stay on the Nelson decision. The players and the NFLPA are not doing their cause any good by ramping up the anti-league rhetoric. It hurts their side in the eyes of the court and the public.

If the season starts with no new CBA look for the Bengals to move both WR Johnson and Owens. Without a new CBA there will be no salary cap or floor. The Bengals will go as cheap as possible. After all they have proven they can lose spending 120+ million so they can lose just as easily spending 50M.

Reportedly the Eagles have a general understanding with the Cards for a trade of QB Kolb. However, the Birds MUST get a vet QB to back up Vick. There is not only the issue of Vick staying health with his all out running style but also his staying in the league. According to several sources, Vick’s reinstatement into the league was conditional on his behavior. One more violation of league rules could cause him to miss a year or more. That is a big risk for the Eagles. Look for them to get a Vick like QB to back him up. Titan QB Young would be a possibility IF he could accept being a backup.

The only ones getting rich from the legal battle between the players and owners are the lawyers involved. The firm of Barnes & Thornburg had tried to horn in on the financial bonanza but it had represented the NFL in previous issues. The NFL refused to grant a confilict of interest waiver to the firm. Several sources are reporting that other law firms are now trying to recruit players to intervene in the case. An additional plaintiff will just make the situation worse.

Given the current lockout and the possibility it will last until the decision is made on the appeal of Judge Nelson’s decision by the Court of Appeals, the free agent period could be VERY short. That will mean that a lot of money in an uncapped year will be chasing a very small number of quality UFAs. That would be made even more critical if the 2010 rules are imposed because only player with 6 years of service will become UFAs. Players like Raider CB Asomugha will be very hot (and expensive) commodities.

According to the Pioneer Press the Vikes are very very close to a deal with Ramsey County for a new stadium in Arden Hills.

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18 April 2011

News:
Federal Judge Susan Nelson ordered mediation for the two sides in the NFL CBA issue. The two sides met for nearly 10 hours on Thursday of last week and over 5 hours on Friday. They have taken a 3 day break and are scheduled to meet again Tuesday.

Judge Nelson also made it VERY clear to both sides that any "leaks" about the status of negotiations would be met with very strong action by the court.

Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick was originally projected to be a 3rd or 4th round pick. He was acknowledged as having the strongest arm in the draft. His stock has shot up in recent weeks because he was measured by the ESPN Year of the QB special as having the best accuracy, the quickest decision making and the fastest release. He has been invited to the Draft which is a major surprise. That indicates that the NFL believes that he will be a first round pick. He has not decided whether he will attend the draft or not. Prediction: Kaepernick will by 2014 be the most effective QB in this draft.

Former NBA Star John Lucas has been JaMarcus Russell's “Life Coach” Lucas quit giving up on the BurgerKing sucking ex-QB. Russell is a lost cause and Lucas is tired wasting his time working with the UFA.

Notes:
Titan WR Britt was arrested recently in New Jersey. He was charged with lying to an officer, hindering apprehension and obstructing governmental function following a stop. Eluding an officer is a third-degree felony while the other two charges are misdemeanors.

His dad said that former Buckeye and current Ram LB Laurinaitis might go the WWE during a lockout.

Tom Brady just beside himself. No it is not about the court case that bears his name. It is over Pia's elimination on American Idol!

Rumors:
The Redskins are reportedly looking to trade up to get one of the top 2 QBs. They would have to get to the 4th pick to be sure to get one of the 2 top QBs in the draft. Don't expect that. The Skins are targeting a QB at pick 10 and it may well be Kaepernick rather than the expected Washington QB Locker.

Teams at the bottom of the 1st and top of the 2nd round are likely to have trade offers from teams that are desperate to get a QB in the draft. Some analysts are predicting that 5 QBs will go in the first 35 picks. I predict 4 QBs will be taken including Newton, Gabbert, Kaepernick, and Locker. I would be VERY surprised if Mallett (Arkansas) was picked before pick 50.

The 49ers might be interested in Buc backup QB Josh Johnson rather than risking taking a rookie early in the draft. QB Alex Smith has been offered a 1 year deal at a very much lower cap number.
With the Metrodome roof collapse the need for a new stadium became even more pressing for the Vikes. Owner Wilf made a call on the legislature looking for some help. The only way that the Vikes are likely to get any financial assistance is to hold a special election on a state bond issue. That would increase the chances that such a proposal might pass because of a lower than average voter turnout.

The Browns owe Alabama DT Dareus a lot even if he is off the board before the team picks at 6. He was the guy that knocked Texas QB McCoy out of the BCS Championship game in 2010. That probably contributed to the 2010 Browns 3rd round pick falling to a point where the team felt he was too much of a value to pass up. McCoy was taken and became the probable starter in 2011.

Bengal Mike Brown is holding out hope that QB Carson Palmer will be back with the team in 2011. My question to him is what part of Palmer selling his house doesn't Brown understand?

Despite Alabama OT Smith walking out of the Combine without telling anyone and the weight issues that were obvious the Bengals ignored the red flags and took the troubled player with the 6th pick in the 2009 draft. Since then he held out for several weeks then was immediately hurt in 2009. He has only appeared in 13 of 32 regular season games for the team. The team is looking to replace him at RT because he has suffered a broken foot twice since being drafted.

The #2 DE in the draft Bowers (Clemson) got a medical clearance from the Colts on a recent visit to Indy. As a result a lot of teams are reconsidering the player who had 15.5 sacks in 2010.

Troubled CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado) has top 10 talent but enough personal baggage to require 2 moving vans. Several teams at the bottom of the 1st round are considering Smith. He will only succeed in my opinion if he is drafted by a team with a VERY strong locker room. A team like the Pats or the Packers would be perfect and both need a CB.

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11 April 2011

News:
The Judge in Brady et. al. v NFL has told both sides to shut up. Judge Nelson told both sides she would come down hard on leaks. She supervised the conference call last Friday to make sure that no information was released.

The Players have added DeMaurice Smith to their legal team TO PRETEND THEY ARE NOT A UNION. The owners were not impressed. This was just another indication that the Union is a Union and not a "trade association."

Notes:
Bengal QB Palmer would be the 2nd most pursued QB for trade IF the Bungles are willing to move him. Several teams have reportedly expressed interest including the Dolphins and Vikes.

Former Redskin McNabb would be 3rd on the list of attractive UFA QBs. He will also be attractive to several teams looking for vet QBs.

Vike fans can get a piece of the Rock –make that the roof of Metrodome for only $4. I am surprised that they don't require the fans to carry the piece of the roof away.

Falcon TE Tony Gonzalez may retire if the lockout extends too long

Dolphin oft-injured QB Pennington is having surgery again but this time it is an ACL in his knee. It will likely not hurt the passing strength of his “arm of a chicken.”

Rumors:
A lot of teams are talking about trading down in the draft to accumulate extra picks. But the problem for all the teams that want to trade down if finding someone that is interested in trading up. There will be a couple of players that teams may be willing to trade up to get but that will be it.

There has been a rumor that the has told teams they can trade for future draft picks at their own risk. However, the union is going to have a problem with that. I expect that the Judge will not allow the trade for picks in a future that would have to be part of a new CBA.

The Vikes are spreading a rumor about WR Sidney Rice's injured knee. That is a ruse to try to keep other teams away from him.

Jets HC Ryan has expressed interest in UFA WR Moss. That is not good news for either WR Edwards or Holmes one of whom would not be brought back if Moss was signed.

The Colts and other teams will approach the draft as if there will not be any fa period. At the very least the FA period will be after the draft.

With the Pack looking at LBs in the early rounds, Nick Barnett is worried about being cut. He has not produced at the level of his salary. Panther Owner Richardson will let the draft staff make the final decision on drafting Newton or not. Don't believe it. They are still trying to sell a trade down to teams that might be interested in Newton.

Payton Manning and his wife had twins this week. Kiper has already put Marshall and Mosley Manning at the top of his 2032 NFL Prospect list.

The first list of the top 5 college teams are out: 1. LSU 2. Oklahoma 3. Oregon 4. Boise State 5. Alabama

Please join me M-F 6-8 PM EDT for the Internet radio version of News, Notes, and Rumors on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ or http://mooheadradio.com/2.0/

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5 April 2011

News: Despite complaints from the fan base, the Broncos continue to look at the QBs in the 2011 draft. EVP John Elway said recently "Obviously if there's a guy there that's a franchise guy there, we definitely have to look at it because we're not sure we have a franchise guy on our team right now. So, obviously we've got to visit that, look at it, and do our due diligence on it, and then we'll make our decision from there." Check out the rumor section below for more on this issue.

There were comments made last week that the owners refused to meet with the players to resume negotiations. That is not the full story. Because the union de-certified and the players sued the league, only the two sides' lawyers can meet to discuss the case and the particulars. But the players said they wanted to meet only with the owner executive committee. The players have no one to blame but themselves for ending negotiations.

Notes: Tom Brady is taking one for the team--the players team that is. Depending on how the legal side of the work stoppage comes out, his allowing his name to be used as the face of the litigation could cost him popularity and thus endorsements.

The NFL Draft is all about making decisions. That is something several teams are struggling with at this point in the process. The Vikes are one of the teams without a starting NFL quality QB. The team cut one time starter Jackson (63.9 QB rating in 2010) in favor of former undrafted rookie FA QB Webb (60.9). The Vikes have a new coaching staff and it has time to develop a rookie QB. However, the team is good enough to compete for the playoffs with decent QB play. The dark horse candidate is Patrick Ramsey. Look for the team to use a 1st or 2nd round pick on a QB and possibly bring in another vet to compete for the starting job.

CORRECTION: Despite a number of reports to the contrary, Bengal QB Palmer has just put his house on the market. It is a cozy little $2.1 M 5 bedroom place on 5 acres in the Indian Hills section. WR Johnson had reported that the house had been sold. That is not the case.

Raider WR Louis Murphy was arrested in Florida for possession of a prescription drug not in his name. He could not only face a problem with the law and the NFL Commissioner but also a terrible ribbing in the locker room. The drug in question was Viagra.

Rumors: The latest trade rumor comes from the Bills. They are reportedly talking to the Eagles about a deal that would send the #3 overall pick. The trade would supposedly cost the Eagles their 1st (23) and 2nd (54) picks in the 2011 draft plus coveted QB Kolb. Don't think for a minute that will happen. That is WAY too much for the 3rd pick. Instead I am guessing that the Eagles will trade Kolb and possibly their 2nd to the Cards for the #5 pick.

I have been studying the NFL draft since 1963 and I have never seen so many of the top prospects with red flags as there are this year. That is going to lead to a higher than average number of reaches and busts for this class. The problem for NFL executives is deciding which flags are significant and which are not. The teams bet millions of dollars on their choices of the first round and they are either right or they are soon unemployed. NFL stands for Not For Long if a GM picks even a couple of high round busts in the draft.

The Broncos have a very capable QB in Orton that never seems to get any respect. In the last two years he has had passer ratings of 86.8 and 87.5. Fired HC McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow (82.1 rating in 2010) in the first round last year. The Broncos ended up in 2010 with only 4 wins in 2010. The team has as many holes in their lineup as any at the top of the draft. Even so, Elway is leaning toward drafting a QB in one of the weakest QB rookie crops in recent memory. Translation - Elway wants to pick the signal caller because he understands that position. In my opinion he is going to lead this team to more high draft picks. I do not believe he has the ability to scale back his ego enough to let real draft evaluation people make the calls.

Editorial: My reaction to the Pro Football Weekly/Newton controversy.

Some people believe any publicity is good publicity. That is not necessarily the case. PFW has been one of the most respected sources of Pro football and draft information for years. Last week when the PFW 2011 NFL Draft book hit the streets, there was a cry from the mainstream media types that would drown out a Navy Jet engine.

Veteran draft evaluator Nolan Nawrocki wrote the following: Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and always will struggle to win a locker room. Only a one-year producer. Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.

Summary: An extremely talented, dual-threat QB who carried Auburn to a national title, Newton has the arm and athletic talent desired in a rollout, play-action, bootleg vertical passing game and would fit ideally into an offense such as that of the Redskins or Raiders. However, he always will test the rules, be difficult to manage and lacks the intangibles to win the trust of a locker room. Will require a very strong-willed, demanding coach to live up to his potential and avoid the trappings of fame and fortune, but even the greatest taskmaster will not be able to keep away the drama that is still swirling from a stained Heisman Trophy and littered recruiting trail that Newton left in the SEC. Can provide an initial spark, but will quickly be dissected and contained by NFL defensive coordinators, struggle to sustain success and will not prove worthy of an early investment. An overhyped, high-risk, high-reward selection with a glaring bust factor, Newton is sure to be drafted more highly than he should and could foreclose a risk-taking GM's job and taint a locker room.

NFL projection: Top-15 pick.

Nolan has been attacked for his report including a comment from NFL QB Warren Moon that brought the race card into the discussion. ESPN draft analyst Kiper said he would not have written this negative a report. Auburn coaches complained that Nolan never talked to them before writing his report. Now that would have been a totally unbiased source.

These are not just the conclusions of a draft guy based on a brief encounter. PFW in general and Nolan in particular have outstanding contacts around the league and with college people all over the country. The comments about Newton's personality have come from interviews Nolan has done with a large number of people including NFL team executives that have interviewed Newton as part of their pre-draft evaluation. I verified this today with Dan Arkush, the Executive Editor of PFW. Mr. Arkush has been a frequent guest on my show.

