Tag:Seattle Seahawks
Posted on: September 21, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:31 pm
  •  
 

Film Room: Cowboys vs. Redskins preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



One of the most storied rivalries in pro football is renewed Monday night when the Cowboys welcome the Redskins to Big D for their home opener. Mike Shanahan’s team is a surprising 2-0. The Cowboys, after two close games, are 1-1, ensuring their performance on Monday’s national stage will spark an overreaction from Football America (at 2-1, people will ask if the Cowboys are legit Super Bowl contenders; at 1-2 they’ll ask if Jason Garrett is right for the job).

1. Perpetually Maligned Quarterbacks
Are any other two quarterbacks, fair or unfair, viewed as blunder-prone as Tony Romo and Rex Grossman? If Grossman were a star, he’d be Romo. If Romo were a bum, he’d be Grossman. Their performances this season have been overanalyzed in contrasting extremes.

Everyone took part in National Dump on Romo Week (Sept. 12-18) and pilloried the sixth-year starter for being a “choke artist”. While Romo has made his share of mistakes in crunch time, in reality, prior to the interception he gifted Darrelle Revis in Week 1, the only late-game mistake that 90 percent of fans could instantly identify with Romo was his botched field goal hold in the January ’07 playoff loss at Seattle (a play that had nothing to do with his quarterbacking ability).

Reputations rarely form by accident, though. The truth is, Romo is mistake prone.

He’s mistake prone because he has trouble deciphering defenses before the snap, and he tends to take aggressive action on faulty hunches. This is problematic, especially if Dallas has Super Bowl aspirations. That said, at the end of the day, Romo still has respectable playmaking talent. Hence his 345-yard performance with a fractured rib and punctured lung at San Francisco.

Grossman is on the other end of the spectrum. He’s not a naturally talented playmaker. But he can be functional when properly used. His two performances this season have received mostly positive reviews. He threw for 305 yards against the Giants and 291 against the Cardinals. But he was somewhat inaccurate in Week 1 and benefited from several terrific catches by Redskins receivers.

He also struggled in the face of pocket pressure (fortunately he had just one turnover from it, which didn’t prove to be costly). Grossman came back to earth a bit against Arizona and, given his track record and limited role in Washington’s offense (his reads are defined, his audible powers are minimal), he’ll likely level off over the coming months.


2. Washington’s ground game
The Redskins have shown a commitment to running the ball these first two weeks. After posting lackluster numbers against New York, Tim Hightower was sharp versus Arizona, registering 96 yards on 20 attempts. Hightower is a much better fit for Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme than he was in Ken Whisenhunt’s pounding approach.

Reason being, Hightower does not have great burst when coming from a standstill, but he has proven to be an effective momentum runner.

A zone-blocking scheme allows for a one-cut downhill run, but as the illustration below shows, the nature of the sliding blocks allows a runner to take a few extra steps in the backfield, which a runner like Hightower needs in order to build momentum before breaking through the line of scrimmage.



Hightower – as well as his backup, fourth-round rookie Roy Helu, who runs with good tempo and changes direction fairly well – benefitted from stellar offensive line play last week. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams were particularly impressive landing blocks on the move and taking angles that created natural running lanes.

3. Tight ends significant
Washington’s offense makes great use of the tight end, in large part because a tight end crossing pattern is a natural outlet off the rollouts and bootlegs that Shanahan’s scheme uses frequently.

While Chris Cooley has had a modicum impact coming off a knee injury, fourth-year pro Fred Davis has emerged as a fluid target in an elevated role. Davis makes good adjustments to the ball and has the athleticism to be effective in space.
 
For the Cowboys, Jason Witten becomes all the more significant with Miles Austin (hamstring) out and Dez Bryant’s (quad) status in question. Witten is the ultimate safety valve. Generally the beneficiary of mismatches created by others outside, he should be able to create a few of his own mismatches inside, as Redskins linebacker London Fletcher tends to struggle covering elite tight ends.
Week 3 NFL Preview

4. The outside ‘backers
DeMarcus Ware has registered more sacks than anyone in pro football over the past five years, and he appears to be even more potent in Rob Ryan’s scheme (Ryan, like Wade Phillips, has aligned Ware primarily on the weak side of the formation, where one-on-one matchups are easier to come by). Opposite Ware, Anthony Spencer (in a contract year) is a stout playside run defender.

But the Cowboys may soon have the second best outside linebacking corps in the NFC East. Brian Orakpo has made two Pro Bowls his first two seasons and has superb strength to compliment his edge speed.

Opposite him, first-round rookie Ryan Kerrigan has flashed monstrous potential through two games. Kerrigan, a high-motored Big Ten player who drew predictable comparisons to Aaron Kampman coming out, has the swiftness to chase plays as a backside run defender and the body control to outmaneuver blockers in the phone booth. He’s a much, much better athlete than many had guessed.

