Questions in the AFC South and West training camps.

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

AFC South


  1. Was last year the breakout season for QB Matt Schaub or will he go back to being just another guy under center? He had better be up to last year because there is nothing behind him. If he gets hurt or regresses, HC Gary Kubiak may want to tear up his new extension through 2012. His choices would be to start Dan Orlovsky or John David Booty.
  2. How will the D survive the 4 game suspension for LB Brian Cushing? The team has spent top draft choices on the D line but got very little pass pressure from the front 4. Cushing won the D Rookie of the Year in 08 but was hit with the 4 game suspension.
  3. Who will start at RB and can they hold onto the ball? Steve Slaton was the starter last year. He is very quick and fast but has fumbleitis. He is also coming off a season ending injury. The team drafted RB Ben Tate and expect him to get the majority of carries this year.


  1. Can S Bob Sanders stay healthy this year? This D is not nearly as good without him. He is the combination of the enforcer on the line and the eraser of coverage mistakes in the backfield. I like both S Melvin Bullitt and Jamie Silva but they can not do what Sanders does for his buddies.
  • Will QB Payton Manning ever get his new deal? Face facts. This team is 8-8 without Manning. The D is suspect and the running game is invisible. Get the deal done in the uncapped year and be done with it.
  • Will the Colts ever be able to run the ball? “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” It has been a long time since the Colts had a running game that can run out the clock at the end of the game. Even the best QB in the league needs a little balance in the O.

  • Jaguars

    1. Will it be QB David Garrard or HC Jack Del Rio to be the first to lose their jobs? There is no seat hotter than Del Rio’s in the league. He has not been given much in the draft and the team is broke. The y have been forced to allow good players to leave as FA. Garrard got a 60M deal after having a QB rating of 102 in 07. But he has been in the 80s in each of the last 2 seasons.
  • Will any of the WRs step up to the job? Last year Mike Sims-Walker had 63 catches but that is a minimum for a #1 WR. He has had just 1 good year since being drafted in 2007. Mike Thomas should be #2 but is really a 3 at best. The rest of the roster is filled with guys that never made it elsewhere including Troy Williamson, Nate Hughes, and Kassim Osgood.
  • Can vet UFA all star LDE Aaron Kampman get the kiddie corps that will start with him to produce a pass rush? The rest of the lineup includes LDT Tyson Alualu, RDT Terrance Knighton, and RDE Derrick Harvey. They are green as baby peas but all are athletic. If they don’t step up, Kampman will be quadruple teamed on every play.

  • Titans

    1. Is the transformation of QB Vince Young real or is it Memorex? He looked good replacing Kerry Collins who seemed to get old over a single weekend. I still don’t trust Young’s commitment to the game and willingness to spend the time in the film room to become a top QB. He has the physical ability but does not seem to process information quickly enough to succeed.
  • Will the WRs do the job? None of the Titan WRs scare defenses. They don’t catch the ball consistently and are not yard after the catch guys. RB Charles Johnson is a deep threat as a receiver but the team tends to over use him as a runner.
  • Will the losses of UFAs on D finally bring the D down? The latest losses were DL Kyle Vanden Bosch, LB Keith Bulluck and DB Nick Harper. It is hard to lose that kind of veteran leadership let alone the talent on the D. Can the new guys get the Titans’ opponents off the field on 3rd down? I doubt it.

  • AFC Weak–West.


    1. Which all star will HC Josh McDaniels run out of town this season? McDaniels seems to want to try to win with a bunch of guys not stars. Mac, that doesn’t work. He ran pro bowlers QB Jay Cutler out of town in 2009. This year he sent WR Brandon Marshall and TE Tony Scheffler out as well. The only real star they have on the team is OB Elvis Dumervil who Mac irritated by moving him from a 4-3 DE to a 3-4 OB.
  • Can the Broncos get QB Tim Tebow the coaching he needs to become a quality NFL QB? As I have said before, I think Tebow can become a very good QB but he needs quality coaching. I don’t see that in Denver.
  • Can the Bronco O survive the loss of their 2 best receivers? No. WR Jabar Gaffney doesn’t run accurate patterns. QB Kyle Orton needs the WRs to be there on time at the right spot. Orton has a below average arm but that is not a problem because the speed WR is gone. Despite losing Marshall’s 100 catches a year, the biggest lost may be TE Scheffler. Sheff was Orton’s safety net. When the blocking broke down Sheff was the guy he went to bail out the O.