The fact is that political correctness has infected nearly every aspect of life in the US. That now includes draft prospect analysis. The only thing that gives any draft analyst credibility is to report both what he sees on the field and what he hears from those that make draft decisions for the various teams. The long established credibility of PFW was based on that publication and its reporters and writers telling the readers what they saw and heard from reliable sources. Anything less would be a dis-service to not only those that buy a paper or publication but also the industry itself.

I completely back Mr. Nawrocki for telling PFW readers the truth about what he had heard. We are not talking about a player without a very checkered past in QB Cam Newton. Cam and his dad have been the focus of more than a couple investigations by various organizations.

For those that think this type of negative evaluation is limited to black QBs, just think back to the massive amount of negative comments about Tim Tebow including a few that indicated he was disingenuous after his pro-life ad was aired.

The bottom line on the controversy is this--The truth hurts. It is no different than reporting that a WR that was rumored to be a 4.3 40 guy ran a 4.75. Every aspect of a draft prospect's background is taken into consideration. That is particularly true of the QB position. A high 1st round pick of a QB that becomes a bust will hurt a franchise for years. The QB is the face of the team for better, or as in the case of the Falcons and Mike Vick or the Chargers and Ryan Leaf, the worse.

One of the greatest factors in the success or failure of a QB prospect is his dedication to practice and willingness to work hard to improve. Those that are willing to pay the price in the film room and the practice field are much more likely to succeed than those that are not. Coach-ability is another major determinant of the success of a college QB in the NFL.

In both my writing and my radio show, I can only tell you what I see and hear from reliable sources. I was the first to break the story about the problems in KC almost a year before they were reported elsewhere. Time will tell if Cam Newton becomes a great pro or a bust or something in between. I will be here for a while to tell you what I think. That is the best I can do and all for which you can ask.

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28 March 2011

News:
The NFLPA has backed off the statement that they were asking the top rookies to boycott the Draft. Now several veteran players are beginning to ask why the association would spend their dues on flying stars to New York and renting a theater to hold the anti-draft party.

The NFL has announced the Compensatory picks for the 2011 NFL draft. There are 32 picks that have been awarded including choices at the end of rounds 4-7. These picks compensate teams for UFAs lost and did not replace them by signing other UFA players.

Notes:
HOF CB Daryl Sanders has given up trying to mentor Cowboy's troubled WR Dez Bryant. Bryant was given a criminal trespass warning in a shopping center last weekend for wearing his pants so far down that his underwear was exposed.

There is a difference of opinion about the existence of a player conduct policy now that the CBA has expired. Packer DL Jolly was arrested Friday for possession of cocain. That could result in a suspension and his entry into the NFL Drug program after a new CBA is in place. However, the NFLPA will file a grievance if the league tries to enforce a conduct rule during a lockout.

The NFL wants the players to be tested for human growth hormone under the next CBA according to league vice president and general counsel Adolpho Birch. The problem is that HTH testing is unproven and the NFLPA doesn't trust it or the league to administer another drug program.

Rumors:
There has been a lot of talk about this draft being the year of the quarterback like 1983. Those people need to take a chill pill. This is one of the weakest QB drafts in recent memory. Even Dolphin QB Henne will be given a chance to start because there is so many teams chasing so few quality prospects.

A further indication that the 2011 QB class is weak is the interest in has been vet QBs. Even former Ram and Raven Bulger is getting a lot of interest by several teams including the 49ers and Bengals.

Even the Denver Post is telling the fans to get off the backs of Elway and the Bronco brass. The fans want the Broncos to quit looking for QBs. The fans like the QBs on the roster and want the team to concentrate on other positions of need. The paper noted the lack of a top 12 QB.

The Browns are excited about KR Cribbs as a WR. Good luck with that. There is no question he can become a decent to good WR. But the team needs field position that only he can generate as the PR/KR. He plays with reckless abandon and the chances he can survive a full season doing both is small.

Forget the talk about the Panthers going for a QB. That is intended to get the teams that want their choice to trade up to get it. Right now, the job of Panthers GM Marty Hurney depends on his trading up to get ND QB Jimmy Clausen in the 2nd round. Most experts called Clausen the most pro ready QB in the draft but those of you that read my work realized I did not agree. The 2011 QB is extremely weak and I predict that if the Panters can't trade down, they will go with the safe pick and take Alabama DT Dareus.

The Vikes will check out Auburn QB Newton next week. HC Frazier is new and has the time to take a chance on a rookie QB. However, because the team is good enough to get to the playoffs with just an average QB look for them to hedge their bet with a vet to mentor Newton. There is also a chance that the Vikes will have to trade up to get him.

There will be a lot of teams interested in Eagle QB Kolb. Rumors are that the team has already received offers including a 1st round pick to get him. The list of teams that need a QB grows every week. That list includes the Redskins, Vikes, Panthers, Cards, 49ers, Seahawks, Dolphins, Bills, Titans, Jaguars, and Bengals. That is 11 teams with just 2 young vet QBs that might be available if you add Vince Young to the list.

Several of the teams above will be more interested in a vet than others. The Cards and the Jags are the most desperate. Those coaching staffs are on the hottest seats of the group and failing to win in 2011 will likely cause unemployment before the 2012 season.

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21 March 2011

News:
Federal Judge Susan Nelson has said she will issue a decision about the lockout portion of the Brady et. al. V NFL case within 48 hours of the April 6th hearing. If the decision strikes down the lockout which is the expected outcome, the NFL could start the 2011 year by Apr. 10 allowing 18 days for trades and free agent signings prior to the draft.

NFL Comm. Goodell sent a letter to all the players explaining the league's last offer to the NFLPA. The leadership of the former union sent a letter back to Goodell claiming that his letter was misleading. A couple of team reps called Goodell a liar.

The NFLPA has said that they no longer want to deal with the league's lawyers but want to sit down with the owners that make up the Executive Council. The NFL responded by saying the requested members of the league ownership would sit down with the association any time they wanted. The problem is that because the CBA is now in litigation, the contacts must involve the legal representatives of both sides. THAT would have been a good idea BEFORE the union de-certified. The leauge has said there will be no negotiating sessions until the decision of Judge Nelson is announced.

Don't necessarily believe the no meetings statement. The latest is that the union has some problems with the league's latest proposal but did not look into it before they filed for de-certification. The two sides might meet next week and get to a general understanding before the hearing on the case.

Notes:
There has been a lot of talk about the lack of a CBA not costing either side money yet. That is not true for the players. Many players have workout bonuses that will only be paid upon completion of their contractual requirements. Some of those bonuses are very large. The biggest of them is said to be 750K.

Sometimes you get the Wonderlick and sometimes it gets you. It also got LSU CB Peterson who scored a 9 and Georgia WR Green who got a 10 on the test. Auburn QB Newton scored a 21.

In football there is such a thing as cutting your nose off to spite your face. The latest example is the decision by Bengal Pres. Brown not to trade QB Carson Palmer. Palmer has sold his house and will not return to the Bungles.

Eagle HC Reid said that the team would "listen" to offers for QB Kolb. Translation: I have lost the battle with the owner and have given up fighting to keep him. This is a very big indication that Reid is on VERY thin ice in Philly.

UFA WR Randy Moss said he would love to go back to the Pats to play again. He even said he would consider a return to the Vikes (even without a QB). Translation: My agent said he had 0 confidence in finding me a gig.

Rumors:
Just prior to the 2010 trade deadline the Seahawks inquired about the availability of Bill QB Edwards. The two teams could not reach agreement. Now the Hawks will likely try to resign QB Whitehurst. The sides were far apart in negotiations with UFA 2010 starter Hasselbeck at the time that the lockout occurred.

Usually the team with the #1 pick doesn't send up the pre-draft smoke signals that most teams do. But this year is unlike any other. Almost everyone around the league is saying that the Panthers are leaning to taking Auburn QB Newton. However, my source in Panther land told me that the team is is leaning toward Alabama DT Dareus. The QB position is a greater need by many NFL teams. This could be an attempt to get a trade down to get more picks.

There has been a change in the relative power of the Bronco HC. The addition of John Elway as the executive vice president of football operations ended the HC having nearly total control of the draft and free agency. Both Shanahan and McDaniels had full control of football operations.

The excuses from the Chief's coaching staff about the post-Weis O. Both new offensive coordinator in Bill Muir and a new QB coach in Jim Zorn have said that the lack of OTA's would hurt their implementation of the new O. HC Haley will be on the hot seat if the O goes in the tank. It was his disagreements with 2010 OC Weis that drove the latter to join the Florida University coaching staff in the same position.

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15 March 2011

News:
The NFL gave the union a final proposal that would have split the money difference to get a deal. The union then demanded that the owners provide 10 years of audited profit/loss statements for the 31 privately owned teams. Around 5PM the league found out that the NFLPA had filed to de-certify at 4 while they were still pretending to negotiate.

Arguments on the preliminary injunction portion of the case of Tom Brady et. al. V NFL will be heard April 6th. The Minnesota Federal Judge will then announce a decision a week or two after that date. IF the lockout is struck down, the NFL will likely appeal. The District Judge could allow the lockout to continue pending a decision by the Federal Appeals Court but that is not likely. Chances are that the 2011 League season will start a couple of days after the decision. FA could start then as well.

However, if the Appeals Court overturns the pro-Union judges in the District Court which is very possible, the situation gets really messy. FA signings would be in question as well as any trades of players.

The association formerly known as the NFLPA has asked the top 17 players in the draft to boycott the draft in New York. They are trying to arrange a competitive broadcast with interviews with the draftees. Don't hold your breath for that show. Up to now the Union has not been very successful in organizing events competitive to those of the league. How many players that have waited for this night for all their lives will opt to be on a Social Media Site with the ex-union rather than on national TV with the NFL? Not many.

The Redskins signed former Ram FS Oshiomogho Atogwe. He was able to be signed because he had been released by the Rams.

The NFL has announced their performance bonuses for last season. The awards included Bears TE Brandon Manumaleuna (1.1M) and LB Brian Urlacher (2.1M).

The Giants have resigned WR Darius Reynaud to a new deal with a $550K base and a 30.5K roster bonus.

Notes:
Two federal Judges have pass the buck and the NFL case on like it was a red-hot briquet. It originally landed on the docket of Richard Kyle who immediately passed it to Judge Patrick Schiltz. Schiltz didn't want it either and passed it to newly promoted Judge Susan Judge Nelson who presided over the Dryer v. NFL case. That case involved the NFL's use of retired players likenesses and identity without compensation. It is possible that the case will end up with pro-union Judge Doty but that is not at all certain.

Contrary to reports in other places, at the current point, there is no NFL Player discipline procedure because of the lockout. However, Brandon Meriweather could be suspended by Roger Goodell even if he isn't charged in Feb. 27th shooting incident because it occurred prior to the end of the CBA extension.

House Dem. Rep. John Conyers is sticking his nose into the NFL's business again. He said he would seek to eliminate the NFL's anti-trust exemption for TV contracts. Maybe rather than worrying about a 9 Billion dollar business, the House should concentrate on cutting Federal Spending.

Vike DT Pat Williams will appeal the decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals upholding his 4 game suspension by the league. However, his team mate Kevin Williams will not appeal.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that he is uncertain if WRs T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Donte' Stallworth will return in 2011. Translation--We want them both to take a MAJOR salary cut to stay.

Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney believes QB Jimmy Clausen still has a chance to become the team's starting quarterback. Translation--I am hoping he starts because I picked him and may lose my job if he is a bust.

Rumors:
During my recent radio interview with Alabama DT Marcell Dareus I was able to break some news to him. I told him that according to a source I have in Charlotte, the Panthers are leaning toward the D line with the first pick and he is on the top of their draft board right now. I would like to thank both Mooheadradio.com and Brian Leonardi of France AllPro Athlete Management, Inc. for the opportunity to talk to Marcell.

NFL head negotiator Jeff Pash is not convinced the NFLPA even wanted to see the 10 years of audited financials. In an interview on PFT Live he said the following: “We went a long way towards satisfying their financial transparency demands. Frankly, I’m not convinced they want to see the numbers. I think they like it better as an issue to whack us upside the head with then actually look at the numbers.”

Several teams are rumored to be very concerned about the knee injury of DE Da'Quan Bowers' knee injury. It may have been much more serious than originally reported.

Forget about talk of QB Alex Smith being the guy under center for the team. The 49ers are looking to trade up into the late 1st round or early 2nd to get a QB. They should have no problem finding a team that wants to trade down. The question will be the draft choice price of that deal.

Former Giant RB Tiki Barber got a 3 year 6M contract from NBC. He said that he felt he was the "next Matt Lauer" with a long and profitable TV career. He started as a star on NBC's Today show. He ended up getting pushed to the kids' table in Friday Night Football. The problem was he had little TV talent. Barber's renewed interest in football has more to do with his financial needs than his love of the game.

Rumors coming out of Seattle have the Seahawks interested in Bengal QB Palmer. Those same sources indicate that Hawk QB Hasselback might be shipped to Tennesee. Redskin QB McNabb could also be a possibility for the Titans. The Eagles would like to trade QB Kolb as well but none of these moves will happen as long as the lockout continues.

The Bengal WR formerly known as Johnson told ESPN that QB Palmer's house is sold. One more indication that Carson will not be back for the Bengals.

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9 March 2011

News:
The mediation between the NFL and NFLPA will continue by agreement until Friday. We will see if it is extended beyond that. Check out the rumors section for more on this.

