Archive for the ‘Preview’ Category

After Vick, Everyone Drafts a New Contract

Posted: August 31, 2011 by admin54321 in News, Preview

Apparently when Vick gets a new contract, everyone else gets one too.

Every since Vick signed his deal, the following has happened:

49ers running back Frank Gore, who was holding out for a new contract and also rumored to be traded away, just signed a three-year extension with his team. The deal is worth $21 million with $13.5 of it guaranteed. That should ease the minds of many 49ers fans as they will have their star running back for the season opener.

Meanwhile, some optimism has arisen in Tennessee where Chris Johnson and the Titans. It is expected that the two sides will agree to a deal this weekend and that CJ2K will get paid. Johnson’s holdout is easily the biggest in the NFL right now. The Titans don’t have much to look forward to this season except for Chris Johnson.

And finally, Drew Brees has begun discussions with Saints on an extension to his contract. The contract will likely keep Brees on the Saints (and keep the Saints contenders for the Super Bowl) for a long time. Considering the Saints are one of the teams that may win the NFC this year, I would say that Brees will get a nice big contract just like Peyton and Vick have.

The good thing about Drew Brees is that I highly doubt he will ever hold out or even complain about a contract. He’ll go out on the field and prove every game that he deserves one. Some players could learn a thing or two from him.

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NFC East Preview

Posted: August 24, 2011 by Humza Ghori in Features, Preseason, Preview


Philadelphia Eagles

From conVICKt to playoff contenders the Eagles made Michael Vick the starting QB last year and never looked back. Their season ended when they fell short to the eventual superbowl champs (Greenbay Packers) in the wildcard round of the playoffs. Now, with the new additions of CB Nnamdi Asmougha, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, WR Steve Smith, TE Donald Lee, and DT Cullen Jenkins the Eagles quickly became the superpowers of the NFC East and possibly the NFC. However every Eagles’ fan knows to hold their breath as soon as the playoffs come because of their inability to show up in the offseason. So what is going to be the status of the “Dream Team” this season? Their schedule is ranked as the 17th hardest in the league with them having to play the AFC East and the NFC West (that’s probably why it seems so favorable). They are easily the best team in their division (regardless of whatever Sexy Rexy says). However with the regular season almost looking like a gift are the stars alined for the Eagles this year? We have already seen the “Dream Team” assemble in two preseason match ups and in the second week agains the Pittsburgh Steelers and the team looked out of sync and sloppy. These problems are nothing to be to concerned about because there are teams that do terrible in the preseason but ignite a fire when it counts. I will say this though, the Eagles will make the playoffs barring any unforeseen injuries to major players. However, if the fans want to see Eagles football in late January they must and I mean must take advantage of this schedule and lock down a first round bye. They will do that by beating the teams that they are clearly better then: Rams (week 1), 49ers (week 4), and Bills (week 5). Nevertheless, if the Eagles seriously want to get that first round by they will have to win key match ups against the elite such as Falcons (week 2), Bears (week 9), and the most important game of the season Patriots (week 12). If the Eagles can muster up an upset and top these teams they just might be able to get a first round bye. Especially against the Bears and Falcons cause they will be the teams (amongst others) that will compete against the Eagles for that first round bye. The past couple of season the Eagles have came close to a first round bye and missed it because of a late season loss. As long as the they can get the bye the Eagles can definitely make a promising run in the playoffs. If they miss it, they’ll be watching Super Bowl XLVI from home.

New York Giants

The New York Giants haven’t made the playoffs in two seasons. Ever since their 12-4 finish in the 2008 season the Giants have struggled. Last year they finished 10-6 which is a decent record however due to inconsistencies with wins, defense, and the quarterback position they failed to make the playoffs. Eli Manning threw a career high 25 interceptions and has a completion percentage of only of 62.9%. Ever since his superbowl run he has been inconsistent which has been a problem for the Giants organization. They were able to rout the Bears in a 41-13 however they did lose CB Terrell Thomas for the season due to a torn ACL. I’ve always noticed that when making predictions about teams the Giants have been one of the hardest teams to talk about. With a pleasing schedule the G-Men will finish .500 however with the strength of the Eagles and other teams in the NFC they will be in a heavy battle for and NFC wild card spot. When comparing them to their division they are easily the second best team there, however in the NFC they fall a tremendous amount. Each year it seems to be a new problem for them, and they always seem to be internal problems as well. The team is decent however their defense and offensive hasn’t been the same since 2007 and I’m predicting just another average year by the G-Men.

