Tag:Steve Smith
Posted on: March 23, 2011 11:17 am

Offseason Checkup: Atlanta Falcons

Posted by Will Brinson

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:

It's pretty rare when winning your division and losing to the eventual Super Bowl champions qualifies as a "disappointment," but that's probably the case with the Atlanta Falcons, who really seemed destined to make a run at a championship in 2010.

Alas, destiny came unbound and Green Bay burnt Atlanta to the ground (surely that's not too soon) en route to taking down the Lombardi Trophy. What makes the way in which Atlanta lost interesting is that it was their bread and butter -- old-school, methodical football -- that left them unable to mount a comeback against the Packers

Having said that, this is a Falcons team that's built for the long-haul. Matt Ryan is an All-Pro for years to come, Roddy White is blossoming into one of the best receivers in the NFC (if not the NFL), and the defense as a whole appears full of young playmakers. Sure, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner might not be contributing five years down the road, but that doesn't impact 2011, when the Falcons will be absolutely primed to repeat their success from the previous year.

Speed, Explosiveness, Youth

In 2009, Atlanta was vulnerable to getting torched on big plays, and got gashed by opponents on 20-yard-plus plays 55 times, and 40-yard-plus plays 11 times. They addressed their secondary needs in the offseason, stealing Dunta Robinson away from the Texans (who then became historically bad against the pass, for what it's worth). In 2010, Atlanta gave up just 38 plays of 20+ yards and only six plays of 40+ yards. 

So, yeah, not a problem anymore. But what is a problem? The big plays created on the offensive end. Atlanta ranked next-to-last in the NFL in passing plays over 20 yards with 32, just two ahead of Carolina. You may recall that the Panthers didn't finish No. 1 in the conference. Add in six plays all season of 40-plus yards, and it's clear the Dirty Birds lack some explosiveness in the passing game.

This is partially a result of Mike Mularky's vanilla offense, and partially because Tony Gonzalez can't stretch the field quite as much as he used to. But it's primarily because Atlanta hasn't been able to find a true WR2 to pair with White and give Ryan a deep threat.

1. Speedy WR2 
The M.O. of Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith isn't necessarily to grab a WR early just because they need one. And it's unlikely that one of the true talents in this draft -- think A.J. Green and Julio Jones -- will get even close to the Falcons. It's possible they could use a draft pick on a speedy wide receiver, but it's also possible that they could look to boost their receiving corps through free agency (Santana Moss would fit the bill nicely; he's been wildly inconsistent as a WR1, but his downfield burst would fit well with what the Falcons need, especially as a second wideout). The ideal candidate -- as I noted in the podcast above -- is Steve Smith of the Panthers, but an intra-division trade seems like a pretty unlikely outcome.

2. Defensive End/D-line depth 
Defensively, the Falcons performed well in 2010, ranking in the top five in terms of points allowed and right about the middle of the NFL in terms of yards per game allowed. But they weren't anywhere close to the top in terms of sacks, ranking 20th with 31, 13 of which came from the aging John Abraham. Given the incredible defensive line depth in the 2011 NFL Draft class, it's almost likely that we see the Falcons address their pass-rushing needs with their first round pick in April. 

3. Running Back
Michael Turner has been a fantastic find for the Birds since they signed him as a free agent (especially considering people thought they'd overpaid), and Jason Snelling is a pretty good backup insofar as those things go. But at some point, Atlanta's going to need to find some additional running back depth in order to stay ahead of the curve and not find themselves empty-handed if Turner slows under the weight of excessive carries. They could also use a change-of-pace, third-down back, and the second round is a decent spot for them to address that need.

Atlanta's going to compete with the Saints -- and perhaps the Buccaneers?? -- for the division title in 2011, and it's hard to fathom a situation where they're not the favorites to win the NFC South this year. That's simply based on the fact that they return the entire nucleus of a team that showed it knows how to play a grind-it-out style of football and win close games.

And there's no question that this is a team for whom "winning the Super Bowl" isn't just a silly goal to have simply because football hasn't been played and "everyone's got the same record right now." The only issue for Atlanta, in order to take the next step, it seems is finding some explosiveness that the 2010 rendition of the Falcons lacked. Otherwise, building on the base they've already got means we'll be saying similar things about this team for years to come.