  • Chiefs

    1. Will the New England West coaching staff ever get QB Matt Cassel to look as good as he did replacing Brady? No. GM Scott Pioli needed to bring in quality coaches because HC Todd Haley has no idea what he is doing. Pioli hired Charlie Weis on offense and Romeo Crennel on defense. Weis has the challenge of turning Cassel into a NFL QB.
  • Can the WRs get the job done? This seems to be a problem around the league because the drafts for WRs have been spotty at best over the last few years. Chris Chambers and Dwayne Bowe enter camp as the starters but don’t overlook RB/WR/Parking attendant Dexter McCluster. Little Mac has the quicks and elusiveness to become a real factor in the O.
  • Will the high draft choices on the D ever produce? DEs Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson were both high 1st round picks. Neither has produced like expected. Dorsey looked lost last year at DT and DE. Jackson needs to get his motor going. The DBs will have to cover a long time if the front 7 can’t do a better job putting pressure on the opponent’s QB.

  • Raiders

    1. How much will new QB Jason Campbell help the O? Quite a bit. Al Davis blew the pick of JaMarcus Russell and threw away 2 extra seasons waiting for him to learn the O. Campbell want to prove that Washington made a mistake in letting him go.
  • When will the Raiders realize that former 1st round pick (4th overall) RB Darren McFadden is only a 3rd down back? McFadden can not be a 300 carry a year guy. He will break down. Look for RB Michael Bush to become a major factor in the running game. If not Campbell will be throwing a lot.
  • Can anyone on this team catch the ball? 2009 1st round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is the #1 guy but he caught just 9 passes last year. Chaz Schilens is the other starter going into training camp. Enough said.

  • Chargers

    1. Can QB Philip Rivers survive without LT Marcus McNeill and WR Vincent Jackson? McNeill protected his blind side. Tre Thomas takes over but how much does Thomas have left?
  • Without Jackson, who will catch the ball for Rivers? TE Gates is solid but the WR corps consists of Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee, Buster Davis, and Josh Reed. Floyd is no #1 and Naanee is unproven at best. Davis, a former 1st round pick, has been a total bust up to now. This is his last chance in SD. FA Reed is a possession receiver at best.
  • Can OLB Shawne Merriman regain his speed pass rush? Merriman is 2 years removed from his injury and this should be the year he regains his pro bowl status. If not, he won’t be back.

  • Can this team ever get over the hump and get to the Super Bowl? No and the coaching staff will be gone in 2011 with or without a new CBA.

  • 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 He has also published several novels on

    and edits .

    Technorati Tags: nfl,super bowl,playoffs,Raiders,Chargers,Broncos,Chiefs,Titans,Colts,Jaguars,Texans,DeMaurice Smith,CBA

    • Author:
    • Published: Jun 29th, 2010
    • Category: NFL Football
    • Comments: Comments Off on Sports Buffet for 06/29/10

    Sports Buffet for 06/29/10

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    Lions president Tom Lewand was recently charged with DUI. That got him a not so friendly visit with Comm. Goodell this week. While there is no decision yet on punishment for the charge or from the league, the players and NFLPA Ex. Dir. DeMaurice Smith will be watching this case very closely. They will want to see if management is held to the same standard as the players.

    UFA RB Brian Westbrook was charged with DUI in February but has been found not guilty.

