Cleveland Browns @ Buffalo Bills Free Football Predictions: The Browns are the huge public favorite in this one, taking 63% of the bets at one “betting statistics” spot I look and over 80% of the bets at another. What’s to like about the Browns? Well, despite their 5-7 record, they can run the crap out of the ball. Peyton Hillis is carrying bettors to the books in this one, as they see a great mismatch for one of the worst run-defense teams in the league.
But I see another mismatch, and that’s the Browns shaky defense going up against an explosive Buffalo offense that was held pretty well in check last week against the Vikings. Too many mistakes killed Buffalo last week, and I just don’t see them playing like poo for two weeks in a row. Remember, they have played very good football for about 6 straight weeks before getting trounced by the Tarvaris Jackson-led Vikings. They’ll get back on the saddle in this one.
The Biggest thing is that Cleveland’s defense has made some mediocre to bad offenses look pretty good, and I think Buffalo’s offense is underrated. With Fred Jackson doing work and Steve Johnson and Lee Evans trying to break big plays, I thin Ryan Fitzpatrick has a good chance to put up big numbers in this one.
But I’m mainly betting on the Bills because there is no way Jake Delhomme doesn’t have an interception fest in this game. Talk about playing poker with Houdini (I suspect he had some good card tricks, but I’m not positive), Jake threw the ball 34 times against the Dolphins and didn’t get intercepted one time. If Eric Mangini actually wanted to keep his job, he’d limit Jake to less than 20 pass attempts per game – but sine he was 0-32 (in interception chances) last week, he’s definitely throwing multiple balls to Buffalo’s defensive backs this week. Take Buffalo at home.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers Week 6 NFL Free Pick: I see all the reasons to take the Browns here, I promise, they haven’t eluded me or hidden their pretty little blinking red lights away from my peripheral. The Browns are 1-4 with a point differential less than 4 through 4 games – that means they are playing tough and losing some games they just as easily could have won, like two losses by 5 points to start the season. They’ve been able to run the ball with success in just about every game and if it wasn’t for some real sketchy quarterback play from Jake Delhomme, they might be 3-2 instead. I know that not once this season have they lost a game by more than 10 points, and only once has it been that much. I know that Pittsburgh hasn’t knocked anybody’s socks off yet, either (okay, sans Tampa Bay who they straight killed 38-13). Their 3-1 record so far looks like this: 15-9 over Atlanta (the Falcons only loss so far this season), 19-11 over Tennessee, 38-13 over Tampa, and a 14-17 loss to Baltimore. And no, I don’t think Ben Roethlisberger’s return will suddenly take this tem from scoring about 17 points per game (aside from that TB game, they’ve averaged around 17) to scoring 35 per contest – but his presence is going to do something in that regards.
What has me spending money on a big spread like this is the Browns injury woes and starting a rookie QB against a defensive team like Pittsburgh. Also, their biggest weapon offensively, Peyton Hillis in all his tough running glory, is hurting and definitely won’t be 100% when he goes up against the best run stuffing defense (probably best defense overall) in football. I think the Steelers will score more from their defense/special teams unit than Cleveland will from their offense. So now you see, I think Big Dumb Ben and company are good for at least 2 touchdowns, that should cover for me.
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles Free Football Pick: There are a lot of reasons to like the Falcons in this one, and one of which is health. Where the Eagles keep shuffling linemen, having trouble on defense, and missing key components (or having them play at less than 100%) the Falcons are feeling so fresh and so clean, clean. Just a look at the Eagles injured list makes you wonder how they will even dress a team. 4 guys already out for the year, a couple really good players, too. 4 guys either “out indefinitely” or “doubtful” for this Sunday’s game. 1 key defensive lineman is “questionable”. 5 guys are probable, and one running back that isn’t even listed, but has been hurting pretty good with some broken ribs. The Falcons, on the other hand, they have a 5th string receiver out for the year, a 3rd string running back, and one linebacker that is doubtful. Three guys not expected to play, one of which starts. See, they are healthy. So why am I taking Philly?
