Tag:Steve Smith
Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:23 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:47 pm
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2012 NFL Postseason Awards

Brees and Rodgers could square off three times this year, if you count awards. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We won't bore you by listing our preseason predictions (you can read those here), but suffice to say, all of mine were correct. Take a peak at the midseason hardware if you want too, but right now we're interested in dishing out the awards for the full season.


Speaking of which, I've already ranted on Drew Brees vs. Aaron Rodgers for the MVP, but I find it fascinating that at midseason, no one even picked Brees for Offensive Player of the Year, much less MVP. I'm not here to knock Brees, I'm just saying the award's for an entire season's worth of work.

Anyway, below are our full season picks. (You can also read Pete's full season picks here and Clark's full season picks here.)

Most are obvious but "BFA" is "Best Free Agent Addition," "WFA" is "Worst Free Agent Addition," and "DOH!" is "Pick I'd Like to Have Back." (Haha, yes I did pick the guy who eventually iced his own kicker to win "Coach of the Year." At least I was driving the Camwagon though.)

Dive in below and leave your gripes and complaints in the comments.

Award Brinson
Wilson
Katzowitz
Prisco
Judge
MVP
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers
OPOY
Drew Brees Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Drew Brees Drew Brees
DPOY
Jared Allen Terrell Suggs Jared Allen Jason Pierre-Paul Jared Allen
OROY
Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton
DROY
Von Miller Aldon Smith Aldon Smith Von Miller Von Miller
COY
Marvin Lewis Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh
ASST
Rob Chudzinski Rob Chudzinski Wade Phillips Wade Phillips Wade Phillips
BFA
Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles
WFA
Sidney Rice Braylon Edwards Santonio Holmes Ray Edwards Ray Edwards
Comeback
Steve Smith D'Qwell Jackson Aaron Maybin Matthew Stafford Matthew Stafford
Most Improved
Matthew Stafford Antonio Brown Victor Cruz Rob Gronkowski Rob Gronkowski
Surprise
Bengals Broncos Broncos Bengals 49ers
Disappoint
Eagles Jets Eagles Eagles Eagles
Executive
Rick Smith Rick Smith Rick Smith Martin Mayhew Mike Brown
DOH!
Garrett for COY Rivers for MVP Rivers for MVP Fins in/Lions out Rams in NFCW

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 2:41 pm
 

Panthers, Saints shatter records in shootout

Brees just keeps on breaking records Sunday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

New Orleans is up 24-17 on Carolina at halftime of a game that's largely meaningless -- a victory by the 49ers means the Saints are the No. 3 seed regardless of what they do.

But that doesn't mean these two division rivals can't have a little fun shattering some NFL records.

For the Saints, they broke the St. Louis Rams "Greatest Show on Turf" record for most yards in a single season. The Rams record of 7,075, which they set in 2000, should be distanced pretty handily by the end of the game. (The Saints had 7,081 before a 42-yard touchdown bomb to Marques Colston at the end of the first half.)

The Saints now have more than 300 points scored in a season at home, which surpasses the 2000 Rams record of 292.

Drew Brees also set another record, as he surpassed Peyton Manning's record of 450 completions in a single season. Again, Brees is cruising past it. (And don't forget, he's actually breaking his own record with each passing yard he accumulates.)

And Marques Colston, an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, is closing in on Joe Horn's Saints record of 50 career touchdowns, as his last-second catch gave him 48 in a New Orleans uniform.

He's not the only wideout setting marks: Steve Smith broke Mushin Muhammad's record for catches by a Panthers wide receiver; he tied Moose's record of 696 early in the first quarter and now has four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown.

In an indication of how valuable he's been to Cam Newton in 2011, Jonathan Stewart also set a Panthers single-season record for catches by a running back, with 46.

It's a shootout in the Bayou and it doesn't look like it's not going to slow down in the second half.

Follow all the Week 17 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
DET-GB | TEN-HOU | IND-JAC | NYJ-MIA | CHI-MIN | BUF-NE | CAR-NO | WAS-PHI | SF-STL

4 p.m. ET games:
TB-ATL | BAL-CIN | PIT-CLE | SEA-ARI | KC-DEN | SD-OAK


Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:35 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Calvin Johnson about to unlock $4.5M bonus?

