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Tag:Blaine Gabbert
Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 2

Posted by Will Brinson



Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 1 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

(Ed. note: Week 2 Podcast will be live first thing Monday morning. Thanks for your patience.)

1. Michael Vick doesn't gets Michael Vick'd
Vick was going to get injured this year. That's just what happens when you combine a quarterback who runs like he does with an offensive line that blocks like Philly's doesn't. But what an unlikely way for him to get injured -- getting tackled in the pocket and falling into a head-to-head, concussion-inducing hit with Todd Herremans, his own offensive lineman.

And even though Mike Kafka looked pretty darn good in an impromptu relief appearance, and even though he provided an endless amount of philosophy-fueled jokes on Twitter, he's not Michael Vick, and he's not going to steal the starter's job or become the single-biggest story of the NFL season.

Fortunately for the Eagles, they've got a reasonably cushy schedule the next four games, facing the Giants, the 49ers, the Bills and the Redskins. But it's a quick reminder to those ready to crown the "Dream Team" as the likely Super Bowl champion: quarterback is a very talented, but very fragile position for them, and if they can't keep Vick upright, it's going to be tough sailing.

Three other notes on that game, while we're here. One, that was an embarrassing display by Falcons fans as Vick left the game, spitting out blood, to boo him mercilessly. I get that many folks won't get past what he did, and how much he might have cost the Atlanta franchise. But to boo a guy who could have suffered a serious head injury is just lacking in class. And kind of surprising for a sports city that typically doesn't show up to scream that loudly.

Two, can the NFL please do something about these "neck injury" classifications? Vick's neck might be sore, as Andy Reid said shortly after the game, he did in fact suffer a concussion. The only difference is that listing him with a concussion would rule him out for the game. A "neck injury" is a loophole for Vick to return to a potentially dangerous situation in terms of his personal health. The NFL needs to make teams get honest on these injury reports if they're going to be serious about player safety.

And finally, big ups to Matt Ryan for his performance in that game. Anyone who left the Falcons for dead after they were smacked around for the Bears obviously doesn't understand the importance of jumping to conclusions after a week's worth of football. The Falcons still got a little greedy when it came to forcing balls downfield to Julio Jones, and they could probably benefit from targeting Roddy White more, but Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner were dynamite. Ryan suffered an injury, too, but stood strong and led his team to a win with four touchdowns.

Absolutely a signature win, especially when you consider the opponent and the circumstances.

2. Dunta Robinson should be suspended
No need for a cute title here, and yeah, I'm adding one more point to the Eagles-Falcons game, but it's an important one. And it's pretty damn cut-and-dry when it comes to the hit of the Falcons cornerback on Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter on Sunday night: it was dirty.

Maclin caught a ball over the middle, was running after the catch and got absolutely head-hunted by Robinson, who did the exact same thing to another Eagles wideout (DeSean Jackson) when these teams played in 2010.

Robinson was fined $50,000 for the monster helmet-to-helmet shot on Jackson. But that's not enough punishment -- he needs to be suspended.

The league said in 2010, immediately following Robinson's hit on Jackson mind you, that they would begin making an example out of repeat offenders by suspending them. We haven't seen that yet.

But we should; Robinson's decision -- and make no mistake, it absolutely was a decision, not a "reaction" -- to launch himself into Maclin helmet first was similar in a manner similar to the headbanging shot on Todd Heap that landed Brandon Meriweathear a big fine.

And it's similar, if not nearly identical, to his shot on Jackson last season.

There was a flag and there was a penalty, and Robinson was not ejected, as he should have been for the flagrant nature of the hit.

There'll absolutely be a fine coming his way in the middle of the week, but if Roger Goodell and Ray Anderson truly want to make an example out a classic case of a repeat offender, Robinson needs to be suspended.

3. Detroit Swag City
The Lions were one of the sleepiest of sleeper teams to begin the 2011 season. And with good reason -- if Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson can stay healthy, there's reason to believe Detroit's got enough potency on offense to compete with a playoff spot.

But here's the thing: they're actually doing it. It almost never works like that (ask the 2010 Houston Texans) but it's working right now.

Perhaps the biggest difference in these Lions, though, is the heretofore unseen amount of swagger present in Detroit football.

Before the 2010 season began, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli accused the Detroit front office of tampering. In response, the Lions would like offer Exhibit A: a 48-3 beatdown of Kansas City on Sunday in which they absolutely mangled KC in every aspect of the football game. It's the single-biggest margin of victory in Detroit's history, tied with their 45-point victory against Cleveland way back in 1957.

Exhibit B? The Lions decision to run Keiland Williams up the middle on fourth-and-one, leading 41-3, with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Just don't expect them to admit they were rubbing it in.

"We're not trying to do anything other than trying to win the game," Schwartz said.

Exhibit C? The Lions were "thrilled enough with the win" to give defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham a Gatorade bath with 28 seconds left:



This would be totally normal except for the fact that Cunningham is a defensive coordinator and this is the second week of the season. Oh right: Cunningham's the guy the Chiefs accused of tampering during the 2010 season.

So, yeah, message sent. But don't expect this swagger to suddenly disappear -- the guy who instilled it, Schwartz, doesn't see a whole to love about the victory.

"We can play better," Schwartz said after the game.