The Falcons are just pushing their luck, that’s all, and when it comes right down to it, that’s going to hurt them. Two weeks ago they were beaten by San Francisco, but everybody knows that no fat lady’s sing when the 49ers are on the field, so Roddy White caused a last ditch effort fumble and the Falcons stole victory from the gooey innards of defeat. They beat the Browns last week, but only settled it after the Browns had to play with 10 people for most of the game (well, 10 guys and Jake Delhomme), and it was an interception (weird, out of Jake’s hand) return touchdown that sealed it as the Browns were driving for a game tying field goal. They needed a missed 29 yard field goal in overtime against New Orleans to win there. So basically, unless they are the luckiest team in the world, it’s about to turn around.
That’s not all, I mean, I’m not just a fate capper – I think the Eagles can hurt the Falcons with LeSean McCoy like San Francisco did with Frank Gore. McCoy is a nice receiving option and he can hurt the Falcons. Also, I’m still holding out hope for Vick, and if he returns for this game, you know there’s no way he loses to his old team. No way!
Atlanta Falcons @ Cleveland Browns Week 5 Free Football Pick: After being underrated each of the first few weeks, the Browns are listed right about what I think they are. At home, still a few points behind a good team like Atlanta. If they were +6 or +7 here, I’d probably take them, but getting just 3 points I don’t think they’re good enough value to ride – especially with Jake Delhomme returning at quarterback. Yes, you heard that right – most teams are a better bet when their 1st string quarterback is starting for them, but not the Browns – ol’ interception himself is back in the saddle, and the horse is walking like it’s carrying an anvil and pulling a piano… with rocks in it, heavy ones.
The Browns have been stout because they are good in the trenches, not admirable, but good. They have a stellar run-blocking offensive line and a lead back that goes 150% every time he gets the ball. They have a defensive line that claims a handful of run-stuffers, and a coach that gets the most out of his front 7.
But Atlanta can throw, and they can run against anyone as well, and they have a couple backs that can move the ball offensively. And they have Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, one of the best WR/TE pass catching tandems in the league.
Now, I almost always pick against teams that won last week but should have lost – nobody fits that category better than Atlanta – so I’m picking against my own system here, but it just feels right, so here I go.
Cleveland Browns VS Baltimore Ravens Week 3 NFL Pick: The Cleveland Browns are better than people are giving them credit for and thus the sportsbook has to give them more points than they should be getting. It’s as if “they” aren’t paying any attention to the last handful of games the Browns have played. Sure, Cleveland beats themselves on a normal basis, either because of mistakes, “Ahem, Jake Delhomme”, or piss play calling, but they don’t beat themselves by 11.
And what is all this love for Baltimore about? I know I went out on a limb and said that I expect Dallas to turn things around, or “even things out”, but they’ve at least showed some ability offensively. The Ravens have scored 10 points per game and looked like a mistake prone team without the ability to consistently get 10 yards in 3 downs – at best. I really like the Ravens, think they’ll win a lot of games this year, and probably turn into a pretty good offense, but expecting a team that hasn’t scored but two touchdowns in two games to cover an 11 point spread is tough for me to buy. So I’m selling.
The Browns have been much better defensively this year, and with an influx in talent and some health, that’s makes sense. They also possess a pretty solid offensive line, something that a team needs to even compete with the Ravens defense. What they haven’t had is good play calling, electing to run much less than they’ve passed despite having a perfectly good running back in Jerome Harrison, and perfectly mediocre quarterbacks in Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. What ever are they thinking?
If they run more than they pass in Baltimore, they might even win this game. But they surely cover. Cleveland has 2 losses this season by a total of 5 points, and they won a lot of games down the stretch last season behind solid run defense and a run-heavy offense. I think they’re tough enough to stick with Baltimore.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns Free Preview & Pick: I don’t see the Browns being as stupid as they were against Tampa Bay – they are going to run the ball! Jake Delhomme is a 1 pick per 20 pass guy, so if they can keep him under twenty pass attempts, they’re on to something. The Chiefs just didn’t have enough offense for me to buy them as a road winner just yet. I like their explosion, but without that ruckus crowd on their side, and with Matt Cassel throwing more balls away than passes in the direction of his receivers, I’ll have to steer clear of the Chiefs away from home. Kansas City has a great thing going at home, an advantage that I’ve ignored and paid for over the years – but out of KC, not so much.