The teams have placed a plethora of tender offers to the players with 3-5 years of credited service. The tenders can range from a 1st round to a 4th round level based on the players' tender salary offer.

Forget the new CBA, the free agent period has begun. Charlie Bernstein, of FoxSportsFlorida.com and JagNation.com has written that the Texans have already contacted soon to be UFA WR Sims-Walker who is still under contract to the Jags. Sims-Walker is #2 on my list of favorite UFA WRs but according to league rules can not be contacted until the free agency established by a new CBA has officially begun.

Notes:
In a move intended to scare the owners, the NFLPA announced that the primary plaintiffs in a class action suit against the league would be QBs Payton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara was impressive in my interview of him on Mr. Mooheadradio.com on Tuesday. He is a bright young man that will be a top 10 pick. He had 20 interviews at the Combine. I will interview Marcell Dareus DT Alabama on Thursday at 5:00 on that show.

While all the Auburn players looked good on their pro day, QB Cam Newton looked much better than he did throwing at the combine. He still has a major problem with his footwork and a very inconsistent delivery. Both of those tend to hurt the accuracy. He went 50-60 against air. The big question about Newton is his ability to read a D. On most plays at Auburn, he would look to the sideline to get the play after the coaching staff did a pre-snap read.

Former TV host and Giant RBTiki Barber wants to make a comeback in the NFL. While he may be in shape he is not in football shape. At his age (35) he would be a best a role player that would be expected to add leadership to the locker room. That has not been his strength. But he does have fresh legs. He has not played since the 2006 season.

While everyone is talking lockout, several players are waiting at the gate trying to get back with their former teams. RB Westbrook wants to return to the Eagles. RB Benson wants to get back with the Bengals and WR Holmes wants to resign with the Jets. Jet RT Woody would also like to return to the team or go back to the Pats.

Bears WR Devin Aromashodu will be looking for a new team. He has no desire to return to the Bears and it looks like they feel the same.

Bengal QB Palmer has been very specific about his future. He said he will never play on the Bengals again. But the team is in a tough spot because they can not trade him and have no quality backup.

Another "can't miss" top draft choice LT candidate has missed. Raider LG Gallery will not be back in 2011.

Rumors:
The rumor around the mediation is that the NFL did not have their "offer" upon which they can base a claim of impasse ready by the Mar. 3 date. As a result they continued to negotiate with the union. The league wants Judge Doty out of the process. He has been clearly pro union in almost all of his decisions between the parties. He has been over ruled on several occasions by the Federal Court of Appeals. To get him out, the CBA must be allowed to expire. If it does and the union de-certifies, look for the league to file a suit in a different court to avoid having Doty involved.

There is an issue that has not been discussed much in the media that is causing a lot of the money issue between the players and owners. More than half the teams have major financing costs related to building or doing major remodels of their stadiums. The likelihood of getting public financing for any new stadiums for teams like the Vikes or Chargers is zero. State and local governments are broke. Add to that the Federal Reserve has been printing money to finance the US debt. When this money hits the market, the interest rates will skyrocket.

Current short term debt held by NFL teams will have to be rolled over at a much higher interest cost. That is the largest reason the NFL now wants another billion added to the amount they take off the top before cutting the rest with the players.

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1 March 2011

News:
Giants Tom Coughlin said he was concerned if Mathias Kiwanuka's neck injury could be career threatening. This could be real concern or it could be more an attempt to stop other teams from giving him offers as a UFA.

The Redskins released RB Portis. He played just 13 games in the last 2 seasons. NFL RBs at 30 or over are not often effective.

Bears released DT Tommie Harris because of his contract and history of injury. Harris has enough left to interest a number of teams. He is much more to offer a new team than ex-Brown DT Rogers.

Gov Daniels of Indiana has backed off his support for the right to work bill. The Republicans have abandoned this version for what a spokesman said “for now.” The bill might have allowed Colts players to avoid paying dues to the NFLPA or any other trade association.

The teams are placing RFA tags on players with 3,4 and 5 years of service credit. Will that be approved by the new CBA? Who knows.

Cohen Mediator “Progress made some strong differences remain between parties." But that is an optimistic view not shared by others familiar with the talks.

The mediation between the NFL AND NFLPA ended their first 7 days working. They were scheduled to meet again on Mar. 1 and did hold that meeting.

Bronco HC Fox said as of today Kyle Orton is the starting QB NOT Tebow. The team extended Orton's contract 2 seasons ago ans will stay with that financial commitment.

Dolphins franchised DL Paul Soliai.

Raiders signed CB Routt to an extension 3 years up to 31.5 M.

Raiders also franchised OLB Wimbley.

Bills HC Gailey will use a inbred of D formations based on both 4-3 and 3-4. He does not have the players to full 3-4 in 2011.

Panthers put the RFA Tag on DE Johnson.

Notes:
The NFLPA will likely decertify prior to the expiration of the CBA. They will then go to the Federal Court to request an injunction to prevent a lockout by owners.

The Owners will be paid by the networks even if no games are paid. They will have to rebate that money to the nets in 12 &13. The deal to pay despite no games has been a part o the last several agreements.

A new concussion protocol developed by the NFL Head and Neck injury subcommittee starting in 2011. It combines a symptom checklist, a limited neurological examination including a cognitive evaluation, and a balance assessment. In the old days when I was a coach, we would ask the injured player where he was and what the score was. If he answered correctly, he was ready to play. This is a major improvement.

The Cards are optimistic about resigning WR Fitzgerald before he becomes a UFA after the 2011 season. Good Luck. It will depend on the team getting a new QB. Fitz's contract prohibits him being franchised.

Bengal HC Lewis took the blame for the bad 2010. Marvin, it was not your fault. The NFL requires quality player to win. Until you get them, you will struggle to win consistently.

The Bears extended HC Lovie Smith's contract through the 2013 season. He deserved it.
The 49ers are negotiating with QB Alex Smith on a new deal for 2011 at a much lower $ amount.

The Bucs have made offers to potential FA G Joseph, LB Black and T Trueblood.

Packer DE Jenkins believes that his days with the team are over. Several teams would be interested in his services.

LB David Harris signed his Franchise Tender with the Jets.

The Jags put the FranchiseTag on TE Marcedes Lewis.

LB Woodley signed his Franchise Tender with the Steelers.

Ram GM Devaney said the team would consider trading down from their #14 1st round pick. The problem will be that there are 9 or 10 top players. He will struggle to find a team that wants to trade up to that spot.

The Broncos signed CB Bailey to a 4 year deal worth up to $43M.

The Bengals will not use a Franchise tag in 2011. Just like last year they are too cheap to use it. That means both CBs will be available on the FA market.

My guest on NNR on DSN Agent JR Richert told my listeners Monday that the NFLPA and league “are not close on one single issue.” So much for avoiding the expiration of the CBA. There was talk with the agents about Union plans for September.

Rumors:
The 2 groups that oppose rookie wage scales are the agents and potential players. The union may refuse to accept a RWS in fear of a revolt by the agents against union leadership.

Brown Pres. Holmgren said he will definitely draft a QB. He also said he wants to see all the QB include Gabbert and Newton. Don't believe it. He is trying to sell the teams that want a QB on the idea of a trade down.

Browns HC Shurmur said he felt he had a good enough relationship with former Ram safety O.J. Atogwe that the player might come to Cleveland.

The Dallas Cowgirls are thinking of drafting QB Cam Newton. While most of the pre-draft talk is just that, this may have some validity. Again I was the first one to write about the Girls concern about Romo over a year ago.

When Shanahan drafted Portis in Denver, he loved the kid. Now as Skins HC, he cut Portis early to let him test the FA market.

The Lions are more than a little concerned about QB Stafford's injury hist. The bad news is he has played only 13 of 32 games. The good news is that all different injuries not a chronic condition.
The packers are a little concerned about the “belt” dance that QB Rodgers does on throwing a TD. It reminds a lot of Packer execs of the "Ickey Shuffle" by woods. It was Ickey!

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21 February 2011

News:
The NFL and NFLPA have not been able to agree on much but they did agree to mediation under the Federal Mediation Service. The mediator does not decide anything but will talk to each side and help them structure offers or counters in a way that may lead to agreement.

The process starts by the mediator meeting separately with each side helping them define their key issues. Then the mediator will either go back and forth between the sides bringing issues and possible solutions to each or have them work face to face to discuss the differences.

In either case, the mediator will keep the talks focused on the issues and reduce the emotions of the talks. The sides have agreed to 7 consecutive days of mediation. However, if either side makes statements as to how the process is going, the mediator can call off the process and walk away.

Seymour DT Raiders told the AP "I'm thrilled to be with the Silver and Black, a team that has a bright future. As I mentioned many times before, I see myself retiring a Raider." Don’t hold your breath. After all we are talking about a team run by Al Davis.

Notes:
The NFLPA has asked US District Judge Doty to make the evidence from the hearing on the TV money of about 4 billion dollars due the league.

A decision should be coming within a couple of weeks. For info about how the league feels about Doty, check out the rumors section below. Dolphin OC Daboll has told the press his TE friendly O will help bring a UFA TE to the team. But as we know, it will not attract any UFA WRs. He doesn’t use WRs at all.

Cincy WR Ownes claimed that the Bungles problem last year was lack of coaching. It takes a lot of really bad coaching to account for a fall from the playoffs to the outhouse in 1 year.

The Chiefs won their tampering case against the Lions. The teams will swap 5th round picks and the Lions lose their 7th. The Texans are going to a 3-4 after spending a lot of 1st round picks on their 4-3. This will set the Texans back 2 years but the D could not be any worse than it was in a 4-3. Bronco executive Elway said the team was working on a deal for CB Bailey but Champ has put his house in Denver up for sale. I expect him to leave the team because the organization has been so screwed up over the last few years.

Rumors:
WR Jackson Chargers said he expected the Franchise tag. This past week he got it. However, the team does not have any interest in signing a long term deal with the troubled WR. This is a real head scratcher. Why waste the tag on someone they don’t want to keep when it means that LT McNeil will be allowed to leave as a UFA? The negotiations between Payton Manning and the Colts are not going well. The team placed the Franchise tag on him to insure that he will not be leaving.

The union has filed a complaint with the special master complaining that the NFL could not place a tag for a year in which there is not a CBA. The decision should come down in a couple of weeks. I believe that the NFL owners have damaged their opportunity to declare an impasse. There have not been enough negotiating sessions to convince the NLRB that the owners are justified in that decision. Now a lockout is much more likely.

The mediation sessions will help the owners' case for an impasse. One thing the league does want is to have the current CBA expire without a replacement. Since the court case that ended the 1987 work stoppage, US Dist. Court Judge Doty has been involved in the relationship between the two sides.

The tradition is that if the current CBA expires, the judge will no longer have any authority over the negotiations. The union has asked that Doty stay involved. It is beginning to look like the Steelers will lose CB Taylor. They have not yet put in an offer for a deal and he wants to test free agency. They could have placed a franchise tag on him but decided to place it on LB Woodson.

Some NFL Teams have used the Franchise Tag prematurely. Once placed a team can not use it again untin the contract signed by the player expires. If for example the Colts sign Manning to a 6 year deal, they will be without a Franchise tag till 2017. They have offered more than Brady got and should have waited until March 1 or 2 to place the tag. While the new CBA will most likely include a franchise tag, that is not a given.

Jets want to get WRs Holmes and Edwards deals done first before CB Cromartie. The CB will most likely be the odd man out.

University of Miami WR Leonard Hankerson said he is optimistic that he will be able to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range at the NFL Scouting Combine or at his Pro Day. That would insure he will be a 1st round pick.

The Panthers will probably use the franchise tag on either C Kalil or DE Johnson. Kalil has become one of the best Cs in the league and Johnson has showed much more potential last season. He had struggled in his previous years.

There will be several teams after ex-Colt S Sanders including the TItans, Jags, and Texans.

While the Jets are interested in getting DE Ellis back at a reduced salary, they will probably let former high 1st round pick Gholston leave. While he has really sruggled at OLB, he has the ability to rush the QB from a DE spot in a 4-3.

While the 49ers will draft a QB, they may also be in the market for a vet starter and will pursue Kolb or Palmer if he becomes avial via trade. The talk about how excited the new staff was about QB Alex Smith was pre-draft smoke and to try to create some trade value for a bust.

As we reported weeks ago on my show, the 49ers will not attempt to bring UFA Troy Smith back.

The Cards are considering a QB at the 5th overall pick. The team could also go WR if Green is avaiable or D players if their choice at QB is not still on the board.

Don’t expect the Titans to bring WR Moss back in 2011. However, here is something you will only hear from me. I would not be at all surprised if QB Vince Young is still on the team and starting in 2011. Fisher is gone and it was Young’s lack of a relationship with him that caused the problem. Owner Adams loves Young and the QB would be attractive to a lot of teams. He may be the best UFA QB on the market in 2011.

The Jets owe DT Jenkins 1 M bonus on the 7th day of the 2011 season. The decision on keeping him may depend on what the CBA salary cap ends up to be.

Expect the new CBA if and when it is signed to have a salary cap of around 100 M for a roster of 53. If the rosters are expanded due to the 18 game season, the salary cap will be adjusted upwards.

DB Atogwe hopes to be back after his release from Rams but the team will demand a significant reduction in his 2010 salary to resign him.

Ravens may be interested in Plaxico Burris. If they get him, look for Houshmandzadeh to be the odd man out.