Do not get in the way of Mega and his money. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Incentive clauses in NFL contracts are pretty standard business. But the one that Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson could unlock on Sunday is quite the doozy, as it's worth $4.5 million.

Johnson, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, needs to complete five of seven possible goals in order to unlock the contract. Those seven goals are: record 12 or more receiving touchdowns in a season (check), get in Pro Bowl and play (check), play in 80 percent of the Lions plays in the season and have Detroit wins 9 games (check), lead NFC in receiving TD (he currently does), lead NFC in receiving yards (he currently does), lead NFL in receiving TDs and lead NFL in receiving yards.

So to recap, Johnson has completed five of those goals (with the exception of playing in the Pro Bowl, though he'd probably get out there with one leg if it was worth $4.5 million) and currently has two more tentatively completed.


Johnson has 1,437 receiving yards on the season, putting him just 81 yards behind league leader Wes Welker and 79 yards ahead of the Giants Victor Cruz, who's second in the NFC. (He's also 129 yards behind Steve Smith for those wondering.)

Johnson's 15 touchdowns pace the NFC with only Jordy Nelson (12) and Jimmy Graham (10) also in double-digit touchdown receptions this season. (Rob Gronkowski also has 15 teeters, but he's in the AFC, clearly.)

Since we can pencil in the NFC touchdown title for Megatron, there's a very good chance he unlocks this bonus on Sunday. All he needs is to catch the same number of scores as Gronk or have Cruz stay within 80 yards of his total. In this scenario, 100 receiving yards and a touchdown likely lock down the bonus for Johnson.

And it will likely mean that the Lions will happily hand him the money and then, already heavily invested in the NFL's best wide receiver, try to get him even more during the offseason before Megatron gets to his first contract year, which should be a scary thought for NFL defensive backs.
Follow all the Week 17 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
DET-GB | TEN-HOU | IND-JAC | NYJ-MIA | CHI-MIN | BUF-NE | CAR-NO | WAS-PHI | SF-STL

4 p.m. ET games:
TB-ATL | BAL-CIN | PIT-CLE | SEA-ARI | KC-DEN | SD-OAK


Posted on: December 25, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: December 25, 2011 11:10 am
 

Buccaneers have run amok (not in a good way)

Morris

By Josh Katzowitz

Although I said in this week’s For the Gambler in You that I thought Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris would survive into next year, I also didn’t foresee the absolute pummeling the Panthers put on Tampa Bay, 48-16, on Saturday.

During their current nine-game losing streak, the Buccaneers have allowed an average of 33.8 points per contest, and that’s simply not a recipe a coach needs to follow in order to save his job.

If I could take back that pick on my latest Gambler post, I think I would.

We mentioned a few weeks ago, it wasn’t a great sign when Morris sent defensive tackle Brian Price home in the third quarter for a personal foul penalty and then said afterward, “You know, they're not listening. They've got to listen and we've got to do a better job of coaching. That's all."

After Saturday’s game, cornerback Ronde Barber confirmed the team’s acrimony and the suggestion that Morris -- who benched LaGarrette Blount for most of the first half after he fumbled early in the first quarter -- doesn’t have control of his squad (another key ingredient for a coach about to be axed).

Week 16 recap
"It looks like guys want to do their own thing,” Barber said, via the Tampa Tribune. “You've got to believe the guy next to you is going to do his job.”

Not even the fact the Buccaneers held top-notch receiver Steve Smith to one catch for nine yards could salvage the wounds torn open by the Panthers offense. That’s probably because Tampa Bay’s run defense was atrocious, giving up 270 yards, and allowing Brandon LaFell to catch three passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.

"They didn't even need him (Smith) today,” Barber said. “That just shows how far they've come and how far we've gotten away from what we used to be.”

But Tampa Bay guard Davin Joseph took exception to the thought that the team isn’t playing hard for its coach.

"It can't be that simple,” Joseph said. "You can't say this looks like a team that doesn't want Coach Morris to come back. The way we're going, I'd say this is a team where I'm wondering whether our players are going to come back.”