As it turns out, Seneca Wallace is set to start for the Browns this week, and now you know they are gong to run the ball more. I don’t know why, I certainly trust Seneca to throw the ball more accurately than Jake Delhomme, but Wallace always seems to get hand-off duty.
Jerome Harrison proved late last year that if he gets the touches he can put up big time numbers. They game him less than 10 carries last week, which only makes me want to punch Eric Man-Jina more than I did before – but they can’t go down that same path again.
The Browns have a better run-defense than they get credit for, and that gives them a big advantage over a Chiefs team that wants to run at every possible chance. Those 3rd down draws, sprint handoffs, and short dumps aren’t going to get the job did like they did at Notre Dame (yeah, that’s a shot on you Charlie Weis) – and until the Chiefs figure that out, I’m staying away from them as anything less than a big dog bet.
The Cleveland Browns had quite the off-season. Mike Holmgren chose Cleveland to start his new work as a full time non-coaching GM job. You figured the first thing he’d do is fire Mr. Mangini, a guy most Browns seemed to quit on last season. And the last thing he’d do is sign their kick ruturn specialist to a big contract, because he never has done much of that. But what do you know, Mangini is still in that perfectly ugly brown color and Joshua Cribbs is a well-paid return man that looks to be a big part of Cleveland’s offense this season. Crazy.
The only problem I have with Cleveland’s off-season is Jake Delhomme. I know, I know, he looks great this pre-season, but does anyone throw more catchable balls to opposing defensive backs? At least Jay Cutler’s are rockets. Shoot. But the Browns will counter Jake’s mistakes with a whole lot of running plays. The Browns have a very solid offensive line, led by former 1st round pick, Joe Thomas. With Jerome Harrison and Cribbs, this team will see 30 carries a game at least.
I don’t think the Buccaneers can handle that kind of a rushing attack. They are still a defense without a go-to strength or an identity. The Bucs are still too young to be competitive, and I think Cleveland can be. Both teams have a solid rushing attack, but Tampa has a little more youth and uncertainty. I think they fall to a rejuvenated Browns team in week 1.
(+8550) – Odds to Win the Super Bowl
(Over 5.5, -105: Under 5.5, -115) – Over/Under Total Wins
(+825) – Odds to Win Division
The Browns moved into the Mike Holmgren era, but kept their coach, Eric Mangini. Mangini took a lot of flack for the Jets’ collapse two years ago. And he hasn’t won over many people with the club he coached in Cleveland – but this team is looking better. They were so young last year, and now all those youngsters are a year older – and they’re talented. Jerome Harrison is a pretty good all around back that was finally utilized late in the year. He rushed for over 500 yards in the last 3 games, and don’t forget that the Browns won 4 straight to end the season. They started putting the ball in Joshua Cribbs’s hands a lot more, and I expect the jack of all trades to continue seeing the rock. Lord knows they wont be throwing it much as not one quarterback on their roster is known for his arm. Jake Delhomme was brought in to start, and I imagine he will. How he continues to fool teams into believing he should start is beyond me, but he might be a good leader for this team that needs one. Seneca Wallace was traded for, and he gives the Browns another weapon, be it a QB still not known for his arm. Colt McCoy was drafted to be the QB of the future, but he’s not known as an elite arm either. But all those guys can do lots of things. Where the Browns really need to improve is defensively. They ranked 28th and 29th in opponents rushing and passing yards. That’s a little misleading because the Browns’ offense never kept the ball, but that Cleveland D hasn’t been good. Taking the best cover corner in the draft (Joe Haden) was a good step in the right direction and T.J. Ward should help sure up the secondary as well – but this team is still so young. The Browns have no chance to win the Super Bowl, even if they did win 4 straight to end the season. I’d be pretty comfortable taking the Browns to win at least 6 games. I think they’re better this year, they won 4 straight to end last season, and they damn near won 6 a year ago. They have no chance to win this division unless magic tricks are played on the Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers.
