Tag:Dallas Cowboys
Posted on: September 20, 2010 3:20 am
Edited on: September 20, 2010 9:17 am
 

10 Sunday stories that deserve your attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. Too much Manning

This is not an objection to NBC’s heavy Manning Family coverage Sunday night. We’ve come to expect the Manning home videos and Olivia/Archie luxury box shots. And, let’s admit it, we like it. And credit NBC for not ramming too many “AndE. Manning (US Presswire) let’s not forget, Cooper is a successful human being, as well!” reminders down our throats.

In this case, the “too much Manning” headline has to do with the fact that both players were on the field deep into the fourth quarter. Why? Why play either star in garbage time?

For the Colts, backup quarterback Curtis Painter clearly needs extra work (word is he gets close to zero reps in practice). Why not work Painter? And why not rest Manning and protect him from injury?

Ditto this last sentiment for the Giants. In fact, given the beating Eli took Sunday night, ditto it in all caps: WHY NOT REST MANNING AND PROTECT HIM FROM INJURY!? The Giants offensive tackles couldn’t get a fingertip on Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis (each had two sacks and at least one forced fumble). Plus, backup Sage Rosenfels, acquired from Minnesota after the preseason, could benefit from some live game experience in Kevin Gilbride’s offense. So why keep Eli in there and risk injury?

You may be thinking that it doesn’t matter, the Manning brothers never get hurt anyway. Yes, and Tom Brady was once a player who never got hurt. Injuries are always a real possibility.

In fact, on that note, why do you think the NFL conveniently schedules these Manning Bowls for early in the season? (The 2006 Manning Bowl took place in Week 1.) The guess here is that the league knows that the deeper in the season the game is, the greater the possibility that one brother will be out with an injury.

2. Bad day to be a bad quarterback

There were plenty of quarterbacks who did receive the treatment that the Manning brothers should have received in the fourth quarter.

***Derek Anderson was benched late in Arizona’s blowout loss at Atlanta. Anderson was 17/31 for 161 yards and two interceptions. Backup Max Hall managed to complete two of his three pass attempts, though one of those completions went to Falcons fifth-round rookie cornerback Domonique Franks.

It’s likely that Anderson will be the starter against the Raiders in Week 3. It usually takes a head coach six or seven games to come to grips with the fact that they won’t be the one to solve Anderson’s accuracy woes. Hall’s name is more likely to surface in serious discussion around Halloween.

***Dennis Dixon left Pittsburgh’s win over Tennessee in the second quarter with a left knee injury. The Steelers have three different starting quarterback candidates next week (it’s like a Democratic primary election in Utah, and Ben Roethlisberger is the incumbent Republican candidate). Dixon is one option. Charlie Batch, who was 5/11, 25 yards Sunday is another. And third is Byron Leftwich, who was released earlier in the week but will be re-signed soon (if this was dating instead of football, Leftwich’s friends would be telling him he’s getting played by the Steelers).

Of course, if the Steelers are going to force seven turnovers and score a special teams touchdown each week, then maybe the man to start at quarterback should be whoever is best at taking a knee. That’s all this team seems to need from its offense right now. (For taking a knee, Batch is the best option, given that Dixon and Leftwich are both getting over knee injuries.)

***Sticking with the Steelers-Titans game, Jeff Fisher sat Vince Young late in the second half, citing the need to “get a spark” on offense. The Nashville crowd, forgetting last year’s 0-6 start, cheered Collins’ arrival, which means we get to spend the next few days once again wondering about Young’s psyche (If we’re lucky, he’ll publicly pout or get in trouble, which will allow us to also wonder about his maturity).

Don’t expect Jeff Fisher to wonder about Young’s psyche. “I wasn’t concerned, to be honest, about (Young’s) feelings at that point,’’ Fisher said afterwards when asked about the benching. “I was trying to win the football game.”

Young was a languid 7/10 for 66 yards with two interceptions and two fumbles (one lost). Fisher insists that Young is still the team’s starting quarterback (unless a certain hotheaded 87-year-old suddenly says otherwise). But how can a starting quarterback truly lead a team when the head coach has already tried to spark a comebacker by benching him? (By the way, thanks to an uncharacteristic soft zone defense from Pittsburgh late in the game, the Titans almost did mount a comeback.)

