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Tag:Peyton Manning
Posted on: July 13, 2010 12:22 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 12:18 pm
 

Position rankings: centers

 Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on centers.

Andy's top five list

5. Matt Birk, Ravens

4. Andre Gurode, Cowboys

3. Alex Mack, Browns
N. Mangold chomping on a burger (Getty)

2. Olin Kreutz, Bears

1. Nick Mangold, Jets


The veteran stability provided by Matt Birk is a big reason the Ravens' young offensive line will be the best in football this season. Birk has always made his teammates better. Gurode can be comically inept in shotgun snaps at times, but opponents never laugh after facing him in the ground game.

Mack amazed me on film as a rookie. He plays with the savoir faire of a 10-year veteran. He sustains well in pass protection despite having questionable strength, which speaks to his well-honed technique. Most importantly, Mack gives the Browns a second source of mobility inside next to left guard Eric Steinbach.

Kreutz is aging, which only makes him meaner. He uses his hands as well as any blocker in the game. I’m part of the rest of the football universe that has decided Mangold is, far and away, the NFL’s best center. The fifth-year pro has no particularly-glaring weakness.

Josh's top five list

5. Jeff Saturday, Colts

4. Olin Kreutz, Bears

3. Andre Gurode, Cowboys

2. Matt Birk, Ravens

1. Nick Mangold, Jets


There’s no reason to argue the pick of Mangold, who only sometimes stuffs his face with a burger (pictured at right). He’s the best center in the NFL, and considering he’s entering only his fifth season, he has plenty of years left. Memo to the New York Jets: you might want to lock up this guy to a long-term deal.

Birk has been around forever, and he, somehow, doesn’t have any weaknesses. His run-blocking – as backs like Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Willis McGahee will attest – is some of the best around. Gurode is tough and a punishing run-blocker. You mentioned his shotgun snaps – a fair criticism – but I’ve got another critique. He takes way too many penalties. He had nine of them last year, which led the league. He had six the year before. You know who that doesn’t impress? Albert Haynesworth.

Kreutz, at 33, isn’t quite as good as he was, and he’s coming off Achilles tendon surgery. But you know what I like about him? He can get out in space on sweeps and screen passes, and he can make a block downfield. I LOVE centers who hustle to do that. Saturday has helped keep Peyton Manning upright for the past 192 starts. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler, and although he just turned 35, he’s still one of the best centers in the league.

I don’t mind the Mack selection, but I’m going to need to see him do it for more than one season before he displaces one of the veterans on my list who have been doing it for years. You see, I like my centers like I like my women: old and gritty and, if possible, missing some teeth.

Andy’s rebuttal

And I like MY centers like I like MY women: young, flexible and willing to do anything. That’s why I anticipate the 24-year-old Mack being at least No. 2 on my list by season’s end. But I understand you wanting to see more evidence at this point.

If you like old and gritty, you could have also gone with Kevin Mawae. He’s an unsigned free agent right now – owners might be blackballing him because he heads the NFLPA – but there isn’t a craftier, steadier leader in the game. The Titans will really miss Mawae in 2010. Another gritty veteran worth mentioning is the Giants’ Shaun O’Hara, an outstanding second-level run-blocker.

Two guys who didn’t make our lists were Tampa Bay’s Jeff Faine and St. Louis’s Jason Brown. I point them out because Faine became the league’s highest-paid center in ’08, and Brown became the highest-paid in ’09. Both have been decent, but only decent.

Josh’s final word

We also didn’t talk about Carolina’s Ryan Kalil, who grades out as one of the better pass-blocking centers in the league. I probably would have made him my No. 6 or No. 7 if we had expanded our lists.

Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter  | Kicker | 4-3 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker  | Defensive Tackle  | Defensive End | Offensive Tackle )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Posted on: July 12, 2010 7:11 pm
 

Matt Ryan the writer

Atlanta QB Matt Ryan fills in for Peter King in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com , and he makes some fascinating comments about how he prepares in the offseason.

Basically, after reviewing film of his entire 2009 season, he requested video of six teams that have similar personnel to the Falcons – the Patriots, Colts, Cowboys, Saints, Packers and Chargers. Then, he studied each of the quarterbacks to see how they ran their offense so effectively.

Writes Ryan: “I learned several things about the game and about my own game during my film work, but I was mostly impressed with the patience under fire exhibited by (Peyton) Manning and (Tom) Brady.

“Both of those guys consistently take the underneath routes when they are given to them and don't ever think about going to another route until the defense takes the underneath route away. It amazes me how precise and accurate with the football all six of those guys are, and I can tell you that this was a really beneficial exercise that I feel will make me a better player as my career progresses.”