At this point, the team should be wondering if anybody is going to be coming back from what has turned out to be a disaster of a season.

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Steve Smith: 'You can't compare Cam to Tebow'

By Will Brinson

For whatever reason, people want to justify "Tim Tebow > X Quarterback" these days. Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers is not one of those people.

Smith was asked about Tebow's performance, presumably how it relates to Cam's this season, and doesn't think the two compare.

"You can't compare Cam to Tebow. I think Cam's a more complete player," Smith said, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “Tebow has the wins. But everybody wants to crown Tebow. Yes, he has the will to win. I think Tebow is no different than any other professional. But Tebow has a great opportunity to play behind a great defense."

Cam does not have the same opportunity: though the Broncos don't rank that much better than the Panthers in total defense, the Panthers give up nearly a half a yard more per rush and have 26 sacks on the season to Denver's 37.

Additionally, Tebow's asked to do much less on offense than Newton and, really, just isn't as talented.

Tebow Saturation

"Versatile would mean you can throw the ball very accurately, run the ball, create things. And the only thing he's creating is running," Smith said. "He isn't very accurate. You watch him, I don't think 3-for-10 (after) three quarters is a versatile quarterback."

Smith meant 3 of 16, but it doesn't really matter. Newton, who's got a shot at setting the NFL rookie record for passing yards this week also already holds the NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

He's simply better than Tebow and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to have their head checked. Of course, the problem is, there's really no need to even invoke the comparison.

But Tebow's the hot topic (rightfully so), and if you have a pulse and are remotely related to the NFL (player, coach, media, fan, whatever), you're probably getting asked about the Broncos quarterback.
 
That doesn't necessitate ridiculous comparisons to other NFL quarterbacks though. And Tebow would probably agree.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Teammates, coaches back Newton's bold statements

By Will Brinson



Cam Newton's rookie season's gone quite controversy-free (outside of handing a football to a fan anyway!), and people seem content to just let him cruise along, shattering NFL records.

Until he says stuff that could be misconstrued anyway -- during Newton's first national interview in quite some time, the Panthers quarterback said he's just trying to "get everybody on my level."

Well, kind of. What really happened is that Newton tried to point out how difficult it is to be on a losing team, since he's never been there before by making a jungle analogy, then turning it into a house analogy then accidentally saying he wanted to "get out of that house" at which point he was like "wait, I love it here!" or something.

“What happens when you take a lion out of the safari and try to take him to your place of residence and make him a house pet? ... It ain’t going to happen,” Newton said in an interview with ESPN the Magazine this week. "That's the type of person that I am. I'm that lion. The house that I’m in is somewhat of a tarnished house where losing is accepted. But I’m trying to change that, whether I'm going to have to turn that house into a safari or I'm just going to have to get out of that house.”

"I'm not trying to leave this place. I'm just trying to get everybody on my level."

So what Cam's trying to say, really, is that he wants to change the culture in Carolina. And good news -- everyone's OK with that.


"It doesn’t bother me at all," wide receiver Steve Smith told The Charlotte Observer. "I’d rather have a guy who is upset that we lost, obviously handling it the right way, than a guy who is neither way, whichever way.

"I like a guy who has the desire not to win next year, but he wants to win immediately. I think we needed more of that."

Smith's not the only member of the Panthers organization getting Newton's back, either. Head coach Ron Rivera is firmly on board with the notion that the culture in Charlotte needs to change.

"To me, the thing I like about it more than anything is it's important, it really is," Rivera said. "It's the old saying that if you didn't put your heart into it, it wouldn't hurt. He does. He puts everything into it.

"To me, there is no issue. I still struggle when I hear people talking about the stuff with that and the towel and that stuff, it doesn't make sense to me."

When Rivera refers to "the towel" he's discussing the inexplicable need for anyone covering a Panthers game to discuss the fact that Newton wears a towel on his head in between offensive series. The natural talking point is that Newton's "tuning out teammates" or "hiding his emotions" or something silly.

The idea that he might just be paying homage to the G.O.A.T.'s practice of doing the same is just too simplistic, apparently.