    Bengal RB Cedric Benson is in trouble again. This time he was charged with assault with injury resulting from an altercation at a downtown Austin Texas bar. He reportedly punched a bar employee in the face. He paid his bond but the charge is a class A misdemeanor. It will get him a ticket to meet with Comm. Goodall sometime soon.

    Steelers OT Willie Colon’s hurt his Achilles’ tendon and will miss the entire year. He had started 54 straight games. The team is searching for a replacement but the good ones are gone.


    We are getting closer to knowing where the big name UFAs will be going. One thing that looks fairly certain is that LeBron will leave Cleveland. Current bets have LeBron and Bosh in Chicago, Wade and Amar’e Stoudemire in Miami, Boozer in New York or New Jersey. Sorry Clippers, it doesn’t look like any of the top level will be going there.

    Dirk Nowitzki has reportedly officially opted out of his player option with Dallas. The team believes they will be able to resign him soon. Don’t hold your breath. Nowitzki is going to get a max deal from a team that misses out on the big 3 UFAs.


    If the Cubs don’t have enough problems, SP Carlos Zambrano threw a temper tantrum last week. Unfortunately, it was the best thing he has thrown all year. He has been suspended indefinitely by the team and has yet to hear from the league. He is paid like an ACE and thinks of himself as one. He has never thrown like an ACE. At some point the team is going to have to just cut bait with Zambrano.

    The Red Sox have more injuries and that will keep them out of the playoffs. Victor Martinez was added to the list yesterday with a broken thumb. Perhaps the biggest loss was Dustin Pedroia who went down a couple of days ago with a broken foot.


    The US team is out of the World Cup. But that won’t impact the interest in the sport in the US. Just like the NHL failed to capitalize on their international success, the US team wouldn’t have impacted pro soccer here even if they had won the World Cup. The lack of interest prevents both leagues from getting a big time TV deal for regular season games. Soccer doesn’t have a big enough fan base despite the fact that young adults from 20-40 grew up playing the game.

    Part of the problem is that the best athletes go to the NBA or NFL for both the money and the glory. MLB is next in line and what is left over falls to soccer. That limits the interest of Americans that expect to see the very best from professional sports.

    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 He has also published several novels on

    and edits .

    Technorati Tags: NFL,NBA,MLB,World Cup,Westbrook,Benson,Goodell,NFLPA,DeMaurice Smith,ufa,LeBron,Nowitzki,Stoudemire,Bosh,Cavs,Heat,Nets,Clippers,Bulls,Cubs,Red Sox,Zambrano,Pedroia

    Analysis: the NFL proposal for the "enhanced season"

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    Note: Tuesday we will have a projection of the NBA Draft

    I have some good news and some bad news about a possible CBA. For the first time in 4 months, the NFL management council reps met with DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA team yesterday. The proposal that the NFL put on the table is an 18 game regular season that would eliminate 2 preseason games.

    On the league side, the preseason games are very profitable. The teams generally require season ticket buyers to also pay full price for the 2 preseason games in their stadium. That has been a bone of contention between the Union and the league for several negotiation cycles. The last agreement solved the problem when the union won a percentage of TOTAL REVENUE in the last CBA.

    NFL players currently get a “daily stipend” for their work in the preseason. Under the NFL proposal they would get full salary shares for the 2 games that become part of the regular season. That would add 12.5% of their salary to their gross pay. With the addition to individual players pay, the league is hoping that the players will accept a lower total percentage of revenues. That sounds good. However, as is usually the case with big money deals, things are not that simple.

    The addition of 2 regular season games would change the nature of the late season. In the preseason, the starters play a maximum of 3/4ths of a game. Most play only 1/2 of the 3rd game of the preseason. The new “enhanced” season would require them to play 8 extra quarters because they would still play the same amount of preseason snaps to get down their timing.

    The league has estimated that the 2 extra regular-season games would require the expansion of rosters to 55 from 53. I have done some analysis that indicates a roster of 60 would be required but no one can say for sure.