Dallas Cowboys

How ’bout them cowboys!? They finished 6-10 last year after QB Tony Romo went down in week 6 with a broken collarbone. To be fair the Cowboys were a bit of a joke last year, they finally made some good managerial decisions by getting rid of “The Marshmallow” Wade Phillips and replacing him with Jason Garrett. With a new coach and their starting QB healthy again they look to win back the respect they think they deserve. A lot of critics want to attack Tony Romo for their recent failures however the only thing I blame him for is being like porcelain. He has to be one of the weakest QBs in the history of the NFL. He’s a talented QB who has the ability to win it all one day… possibly, but he has to learn to stay healthy. Also, when he is healthy he has to be consistent and take care of the football. In the Cowboys semi magical year (2009) he threw for 26 TDs and only 9 int. I can never forget the last four weeks of that season because Tony Romo was able to play the best football in his entire career. He finally decided to show the NFL that he too deserves an elite status and for that season he was. If Romo stays healthy and takes care of the ball he can actually make the Cowboys a fierce competitor in the NFC East. So why have the Cowboys been struggling? Two words, head coach. Wade Phillips was a good coach and looked like a hero when he led them to their first playoff victory since 1996 in the 2009 season. However after a terrible 1-7 start to the 2010 season it was time for him to go. When Garrett took over the head coaching job he went 5-3 and that was with QB John Kitna behind center. Now with a pro bowl caliber QB and a stand out WR Dez Bryant, Garrett looks to lead the “Boys back in town” with a winning record.

Washington Redskins

I know above I stated that the Cowboys were one of the biggest jokes of last year, but they were no where near as bad as the Washington Redskins last year. Sure they finished with the same record as the cowboys but somewhere in between Albert Haynesworth showing up out of shape for training camp and benching a future hall of famer for Rex Grossman they showed the NFL that they deserve to take the cake for the most ridiculous team of 2010. With McNabb out and “Sexy Rexy” in the Redskins are in a massive recovery mode. I don’t really care what Rex Grossman says but the ‘Skins will not finish on top of the NFC East this year. While a lot of locker room issues have been taken care of (Haynesworth’s trade to the Patriots, and McNabb’s trade to the Vikings) Shanahan’s Redskins still lack a very important necessity: Talent. Their QB competition is a joke, (John who?) They could use a standout wide out or two, however recently they finally acquired a helpful RB name Tim Hightower. Their best looking player is their OLB Brian Orakpo, which I’m not complaining about at all. Starting out by strengthening your defense is the key bringing in some wins. They’re gonna win some games but certainly no where near enough to even make them look like playoff contenders. If the players have enough motivation to actually play a full game to the best of their abilities I think that should be enough of a victory for the ‘Skins this year. If they don’t maybe they will be able to beat out the Bengals for the No. 1 overall pick so they draft college QB Andrew Luck and start building the team around him. Either way I’m gonna have to say the Redskins will probably be another no show for the playoffs this year.

Summary

It looks like the Eagles will win this division. However there is a possibility of them falling apart and if that happens you can look at either the Giants retaking the division for the first time since 2008 or if Romo can stay healthy and play well they also have a good shot of taking the division by surprise. However if the Eagles play like they are suppose to with the talent they got, they will be almost unstoppable in the East. Below are the projected standings and records for each team.

Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)
New York Giants (10-6)
Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
Washington Redskins (5-11)

Image from Kevin Burkett of Flickr

How the Rookie QBs Fared in Preseason Week 1

Posted: August 15, 2011 by admin54321 in Features, Preview

We got to see our first look at the NFL’s newest players as rookies everywhere got their chance to shine in preseason. Let’s take a look at some of the rookie quarterbacks’ performances.