***Raiders head coach Tom Cable wanted to put a spark into his offense as well, so he pulled the covers off the ridiculous lie that Raider fans had somehow tricked everyone into believing: that Jason Campbell is a quality quarterback. The same problems that plagued Campbell in Washington – indecisiveness in the pocket, slow mechanics and a paralyzing fear of taking chances downfield – are, not surprisingly, plaguing him in Oakland. J. Campbell (US Presswire)

Trailing 7-3, Bruce Gradkowski opened the second half under center for the Raiders and led the offense to 13 points, pulling out a 16-14 win. Gradkowski’s numbers were fairly pedestrian – 11/22, 162 yards, a touchdown and a pick – but the Raider offense was markedly livelier under his direction.

Cable hasn’t committed to a Week 3 starter at this point, but it’s hard to imagine him not choosing Gradkowski. The other players love the veteran’s energy. Take a look at this thoughtful, though albeit somewhat illogical, quote from left tackle Mario Henderson: "I said it last year, (Gradkowski) is a great quarterback. A good backup and definitely a great starting quarterback."

While we’re on the Raiders offense…

We (I) have been extremely harsh on the first-round skill position players for Oakland. It’s not fair to boisterously criticize guys and then go quiet when they actually play well. So, I’m making sure to point out that Darren McFadden had an excellent game Sunday (30 carries, 145 yards). McFadden now has 48 carries for 250 yards on the season. Also, wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey is showing noticeable improvements as a route runner. Heyward-Bey has a unique ability to stop and start with a crisp suddenness. He caught six balls for 80 yards against St. Louis.

***In Carolina, Matt Moore was 6/16 for 125 yards and one benching, as Jimmy Clausen relieved him late in the second half. Moore’s completion percentage through two games is 40.8. Clausen may not be ready – if he were, John Fox probably would have used Moore’s Week 1 concussion as an excuse to start the second-round rookie – but with opponents now familiar with Moore’s weaknesses (which mainly center around pocket toughness), there are plenty who believe the Panthers need to make a change. 

***Finally, the quarterback controversy we’ve all been waiting for seems to have arrived in Jacksonville: David Garrard out, Luke McCown in. At least, that’s the way it went late against San Diego. Perhaps it was just a blowout factor. Or, perhaps it was a harbinger of change.
Garrard’s four interceptions (three his fault), weren’t a result of him trying to make a big play (because he doesn’t try to make big plays). They were simply poor execution. The Jags may not be prepared to make the switch under center just yet, but does this sound like a coaching staff that’s fully in Garrard’s corner?

“We need him to be more consistent. I thought he missed some easy things today.”
–head coach Jack Del Rio

“We protected good enough. We’ve got to throw and catch better. It’s that simple.”
–offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

3. Here you go, Bears fans

I got ripped by Bears fans last week for making three of the 10 Stories That Deserve Your Attention negative bits on the Bears. Well, despite some early pass protection issues, Chicago went into Dallas and came out 2-0. Am I about to offer a mea culpa here? Absolutely not. I still think, ultimately, pass-blocking will be a crippling weakness for Mike Martz’s offense. But, just focusing on Week 2 Sunday, the Bears deserve a lot of praise. So let’s enjoy the moment and spread some around…

***Jay Cutler was terrific when he got time to throw. And he handled the early pressure from the Cowboys front seven well. Cutler finished 21/29 for 277 yards, three scores and zero interceptions (and for Cutler, a no-pick game is the equivalent of a 550-yard day….so, theoretically, he had 827 yards passing this game). Something Cutler doesn’t get praised for enough is his deep ball, which is probably the most accurate in the game.

***Devin Hester’s touchdown grab in the back corner of the end zone was the type of play that only happens after hours and hours of footwork drills.

***Matt Forte had 10 carries for 29 yards. (Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to include these numbers. I forgot that a positive Bears piece includes pretending that Forte is potentially the next Marshall Faulk.)
***New nickelback D.J. Moore intercepted Tony Romo twice.

***The Bears defense held the Dallas offense to just 13 points.

4. Speaking of the Dallas offense…

This is where we talk about Wade Phillips being on the hot seat, Jerry Jones assembling a team with no chemistry, Tony Romo not being a leader and the myriad of other stars in Big D being underachievers, right?

Well, what if I told you the Cowboys aren’t in that much trouble? Yes, the offense has scored just 20 points in two losses on the season. But teams as talented as the Cowboys are always just a few clicks away from exploding.

The Cowboys are still dangerous. Miles Austin looks even better than he did a year ago. Dez Bryant is living up to the hype. Jason Witten is too fundamentally sound to be anything less than the star that he is. Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice haven’t forgotten how to play. And guess what? The rest of the NFC East is 1-1, which means the Cowboys are only a game out of first place. It’s Week 2, folks.