That's a pretty scary thought considering the Lions forced three fumbles (and recovered all three) and picked Matt Cassel three times. But Schwartz is right -- they've started slow on offense in both of their wins this year, and didn't look exceptional against the run early against Kansas City.

4. The Chiefs are dead, long live the Chiefs
There's a lot to love about the second week of the NFL season, but while we're here, we might as well go ahead and note that the Chiefs are donecakes when it comes to competing in the 2011 NFL season.

They're 0-2, they look lost on offense and defense, their best players are dropping like flies, and they have a negative 79 point differential through two games.

Considering they just got done with the "easy" part of their schedule -- the Bills and the Lions -- this does not bode well for the rest of their year. And Jamaal Charles' injury -- the running back is believed to be done for the year after tearing his ACL while colliding with the Lions mascot Sunday -- is the most tragic part of this Icarusian swoon back to reality.

Charles is truly one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL, he's a home-run threat every single time he touches the ball, and he's the reason the Chiefs led the league in rushing last year and barnstormed their way to the AFC West title.

There will be no more excitement this season, and there will be no such division title.

In fact, the only drama remaining for the Chiefs is whether or not Todd Haley can hold onto his job for the rest of the year. To his credit, he's certainly willing to take the blame.

"The season will not be canceled as far as I know," Haley said on Sunday. "What we have to do is we have to stop doing those things that are costing us dearly, and putting us in very difficult positions."

Haley might wish the season would be canceled, though. A quick glance at the Chiefs schedule pegs their Week 5 game against Indianapolis as the easiest contest remaining, as they've got two matchups with Denver, Oakland and San Diego remaining and play one of the most brutal five-game stretches in the NFL starting in November: at New England, versus Pittsburgh, at Chicago, at the Jets, versus Green Bay.

No one has a warmer seat than Todd Haley right now.

4. Yes We Cam 2.0
Normally I might be cheesed that people are jacking my "Yes We Cam" swag (unless that's been around since Auburn and I just missed it), but being on board the Cam Newton bandwagon's too fun to get worried about anything.

Newton now has two of the three-highest passing games in Panthers history, he's one of only seven quarterbacks to throw for 400-plus yards in two-straight games, he owns the rookie record for most passing yards in a debut, he owns the rookie record for most passing yards in a game (ever), and, yeah, I get it -- he's 0-2.

The fact that people are screaming about win-loss records by a rookie on a team that's coming off a 2-14 campaign tells me two things. One, either they don't understand that quarterbacks don't play defense (much like pitchers don't score runs in baseball; wins aren't relative to success). Or two, they're sitting back in a corner and chugging a warm glass of Haterade, just because they can.

Newton's a guy that's always inspired critics. And he probably always will. But right now, he's making the right throws, he's saying the right things, and he's showing some of the most impressive progression we've ever seen in a young NFL quarterback.

Does he make mistakes? Absolutely. His three interceptions were pretty terrible. One might even call them rookie mistakes. And one might even note that they were a result of Rob Chudzinski taking the gloves off on the offense and winging the ball around. But there's no real need in ripping Chud, because he and Ron Rivera's coaching staff are the guys putting Newton in a position to succeed, and they deserve credit.

Just like Cam, regardless of the record.

It's been mentioned before, and it'll be mentioned again -- the Panthers probably won't win a lot of games when Newton's throwing for 400 yards. But that's a byproduct of lacking balance in the offensive attack, not because "Cam's not a winner."

5. Is 400 the new 300?

Speaking of 400-yard games, you've probably noticed that we've seen a number of games this season that have featured 400 or more passing yards. Six to be exact, which is quite a lot. In fact, we're currently on pace -- barring another offensive outpouring on Monday night -- for a whopping 48 400-yard games and and an absolutely insane 176 300-yard games in 2011.

Year 300-Yard Games
400-Yard Games
2006
65 7
2007
81 4
2008
76 8
2009
100 7
2010
96 11
2011
22 6

Now, there's a bit of caveating that needs to occur here. First of all, Newton is on pace to throw for something like 6,538 passing yards in 2011. While it would be foolish to guarantee it won't happen, it's pretty unlikely that Newton shatters Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record by nearly 1,500 yards. (Tom Brady is, of course, more likely, but it's still a long ways off.)

Which is to say, it's still early, and you can't just simply project NFL numbers, particularly 400-yard passing games, across a season and expect continuity from here on out.

But as recently as 1998, we had just 52 300-yard games. At this year's pace, we're in reach of that many 400-yarders. It might not happen right now, but remember how 1,500-yard rushing seasons replaced 1,000 yard seasons as the new benchmark?

That transition is in process for the passing game right now, thanks to the entire league taking things aerial. It's a trend that won't go away and, sooner than later, 400 might actually become the new 300.

6. More like a Breathalyzer score
Not every quarterback's out there gunning the ball around with aplomb, though. Take Luke McCown of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who registered a quarterback rating on Sunday -- 1.8 -- that's impressive for all the wrong reasons.



McCown was 6/19 for 59 yards with four interceptions in the 32-3 loss to the Jets and inspiring only in the sense that his play makes you wonder what the hell the Jags were thinking when they decided to cut David Garrard one week before the regular season began. As my man Mike Freeman wrote, Garrard's kicking it somewhere much more fun than Jack Del Rio's office, cackling his ass off at McCown's performance on Sunday.