The 49ers are talking about a multiback running game. Forget it. They have 1 guy Gore and he will be the man in 2011.

The Bucs are working hard to resign RG Joseph before the end of the current CBA.

Panther Owner Richardson's comments about the labor situation could hurt his team's ability to recruit UFAs.

WR Legedu Naanee 27 has worn out his welcome in SD. He will not be resigned. He has a lot of talent but has wasted it up to now.

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12 February 2011

News: The NFL and NFLPA called off the meeting scheduled for Thursday because they are not accomplishing anything and are so far apart that the only thing they could agree on was that they were sick of looking at each other. This is a negotiating ploy and the deal will end up close to the union offer of 50/50 split of revenue.

Redskin DL Haynesworth has been charged with simple assault in Virginia after a road rage incident. He could face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 31.

The NFLPA ExDir Smith said that the players have as much $ invested in the game as the Owners they want to see the books cost and revenue. The players have 0 invested in the game they take but do not invest. Because all the teams except Green Bay are privately held, there is no legal justification to force the owners to show the players the books.

About 1000 fans sued the NFL, Cowboys, and owner Jones for fraud for having sold tickets for which seats did not exist or obstructed seats. The suit asks for 5 mil and if fraud is proven the reward would also include triple the damages.

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was named the NFL’s executive of the year. He and HC Smith have brought the team back from the laughing stock of the league with the Vick and HC Bobby Petrino quitting on the team.

Cards did name Ray Horton DC. He had been DB coach of the Steelers.

Notes: Auburn QB Cam Newton had a “pre-combine” workout today. Here is the interesting feature—No NFL team employee is allowed to attend any workout prior to the combine. He looked good but who cares?

The New York Jets have signed kicker Nick Novak, who led the United Football League in scoring with 69 points in 10 games.

Titan WR Britt has been charged with theft by deception in New Jersey. The charge stems from Britt not putting up bail money for a friend that was later charged with murder in a different situation.

Saint HC Payton told local New Orleans media that he will likely retire when the current contract expires after the 2012 season.

Most NFL teams brought their players off of Injured Reserve last week.

Rumors: Eagle HC Reid has the support of almost all his staff. He went out of his way to get fired DC McDermott a job with Carolina. The one guy on the staff that is totally loyal to owner Lowrie is newly named DC Castillo. This situation is getting worse not better. The Eagles should be the next team to explode.

Raven LB Lewis said he will not retire and is definitely coming back. We will see because there are rumors that the team will buy out his deal.

WR Jackson Chargers said he expects the Franchise tag. He will not get it. It will go on LT McNeil.

The negotiations between Payton Manning and the Colts is not going well. Look for the team to place the Franchise tag on him if there is no agreement prior to March 3rd. According to the NFL the teams can place franchise tags on players until the current CBA expires. The union has filed a complaint with the special master complaining that the NFL could not place a tag for a year in which there is not a CBA. The decision should come down in a couple of weeks.

I believe that the NFL owners have given away their opportunity to declare an impasse. There have not been enough negotiating sessions to get the NLRB to accept the fact that the owners are justified in that decision. Now a lockout is much more likely.

Expect the Pack to put maximum effort to resign DE Jenkins with WR Jones and K Crosby and G College next in line to get deals done.

The Lions will not use their franchise tag. They want to hold it for next year.

It is beginning to look like the Steelers will lose CB Taylor. They have not yet put in an offer for a deal and he wants to test free agency.

Eagle HC Reid has the support of almost all his staff. He went out of his way to get fired DC McDermott a job with Carolina. The one guy on the staff that is totally loyal to owner Lowrie is newly named DC Castillo.

Back to the Top

3 February 2011

News:

Late last week, the Titans owner Adams and HC Fisher agreed to part ways. While it was not at all clear what triggered the change, I spoke to Dave Climer, columnist for the Tennessean newspaper. Check out my reactions to what he had to say about the situation in the Rumors section below. After the Fisher announcement, Wide receivers coach Fred Graves became the 5th Titan coach to leave. He is joining the Panthers as WR coach.

Contrary to rumors flying around the league, the NFL Pro Bowl rosters did include some defensive players as well as guys on O. The D side just forgot how to tackle. This game has become a joke and moving it to the Sunday before the Super Bowl has not helped.

The Browns have yet to name a OC. While some believe they will not, I think they are waiting to see if Packer QB coach Clements is interested. Check out the details of the most likely candidates on my latest essay on the Browns team page right here on NFLDraftDog.com. The team did hire Mark Whipple as QB coach. He was the former Steelers quarterbacks coach that helped develop Roethlisberger. The team also named former Cardinals defensive coordinator Bill Davis as their linebackers coach.

Texans owner Bob McNair said that he only cares about winning, not about profits. If that is the case, I have a question for McNair. Why did you not fire HC Gary Kubiak and his staff and find a better group?

Notes:

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco told Aaron Wilson, of NationalFootballPost.com he is not happy about the team firing quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn because he believes that it reflects on his performance this season. "I also feel like a little bit like I'm being attacked," Flacco said. "You fire the quarterback coach. Usually when your fire a position coach, it's because you're not really happy with how that position did. And when I look back on my season and our season as a team, I mean, we won 13 games. I felt like I had a pretty good year and you're firing the quarterback coach? It's kind of an attack on me, I feel like." Flacco said the team knows about his displeasure over the move.

The Titans have been shopping QB Young but destroyed any value he may have had by announcing that they would cut him after March 4th.

If Bengal QB Palmer goes through with his threat and retires, the team will be in a very difficult position. They have no viable option to replace him on the roster and will be in a very long line of teams that need a QB with a very short line of NFL starting quality guys available.

One more reason that the NFLPA would like to get some kind of CBA deal is that all the March 4th roster bonuses due players will be delayed until a new CBA is in effect. Many players have very large payments due as part of the "guaranteed money" included in their contracts. Those payments will not be due until and unless a new CBA is signed by the union and owners and is approved by the players.

Rumors:

The next part of the struggle between Eagles team owner Lorie and HC Reid will be what happens to Reid favorite QB Kolb. The latest rumor is that Lorie will franchise QB Vick and take offers to trade Kolb. Kolb will be attractive to teams both because he has some starting experience and his contract is very reasonable. If the trade happens, it will be one more major move in the soap opera "The Young and the Feathered."

While the Steeler players were glad to have QB Roethlisberger behind C again, Peter King of Sports Illustrated was told by NFL Comm. Goodell that not a single player that the Commis talked to would say anything supportive about the QB's actions in Georgia. That indicates that there is a real problem in the Steel city. This is also a situation to watch.

The official version of the firing of Titan HC Fisher was that he wanted to put his son on the coaching staff as quality control coach. I don't believe that is the real reason. Fisher had just 1 year on his contract and it was not likely that he was going to get an extension. Adams insisted that the new staff members only get 1 year contracts. Fisher, who had lost 3 coaches prior to his announcement, could not get anyone to take the jobs. Rather than struggle all year without a QB knowing he would be gone after the 2011 season, he decided to leave now.

According to Mr. Climer, the favorite to replace Fisher as Titan HC is Mike Munchak who has been as Dave calls him a "Oiler/Titan lifer."

New HC Jackson of the Raiders wants to resign RB Michael Bush. Bush's contract expires on March 3rd.

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23 January 2011

News:
The NFLPA filed suit against the NFL Owners for collusion. The union also sent a delegation to the US Congress to explain its position in the CBA negotiations. The team reps reportedly asked the Congress to consider removing the NFL's exemption from anti-trust laws.

Packers 21 Bears 14 - The Pack took out QB Cutler early in the 3rd quarter and beat the Bears. Bear's 3rd team QB Hanie pulled the Bears to within one score with a late TD. But a second drive for the tie took the team inside the Packer 30 before Hanie was intercepted on a 4th down 5 play. Bear OC Martz forced the medium pass because he called an end around on 3rd and 3 from the 27 that resulted in a 2 yard loss.

Steelers 24 Jets 19 - The Jets worried about 2nd year QB Sanchez making mistakes but it was Steeler QB Roethlisberger that threw 2 picks. But the Jets could not run the ball and the Steelers ran effectively. The Steeler D held the Jet O early and went up 24-0. But the Jets stormed back and got as close as 24-19. The Steelers ran out the clock and get the ticket to the Super Bowl from the AFC.

Notes:
The Browns named Pat Shurmur as HC and long time NFL coach Dick Jauron as the DC. The OC is yet to be named. For more detail of what this means for the Browns, check out my latest team report right here on NFLDraftDog.com.

The Raiders have named OC Hue Jackson head coach.

Famous Steeler DC Dick LeBeau's contract expires at the end of the 2010 season year. He is the inventor of the zone Blitz. He is 73 but may be interested in signing another contract with the Steelers or perhaps the Cardinals. He has a very unique expertise that most teams would love to have.

One of the teams we predicted would be totally overhauled several weeks ago was the Titans. Not only will the team need a new QB now that Vince Young won't be with the team in 2011, but the D will be reworked. The team has terminated both DC Cecil and DL coach Washburn. The Titan D was 26th in yards allowed and 29th in passing yardage given up.

Rumors:
The NFL may prevent a lockout by declaring an impasse in negotiations with the NFLPA and under their existing anti-trust exemption would then be allowed to implement their last offer to the players. That fomula would continue until such time as the courts sort out the legal issues. That would force the NFLPA to strike or to de-certify. Either way the NFL would proceed until a court decision stopped it.

The NFLPA is reportedly ready to accept some salary percentage reduction if the NFL will meet some of their demands.

As we predicted here weeks ago, QB Carson Palmer wants out of Cincy. He has threatened to retire if he doesn't get traded. The problem for the Bengals is that they can not trade him until there is a new CBA. He has several issues including disagreements with OC Bratkowski over the run vs. pass percentage. He also wants better drafts and a stronger O line to protect him.

No matter how the Palmer issue is resolved, the Bengal offense will likely change significantly. The Bengal O was supposed to be a strength but the team was 22nd in points. The WR combination of Cinco and TO did not produce points but forced the OC Bratkowski to pass more than in 09. He will likely not be back in 2011. There is also a very good chance that both Cinco and TO will be elsewhere in 2011. After both were injured, the young Bengal receivers got a chance to show their ability and impressed HC Lewis. Unless Palmer holds good on his threat to retire, you can expect the Bengals to go for A.J. Green (WR Georgia) with their first pick.

Some NFL teams are going to get a real seal by taking the NC Players that were suspended by the NCAA. They will slide much lower than they should. DT Austin will be a 2nd round steal and DE Quinn will fall in the 1st round well below where he should be drafted.

Former Buckeye AJ Hawk could be asked to take a major pay cut or be released. He would be very high on the UFA market if and when a CBA is signed.

The Redskins can try to build the perceived value of both QB McNabb and DT Haynesworth but it won't work. Teams around the league realize that both the misfit players will not be on the final roster. The team will try to trade both but McNabb will be released and DT Haynesworth might garner a 4th round pick.

Several UFA QBs will find starting jobs in 2011. There are no less than 9 teams that desperately need NFL quality starting QBs and in most cases the coaches are on such hot seats that they can not wait for a rookie to come into his own. Guys like Vince Young, Alex Smith, Matt Moore and Kellen Clemens will be given a shot at starting with a new team.

One of those available QBs will not be Eagles Kolb. He will not be traded. He and QB Mike Vick are the center pieces of the struggle for power between HC Reid and owner Lorie. This is a problem are to watch similar to the issues that I was the first to report in KC.

Back to the Top

18 January 2011

News:

Jets 28 Pats 21 - The Mouth beat the Hoodie. Jet HC Ryan helped his team avoid mistakes while the normally flawless Pats gave up 5 sacks and Brady threw his first pick in the last 11 games. The key to the game was the D backfield of the Jets. It covered the Pat receivers so well that Brady was forced to hold the ball too long. He was holding the ball for up to 5 seconds before throwing the ball away or getting sacked. That allowed the Jets front 7 to harass Brady all day. Young QB Sanchez passed just enough to take the Jets to the win.

Steelers 31 Ravens 24 - This was the all out struggle everyone expected. The Steelers fell behind 21-7 at the half because of turnovers then clawed back in the second half to take a lead just to see the Ravens tie the game at 24. With a couple of minutes left in the 4th, QB Roethlisberger hit a 58 bomb to Brown on a 3rd and 19 play. The Steelers sealed the game with a TD with just 1:33 left. Baltimore has no one to blame but its players. There were not only turnovers but also penalties and dropped passes that contributed to the Steeler comeback.

Packers 48 Falcons 21 - The Falcons scored first then watched the Pack led by the golden arm of QB Rodgers score the next 38 points to end the Birds' playoff hopes. The Falcons were taken out of their running game early and never recovered.

Bears 35 Seahawks 24 - Bear QB Cutler became the 2nd player in NFL Playoff history to run for 2 TDs and throw for 2. Browns QB Otto Graham was the first to do that. The Bears ran out to a 28-0 lead before the Hawks made a furious comeback to close it to the final score.

The AFC Championship game will be the Jets at Steelers-3.
The NFL Championship game will be the favored Packers -3 visiting the Bears. It is the first time since 1941 that these two teams have met in the playoffs. Most of those years only the conference champions got to go to the playoffs.

Notes:
Former Browns DC Ryan will be named DC of the Cowboys. If nothing else, he will bring some fire to a unit that desperately needs it.