Of course, if the Cowboys lose next week, then the (stuff) might actually hit the fan. Next week, the Cowboys are facing…

5. The Houston Texans

It’s not a Cinderella story if we’ve all been expecting it for three years. We’ve been waiting  on the Texans forever. (Imagine how we’d view Cinderella if she’d been invited to the ball but shown up late. What a brat!)
A. Johnson (US Presswire)
Still, there’s no denying that it’s fun to see the Texans succeed. One week after upending the AFC South bully Colts, Houston came from 17 down in the second half on the road to defeat a decent Redskins club in overtime.

Gary Kubiak masterfully used his icing the kicker timeout (insert your own “the NFL should do something about icing the kicker timeouts because it just doesn’t seem right” comment here….then insert the hollow follow-up comment that inevitably comes after you think about it and realize that there really isn’t anything the league can do about icing the kicker timeouts). Right before Redskins kicker Graham Gano successfully booted what was thought to be a game-winning 51-yarder, Kubiak motioned to the line judge. Gano then missed the unwanted mulligan attempt, and the Texans drove down the field and silenced a Redskins crowd that had already gone silent sometime shortly after Matt Schaub’s 400th passing yard.

Schaub finished with a gaudy 497 yards passing on the day. His performance overshadows the fact that Houston’s D has given up over 400 yards passing in back-to-back weeks. It’s almost gotten to the point that it’d make more sense to track Houston’s pass defense not in terms of yards given up but in terms of miles given up. But obviously, big days from Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb against this team haven’t been enough. One common theme in both Texan wins has been dominant play by Mario Williams.

Redskins-Texans Part B: karma, irony or just bad blocking

How’s this for irony: late in the fourth quarter, Donovan McNabb converted a crucial third-and-20 to keep a potential game-winning drive alive. However, the play was called back thanks to a holding call against Washington’s backup offensive tackle, Stephon Heyer. Heyer is a former starter who plays both the left and right side with poor technique (ala a certain Cowboys offensive lineman who made Redskin fans quite happy a week ago).

6. A joke sits out

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was deactivated for this game because of an ankle injury. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports said before the game that the team was sick of Haynesworth making the injury a distraction during the week. Jason Reed of the Washington Post noted, “Haynesworth did not watch the game from the sidelines, which team officials said was normal for inactive players. Offensive lineman Will Montgomery and safety Kareem Moore, however, both joined their teammates on the bench for the game.”

The Skins would love to trade Haynesworth, but there are no takers. They can’t just cut him because then he would win the power struggle. Haynesworth deserves a 2005 Terrell Owens-like suspension, but the Players Union would raise a stink about that, which only exacerbates the current distraction.

So here’s an idea: since Haynesworth is an underachieving part-time player and fulltime headache for Mike Shanahan, why don’t the Redskins just put him on Injured Reserve? There’s always something physically wrong with the big clown anyway – ankle, knee, (heart?). Wouldn’t it be great if, one day, Haynesworth is milking an injury and one of the coaches comes up to him and says, “Boy, Albert, sure does look like you’re too hurt to practice. We’re going to play it safe with you and keep you out…for the rest of the season.” Putting Haynesworth on IR would send a message and give the coaching staff as much power in this whole disaster as possible.

7. Eagles not saving talk radio after all?

Could And Reid actually be curtailing the quarterback controversy in Philadelphia? Despite a very stellar performance from Michael Vick, the sentiment around the league seems to be, “Don’t get your hopes up, Reid says Kevin Kolb is still The Guy.”
M. Vick (US Presswire)
Come on, Andy! Please – please – just let us at least have the fun of speculating about the possibility of Vick stealing the starting job. Pleeeaaaasssseee!

In fact, let us see a little more of Vick before you go putting him on the shelf and running your team the right way. We never get to see electrifying mobile quarterbacks these days. (Probably because of what Bill Walsh once said, which is essentially that athleticism-based quarterbacks put the head coach at the mercy of the man under center.) But the mobile quarterbacks are fun! They're so much more fun than the fundamentally-sound dropback passers.

Yes, it’d be a political nightmare to turn your back on Kolb at this point, but think of how much fun the Vick storyline would be each week!

By the way, for those of you who read last week’s Key Matchup on the Lions defense against Vick, for the record, Detroit did indeed wind up playing zone, which still didn’t neutralize the speed of the Philly receivers (see DeSean Jackson’s 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown). And the Lions did indeed shadow Vick. Instead of using a linebacker, they went with safety Louis Delmas. It wasn’t a poorly-executed plan – Vick was held to only 37 yards rushing. But the plan was contingent on Vick not making consistent throws from the pocket. On Sunday, Vick was able to make those consistent throws from the pocket, in part because his escapability eradicated several would-be sacks.