What makes it slightly more understandable is that it was against the Jets, who aren't exactly a cream-puff defense.

What makes it all slightly less understandable is that the Jaguars traded up to draft Blaine Gabbert this year, and seem hesitant to give him the nod. Why? Obviously Garrard wasn't the guy, because they cut him. And obviously McCown isn't the guy, because even Braylon Edwards is unimpressed with the digit he posted.

Gabbert was 5/6 in junk time, but let's see what the kids' got already. Jack Del Rio might be stringing out his job a little longer by playing the "you left me with no quarterback" card, but if my boss threw away my computer before the NFL season started, I wouldn't leave the other brand new computer I just bought sitting in a box in the sideline while fumbling through deadlines on a 10-year-old PC that I know doesn't work.

I'd crack that box open, see if the new computer is worth what I paid. Which is what Jacksonville needs to do.

7. Mmmmmm. [Fractured] ribs.
It's time to give Tony Romo his due -- the guy gets absolutely shredded when he makes stupid mistakes, like last week's debacle against the Jets. But on Sunday he returned after it was announced he'd suffered some fracture ribs and everyone assumed that it was Jon Kitna's ship to sink.

It was not. Romo came in, hit Jesse Holley for a big gain and the Cowboys took things to overtime where they ended up winning 27-24.

"I didn't want to be 0-2, and at the end of the day it's about winning and losing in this game," Romo said afterwards. "We needed a win. Why I wanted to be out there? I'm competitive. If I can play I'm gonna play."

Not the most convincing win against a 49ers team, but it was a win that an injury-ravaged Cowboys team badly needed to win. Things might be about to get rough for Jerry Jones squad, and we'll find out just how much of a creative mastermind Jason Garrett really is -- Miles Austin's dealing with a hamstring injury, Felix Jones has a separated shoulder and Romo's got a couple busted ribs.

If Romo can play and Dez Bryant can get back from his quad injury, there's still plenty of firepower on this offense, especially if DeMarco Murray can learn blitz pickups quickly enough to stay on the field in more than passing situations. The former Sooner is a highly-talented receiver out of the backfield, and has the potential to be a serious threat.

None (or all?) of that might happen, though, and this could be a situation where Kitna's trying to manage an offense that can't move the ball on the ground and can't stop anyone from passing on them until their secondary's back up to speed.

With Washington and Detroit on the schedule before their Week 5 bye and New England and St. Louis immediately after, that's a dangerous proposition indeed.

8. Living in the 90's
Man ... anyone else harking back to the Super Bowl heyday when we used to get "In Living Color" halftime shows lately? (Men on Football!) And I really hope you do, otherwise I'm suddenly old and busted.

That's back when the Bills used to get beatdown by the Cowboys and Redskins on the reg, and after two weeks of football, there's a sense of déjà vu circulating around certain cities, as Buffalo and Washington are both undefeated.

The Bills seem to be a little bit more "fa real" than the 'Skins, if only because their offense is more potent, but Washington, who plays the Cowboys next week, is a better bet to get to 3-0 than Buffalo, who host the Patriots.

Still, it's a remarkably fascinating story that two teams that literally no one picked to find their way to undefeated at any point past the first week of the season. And I don't want to start laying bets on Rex Grossman or anything, just yet, but kudos to the guy for finding ways to win in Washington when no one -- including yours truly -- even bothered to take him seriously after his "we'll win the NFC East" prediction.

They still won't, of course, but two weeks into the season Grossman looks a lot more right than anyone would have ever thought.

Meanwhile, Chan Gailey looks a lot more smart than anyone would have thought (good thing Todd Haley fired that guy, huh??), pushing the Bills to a remarkable 2-0 after beating Oakland 38-35 in the most exciting game of the day, particularly when you consider the Bills came out of halftime down 21-3.

"That was an amazing gutcheck by our team," Chan Gailey said.

Yes, ripping off five touchdowns in five second-half possessions is a "gutcheck." Or a guy doing remarkable things with unlikely personnel. Story of Gailey's career.

9. Same old, Same old
Being the lone expert to pick the Chargers for the upset over the Patriots on Sunday wasn't a bad spot -- San Diego could/should have won that game. Or at least not lost by two touchdowns anyway.

A brutal fumble from Mike Tolbert blew the game wide open, but it was kind of indicative of how San Diego operates in September; last week it looked like the Chargers might have kicked that monkey off their back.

Then they roll into Foxboro with a loaded gun and "pull a Plaxico" on themselves, firing repeatedly at the ground underneath their feet, whiffing three times inside the Patriots 20 and giving the ball away at the most inopportune times.

It's standard operating procedure for the Bolts, or at least it feels that way because it's September. And they'll probably be fine because the division is down (though you can argue the Raiders are dangerous and I'm fine with that) and they'll probably make the playoffs on the strength of a big November and December run.

But this is a team that's supposed to make a Super Bowl run. And they're not there right now. Which is, well, not that surprising.

10. Reviews under review?
The new NFL system for reviewing all touchdowns has been irritating through two weeks only in that every announcer in every game has to mention it after every touchdown, as if NFL fans weren't already aware of what's going on.

Oh, and the fact that there's some bizarro miscommunication going on with how the officials on the field and the people working in the booth are handling the issue of checking out plays.