5. Something to keep an eye on ...
The Redskins are a fairly blitz-heavy team, but those blitzes have usually involved safeties. They caught the Cardinals off-guard last week by blitzing their inside linebackers aggressively. Fletcher in particular blitzed with great timing and downhill speed.

His blitzes were done not necessarily in an effort to get sacks, but to make Kevin Kolb move before throwing. Romo is better throwing off movement than Kolb, so perhaps Jim Haslett won’t use this tactic as much in Week 3.

But with the Cowboys having a young offensive line and depleted receiving corps, the reward could be greater than the risk.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
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 18, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Report: Sidney Rice has torn labrum

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED (4:44 p.m. ET): This is what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had to say about the report of Sidney Rice's torn labrum:

"I don't know what you are talking about as far as this report."

So, there's that.

----------

Sidney Rice certainly isn’t going to change people’s minds who think that he’s brittle, perhaps giving vindication to the Vikings who didn’t feel like giving him a long-term deal was the best idea.

Unfortunately for Seattle, the Seahawks did sign Rice -- who missed most of last season with a hip injury -- to a five-year deal worth $41 million. And all they’ve gotten so far is a receiver who’s been inactive for the first two games of the season.

Now comes the news from Jay Glazer, reporting on Fox NFL Sunday, that Rice has a torn labrum in his shoulder and that he could have to undergo surgery. But Glazer said that Rice will try to work through and rehab the injury without having the surgery.

Either way, it’s bad news for Rice and the Seahawks, and we probably shouldn’t count on seeing him on the field anytime soon.

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: August 31, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Tracking Tebow: Preseason, Week 3 -- Seahawks



Posted by Ryan Wilson

That's right, we're tracking Tebow's performance throughout the preseason because, well, like a slow-motion train wreck we can't look away. And who knows, maybe this experiment doesn't derail and it has a happy ending. Wait, what's that? You don't care about Tebow? Then what are you doing here?

Tim Tebow's fate as an NFL quarterback changes weekly. In July, he was the Broncos' franchise QB only to see those plans scrapped when Kyle Orton wasn't traded to the Dolphins. Then Tebow went from the guy behind the guy, to the guy behind Brady Quinn, to the fourth-best quarterback on the roster. And a few days later, he returned to the No. 2 gig. More than that, the organization not only has no plans to trade or release Tebow, he appears to be in their long-term plans.

This all happened over a few weeks and we've still got another preseason game to play before we get to the regular season.

Anyway, we finally got a chance to watch Tebow's Week 3 preseason performance against the Seahawks. Head coach John Fox said going into the game that Tebow had only thrown nine preseason passes so he wanted to give the 2010 first-rounder more playing time. Which is exactly what he got versus Seattle. He completed 6 of 11 throws for 93 yards and rushed four times for 25 yards in just over a quarter of work. He was also under center for the final drive that led to a game-winning 51-yard field goal.

Yes, it's another edition of the Tebow Tracker, where we chart every one of his preseason snaps, the result, and what it all means for him and the Broncos in 2011. This installment is slightly more upbeat than the gloom and doom that followed his 1-of-2 for 10-yards effort against the Bills last week. 

If nothing else, it's a reminder that NFL fortunes can change in a flash, and when you're talking about Tebow, sometimes faster than that. Alright, let's get to it...