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.



Posted on: July 12, 2010 11:12 am
 

An interesting look at super agent Tom Condon

Mike Chappell of the Indy Star has written a fantastic article on super agent Tom Condon. It is a highly recommended read. Chappell looks at how Condon hooked on with the Manning brothers and progressed from NFL fringe player to arguably the league's most powerful agent. Here is an excerpt.

If there was a tipping point in Condon's early talks with Manning, it might have been a specific item in Condon's resume.
Yes, he was an attorney, having earned his degree from the University of Baltimore's School of Law in 1981. More than that, Condon's background teemed with football.

"One thing that attracted me to Tom, different from the other guys I was interviewing, was one of his greatest strengths, and that's that he played the game," Manning said. "He played in the NFL. That's always been important to me. He had that insight that a guy that didn't play, a guy who's just a lawyer, doesn't have."

Condon, 58, was an accomplished offensive lineman at Boston College. In 1984, a decade after his graduation, he was inducted into the school's Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame.

A 10th-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1974, Condon's NFL career spanned 148 games, 131 as a starter, before it ended in 1985.


Condon knew early on that his NFL future might be limited. Wisely, he worked towards a law degree during the off-seasons. Chappell takes you through Condon’s early days as an agent and on into the present, where he has a client list that includes the Mannings, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan Bob Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, Steve Hutchinson Kevin Williams, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.

--Andy Benoit 

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter
Posted on: July 6, 2010 8:24 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 8:27 pm
 

Russell, Leaf or the Boz?

J. Russell on the bench (Getty) While reading Andy’s post Monday night on JaMarcus Russell, where Andy called him “arguably the biggest bust in NFL history,” I wondered who else could qualify for such an impressive title.

I say we break down the numbers and figure out who really was the biggest bust. A few names pop out almost immediately: Russell, Brian Bosworth, and, of course, Ryan Leaf. Who will wear the crown? Who can be considered the biggest NFL disappointment of all time? Let’s check the scoreboard.

QB JaMarcus Russell , drafted No. 1 by the Raiders in 2007 – completed 52 percent of his passes for 18 TDs and 23 INTs, 7-18 as a starter – signed a six-year, $61 million contract with $32 million guaranteed:

Arguments For: He was undisciplined. He was lackadaisical. He was too heavy. He was indifferent. He was a disaster. He's also very rich in spite of all that.

Arguments Against: He played only two full seasons. Maybe he was just about to come into his own?

Brian Bosworth , drafted No. 1 by the Seahawks in the 1987 supplemental draft – played 24 games in three years and recorded four sacks – signed a 10-year, $11 million contract, then the highest in rookie and team history:

Arguments For: He was a Butkus Award winner, and he had huge hype after finishing his college career at Oklahoma. He had the posters, he had the nickname (The Boz) and he had the look. Evidently, he didn’t have quite as much talent, and steroids robbed him of a long career, forcing an early retirement. Plus, his haircut was indefensible, even it was totally 1980s.

Arguments Against: Seattle should have known it was taking a risk in drafting him. He was a known steroid user – he was suspended for the 1987 Orange Bowl – and he had an outlandish personality that could B. Bosworth and his hair (Getty) cause him to flame out suddenly. Some of the blame can be placed with the Seahawks.

Ryan Leaf
, drafted No. 2 overall by the Chargers in 1988 – completed 48 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions, 4-17 as a starter – signed a four-year, $31 million contract with $11 million guaranteed:

  Arguments For:
As you might remember, there was a real debate about whether he or Peyton Manning should be taken with the top spot. Obviously, Leaf’s pro statistics speak for themselves, but you have to remember what the Chargers traded to the Cardinals for the chance to move from No. 3 in the Draft order to No. 2 – two first-round picks, a second-round pick and Eric Metcalf, a three-time Pro Bowler. Plus, Leaf was a jerk.

Arguments Against: Really, I’ve got nothing.

So, who’s the biggest bust? I give the nod to Leaf, but it’s close between him and Russell. Like, really close. Russell, though, still has a chance for redemption. Bosworth, to me, gets off easy on this argument, mostly because he provided the world the movie, “Stone Cold.”

On a side note, Russell’s arrest is no laughing matter. Here’s Alex Marvez of foxsports.com with a different take on the Russell arrest – a little bit of sympathy for somebody who perhaps has shown signs of being an addict.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.