Buffalo's interception by Da'Norris Searcy required a 10-minute break in which the officials finally came back on the field and announced, after everyone had left, that Searcy did in fact pick the ball off.

And Darren Sproles had what looked like a controversial score to end the Saints game in which he stepped out of bounds, yet no replay was deemed necessary.

Aaron Hernandez had a score against the Chargers Sunday that looked like a lock for a review under the dreaded "Calvin Johnson Rule," but the replay officials didn't even bother checking. Or it was so clear that they didn't need to.

If we're going to take the time to check out every single touchdown, let's make sure we actually check out every single touchdown. NFL fans might not be the most patient bunch, and it stinks seeing a touchdown celebration held off because of a potential rules issue, but getting the call right is the biggest deal, and providing a streamlined process for ensuring integrity of all necessary reviews is something the NFL needs to get in place immediately.

Put an APB out for:
Chris Johnson's rushing skills. It's one thing to be a star running back who really disappoints his fantasy owners (joke) by not producing at a high clip. It's an entirely different thing to be a star running back who's drawing boos from fans because you held out of training camp, demanded "Manning money" and then decided to start averaging less than 40 rushing yards a game.

Pop-culture referencing Jim Irsay tweet that's sure to drive Colts fans insane of the week
"All u negative,Colt haters.....ahhhh,well...ummm...that's just YOUR opinion...man!"

Hate to break it to, you Jim, but the bums lost. Again.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Andy Dalton and A.J. Green turning into a potentially dangerous connection in Cincy definitely deserves more love.
... Did anyone watch the Stanford-Arizona game on Saturday night? Because Andrew Luck is the real freaking deal, man. Kid is smart, strong, has a cannon for an arm, and can make all the throws. I'd tank my season for him.
... If you want to try a ridiculously delicious sandwich, and you live near a Village Tavern, hit it up for Sunday brunch and get the fried egg BLT. Standard ingredients but add cheddar cheese and an over-medium egg. It's unreal.
... Not even sure how to feel about this one -- some clown of a Bears fan mocked New Orleans devastation thanks to Hurricane Katrina a few years back, and some Saints fans got their revenge on Sunday. Or something.
... Does any good running back in the NFL have less breakaway speed than Michael Turner?
... Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson, two guys with Vikings history, are both franchise leaders for touchdowns (receiving and rushing, respectively) for their franchises now, and it happened on the same day.
... Josh Freeman is such a closer -- he stormed back against the Vikings on Sunday, giving him eight comeback wins in 14 career victories.

Worth 1,000 Words


Hot Seat Tracker
Long story, but I'm still waiting on the fancy math stuff. Whatever, not much has changed from last week, where the same small number of suspects find themselves with warm pants.
  • Todd Haley -- It just stinks that he might not get to hang around and coach Andrew Luck.
  • Jack Del Rio -- See: above. It's just an unbelievable mangling of the quarterback position.
  • Tony Sparano -- The Dolphins are 0-2, can't defend against the pass and despite Chad Henne looking much better, are not as good as we thought.
  • Jim Caldwell -- No idea if Jim Irsay would even can Caldwell at any point, as the Colts might actually like a figurehead with Manning around.
  • Tom Coughlin -- A loss Monday would not go a long way in helping his job security.
Chasing Andrew Luck (Plus Odds)
Chiefs (2/5): Like I said, the schedule is brutal down the stretch.
Colts (2/1): As Pete Prisco likes to say, the snake has no head.
Seahawks (3/1): Seen Pete Carroll screw up too many things to think he can get picking up Luck right. Still, this team is bad.
Jaguars (5/1): Yeah, they've got a win, but they're throwing out Gabbert now. We hope. Which is awkward.
Dolphins (7/1): Surely they can't be this bad.

MVP Watch
Mark my words: a quarterback will win this year. Bold, eh? Whatever. Matthew Stafford's my leader in the clubhouse, but I wouldn't scream at you if you screamed at me for not picking Tom Brady, considering he's looking like, well, Tom Brady. Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves some love and no, I am not joking this week. And sure, Aaron Rodgers if you want. It's early still.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 10:50 pm
 

David Garrard's agent: QB has 'gotten some calls'

Posted by Will Brinson

David Garrard was stunningly released on Tuesday afternoon by the Jaguars, and, this might not come as "news," but he was as surprised as everyone else.

According to his agent, Al Irby, he was "shocked" even, because they believed Garrard was starting Week 1 for Jacksonville.

"Been assured that the job was his this year," said Al Irby, Garrard's agent, said, per Tania Ganguli of The Florida Times-Union. "That's why we're all shocked, and so was he. This had to be a last minute decision, that's the only thing I can say. I don't think these guys would purposely tell me one thing and [do another]."

Perhaps the most logical reason for waiting so long to release Garrard? The Colts situation at quarterback -- though it stinks to wait so long for Garrard to get on the open market for his own personal reasons, he might have been a nice fit for the Jags division rival Indy.

The 2011 Jaguars
But given that the NFL is a quarterbacks league that doesn't feature all that many good quarterbacks, it stands to reason he'll find work somewhere. Which is why it makes sense that, also according to Irby, he's "gotten some calls."

"The system's going to do what it's going to do," Irby said. "He has gotten some calls, they know there's some interest. David can still play it's obvious. He knows he's gonna have options and he's gonna just sit back and let the offers come in and make a decision."