Cam Newton was the number 1 overall pick in the draft and is expected to be the future face of the franchise. He completed 8 of 19 passes for 134 yards against the Giants. He certainly showed promise and made some NFL-caliber throws, but at the same type, many of his passes were erratic and inconsistent. Despite that, there is no doubt in my mind that with a little time, Newton will be a great NFL quarterback.

Jake Locker put out perhaps the best performance of all the rookie quarterbacks in his debut with the Titans. He threw 7 completions in 10 attempts for 89 yards and 1 touchdown. That 1 touchdowns was impressive too. After fumbling a snap, Locker quickly picked it up and evaded pressure and bombed it to the endzone to find his man. That play and a few others showed his skill at avoiding the pass rush.

Blaine Gabbert did not have the best outing as he debuted for the Jaguars. However, in his defense, he had to come out and play against the Patriots first team defense because David Garrard was injured. Gabbert went 9 of 16 for 85 yards. Throughout his play, Gabbert remained focused on the task at hand and handled the situation well. Considering it is the preseason, stats aren’t really important, it’s more about how the rookie plays. Gabbert seemed calm and comfortable, which is what coaches want to see in a quarterback.

Christian Ponder did not play much in his preseason debut for the Vikings. He was put in with just under 8 minutes left in the game. He was sacked three times but went 8 of 13 for 84 yards. For now the rookie is 3rd on the depth chart behind Donovan McNabb and Joe Webb but head coach Leslie Frasier said that Ponder would get to practice with the second team offense this week.

Andy Dalton did not have a good start to the game. On his very first play, Dalton threw an interception after being pressured. Afterwards though, he did go 11 of 15 for 69 yards. Despite those efforts, the Bengals did not put out a very good outing as they fell to the Lions.

Colin Kaepernick had a decent night. He went 9 for 19 with 117 yards. Perhaps the most important things about this game was that he put on a better showing than Alex Smith, who threw just 2 completions out of 7 attempts for 10 yards. For now Alex Smith is still the 49ers starter but depending on how Kaepernick plays, that could change.

Ryan Mallett was very impressive in his debut for the Patriots. While he doesn’t have any immediate chance at being a starter, you can bet that teams around the league will keep an eye on him for the next couple of years. He put on a show throwing for 164 yards and going 12 for 19. He is in a good situation with the Patriots because he gets to learn from Tom Brady. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops and where he goes when that happens.

Whether your rookie had the worst possible showing or an amazing game, don’t think too far into it. It’s only preseason week 1 and a lot can happen in the next three weeks.

NFC North Preview

Posted: August 12, 2011 by Humza Ghori in Features, Preview

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers won it all last year. MVP Superbowl Aaron Rodgers led the team to a 31-25 victory of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers victory did not come easy they had to fight through a tremendous amount of setbacks due to injuries to their star players such as: Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley, and Ryan Pickett. However their roster was deep enough and their players were able to recover fast enough so they could make the playoffs with a 10-6 record. As the sixth seed the Packers battled their way through the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons, and their divisional rival the Chicago Bears. Now with the confetti from the Superbowl parade cleaned up and their flight to Washington to meet President Obama booked, the Packers look towards this coming season to defend their title. The team has gone through some roster changes as DT Cullen Jenkins signed a 5 year 25 million dollars contract with the Philadelphia Eagles and Linebacker Nick Barnett who signed a 3 year 12 million dollar contract with the Buffalo Bills. However many of the key players who helped win the title last year are still with the team. Aaron Rodgers is even more confident after finally strapping on that championship belt, Greg Jennings is still there to put the team on his back, and they still have their best pass rusher Clay Matthews who also happens to be one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL. The Packers are still a strong team, yet the NFC North is becoming stronger. The Bears with Jay Cutler were able to make it all the way to the NFC Championship, the Lions have one of the scariest defensive lines in all of the NFL, and the Vikings just signed another future Hall of Famer named Donovan McNabb. There is no doubt that the Green Bay Packers are a great football team, but with the new threats emerging in their own division the path to repeating will only be tougher.

Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler’s controversial knee injury was the difference between the Chicago Bears hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy and them losing the NFC Championship by one touchdown. Last season Jay Cutler decided to finally shut his mouth and play some football. It helped when the Bears hired offensive coordinator Mike Martz who was finally able to settle down the disgruntled QB. Once he did, the Bears became a major threat to any team they faced. They finished 11-5 winning the NFC North as well as a first round bye. However their great season ended abruptly when Jay Cutler hurt his knee in the third quarter of the NFC Championship game. With the new season a couple of weeks away the Bears look to take back the NFC North. By the looks of it they still do have a great chance of maintaining their elite status from last year, but its gonna be a challenge. They are going to have to deal with a harder schedule and a tougher division. As the Bears saw last year injuries can make or break a season, if the Packers can stay healthy they can come up with 12 to 13 wins meaning if the Bears have one slip up especially in a divisional game it could cost them a first round bye or maybe even a playoff spot.

Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings had a busy off-season this year as they signed yet another future hall of fame QB named Donovan McNabb. McNabb just came off of his worst season in his career as he was publicly humiliated in Washington. He was supposed to rebuild the franchise and bring them back on top of the NFC East however he soon realized that Washington is where careers go to die. After being traded only for two sixth round draft picks for the 2012 and 2013 draft McNabb seems content in his new town. However lets see what McNabb has around him that makes him so happy. He finally has a consistent RB named Adrian Peterson, a stand out wide receiver named Percy Harvin who struggled with migraines last season however doctors believe they have resolved that issue, and veteran TE Visanthe Shiancoe who can put lay down the block as well as give McNabb a nice target to throw to. Also for once Donovan McNabb has a solid offensive line to protect him, led by veteran G Steven Hutchinson. So he does have some things to be happy about, however the reason he might be losing sleep is not because of the new timezone he is in, but the new division he is in. While the Vikings still have a decent looking team compared to their division there one of the weaker ones. With the second hardest schedule in their division any late mess ups and the Vikings could be sitting at home in January for the second straight year.

Detroit Lions
If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy, the Lions can be a playoff team. They drafted a great quarterback No. 1 in 2009 however since then hasn’t even played a full season as he enters his third year in the NFL. The Lions have been in the rebuilding process ever since their 0-16 season in 2008. The Lions finished in third in their division last year and had the same record as the Vikings at 6-10. Stafford only played 3 games last season but looks determined to start and finish all 16 games. However the Lions have the hardest schedule in their division this year and even if Stafford can play through all the games the Lions will struggle to win them. However with one of the best Defensive Lines in the game right now and talent at the QB, RB, and WR positions on offensive the Lions will give any team this year a good game. They are a hard-working football team that is only getting better. If the Lions want to get to .500 this year they will have to beat a lot of good teams this year, and I’m sure they wouldn’t want it any other way.

Summary
It is looking like the NFC North will be the most competitive division in the NFL this year. With every team capable of making a .500 record these teams will have to play flawlessly if they will want to take the top. There is a really good chance that either the first or second seed for the NFC will come from the North but the question still remains who will it be? The Packers if they can stay healthy can dominate this division, and the Bears showed last year that they can get it done if Cutler stays healthy. Vikings have new life with Donovan McNabb and the Lions looks to keep Stafford healthy so they can finally make serious a push for the playoffs. Below are the projected records and standings for the division

Green Bay Packers 13-3
Chicago Bears 11-5
Minnesota Vikings 10-6
Detroit Lions 8-8

One of the best parts of training camp each and every offseason is to see players compete with each other to win the coveted starting job. It gets even more exciting when the competition is at the quarterback position. Let’s take a look at the current competitions in Camp.

