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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  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 12th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on What to look for in the NFL for week 14.

What to look for in the NFL for week 14.

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Saints @ Falcons The Saints are undefeated and were rolling until they had a lucky win over the Redskins. If the Saints play the same way they did last week, the winning streak could end. Otherwise if QB Ryan is not playing for the Falcons, this game will be over quickly.

Packers @ Bears Both teams are struggling to overcome injuries. The Pack will be missing NT Pickett and might be without DE Jolly and LB Barnett. The Bears lost MLB Urlacher early in the season. In addition they may be without WR Hester, OT Pace, LB Briggs and DL Harris.

The Bears have not gotten the production out of QB Cutler that they expected. Part of that is his fault but part is due to a lack of a running game, below average protection, and drops by a lesser group of receivers that he had at Denver.

The Pack has playoff hopes and must win this game to keep their wild card chances alive. The D has been playing well particularly in their win last Monday against the Ravens. They still have to play at Pittsburgh and Arizona. They need this game in case they lose one or both of those games. Packers will win but it could be ugly.

Broncos @ Colts The Colts looked good against Tennessee last week after struggling to pull out a win over the Texans the week before. The Colts seem to play up or down to the competition but are still perfect. They have clinched their division and have only home field to worry about now. They have an easy schedule the rest of the way.

The Broncos are a game behind the Chargers in the division. Their 6-0 start is a distant memory since they have lost 4 out of the last 5. The win last week against a very weak Chiefs team was little help. The Broncos have an easy schedule after this game but need to stay close to top of the division but at 8-4 they are in good shape for a wild card. The big question for them is will QB Orton be playing? If not, it will get ugly for them quickly. Either way, the Colts should win at home.

Chargers @ Cowboys Both teams need this game to stay on top of their division. It should be a very fun game to watch. The Chargers are up by 1 game and the Boys are tied with the Eagles. Both have injuries. The key for the Boys will be containing the passing game of the Chargers. The visitors must pressure Boy QB Romo to slow down a good O. The Chargers should win if LB Merriman is healthy enough to play. Otherwise it’s a tossup.

Eagles @ Giants The Birds need a win to keep pace with the Boys. The Giants are a game behind both and need to win out to insure a shot at the post season. Giant QB Manning is limping on a bad foot but the O seems to play better at home.

The Eagles won 40-17 in their earlier meeting. But they had Westbrook then and he is sidelined with a concussion. After a disaster in week 10 against the Chargers, the Birds have won 3 straight. They looked very good last week against the Falcons.

While the Birds need this game but the Giants need it more. But the O fails the Giants who are struggling to run the ball this year and the Eagles win on the road.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Bengals @ Vikings This is a key game for Cincy. It is a chance to prove that they are a contender not a pretender. A win over the NFC North leader will clinch the AFC North for Cincy. But even more important is the ability to prove that they are among the very best in the league. The key for Cincy will be run blocking. If they can manage to run the ball against the Vikes, it will slow down the pass rush and allow the Bengals to balance their O.

The Vikes have looked solid except for a bad game last week at the Cards. The last 4 game are critical for the Vikes if they want to get the 2nd seed and a bye week in the post season. The game should be close but I can’t see the Bengals pulling it out. The Vikes win by a field goal.

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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  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 24th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Rap up of Preseason Week 2 Key games

Rap up of Preseason Week 2 Key games

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Chargers @ Cardinals

The Charger O  line is not playing nearly as well as it did last year. They are giving up sacks more often than they should. Even all pro tackle McNeil is slacking. LG Goff is not doing the job.

The SD Defense looks sharp in the red zone but not so much in the middle of the field. They totally stopped QB Kurt Warner and the Cardinal O in two 1s vs 1s series in the red zone. They picked Warner off in the endzone and forced a 4th down when the Cards had the ball 1st and goal inside the 10 from a great kick return.

In the middle of the field Warner was able to find receivers wide running open. The Card running game was just OK against the Charger D. They did not have their #1 pick RB Beanie Wells. He is out with ankle problems.