Posted on: July 2, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Everybody's fault but JaMarcus Russell's

J. Russell getting crushed in a KC sandwich (Getty) I found this New York Times Fifth Down blog post today slightly humorous and slightly bizarre. Asking about the rumors that imply former Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell – largely considered one of the biggest No. 1 draft pick busts in NFL history – might work out a deal with the Jets, reporter Kristian R. Dyer spoke with well-regarded quarterback instructor Tom Martinez, who trained Russell before he was taken No. 1 in 2007.

What’s funny – and sort of head-scratchingly weird – Martinez blames a variety of reasons why Russell was terrible in Oakland. Very little of which, Martinez seems to say, was Russell’s fault.

Among the issues that were not Russell’s fault.

1)Russell should have been starting from day one and not relegated to backing up Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper. That start-from-day-one decision might have worked for Colts QB Peyton Manning – who led his team to a 3-13 record in his rookie year, mind you – but the other option, allowing your top-picked QB to have a redshirt year, also works. Ask Bengals QB Carson Palmer, who’s had a pretty good career after sitting behind Jon Kitna for a season.

2)Bad offensive line and receivers who didn’t know – or simply couldn’t – separate from DBs.

3)The Raiders signed him for too much money as a rookie.

4)The coaches didn’t like him; only owner Al Davis did.

Yes, the fact that Russell didn’t work hard and played at a heavy weight didn’t have much to do with the reason he failed out of Oakland. Nothing at all.

OK, ok. Martinez isn’t being that ridiculous. He makes some valid points, but surely, Russell wasn’t so clearly not at fault.

From the article:

Of course, many in the league have questioned Russell’s work ethic, including his teammates, who liked him and wanted him to succeed, but grew tired of what they perceived as his indifference. Russell’s actions suggested he wanted out of the organization.

Martinez said bringing in Russell to back up Mark Sanchez would be a “brilliant move from a talent standpoint,” but even he concedes that if Russell doesn’t work hard, it will be the last we hear of him. All he needs is a fresh start, Martinez said, but the rest is up to him.

“If he repeats the same mistakes, then it’s his last chance,” Martinez said.


If he, in fact, gets another chance.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.



Posted on: June 27, 2010 11:24 am
 

The deep get deeper

As if Colts QB Peyton Manning doesn’t have enough weapons at his disposal, Indianapolis Star beat writer Mike Chappell writes this year’s receiving corps could be the deepest the team has had.

Obviously, they’ve got Reggie Wayne (100 catches, 1,264 yards, 10 TDs last year) and Pierre Garcon (47 catches, 765 yards, four TDs) on the outside. Then, they’ve got Austin Collie – who had an outstanding rookie year with 60 catches, 676 yards and seven TDs – in the slot.

Plus, you can’t forget about the 100-reception performance of TE Dallas Clark.

But what potentially could make this WR corps extraordinary is the return of Anthony Gonzalez. He played only one game last season before injuring his knee and losing the rest of the year, but in his first two seasons in the NFL, he showed he’s a solid receiver with good ability to make yards after a catch. Although he’s been dealing with a “muscular” injury this offseason – an injury that is unrelated to his knee problems, the team says – he told the newspaper that he’s been assured he will have the chance to compete for Garcon’s job as the No. 2 WR.

Most likely, he’ll have a chance to take Collie’s starting job.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.



Posted on: June 15, 2010 1:59 pm
 

Manning's Contract Could Reveal NFL's Future

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports astutely pointed out that Peyton Manning’s contract status with the Colts could be an indication of how the labor situation is expected to shake out in 2011. Cole quotes one agent as saying, “If Manning doesn’t get the kind of contract we all expect or, worse, doesn’t get a deal done at all, that really means it’s going to be war. There has never been a player with more leverage than him. No one. If he can’t get a deal done at his price, we’re all in trouble.”

Colts president Bill Polian is very active within the NFL business ranks. (So is Colts owner Jim Irsay.) Polian recently said that he understands why two of his other stars, WR Reggie Wayne and DE Robert Mathis, want long-term contracts, but that it’s difficult to orchestrate any deals given the tenuous state of the league’s system. But if Polian is able to get a deal completed with Manning before 2011, that could be an indication that he thinks labor peace is imminent.

As one AFC executive told Cole, player salaries are generally based on what quarterbacks makes. Guys like Manning (and Tom Brady, who is also in the final year of his contract), set the benchmark for the entire league. Manning and Brady are likely to garner $20 million annual salaries.

The executive went on to say, “There’s no way I could see that any owner is going to spend that kind of money on one player and not have football. You spend $7 [million] or $8 million on somebody, OK, that’s just common-sense business. You spend $20 [million] or $30 million, you’re making a commitment.”

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CBSSportsNFL
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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