What's kind of interesting about this "controversy" from a social perspective, though, is the difference between the response to Newton's comments now and the response to Newton's pre-draft comments about becoming an "icon and an entertainer."

Obviously "changing the culture" and "becoming famous" aren't equal in terms of the soundbite value they hold, but the reaction to Newton's latest comments is much more tepid than the previous outcry.

And, quite simply, it's because Newton's been successful this season. And he's helping the Panthers win more than they were before he got there.

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:05 pm
 

Film Room: Cowboys vs. Giants preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


A hallmark rivalry renews Sunday night with the first of a two-game series between the Cowboys and Giants that will likely decide the NFC East. We’ve recently grown familiar with the Giants as they’ve spent the past few weeks on football’s center stage (Patriots-Eagles-Saints-Packers!).

In examining whether they can break their slump and get back above .500, we take an in-depth look at how they match up with this week’s familiar foe.


1. Stopping DeMarco Murray
New York’s most valuable contributor Sunday night might just be Jason Garrett. The Cowboys’ play-caller unwisely drifted away from Murray in the second half against the Dolphins on Thanksgiving, and he all but abandoned Murray against the Cardinals last week (12 carries, just seven after the first quarter).

Garrett’s pass-first decision at Arizona was likely in response to the aggression of the Cardinals linebackers. They recklessly attacked downhill much of the game, often as part of designed blitzes. Garrett may have felt that passing against an iffy and over-leveraged Cardinals secondary was the best response.

That said, Garrett can’t simply let Murray become an afterthought. The rookie running back has been the stabilizing force of the Cowboys’ offense. In recent weeks, the Cowboys’ front line has played with enough power in the ground game that, with the help of fluid H-back John Phillips, it’s realistic to think they could push the pile against aggressive linebacking. Even if they couldn’t, Garrett could still feature his young back in the passing game. Murray has soft hands and is smart in protection. Screen passes are a great way to punish fast downhill linebackers.
 
Expect the Giants to attack with their second level defenders much in the same way the Cardinals did. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell knows that this might make Garrett one-dimensional in his play-calling. What’s more, the way to contain Murray is to make him go east and west early in the run. He has decent lateral agility and change-of-direction but only if he’s already built momentum.

By shooting the gaps, the Giants will push Murray to the perimeter, where he’s less dangerous. If the Giants continue to operate out of their big nickel package (two linebackers, three safeties), they’ll have enough speed on the field to chase the outside runs.

2. Cowboys passing game
Shooting the gaps against Murray will leave New York more susceptible to play-action passing and one-on-one matchups downfield. That’s a risk the Giants should be willing to take. They have a quasi-shutdown corner in Corey Webster.

They likely believe they can cover Jason Witten with one of their three safeties, or even with athletic linebacker Jacquian Williams. Williams was matched one-on-one against Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley the past two weeks. He was defeated in both matchups, but the Giants may be inclined to trust him again this week. Witten is elite, but he’s a prototypical tight end, not an insanely athletic hybrid wideout like Graham or Finley.

The Cowboys’ passing attack is interesting. Early in the season, it flowed through Witten. A few weeks ago, most noticeably on Thanksgiving, it was flowing through Laurent Robinson (a graceful, long-striding, deceptively fast street free agent who has blossomed now that he’s finally stayed healthy). Last week, it flowed through Dez Bryant, even though Bryant was defended by rising star Patrick Peterson. And keep in mind, last season, the passing attack flowed through Miles Austin, who may return this week from his hamstring injury.

In Dallas’ system, the go-to target is often determined by whom Tony Romo feels most comfortable with. Romo’s comfort may be influenced by the rhythm of the game. When things are grinding, Witten’s the guy. When everything flows, it’s Robinson. When it’s a sporadic, sandlot type game, he likes Bryant. The Giants will have studied the Cowboys’ offense all week. Whom they decide to put No. 1 corner Webster on will tell you who THEY think Romo likes most.