Matt Leinart was the 3rd QB in the game against the Chargers. He came in with only 8:35 left in the game but drove the team from his own goal line to the Charger 11 in 5:32. But on 2nd down and 3 he threw into double coverage incomplete. On 3rd overthrew WR Long in the endzone. On 4th he again threw into tight coverage and turned the ball over on downs. He looked sharp until he got to the red zone then couldn’t convert. In 2 games Leinart has a passer rating around 78. He is fighting journeyman Bryan St. Pierre for the backup spot.

The Card #1 D did a good job but the team just doesn’t have the depth of a top NFL team. Last year they had very few injuries on D. If they sustain some this season, the D will not be good enough to get the Cards back in the playoffs.

Giants at Bears

The Giants were focused on stopping the run with Forte. The Bears were passing more than running and passed the Giants #1 D crazy. The O line of Chicago looks very solid. Future Hall of Fame T Orlando Pace looks healthy for the first time in 3 years. The Giants D could not get to Jay Cutler much. Cutler was 8-13 121 yds 1 TD.

Forte looks very strong. He is finding holes and exploiting them. Given the improved QB and O line, he should be very close to the first teer RBs in fantasy football. Kevin Jones looks good as the #2 RB but is going to have to hold onto the ball better. The only problem the Bears O has is a lack of depth at QB, WR and in the line. Hester is the #1 WR which takes him out of the return game for the most part. The Bears receivers will look better than they are due to Cutler. This team is going to challenge for the NFC title if the key players stay healthy.

The Giants looked like they were in San Jose instead of Soldier Field. They are much better than they looked. The O line was harassed consistently by the Bears D. However, the lack of any NFL quality receivers will haunt this team the entire year. Eli Manning is not going to have as productive a year as he did last year. He just doesn’t have the guys to catch the ball. Look for more INTs and fewer TDs.

There is nothing wrong with the Giants running game. Brandon Jacobs is a beast. He was the only weapon the Giants had that worked against the Bears top D. He tore huge holes in the D line. He is a top teer RB in FF.

The Giants D will come around. It looked shell shocked against Cutler. They will be susceptible to the pass if their pass rush doesn’t produce more pressure than it did against the Bears.

Dolphins v Panthers

Miami: O sharp Pennington is accurate and has the touch that some lack. He has timed up even the new WR like Patrick Turner (3rd round USC) and Hartwell (4th round Ohio State). The running game looks very sharp against a good Carolina D. Brown is running hard inside. Getting Thomas back at guard has helped.

Other than stopping the run of Williams, the Dolphin D did real well. They are putting a lot of pressure on the opponent QBs. The D seems much more aggressive than it was last year. That should help.

Carolina: Delhomme is still inaccurate too often. He misses wide open WRs deep. Then there is Williams.

On the Carolina 2nd possession, he had been held to 1 yard on 4 carries. On 2nd and 8 from the Dolphin 26, he started left and changed direction when he saw the hole was not there. He was then hit in the backfield by 2 Dolphins, spun off it, was hit again by another broke that and scored avoiding two more tackles. That is why he is one of the top backs in Fantasy football.

RAMS vs FALCONS

Turner is an arsonist—he burns up defenses. He has a combination of speed and vision that is very rare. 2nd RB Norwood is also outstanding. He has excellent vision and a second gear that prevents him from getting caught from behind.

Falcon QB Matt Ryan is continuing to develop. He is seeing the field like a vet and has the arm to make all the throws.

The Rams look good and horrible from one play to another. The O line is still very poor. They are going to have to do a much better job protecting QB Bulger if they expect to win many games. They block the same way for a pass as they do for a screen. They touch the D lineman and let them right in.

RB Jackson has his jump step back and looks good. I still don’t recommend drafting him in Fantasy due to problems on the O line and the probability that the Rams will be playing from behind a lot in 09. Ex Falcon WR Robinson looks really improved. He is catching the ball in traffic, and running better routes. Getting open against the Rams isn’t that hard.

Ram tackling is awful. They couldn’t tackle a lamp post because it would be moving too fast. The #1 D gave up 9 yards per play in the first Q. There were a couple of semi-bright spots on D including 2nd round pick James Laurinaitis. He picked off a pass, blitzed effectively and best of all attacked the run down hill.

Cleveland vs. Detroit—See my complete game analysis at

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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  • Author:
  • 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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t

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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