Several high profile college underclassmen have declared for the 2011 draft. That list included 2 Heisman trophy winners QB Cam Newton (Auburn) and RB Mark Ingram (Alabama). Next week we will have the entire list.

The number of underclassmen that have declared for the 2011 draft is down slightly from the average. Over the last few years an average of 53 players have declared. This year so far 46 are reported have declared.

Rumors:
I was the first to report the problems in KC 4 months before they led to OC Weis to leave for college football. Here is another situation that we will be watching. There is a problem between Eagles HC Reid and team owner Jeffrey Lurie. The first indication was Reid's announcement that Kolb would start once he had recovered from the concussion sustained in week 1. Then Reid "changed his mind" and continued to start Vick.

Now there is the issue of DC McDermontt. Three days ago, Reid announced that McDermontt would be retained for the 2011 season. Yesterday, he was fired. Today DL coach Rory Segrest was also released. Look for the rest of the D coaches to be gone as well with the possible exception of former head coach Dick Jauron who will be a candidate to replace McDermontt. I hear that both changes of Reid's mind were due to Lurie's forcing the issue. Both of these men have strong personalities.

Several things have contributed to the split. It was on Reid's recommendation that Kolb was ready to start that caused Lurie to trade McNabb. While McNabb did not burn up the division, Kolb failed to hold the position. Reid wanted to prove to the world that he was right and Kolb was ready. Lauie preferred to have the production that Vick provided.

The failure of the Eagles to advance in the playoffs has added to the strain. Reid is not in any immediate danger of being fired but this is a situation to watch in 2011.

Jim Morra Jr. is a candidate to become Eagles DC. Meanwhile, McDermontt could be named DC in either Carolina or Denver.

A deal before the official start of the 2011 season on March 4 is not at all likely. While that would guarantee a full set of OTAs and mini camps, it is not as critical as some think. The critical date is July 15. Any delay beyond that date would push training camp and the season back significantly. Look for the NFLPA to de-certify as a union early in March. That should allow those players that wish to play to attend NFL camps.

As most outlets are reporting, Hue Jackson will be named HC of the Raiders very soon. Look for Al Saunders to be named OC by the team but DC Marshall may well leave.

Former Bronco HC McDaniels is a candidate for the OC position for the Rams, Vikings, and Dolphins.

Former 49er HC Singletary is being considered for the DC with the Panthers and Vikings. Look for him to join fellow Bear SB winning LB Rivera in Carolina.

All pro CB Nnamdi Asomugha is a UFA upon whom the Raiders can not place the Franchise Tag. He will be the top D UFA.

Back to the Top

10 January 2011

News:
Jets 17 Colts 16 - The injuries to key players particularly on D and the lack of protection for QB Manning made the Colts vulnerable. The Jets took advantage of that to win the game. The key shortcoming of the Colts was the inability to convert 3rd and short situations. They failed on a key 3rd down that forced them to kick a field goal to get the lead 16-14 with less than 1 minute left. A big return allowed the Jets to get the ball into field goal range and win.

The Colts are reaching the end of their run as one of the best teams in the AFC. Our regular readers knew that because we discussed it months ago. They have not been able to rebuild the O line, find a RB that can move the chains and build a D that can hold up when needed. This year age and injuries have made a good but thin team very average.

Ravens 30 Chiefs 7 - The Chiefs are still a long way from being competitive with the top 5 in the AFC. But they are getting better. Next season will be a test of HC Haley because his OC Weis will be gone. If the O goes back to the 2009 season level, Haley will be in trouble.

The Ravens are what we thought they were--a very good team. The Steelers are in trouble next week because the Ravens are healthier and are playing better than Pittsburgh.

Seahawks 41 Saints 36 - The Saints are lucky they were on the road because the D sunk so badly the EPA Superfund will have to be called in to clean out the stench. It is a lot easier in a open air stadium. The Seahawks looked like the current world champs and the Saints played like chumps.

The Hawks are not likely to win against Atlanta but they did play well against the Saints. In the short term HC Carrol can motivate a team but in the long run I doubt he will be successful.

Packers 21 Eagles 16 - Dropped passes and lousy pass protection was too much for even QB Vick to overcome. The Birds have had a lot of injuries but this team needs to be reworked to get back to the top of the NFC. They put themselves in a position to have to use the Franchise tag to keep Vick and that will cost them a bunch.

The Pack have gotten their game back in shape and will be a tough out. Look for them to give the Bears a really close game.

Notes:
The Cowboys have named Jason Garrett Head Coach.

The 49ers have signed Stanford HC Harbaugh to be their head coach.

Raider all pro CB Nnamdi Asomugha's contract has been voided and the team can not place a franchise tag on him. He will hit the UFA market and get a lot of money from some team. He did not have as good a 2010 as he did in 2009 but he is still a top 5 CB.

The Panthers will interview Charger DC Rivera for the HC job. Rivera is one of the better young D minds in the game but was hurt this year by injuries and a lack of young talent.

The Texans have hired ex-Cowboy HC Phillips as their DC. He will implement a 3-4 which will be interesting. They have spent a lot of high picks on DL and one of those will likely be traded.

Rumors:
Marvin Lewis agreed to an extension with the Bengals. He had some issues with team management that reportedly were addressed in the negotiations. We will see but at least the Browns know that they will not be able to bring a good coach to Cincy even to interview. I hear they almost begged Lewis to stay.

As hard as it is to find QBs, good coaches are even more rare. Titan owner Adams decided to stay with HC Fisher and let QB Young go. The problems with Young were described in detail on my FryingpanSports.com article of 6-2-09. He was not willing to spend the time to learn to read D coverages or refine his erratic technique. Adams also knew that Fisher would not be out of work for long. Another team that needed a coach would have signed him in 24 hours.

Giants DC Fewell has been busy taking interviews. He is reportedly a favorite in Carolina. He should get a job somewhere as a HC next season if not before.

Many coaches on the hot seat were not fired. That has a lot more to do with the CBA than their ability. Ownership knows that there is very little chance that Organized Team Activities that usually take place between March 1 and training camp will not happen in 2011. As a result, it will be difficult to install a new system because there just will not be enough time to teach it to the team. But expect the hot seat guys to have very little room for error next year.

New Vikes HC Frazier has brought former Bronco HC McDaniels in to interview for the OC job and former 49er HC Singletary in to talk about the LB coaching job. Look for both of them to be hired. Frazier needs to get the most out of the team in 2011 if he is going to keep his job.

Dolphin's owner Ross "Cutlered" head coach Sparano. For the details, check out my latest editorial on http://fryingpansports.com.

Right now it looks like Al Davis will stay in house to find the new Raider HC. OC Hue Jackson is the most likely to get the job. He and Davis know each other and Davis is not going to find a proven coach to take the job because of his interference in the day to day activities.

The Cards are beginning negotiations with WR Fitzgerald. Don't expect him to sign without a LOT of money changing hands. He had a tough season because the team has no QB. He will be the top UFA WR unless they hit him with a Franchise tag.

Bronco VP Elway is interested in Jim Fassel, John Fox, Jags OC Dirk Koetter and Texan coach Rick Dennison. There does not seem to be a favorite yet but Fassel may have an edge. He was Elway's QB coach at Stanford. Elway would have loved to interview Stanford HC Harbaugh but the 49ers snapped him up too quickly.

NOTE: Be sure to check out my new Internet radio show M-F 5-9PM EST. Several of your favorite NFlDraftDog.com writers will join me.

Back to the Top

5 January 2011

News:

News as of 10:30 on Black Monday: Some coaching job decisions have already been announced. 49ers - The job interviews will start this week.

Vikings - Interim Head Coach Frazier will be retained. The Vikes knew that he was a very attractive candidate that would be interviewed by every team. Each team under the "Rooney Rule" must interview one minority candidate to give those individuals more exposure to opportunities. Frazier would likely have gotten a couple of offers so the Vikes named him their coach in 2011 before others got a bid in for him.

Browns - The coaching staff was due at Browns HQ at 10 AM Monday. The announcement of Mangini's release was made at 10:04. He was clearly acting like a fired coach. He won't have to worry about the extension of unemployment benefits because he has 2 years left on his deal and will be paid for it. However, Pres. Holmgren probably has someone in mind.

Giants - Despite missing the playoffs, Owner Mara said that he would retain HC Coughlin. It was in doubt based on the team blowing their playoff chances with losses to weaker teams. Coughlin's deal expires after the 2011 season.

Cowboys - It is being widely reported that Owner Jones has said that Interim HC Garrett will be retained. That would violate NFL rules. The league will require Jones to interview at least one minority candidate before announcing the decision. I do expect Garrett to get the job in 2011 because Jones will not be able to lure a name brand to take the job.

Bengals - HC Lewis laughed when asked if he wanted to return to Cincy next year. Owner Brown would probably be willing to keep him because the team will struggle to get anyone to take the job due to low pay, lousy scouting, and the team's inability to attract free agents. Indications are that he would require a lot of changes in the organization before he would sign a new deal.

Panthers - HC Fox also has competed his contract. He will be coaching elsewhere next season probably as the head man.

Chargers - Club Pres. Spanos said that both HC Turner and GM Smith will be retained for 2011. In January 2010, he gave Turner a 3 year extension.

Notes: Former Bronco QB Elway will accept a VP post within the organization. He has wanted to be part of the team for a long time but neither HC Shanahan nor McDaniels would agree to it.

The Chiefs made the playoffs. However, I was the ONLY one reporting that there was trouble in the teepee. OC Weis has accepted an OC job with the Florida Gators for 2011. As I reported, he and HC Haley did not get along. Haley will have to show that 2010 was not a fluke. If the team stumbles on O in 2011, Haley will get a prime spot on our hot seat list next season. So if you want the real inside scoop first, get it right here on NFLDraftDog.com.

The Seahawks are the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record.

The top 6 NFL draft picks are set. They are as follows: 1 Panthers 2 Broncos 3 Bengals 4 Bills 5 Cards 6 Browns.

Rumors: Coaches that are almost surely gone:

Raiders - I was again the only one that had Oakland managing partner Davis changing coaches. HC Cable has a 2 million dollar payment due as part of an extension and it looks very much now like he will not get it. Davis will have trouble finding anyone that will take this job because of his interference in the day to day operations.

Dolphins - The search has already started for a new GM. Expect that hire to select the next coach and the current staff to be gone. Cowher is a real possibility there.

Other HCs in question: Titans - Owner Adams would love to have Vince Young be the QB and HC Fisher but that can not happen. Fisher has made it perfectly clear that Young will not take a snap with him as coach. Look for Fisher to be unemployed very briefly because he will definitely be picked up by one of the other teams soon.

Lions - HC Schwartz has not turned the team around despite better drafting by the organization. He will likely get 1 more year to improve or he is gone.

Cards - HC Whisenhunt will likely be given another year. But the 38-7 loss Sunday to the 49ers ended a bad season after 3 consecutive division titles. Does anyone have QB Warner's telephone number?

Other rumors: The father of Stanford QB Luck said his son was leaning toward returning to school for his senior year. That could change. IF Cardinal HC Harbaugh leaves for the pros or U of Michigan, Luck will come out. There are now rumors that people close to Luck have told Panthers staff that if they hire Harbaugh, he will declare for the draft. Nothing like a twofer. Harbaugh is also high on the list of the 49ers and other NFL teams.

According to Ohio State HC Tressel, the 5 players that were reported to have violated NCAA rules will return for their senior season despite their 5 game suspension. Don't hold your breath Jim.

Despite getting the most fan Pro Bowl votes, it is not certain that the Eagles will keep QB Vick next season. They decided against offering an extension to him before the 2010 season. Now expect him to test the free agent market. Whoever signs him will pay a high price.

The Giants are worried about QB Manning. He led the NFL with 25 picks. The team is particularly concerned about his decision making. He has thrown into coverage and has not dealt with pressure well.

Several teams in addition to those with new staffs will get major makeovers.

Colts - This team has been slipping. Look for the O line, RB, D line and DB spots to get major work in 2011.

Chargers - RB Sproles will likely be gone as will the two holdouts WR Jackson and OT McNeil. The D has been a mess and will get major renovations.

Redskins - This team is a mess. No QB, RBs that were hurt all year, and a D that did not handle the change from 4-3 to 3-4 well at all are just some of the issues. HC Shanhan is still there but look for continued problems with owner Allen. The team needs a total remake to become competitive.

Cowboys - Even if Garrett stays look for JJ to be very busy. No one is safe including QB Romo. The O line is in shambles, the D is soft and the skill players have not developed. Part of that is bad drafting but the soft approach by the coaching staff has not helped. Texans - The D is filled with high draft choices that have yet to produce. A new DC will help but expect the entire D to be reworked.

Cards - This team needs a QB--any QB. The O has suffered from a bad O line and the loss of quality WRs. WR Fitzgerald now wants out and WR Breaston is not likely to be resigned. QB Warner's quick release and talent covered up a lot of the problems that now are clearly obvious.

Giants - The D was exposed and the O turned the ball over way too much. Even if Coughlin keeps his job, look for the team to get major upgrades on both sides of the ball.

Bears - HC Lovie Smith saved his job by winning the NFC North but the O line is a joke and there are no #1 WRs on the team. If Cutler is going to survive many more seasons under OC Martz's everyone out in the pass pattern, the team will need to greatly upgrade the O line. The D backfield also needs work.

Ravens - This might be a surprise but there are a lot of gray beards on the D and the O line. The window is closing on key players and the team needs to fill those spots quickly.

