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  • Published: Jan 27th, 2014
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News, Notes & Rumors live tonight at 6PM

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NOTE: Check out the live News, Notes and Rumors show on Monday, Thursday and Friday at 6 PM Eastern on or the archive of the shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/. On Monday Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports and I discuss the results of the weekend. Thursday shows alternate between NFL Draft and basketball. On Friday Tony Williams Giants beat writer for Metro New York joins Samantha and me to preview the upcoming games.



Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports and Tony Williams Giants beat writer for Metro New York will join me to review the season of the AFC and discuss the questions facing each team. Join us at 6 PM Eastern on .



That is what I think. Tell us what you think.


You can listen to the podcasts at http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and hear NNR Live Mondays and Fridays at 6PM Eastern time on . The Monday show is a review of the previous week and the Browns game. The Friday show previews the upcoming games.


Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and the live show Mondays at 6 PM Eastern time on .

He also edits .

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

News, Notes and Rumors for Week 8 of the NFL Season

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Bill Smith


What have we learned so far this NFL Season?

The current leaders for a bye week in the playoffs in the AFC are the Steelers and the Bills.
The Steelers got the top spot after the win over the Pats Sunday.  They have a HUGE game this week with the
Ravens in Pittsburgh.  Beyond that they have an easy schedule the rest of the way.
They face the Browns and Bengals twice.   The only games that seem to be a challenge now are road games at the
Chiefs and the 49ers.

The Bills have a tougher schedule ahead of them.  But their win last week over the
Redskins is a good sign for the D.  They face the Jets twice and close with a game at the Pats.

The other playoff teams at this point of the season would be Texans (AFC South), Chargers (AFC West) and the wild cards Bengals and
Pats.  Despite being ranked 5th overall in the AFC, the Ravens would be out of the playoffs if the season ended today.

In the NFC things are just as surprising.

The top team is the Packers which will not surprise anyone.  But the 49ers are 2nd overall at 6-1.  The Giants and Saints
would be the other division winners and the wild cards would be the Lions and Bears.

While the 49ers have the toughest schedule they are also in the easiest division.  They will face the Steelers and Ravens from the AFC and the Giants out of the NFC East.  The 49ers will win their division easily.

The Lions have to face the Pack twice as well as the Saints and the Raiders.  The Lions will be a playoff team IF they can keep QB Stratford healthy.  Otherwise the WC will go to the Bears.  The Bears have already lost to the Pack once and face the resurgent Eagles, the Lions and the Pack once in their remaining games.

The Cowboys are again struggling at RB because they are using a light Felix Jones too much.   He is hurt again and they cut RB Choice before their game Sunday.

The Cards have discovered what most of us have known for a while—QB Kolb is not an NFL quality starter.  He has really struggled
in the last couple of games and they are considering going back to Skelton.



Teams that want Stanford QB Luck were rooting for the Rams to get the top pick.  That is the only team that would be inclined to trade either the pick or their current top pick QB Bradford.  The win by the Rams over the Saints hurt their chances of getting the pick.

Right now after week 8 of the season the Dolphins are leading the race to Luck.  They have not had a quality QB since Dan Marino retired and would love to “suck for Luck.”  The Colts are in 2nd but they will not get Luck even if they get the top pick.   To find out why check out my article WhyStanford QB Luck will not be a Colt in 2012 on the subject right here on FryingpanSports.com.

The Colts have kept QB Manning on the active roster.  However, he should not even think about coming back to the team this year.
The season is lost and the offensive line is … offensive.

The NFL Player Safety Committee will study the situation with Charger G Dielman who suffered a seizure after having a second
concussion Sunday.  It was a very scarysituation to see him stagger and fall to the ground after a hit.



Former HC Cowher denied rumors that the Dolphins had talked with him about becoming their HC.   Thank heavens for Caller ID.  He
avoided the call by seeing it was the Dolphins on the line.

The Saints loss to the Rams was a major upset but also indicates an issue with the team.  They have struggled to protect the QB and with their O so totally dependent on Brees passing, it puts doubt in the minds of many that the team is a serious contender for the title.  The
Rams won without their starting QB Bradford.

