Around the NFL for Wile Card week.

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The Coaching carousel spins.

Redskins—Zorn is gone. Former Denver coach Shanahan is in and has total power. See there is not a “no win” policy in Washington. Shanahan is smart and will get a lot more out of the talent that is there. The biggest problems with the Redskins are the O line and QB. The D is solid but has suffered because it has been on the field nearly 40 minutes a game. Shanahan will get the running game going and will move on from QB Campbell soup can.

Browns—Mangenous is still there. Browns Pres. Holmgren announced today that Mangini and his minions will be given one more season. Most observers had hoped that the team would at least demote or fire OC Daboll because he was clearly over his head in that spot. Holmgren is an offensive coach and all the Browns fans can hope is that the he will be puppet master calling the shots for the O.

There are a couple of things going on here that made that decision reasonable. First, there is a 75% chance that there will be no NFL football in 2011. For all the reasons I have published here months ago, there will be no agreement in time to prevent an uncapped year in 2010 and little chance that the two sides will agree to a deal before the drop dead date early in 2011.

The second reason is that I believe the rumors that have Jon “Chuckie” Gruden joining the team after football returns as head coach of the Browns. I would love that combination. I believe it would finally turn the team around. Both Holmgren and Gruden realize what a big job this is going to be. But both thrive in turn around jobs.

Steelers—The staff of coach Tomlin is paying the price for the team not making the playoffs. OL coach Zierlein and not so special teams coach Ligashesky have been fired. This is a move to take some heat off the HC chair. If the team comes around next season, Tomlin will keep his job. If not he will be the next one to get the pink slip out of Steel town.

Giants—O line coach Waufle was fired yesterday. The O line was one of the best in the league in 08 but disintegrated in 09. It caused QB Manning to run for his life on almost every play. The way the team rolled over and died late in the season, the O line is not the only problem. Look for more changes in the Big Apple.

Bears—The Bears fired OL Luke Butkus and quality control/wr assistant coach London. The problem on the O line was age not coaching. OT Williams was the only top 3 round pick in the last 6 years for the team. C Kreutz is a year past serviceable, Gs Garza and Omiyale are “never was” guys that are below starting quality and RT Shaffer is a journeyman. The WR problem is lack of WRs. The combination of Bennett, Davis and Hester don’t equal one #1 NFL quality guy.

Chiefs—Kansas City is trying to become “Patriots West.” As I have written before the only way that coach Haley saved his job was to bring experienced coordinators in like training wheels on a bike. Former ND and Pat OC Weis has been named OC. Look for current DC Pendergast to be the next causality. There are rumors that ex-Brown coach Crennel will be named DC. That might give Haley enough experience on his staff to make up for his lack of it.

The INs and the OUTs.

INs

Jets—The Jets got REALLY lucky being scheduled in their last 2 games against two teams that had already clinched their playoff position. The Jets won those games and they are in. They are playing a little better than they were earlier in the year but you can’t go far with a rookie QB at the helm unless you come from Pittsburg.

Ravens—The Birds won the games they were supposed to win to get WC spot. They are matched up against the Pats and that should be a great game.

Cowboys—Who says threats don’t work to motivate players and coaches? JJ threatened to blow up the team and start over if they missed the playoffs and the team responded. They beat the Eagles easily to win the NFC East. Let’s see how far they go. They will meet the Birds again in the Wild Card round.

Packers—The Pack beat the Cards easily and that will be the Wild Card game. The Cards rested a number of players that were nicked up. They will play this weekend.

The OUTS

Broncos—After a 6-0 start, the team disintegrated going 2-8 and failed to make the playoffs. It was only the 2nd team since the playoffs were expanded to 12 team to go 6-0 and not make the big dance. The problem is the head coach. He ticked off his all pro QB Cutler so badly that he was forced to trade him. Then he benched his all pro WR Marshall twice losing all those games. McD is not qualified to be head coach of a peewee team.

Texans—This team is just not talented enough to be much over .500. They have had some good drafts in the early picks but not enough guys contributing from the middle and late rounds to get over the hump.