Jags - The Jags lost a playoff chance in the final week of the season. This was a great turn-around job by HC Del Rio. But the interior of the O line needs major help.

Back to the Top

28 December 2010

News: Ravens 20 Browns 10 - Check out my full analysis on the team page right here on NFLDraftDog. com.

Bengals 34 Chargers 20 - QB Palmer threw 4 TD passes and the Chargers loss puts them out of the playoffs.

Lions 34 Dolphins 20 - This could be the last straw for the Dolphins coaching staff. Check out the Rumors section for more on this.

Redskins 20 Jags 17 OT - This loss puts the Jags a game behind the Colts. They need a win next week and a loss by the Colts to the Titans to win the division. That is their only path to the playoffs.

Chiefs 34 Titans 14 - The Chiefs have won the AFC West.

Packers 45 Giants 17 - The Giants turned the ball over 4 times and lost their tie the NFC East title to the Eagles.

Bears 38 Jets 34 - The Bears are trying to win the 2nd seed and a bye in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The win gets them closer. The Jets backed into a playoff wild card spot with the loss by the Jags.

Notes: The Seahawks lost QB Hasselbeck again. He will have an MRI Monday.

Charger RB Tolbert is out for week 17 due to a concussion.

The Ravens might have lost rookie LB Kindle for the 2011 season as well. So far doctors have not cleared him to play next year and the prognosis is not good. The problem stems from a fracture to the skull that occurred reportedly from a fall down 2 flights of stairs in July. However, the team is looking into the issue due to the 2010 2nd round draft choice's arrest for DUI this weekend.

Buc QB Freeman played extremely well against the Seahawks going 21-26 for 237 and 5 TDs.

Another Buc that has had a great rookie season is undrafted RB Blount. He was more famous for slugging an opponent while in college. He was originally signed by the Titans but was cut in hopes of putting him on the practice squad but was claimed on waivers by the Bucs. He has run 182 times for 941 yards and 6 TDs. He has started 6 games so far and has 100+ yards in 3 of his last 4 games.

Bronco QB Tebow led the team to a comeback win over the Texans going 16-29 for 308 yards with a TD and a pick. His performance the last 2 weeks has put him in the picture for a chance to start in 2011 depending on who the new HC wants.

Rumors: One of the big issues in 2011 is how strong the draft will be. The latest I am hearing is that despite the players agreeing to allow the NFLPA to decertify, there is still a lot of doubt in the minds of college juniors about coming out for the draft. There will not be any substantial progress in CBA negotiations by the declaration deadline in mid January. Without juniors, this will be a very weak draft. The Pats may have some inside info because they have stockpiled picks in the 2011 draft including the Raiders first round pick. My guess at this point is that there will be Big Boy football with NFL players in 2011 while they sue the NFL for anti-trust violations. But I do not expect most juniors to come out. If my opinion changes I will let you know right here.

There are several key college players I expect to come out. Auburn QB Newton will certainly come out along with Georgia WR Green. The OSU players that have been suspended for 5 games in 2011 will also likely leave for the draft.

This week's look at the coaching carousel:

Gone for sure: 49ers - The team fired HC Singletary Sunday night. He just was not ready for the job and could not decide on a QB. Coach Tomsula replaced him on an interim basis but the team will look for a high profile HC for 2011. They will also be interviewing for the GM job. The former GM McCloughan left due to "mutual understanding" (translation--BAD DRAFTS) in March and his replacement Baalke will be a candidate.

Bengals - HC Lewis wouldn't sign an extension if they gave him one. He and most of the players want out of the Jungle.

Browns - Mangini is history if Holmgren can find a replacement that will take the job.

Texans - The collapse against the Broncos with Tebow at QB was just one more reason Kubiak will not be the HC in 2011.

Titans - HC Fisher wants out and reportedly rejected a contract extension before the season started.

Possible changes:

Dolphins - Before last week, no one but me was talking about the Dolphins changing coaches. Now it is being widely discussed. John Clayton mentioned it on ESPN yesterday. The team has regressed and the GM and HC have made some very bad personnel decisions. HC Sparano is clearly in trouble.

Chargers - The slow starts of the last 3 seasons finally cost the Bolts a playoff spot. HC Turner's failure in the playoffs and slow starts will likely cost him his job. Others are saying no way but this is too good a job not to be attractive to name brand coaches.

Giants - As reported here first last week, HC Coughlin is in some trouble. Now several other outlets are talking about it particularly after the 45-17 loss to the Packers. Giants ownership is usually pretty loyal to coaches but these two disasters in 2 weeks might be more than the NY fans can take. The G men are now in serious trouble of missing the playoffs.

I am still the only one that is watching the Redskins situation for a possible coaching change. But there is clearly a problem between HC Shanahan and owner Allen. Two of the big FA signings Allen made, DT Haynesworth and QB McNabb, have been benched by Shanahan. While I have no inside info on this it is one to keep an eye on.

Despite the Ram's improvement this year, the O line has been a major disappointment. UFA high dollar signing C Brown has been a weak point. OGs Bell and Goldberg need to be upgraded as well. The team needs help all along the interior of the O line to protect their investment in QB Bradford.

If the junior QBs come out this year, the Cards will be first in line to grab one. They would love to get Luck (Stanford) but will take the highest QB on the board in the first round.

There are indications that QB Luck will stay in college next season IF HC Harbaugh stays at Stanford. If the coach leaves, Luck will likely follow him to the pros in 2011. His dad was also an NFL and AFL QB.

The Chiefs are concerned about the production of LB Johnson. Since he got his big payday in the November contract extension, his production has fallen off badly. He could be asked to take a pay cut if it does not improve.

One of the under-appreciated reasons the Bears' "D" (defense) has improved is DE Peppers. He has been a huge force on the D line and has made plays despite being doubled most plays. He has also been a leader in the huddle. He could be a serious candidate for D MVP.

Back to the Top

21 December 2010

News:

Finally some GOOD news about the CBA. My sources have verified that all 32 teams have voted to authorize the NFLPA to de-certify as a union. That would eliminate the lockout possibility because there would be no union to lock out. The players would still be under contract individually. The NFLPA then as an association would sue the league under anti-trust laws. The recent decision in the American Needle vs. NFL case has hurt the league in terms of permitting the league to make system wide marketing deals but the judge specifically noted it did not have any affect on the labor/CBA issues. My guess is that there is now a 70% chance we will have Big Boy football in 2011.

Colts 34 Jags 24 - The Jags bad tackling against the run allowed the Colts who were last in rushing to gain 155 yards on the ground. The game was close until the Colts returned an onside kick for a TD. This gives the Colts the lead in the division and hurts the Jags chances of making the playoffs. The Jags have come a long way but are not quite ready to takeover the AFC South.

Eagles 38 Giants 31 - The Giants had a 31-10 lead in the 4th quarter. Then Vick turned it on and brought the team to a 31-31 tie. With 12 seconds left, WR Jackson returned a punt 65 yards for the winning score. The win gives the Eagles the NFC East lead. The Giants D looked tired in the 4th quarter after chasing Vick all over the field.

Ravens 30 Saints 24 - The Ravens won because the D got a pick off of Brees. They needed the win to keep close to the Steelers. The Falcons win likely put the Saints into the wild card chase.

Pats 31 Packers 27 - The Pack put up a great fight without QB Rodgers but just didn't have enough O to win.

Jets 22 Steelers 17 - The Jets won a tough game and kept themselves in the wild card hunt. The loss combined with the Raven's win puts the Birds back in the AFC North division race. The Steelers still have the advantage of a better record inside the division.

Notes:
The Seahawks pulled QB Hasselbeck after 3 turnovers. No word on who will start next week.

Browns QB McCoy did well in the loss to the Bengals. Check out my detail notes on the game right here on NFLDraftDog.com Browns team page.

The Bengals lost WR Owens for the season with an injured knee.

The Chiefs beat the Rams without QB Cassel. They hope he will be ready next week.

The Colts lost WR Collie to a concussion. His status for next week in uncertain.

The Eagles lost CB Allen for the season with a knee injury.

Some team is going to win the NFC Weak with a losing record. Right now the Rams lead the division at 6-8. Worse yet, that division "winner" will host a wild card game.

Bronco QB Tebow looked OK in his first start. The Bronco D couldn't tackle a fence post because it moves too fast and that caused the loss to the Raiders. But Tebow went 8-16 for 138 with a TD and no picks. He also ran 40 yards for a TD in the loss. Even if QB Orton is healthy, look for Tebow to start the last 2 games. The team needs to see what they have in him.

Rumors:
The rumor mill is going full blast now about coaches being fired. As we projected Denver did fire McDaniels which I said was a bad hire in March 09. That job will appeal to someone.

Teams that will almost certainly have new staffs next year:
Bengals - This team will be blown up totally and the new staff will start from scratch. A large part of the problem is that Mike Brown's daughter is the GM. That may even change as the attendance falls.

Browns - As I have said numerous times, Mangenous, Daboll and most of the coaching staff should be fired two second after the final gun closing the regular season. But there is still a lot of talk that part of the staff may stay.

49ers - HC Singletary and the staff are clearly on a very hot seat. I look for them to get canned.

Texans - HC Kubiak and his staff have under produced year after year. The O is solid but the D has been horrible. The entire group is likely gone in 2011.

Broncos - This job may be filled by current Texan HC Kubiak.

Raiders - The Raiders are improved at 7-7 but HC Cable may still get the boot if for no other reason than Al Davis is still running the operation.

Jobs less in jeopardy after last week:
Colts - HC Caldwell beat the Jags and should make the playoffs. His job heat has gone down some but if the Colts are 1 and done in the playoffs, he could still be fired.

Now there are a few new jobs being floated around as possibly coming open.

Giants - HC Coughlin is not on the hot seat yet but after the D allowed the comeback against the hated Eagles, the seat did get a little warmer. Another factor is former Steeler Coach Cowher saying that job would be one he would seriously consider. If the Giants don't make the playoffs, Coughlin's seat will get a lot warmer.

Redskins - With the benching of QB McNabb, the split between ownership and HC Shanahan has become clear. It would be one thing to sit McNabb for a young high draft choice. But to bench him for a journeyman like Grossman is a headscratcher. Grossman did have a good game against the bad Cowboy pass D. Shanahan is going to have to prove that he can win without a Hall of Fame QB and RB.

Titans - HC Fisher is in the last year of his deal. Again a difference of opinion between ownership and the HC could well force a change here. Fisher is done with QB Vince Young but the owner loves him. If Fisher is not resigned, he will not be out of work for long.

Chargers - If the Bolts don't make the big dance, HC Turner will be canned. He has not been able to get the team off to a good start and has failed to win many playoff games. He also has not handled personnel issues well. This is also a very attractive job. They have a solid young QB and some talent on O but the D needs to be reworked. Plus it is SD which has great weather.

Dolphins - This one is new on the watch list. Talk has recently sprung up that not only has this team regressed but that the players are not preforming up to their draft projections. QB Henne is seen now as a bust as was QB Beck, WR Ginn and other first and second round picks by GM Ireland. The recent losses combined with the mention of Miami by Cowher as a job he was interested in has destabilized the Dolphin situation. At this point I estimate there is only a 50% chance there will be changes in Miami. However, it is one to watch.

Chiefs - There are rumors of a possible change in KC not despite the team's turnaround but because of it. Last year this same team under HC Haley went 4-12. This year with 2 quality coordinators, the team is 9-5. I hear that ownership is wondering if Haley was ready. Another problem seems to be the difference between 2 coordinators coming from the Belichick tree and HC Haley being a Parcells guy. I am hearing that the coordinators feel like they are carrying an unprepared HC.

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6 December 2010

News:
Steelers 13 Ravens 10 - This game was just what we expected from the two most physical teams in the league battling for the upper hand in the AFC North. Despite a broken foot and a broken nose suffered on the first series, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a must win. Had they lost they would have been in effect 2 games behind the Ravens. What was very clear is that these two are the cream of the AFC crop.

Cowboys 38 Colts 35 - This game was a potentially mortal blow to the Colts chance of making the playoffs. They are now 1.5 games behind the Jags. QB Manning has now thrown 11 picks in the last 3 games all of which were losses. The Colts have no running game and the WR group is banged up. The Cowboys got 17 points directly off of 4 picks. The Boys are playing a lot better than under HC Phillips and are the Boys again for now.

Giants 31 Redskins 7 - The Giants needed this game to keep up with the Eagles. They are now tied at 8-4 and look to battle down to the last weekend for the NFC East title.

Saints 34 Bengals 30 - The Bengals played much better in this game than they have in their previous 8 losses but the Saints won and stayed 1 game behind the leading Falcons. QB Brees had to bring the team back to win.

Chiefs 10 Broncos 6 - The Chiefs took control of the AFC Weak with a win over the Broncos. With the Chargers losing to the Raiders, the Chiefs now have a 2.5 game lead. They face the Chargers at SD next week.

Falcons 28 Bucs 24 - QB Ryan led the comeback to beat the Bucs and keep the lead on the Saints. The Falcons are the first 10 win team in the league.

Notes:
Cowboy WR Bryant broke his ankle and will miss the rest of the season.

Cardinal QB Hall dislocated a shoulder and will miss several weeks.

Charger RB Sproles suffered a concussion and his status next week is unknown.

Viking QB Favre left the game after a hard hit with a sprained shoulder. X Rays were negative. If he can walk you can expect him to start next week.