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Posted on: March 9, 2011 10:15 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 10:17 pm

Has Ochocinco 'lost his nerve and work ethic'?

Posted by Will Brinson

A lot of mock drafts -- including those of Rob Rang and Chad Reuter here on this very site -- have A.J. Green, the seventh-overall prospect on our board, going to the Bengals with the fourth overall pick.

While Green's talent certainly elevates Cincinnati's interest, so does the likelihood that they're ready to move on from the Chad Ochocinco/Terrell Owens era. Firming that theory up a report Wednesday from CSN New England's Tom Curran on that very subject.

Curran reports, via a "well-informed source," that Ocho "has lost his nerve and work ethic."

Burn. This probably means that Curran can expect an offer to rumble at some point from Ochocinco. Oh, and that the Patriots aren't interested in inking Chad, which was actually the point of the whole thing in the first place.

El Ocho and the Bengals

One interesting trade Curran does mention, though, is getting Steve Smith from the Panthers for a third-round pick.

I'd actually argue that the Panthers need to get a touch more than that, particularly because the Patriots currently hold the Panthers' second-rounder (the first pick in that round), and, unless Carolina's front office is completely devoid of human emotion, they'd probably like to recoup close to as much as they gave to New England last year so they could draft Armanti Edwards. Who, um, hasn't quite panned out like Smith.

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 7:24 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 7:25 pm

Hot Routes 3.6.11: Are the Pats short-sighted?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe thinks the Patriots are a bit short-sighted in the way they chose not to renegotiate a player’s contract until the final year of the old deal. He writes the club’s insistence on conducting business this way is one reason why the Patriots and All-Pro G Logan Mankins haven’t been on great terms lately. Bedard also points out that Mankins’ representation also hasn’t helped matters either.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 4:18 pm

Steve Smith expects new deal from Giants

Posted by Will Brinson

Steve Smith was on his way to really establishing himself as one of the NFL's elite receivers in 2010 when a freak pectoral injury in practice followed by a knee injury that required microfracture surgery derailed his season.

Smith got a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent, but, clearly, that's not the long-term security he's looking for from the Giants. But he thinks, at least once things are sorted out, they'll still take care of him.

"I know it's different now, I know it will be a little more difficult now depending on how I come back from this injury, how I look," Smith said per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. "I think the Giants are going to reward me with a contract this year. They told me that."

Smith did admit there was some potential confusion as to how things would play out, especially with the uncertainty of the labor situation.

"I think once the labor deal is done it will clear itself up more, but I really don't know," Smith said. "I'm not putting pressure on myself. I'm not sitting at home worrying about it either. I'm living my life."

2011 will be Smith's fifth year in the league, and if the Giants told him he'll get a contract, well, he'll probably get a contract. The issue is how healthy he is when it comes time to talk turkey.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 11, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 2:35 pm

Rivera says Steve Smith part of plans 'right now'

Posted by Will Brinson

As it turns out, Carolina considered trading Steve Smith during the 2010 season. This isn't particularly shocking given the state of Carolina's team last year, but it begs the question, "What happens with Smith going forward?"

New coach Ron Rivera spoke to the Charlotte Observer's Joe Pearson on Smith's status and the plans for the wide receiver under the new regime (emphasis mine).

"We have to go through the process and see how things fit and where he sees it. It's a touchy thing," Rivera said. “We're going to have to wait until everything's cleared up and see where he is.

"But also, we've got to have our minicamp and all that when we get the opportunity and see how he fits with it, and see how it fits him and see if it's what we need and what we want, and we'll go from there. As far as I'm concerned, he's a part of what we are right now."

That makes sense -- it wouldn't behoove Rivera to come out and say that the Panthers were looking to move Smith right away. And maybe they're not trying to anyway.

It does seem logical that the Panthers, unless they plan on contending in a tough, tough NFC South in 2011, would consider moving Smith, though.

There are all sort of teams out there interested in beefing up their receiving corps, and while Smith's 2010 was entirely forgettable, he's still got a few good years ahead of him, particularly given his ability to break big plays.