Dolphins—One of my readers asked why I didn’t talk more about the Dolphins. Here you are. The Fish amazed everyone in 2008 going from the 1st overall draft pick to the AFC East championship. This year they were scheduled against other playoff teams and that and key injuries to their QB and RB proved to be too much to get to the playoffs for a 2nd year in a row. They are a really good team that has found their QB of the future in Henne.

Steelers—A Steeler team that can’t run the ball won’t make the playoffs. They are going to have to solve the O line problems to both protect the QB and create holes for the RBs. Their D missed Polamalu most of the season. The D has become far too dependent on him to correct mistakes that the other players make.

Giants—A combination of injuries and guys getting old in a hurry killed their chances for the playoffs. This team will be reworked in a big way in the off season.

Falcons—This team was another surprise in 08 that failed to make the dance in 09. They are getting better but had a lot of injuries that hurt its chances of making the post season.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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Around the NFL for 11/14/09

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SF 10 CH 6

People around Chicago are wondering what is wrong with QB Cutler. The answer is two fold. First, the protection is bad to terrible. Second, he does not have anything close to the receivers he did in Denver. WR Hester is a KR trying to become a WR and he is the Bears top guy. The next best WR is Bennett but he is averaging less than 4 catches a game. Too many of the passes are going to RBs both because Cutler doesn’t have anyone getting open down field and he doesn’t have enough time to wait for them to uncover. TE Olsen is the best option that Culter has to go down field. The D is doing its job but they won’t win many games scoring 6 points.

The 49ers are no offensive juggernaut either but Coach Singletary has them playing hard every snap. He has just enough talent to be dangerous to team’s playoff hopes. QB Smith is showing a few hints of getting it but only time will tell if he ever becomes worth the 1st overall pick.

GAME OF THE WEEK—NE @ IN

The Pats and the Colts have had the best non-division rivalry in the league over the last few years. They meet again in Indy. Given the Colts’ injury problems in the defensive backfield, QB Brady will probably be throwing a lot. The Pats’ running game has been below average. RB Taylor is hurt and Maroney is not producing the long runs he has in the past. But Brady is hot and nearly back to his pre-injury production. The Pats’ D has struggled more than usual but at 6-2 they have a 2 game lead in the AFC East.

The Colts are depending on QB Manning because their running O has not developed. He doesn’t have his #2 WR Gonzalez who is on IR. No problem. TE Clark and WR Wayne have 60 and 59 catches receptively. WR Collie has 32 catches and Garcon has 23. The Pats DBs will struggle to keep all those targets covered.

I think the Colts will win in a very close game.

CN @ PT

The Bengals squeaked out a win at home. They will not win this one. The key will be if Cincy can protect QB Palmer. The running of Benson will keep this close because Pit can’t run much. Cincy has lost a couple of key defenders and Pit has S Polamalu who was out for the first game. Pittsburgh wins in a close game and takes control of the division.

DA @ GB

The Boys are coming off a big win last week at Philly. The Pack got embarrassed at Tampa last week. So of course the Pack will win. The Pack needs this win badly to stay in the NFC North race. The Boys can’t seem to stand prosperity. They seem to take a step forward to make room for a couple of steps back. The Pack O line is a problem but the Boys will struggle to slow down the passing game. Everything here points to a Boy win and that is why they won’t.

PH @ SD

Both teams need this game badly. Both are 5-3 but trail in their divisions. The Eagles looked really good up to last week and their loss to Dallas. They should get RB Westbrook back and the O is not the same without him. He has provided the spark that ignites the Eagle O with his running and pass receiving. The Eagle D may be missing CB Brown and NT Bunkley both of whom have missed practice time this week. They will need both.

The Chargers have not been able to run the ball at all. Since the Eagles will start blitzing coming down in the hotel elevators, the Charger O line had better be playing its best. The Eagle D will harass QB Rivers all day and the Birds should win.

MUST WIN—Denver at Washington

The Broncos were 6-0 at their bye. But they have lost both games since and scored only 17 points total. They have to win at the Redskins because there is a no win policy in the nation’s capitol. If the Broncos lose they will have wasted their great start. The D has played well even in the losses. It has been the total disintegration of the O that has caused the problem. Denver wins and gets 2 games up on SD.