    What we do know for sure is that the elimination of 2 preseason games would reduce the chance for rookies and young players to improve and to prove their value to the team. The NFL needs to find out which rookie or young players will stick and which need to be cut. The result will be a lot more physical practices and a couple of “controlled scrimmages” to replace the preseason games that are eliminated by the proposal. While the league will not comment on this fact, the NFLPA is very much aware of the extra risk to players.

    It is not a coincidence that the union has become more sensitive to the “intensity and tempo of drills.” As a result, several teams this year have lost OTA sessions because they violated the guidelines for those practices. The Union warned the players about the OTAs and reminded them to report any possible violations. That indicates that the Union doesn’t view the “enhanced” season as a positive step.

    The Bottom Line:

    The Union is not going to look on this proposal warmly. It does give the players a reason to vote for the plan but the NFL is going to have to add 7 not 2 players to each team to get the Union to recommend approval to the members. Without that “seal of approval” the membership would not likely support a new CBA.

    Technorati Tags: NFL,DeMaurice Smith,NFLPA,Collective Barginning Agreement,CBA,union,enhanced season,18 game regular season,negotiations

    B I G News in football!

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    College football:

    As the Big 12 sinks slowly in the west and sun pulls away from the shore we say goodbye to another college conference.

    If you want to know where college football is going–follow the money! Nebraska will sign with the Big 10 Friday. That will allow the league to become the Big 12 because the majority of other teams in the conference formerly known as the Big 12 are deserting like rats from a sinking ship. Colorado has already gone to the PAC 10. It is expected to be followed by the Texas and Oklahoma teams soon. The PAC 10 will become the first “Super” conference with 16 teams.

    The question is why is all this change going on? The answer is money. Nothing is more greedy than the college presidents around the country. That is why not only do they regularly demand more money from the state legislature but college fees to students have increased at 10 times the rate of inflation over the last 25 years.

    The Big 10 gets 88 cents for every subscriber to the conference TV network. With the addition of a big name football school like Nebraska, look for that fee to go up. The viewers in Nebraska are out of the “primary” market so the conference will get only 8 cents for each subscriber there. However, the Big 10+2 will likely vote the newcomer a full share of the booty.

    The Big 12 had a lousy TV contract. The teams that are leaving to go to the PAC 10+6 believe that conference will get a REALLY good TV deal under the new configuration.

    Look for the ACC to bring Miami into their league plus someone else.  That would help them be less likely to be savaged by another league.  The funny thing is that had Notre Dame agreed to be the 12th Big 10 team, none of this might have happened.

    The one thing you won’t see ANYWHERE else.

    When the Big 10+2 becomes 16 and the PAC 10+6 get together, they will be able to put a great deal of pressure on the NCAA.  Most media people are complaining about the demise of the Big 12.  This change could well get us closer to the NCAA BcS Playoff that we all want.  The super conferences are going to be in a much more powerful position to push the NCAA into making changes to help the game.

    USC gets its comeuppance!

    The NCAA has hit the USC football program with a 30 scholarship reduction and a 2 year ban on bowl games as a result of the 5 year study into their lack of institutional control. When you lose 10 scholarships each year for 3 years, it will greatly impact your program.  This will really take USC out of the running for the top athletes for the next 2 years because a top 100 kid would not want to be banned from a shot at a bowl.

    The USC basketball program was excluded from the NCAA tournament for a single year.  That was served last year by the team with a self-imposed penalty.

    The NFLPA sues the NFL over the TV deal in 2011.

    This is another “I told you so.” Over 6 months ago, I predicted that the NFLPA and DeMaurice Smith would sue over the TV deal that will pay the league even if there is no football in 2011. I will keep an eye on this for you but you can bet the farm that it will not move the league and the union any closer to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    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 He has also published several novels on

    and edits .

    Technorati Tags: College football,NCAA,Big 10,Big 12,PAC Ten,USC,NFLPA,DeMaurice Smith,NFL,CBA,Collective Barganing Agreement,TV Deal,Nebraska,Oklahoma,Texas,Colorado

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