It’s still Thursday where I’m living, and some big names are already on the move. Some haven’t “officially” signed yet, but they are as good as gold, one wasn’t even a free agent, but he’s been traded, and there’s so much more to come. I’ll update this a few times during the day as new signings are made public. Here’s what I think so far.
Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions: The former Seahawk, and Viking, is going to be a great second option for a Lions team that really didn’t have one. They are a young team looking to find some help for their franchise quarterback and one of the best #1 receivers in the NFL, Calvin Johnson. Nate is definitely that. He’s explosive, dynamic, and if he can stay healthy, he’ll turn single coverage into numerous touchdowns for the Lions next season. It’s a big deal, 25 million over 5 years with 11 million guaranteed, but Nate is a big play waiting to happen, and should be a big deal for the Lions. He rejoins Scott Linehan, his offensive coordinator, and that could be good for fantasy owners as Scott was the play caller during Burleson’s most productive season in the NFL.
Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets: The San Diego Chargers didn’t want Cromartie and his antics back with the team, and they got a 2011 3rd Round Pick in exchange for the poor tackling cover corner. That pick could end up being a 2nd rounder if Antonio meets playing time bonuses and the Jets succeed to a certain level. Cromartie’s ability level should continue to make the Jets one of the scariest defenses in the league, especially for opposing quarterbacks. A heavy pass rush and elite corners doesn’t make for an easy day. Already a top fantasy defense, the Jets just got better.
Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears: I have a feeling, that when I wake up this morning, Peppers will be a Chicago Bear for sure. I’m so sure that I’m going to go on and list the ups and downs of this signing. Chicago has to sign Peppers, and they’ll give him plenty of money to make it happen. JP is one of the most talented players in the league, he does freakish things and is as special as they get on the defensive line – but he doesn’t always have his motor revved to it’s highest potential, and I think Pep would be a scary guy to sign to a huge contract, both in cost and length. He’s a freak of nature, and maybe he’ll come in competitive and wanting to prove he’s worth the dollar. The Bears need some big names, but many people think Pep would be best as a 3-4 rushing OLB, and I agree – so in Chicago he’ll still be playing a 4-3 end. Hmm. I like Peppers, he’s one of my favorite guys to watch when he’s on his game – but is this a move that makes the Bears an elite defense? I don’t think so.
Peppers has officially signed. It’s a 6 year deal and I’m not sure about the total money, but think a lot. It’s said that the deal could pay him 40 million over the first 3 seasons. Look at the Bears spending money like they’re the Yankees….
Chester Taylor, Chicago Bears: Okay, now I’m guessing a little bit – but the first place Chester is flying to is Chicago, so I’m at freedom to at least mention this as a possibility. This would be a dumb move for both parties, but with Martz running an offense you just never know what stuff is going to go down. Matt Forte is a young back with solid vision that catches the ball very well out of the back-field. Chester Taylor might be a little better as a receiver, but Forte can obviously do the job, and for a team with so many needs, why would they waste free agent dollars on and older running back when you have a young guy that was great during his first season? I’d love to see Taylor go to a place where he would get starter carries, and I just don’t see him beating Forte out of at least a time share. Dumb, da-dumb, dumb, dumb… Hopefully Taylor’s plane gets delayed and has to fly a messed up detour to Seattle – he’d be a good pairing with Justin Forsett in that backfield. And
Chicago is officially Chester’s destination, what do you know. I think this is bad for both parties (in terms of fantasy stuff, and touches for Taylor, and bang for the Bears’ buck) but what do I know? I know that Chester does a lot of things well, and will certainly push Matt Forte, but he does seem like an excessive signing given that the Bears have a pretty successful 2-year player at running back, Matt Forte… The deal is for 12.5 million over 4 years with 7.5 million guaranteed. Bears = NFL’s Yankees, weird.