Cincinnati Bengals – Andy Dalton vs. Bruce Gradkowski
In this situation, I think the Bengals are ready to start the Andy Dalton era. The Bengals have shown us that they are ready to improve by getting rid of wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and quickly realizing that Carson Palmer is not coming back. They have faith in their rookie quarterback that he can put the team on his shoulders. I don’t think Dalton is ready to start yet but Gradkowski is too average of QB to put in if you want to win now.
Starter: Andy Dalton

Jacksonville Jaguars – David Garrard vs. Blaine Gabbert
David Garrard has been the starter for more than a few seasons and has shown some promise over that time. Of course to be a starter in this league, you need to go farther than showing promise. Blaine Gabbert is clearly the future of this franchise. The Jaguars wouldn’t have traded up if they didn’t think so. Right now, Garrard is the better QB because Gabbert needs some grooming, especially after this shortened offseason. However, I see Gabbert coming in midseason to take over for what will be a lackluster season.
Starter: David Garrard

Denver Broncos – Kyle Orton vs. Tim Tebow
The Broncos nearly traded Orton away last week until he started practicing and showed he was the superior QB. This is a no-brainer. Kyle Orton has much more experience and has shown that he can lead this team in the past. Tebow showed he needs more time to develop. Orton may not be the long-term answer for Denver but he will be under center come week 1.
Starter: Kyle Orton

Carolina Panthers – Jimmy Clausen vs. Cam Newton
It is no question that Cam Newton is the future. The question is whether he is ready to start immediately. The answer is yes. When you go to 2-14 and finish as the worst team in the league, you need to give the players and fans something to look forward to. Putting one of the QBs who led you to any abysmal record as starter won’t do that. The best way to can re-energize  this team is to start a promising young rookie who will be the face of the franchise.
Starter: Cam Newton

Seattle Seahawks – Charlie Whitehurst vs. Tarvaris Jackson
The Seahawks have officially turned the page on the Matt Hasselbeck era, which is good. This also means they are starting a new era at quarterback, and it does not look so good. I am inclined to pick Whitehurst as the starter here because he was with the team last season and played in games last season. Yet head coach Pete Carroll came out and said he sees Jackson as the starter. This shows us that Pete Carroll thinks he has seen all he can from Whitehurst and he didn’t like what he saw either. I do think that the two will still compete despite Carroll’s vote of confidence towards Jackson either way.
Starter: Tarvaris Jackson

Washington Redskins – Rex Grossman vs. John Beck (vs. Kellen Clemens?)
I see Rex Grossman winning the job for obvious reason if the competition is strictly between him and Beck. However, if Clemens competes too, he could provide serious competition for Rex Grossman. The truth is that both Grossman and Clemens are very average. Rex forces too many passes where he shouldn’t and Clemens struggles with accuracy. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Clemens starting at some point this season for the Redskins.
Starter: Rex Grossman

The next couple of weeks I will be taking a look at each division of the NFL. Today I will be covering the NFC WEST since most of those teams have been very busy since the start of the offseason.

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals finished last in their division with an overal record of 5-11. After their future hall of famer QB Kurt Warner retired it left the Cardinals in dismantel. Their struggles last year were primarily due to the fact that they didn’t have a starting quarterback. Now after acquiring QB Kevin Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles for 2nd round draft pick and former pro bowl CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the Cardinals chances of taking back the west looks a lot better than last year. Kolb will have pro bowl MVP Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. However if you remember Kolb in Eagles green he struggled to connect with deep receiver DeSean Jackson. However he was able to get production out of have solid check down receiver with the eagles, that receiver being TE Brent Celeck. If the Cardinals can produce a check down receiver that he had in Philadelphia it might be a more useful of a target in the beginning for his 5 year deal with the cards. Now even though he is miles ahead in talent when compared to Matt Leinart or John Skelton, he still has sometime before he can fully be that franchise quarterback that the Cardinals so desperately need.