Stinker of the week (decade?)–Chiefs @ Raiders 

Anyone that bets on this game deserves to lose money no matter who they picked to win.  Pres. Obama will need bail out any company that has to advertise on this game because no one in their right mind will watch it.

 

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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For the first time in decades the Bears have a QB!

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The Bears have been drafting and signing QBs right and left for years without ever finding one that can lead the O to a level of performance that would equal the D. Now they have their man.

The Bears better be right that Jay Cutler is the one because they have cut or traded every other QB on the roster that had any experience. Cutler is in my opinion one of the best young QBs in the league. He reads Ds and processes information quickly, has a strong arm, and the leadership that keeps the team focused. But the problem lies in Cutler’s inability to both throw and catch the ball on the same play. Frankly, the Bears have a 100 point QB and a 25 point set of WRs.

Devin Hester is the Bears #1 WR by default. While he is developing into a fair WR by increasing his catches from 20 as the 3rd WR in 07 to 51 last season. The problem is that he is also the greatest weapon on special teams in the league. While his increased emphasis on the WR part of the job has not hurt his kick return numbers, it has devastated his punt return numbers. He averaged 12.8 yards per return in 06 with 3 TDs and 15.5 yards in 07 with 4 TDs he had only 6.2 yards per attempt in 08 with 0 TDs. For an offense that struggled to get out of its own way, that was a disaster. The news about #2 is worse. The Bears used their first of 2 3rd round picks on Earl Bennett (Vanderbilt) but he was a total bust in year one. That is not too unusual because it takes a WR a couple of years to blossom. But Bennett is expected to instantly become a factor. That is not likely to happen even though Cutler and he spent some time together in college. Rashied Davis and rookie Juaquin Iglesias are the backups. Davis started 12 games in 08 but caught only 35 passes. Iglesias is a project.

Things are better at TE. The Bears go 2 TE often and both Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark can stretch the field and open up running lanes. Olsen is a great Fantasy football option.

In 08 rookie Matt Forte ran for 1,238 yards but averaged a pedestrian 3.9 yards per attempt. He is a good receiver and led the team with 63 catches. Despite the struggles of the O line, 3.9 per attempt is not enough. Should the passing game actually threaten anyone, it could improve the average to 4.2 or more. That is essential. Backup Kevin Jones is two years removed from the knee injury and should be better in 09. Adrian Peterson is the “other” Peterson but has 3rd down ability.

The 09 O line is talented but old and fragile. UFA signing LT Orlando Pace has missed more games in the last 3 years than he has played. FA LG Frank Omiyale is paid like a pro bowler but doesn’t play like it. C Olin Kreutz is in his 12th year and it shows. He has lost the punch and first step that made him a pro bowler so often. RG Roberto Garza works hard and is OK in small spaces but can not pull due to a lack of athleticism. RT Chris Williams the 14th pick in 08 struggled with a back injury and conditioning in his rookie season. He needs to prove he was worth the money. Backup Josh Beekman started for the Bears last year and FA Kevin Shaffer started for the Browns. They are more than adequate.

The D line is full of name brands that just did not play well in 08. LE Adewale Ogunleye, LT Tommie Harris and RE Alex Brown get pro bowl votes but not enough pressure on the QB. In the Bear D, they are the key pass rushers. NT Dusty Dvoracek works hard but is not as consistent in collapsing the pocket as he should. He will be pressed by T Marcus Harrison and T Anthony Adams. E Mark Anderson won the RE job in 06 with 12 sacks but lost his job back to Brown in 07.

WLB Lance Briggs and MLB Brian Urlacher are pro bowl quality. Even at 31 Urlacher still gets it done. SLB Pisa Tinoisamoa was picked up off waivers from the Rams. He is adequate at best. Jamar Williams, Nick Roach and Hunter Hillenmeyer provide the backup strength and all have starting experience. Marcus Freeman is a developmental project but has physical talent.