                                                   Play by Play



Preseason, Week 3: Seattle Seahawks
Situation Down/Distance Result
Comment
1st series, 5:40 left in 3rd qtr. 1st & 10, DEN 24 Tebow handoff to L. Ball to DEN 30 for 6 yards. (Note: you can see the entire play-by-play log here.)
  2nd & 4, DEN 30 Tebow pass short left to J.Thomas to 50 for 20 yards. Play-action pass where Tebow avoids a pass-rusher, rolls left and hits Thomas in the numbers with a strike. Solid throw.
  1st & 10, 50 Tebow handoff to Ball around the right end pushed OB at SEA 43 for 7 yards. There's something to be said for a good running game to help out a young QB.
  2nd & 3, SEA 43 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass incomplete short right to B.Davis. Another play-action, Tebow held the ball too long in the pocket and was leveled as he let the ball go. Possible PI, but the ball needs to get out quicker either way.
  3rd & 3, SEA 43 (From the shotgun) Tebow sacked at SEA 47 for -4 yards (M.Smith). FUMBLES (M.Smith), touched at SEA 47, recovered by DEN-D.Anderson at DEN 48. D.Anderson to DEN 48 for no gain. Jail-break blitz forced Tebow to tuck and run immediately. Not a problem except for the part where he fumbled trying to get yards that weren't there.
  4th & 12, DEN 48 PUNT  
 2nd series, 14:16 left in 4th qtr. 1st & 10, DEN 20 Tebow handoff to Ball left tackle to DEN 29 for 9 yards  
  2nd & 1, DEN 29 Tebow handoff to Ball up the middle to DEN 41 for 12 yards   
  1st & 10, DEN 41 Tebow handoff to J.Johnson left guard to DEN 45 for 4 yards. We'll say it again: running games are a young QB's best friend.
  2nd & 6, DEN 45 Tebow pass deep right to J.Johnson pushed OB at SEA 32 for 23 yards. Another play-action pass where Tebow shakes off a rusher, rolls left and shows nice touch on a pass to a wide open Johnson.
  1st & 10, SEA 32 Tebow scrambles left end ran OB at SEA 30 for 2 yards. Guh. Busted play in the backfield. Upside: he got 2 yards.
  2nd & 8, SEA 30 J.Johnson right end to SEA 25 for 5 yards (B.Maxwell). PENALTY on SEA-R.Sherman, Illegal Use of Hands, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 25.  
  1st & 10, SEA 20 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass incomplete short right to L.Ball. Unlucky. Three-step drop, unblocked rusher coming from the left and Tebow throws a strike to his right ... that is promptly dropped.
  2nd & 10, SEA 20 (From the shotgun) PENALTY on DEN-T.Tebow, Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 20 - No Play. Yeah, that can't happen.
  2nd & 15, SEA 25 Tebow sacked at SEA 28 for -3 yards. And neither can that. Not sure who's at fault but Tebow took a half-step drop, looked confused and then got dropped.
  3rd & 18, SEA 28 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass short left to M.Willis to SEA 22 for 6 yards. Tebow has a pocket but tucks and runs anyway (which is common with young QBs) and completes a pass well short of the sticks near the sidelines.
  4th & 12, SEA 22 FIELD GOAL GOOD   
 3rd series, 8:59 left in 4th qtr. 1st & 10, DEN 20 Tebow handoff to Ball around right end pushed OB at DEN 21 for 1 yard.   
  2nd & 9, DEN 21 Tebow pass incomplete short left to D.Rosario. The RB misses a block and Tebow is flushed left. He makes a poor throw to an open Rosario. These are the passes he has to complete.
  3rd & 9, DEN 21 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass short right to M.Willis pushed ob at DEN 31 for 10 yards. Great protection, he stands tall in the pocket and delivers a strike to the sidelines.
  1st & 10, DEN 31 Tebow handoff to Johnson left end to DEN 32 for 1 yard.   
  2nd & 9, DEN 32 Tebow pass incomplete deep right to B.Davis. Another play-action, pass slightly underthrown and a step out of bounds. If you're going to miss that's the place to do it.
  3rd & 9, DEN 32 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass short left to M.Willis to DEN 40 for 8 yards. Denver challenged the runner was down by contact ruling, and the play was Upheld. Three-step drop, ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage but still has enough on it to get to Willis who's just short of the sticks.
  4th & 1, DEN 40 PUNT   
 4th series, 5:15 left in 4th qtr. 1st & 10, DEN 22 Tebow handoff to Ball up the middle to DEN 24 for 2 yards.   
  2nd & 8, DEN 24 Tebow sacked at DEN 19 for -5 yards  Oh my. Good pocket, Tebow holds the ball too long, avoids the first wave of rushers before eventually going down. Has to get the ball out quicker.
  3rd & 13, DEN 19 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass incomplete short left to E.Riley. Tebow hit as he throws (off his back foot). A good throw would've been good for a first down.
  4th & 13, DEN 19 PUNT   
5th series, 1:12 left in 4th qtr.  1st & 10, DEN 23 (From the shotgun) Tebow scrambles left tackle ran OB at DEN 42 for 19 yards. Good protection but Tebow sees a running lane and takes off. 
  1st & 10, DEN 42 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass short left to L.Ball to SEA 32 for 26 yards. Nice play call: a screen pass that any QB should be able to complete every time its called.
  1st & 10, SEA 32 (From the shotgun) Tebow FUMBLES (Aborted) at SEA 37, and recovers at SEA 37. T.Tebow to SEA 37 for no gain. Absolutely can't happen given the circumstances. The snap hit Tebow right in the hands.
  2nd & 15, SEA 37 (From the shotgun) Tebow right end to SEA 33 for 4 yards. Designed draw play Tebow made popular at Florida.
  3rd & 11, SEA 33 FIELD GOAL GOOD AS TIME EXPIRES   


                                   Unintentionally Awkward Headlines



DENVER, CO - AUGUST 27: Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball during the pre season game against the Seattle Seahawks at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 27, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)


                                                   Action Shots



After Tebow spent much of the Bills game standing around wondering what had become of his NFL career, we have some actual action shots this week.. Against the Seahawks it was another inconsistent performance, but that's what you expect from a second-year quarterback. We're not sure if he's showing progress or still trying to find his way in the NFL. Given that he'd only completed nine passes this preseason, we tend to think it's the latter. That said, the organization appears to have faith in Tebow, something that wasn't clear a week ago. 


