As noted here before, the Cleveland Browns seem reserved to the fact that they’ll have to move forward with their current stable of wide receivers. They added just one player to the corps this offseason, and they waited until the third day of the draft to do so. Team president Mike Holmgren has admitted that the team would have loved to have added Baylor wide out Kendall Wright through the draft, but Wright was gone by the time the Browns went on the clock with the 22nd pick. The Browns also revealed interest in free agents Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, only to be outbid by the Washington Redskins. So now it’s half-way through May, and Cleveland is in “Love the One You’re With” mode. So who do they have on their current roster, and who can fans expect to have an impact on the offense?… Continue reading
Mark Sanchez days in New York are numbered. From the moment the Jets made the curious decision to surrender a couple of Day Three draft picks to Denver in exchange for Tim Tebow, Sanchez must have started to feel that way. Tebow is wildly popular, with a cultish following who not only love to watch him play his (ahem) unique brand of quarterback, but also hang on his every word. The Jets know he “moves the needle”. Days after the trade went down, they had Tebow hold an introductory press conference – a duty rarely required of a “backup” quarterback. Soon after that, Tebow gave an Easter Sunday sermon to a crowd of over 15,000 onlookers where ironically-named pastor Joe Champion compared him to the Pope. There is simply no denying the fact that it won’t take long for Tebow’s rabid, and highly vocal, fanbase to demand to see their hero on the field.
The Jets have said they brought Tebow on board to be the backup for Sanchez. They’ll supposedly devise a special “package” of plays for Tebow, both on offense and special teams. He will serve as a personal protector on some punts. Mark Sanchez WILL remain the starter. Rex Ryan has insisted as much, and that’s fine. And believable to a point. Barring injury, it would be a startling upset if Tebow started the season opener. But whether intentional or not, the wheels have been in motion since the day Tebow arrived for him to eventually replace Sanchez in the huddle. The presser. The eager followers. The never-ending publicity. The Jets’ brass, the coaches, the players? They have to know it’s only a matter of time. It’s already starting to show.
Just days ago, Jets QB coach Matt Cavanaugh praised Tebow for his work ethic and mechanics (?!?!?). Guard Matt Slausen gushed that Tebow is “fun to watch in the weightroom”. And the team’s best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, praised Tebow’s leadership, even when eating lunch. It’s already gotten this far, and it’s not even June yet. How is Sanchez, who quarterbacked while the Jets went to two consecutive AFC Championship games, supposed to do his job as the starter when his backup is such a titanic focus of attention?
And to be honest, what makes Tebow’s inevitable takeover even more obvious is the fact that Sanchez is easy to replace. Sure, he’s had a couple of clutch playoff performances himself, but his play seems to have plateaued. The Jets missed the postseason last year as Sanchez was picked off seven times during a season-ending three game losing streak. While he’s still just 25 years old, the fans are already impatient with him. And with another lackluster season meaning probable unemployment, Ryan won’t have the luxury of patience either. With Tebow in his back pocket ready to provide spark (or luck) it will prove too tempting to make a switch if the Jets don’t get off to a roaring start. The writing is on the wall. Tebow is too popular and the Jets coaching staff and front office are desperate to win now. Unless Sanchez makes major strides, the end to his Jets career is only a matter of time.
Despite the April 2009 trade that brought them strong armed quarterback, Jay Cutler in exchange for Kyle Orton and a couple of first round draft choices, the Chicago Bears have never been able to put together the type of passing offense that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. In 2008 with Denver, in just his third NFL season, Cutler passed for over 4500 yards. He seemed to be on his way to superstardom, and the price the Bears paid to obtain him certainly suggested they believed that was the case. Yet in the three seasons since the trade, Chicago has finished 17th, 28th and 26th in the league in passing yards. By comparison, the Bears finished 21st in the league in 2008, with Orton starting 15 games under center. Part of the reason for the low passing output in 2011 was a thumb injury that knocked Cutler out for six games. But in the two years prior to that, Cutler had started 31 out of 32 possible regular season games. The glaring reason for Chicago’s passing struggles has never been Cutler or his health, but rather a lack of reliable receiving threats to keep defenses honest…
When Mr. Irrelevant 2012, quarterback Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois, was announced last Saturday evening, pundits immediately started formulating their draft grades, trumpeting the “winners” and disparaging the “losers.” I certainly have my opinions. The Bengals, for example, appeared to blow it out of the water, routinely drafting players two rounds later than I had ranked them. They seemed to accumulate steal after steal all weekend, and were almost universally praised. They looked like the champs of the draft, and their fans are right to be anxiously awaiting the start of the 2012 season. Draft grades are all well and good. I don’t do them (though if I did this full time, I might) but I read them. I agree with some, disagree with others, and get annoyed when people complain about them or use the old cliché that “you can’t really grade a draft for three years.” (Thanks, genius. No sh*t.) The point isn’t the grade, it’s that someone has an opinion and is willing to share it. One thing I have learned over the past couple of years, when I’ve produced my own rankings, is that no matter how much I enjoy watching games, cut-ups – and in rare occasions, tape – I can’t be absolutely certain how any of these draftees will turn out. Nobody can. However, we can examine a given team’s selections and get inside the heads of the people doing the choosing. Opinions on the Cleveland Browns’ draft were mixed. Praised by some, lambasted by others. Many fans wondered what the team brass was thinking. Allow me an attempt at answering that question. I’ve had a few days to digest the goings on of the past weekend, and here’s what I learned: Continue reading
The Bengals never usually seem to amount to much on the field, but they always make for a fun conversation. Last year’s team was a comedy routine worthy of NBC’s Thursday night line-up. While resident clowns, Ochocinco and T.O. have been kicked to the curb, the Bengals still employ their share of characters. CB Pacman Jones still occupies a spot on the Physically Unable to Perform list. This is a man who got into a fight, presumably while wearing a neck brace. Then there is RB Cedric Benson, who just got out of the joint for beating up his…uh, roommate? Former roommate? Something like that. Anyway, my point is, just because the Ochos are gone, doesn’t mean we all can still have some fun with the Bengals this year… Continue reading
Ah, the Cleveland Browns. As with every Cleveland team, the hope springs eternal during the offseason. Fans get their hopes up for months leading up to games, only to face shattered dreams later down the road (though not always much later, sometimes by halftime of the first game). Then, the cycle starts over as playoff aspirations fade into talk about the next offseason’s draft. This year sets up a little differently than the last two. For one, the schedule is seemingly friendly at the front end. And for two, the team appears to have a competent front office for the first time in years. If some of the young players Cleveland has acquired since Mike Holmgren became the czar of football can live up to their promise (especially Colt McCoy), the Browns could actually enter a brutal home stretch with a winning record. That means that the doomsday Browns fans may have to wait until December to start talking about who the team will take with their two 1st round selections in the 2012 Draft. Then again, if they are down at halftime to the Bengals today, that talk might start up right off the bat… Continue reading
The Baltimore Ravens are a team that is an intriguing mix of players who are still coming into their own (Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Michael Oher) and aging veterans looking for one more shot at a Super Bowl ring (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed). For the past couple of years, they seem to be conservative on offense; emphasizing power running while trying to minimize the chances of Joe Flacco making a mistake. This is an efficient and winning strategy for them during the regular season, but it has not translated to playoff success. At some point this team will need to loosen the reins on its young QB, and see if he can actually take them to the next level…. Continue reading