There are still plenty of teams that need quarterback. The 49ers brought in Josh McCown due to their concern with Alex Smith as a starter, and wouldn't that be a potentially ironic landing spot given that Luke McCown took over as the starter for Garrard?

The Panthers are rolling with Derek Anderson as their backup, and the Carolina quarterbacks coach Mike Shula had some serious success with Garrard when he coached in Jacksonville from 2007-10. Seattle's quarterbacks coach, Carl Smith, was Garrard's offensive coordinator in Jacksonville for two years, from 2005-06.

The Ravens (Tyrod Taylor) and Raiders (Kyle Boller) could both use a capable backup. Tennessee might be interested at the right price to help protect the need to shove Jake Locker into a starting role if Matt Hasselbeck gets hurt.

So it's not surprising to hear that teams are inquiring about Garrard's availability. The only question is whether it's too close to the start of the season for another team to really make the investment in Garrard worth the cost.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Jaguars release Garrard, will start McCown

David Garrard's done in Jacksonville and Luke McCown will start the opener. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco confirms a report that the Jaguars are releasing starting quarterback David Garrard and replacing him with Luke McCown. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer first reported the move on Twitter: "The Jaguars today have informed starting QB David Garrard they are releasing him! Luke McKown [sic] will start opener! Shocker!!!"

Shocker, indeed. Head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters two weeks ago that "David's our starter," but added: "We need more efficiency offensively and certainly the trigger man plays a large role in that. I think it all ties together."

We're not sure McCown is any more equipped to do that job than Garrard, but he's cheaper, and it'll make it much easier to hand the offense over to rookie Blaine Gabbert later this season.

The 2011 Jaguars
"You know how I feel about it being a team game that we play and the timing of the routes with the receivers and the protection up front and the quarterback making good decisions delivering the ball," Del Rio said in late August. "It all comes together and then you're able to do things offensively, where you're a beat off here or a beat off there and the play breaks down and when you have that timing it looks beautiful. So we're doing some things better and we've been in camp long enough.

"We have the same system, we have the same quarterback, we have the same players. We should expect to play at a higher level. I expect us to play at a higher level and now would be a good time."

The Jags may have the same system and the same players, but the quarterback will be different. As for the results … well, we'll find out Sunday. 

There was speculation during the preseason that Garrard, who missed time with a back injury, might be released, but the timing -- just four days before the season opener -- is peculiar. Then again, Del Rio dumped Byron Leftwich on September 1 four years ago, so it's not the first time it's happened. Garrard was set to make $8 million in 2011.

And while Garrard won't be out of work long, Del Rio's already-warm seat just got hotter. He somehow avoided getting fired after last season's disappointing 8-8 finish, and if the Jags stumble again this year (they haven't had a winning season since 2007) he could be looking for work come January.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 24, 2011 3:10 pm
 

Podcast: Kerry Collins, Von Miller and Fins new O

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

We figured Brett Favre would pull a Favre before Kerry Collins did, but the Colts signed Collins out of retirement Tuesday because there are legitimate concerns that Manning won't be ready for the start of the regular season.

And anybody who watched Indianapolis in preseason is intimately familiar with the fact that, as interim replacements for Manning, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky provide the team with one thing: pole position in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Collins may be old, but he's the best option to bridge the gap and minimize the damage between now and whenever Manning can return.

Because this is the NFL, we again talk Tim Tebow, who now appears to be the Broncos' fourth-best quarterback. Will Brinson catches up with the only person on Earth yet to be asked about Tebow: Denver first-round pick, rookie linebacker Von Miller.

We also touch on Terrelle Pryor, Garrard over Gabbert, the Dolphins' new high-powered offense, the number of games Kenny Britt and Aqib Talib can expect to be suspended, and the moxy of Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.

Yapping starts … now (and while we have you, remember to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.




For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Del Rio says David Garrard is his starting QB

J. Del Rio watches D. Garrard, his starter (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio's head, there’s not a doubt who will start at quarterback for his squad when Jacksonville opens the regular season vs. the Titans. In his mind, there was really never any question.

That person is David Garrard and not rookie Blaine Gabbert, and on Tuesday, Del Rio said it as simply as he could.

“David’s our starter,” Del Rio told the media, via the Florida Times Union.

Fair enough. But before Garrard gets comfortable, he should know this: Del Rio isn’t completely happy with the way he’s played thus far in the preseason (Garrard is 7 of 12 for 99 yards and an interception through two games, while Gabbert is 20 of 39 for 181 yards).

"We need more efficiency offensively and certainly the trigger man plays a large role in that," Del Rio said. "I think it all ties together. You know how I feel about it being a team game that we play and the timing of the routes with the receivers and the protection up front and the quarterback making good decisions delivering the ball. It all comes together and then you're able to do things offensively, where you're a beat off here or a beat off there and the play breaks down and when you have that timing it looks beautiful. So we're doing some things better and we've been in camp long enough.

"We have the same system, we have the same quarterback, we have the same players. We should expect to play at a higher level. I expect us to play at a higher level and now would be a good time."

Eventually, the person playing at a higher level will probably be Gabbert, a point made by CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco earlier this month when he tabbed him as a future top-10 quarterback.