The Jets lost S Leonhard for the season from a practice injury preparing for the game against the Pats. He will be put on IR and his season is over.

Rumors:
Look for the NFL to pull an NCAA and avoid the question of Vike QB Favre's email to the Jet female staffer until well after he retires. That way no one has to do anything to damage the rep of the future Hall of Fame QB.

As I said last week, Bengal HC Lewis is a dead Coach walking. But look for a lot more changes than that. QB Palmer will likely be gone along with WRs Cinco and Owens. It will be a very different Bengal team that will take the field the next time the NFL plays.

Another team that is likely to get blown up will be the Colts. They are not used to being an after-thought for the playoffs. The O line has been a disaster. QB Manning has been throwing as many TDs to the opponents as to his own team. Again this year the running game is non-existent. The D is being gouged for big yards and scores. The coaching staff may not return in tact as well.

I am not the only one now talking about Bronco HC McDaniels being fired at the end of the season. Others on ESPN and elsewhere are pondering the chances of him surviving. Team owner Pat Bowlen came out last week in an interview saying that McD will remain through 2011. However just after that interview hit the wires the organization walked back from the statement saying he is the HC "for now." Those of you that have read NNNR for awhile know I said when he was hired that he was not qualified to be HC.

There seems to be a pattern of Bill Belichick disciples are not fairing well as head coaches. McDaniels and Mangini have both struggled as have others. Could it be that the difference between Belichick and other famous coaching trees is the personality of the teacher? Belichick is famous for being a control freak and has not given his assistants as much preparation as Parcells or Walsh. That does not mean that Belichick assistants can't be successful but just that they may be less prepared than those of other name coaches.

The leading candidate NFL Team to move to LA in the near future is the Vikes. They have been trying to get a new stadium financed in part by state and or city money. The issue was on the November ballot but the total collapse of the team did not help and the issue failed. Vike Owner Wilf has met with LA to reportedly see how they have organized the Sports/Entertainment Complex. Don't believe that for a minute. That meeting was an attempt to put more pressure on the state to provide financial help. I predict it will not come and the team will look to move by 2012.

There is a growing split between the Eagles and WR Jackson. Jackson who was a top WR last year has had a number of minor injuries. Team officials wonder if the nagging problems are related to his request for a contract extension. So far the team has resisted extensions in part due the uncertainty over the CBA. Last week Jackson said he wanted to run fewer short routes over the middle.

There is a lot of conversation in the draft sites about the great 2011 depth at both QB and WR. However, in both cases the top players have college eligibility remaining. Unless the NFL and the NFLPA make enough progress to encourage underclass players to declare for the 2011 draft, it could be a sparse crop of both positions from which a number of teams will need help. The underclass QBs include top rated Luck (Stanford), Newton (Auburn), Mallett (Arkansas) and Wilson (NC State). The top WRs include Green (Georgia), Jones (Alabama), Baldwin (Pit) and Cobb (Kentucky) all of which are top 30 picks and all are underclassmen. Newton is the one JR QB that will likely come out to prevent any further pressure from the media.

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1 December 2010

News:

Falcons 20 Packers 17 - The Falcons established themselves at the top of the NFC with a win over the Pack. The Pack has no running game and that will kill their chances to go far in the playoffs. The Falcons now lead the in the race for the 1st seed in the playoffs and home field advantage. QBs Ryan and Rodgers are two of the top young guys in the league. This could turn out to become a Colt/Pats type rivalry.

Steelers 19 Bills 16 OT - The Bills new star WR Johnson dropped a sure TD that would have won the game. But the Steelers are struggling on O even against a D that has given up so many big plays. The Steelers got lucky to win this game but need to play better to get back to the top spot in the AFC.

Saints 30 Cowgirls 27 - The Saints jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead. But the Girls fought back but lost after missing a 59 yard field goal to tie the game at the end. One more good game by Dallas and maybe I will start calling them Cowboys again.

Jets 26 Bengals 10 - This game was on the NFL network so nobody saw it. The Bengals are glad. They played about as badly as any NFL team could. The Jets tend to play down to the competition and that will lead to trouble in the playoffs.

Lucky Browns 24 Unlucky Panthers 23 - The Browns did everything they could to give the game to the Panthers but they were too screwed up to take the gift. Check out my full analysis of the game on the team page right here on NFLDraftDog.com.

Bears 31 Eagles 26 - The Bear D found a way to keep QB Vick under control to some degree and QB Cutler began to show the talent that he has hidden for so long. The Bears are still badly flawed but they got this game at home which will help propel them toward the playoffs. Bears' HC Smith needs to make the playoffs to save his job.

Ravens 17 Bucs 10 - The Bucs are not the best team in the NFC but they are getting better. The Buc D gave the Ravens all they wanted. The Raven O needs to become more consistent.

Chargers 36 Colts 14 - The Chargers are on their last legs in challenging for the playoffs. The championship window for the Colts is closing. There are problems on the O and D lines and D backfield. Even QB Manning can not carry the team to a Super Bowl by himself.

Notes:

49er RB Gore has a broken hip that will put him on IR for the season.

Raiders QB Gradkowski injured his shoulder again and will likely be put on IR.

Titan QB Young is scheduled to have surgery on the torn flexor tendon on the thumb of his throwing hand. For more on this check out the rumor section below.

Vikes OG Hutchinson will have an MRI on his injured thumb.

Vike RB Peterson has a sprained ankle.

Rumors:

There are a number of new names on my list of coaches on the hot seat for their jobs.
Gone for sure:
Panther HC Fox is a lame duck guy and will not be back.

Bronco HC McDaniels is history after the season not only for his 3-8 record this season (last in the AFC Weak) but also for his failure to report the recording of the 49er walk through in London. After starting 09 6-0, his team has gone 5-16. He was a bad choice and has set the franchise back 4 or 5 years.

Bengal HC Lewis is also history. Taking a playoff team last year to a 2-9 season this year has done him in. He is a good coach but has lost the team.

Browns HC Mangini is history because of the loss to the Jags last week and because the team has not developed. He is misusing talent and has made some horrific personnel decisions prior to Holmgren taking over the team.

49er HC Singletary is in serious trouble and will not likely survive. The team is 4-7 and just has not advanced.

Probably gone:
Lion HC Schwartz could well be fired. His team plays hard and has some talent but there are questions about why the team is 2-9 and about his handling of QB Stafford.

Texan HC Kubiak is most likely gone after the season. The Texans have been the fashionable pick to challenge the Colts for the division. They are 5-6 and have regressed this year.

50-50 on being fired:
Titan HC Fisher has made it clear he does not want QB Young back. But Owner Adams has a man-crush on Young. If Fisher leaves or is forced out, he will be hired very quickly by another team.

Cardinal HC Whisenhunt has won the division 3 straight years. But NFL stands for Not For Long and it is clear his wins had more to do with QB Warner than the coaching staff. At 3-8 he is in real trouble.

Seat cooling off nicely:
Jags HC Del Rio was on a very hot seat coming into the season. But he has the Jags in 1st place including a win over the Colts. He will survive and deserves to.

Back to the Top

25 November 2010

News:
The Vikes owner Wilf fired HC Childress and named DC Leslie Frazier as the interim HC. The last straw was the humiliating 31-3 loss to the Packers. Those of us in Cleveland can only hope that Pres. Holmgren was watching that.

To misquote Shakespeare's Richard III "my kingdom for a quarterback."
After an injury and a temper tantrum by QB Vince Young the Titan's will start Rusty Smith the rookie 6th round pick from Fla. Atlantic.

The Panthers started QB St. Pierre who was watching the games last week while babysitting his kids.

The Browns have gone through 3 QBs so far and will go back to Wallace since McCoy was hurt. If Wallace is not ready, they will start QB Ratliff.

The Raiders started Campbell but went to Gradkowski but Owner Davis wants Campbell to start next week.

The Dolphins started QB Thigpen against the Bears. They hope that Henne will be available again this year but the team signed Patrick Ramsey off the street.

Bills 49 Bengals 31 - Break up the Bills! The Bagels led 31-14 at half time. Evidently they thought the game was over. The Bills exposed a combination of a Bagel passing game that causes more TOs than TDs and a bad D that is no where close to last year's performance.

Redskins 19 Titans 16 - Things are not candy and flowers in Titan land. QB Young was pulled when he hurt his hand but after the game he stormed out of the locker room as HC Fisher was starting to address the team. Fisher later said Young was no longer his starting QB. Fisher is not the kind of coach that is willing to put up with that kind of attitude. I think Young will not take another snap for the Titans.

Jags 24 Browns 20 - How do you get 6 TOs, give up just 1 and lose? Check out my comments on the game on the team page right here on NFLDraftDog.com.

Eagles 27 Giants 17 - The Giant D played outstanding football and contained QB Vick. But the Giant O turned the ball over 5 times including 3 Manning picks. The Giants have to find a way to cut down on TOs if they are going to make the playoffs.

Cowgirls 35 Lions 19 - The girls are playing better but this was against the Lions.

Steelers 35 Raiders 3 - As I predicted on my own site fryingpansports.com, the Raiders are a fraud. The Steelers exposed them.

Notes:
Lion RB Best has turf toe. He will likely miss several games.

Browns QB McCoy is the latest to have the high ankle sprain. Look for him to be out for awhile.

Cowgirl QB Romo's collarbone has not healed and he should miss another couple of games.

Redskin RB Portis is hurt again. This time it looks like he will miss the rest of the season due to a groin problem.

Rumors:
The recent events have started the Coaching hot seat talk to flare up again.
Panther HC Fox has already been told his deal will not be extended.
The loss to the Jags has virtually guaranteed Mangini is gone in 2011.
Same thing in Cincy where HC Lewis will be released at the end of the season.
49er coach Singletary is also gone soon.
Bronco HC McDaniels will not survive another collapse like last year when the team went 6-0 and missed the playoffs.

The Broncos are not happy with the running game. While RB Moreno was out, the replacements averaged less than 2 yards per carry. Look for changes on the roster next year including the O line.

Viking QB Farve sounded like a player that was about to retire during the season. The only things that may change his mind are the change of coaches and the return of WR Rice, a big fast target.

Cardinal WR Fitzgerald has told ESPN that he wants out of Arizona. He would look GREAT in a Browns uniform.

The Browns are likely to lose their K Dawson at the end of the season. He has sold his house in Cleveland and has expressed interest in going to Dallas. He was my O MVP for most of the seasons from 1999-2010.

Back to the Top

16 November 2010

NFL News, Notes and Rumors by Bill Smith

News:
Falcons 26 Ravens 21 - The problems with the Raven DBs finally bit them hard. They have had a combination of injuries and lack of draft choices working out. Falcon QB Ryan drove the birds to a late game win. The Falcons are a force in the NFC. They are one of the NFC teams that have balance on O.

Jets 26 Browns 20 OT - The Jets are a really good team that struggled against a much improved Browns D. A fumble by WR Stuckey ended the second drive to win the game by QB McCoy. Check out the Browns team page for more on this game right here on NFLDraftDog.com

Colts 23 Bengals 17 - Things are not good in Bagel land. The running game is not working and QB Palmer does not look healthy to me.

Dolphins 29 Titans 17 - The Fish won the battle but may have lost the war. They lost 2 QBs in the game. Look for them to sign one soon. The Titans are also hurt at QB.

Cowboys 33 Giants 20 - For once the Cowgirls played up to their talent and won. The change of coaches clearly helped. We will see if it gets them any more wins. I doubt it.

Pats 39 Steelers 26 - The Pats looked as good as they looked bad against Cleveland last week. They beat the Steelers soundly. The score going into the 4th quarter was 23-3. When the Steelers went to the pass in the 4th they were able to take advantage of the Pat DBs which is the weakness of the team. But it was way too late to help.

Eagles 59 Redskins 28 - The Eagles jumped out 28-0 on the Redskin D and the game was over with 3 minutes left in the 1st quarter. Vick looks VERY sharp and is a much better passer than he was at Atlanta. With the Giants looking so challenged on O, the Eagles are a strong possibility for a long playoff run IF Vick stays healthy.

Skins QB McNabb got a 5 year 78M (up to 88M including incentives) contract extension Monday. Check out the Rumors section for more on this.

Notes:
Both Dolphin QBs Henne and Pennington were hurt in the game against the Titans. Pennington was put on IR with a shoulder injury. That may well end his career which is a shame. There are few nicer and smarter guys in the league than Pennington. Henne has a knee injury and will be out for several weeks. Thigpen will start for now and they have signed Patrick Ramsey as their #2. They may sign another depending on the results of the MRI on Henne's knee. The Fish may put Henne on IR as well depending on that test. They also lost LT Long during the game. Long might need season ending surgery.

49er QB Alex Smith has been cleared to practice but the other Smith (Troy) has played very well. Troy threw for 365 yards and a TD against the Rams last week. He was able to win the game despite RB Gore only getting 87 yards on 22 carries.

Titan QB Collins is out for several weeks with a calf injury. QB Young is not yet 100% from an ankle but will play next week.

Lion QB Stafford was hurt again early in the game vs the Bills. This time it was a shoulder injury but he continued to play through most of the 4th quarter.

X-rays were negative on Jags QB Garrard.

The Panthers suffered yet another QB injury when rookie Clausen went down with a concussion. His status for next week is undetermined.

The Bills lost RB Spiller with a hamstring "indefinitely."

The Steelers lost WR Ward with a concussion.