The D backfield is above average when healthy. CB Nate Vasher has been in and out of the lineup for the last 2 years. CB Charles Tillman is solid as is SS Kevin Payne against the run. Payne struggles in coverage. Corey Graham or Danieal Manning will play FS. Manning is the athlete but Graham has the cover skills that Manning lacks.

OVERALL: The Bears will go as far as their O takes them. If the receivers can develop, the O will be fine and the Bears will challenge the Packers for the Division Title. Cutler is the type of QB that can take the team to a title if he has a decent team around him. The Bears have the D and a reasonable running game. They need the passing game to become a complete team.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Cutler,Bears,Browns,Hester. Clark,Olsen,Forte,Kreutz,Williams,Pace,Ogunleye,Harris,Brown,Briggs,Urlacher,Tillman,Vasher,Manning,Payne

Dallas needs a new head coach to get to the next level

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I live at a lake. I see people fall off their jet skies all the time. The craft just goes around in a circle. That is what has happened to the Cowboys. They have not won a playoff game since Romo was in high school. Without a coach in control of a pro team, the franchise will not advance.

The reason that Wade Phillips is still the coach must be that Jerry Jones wants to surround himself with lackeys. We know that Jones knows a coach when he sees one because he has had a couple of the best in the history of the game. So why Phillips? Because Jones wants to be “the” star of stars in Dallas. Phillips couldn’t be a star in a basketball league of 5 year olds.

QB Tony Romo is more of a pop culture star than an NFL star. He seems to lack the discipline to move from good to great. Can you imagine him lacking discipline in a Bill Cowher or Bill Belichick locker room? Romo has “weak-itis.” He rolls up big numbers against the weak teams but folds in the big games in the 4th quarter when it counts the most. That in part has prevented the Cowboys from getting to the Super Bowl. Experienced QB John Kitna is now the backup and have drafted the QB of the future in Rudy Carpenter. The future may be sooner rather than later if Romo doesn’t play better this year.

The Boys took the “excuse” of Terrell Ownes away. But in doing that, they also took the best WR on the team away as well. What the Boys are left with are two “maybe’s.” The starters are Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton. Williams has yet to prove he can be the #1 guy. Crayton will make an unbelievable catch then drop two easy ones. He also has difficulty getting open. The bench consists of Miles Austin, Sam Hurd and a group of rejects and newbies.

The one guy that Romo can count on is all pro TE Jason Witten. He is consistent, tough, and seems to always be open. 6-7 Martellus Bennett is his backup.

The Boys might be better off being a run first team. They are loaded at RB. Marion Barber is a top back and Felix Jones isn’t far behind. Add to that Tashard Choice and Keon Lattimore and you have a stable of very good RBs.

Three starters on the O line are fine. G Leonard Davis and C Andre Gurode should be probowl players again. RT Marc Colombo is OK and can be good if he applies himself. The left side of the line is the potential problem. G Kyle Kosier is coming off of an injury in his foot. LT Flozell Adams is no where close to what he was and seemed to get old in a hurry. He needs to be replaced this year but there is no replacement on hand. He will be gone next season for sure.

On the D line, the questions are at end. LE Marcus Spears has shown flashes of great ability but is consistently inconsistent. He is in the final year of his deal and will produce or move on. Ex-Charger Igor Olshansky replaces UFA Chris Canty. Igor is average at best but there is no quality depth. The NT is pro bowler Jay Ratliff. He collapses the pocket and had 7.5 sacks last year. He needs help at E. His backup will be Junior Siavii orTim Anderson.

The backers include sack master DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer who replaces Greg Ellis and is questionable. ILB Keith Brookings is fine and fellow ILB Bradie James is adequate but a little old. The depth is very suspect.

The only solid player in the secondary is CB Terence Newman. His running mate will be either Mike Jenkins or Orlando Scandrick neither of whom has proven himself. The safeties are Ken Hamlin and Gerald Sensabaugh. Hamlin fell off last year and needs to rebound. Sensabaugh replaces Roy Williams who was a nightmare in coverage. There is little behind the starters but potential.