The Madden Curse strikes again.  This time it is RB Hillis that is the primary victim although the entire Browns’ group of RBs have also suffered from the Cover Curse.  Backup Hardesty is now down with a torn calf muscle and they are looking for anyone that can run the ball.

The chance of Hillis being on the Browns next year is said to be close to 0 but he may have to come back because no one else will
make him an offer.  He has said he does not want to be distracted by talking more about a new contract.  He will get very little interest unless he
gets back on the field and has a solid last half of the season.

The rumor is that the Texans are a dirty team.  HC Kubiak defended his team Monday in his news conference.  The truth is that Kubiak
started the rumor himself to make his team look tough.  Anyone that has seen this team over the last couple of years knows it is anything but tough in either their minds or physical play.  The D is doing better this year but the only reason the Texans may stumble into the playoffs is the
injury to Colt QB Manning.

Sometimes a big payday can make a player soft and he will fail to ever regain the performance that got him the check.  That is not the case with Titan RB Johnson.  While he has suffered from a lack of conditioning because of the lockout and his holdout, that is not the issue.  The fact is that the O line of the Titans has not opened holes like they it has in the past.  With a passing game that is among the worst in the league, teams are putting 30 guys in the box and making sure that Johnson cannot get outside.  RB Ringer is a better inside runner and will split time with Johnson.

If the Cowboys don’t make the playoffs, look for big changes in Big D.  Owner Jones is not patient and the coaching staff is not the only change that might be made.  QB Romo is going to have to become a consistent guy particularly in the 4th quarter.

Cowboy DC Rob Ryan is confident he will be a HC soon.  He indicated that his brother Rex got his chance already.  Rob, here is
some advice.  Not only do you have to have your own charges play better but unless Rex gets his act together he may
be an ex-head coach soon as well.



Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color
on radio for
college football and basketball and has scouted talent.

He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on http://www.eBooks-Library.com/Contemporary/ and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .




Fantasy Football Sleepers, handcuffs and avoids in the AFC

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NOTE: This list is the AFC only. I will have the list of NFC players Tuesday.



Jason Campbell Raiders – The Raiders will be behind a lot and Campbell is going to throw a lot but I don’t like the WRs.


Fred Taylor Pats – Dillon’s gone and Maroney averaged under 4 a carry.

Ben Tate Texans – Right now he is 3rd but Foster is average and Slaton fumbles.


James Hardy Bills – He lost last season with an ACL but is the most likely to start opposite Evans

Brian Hartline Dolphins – He runs great patterns and that is what Henne needs.

Santonio Holmes Jets – He’s on the bench wk 1-4 but late in the draft he can help you win.

Donte’ Stallworth Ravens – This is a long shot but late he should be worth a look. He has a lot to prove and needs the money to pay off the family of the guy he hit.

Mike Wallace Steelers – Holmes is gone and Wallace looked good last year.

Brian Robiskie Browns – He has the best hands/route running combo on the team.

Kevin Walter Texans – Johnson gets doubled and Schaub throws to the open guy.

Legedu Naanee Chargers – There will be a lot of passes and Naanee has speed and decent hands.


Dustin Keller Jets – He is the receiver option at TE with speed and hands. It looks like he got it last year.

Randy McMichael Chargers – The team will have to use 2 TEs a lot and want to reduce the load on Gates.



Trent Edwards and Brian Brohm Bills Edwards is the acclaimed starter but Brohm has looked good in practice.


Jerome Harrison and Montario Hardesty Browns – These 2 are between handcuff and Avoid. They could be great but one will get hurt and open the spot for the other.

Darren McFadden and Michael Bush Raiders – McFadden is not capable of taking the beating of the starter and staying healthy. Bush is.


Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez Colts – Gonzo was out last year and Garcon looked good. Beware of PG too early.



Jake Delhomme Browns – Until we see him throw to his guys and not the DBs, I don’t trust him.

David Garrard Jags – He and the Jags are under pressure and Garrard does not handle it well.

Vince Young Titans – Can we really trust he gets it? Not on my team.


LaDainian Tomlinson Jets – Even though the Jets run a lot, don’t trust LT. I think he is done.


Jags WRs – Garrard to WHO?