8. Don’t fall in love with the Chiefs

Kansas City is a young, up-and-coming team. At 2-0, it will be very easy to forecast them as the breakout club of 2010. Don’t.
Yes, the Chiefs are much improved. But their Week 1 win over San Diego was influenced by weather, home opener momentum and huge plays on special teams. Their Week 2 win came against a Cleveland team was counting on Seneca Wallace at quarterback and that specializes in losing home openers (1-11 since 1999). Kansas City’s win was also propagated by a Brandon Flowers interception return score and a late missed field goal by Phil Dawson. The Chiefs still haven’t shown they can sustain offense under Matt Cassel (check out the iffy Week 1 and very average Week 2 box scores). They’re getting better, so be encouraged. Just don’t let go of that grain of salt yet.

9. J-E-T-S counting heavily on L.T.

Upon closer inspection, it appears that LaDainian Tomlinson is the No. 1 running back in New York. Can that really be?

We thought Shonn Greene sat most of Week 1 as punishment for early fumbles. But against the Patriots, Greene had just 15 carries for 52 yards. Tomlinson had 11 carries, but they came in bigger moments. He gained 76 yards on those 11 carries and 26 yards on four receptions, showing hints of the lateral quickness and acceleration that made him the best running back in football three years ago.

This isn’t to suggest that Tomlinson is the L.T. of old. But Phil Simms said something very interesting during Sunday’s broadcast: “What I see with LaDainian that I didn’t see as much in San Diego, with him, it is (now) all out every play.”

P.S. Tomlinson isn’t the only old-timer getting serious work in New York’s backfield. Fullback Tony Richardson has handled a majority of the load ahead of Hard Knocks star John Conner (The Terminator). Richardson was excellent against New England.K. Kardashian (US Presswire)

10. FOX chickens out

We’ll wrap up by throwing FOX under the bus. This is because the network kept things too P.G. During the Cowboys-Bears game, FOX did a full-screen three-graphic special on Miles Austin. The theme was, basically, how great is it to be Miles Austin right now?

The first graphic was about Austin putting up big numbers on the field. The next graphic was about his big new contract ($20 million guaranteed). The third graphic was about his ripped abs, which he recently showed off on the cover of Men’s Fitness.

And that was it. Numbers, contract and abs. No mention of the best thing in Austin’s world right now (the reward that those three previous things undoubtedly helped him earn): Reggie Bush’s ex-girlfriend.

FOX didn’t have the guts to do a Kim Kardashian photo during a football presentation. Fortunately, we do. (And, just to prove that Fox could have done it, we actually used a rare tasteful photo of the sex symbol.)

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Posted on: September 19, 2010 8:45 pm
 

Harvin to undergo MRI

P. Harvin couldn't hang onto this pass, and Miami's V. Davis picked up the INT (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

A few injury updates on this Sunday night.

Vikings WR Percy Harvin will undergo an MRI after reinjuring his hip in the Vikings loss to the Dolphins.

"We knew coming into the game that it was going to get tight," Harvin told the media after the game, including espn1500.com. “Just sitting on the sidelines for a while, it kept tightening up, and it was hard to get loose. When it came to the fourth quarter I got adrenaline rushing a little bit, so I kind of forced my way back on the field a little bit. We'll evaluate it (Monday) and see what's going on."

Harvin didn’t practice much this past week because of the hip, but Minnesota made him active anyway. He finished with five catches for 32 yards, but he clearly wasn’t 100 percent and bobbled a pass at the goal line that Miami intercepted.

"It just grabs," Harvin said of the injury. "I can't really get to the top of my speed. It kind of grabs a little bit, and it's hard to stop and go. It's something I'll keep treating, and each week hopefully, it'll get better."

As for TE Jason Witten, who clearly was upset with the Dallas medical staff who wouldn’t let him back into the game, he suffered a concussion. So, obviously, there’s no telling when he’ll return.

Andwhile we’re at it, the Denver Post reports Broncos CB Champ Bailey left the locker room with crutches. His right ankle was lightly wrapped.

“It happens,” Bailey said. “I should be all right, though.”

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Posted on: September 18, 2010 4:11 pm
 

Report: Austin, Kimmy K on the outs

Posted by Will Brinson

Miles Austin is a rich dude. But he's probably rocking the frowny face these days, as he's reportedly no longer dating Kim Kardashian. OMG, right?

Radar Online reports (EXCLUSIVELY by the way) that the couple split about a week ago, before Kimmy left for Europe to promote her show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

It's totally typical, y'all, for Kimmy to go somewhere exotic when she breaks up with football players too.