San Francisco 49ers

Each year I pick one team who didn’t make into the playoffs the year before but have a shot this coming year, that team was the San Francisco 49ers. However, as you all know the 49ers failed to make the playoffs. Alex Smith was their go to guy in the beginning of last season however due to injury he was forced to sit and watch as QB Troy Smith took over from weeks 8 through 13. After Troy Smith’s lost to Green bay the 49ers decided to sit Troy and go back to Alex. He then led the 49ers in a 40-21 win against divisional rival the Seattle Seahawks putting them one game behind the divisional leaders (Seahawks and Rams.) However after finishing with a 1-2 record in the last three games of the season the 49ers would once again miss the playoffs. Alex Smith who was a free agent this year decided to sign his former team to a one-year contract. Alex has dealt with a different offensive of coordinator every season since he was drafted as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005. This is definitely part of the reason why Alex’s career has been so up and down. Smith has to be more consistent as a QB and the 49ers are willing to give him one more year to prove that he can. With a new coach (Jim Harbaugh) a new contract and once again another new offensive coordinate (Greg Roman former Stanford assistant) Alex looks more motivated to get the 49ers back to their winning ways. He knows that this is the year he has to make something happen or else his chances of returning to the city by the bay will be slim to none. The 49ers will have a demanding schedule this year as they face the NFC East and AFC North divisons. It’s going to be tough pulling of a .500 record this year for them but if Alex Smith can stay healthy and consistent they might just have a shot at taking the West.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks won the division last year with a 7-9 overal record making them the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record. Led by veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck the Seahawks started off strong with a 4-2 record however with injuries to their former QB caused Hasselbeck to be sidelined for the last game of the season against divisional rival St. Louis Rams. The second string QB Charlie Whitehurst led the Seahawks to a win in that final game of the season clinching the NFC West. Now with Matt Hasselbeck with the Tennessee Titans; Seattle has made some very abrupt changes this offseason, one of them being signing Vikings backup QB Tarvaris Jackson and the other signing WR Sidney Rice. Jackson will most likely end up as their starting QB and he’ll have Brett Favre’s former favorite target to throw to. However with all of the other free agent QBs on the market one can’t help but wonder if signing Jackson was the best idea. He struggled all throughout his career with the Vikings and without a star RB like Adrian Peterson one wonders what can Jackson really do for the Seahawks. They do have Marshawn Lynch who had a spectacular game against the Saints last year in the wildcard game but has had issues with personal conduct policies as well being inconsistent on the football field. The Seahawks are looking to rebuild around their new QB and even with Jackson and all of his troubles they still are one of the stronger teams in the division. However when looking at their schedule one can’t help but think that Jackson does have his work cut out for them and even with all the offseason signings it will be a long year for the Seattle faithful.

St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams were one of the most improved football teams of last season. After drafting QB Sam Bradford No. 1 overall the Rams were finally able to get a concrete starting QB. Now Bradford obviously has his ways to go but he seemed to be a good fit for the team. Giving them an extra six wins from their 2009 season, finishing with a 7-9 record. He also helped the team come within one game from a playoff birth. Bradford got help from his pro bowl running back Steven Jackson who ran for a total of 1,241 yards last year in 330 carries. Also their 19th ranked defense was the second highest ranked defense in their division. However this is will be improved with their most recent signing of veteran CB Al Harris. Harris who played only three games with the Dolphins due to a hamstring injury can help their young secondary develop over the course of this year. Since neither of the other teams in this division have a lights out offense (could change once we see Kolb in action) the Rams defense can continue to grow without having to lose pace in the playoff race.

Summary

After looking at each team of the NFC West it looks like the division is open to any team this year. If Kevin Kolb can get into rhythm with WR Larry Fitzgerald you can expect the Cardinals to make a run for the first. Arizona also gets help from their schedule as well which has them looking like the favorites in the West. If they can go on a late season run by beating out the last four teams in their schedule (which includes two divisional games) they can easily take back the NFC West. St. Louis probably has one of the better chances to win the division when looking at their roster, however looking at their schedule it is most likely the toughest in their division. If St. Louis is going to win their division they have to create some major upsets against teams such as the defending superbowl champions Green Bay Packers in week six, the saints in week eight, and the steelers in week sixteen. The Seahawks have an equally as tough schedule if not tougher, and 49ers has one of the easier ones. This division will be close and it will be a fun one to watch, below are the projected standings and season records for each team.

Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
St. Louis Rams (8-8)
San Francisco (8-8)
Seattle Seahawks (6-10)