Wrote Prisco: "I watched his tape in college, and Gabbert did some things that were unsettling. He felt phantom pressure at times. But you could always see the arm and the athletic ability. I liked Florida State's Christian Ponder more -- still do -- but Gabbert looked much better than I expected Thursday.

“I know it's only one practice, and it's not live contact, but he does things that you want from a quarterback. The coaches aren't publicly saying all that much about him, but they know. The scouts know. And you better believe general manager Gene Smith knows.”

For now, Del Rio doesn’t know. Or he will pretend he doesn’t know so Gabbert can continue improving or because he feels Garrard gives Del Rio a better chance of keeping his job after this season. But someday soon, when a reporter asks who the starter is, Del Rio will be saying (as if it’s been obvious the whole time), “Blaine’s our starter.”

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 12:37 am
 

Blaine Gabbert headed for the starting QB role?

Posted by Will Brinson

We spent a good amount of time earlier this week breaking down which rookie quarterback will have the most impact during the 2011 NFL season. With the possibility of Blaine Gabbert's shooting up the depth chart, though, we may have to revise that list.

Well, Josh and Ryan will. I had Gabbert second, so I'm totally fine with the news that, according to Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union, Gabbert's been getting "more" first-team reps in a practice that the Jags split with the Falcons.

Gabbert says that the media's making too much of his reps, but anyone with any sense disagrees -- he wouldn't be taking all the snaps with the first team if he didn't have a good shot to start.

And, per our own Pete Prisco, the idea of Gabbert opening the season as the Jaguars starter isn't all that far-fetched.

"Everybody in Jax is getting on board with what I told you 13 days ago: Gabbert can start on opening day -- and might," Prisco tweeted. "If Gabbert plays well in next two preseason games, he starts opening day I think.

"Gabbert impressed a lot of Falcons people I talked to today. Kid has it."

Gabbert looked good in his first preseason game, I thought, but he certainly has some developing to do before he's a bonafide NFL starter.

That might not matter all that much when it comes to creating a depth chart in Jacksonville. Jack Del Rio's on the hot seat (stop me if you've heard that one) and making a run in a tough division with a talented rookie quarterback, even if the Jaguars fell short of making the playoffs, would go a long way towards him keeping his job.

Plus, if Gabbert and Garrard are reasonably comparable in terms of what they can produce right now when the season starts, there's really no reason not to go ahead and start preparing for the future.

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Roundtable: Which rookie QB will help the most?

C. Newton could be one of the breakout rookie QBs this year (Getty).

Posted by Eye on Football staff

Well, we're a week into the preseason and that means we know everything about everyone. Or nothing at all. Whatever, we got our first glimpses of the NFL's newest rookie quarterbacks and that leads us to the question: What rookie quarterback will help his team the most?

Will Brinson: Go ahead and cue up about 15 "Panthers homer" comments in the next few paragraphs, but I don't care: Cam Newton. The guy's a freak-a-deak athlete with a firehose attached to his right shoulder and he's going to get a chance to produce. Unfortunately, that firehose thing can also be bad if Newton can't control his accuracy. And it's possible that Jimmy Clausen -- who looked better than terrible after he threw a pick six on his second passing attempt -- could be the safer option for Carolina. But Newton gets the fanbase amped and he's already shown exponential growth since we last saw him throwing passes. Putting him in the proverbial fire's the way to go and he'll be a difference maker for Carolina in both the stands and the field.

Josh Katzowitz: Will, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know if Newton will help his team that much more on the field than Clausen would have -- I'm willing to bet heavily on the odds that there are going to be games when Newton is ABSOLUTELY terrible and people are going to be saying, "Yeah, buddy, the NFL is a little different than the limited offense you ran at Auburn, eh?" (these people, of course, will be Canadians who care way too much about SEC football) -- but as far as starpower is concerned, Newton is the one. I don't care if he privately looks at himself as an entertainer and an icon. He's got that huge smile and he's got that charisma, and eventually, the stink of whatever NCAA rules his dad might have violated will wash away.

That said, I don't think he's going to contend for any rookie of the year honors, because as the season goes along, defenses are going to begin to figure out Newton. Actually, I think the real answer to your question about which rookie will help his team the most will end up being Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, assuming he stays healthy behind that poor offensive line. Alex Smith will continue to be Alex Smith, and midway through the season, Jim Harbaugh will call upon Kaepernick to replace Smith and win a few games for the 49ers. And I think he'll do it, especially in the NFC West, hastening Smith's departure (which, when you think about it, might be the single biggest reason how Kaepernick impacts the team). Newton will help his franchise the most, but Kaepernick will help his team the most.

Ryan Wilson
: We talked about it (at length, I might add) and Newton was impressive. I know, it's just one preseason game, but the guy's come a long way since February, the Auburn scandal, and the silly comments about being an entertainer and an icon.

And let's be honest, he's energized fans that had every reason to lose all hope and commit their energies to supporting NASCAR full time. That can't be understated. Winning is obviously the goal, but Panthers fans will find reasons for optimism if the Panthers can win five or six games. So in terms of therapeutic value for a downtrodden fan base, Newton is this season's most valuable QB.

A. Dalton could be the starting QB in Cincinnati (Getty). But if we're talking about a QB who has a chance to play and help his team win enough games to battle for a playoff spot, I'm going with Christian Ponder. Partly because Myron Rolle thinks he's a genius, but also because Donovan McNabb has become a punchline in recent years. How long until he's yanked in favor of Ponder? Four weeks? Remember: this is the guy who not only lost his job to Rex Grossman last season, he was eventually demoted to third string behind John Beck, he of four career starts, all losses, all coming in 2007.