But what does this have to do with football, you ask. Well, for now, nothing. But if the Cowboys offense continues to struggle and if Austin doesn't produce at a high clip, there WILL be people demanding that he and Kimmles get back together.

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Posted on: September 18, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Who has the NFL's best fans?

Posted by Andy Benoit



This week, Tom Brady’s criticized Patriot fans for leaving the Week 1 game early. Brady went so far as to say he didn’t think Jets fans would leave early (ouch). This got us thinking…which NFL team has the best fans? And which has the worst?

We posed the question on Facebook and Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) . Here are the best responses we received:

Matt Kelly: "The answer is obviously Green Bay Packer fans. What other sports team has had its home games sold out consecutively since the 1950's??? And a season ticket waiting list that is decades long??? GO PACK GO!!"

Keith Merriweather: "Detroit has the best and most loyal fan base. Can you say 0-16 and 2-14 and still Ford Field is packed every home game. Man the Lions been losing for so long we cheer for them to keep from cryin. P.S. This is our year, Let's Go Lions!"

(Andy’s Note: You have to admire Keith’s optimism, but Ford Field is not “packed” for every home game; the Lions had blackouts last season and they just narrowly avoided a blackout for their home opener this week.)

Sean McCullen: "I do give props to Chiefs fans. Give that team, with its 5-36 run going into this year, to Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans ... -- Blackout City, baby!

Also, I find it funny many of you think ...we're the worst here in Philly. Not saying we're the most, but you'll find no fan base in the entire league more passionate than us. None. We're there through thick or thin. You call us the worst. Why? Be/c ESPN reports every little thing that happens here. (Stuff) happens everywhere. Get over it!"

Sean followed his response with a P.S.: “Eagles fans rule! Cowboys fans who've never flown over Texas let alone been there are the worst, by far.hing that happens here. Shit happens everywhere. Get over it!”

Cody Thomas Browns fans, of course! I give credit to any fan who adores their beloved, yet never improving, team. Gotta love 'em tho

Michael Williams: "I'm answering this a different way: best female fans! That title has to go to the Steelers, followed closely by the Browns. Female Steelers fans rock more black and gold, in jerseys, than any other female fanbase ever. It must be something about Midwest women, but all the Steelers and Browns female fans seem to really know their football." Kareem Cornelius: "If you think the Raiders have the worst fans you most be going be length of rap sheets, not anything having to do with fandom. Any fanbase that dresses like it's Halloween and fills the Black Hole for games when the team sucks and the stadium blows, with as much as there is to do in Oakland, is an excellent fan base? Raiders fans are knowledgeable too. At the Dolphins-Raiders game in Miami in 2007, Oakland had the game in hand and tried running up the score once running the clock out was a possibility. Dozens of Raiders fan stood and booed their head coach's shortsighted decision, knowing that it risked injury and a potential turnover. Raiders fans are smarter than Wade Phillips and damn fine fans!"

Christopher Haines: "Packers fans, on the other hand, are by far the best. Who else has sold out an int...er-squad scrimmage?"

Michael O'Connor: "Hey....You will never have an experience anywhere in the league like Game Day at Arrowhead stadium! From tailgating for 5 hours before the game w/BBQ to die for.... to the experience of our new revamped stadium ....To the 12th man factor of the best fans in the NFL.... The Kansas City Chiefs and Arrowhead have the loudest.... smartest....and most die hard fans in the NFL Hands Down.... Now You can all stop commenting.... THERE IS NO COMPARISON!"

William Pirozzi: "Steeler fans by far were all over the world just ask snoop he is a big steelers fan."

Matthew Vince: "What is the criteria? Are the best fans the ones with the greatest knowledge or the sheer number of fans is what makes them great? If it is number, then Washington will have to be mentioned, if it is knowledge, Philly fans are probably the way to go...and it kills me saying it 'cause I love the 9ers.
Posted on: September 17, 2010 12:37 pm
 

Hot Routes 9.17.10 Hasselbeck's botched scheme

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Saints are 6-1 on Monday Night Football under Sean Payton.

Rams running back Steven Jackson says in the NFL, a four-yard gain is a positive play. Jackson appreciates the value of patience and wearing down an opponent.

Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck says he once pretended his headset wasn’t working so that he could call his own play. Just one problem, though: "What I failed to realize is that the other quarterbacks on the sideline have the headset,” Hasselbeck said. “So you have to get in unison on that one."

In Arizona, Beanie Wells remains a question mark for Week 2, while wide receiver Early Doucet is out (hernia).

The Browns are close to getting Shaun Rogers back. And linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is practicing for the first time since August 10.


Packers kicker Mason Crosby struggled at times last season, but in Week 1, he was money from 49 and 56 yards. Now, the Green Bay media is giving him props.