Brandon Manumaleuna, Chicago Bears: Giving away all their draft picks for Cutler was something I thought was stupid, but trading away a talented young pass catching tight end like Greg Olsen because your offensive coordinator (who will almost surely be fired after the season) doesn’t throw to tight ends is just plain idiotic. However, with the likely signing of Manumaleuna, that looks like what Chicago is up to. The big, bad, blocking tight end formerly of the Chargers is headed to Chicago first thing on Friday, and he’s a perfect fit for what Martz wants out of his TEs. You saw how Vernon Davis never did anything in Martz’s offense, and you see him now? Olsen is likely to be moved, and Manu is liked to be a Bear. I’ll update as soon as I know for sure. This opens up passes for Bears receivers, that’s for sure.
Olsen was one of the best receiving options in Chicago last year, and if he’s out of the picture, expect more balls to go the way of WRs, and running backs as well. Manumaleuna gets a 5 year deal with the Bears, it’s official – and let the Greg Olsen trade rumors begin. I don’t think it’s smart to drop your best players that don’t perfectly fit into your soon to be fired-one-and-done offensive coordinator’s plans- but hey, the Bears are trying to spend as much money as they can, and they’re winning!
Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers may have lost the services of Julius Peppers, one of the best defensive ends in the game, but they got rid of Jake Delhomme too – brilliant. Delhomme will cost the team 12 million bucks this year, but hey, that’s a bargain as far as I’m concerned, especially when you consider the fact that they’ll be saving money the next time the salary cap comes into play. Remember, this is an uncapped year, so I don’t think Delhomme will be the first overpaid guy that gets the axe. It’s redemption time for owners’ bad signings. And yes, that probably means Matt Moore, the young QB that finished the year as the Panthers #1, will probably be the guy in Carolina.
And as Jake has shown, any quarterback throwing to Steve Smith can put up good numbers on any given day. Apparently, the Panthers’ head coach, John Fox (also known for his team’s bad play calling) was seen crying after letting Delhomme go. I’m not sure what kind of tears they were, but I’m willing to bet that Steve Smith’s ribs aren’t sad about the decision.
Gary Brackett, Indianapolis Colts: Brackett quite possibly never became a free agent, per say, but he was going to, and the Colts decided it was best to resign one of their most consistent players from last year’s underrated defense. Bracket was signed to a 5 year extension worth 33 million and keeps the Colts defense improving. This group has some good young talent and some awesome veterans, and should be a good group moving forward.
Leonard Weaver, Philadelphia Eagles: When you sign a full back to a 3 year 10 million dollar deal with over half the money guaranteed, you are planning to use that player as more than just a full back. I promise. The running back catches the ball very well out of the backfield and runs hard between the tackles. I like Shady McCoy, no doubt, but Weaver is going to be drafted 10 rounds after the sophomore back out of Pitt, and I think their value will be a lot closer to even.
Kyle Vanden Bosch, Detroit Lions: Well, as it turns out the first big name defensive lineman to sign wasn’t Julius Peppers after all. Nope, Kyle Vanden Bosch makes the move to Detroit to try and help the Lions defense pull themselves out of the gutter. Vanden Bosch was one of the best defensive linemen on the market, and he stacks up good against both the pass and the run. For a team that needed a lot of help improving their roster, the Lions have already made some big time moves that should help them get back to respectability.
A.J. Feeley, St. Louis Rams: This is a little bit under the radar, but Feeley signed with the Rams this morning. It is likely that another quarterback will start for the Rams, either a #1 pick like Sam Bradford or a surly old vet via a trade. But right now, Feeley is the best quarterback in St. Louis.