Any Bengal TE – Palmer is going to have enough trouble keeping TO and OC happy. TE is a mess in Cincinnati right now.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: Fantasy Football,Fantasy Football Draft,Fantasy Sleepers,NFL,Bills,Browns,Raiders,Colts,Jaguars,Titans,Bengals,Patroits,Texans,Dolphins,Jets,Chargers,AFC

Questions in the AFC East and North training camps.

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AFC North Training Camp

Note: We will look at all the divisions of the NFL with this same point of view over the next few issues of Fryingpansports.com.

AFC East


1. How effective with the QB play be? Trent Edwards is the leader going into camp but watch out for former 2nd round pick Brian Brohm. He has the talent to be a starter and Edwards has problems in the clubhouse.

2. “RB? We don’t need no stinkin’ RB!" Marshawn Lynch started his career strong but has made more news off the field than on it in the last 2 years. The Bills took RB C.J. Spiller with their 1st pick but did Lynch get the message? No and Spiller starts.


1. How good will the D be after losing some key players? DT Jason Ferguson retired and they cut LB Jerry Porter and S Gibril Wilson. The D played pretty well last year. Will it survive the losses?

2. How much will RB Ronnie Brown be able to contribute? In addition to an injury last year he faces a DUI issue. The Wildcat is much more effective with both RBs in the backfield.

3. How far has QB Chad Henne come or will former starter Chad Pennington become the starter again? Henne will be as good as the running game allows him to be.


1. Have injuries and contract questions reduced Tom Brady’s effectiveness? Brady was clearly not performing at his "pre-injury" level last year.. Will he get back to the 2007 level?

2. Can the Pats O line protect Brady? The line has gotten old and the replacements have been less than stellar. Brady needs protection.

3. How far has the D fallen? Last year the D was exposed by a lack of youth and talent.


1. How will Sanchez do in year 2? Often 2nd year QBs have a regression. Last year Sanchez was at best OK. He was not asked to do too much. As the Ds focused on the running game, he struggled to get the ball down the field. The team traded for Holmes but he is suspended for the first 4 games. HC Ryan wants to throw more this year but can Sanchez deliver?

2. Will the Jets D continue to improve? The D took major steps forward last year. DE Marques Douglas was expected to do great things in 09 but was a bust. So was ILB Larry Izzo. The top newcomer CB Antonio Cromartie comes with a plane full of baggage. If the D is to improve, it will have to come from some guys on the 09 team developing,

3. Does RB LaDainian Tomlinson have anything left? I don’t think so.

AFC North


1. How much will the D fall without S Ed Reed in the backfield full time? The D plays much more aggressively when they have the great eraser in the deep middle. How much can he contribute this year? Is a 6M price tag too much for a part time player?

2. Can the new CBs play up to the level of the front 7? This has the makings of dissention in the locker room if the pass D doesn’t play well.

3. How many balls will WR Anquan Boldin catch? For the last few years the team has not had a true #1 receiver. How much better will the O be? A lot!


1. What happens to the running game if RB Cedric Benson is suspended? With QB Palmer having an off year in 09, it was the running of Benson that propelled the O.

2. Will QB Carson Palmer get back to his previous levels of performance or is age beginning to catch up to him? Palmer has not been the same since the injury in the playoff loss to the Steelers.

3. Will the lame duck status of HC Marvin Lewis hold the team back or propel them to new heights to keep their coach? The history of the team indicates that two winning seasons in a row are unlikely.


Check out my article on the Browns question marks on NFLDraftDog.com under team reports.,


1. With QB Ben Roethlisberger being out for 4-6 games, how big a hole will the team be in when he returns. Will he be mentally ready to play? By rule, after training camp ends, he can have no contract with the team at all until he is reinstated by the league. Will the Steelers be out of the race by the time he gets back?

2. Can the running game get back to the old S teeler level without RB Willie Parker? A lot of the trouble in the last few years has been the lack of run blocking by the O line. Can that group come together without OT Willie Colon who is out with an Achilles’ tendon injury. I doubt it.

3. How much will S Troy Polamalu be able to play this year. Without him, the Steeler D is just average.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on ;and edits .

The Titans will be at destiny's door again in 09 but will they find the key to open it?

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When the Titans were the Houston Oilers, then head coach Buddy Ryan said that they had knocked on the door of the AFC Championship a couple of times and promised to kick it down next year. They didn’t and he was gone a season later.