An unintentionally funny headline from ESPN’s Bill Williamson (funny to anyone who sees the Raiders for what they are, anyway). Headline reads: Did Overconfidence Doom Oakland?

If Erik Coleman’s left knee doesn’t respond to treatment, second-year pro William Moore will start at safety for the Falcons this Sunday.

Will wideout Devin Thomas get more involved in the Redskins offense?

Good news, Cowboy fans: Marc Colombo is returning Sunday. (Another way to say this is, “Great news, Cowboy fans: Alex Barron will not start Sunday”.)

The Texans signed a former Buffalo defensive end, but not the one that went to two Pro Bowls.


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Posted on: September 17, 2010 10:44 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 11:02 am
 

Podcast: Week 2 early game previews

Posted by Will Brinson

It's Friday, which means we're one good night's worth of sleep from getting about 48 straight hours of glorious football.

Saturday is fun, of course, but Sunday is where the real action happens -- Andy Benoit and I hopped on the old podcast machine this week to preview the games that will be played. This particular segment previews the early games on Sunday, and we discuss whether Marshawn Lynch to Green Bay makes sense (and whether Buffalo can beat Green Bay), what the mess is wrong with the Jets offense (and whether they can hang with the Pats), if Jimmy Clausen's time has come in Carolina, whether Chad Henne needs to just go ahead and retire and give his starting job over to Chad Pennington, and whether or not teams like Kansas City and Arizona can magically go to 2-0.

Click play below or make it easy on yourself and Subscribe via iTunes .

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .


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Posted on: September 16, 2010 9:09 pm
 

Players begin preparing to battle for lockout

DeMaurice Smith (right) said the move for some NFL teams to decertify themselves from the NFLPA is purely procedural (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NFL players are taking steps toward protecting themselves as the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire in March.

ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reports, the Eagles, the Cowboys and the Saints have voted to allow the NFL Players Association to decertify itself.

Once all the NFL teams – and all teams likely will vote the same way at some point – vote to decertify the union, the union wouldn’t be able to represent the players when they begin negotiations for a new CBA.

The players did the same thing in 1993, and as Mortensen writes, it “enabled individual players to seek antitrust lawsuits against the NFL and eventually provided the leverage that led to a new era of free agency in 1993.”

But wouldn’t you think that after watching the players accomplish that result 17 years ago, the owners would have a gameplan to avoid having the same result occur? After all, most of these guys didn’t make all their money by being stupid about … well … making money in the business world.

According to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, the votes don’t mean much. It also should be noted that the union fully endorses this move.

"To be dead honest, it's purely procedural and I believe it's a non-story until March," Smith told ESPN.com last Saturday after the Saints voted. "It preserves the best options to protect players in the event there's no deal in place when the CBA expires next March. Instead of scrambling at the 11th hour to get all our players' signatures (for decertification), we'll have everything in order. Our hope is that it's not necessary."

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Posted on: September 13, 2010 2:35 am
Edited on: September 13, 2010 2:38 am
 

10 Sunday stories that deserve your attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. The Bears are who we thought they were

For months we’ve been saying that Mike Martz’s system won’t work in Chicago. You can’t ask those mediocre receivers to run slow-developing routes – they just won’t get open consistently, we said. You can’t expect that putrid offensive line to sustain blocks in pass protection long enough for Cutler to take regular seven-stop drops, we said. And Cutler – oh jeez – you can’t ask Cutler to read the entire the field and take chances without making costly mistakes, it’s just not in his DNA (we said). J. Cutler (US Presswire)

Well, after one game, it appears that we were…exactly right.

Sure, Chicago beat Detroit. But teams have beaten Detroit 30 times in just the past two years alone. And had Matthew Stafford not been knocked out prior to halftime, the outcome probably would have been different (the Lions, led by Shaun Hill, scored zero points in the second half). And let’s not forget the controversial Calvin Johnson call at the end.

But all that’s actually beside the point. When the Bears watch the film on Monday, they’ll see an offensive line that gave up four sacks and put Cutler under continuous duress. (Heck, Lions journeyman defensive end Turk McBride – Turk McBride, for crying out loud! – looked like an All-Pro going up against Frank Omiyale in this game.) That same offensive line also failed to help its running backs punch in a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter on four consecutive goal-to-go situations from the one-yard line.

One shudders to think what the Cowboys front seven will do to this group next week…

2. Safety first (if you’re a fan of moronic decisions)

How much disdain must Chan Gailey have for his passing offense to make the ridiculous decision that he made late against the Miami Dolphins? Trailing by three and facing fourth-and-10 on their own one-yard line with under 2:00 to play and two timeouts, the Bills opted not to try to pick up the first down, but instead, to take a safety.