Brandon Marshall, Seattle Seahawks: This is hard for me to believe, but the Hawks are said to be considering signing Marshall. If they just sign him to an offer sheet, the Broncos can either match (unlikely) or just take the #6 overall pick in the draft for themselves. There’s something to be said for not paying a rookie a ton of money, but putting tons of money into your receiver spot (Housh and Marshall) doesn’t make much sense, even in an uncapped year. And having a QB that can’t really throw down field to get the ball to a guy you just wasted tons of money and a #6 draft pick on also is interesting. I’m not really sure what’s happening, but if the Hawks do this I wouldn’t be all that impressed. There’s going to be lots of good players at #6 in the draft… It seems like they could have worked out a trade for Marshall prior to the whole “lose your 6th pick” time – but we’ll see.
Marshall left Seattle without a contract offer but that doesn’t mean the controversial receiver won’t end up in Seattle. Both sides said it was more of a meet and greet, for both sides to figure out if the fit was good – and now the Hawks, if they like what they saw, will try to make a fair deal with the Broncos.
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens: This is where a lot of people that kept saying “Anquan Boldin isn’t a #1 receiver” are going to get full helpings of their words. The tough-nosed Boldin will be out to prove everyone wrong, and if you have seen the guy play, he has the type of attitude that will help him excel to another level. Boldin was traded with a 5th round pick to Arizona for a 3rd and 4th rounder. Boldin gives the Ravens an instant boost offensive, and should open up the field for the running game just that much more. If Derrick Mason comes back, that gives the Ravens a very good 1-2 punch. Boldin also signed a new contract with the team, so he should be happy and ready to contribute even more-so now that he’s getting paid what he’s worth.
Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland Browns: Not that Cribbs was ever leaving the team for sure, but his signing strengthens the Browns in a lot of places. He’s the best returner in the league, no doubt about that, and he’s a strong guy, which is rare for an elite open field gamebreaker. So, if the Browns do intend to use him more in the wildcat formation or as a ball carrier, he has the type of body to take that punishment. He’s an interesting sleeper candidate late in fantasy drafts. Cribbs deserved a new deal as one of the premier gamebreakers in the league, and apparently could make 20 million over the next three seasons. Good for him, indeed.
Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots: Wilfork is one of the biggest reasons the Patriots are solid against the run, year after year. There isn’t much better than Wilfork as far as 3-4 nose tackles are concerned, and his 40 million bucks that made him the highest paid nose tackle in the league ends up being pretty impressive.He deserved a new deal, and the Patriots finally anted for one of their own guys not named Tom Brady.
Antrel Rolle, New York Giants: The Giants wanted Rolle more than anyone else in free agency, and they finally got him after a long day of NFL signings. Rolle played a big role in making the Cardinals a solid defense, and helping to shut down the run. He’s very versatile with corner speed and can be a big hitter in run coverage – plus he’s still getting better. The Giants are really trying to get back to elite defensive play, and Rolle is a good start in a secondary that struggled all year.
Chad Clifton, Green Bay Packers: Clifton visited the Washington Redskins, probably just to show the Packers that he was serious. He self admittedly loved Green Bay, but it probably took a trip to Washington to force the Packers into paying him at market value, maybe even a little more. When you consider what Aaron Rodgers had to go through and the pressure he dealt with all season, you can imagine how worried the Packers were about possibly losing their best lineman. Green Bay still needs to get better up front, but keeping Clifton was a good way to keep that offense going forward. His 3 year deal is worth 20 million. Apparently the NFL isn’t dealing with the same money issues as the NBA, eh?
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans: Walter was courted by a couple teams, but knowing his worth and the solid things he does on the field, helping the Texans to be one of the best passing offenses in all of football, it’s understandable why Houston resigned the receiver. I still think that the Texans would have been better off spending their money elsewhere and giving the talented speedster, Jacoby Jones, a shot – but Walter is back, and Jones is back to the #3 receiver, which turns out to be the #5 option in the offense. Terms weren’t disclosed.