The Browns lost 3 key players in the loss to the Jets. LB Fujita went out with a knee injury. CB Brown went out with a neck and shoulder and Mr. Everything Cribbs went out with a foot injury. The most significant problem is Fujita who might end up on IR.

Rumors:
The Vikes are imploding and HC Childress is hanging onto his job by a single strand of a spiderweb. Last week several players told the press they "hate" Childress and don't feel he has their back. Here is a hint. If he is willing to throw QB Farve under the bus to protect his job, the rest are destined for tire tracks as well. Owner Wilf said after the latest debacle that Childress will not be fired "as of now." Having seen the improvement in the Cowgirl game, expect Wilf to make the call sooner rather than later.

Beyond the blowout against the Eagles, things are not great in the nation's capital. HC Shanahan benched QB McNabb in favor of a "never was" QB in the last few minutes of the game before the bye. Shanahan gave more excuses than a kid without his homework. Then Monday Owner Snyder gave the embattled QB a huge contract. While Shanahan may indicate it is fine, don't believe it. There is a strain there between HC and Owner. And McNabb is right in the middle of it.

Look for big changes in Jacksonville even if the Jags continue to play well. HC Del Rio may have saved his job with the current 5-4 record but the same may not apply to QB Garrard. Also look for changes on D and the O line as well as WR.

Dallas looked MUCH better this week against the Giants than at any time this season. HC Garrett has a chance to win the job next year IF he can continue the production on O. I suspect that Owner Jones will at least look for a brand name as HC next season but none of those guys will want to work with the meddling Jones. Regardless of how the rest of 2010 goes, Garrett may be able to keep the job because no better candidate will be willing to take it.

The Eagles may have made a huge mistake that could cost them big next year. QB Vick is in his final year of a 2 year deal. Had they signed him to a decent contract extension early, they could have gotten him for 5-7 mil a year. Now he is going to command a lot on the open market. They had better really like 2nd string QB Kolb because they might well lose a bidding war for Vick in 2011.

Bronco HC Josh McDaniels is in serious trouble. The DUI by LB Williams is just another indication McD has little control over the locker room. He desperately needed the win over the Chiefs on Sunday or he might well have been gone Monday. His problem with star players is well known. Now, there are problems developing with ownership. Since the team started the 09 season 6-0 the team has gone 5-14 which is not what the fans and ownership expected. This is a situation to watch.

The Chargers are not going to be making their usual charge at the end of the season. In the past they have started slow then up a winning streak together to win the division. QB Rivers has been outstanding despite not having #1 WR Jackson the QB is going to challenge the 5000 yard mark for the season. But the D is not playing up to the level of late last year.
The team is 4-5 and 1 game behind the Raiders and Chiefs but have all 3 division opponents on the remaining schedule. They have the talent to go 6-1 with only the Colts being clear favorites. But under HC Turner they will stumble and not win the division. They will end up out of the playoffs and Turner will be fired.

Back to the Top

9 November 2010

News: Browns 34 Pats 14 - Check out my details about this game on the team page right here on NFLDraftDog.com.

Packers 45 Cowgirls 7 - This was another disaster for the Girls. The way they are playing they could not win a game if the other team never showed up. The Girls are going to be totally reworked next season from the pretty-boy QB down to the coaching staff.

Falcons 27 Bucs 21 - Buc QB Freeman had been playing very well but the Falcon D picked him twice and that was the difference in the game. The Falcons had a 14-0 lead but Freeman brought them back to 17-14 at the half. The Buc D played the run well holding a good running team to 130 yards with a 3.9 per carry. But Falcon QB Ryan went 24 for 36 for 235 yards and a TD to lead his time to the win. The key was a goal line stand by the Falcon D to deny the Bucs a TD in the 4th quarter. The Falcons own a half game lead over the Saints.

Vikings 27 Cards 24 - The Card D shut down RB Peterson holding him to 81 yards. But Farve threw for a career high 446 yards and 2 TDs but 2 picks. Even with the win things are not good in Vikingville. Check out the rumor section for more details.

Jets 23 Lions 20 - The Lions took the Jets to overtime but lost. The Jet O has stumbled badly in the last 2 weeks. Last week they were shut out. The Lions led 20-10 with less than 5 minutes left in the game. Then QB Sanchez woke up the O and scored the last 13 points. The Jets still have challenges with the running game and consistency of their QB. The Lions are getting better but a tough schedule may not show it in a significantly better record.

Raiders 23 Chiefs 20 - Speed kills. Sunday the speed of rookie WR Ford killed the chances of the Chiefs to put some distance between themselves and 2nd place Oakland in the AFC Weak. Ford caught 6 balls for 148 yards including a late game 29 yard pass that set up the winning field goal. Campbell went 18 for 33 for 229 with a TD and a pick. The Raiders also out-rushed the Chiefs 112 to 104. The Raiders have won 3 in a row for the first time since 2002. The Chiefs still have a half game lead on the Raiders but the Raiders are 3-0 against AFC West opponents.

Eagles 26 Colts 24 - QB Vick returned to the field and accounted for nearly 300 yards leading the Birds to a 26-24 win. Eagle WR Jackson caught 7 for 109 and a TD. Colt QB Manning had a chance to move the team to position for a winning field goal but the Eagles D picked him off for the 2nd time to end the threat and secure the win.

Back to the Top

2 November 2010

Notes: Lion QB Stafford is having more problems with his shoulder. Expect him to get an MRI Monday.

Eagle OG Max Jean-Gilles suffered a concussion in the game against the Colts. His status is unknown for next week. The Birds also lost FS Allen to back and neck injuries but X-rays were negative.

Colt WR Austin Collie suffered a concussion and was carted off the field.

Panther RB Jonathan Stewart suffered a head injury. Status unknown.

Rumors: The Vikes continue to implode. Friday HC Childress had a physical confrontation with rookie WR Harvin that was so bad the two had to be separated. Childress is on Triple Secret Probation with ownership in part because he took it on himself to cut WR Moss last week. That cut was not approved by either the front office nor owner Wilf. Wilf told the media that he considered firing Childress for circumventing the chain of command. According to one source, Wilf is discussing Childress' status with the team. Childress has 13M left on his deal which was extended in 2009, but even so is on the hot seat watch from week to week. The team has DC Fraizer who will likely be offered a HC job next season.

The Dallas Cowgirls have quit on HC Phillips. It is clear that Owner Jones has no one in the organization in whom he has enough confident to replace Phillips. If he had, Phillips would have been gone by week 3 or 4. JJ said Phillips would complete the season but it is hard to see how the Girls are going to continue to fill the seats if they play like this. Owner Jones has to take a long hard look at himself. He has to be willing to subordinate his ego to that of a real coach not a weakling like HC Phillips.

The Redskins come off a bye but it was anything but a nice quite week off. HC Shanahan has come out with 3 explanations for why he replaced QB McNabb with ??QB Grossman?? First, it was because Grossman had a better "understanding" of the 2 minute offense. After all of the off season and 7 weeks of the regular season, if McNabb doesn't have a total grasp on the O, that is COACHING STAFF'S FAULT. Then later in the week, Shanahan suggested that McNabb was too tired to finish the game. The last issue was related. The HC suggested that McNabb did not have the cardiovascular conditioning that he should. This is going to be a continuing story to watch. Given the issue Shanahan has with DT/DE Haynesworth and RB Portis, things are not going well. The upheaval is very likely to show itself in the play on the field.

WR Randy Moss was welcomed in Tennessee--sort of. A source told me that HC Fisher had a talk with Moss about what was expected. Fisher does not suffer fools gladly. Moss will have to be on his best behavior. In his defense, there has been almost no comment by team members about him being a cancer in the locker room. There is no question that Titan QB Young has the arm to get Moss the ball deep. The question is does Young have enough accuracy? Moss will get doubled a lot and he does not react well to double teams. He struggles to fight through the double and come down with the ball.

Despite winning his last 2 games coming into this week, there was discussion in Raider HQ about benching QB Campbell for a recovering Bruce Gradkowski. Campbell had led the Raiders to 92 points in 2 games but General Partner Davis is never predictable. It will be interesting to see if Campbell has won Davis over with a win over the rival Chiefs.

The hamstring injury to Titan WR Britt is a lot more serious than first reported. He could be headed for the IR which would end his season.

Even after two consecutive wins, Charger HC Turner is on the hot seat. The Bolts are 4-5 and two games in the loss column behind the Chiefs. They are not likely to make the playoffs this season and that should be the biggest thing that will get Turner fired. They have been very slow starters under Turner and in a 16 game season, that is hard to overcome even in the AFC Weak.

One reason the 49ers might be struggling is HC Singletary's using the young players too much. Several rookies have been used a lot but have failed to produce. The veterans like RB Westbrook and LB Spikes have been used behind rookies to the determent of the WL record. Singletary is not likely to be at SF next season.

News:

The Minnesota Vikings waive WR Randy Moss - The NFL Channel is reporting that the Vikes cut the former Patriot Monday. In an interview with ESPN, Moss said "I tried to prepare. Tried to talk to the players and coaches about how this game was going to be played and a couple tendencies here, couple tendencies here. The bad part about it - you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over to me and say, 'Dag, Moss, you was right about a couple plays and a couple schemes they were going to run.' It hurts as a player that you put a lot of hard work in all week, and toward the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that's when they acknowledge about the hard work you put in throughout the week. That's actually a disappointment." Check out the rumors section for more on this.

Jaguars 35 Cowboys 10 - The injury to QB Romo has saved Cowboy HC Phillips' job for now even after a disastrous loss to the Jags at home. At 1-6 there is no point to fire the HC in season because the Boys will be home for the playoffs no matter what. The Jags need to keep winning to save the job of HC Del Rio.

Patriots 28 Vikings 18 - The Pats have put themselves at the top of the AFC East and my power rankings with their win over the Vikes. The Pat D is very young but they are getting better and better and will be a very tough out in the playoffs. The Vikes are dead man walking. Farve is not able to keep plays alive with movement and the O line can't seem to keep him upright. Jackson is not an answer at QB either. The Vikes are in serious trouble.

Packers 9 Jets 0 - The problem with the Jets was seen in 3-D this week--a QB that is inconsistent and a running game that is not able to pick up the slack when QB Sanchez is having an off day. The Jets are probably one a year away from being the top team in the league. But the O is not there yet. The Pack needed this game and looked like the better team. They are very one dimensional with no running game. That will prevent them from getting to a Super Bowl.

Saints 20 Steelers 10 - Despite the loss, the Steelers are still one of the top 3 teams in the league. Most teams do not have the WRs to take advantage of the Steeler DB weakness the way that QB Brees did. The Saints are not running the ball well yet but RB Bush should be back next week. The Saints are within striking distance of the top of the NFC South despite a bad loss last week to the Browns. The Steelers will be in the playoffs and will have a shot at the AFC Championship game. It will all depend if they can beat the Ravens.

Raiders 33 Seahawks 3 - Don't look now but the Raiders are actually playing well at least against the AFC Weak division. They crushed the Broncos last week and the Seahawks this week. The O is doing OK but it is the Raider D that is really the key to both these wins. The D sacked the Hawk QB Hasselbeck 8 times, caused a fumble and a pick. Raider QB Campbell threw for 310 yards and 2 TDs and RB McFadden ran for 111 yards

Dolphins 22 Bengals 14 - The Browns are not in the basement of the AFC North for now because they beat the Bengals and both are now 2-5. The Bengals loss was caused by the O failing to move the ball and leaving the D on the field too long. The Bengal D played well in the red zone forcing the Fish to kick 3 field goals but the O could not score when it counted. The Bengals are done.

Notes:
Vike WR Harvin suffered an ankle injury that appears to be serious. That is just more reason the Vikes will not make the playoffs. To make it easier to read, the NFL Injury report will list all parts of QB Farve that are NOT injured. He is being tested for a concussion today.

Raider CB Owusu-Ansah suffered a sprained ankle and could miss several games.

Giant C O'Hara has a mid foot sprain and will miss a couple of games. OT Beatty hopes to be back from a foot sprain in a week or 2.

Rumors:
Redskin HC Shanahan benched QB McNabb in the 4th quarter in favor of ?? Rex Grossman ?? Shanahan said the move was made because Grossman had a better handle on the 2 minute offense. Shanahan may have not only lost McNabb but may well have lost a good part of the locker room. He did say that McNabb will be the starter going forward. There are punsters that will tell you losing the locker room doesn't matter. Those people have never coached football.

Vikes HC Childress is reported to have released WR Moss without the approval of the front office. That is a HUGE violation of protocol and is just one more indication that QB Farve is not the only one that will be leaving at the end of the season or sooner. Childress is a goner. The front office brought Moss in and very few coaches have the authority to cut a player particularly one for which a draft pick was traded without the approval of the front office.

Colt QB Manning reportedly wants to wait to the off season to negotiate his new deal. Don't believe it. There may be some trouble there at the horse farm. The owners in Indy are not big spenders and they may be waiting to see how the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA.

The fact that we have heard nothing from the negotiations is good. For the majority of the off season both sides were negotiating in public. That is not conducive to reaching an agreement. In this case no news is good news.

If the two sides don't reach a settlement, the NFL may decide to use scab players to field games in 2011. How much fun would this be--
A free agent combine with rookies, semi-pro players, and guys from the United Football League and the Arena leagues on the NFL Channel.

That would be followed by a 25 round free agent draft to stock the teams. ESPN would love that because they would no longer have to broadcast the International Curling Tournament. That would be fun.

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