On the surface, taking a safety always seems smart. The reason for this is because it’s such an unconventional move that there’s no way it could ever be as dumb as it sounds (if you explained the concept of taking a safety to someone who never watches football, at some point you’d hear yourself say “and now we’re going to give the other team two points.” Give them two points? What? Why?) In this case, the move was as dumb as it sounds.

The Bills gained nothing in field position by taking the safety because, instead of playing for a field goal (which would mean reaching the 30-yard-line or so), they now had to play for a touchdown (which, Bills fans might not remember these days, would mean reaching the goal-line). Buffalo gave up all their timeouts just to get the ball back with 36 seconds to go at their own 20-yard-line (and had the Dolphins gotten a better punt on the play, the Bills could very well have ended up right back on their goal-line again).

By taking the safety, the Bills were essentially hoping for – nay, planning for – a miracle. Evidently Gailey thought it would take an even bigger miracle for Trent Edwards and those no-name receivers (no-names save for Lee Evans, that is) to gain 10 yards. If you have that little faith in your passing game, you’re officially screwed.

3. Patriots D looks sharp

This was one of those games where the boxscore lies. The boxscore says that Chad Ochocinco caught 12 passes for 159 yards. It says Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 53 yards. (Batman and Robin? More like ROBIN and batman.) The stars may have put up good numbers, but the truth is, the Patriots secondary outplayed the Bengals’ receivers – especially early on, when Cincy wasn’t throwing out of desperation and the Patriots weren’t protecting a huge lead.

New starting defensive backs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung were both outstanding. McCourty, the first-round rookie corner whom some are saying is already the best defensive back on the roster, stifled Owens on several deep balls in the first half. Chung led the team with 16 tackles, many of them vicious hits.

Phil Simms made an excellent point about this young Patriots defense: it’s faster. A lot faster. The Patriots have prioritized speed in recent drafts (except for the selection of linebacker Brandon Spikes, who had to have a sex tape leaked in order to make people forget about something even more embarrassing: his 40-time). On Sunday, that speed translated into more big plays.

Note: In a follow-up to that last parenthetical jab at Spikes, it’s only fair to mention that the second-round rookie was very solid in his starting debut at inside linebacker.

4. Devin Hester no longer a star return artist

Back in 2006 and 2007 when we said Devin Hester had already had a legendary career’s worth of touchdown returns, we didn’t mean Hester should call it a career for touchdown returns. But do you realize Hester has not returned a punt for a score in three years?

Sunday was a sobering example of how far Hester has fallen (by the way, his fall ironically coincides with his promotion to a starting receiver role). Six times, the Lions punted from backed up in their own end zone. On the day, Hester had five punt return opportunities – most of them on line-drive balls he caught in the middle of the field. His total return yards? 17. Three years ago, in a game like this, he would have had 17 touchdowns (don’t worry about the math – he would have found a way; Hester was supernatural back then.)

There’s no reason Hester can’t recapture his magic – he’s only 27. But seriously, what’s going on here?

5. Running backs relevant…sorta

It’s a passing league these days. Bu, like all you misguided fantasy players who don’t realize that your fantasy football scoring system is flawed, we’re going to give the running backs some love.
A. Foster (US Presswire)
For the youngsters, it will have to be tough love. The two electrifyingly speedy first-round rookie runners who were supposed to transform their respective offenses failed to get the wheels turning Sunday. C.J. Spiller ran the ball seven times for six yards against the Dolphins. The only part of Spiller that looked truly fast was his mind, which seemed to be spinning out of control at times. He was unusually hesitant on contact.

In Detroit (and can you believe we’ve now fit three Lions-Bears bits in this entire piece?) Jahvid Best got 14 carries but amassed only 20 yards. At least Best found the end zone two times.

No need to worry about either young runner at this point – it’s only one week, after all. They’ll get better.

On to the love…

There’s especially no need to worry about the runners in the AFC South. Maurice Jones-Drew gained a hearty 98 yards on 23 carries against the Broncos. Facing a speedy but diminutive Colts run defense that has decided it will be porous again this year, Arian Foster, I think, became the NFL’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 2010. (By the way, Colts fans, no need to worry about your team’s run D– last time the Colts were this bad was 2006, when their SUPER BOWL CHAMPION defense ranked 32nd against the run.) Finally, in Tennessee, Chris Johnson posted 142 yards on 27 carries, which, unfortunately, means he’s behind pace for his ridiculous goal of 2,500 yards rushing on the season.