For most of last year, the Titans were considered by nearly everyone the best team in the AFC if not the NFL. Then they lost to the Jets and that seemed to take the heart out of the team. They ended up doing what they have for all the Super Bowls but 2000—watching from the sidelines. This year could be different, but don’t bet the house on it unless you have a balloon payment due on it soon. Chances are 4-1 they will be the second or third best team in the conference. It will take luck and avoiding injuries to get the Titans to big game.

Former starting quarterback Vince Young will be fighting a possibly terminal case of splinters from carrying the clip board all year. Kerry Collins is the starter and Young has done absolutely nothing to win over the coaching staff or the team other than run his mouth. Collins is calm, accurate, very instinctive and has an above average arm. Young has an above average mouth and arm but has yet to put in the time to learn the playbook or read defenses on the fly.

The Titans have an outstanding running game. The Titans knew that rookie Chris Johnson was fast but they had no idea that he could run inside the way he does. He is establishing himself as one of the top half dozen runners in the league and can take a simple plunge or wheel route to the endzone. USC second banana LenDale White will have the same role this year in Tennessee. White has slimmed down to 229 and looks faster while not losing his power. He is in a contract year and won’t be back in 2010. FB Ahmard Hall is vastly underrated.

The Titans got Steeler UFA WR Nate Washington to sign and he will start opposite last year wideout Justin Gage. Washington was the 3rd WR last year in Pittsburgh but is expected to be the deep threat and top option in 09. He is not a top 15 WR. Gage will be the possession pass catcher and is good at that role. The reserves are thin with that group including the talented but baby bean green Kenny Britt and a bunch of stiffs.

The team will use 2 TEs a lot again and have a couple of the best in the league. Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler can both block and catch. Neither will get deep but can control the short middle of the field.

The O line isn’t full of brand names but the line works well together and is rock solid. LT Michael Roos, C Kevin Mawae and RG Jake Scott are all pro bowl quality and starters LG Eugene Amano RT David Stewart are good in this system and getting better. Backup C/G Leroy Harris is capable of filling in any of the inside spots.

The one question mark on the team is the D line’s ability to continue to play at a high level without the traded DT Albert Haynesworth. Tony Brown who played LDT will probably get that job with Jason Jones replacing Brown unless either Jovan Haye or Sen’Derrick Marks take his place. RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch is going to have to return to top form after a groin problem last year and Dave Ball will play opposite him on first and second down. The freak Jevon Kearse returns to the Titans this season and should be a force again in passing situations.

RLB Keith Bulluck leads the backers and is outstanding. LLB David Thornton, MLB Stephen Tulloch are both fine but there is no quality depth so all three will have to stay healthy. Their success will in large part be determined by how well the D line makes up for Hayesworth’s absence.

The Titans have one of the very best D back groups in the league. CBs Nick Harper and Cortland Finnegan join FS Michael Griffin and SS Chris Hope to form a group all playing at a pro bowl level. Backups FS/Nickel back Vincent Fuller and SS Donnie Nickey provide both experience and ability.

OVERALL: The Titans are among the top 5 teams in the league in terms of talent. They have to stay healthy as do their competitors to get to the big game. But the Titans also have to overcome their tendency of losing to the Steelers, Pats and Colts in big games. Each of those teams seem to have the mental edge against Tennessee. This year they could well overcome their past losses and get to the Super Bowl but I doubt it. But at the very least, they should make the playoffs and be among the last 4 AFC teams on the board.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .


Technorati Tags: nfl,nfl draft,Titans,Johnson,White,Collins,Young,Steelers,Colts,Patroits,AFC,Thornton,Washington,Gage,Stewart,Haynesworth,Bulluck,Hope,Harper,Flinnegan

Has Kurt Warner already punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame?

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Fryingpan Sports

Has Kurt Warner already punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame?


By Bill Smith

Technorati Tags: Warner, Super Bowl, Cardinals, Giants, NFL, NFL DRAFT, Rams, Leinart, Manning, NFC, AFC, MVP, Whisenhunt, Green, Vermeil, Martz

Kurt Warner will be only the third QB in the history of the NFL to go to the Super Bowl with 2 different teams. But unlike Craig Morton (1970 Dallas & 1977 Denver when he had a passer rating of 0.0 in the Super Bowl vs. Dallas) or Earl Morrall (1968 Baltimore & 1972 Miami who was benched for a recovered Bob Griese) Kurt carried the entire franchise on his back all the way to Tampa Bay. Most of you probably know that.