3. Tyron Smith
The first-round rookie right tackle from USC has been better than advertised, showing improvement with every start. Smith, the youngest player in the NFL, has uncommonly light feet for 310-pounder. He’s dripping with athleticism, which is evident when he lands blocks off short-area movement in the run game. His technique continues to be a work in progress – he was exploited by wily defenders early in the season and had a tough time against Cameron Wake two games ago – but it’s much better at this point than most expected.

That said, there may not be a worse player to face in a war of fundamentals than Justin Tuck. The seventh-year veteran has had a down season, but he’s still one of the craftiest – if not THE craftiest – ends in football.

If the Giants cared about our viewing entertainment, they’d move Tuck to the defensive right side and let Jason Pierre-Paul, the most dynamic young athlete playing defensive end today, go mano-a-mano against Smith.

4. Rob Ryan’s pass-rush tactics
Rob Ryan’s primary focus is on creating one-on-one situations for DeMarcus Ware. The league’s most prolific sack artist over the last five years almost always aligns on the open side of the offensive formation (i.e. away from the tight end).

To help ensure more one-on-ones for Ware – and to simply generate as much pressure as possible – Ryan walks safeties down into the box (Abe Elam’s physical strength is a plus for this), uses fire-X blitzes with his inside linebackers (where the left linebacker attacks the right A-gap and the right linebacker attacks the left A-gap) and often brings cornerback Orlando Scandrick off the edge from the slot (Scandrick is an excellent blitzer).

Ryan may want to be a bit cautious this week. Eli Manning is superb at identifying blitzes and audibling. Plus, it was on a double A-gap blitz that Ryan got outsmarted by Ken Whisenhunt with a screen pass for LaRod Stephens-Howling on the overtime touchdown last week. Ahmad Bradshaw is very good in the screen game.



5. Defending Cruz
Over the years, the Giants have had a field day going after Orlando Scandrick with slot receiver Steve Smith. Scandrick has drastically improved all-around in his third season. But the Giants also have a more dynamic slot weapon in surprising 1,000-yard receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz has big, ball-plucking hands and sinewy body control that allow him to make late adjustments to the ball. His powerful elusiveness after the catch makes him a threat to score on any play.

If Scandrick is blitzing or outside, the Cowboys are more likely to play a zone or some sort of off-coverage in the slot. The Cardinals had their outside and slot receivers align tight to one another last week, which the Cowboys defended by playing off-coverage inside. That left easy eight-yard completions on the table. Manning will gladly take those if given the opportunity.

The Cowboys may defend the seam with safety help – which could keep Cruz, as well as surprising downfield producer Jake Ballard, in-check. In that case, Scandrick would be an underneath defender, where he’s most comfortable. The cost here is that this safety help would either water down some of the blitz designs or leave one-on-one coverage against Hakeem Nicks outside.

Rob Ryan’s best bet might be to mix and match with disguise, in hopes of setting up a Manning turnover.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 11:50 pm
 

Meriweather rethinking way he plays the game

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s taken quite a bit to get through Bears safety Brandon Meriweather’s head, but perhaps two separate fines worth $45,000 for hits on Carolina’s Steve Smith and Detroit’s Nate Burleson and a benching by Chicago has done the trick. Now, Meriweather -- who had a disturbing habit of unnecessary roughness penalties and fines -- says he’ll have to adjust the way he plays the game.

NFL Keeps Taking Money
"Apparently I need to fix something if (the NFL) is concerned about my hits," Meriweather told the Chicago Tribune. "I have to change it, or else I'm going to keep getting fined. Eventually if you get enough fines, you're going to end up getting kicked out the league. For me to continue to do something I love, I just have to change the way I play."

Although the league isn’t planning to meet with Meriweather, who was fined $40,000 last year for two separate hits on then-Ravens tight end Todd Heap in the same game, his organization has told him to simmer it down with the way he leads with his helmet.

"Everybody told me that," he said. "It's not necessarily what they said, but how they said it. People have told me before that I had to change my ways. I've been trying. It's just something you can't do overnight."

Yes, overnight is too big an expectation. But we’ve been talking about this seriously for about a year at this point. When you consider it’s been many months since James Harrison was fined for anything (!), that should have been plenty of time for Meriweather to make a change.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com