Most important of all, the teams of these three  running backs all won, creating a huge log-jam atop the AFC South.

6. A star is born

There is a new star in the broadcasting world, and his name is Jim Mora Jr. Thank God Jim Mora Sr.’s son never lead the Seahawks to the PLAYOFFS?! Now we get to listen to Mora call games with Dick Stockton and Charles Davis on Fox each week.

Mora made his television debut in the Falcons-Steelers game. He was extremely intelligent and, for a man ostensibly looking to get back into coaching, he was shockingly blunt. Mora’s best line came during a rant about his friend Bruce Arians calling a pass late in the fourth quarter on second-and-five before the two minute warning. “That play-call was a tragedy”, More said. If you get a chance, tune into a Mora game. You’ll be enlightened and entertained.

7. Redskins don’t win…Cowboys lose

The nice thing about fumbling away seven points on a meaningless play to end the first half is that it is such a huge mistake that no other mistake you make can possibly feel that bad. No matter what, as mistakes go, you simply can’t top that one. Though credit the Cowboys for trying. Specifically, credit Alex Barron. The former first-round pick showed everyone why he landed in Dallas in the first place. Barron wracked up multiple penalties in the second half, including the game-loser on the final play. After the clock struck 0:00, Cris Colinsworth cleverly shared a “get well soon” wish for Marc Colombo.
T. Romo (US Presswire)
It’s too bad we’re highlighting Barron’s mistakes because the man was not utterly awful the entire game. Of course, the Cowboys clearly didn’t trust their makeshift front five to begin with. Virtually every pass Tony Romo threw came off a three-step drop. There was a litany of one-step drop throws (until the final two minutes, some people probably wondered if Dez Bryant actually knew how to run routes, as the Cowboys kept throwing smoke screens to the first-round wideout).

Dallas’ offensive line issues will get fixed once Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo are healthy. By the way, all this relates well to our next topic (a bonus topic!)…

7.BONUS. Does preseason matters after all?

Probably not. But it’s worth noting that there were three offenses that looked awful in the preseason: Dallas, Carolina and Chicago. Well, the games count now, but these units still stink. The Dallas offense scored seven points in Week 1. The Carolina offense had five turnovers. The Chicago offense had four turnovers and scored only 19 points against a rebuilding Detroit defense. This isn’t enough evidence to overturn the beloved “preseason doesn’t mean a darn thing” axiom, but the continued struggles of these teams are worth pointing out (which we’re doing here).

8. Lightning strikes, so don’t play football?

The Jaguars-Broncos game was delayed 30 minutes during the third quarter because of lightning. This prompted me to send the following email Greg Aiello, head of the NFL’s public relations department:

Hi Greg, we're going to pose this question in our NFL Facts and Rumors Blog, but thought we'd pose it to you guys first: Why does the NFL stop games because of lightning? All we ever hear is that the odds of getting struck by lightning are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery. So why pause a game because of it? Most of the 70,000 fans in attendance can't leave a stadium and get to safe cover that quickly anyway. Is it really worth the major inconvenience? 

(This email was sent after midnight eastern time, so if the league does have a response, it will come after this is published. We’ll throw it up if they send a response.)

9. Problem in Indy?

This is the perfect game for us media folk to blow way out of proportion. The Colts always beat the Texans…until now. The Colts can’t lose when Peyton Manning is on fire…until now. The Texans fit the description of a team on the rise. Etc.

We must be careful not to get carried away about this outcome. But we also must ask the appropriate alarmist question: is Indy’s offensive line a problem? Left tackle Charlie Johnson wound up playing in this game (he’d been out for about a month with a foot injury), but it didn’t matter. Mario Williams dominated far more than his stats (four tackles, one sack) suggest.

And how about this: did you ever in a million years think Peyton Manning would post 40 completions for 433 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a LOSING effort? What the heck do we make of that?

10. Derek Anderson-Larry Fitzgerald woes

So I decided on Sunday around 6:30 ET to write about how Derek Anderson and Larry Fitzgerald were not on the same page – or not even in the same book, for that matter. Obviously, Fitzgerald’s game-winning 21-yard touchdown reception put a dent in that angle. But not a big enough dent to obliterate it.

I still say the Cardinals have a problem with their passing game. Fitzgerald doesn’t trust Anderson right now – nor should he. Anderson’s accuracy issues were evident several times Sunday. Twelve of the 15 passes thrown Fitzgerald’s way fell incomplete. Fitzgerald’s body language reeked of frustration. And all this was against a hapless Rams secondary.

It’s no surprise the Cardinals begged Kurt Warner to come out of retirement a few days ago.

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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