Karlos Dansby, Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins really went big. Dansby was probably the 2nd best unrestricted free agent available this offseason, and the Dolphins could certainly use Dansby’s all around great play. The elite linebacker played a huge role in making Arizona one of the best run defense in the league, and he can get after the passer as well. Having athletes like Karlos is very important to the Dolphins defensive scheme, and it’s always good to get one of the best football players in the league to join your team. This guy will have a huge impact on the Dolphins’ improved defense.
Dunta Robinson, Atlanta Falcons: The Texans didn’t want to let Robinson leave, but they probably didn’t want to deal with franchise tagging him again, nor did they want to pay him that huge of a sum and watch him show up on the last day of the pre-season. The Texans might be sad, losing one of their best athletes in the secondary, a guy that had elite potential – but the Falcons couldn’t be happier. When it comes down to it, I don’t know if the Texans wanted to pay Robinson his market value because of his up and down play, but Atlanta will use him right away, as they are starting to build a pretty good secondary. Now if they could just stop the run. Nobody knows how much the deal is worth.
Kerry Rhodes, Cardinals: The Cardinals may have lost out on Antrel Rolle, but I honestly think they got better with the addition of Kerry Rhodes. Kerry was traded for a couple late round picks from New York to Arizona. Rhodes has been a beast for the Jets over the last few years, and while he might not have some of the speed explosion that Rolle has, he still is one of the best defensive football players on the field. With something to prove, I actually think Rhodes will work out better than Rolle did last season. And the two players are both 28 – so the Cards don’t lose much there.
Aaron Kampman, Jaguars: One of the best defensive ends on the market is no longer on the market. Early Sunday morning, or late Saturday Night, the former Green Bay Packers’ defensive end, Aaron Kampman, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Maybe the Jags were sick and tired of drafting over-hyped defensive ends in hopes of improving their suspect pass rush, because they don’t have to hope their guy becomes a pro-bowler, Kampman already has been. He was forced to play OLB last year for the Packers when the switched to the 3-4, but he should move right back to comfort and his proper position in the Jags 4-3. This is one of the best pickups of the offseason.
Seneca Wallace, Browns: The short quarterback from Seattle was traded to Cleveland today and I think he becomes the best signal caller in Cleveland. I’m not sure why the Hawks would want to get rid of Seneca, a perfectly capable back-up that has awesome athletic talent – but they traded him for some picks. Holmgren obviously knows what he’s getting in Wallace, and that’s why he traded for him. Those who were hoping that Brady Quinn would become the stud that many expected might have to temper their hopes. Which Browns QB will start? That question now includes somebody besides Quinn and Anderson, and that somebody is the likely starter.
Leigh Bodden, Patriots: One of the best free agent corners on the market resigned with the team that helped his value skyrocket. Bodden has always had the talent, but it was really realized this year in the Pats’ scheme, and with very little talent out there to acquire, the Pats probably did a smart thing by locking up Bodden. There were more than a few teams after Bodden, and I’m sure the Pats didn’t want to pay him as much as they did (the terms are still unknown) – but it was probably worth it for a team built to win now.
Ryan Clark, Steelers: One of the Top 3 safeties on the market was resigned by his old club after taking a little free agent trip to Miami yesterday. Clark looked like a goner, and that would have certainly hurt the Steelers solid defense, but after a trip to Miami didn’t bang home a contract, Clark got a deal done with his old club. That’s good for Steelers fans, because he was one of the solid players on a very physical defense.
Tank Johnson, Bengals: In a move that will go under the radar for the most part, the Bengals resigned one of the best defensive tackles on the free agent market. Tank gets a bad wrap, and probably deservedly so, but he’s one hell of a defensive tackle, and his success last season played a big role in the Bengals being one of the best run-defenses in football. Before they got beat up in the final few games of the year, they were an awesome unit. Tank will continue to plug holes up front and keep blockers off the Bengals’ linebackers – a group that is very athletic and very good tacklers.