Brinson: Well, we're one full turn around the table and the only person we haven't talked about is the only guy who's virtually guaranteed to start Week 1: Andy Dalton.

So, um, yeaaaaaaah.

What does that say about the Bengals? (And why do I have the feeling Josh will try to defend them?) I guess it says either that "We don't respect Andy Dalton," "We forgot about Andy Dalton," or "Even if Andy Dalton was Peyton Manning, he wouldn't be saving the Bengals from certain doom in 2011."

Perhaps it's all three?

Wilson: I didn't mention Andy Dalton for the same reason I don't think about paying my mortgage every day: if I ignore it, it don't exist. It's a coping mechanism. In Dalton's case, it means I'm not constantly reminded of what the 2011 season inevitably holds for him: pain, misery, disappointment -- all words that have become synonymous with the Bengals in recent years.

(Just look what the madness did to even-keeled Carson Palmer -- it drove him right into retirement in what should be the prime of his career. Think about that for a minute. Things were so god-awful in Cincinnati that Palmer would rather sit around the house doing crosswords than get caught up in tiger-striped maelstrom for another season.)

While we shouldn't put too much stock in first-ever preseason performances, Dalton's got his introduction to big-boy football from, fittingly, Ndamukong Suh. And I feel that was just a preview of things to come in 2011 (for both Dalton and Suh). So, yeah, it's pretty easy to be down on Dalton, more because he's a victim of circumstance. Which is why I don't want to think about it.

Brinson: Thanks for the reminder on the mortgage payment, jerk. Speaking of which, if there's one thing that the Panthers, 49ers, Titans, Vikings, Jaguars and Bengals have in common it's that they mortgaged their future on the talents of the 2011 NFL Draft class. With that in mind, let's wrap up this puppy up by making a list -- how do you gents rank the rookies in terms of impact on the 2011 season? Here's mine. Don't copy it.

1. Cam Newton
2. Blaine Gabbert
3. Andy Dalton
4. Christian Ponder
5. Jake Locker
6. Colin Kaepernick
7. Ryan Mallet
8. Terrelle Pryor

PonderWilson: No matter the list -- or the topic -- one thing is assured: Brinson will put Cam Newton at the top of it. Panthers fan solidarity and whatnot.

Back on Earth...

1. Christian Ponder (He'll be starting before the end of Sept.)
2. Colin Kaepernick (See above)
3. Blaine Gabbert (He'll be starting before Halloween)
4. Cam Newton (The next Jimmy Clausen? JOKE. Clearly, he's the next Chris Weinke.)
5. Andy Dalton (Must've been a serial killer in a previous life to get stuck with this fate.)
6. Jake Locker (Should only play if Hasselbeck gets injured.)
7. Ryan Mallett (Bill Belichick is a genius. That is all.)
8. Terrelle Pryor (But he's a first-round pick!)

Katzowitz: Just in case, Will needs a reminder: Here's my takedown of Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis in that ridiculous news conference they called to announce that Lewis would return for another season, and here's what I wrote about the Bengals' lack of a practice bubble. I lived in Cincinnati for six years, but believe me when I say that I think the Bengals are an incompetent mess (though, personally, I think Mike Brown is a nice man).

My list (the correct one):

1. Colin Kaepernick (If Mike Singletary thought about replacing Alex Smith with David Carr (!) last season, Jim Harbaugh shouldn't have a problem replacing Smith with Kaepernick)
2. Christian Ponder (Because he's better than Rex Grossman, and since Grossman is better than Donovan McNabb ...)
3. Cam Newton (How disturbing would it be if Clausen actually won the starting job?)
4. Andy Dalton (He still has Cedric Benson to lean on)
5. Blaine Gabbert (I'm not sure he can beat out David Garrard, and I'm not sure Garrard will be bad enough this year to warrant starting Gabbert)
6. Jake Locker (Locker will get tons of help from Hasselbeck)
7. Ryan Mallett (He won't even beat out Brian Hoyer to be Brady's backup)
8. Terrelle Pryor (I don't know, maybe, he could be an effective NFL TE?)

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Posted on: August 13, 2011 11:10 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 2:17 am
 

How 2011's rookies fared during the first week

Posted by Will Brinson



Rookies are at a disadvantage during the 2011 season, because of the shortened amount of time they were given to prep for the season due to the lockout. As such, they're likely to struggle substantially early.

But not every rookie will struggle.

For instance, in the Falcons preseason opener on Friday, Julio Jones flashed enough explosiveness to warrant Mike Smith describing him as "outstanding" after Atlanta loss against the Dolphins.

Had the first teams stayed in, we likely would have gotten more glimpses of the reason Thomas Dimitroff traded up 21 spots to nab the Alabama product -- he turned a pair of short grabs into 43 yards quickly and a reverse for 12 yards looked like it could have easily gone for more.

Atlanta believes the reason the missed a shot at the Super Bowl in 2010 was their lack of big playmaking. And correctly so. Jones appears -- in an admittedly small sample size -- to be very nice remedy for that problem.