Warner has also ranked right at the top since 2003 in NFL history for all time quarterback rating. He was #1 after the 2003 season, and is now #3 (as of the end of 07). Most of the other guys below him on that list are already in the Hall. But you probably never thought about the two teams that Kurt took to the Super Bowl.

1999 St. Louis Lambs—The lambs were perhaps the most dysfunctional team in the league. Head coach Dick Vermeil almost walked away for the second time in his career after the 1998 4-12 season. The Rosenblooms were about ready to fire the entire staff at the end of the 1998 season but decided to give them one more chance. The Lambs had so much faith in Kurt Warner that they put him on the expansion draft list for the Browns. The Browns could have selected him as a vet allocation player. Had they selected Warner, the fortunes of both teams would have been totally different.

Then in a preseason game, starting QB Trent Green went down with a season ending injury. Vermeil looked around and the only one standing there ready to take the ball—Kurt Warner. All Kurt did was carry the team with the able assistance of another newcomer to the Lambs Marshall Faulk to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl. Kurt won the 1999 league MVP and the Super Bowl MVP. Vermeil quit on top and the offensive coordinator Mike Martz took over as head coach. The Lambs were officially the Rams again and being called the Greatest show on Turf.

Over the next two seasons, the Rams went 24-8 and were in the NFC championship game both years and the Super Bowl once. In the 2001 season, Kurt again won the league MVP but the Rams lost the Super Bowl to the Pats on a field goal in the last seconds of the game.

There were differences between the Vermeil and Martz systems. The biggest one is that Martz didn’t believe in keeping a TE or RB in to help protect the QB. Add that to the rotation of what were at best average O-linemen because of injury and the QBs got hit often and hard.

In 2002, the all pro left tackle Orlando Pace went down along with a couple of other members of the O line. Warner suffered a broken hand in the 6th game of the season. Bulger took over as the starter. In 02 the Rams went 7-9 and in 03 with Bulger at the helm they went 12-4 but didn’t make the Super Bowl. Since then the Rams have become the Lambs again and have regrown their wool. They have been sheared regularly by every team in the NFL. After the beating that Kurt took in the Martz system, he was never able to get healthy again at St. Louis.

In 2004 Warner was released and signed with the Giants. He tutored rookie Eli Manning and helped turn the other Manning into a future Super Bowl QB. In 2005 Warner went to Arizona again to be the tutor and mentor to a rookie QB Matt Leinart. In both cases, the organization had to put the first round rookies in even though Warner was the better QB. They had not only used high first round choices on them, the teams’ GMs had spent millions of dollars to sign them. But in 05 at Arizona, Warner started 10 games because Leinart wasn’t ready to start. In 06 Kurt started the season but the coaching staff was feeling the heat over the Leinart draft and head coach Dennis Green put the youngster in at Atlanta in game 5 then let him start at home against the Chiefs in game 6. He struggled and was only able to produce a QB rating of 74 in 10 games that season. Also being as fragile as fine china, he went down again in game 15 and was replaced by Warner.

In 07 Ken Whisenhunt became the head coach replacing Green. Whisenhunt was not wedded to the Leinart pick but did start him in game 1. Warner came in as a relief pitcher in games 3-5 and won two of them. Again, Leinart went down and Warner came to the rescue. Kurt played very well in 07 despite suffering a major injury to his left (non-throwing) arm due to poor pass protection but still had a passer rating of 89.8.

In 08, Whisenhunt named Leinart the starter but promised to have an open competition. Kurt won the competition and had another MVP type season and was a favorite until the Cards hit a rough patch late in the regular season. But in the playoffs, Kurt was back at the very top of his game. Despite very questionable pass protection, almost no running game, and a very up and down defense, Kurt led the Cards to the Super Bowl. In the game against the Eagles for the NFC championship, he had a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

In my opinion, even if he can not reproduce the 1999 Rams magic and win the 09 Super Bowl, Kurt has done enough to earn election to the NFL Hall of Fame. He has done more with less than most of those QBs already there.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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