It is nice to see Eli Manning switch back to the pouty-faced Ellie that I’ve known and loved for so long. Ellie is back to his inaccurate throws, shame-faced box crab looks, and more importantly, the Giants losing games. Not only did they lose on Sunday, but the Eagles just absolutely destroyed them. The Giants have fallen in love with this Eli guy, the guy they gave more money too than any other team pays any other quarterback, but with Eli you get Ellie, and that’s the guys playing right now….. I had forgotten, but Steven Jackson is one of the best players in football. How do I know that? Well, while everyone else in America was watching a good football game, I was viewing the car-wreck that was Detroit hosting St. Louis. There’s something about it, I just couldn’t keep my eyes off of this game. Nobody should have to see something like that, but here I was, in awe. Steven Jackson was straight beasting everybody on the Lions team. I think he even had time to boo Matthew Stafford. While watching the game I learned a couple more things… Marc Bulger is a terrible quarterback. Despite not getting much offensive line help, it’s hard for me not to tear into this guy. He steps backward every time he throws, setting his receivers up to get blasted, he’s gun shy, he’s basically the opposite of everything good. His best day isn’t close to Ellie’s saddest tear-filled outing…. And once again, the all stars from these two teams couldn’t get together to win more than 5 games. Steven Jackson would still be trying to carry the team on his back while a poor quarterback option failed to get the ball to Calvin Johnson. The offensive line would be a little better, but still not good. The Defensive line would have a couple players to rush the pass, but still get eaten up on the ground, and the Ramlion secondary would still get eaten up by opposing quarterbacks. All that and they would not get to play each other, what car-wreck of a game would I watch then?
It’s hard for me to say that Shawn Merriman is back, but at least he’s got a couple sacks to his name. The “Lights Out” dance artist himself was back in action. It seems like playing against the Raiders shouldn’t even count for season stat totals, but the bottom line is that the NFL still recognizes the Raiders as a team, and Merriman’s two sacks against “NFL Starting QB” Jamarcus Russell were his first sacks of the season….. Speaking of JaMarcus Russell, I can’t even stand behind this kid anymore, it’s not his poor ability to see the field (see tunnel vision), or his consistent practice of overthrowing receivers, it’s not even his lack of mobility and terrible footwork, I don’t even think it’s his hideous work ethic and carelessness, but his absolute lack of reality kills me. After the game this guy had the mental clown work to claim that he played well. If you play crappy, at the very least you can keep your mouth shut and just try harder. JaMarcus obviously has problems keeping his mouth shut…..
Marques Colston is borderline unguardable. Drew Brees likes to get everyone involved, hitting open receivers all over the field, but when things get tight and Drew needs that 15 free yards, he just throws a ball about 12 feet in the air in the direction of Colston. Colston has great jumps for a big guy, and even more impressive are his ball skills. He always grabs the ball at the height of his jump, and his timing is perfect…. The Titans finally got a win, and I have to be honest, Vince Young had something to do with that. He may have looked uncomfortable at times, and his 15 for 18 passing performance may look better than it actually was, but his 12 rushes for 30 yards were bigger than they looked. Defenses have to pay attention to him. But even more important than anything Vince did was how the Titans called plays with Vince in there. They went back to being a run-centric team, throwing just 18 times while rocking 49 attempts on the ground. If it takes Vince to get that coaching staff to commit to what makes this offense good, then Young’s presence is more important than anyone gives him credit for……
I really appreciate John Fox pulling his own head out of his tail pipe just in time to eliminate me from a survivor pool, but what took so long? You have an overpaid game-managing quarterback with two great running backs and an offensive line that consistently mauls opposing defensive lines. Yet this guy fell in love with throwing the ball when he was down a few points. Maybe it was his offensive coordinator, but that is the head coach’s fault too. If I have Jake Delhomme at QB, and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart running the ball, I’m running the ball 70% of the time at the very least…. Speaking of offenses that don’t know who they are, how long can Bills coaches have jobs in Buffalo? Their game against Houston was a situation where their run game was working. They were up for 3 quarters, have two very good running backs, have no good quarterbacks, and yet you have Lynch and Jackson getting just 9 rushes each. Ridiculous. It makes me sick.