Things didn't go quite as swimmingly for Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who managed to post somewhat decent stats -- 11/15, 69 yards and an interception. But don't listen to me on that.

Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's description (he said Dalton's start "wasn't a total debacle") probably summed it up best.

Dalton struggled mightily, and not just because Gruden put him in tough spots by trying to take shots downfield with Ndamukong Suh breathing down his neck (he did). Of course, it didn't help that Suh popped his helmet off and chunked him to the ground late in the first quarter either. That's enough to make a man quit his job for good, especially on the first day.
NFL Preseason Week 1

Dalton doesn't have the arm strength or athleticism to just step in and overcome inexperience. Even some of his completions -- including a quick out to Jerome Simpson from the shotgun set -- were off and didn't do his receivers any favors.

Speaking of his receivers, A.J. Green looks like the real deal, insomuch as one could determine that from the shorter passes he caught from Dalton. Not to sound weird, but I'd be cool with just watching him run and jump all day. (That's weird, isn't it? Crap.)

Point is, Green's athletic as hell and all the hype about him before the season might not be that overblown.

Also not overblown? Cam Newton's athleticism. Whooooo-boy. But Newton's a good-news/bad-news situation. See, his athleticism is unquestioned. He's a freak. A totally different package of size, strength and speed than we've ever seen in the NFL. But as expected he isn't precisely polished. That's the bad news.

The good news is that Newton has clearly progressed from where he was when we last saw him (read: the combine). If Newton can make strides like that without serious hand-on guidance from the coaching staff, I'm willing to bet he can eventually become a great quarterback. He's got a cannon for an arm, but his touch was clearly off on some throws.

That may not matter for Carolina, though, as even though Jimmy Clausen played pretty darn well after throwing a pick six on his second throw, there could be riots in Charlotte if Newton doesn't start right away simply because he oozes potential.

Blaine Gabbert also oozed enough of something for the Jaguars to trade up for him. Could it have been composure, perhaps?

"I thought [Gabbert] was composed and did a good job making decisions," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said following Saturday's blowout loss to New England. "He looked like he belonged. It was a good beginning."

Gabbert finished 9/16 for 85 yards with no touchdowns (but no picks) and got hosed by a number of drops from his wide receivers. That being said, he looked like most of the other rookies we saw, in that he struggled at times to step up and complete passes in the pocket.

Gabbert definitely showed some flashes that should give the Jaguars optimism for his future, but if you go back and watch the game (or, if you prefer, just scan the play-by-play), you won't many combinations of the words "complete" and "deep." The Jaguars kept things short, as one might expect, particularly given the dearth of weapons available to the rookie on Thursday.

Speaking of that Patriots-Jaguars game, um, Ryan Mallett's really good. OK, "really good" might be a stretch but how about good? Or good? One of those should work well enough to emphasize how he might be the most pro-ready quarterback in this rookie class.

Mallett's got poise in the pocket, doesn't seem scared of pressure, knows when to run, has a big arm and confident in moving through his progression. Plus -- and this might have to do with his familiarity in a pro-style system -- you do just don't see him float throws like other rookie quarterbacks.

I mean, yeah, it doesn't hurt that he's being mentored by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and, yeah, we're not like five years away from watching the hoodie stroll the sidelines with a crooked cane while Mallett and a gorgeous mane of hair takes down a Super Bowl win, but -- surprise, surprise -- New England might have found a steal in the draft with their third-round nab of Mallett.

It's definitely too early to call Titans rookie Jake Locker a "steal" (and, I'd argue, he was taken too meet such qualifications, barring an absolute blowup), but he looked particularly comfortable in going 7/10 for 89 yards and a teeter while running the Titans offense on Saturday night.

The play that clearly stood out? Locker fumbling the snap on the first play after Tennessee's defense forced a turnover, recovering his own fumble, rolling out right, setting his feet and chucking a 45-yard bomb Yamon Figurs for his first professional touchdown.

For whatever reason, Locker seemed to fit the bill for "prepared" in a completely different way than Mallett. Thrust into a difficult situation with no real weapons -- paging Chris Johnson! -- and pressure as the not-too-far-off future of the franchise, Locker seemed to manage the game in a hyperactive, scrappy kind of way.

That's not to say that he's the NFL's David Eckstein or anything, obviously. And maybe it's just that the Titans know what to do with him. (Credit to Doug Farrar over at Shutdown Corner if this happens -- he's been driving the Locker bandwagon, based on his situation, for a while now.) Obviously they didn't plan to have him fumble, recover and scramble, but you could see that when Locker rolled out he could sling darts.

Christian Ponder's first career completion in the NFL was also a rollout. The rookie out of Florida State hit fellow rook Kyle Rudolph for a 10-yard gain, but that might have been the highlight for Ponder. He never really had the poise that we expected from the most "ready" (theoretically) quarterback in the first round, and at times he looked a bit lost and/or overwhelmed especially at first and, surprisingly, seemed to have his most success when on the move, outside of the pocket.

One of those on-the-move plays should have resulted in a first down on a 3rd-and-16, but was called back for a personal foul penalty. The interesting thing is that Ponder managed to avoid a sack, buy time and made a crucial throw on the move; yes, it was pretty surprising given what we expected from him.

It was also surprising considering Ponder faced off against the third-string defense.

On the bright side: it's just one game. And it's early. That's the beauty of preseason.

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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