Please join us next week for another installment of "Tracking Tebow." You know you want to.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 8:59 am
 

Williams showed Saints Marshawn TD for motivation

Posted by Will Brinson

In the opening round of last season's playoffs, the Saints traveled out west to play the Seahawks in the Wild-Card round. The results were anything but predictable, as Seattle -- double-digit dogs at home in the playoffs and a 7-9 division winner -- shocked New Orleans right out of contention for a Super Bowl repeat.

The most memorable moment of the game? Marshawn Lynch rumbling to the end zone for an earth-shaking (literally!) touchdown.

Clip of Beast Mode's run, which was as embarrassing for the Saints defenders as it was awesome for Lynch and the Seahawks, is now serving as motivational fodder for Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as New Orleans prepares for the season.

"It was classic Gregg Williams," cornerback Tracy Porter told Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports. "He wanted to give us that motivation coming into this year. He didn't want us to come into the season not knowing we had a bad taste in our mouth. He showed that [play], and it definitely put us on edge.

"Now it's time for payback."

Needless to say, the clip of Lynch's run isn't too popular around the Saints training camp -- rookie defensive end Cameron Jordan said that "around here, it's blasphemy" to talk about the run. (Or, more accurately, how he told his Twitter followers to vote for the fellow former California star's run during an awards show.)

And it's unlikely that anyone who played for the Saints in 2010 will ever like to see the highlight of Lynch plowing through an entire defense en route to the end zone.

But if the Saints defense can rebound to their 2009 level as a result of Williams' motivational ploy, it'll probably be a little easier to stomach.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 10:52 pm
 

Why Jennings is an important piece for Bengals

K. Jennings was traded from Seattle to Cincinnati (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

After losing Johnathan Joseph to Houston in free agency and with Adam Jones battling injuries and potentially about to miss at least the first six games of the season, the Bengals were in need of some help in their secondary.

That’s why Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson calls it a “no brainer” that Cincinnati would trade defensive tackle Clinton McDonald to the Seahawks for cornerback Kelly Jennings. Automatically, Jennings -- a former first-round draft pick -- becomes Leon Hall’s tandem partner as long as Jones isn’t playing.

As Rapid Reporter Paul Dehner Jr., points out, the deal also might be bad news for Brandon Ghee -- who now finds himself squarely up against the 53-man roster bubble, even though he was a 2010 third-round pick. This is what Zimmer had to say about Ghee, who has not played in any preseason games this year, earlier today: “We've got to play him a lot this week and see where he's at. Athletically, we have seen that. It’s about finishing plays and making plays."

It’s the second trade in eight days the Bengals have made to help Cincinnati improve the secondary: already, the Bengals gave up a seventh-round pick in 2013 for former 49ers safety Taylor Mays.

Obviously, Cincinnati has no problem swapping personnel with other NFL teams. And after the Jennings swap, Zimmer intimated the Bengals might not be done making trades. Somewhere in southern California, Carson Palmer gnashes his teeth.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: August 28, 2011 10:29 pm
 

Terrelle Pryor to play QB in final preseason game

Posted by Will Brinson

It feels like we've written about Terrelle Pryor a million times since he decided to bolt Ohio State and head to the NFL. (The actual answer is 62. So there's that.)

Perhaps that's because of his up-and-down status for the NFL's supplemental draft. Or perhaps that's because he's such a talented player who presents tons of upside but remains an enigma, particularly with respect to what position he'll play as a professional.

Whatever, for those that want to see Pryor as a quarterback, you're in luck -- Raiders head coach Hue Jackson told Michelle Tafoya of NBC on Sunday night that Pryor, who didn't play in the third preseason game against New Orleans, will begin his career with Oakland as a quarterback.

"We're gonna start there first and see where we go," Jackson said.

Pryor, who recently signed a four-year deal with Oakland, did some warm-ups under center and was briefly in the silver-and-black uniform and on the sidelines during Sunday's game, but eventually left.

Tafoya also reported that Pryor would be available for the Raiders final preseason game against the Seahawks.

This makes a lot of sense, actually, because you don't see starters get a ton of time during the final exhibition affair, and Pryor will be missing the first five games of the regular season; getting him out there and giving him some run under center won't put anything at risk and it'll at least the Raiders see what Pryor can do in live NFL action.

And since this is the Raiders we're talking about, it wouldn't be shocking to see them give Pryor plenty of run as a quarterback if he looks even remotely competent during the final week of the preseason.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com