OVERLL: Teams that put a lot of their salary cap in a few players will always lack quality depth. That has hurt the Cowboys in the past. The biggest reason that they will not make it to the Super Bowl in 09 is lack of both preparation and discipline. The team commits penalties at crunch time then makes key mistakes that keeps them from challenging for a title. Sooner or later even Jerry Jones has to realize that Wade Phillips is not up to the job.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Cowboys,Jones,Phillips,Super Bowl,NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Romo,Belichick,Cowher,Ownes,Witten,Crayton,Ware,Williams,Hamlin
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  • Published: Aug 8th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on San Diego wins the 09 AFC West by default.

San Diego wins the 09 AFC West by default.

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The Chargers are fortunate to be in the worst division in the NFL. They are a good team which puts them into the playoffs by default. They have enough stars to win the division but not enough to get them to the Super Bowl.

QB Philip Rivers is outstanding in the Norv Turner system. He is accurate and tough. His toughness was proven when he played with a bad knee. He had a pass rating of 105 last year and is still getting better. Billy Volek is one of the best backups. That is important because Rivers takes more risks than Turner would like.

The running game will depend a lot on how healthy LaDainian Tomlinson is. His last couple of years have been injury filled. Tomlinson is 30 and that is a magic age where NFL backs turn to dust. The Chargers hope that doesn’t happen this year. The team franchised Darren Sproles to insure they kept him. He is not a 20 carry plus a game guy. The real backup if LT gets hurt might be the versatile Jacob Hester or vet Michael Bennett. Hester ended his rookie season injured but looked good when he got a chance. Bennett has starting experience and is capable of 20+ carries a game.

The receivers are good and Rivers and TE Antonio Gates make them even better. Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers are both first quality receivers. Gates has the ability to get deep in the middle which insures both wideouts get fewer double teams. Malcom Floyd and Craig Davis are capable backups.

In addition to the injury to LT, the O suffered in 08 from poor line play. The running game with Sproles looked great in the playoff win against the Colts but died in the winds of Pittsburgh in the loss to the Steelers. LT Marcus McNeill had an excuse—a bad neck. The rest just played badly. G Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick and T Jeromey Clary return and Kynan Forney is the leading candidate to replace UFA Mike Goff. T L.J. Shelton and G Louis Vasquez are the top reserves.

The 09 Charger defense depends on a pair of creaky knees and the one surgically repaired knee. The two creaky knees belong to NT Jamal Williams. Despite having 11 seasons on those knees, he is the key to the D line of the team. When he is 75% he is one of the best NTs in the league. Returning RE Luis Castillo has to step up his game. He was just average last year. LE is open and Ryon Bingham has the first chance to fill it. Backup E Jacques Cesaire needs to be a factor in the rotation and has a shot to start. NT Ian Scott will sub for Williams.

The repaired knee belongs to pass rusher OB Shawne Merriman. He is the guy that puts the pressure on the QB even through double team blocks. His health can allow his running mate Shaun Phillips more effective as well. Phillips played well when Merriman was out but is not as adept at beating double teams. Rookie Larry English will learn the OB position switching from DE in college. Stephen Cooper and Tim Dobbins are solid inside and former starter Matt Wilhelm provides depth.

The D backs suffered from a lack of Merriman as much as anyone. In 07 Quentin Jammer, and Antonio Cromartie were the best corner combo in the league. Last year Cromartie fell off terribly and disclosed he had a hip problem after the season that caused his decline. If so, the corners should be fine. The FS is solid with improving Eric Weddle in that spot. SS is a question. Clinton Hart will be given the first shot but must be more consistent. Steve Gregory or Kevin Ellison will be starting if Hart fails. CBs Antoine Cason and Cletis Gordon are the primary backups there.

OVERALL: IF, and its a huge if, LT is LT again the Chargers have a chance to compete with the Pats, Steelers, Titans and Colts for the Super Bowl. If not, the Chargers will be out in the first or second round of the playoffs. They would benefit if they could win home field advantage. That might be enough to make an AFC Championship game interesting regardless of who the opponent is.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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