Putting him in the right system, next to a big, strong wideout with a decent quarterback would probably equate to immediate rejuvenation of his career.

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Posted on: February 10, 2011 9:17 pm

Would the Panthers trade Steve Smith?

Posted by Andy Benoit

Anyone could have guessed that Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was frustrated in 2010. The Panthers were aS. Smith (US Presswire)wful. The passing game was awful plus one. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen struggled mightily. And before Clausen, youngster Matt Moore had been the MVP for just about every Panthers opponent on the season. (Turnovers became a form of art for Moore.)

But the normally volatile Smith kept his cool…for the most part (he took a potshot here or there at Clausen). Behind the scenes, however, Smith politely made his displeasure known.

Steve Reed of CarolinaGrowl.com (and the Panthers Rapid Reporter for CBSSports.com) says that during the season Smith discussed a trade with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. What’s not known is the tone of that discussion. To Smith’s credit, he did not make any of this known publicly.

Would the Panthers consider moving the 32-year-old star? GM Marty Hurney would not discuss that scenario, but he did acknowledge Smith’s frustration.

“I think Steve is probably not unlike everybody in the building -- he was not happy with 2-14,” Hurney said. “Different people handle frustrations in different ways, but I think it comes down to frustration. I think it comes down to in the coming months we have to make the right decisions that will instill that confidence in the people outside the building and inside the building. It’s all part of a process.”

Hurney characterizes Smith as “an impact player” and still wants him to be part of the organization. Smith’s production has declined the past two seasons, but that’s a product of poor quarterback play, not eroding skills.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: January 2, 2011 12:22 pm

Brett Favre out for Vikings, leads NFC Inactives

Posted by Will Brinson

Brett Favre is officially out for the Vikings' regular season finale, meaning he's likely played his last game in the NFL, barring an unexpected retirement (which would not be that unexpected I suppose).

In Favre's place, Joe Webb, who looked good last week, will start for the Vikings.

Now, some NFC actives you might want to know about: Chris Ivory, RB, Saints; Robert Meachem, WR, Saints; Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers; Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings;


Steve Smith, WR, Panthers -- Jimmy Clausen's best weapon is out, which doesn't mean much for Carolina, but is important for Clausen trying to make a case for being a starting candidate next year.

Marques Colston, WR, Saints -- This may not be as big a deal if the Falcons stomp the Panthers as expected.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings -- This shouldn't make Webb's job any easier.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants -- As expected.

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Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:14 am
Edited on: December 15, 2010 10:38 am

Giants WR Smith to undergo season-ending surgery

Posted by Will Brinson

Update (10:35): Smith is donecakes, as Giants' PR man Pat Hanlon announced Tuesday that the wide receiver was examined by team physician Russell Warren and then had an MRI on his left knee that revealed an articular cartilage tear that will require season-ending surgery.

Steve Smith finally returned to the Giants' lineup Monday after a month-long absence with a partially torn pectoral muscle. The Giants rolled over the Minnesota (although Smith only caught one ball), but the victory might have been costly, as Smith will reportedly miss the remainder of the 2010 season with a knee injury.

The New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano reports Wednesday morning via sources that Smith suffered a torn meniscus in his knee.

"This does not look good for him at all," one of the sources said.

Vacchiano's source did not, however, "know the severity" of the tear, so it's possible that Smith won't miss the rest of the season.

Indeed, the Giants have yet to mention anything regarding an injury to Smith's knee -- he supposedly hurt his hip early in the fourth quarter on his only catch of the game, but given the shroud of overcoverage that Brett Favre induced onto that game, it's no surprise that some injury news could sneak out. 

According to Vacchiano, when Smith was taken for an MRI on his hip Monday, the medical staff discovered the knee injury, although the Giants have yet to announce it.

What happens to Smith then, provided this report is true? Well, the Giants would either have to place him on injured reserve, ending his season, or hope that he can heal in time for one of their three remaining regular season games (and hopefully, the first round of the playoffs).

That's tricky, though, because if Smith doesn't make it back in time, he takes up a roster space and damages the Giants' depth.

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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